How do you get people to pay attention to your outreach emails?

If you’ve been working on an outreach campaign to reach decision makers in your target market and you’re getting no response, it can feel like you’re firing emails off into the void.

“Hey! Is anyone there?”

The obvious question is “How do I get people to pay attention (and respond) to my outreach?”

Let’s venture, for a moment, that we’re asking the wrong question here. If you’re engaged in an outreach campaign and you’re getting no response, I think it’s less valuable to ask:

How do I get people to pay attention to my outreach?

And more valuable to ask:

How can I provide enough value to earn attention (and a response) to my outreach?

The #1 problem you’ll see in outreach campaigns — large-scale or 1-on-1 email campaigns to build a relationship with an influencer — that aren’t generating a response is a failure to focus on the recipient.

Instead, people often end up overwhelmingly talking about themselves, which turns off the recipient, and results in a lack of a response.

How do we fix this?

There are a few best practices that you should follow for building relationships through outreach marketing. You want your emails to follow a few basic rules:

  • Short Emails Win — Make your email short, scannable, and quick to read. Just a few sentences. 2-5 sentences and ~150 words or less.
  • Talk Like A Human — If you’re doing an outreach campaign at scale, you’re able to reach more people. But you also lose some of the ability to personalize your emails for the people you’re trying to reach. You want to personalize your emails whenever possible. Outreach should be about building relationships. Don’t forget that you’re talking to another human.
  • Clear Call To Action — If your emails aren’t getting replied to, do the recipients know that they’re supposed to reply? Are you ending with a clear call to action that tells the recipient “If you’re interested, reply with a ‘yes.’ Otherwise, if you aren’t interested, reply with a ‘no.'”?

On top of those three rules, you want to give the recipient a reason to respond. Strategically, we achieve this by writing outreach emails that focus on the expensive problems you’re able to solve for your target market.

Tactically, this often means including something of value — a reward — for responding. This could be information, this could be a solution to a problem, or this could be something else.

Keep this in mind, when you email someone and ask them to take an action — even a tiny, small action like “reply with a ‘yes,'” you’re asking them to take a risk in responding to you.

Who are you? How much work will replying to you generate? What’s in it for them to reply?

If people aren’t responding to your emails, it could be that either the prospect of replying to you is seen as too risky OR there isn’t sufficient reward or return for emailing you. You want to give the person you’re emailing a reason to respond to you.

On top of that, it may be that when you’re emailing, you’re asking for too much off the bat. Outreach is, at its heart, about relationship building. If you aren’t investing in building a relationship with the people that you’re emailing, then your outreach campaigns will run into a wall.

How often can you ask a friend for a favor before you seem to be taking advantage of the relationship? (not too often). How often can you ask a stranger for a favor before they ‘nope!’ out of your request? (not often at all).

If your outreach campaigns are centered around asking for something — Link to me! Share this with your audience! Let me write for your audience! Have me on your podcast! —before you focus on building a relationship, you’re going to see weak results.

When we say this out loud, it doesn’t seem that surprising. “Make sure you’re providing value to the other person before you make an ask for yourself!”

But how often have we sent an email asking someone — a friend or a stranger — to give us something (their time, their attention, a portion of their audience, etc.) before or without investing in building a relationship with them?

Before you make an ask of the person you’re emailing, you need to build a relationship with them.

We cannot — and should not — ask for something before we’ve built a good enough relationship to have earned the right to make that ask.

So, if you’re running into the situation that your outreach emails feel like they’re ‘going off into the void’ and no one is responding, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your emails focused on the person you’re emailing (and the value to them) or on you and what you want?
  • Are you focusing on building a relationship with the person before you make an ask?
  • Are your emails short and easy/quick to read?
  • Do your emails have a clear call to action or next step for the recipient to take?
  • And, most importantly, are you talking to the recipient like you’d talk to another human?

Writing “You” Focused Emails

You want to make your emails ‘you’ focused, not ‘I’ focused. Let’s take a look at a live teardown of an ‘I’ focused email so you could better learn how to write emails that speak to the recipient.

The Email

Let’s take a look at this email:

When we look at this email, we can see some good things… and some not so good things.

Good Things

  • The email is personalized, featuring the organization’s name (and, if available, the name of the person you’re emailing)
  • The email is specific, talking about an expensive problem (getting more traffic)
  • The email cites social proof, a case-study on the sender’s website, letting people have multiple ways to engage (aside from just hitting ‘reply’)

All-in-all, a good email. It follows a number of the rules I promote in The Outreach Blueprint.

But! (and this is a big but that I just can’t lie about), the email is very “I” focused. Let’s take a look again, highlighting all “I” focused sentences in a dark red:

And again with all the ‘You’ focused sentences or fragments in green:

(There’s one yellow sentence – I honestly can’t decide if it’s ‘me’ or ‘you’ focused. It’s addressed to the reader you…, but it’s about work that the sender has done for me. I’m splitting the difference and leaving it yellow).

When you look at the email this way, you start to see that while the person who wrote the email is talking to the recipient in a number of places, they’re really just talking about themselves to the recipient.

When you just talk about yourself in an email, you stand a great chance of boring the recipient. And when you bore someone, they click ‘archive’ or ‘unsubscribe.’

If you want your recipient to be excited to receive your emails, you need to make your emails focused on the person you’re emailing, not focused on you.
What could our above example email look like with this rewrite in mind?

Subject Line: NAME, can your customers find ORGANIZATION’S website?


You have a beautiful website, but have you checked recently to see how you’re ranking for your most relevant keywords like KEYWORD?

When you do a quick Google search, you can see that you aren’t showing up on the first page — in fact, you need to scroll down to the third page to finally find your website.

Are your customers trying to find you online — right now — and giving up and going with a competitor?

I help organizations, like yours, make it easy for your customers to find you online. For example, after working with me, CLIENT NAME doubled their overall website traffic. (You can learn more about that here: LINK).

Feel free to say no, but… are you interested in making it easier for your customers to find you — and increasing your website traffic?



When we do a quick rewrite of this email, we can see how by focusing it on the recipient and their goals – more customers, more traffic – and tuning the wording, we make it much more relevant to the recipient.

Instead of talking about yourself, you’re talking about the recipient, the recipient’s pains, and how you can solve those pains for the recipient.

So, how do you write a cold email that someone is excited to receive? I say it comes down to three things:

  1. Pains – you need to understand the pain that is motivating someone to act. Is it “Do you want more traffic?” or “Are you worried that your customers can’t find your website?”
  2. ‘You’ Focused Language – I’ve harped on this a bunch, but you want to use ‘you’ focused language and ‘you’ focused statements, not ‘me’ focused statements.
  3. Research – How do you understand the pains people are experiencing? How do you write emails that address those pains in a ‘you’ focused way? By understanding your target market. And you do that through research, through surveys, through talking with them, and countless other strategies…

…that are out of scope for today’s email. (But you can learn more about them in my Free Outreach Course)

Friend, I hoped you enjoyed this little exploration of ‘you’ vs ‘me’ focused language in your outreach emails.

Next time you write an email, take a moment, pause, and ask yourself “Am I talking about me” to the recipient? Or am I talking about the person I’m emailing?”

Ideally, you’re talking about the person you’re emailing, the pains they’re experiencing, and how you can help them fix those problems.
And when you do that? People are excited to get emails from you.

Get More Clients

Three marketing strategies you can start using today to get more clients (or get that first client)

My friend Chris Hawkins interviewed me yesterday on his new show $100k Freelancing ( — go subscribe, rate, review, and listen, my friends!) and we got to talking about “The 3 Rs” of getting (and keeping) clients.

  • Referrals
  • Relationships
  • Repeat projects

Let’s talk about each one.

Get More Clients With Referrals

Why referrals?

When you’re referred to someone, that’s the strongest form of marketing. You’re having another human literally say “You should work with this person, I recommend them.”

That is a powerful form of marketing. So, naturally, any chance you get to get a referral to someone, you should act on.

Create referrable moments (

Have a specific positioning statement. Be able to say how you help and how you help them. For example, “I’m Kai Davis – I help freelancers get more clients with actionable marketing.”

Ask people for referrals (

Send an email to a colleague, an acquaintance, a past client, or a current client and say:


How is business doing? What have you been up to?

An update and a question: Do you know any people in TARGET MARKET who are looking for help solving EXPENSIVE PROBLEM?

If you don’t, that’s absolute fine. Just hit reply and say “Sorry, I don’t know anyone.”

But if you do, I’d be deeply touched if you’d be willing to provide a referral.

I’m working on refining my business’s marketing and I’m focusing on TARGET MARKET and providing help solving EXPENSIVE PROBLEM. Do you know anyone in TARGET MARKET who needs help solving EXPENSIVE PROBLEM?

If you do, just hit reply and let me know. I’d leave to hear from you about them and, if it sounds like I’d be able to help, I’d deeply appreciate you introducing us, if they’re open to an introduction.

Thanks in advance,


Not everyone will respond “Yes! I know someone!”

But some people will.

And some of those conversations will turn into clients.

And those clients will have come because you took the time to send an email asking for referrals.

I have a challenge for you: pick five people (these could be clients, past clients, friends, acquaintances, colleagues — or another group) and send them the above email, after you customize it to match your business, your style, and your tone.

Just five people.

Take that one action and see what happens. See what new conversations you’re involved in. See what opportunities come out of the woodwork because you send this email.

And then email me and tell me that you did it. Because I want to know and celebrate you taking this action.

It isn’t about if this generates referrals or not. Referrals are great, don’t get me wrong, I would like you to get some referrals from this. But most importantly, it’s about you taking the time to do a thing for your business.

Working on your business, not in it.

Practicing building that “business development muscle” through outreach.

Next? We talk relationships!

Get More Clients With Relationships

We’re talking about “The 3 Rs” of getting (and keeping) clients.

  • Referrals
  • Relationships
  • Repeat projects

Yesterday, we talked about getting clients through referrals ( Today, we talk about getting clients through your relationships.

Why relationships?

Your business is the sum of the networks of the people you know or have done business with.

If you’re an eCommerce consultant and you know 10 other eCommerce consultants, you have their entire networks to reach out to — if you’ve maintained your relationships.

If you’re a developer who has a list of 20 past clients that you’ve worked with – helping them, say, develop an app to replace something a person was doing or migrating a legacy system to new software – you have 20 people who can speak to your strengths as a consultant and who can be sources of new project opportunities, references, referrals, or recommendations.

But that’s if the relationship is maintained.

Do you get those letters from your college talking you up about how excellent it is to be a graduate of the school and would you please give them $100?

They hit my mailbox every 6 months with no warning.

Because my relationship with my university is, essentially, cold, their pitches to give them money don’t land that well.

They haven’t invested in the relationship. They haven’t invested in follow-up to build the relationship.

Have you ever bought a house? I haven’t, but all of my friends are starting to and I’m learning how persistent and wonderful good real estate agents are at follow-up to maintain relationships.

One pair of my friends bought a house in 2014 and every month since then the realtor has found some reason to follow-up and maintain the relationship: the anniversary of them buying the house, their wedding anniversary, their birthdays, various holidays and special occasions, and a special celebratory letter whenever a house in the neighborhood sold.

This real estate agent is incredible. Her client list is bonkers. When someone says to a friend “Hey, do you know a real estate agent?” this woman is always at top of mind and instantly referred.

Why? Because she invests in follow-up and maintaining the relationship.

So, your business is the sum of the networks of the people you know.

Your business is the sum of your relationships.

But only the relationships that you keep active. Only the relationships that you invest in keeping warm and alive.

Old, inactive relationships are no good. You need to spend time maintaining the relationship through follow-up for the best things to happen.

When you’re following up with persistently with your industry contacts, your past clients, your past leads, and your colleagues, you keep your relationships warm. You’re investing in building your relationships.

And these relationships are people you can approach for referrals and you can provide with referrals. They’re people who can send projects your way and whose way you can send projects. People who can serve as references and for whom you can reference. People who you can collaborate with on marketing opportunities.

When you invest in maintaining your relationships with the goal of seeing both parties grow and succeed, you strengthen your business.

Outreach to maintain your relationships doesn’t have to be hard. You need a list of people, a schedule, and to know what to say. In The Outreach Blueprint ( you learn how to build your list of people (your prospect list), you get a schedule for sending your messages, and you get my personally tested messages and emails (so you know exactly what to say).

Most of us already do a bit of follow-up and maintaining of our relationships already, so all we need to do is get a little better at that skill: a little more consistent, a little more intentional, and a little more frequent.

Maybe you send an annual card or newsletter to past clients and contacts around Christmas and the Holidays. Maybe you don’t. Either way, that’s a prime opportunity to follow-up and put a reminder in place that you’re there, available to chat, and hope they’re doing well.

If you send your past clients or colleagues a card or letter, make it about them and how they’re doing. Encourage them to reach out to you if they want to chat. Don’t talk about yourself Use this follow-up as an opportunity to focus on them and invite them to contact you (or refer their friends) if they or someone they know needs help with a problem you solve.

From there, you can add new follow-up to maintain your relationships. At the end of every project, set a calendar reminder to send a follow-up email to the client 3-weeks after the project is completed. Just a short email saying:

“Hey, it was wonderful working together. We’d love to continue the relationship. If there is any additional help you need solving EXPENSIVE PROBLEM (or you just want to chat), then feel free to call us at PHONE NUMBER.

A friendly little reminder that you’re there to help.

And just start adding in more little reminders.

Make it standard to follow up with your past clients, your colleagues in the industry, and your past leads.

Check in with them. See how they’re doing.

It might not have been the right time back then to work together, but when you’re following-up consistently with your relationships you increase your luck surface area ( and make it more likely for awesome things to happen: like introductions, new projects, referrals, relationships, etc.

Next? We talk about The Third R: keeping clients with repeat projects.

Get More Clients With Repeat Projects

We’re talking about “The 3 Rs” of getting (and keeping) clients.

  • Referrals
  • Relationships
  • Repeat projects

Let’s talk about how to get clients through your repeat projects. Or, rather, let’s talk about how to get repeat projects from your existing clients.

If you need 10 projects/month for your business and have a 0% repeat project rate, that means you need 10 new clients for 10 new projects every month. However, if you have a 50% repeat project rate, every time a client works with you, there’s a 50% chance that they’ll come back to you for another project.

You go from needing 10 new clients each month to 5 or so new clients each month, with a significant part of your projects coming from existing clients.

Why sell to existing clients?

When you sell a project to an existing client, you skip most of the risk-related discussion involved in a project.

A lot of what we see as the typical process of getting a project are really actions to reduce the perceived risk of working with you:

  • Write a proposal → complete this small, initial task so we can see how you work with deadlines.
  • Provide references → demonstrate that you’ve worked on similar problems before
  • Discuss price → show that you understand how much time and effort this project will take and/or the value the project will contribute to their company

When you work with a client, you cross a Trust Threshold in your relationship. When you work on a repeat project with an existing or past client, you avoid all of the trappings that make up a typical project pitch. They know and trust you to get the job done, they just want to know what budget makes sense.

Typically, when I work on a repeat project with a client, we go from them requesting a proposal, references, pricing information, using their internal systems, etc., to them saying “We want your help solving EXPENSIVE PROBLEM. Can you send over a 1-page summary with payment links and when you can get started?”


Because we’ve crossed the trust threshold. We’ve gone from them saying “I don’t know who this Kai-guy is” to “We need Kai Davis for this!”


As you increase your trust by working with the client, you lessen the need to do a lot of the pre-project work, like writing an extensive proposal or providing referrals or having long conversations about the price.

The more trusted you are, the easier it is to close the project.

The more you work with a client, the more trusted you become.

If you focus some of your marketing on marketing to your past clients, you’re marketing to people who (1) already know you (2) already trust you.

Rather than marketing to cold prospects and/or inbound leads, you’re marketing to clients where you have an existing relationship, presenting them with opportunities to work with you. They may pass: the time may not be right, there might not be money in the budget, they might be focusing on a different strategic objective, etc.

But that doesn’t matter. You’ll follow-up again. You’ll continue to provide value. You’ll continue to remind them, periodically, politely, persistently, that you are available to help their business grow. And then good things will start to happen.

“By the way, you gave me a piece of advice last year that made those “famine” times almost non-existent, and I wanted to tell you THANK YOU! You told me to revisit my former client list & touch base with them. Once I started doing this, I got so busy I almost couldn’t keep up. I really appreciate it.” – Kristine K.

Focusing on following up and creating the opportunity for repeat projects makes it so you need less clients overall. When you add in repeat projects, you increase your client lifetime value.

Oftentimes, when this topic comes up, someone thinks the only way to offer this to their clients is through a monthly retainer or monthly service agreement. But that’s not quite true. With those options, you do get the guaranteed consistency of a monthly payment – but you need to create a service offering that takes doing monthly.

What if it was easy?

What if you just followed up with your past clients (or past leads) periodically and said “Hey – Do you need any help? I’m booking out NEXT MONTH and FOLLOWING MONTH and wanted to see how business is going. Just hit reply or call me at PHONE NUMBER.”

Not everyone would need work done now, but some would.

Not everyone would make an ideal client for a repeat project, but some would.

Not every potential project would turn into cash in the bank, but some would.

And you’d grow your business. Just through follow-up.

Want a client follow-up campaign you can copy, paste, and get started with? Check out the expanded and upgraded “Complete Edition” of The Outreach Blueprint (

Want a tested follow-up campaign to send to your former clients to get more projects?

Inside The Outreach Blueprint (, you receive all the emails you’d need for a client follow-up campaign, along with guidance on generating a prospect list from your existing clients.

If your average project profit is $1,000 and the client list follow up email template campaign in the $129 “Complete Edition” of the Outreach Blueprint’s get you one additional project this year, you’ll have made a 675.19% return on your investment by buying The Outreach Blueprint’s “Complete Edition” (

Does outreach work? Does follow up with past clients work? Read this testimonial:

“By the way, you gave me a piece of advice last year that made those “famine” times almost non-existent, and I wanted to tell you THANK YOU! You told me to revisit my former client list & touch base with them. Once I started doing this, I got so busy I almost couldn’t keep up. I really appreciate it.” – Kristine K.
After revisiting her former client list and touching base with them, Kristine got so busy she almost couldn’t keep up.

In the “Complete Edition” of the Outreach Blueprint, you’ll receive a client follow-up outreach campaign you can copy, paste, and send to your former client list. What if you got an additional project within a month of buying the Outreach Blueprint ( That’d be pretty awesome, huh?

If you’d like to get more clients for your business (or more projects from your former client list), then check out the updated and expanded Outreach Blueprint.

You’ll get everything you need to implement an Outreach Marketing campaign in your business and get more clients for your business: