Outreach can cover many areas; online PR, asset promotion, content pitches, news sharing, broken link outreach and, in some cases for SEO, link removal requests.
A great way to improve the response rate of your outreach is to ensure you are getting in touch with the right person.
How do you find the best contact information for a website, though? Read on to find out some of the best methods for sourcing contact information.
First things first, just look on the site!
Oftentimes, there is no need to go the long way around to find the right contact details, because the site you are trying to contact has considered this and made it easy for you.
Always search the website for contact information and see if what you are looking for is in plain view first. You don’t want to spend 10-15 minutes doing a job that could have only taken ten seconds!
These pages may also contain social media links too; handy for learning more about a person and another platform to be heard.
The website of local manufacturer Martin’s Rubber is a great example of an easy-to-locate staff page. It contains all relevant information, including contact details.
Is that contact form worth it?
Sometimes, when doing the above, the best you can find is a generic contact form page. Unfortunately, contact forms tend to have a lower reply rate than emails to a specific department or person. Many contact forms go through to a catch-all email address that is managed by a single person in house, and businesses tend to use contact forms for lead generation, so there’s a good chance your message will be ignored.
That’s not to say that all contact forms are going to result in an empty inbox, but it’s worth considering where you think your message is going to wind up before you use this generic method of getting in touch.
Now you’ve decided that filling out a contact form isn’t the way to go, but you don’t have any name to go by on your prospect, what’s next?
Find a generic contact or department email address
Many companies will have a generic website or department-specific contact and you can have much more success by contacting them than filling out a form.
Google advanced search is a fantastic tool for discovering generic contact details, especially for government and education sites. Try searches such as the ones listed below and let Google do the detective work for you.
- “email * @[domain.suffix]”
- “email * at [domain] dot [suffix]”
- site:[domain.suffix] “email” OR “phone” OR “contact”
The above search on Moz.com brings up head-beardy Moz tycoon Rand Fishkin’s email as the second result.
You can also search for the webmaster; this is particularly useful if you’re looking for a technical contact.
- site:[domain.suffix] “webmaster”
I’ve found from past experience that this search works well with .gov, .ac.uk or .edu domains.
Have a look at the SERP screen grabs below – they speak for themselves!
Find an individual’s contact information
In the event that you have someone’s name but want to find out their email address or phone number, there are a number of options available.
The first is an obvious one; just straight up ask Google for the information with search queries such as:
- [name] (contact details OR email OR phone number)
- [name] [place of work] (contact details OR email OR phone number)
- [name] [city or town] (contact details OR email OR phone number)
If these searches don’t work, there are more advanced methods you can use.
Find an individual’s email address
For most websites, chances are at least one employee has publically published their email online and it’s been indexed by Google.
To track down a personal email for say, the Huffington Post, we can do a search for the following:
- “email * @huffingtonpost.com”
It only took scrolling to the bottom of page one of Google to find this:
From this we can make a solid guess that if you’re looking for a journalist who works at the Huffington Post, their email will be: FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME@huffingtonpost.com.
However, the last thing you want to do is write a well-thought-out message to a journalist and send it to a blind email. Luckily, there are ways to double-check emails too.
Validating email addresses using third party tools
Rapportive is a Gmail plugin connected to LinkedIn. When you’re composing an email, it pulls any social media information tied to that address into a side column.
This can be incredibly useful when you need to check you definitely have the right address.
You could also use this tool to try a potential number of common email address combinations and click-through them until Rapportive tells you which one is connected to a LinkedIn account.
If someone was trying to track down my email address and knew my name is Daniel Callis, they could put variations of the following into Gmail and see if Rapportive returns a match for any of them:
Not everyone has a LinkedIn account or social profiles connected to their work email; therefore Mailtester is another great tool for finding out if you have the correct address of an individual.
Simply type in potential combinations of an email address – you’ll know you have the correct one when the page tells you it’s valid.
Search their tweets
Another great way to find someone’s email is to see if they’ve ever sent it to someone on Twitter (this is often the case with journalists). The right search query in Twitter’s search function will bring it up if so.
- From:@[TWITTERHANDLE] email
Say I wanted to find Lucy Tobin from the London Evening Standard’s email address. Searching on Twitter for ‘from:@lucytobin email’ gave me exactly what I was after and it took less than five seconds!
Phone the office and ask
This one can be tricky if you’re trying to get through to a specific journalist at a news publication, especially if they’re an editor, as many will have a news desk to manage enquiries for them. It can, however, be useful when getting in touch with someone at a company or business.
Just call the main office number on the company’s website and ask to be transferred through to the relevant person. Make sure you’ve done your research before calling – you want to engage the person on the other end of the phone, not come across as a cold caller.
Add them on LinkedIn
Another option is to connect to the person you are looking to contact on LinkedIn and send them a message. LinkedIn tends to be a hotbed of sales and recruitment pitches, but if you get the initial message right you stand a good chance of getting a reply.
Ask a mutual connection for details
It’s easy to see whether you have any mutual friends or connections on your social media profiles, and if you’ve been doing your fair share of networking within your industry, it’s likely you have a few common acquaintances.
Ask those you have a mutual connection with if they could pass on the details of the person you’re trying to contact. You have more of a chance of engaging the person you’re getting in touch with if you start your message with: “I’m a friend of XXX; I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch”.
Look them up using Whois
Sometimes, the site you are trying to contact is elusive with its contact information. Luckily, you can often find out information about who registered a domain with Whois.
This can be useful when doing outreach for an SEO-penalised website. I personally have had a lot of success when I’ve used this method for link removal.
Send someone your spare change
Many run-for-hobby or run-for-charity websites will feature a donation button for users who want to thank the webmaster for their efforts.
When you donate, you’ll also have the opportunity to send a message alongside your transaction, meaning a small donation will give you a route into the receiver’s inbox.
This method can also be useful when sending link removal outreach for old directory sites, which still have their payment options live.
- Always look in the obvious places first; the contact details could be in plain view.
- Contact forms aren’t always the best option.
- Personal emails are better than generic ones.
- The phone can be a valuable tool.
- Mutual acquaintances are great to get a foot in the door.
- If you need a technical contact, try searching for the webmaster.
- A lot of regular Twitter users will have shared their email address at some point; you just need to look for it.
- Third party tools such as Rapportive and Mailtester are incredibly useful.
- Use WhoIs or a PayPal donation button if the site owner is particularly elusive.
- LinkedIn is an option, but you need to get your pitch right in order to not come across like a spammer.
If you’d like help with your content marketing, whether that’s creating content or getting it in front of the people that matter, contact us today on 0845 123 2753.