outREACH Conference with Verve Search

Alyssa Ordu
Alyssa Ordu

On 13th June 2017 • 25 min read


outREACH London – Event Recap

Friday the 9th of June saw the first ever outREACH conference kick off in London. With a killer line-up of speakers, it’s no surprise that the event was a HUGE success!

If you weren’t lucky enough to attend outREACH or want to revisit the presentations, here’s a roundup of each of the speakers at the DeepCrawl sponsored event.

A BIG thanks right back to you Lisa Myers & Verve Search for organising an incredible event!


Mark Johnstone – Get Inspired to Make Better Content

“Think, how can this be more relatable, THAT’S where I believe you should spend 99% of your time.” -Mark Johnstone

Key takeaways:

1. Idea Generation – Ideas don’t ‘just come to you’. In reality, many things happen beforehand that get you to reach this point. Mark reflects on the do’s and don’ts of the creative process, and tells us how to get the juices flowing:

2. The Importance of Visuals – Visualisations make things more relatable:

laundry image

2. Find Inspiring Ways of Sharing Information – It’s important to show what we say:

Here’s a little something extra, we caught up with Mark after #outREACH and asked him what he hopes people took away from his talk. Here is what he said:

“I think a lot of people equate creativity with brainstorming – sitting round the boardroom table and hoping they’ll get inspired. I think that focusses too much on the moment an idea comes to you and overlooks the rest of the work that allows those moments to happen. There are 3 very simple steps you can take to allow yourself to come up with more ideas:
  1. Gather examples of content that inspires you (different ways of presenting information)
  2. Spend lots of time researching your given topic to figure out what interests people (chunks of information)
  3. While you’re researching, always be asking questions: How could we present this information in a different way? How can we make it easier to understand? How can we make it more impactful?


Anyone who you consider to be naturally creative is constantly doing these things – absorbing lots of information, exposing themselves to other forms of inspiration, and continually asking questions, whether part of their work or not. They are naturally curious. The more you do these things, the more chance you’ll have of coming up with ideas.”

Mark is Director of Content at Mark Johnstone LTD



James Finlayson – Creative Campaigns: Innovation Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

“There are now more searches for penalty removal than for link-building.” -James Finlayson

Key takeaways

1. Creative campaigns = complicated – thus leading to Bowie-esque feelings of being ‘under pressure’

2. Innovative campaigns = not complicated

3. Find something that nearly worked, be critical about it, and MAKE IT BETTER

4. Take data from where it already exists, don’t do the work twice!

5. Tip: Use datahub for data collection

6. Look for things, they’re already out there! – Rather than spending a week putting something together yourself, see if it already exists


James is Head of Innovation at Verve Search


Lisa Myers – An outREACH Mindset


Key takeaways

1. Behind every great idea, are countless **** ideas

2. Don’t be afraid to fail – the more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed

3. If it’s not working, change it – Sometimes you need new people that embrace uncharted territories, and that means you can’t focus on trying to change existing people into something else, you need to bring in different people, with different mindsets

4. Grit = passion + perseverance – that pit in your stomach that drives you to make it work…take that into the recruitment process

5. When you have the right people – You need to challenge and stretch them

6. What does Verve want to be? – THE destination for digital pioneers

@LisaDMyers #outREACH

Lisa is CEO & Founder of Verve Search, Founder of Women in Search and Co-Founder of State of Digital



Straight from the Horse’s Mouth – Expert Outreach Panel

Gisele Navarro, Pete Campbell, Bobbi Brant & James Congdon

Key takeaways

1. Tool tips – Gorkana, Buzzstream – for outreach organisation, Hunter – for email address sourcing, LinkedIn – for pitching, Yesware – for email tracking, Rocket Reach – which you can link to LinkedIn’s API, Buzzsumo – for prospecting and what themes are trending

2. Pre-outreach is a thing – try testing out your content before you launch e.g. within the Reddit community, this way you get an early indication of its potential success rate within your target community, also worth having journalists as part of your ideation team
3. Don’t focus on the pitch – focus on the prospecting, see who covers content on a similar topic and use this group for prospecting

Gisele is Director of Operations at NeoMam Studios
Pete is Managing Director at Kaizen
Bobbi is SEO & Content Executive at MVF Global
James is Senior Outreach Manager at Verve Search

Extra treat, we caught up with James and Bobbi after the conference and picked their brains on a few things…

What makes outREACH different from other Search Marketing events?

“What really sets outREACH conference apart from other Search Marketing events is the fact that all of the talks contain first-hand warts, and all experiences from genuine outreach experts.” -James Congdon

“It was great to be part of a conference focused solely on outreach. It’s normally something that is touched upon at search conferences but having the whole day dedicated to it meant we got really in depth advice. I enjoyed being part of the practical advice outreach panel and learnt a lot from my fellow panelists as the whole point of the session was to show that there’s not one fixed way to do outreach.” -Bobbi Brant

What do you hope people gained from your panel?

“We hope that people can take inspiration and tips on how to best approach outreach, while also being given the knowledge to develop their own effective communication styles.” -James Congdon


Willard Foxton – 99 Problems but the Pitch Ain’t One


Key takeaways

Willard is Development Producer at Blakeway Productions, Freelance Reporter/Producer & Editor at the Daily Telegraph

@WillardFoxton #outREACH


Paul May – What Studying Thousands of Outreach Emails Taught us about Effective Tactics


Key takeaways

1. There’s no point in building a big *** list, and hammering it out with impersonal emails

2. There’s no point using a feather quill for handwritten personally crafted mail posted letters either

3. Balance is key – outreach emails that clearly explain the tie-in between themselves and recipient get better reply rates

4. Collaborated before? Refer to this in your email – you will get higher response rates

5. Refer to past promotion in your email – you will get higher response rates

6. No reply after 2 emails? – Leave it there

7. Some people are volume senders, or SEO content marketers, or digital PRs – The real sweet spot is people that can do SEO, content marketing AND digital PR

7. Google is testing out new filtering features – likely to effect spammy mass commercial outreach

8. Links from high authority domains – lead to more links from more high authority domains

Paul is Co-Founder of BuzzStream


Mike King – Building your Outreach Machine


Building your outreach machine from Michael King

Key takeaways

1. You don’t need new tactics – just reposition old ones
2. Tool tips – use pitch box, buzzstream, bussmarker, bomb bomb bomb, brandfans, crystalknows, builtwith, people pattern, credit requests, research summarisation tools, build a chatbot!
3. Major key: the separation of concerns – see who’s good at prospecting v. research v. outreach

More treats: here’s what we learned from catching up with Mike about machine learning after #outREACH:

“Of course Machine Learning is everywhere these days and the latest advancements have made it much easier to solve complex problems at scale. We’ve been exploring ML a lot as of late with our clients and have been able to do cool things with lead generation, personalisation, etc, but SEO’s biggest scale related problem is in outreach.

Realistically, in most organisations, outreach is done by junior people or not at all because of how much effort it takes. With my talk, I’m highlighting some ML-based tools and methods to help achieve scale by automating some of the time-intensive components of outreach.”

Great points Mike!!

Mike is Founder and Managing Director of iPullRank, and Undergroundhiphop.com and #ZorasDad!


Kirsty Hulse – The Business of Content: Getting Yes to Ideas and Justifying Investment


Key takeaways

1. Rejections happen, don’t pitch harder – pitch smarter!

2. Why do people object to ideas?

3. Quit the jargon
4. Links are the main goal of content marketing but people also think links are becoming less valuable. Diminishing returns, as over time the same effort will yield worse results from link building.
3. Invest less in content marketing – The aim should be to get links from lower level content not just hero content.
4. Use ubersuggests – find out what people are searching for
5. Look up editorial calendars – this way you can match up where your content/ideas align with the scheduled segments of the people/brands you’re reaching out to!
6. Pitching tips

Kirsty Hulse is Founder of Manyminds


Jim Lawless – Keynote: Taming Tigers

Key takeaways

1. Think about what you’ve earned the right to do

2. Don’t let fear lead you

3. Be lead by bravery

4. MINDset, mindSET, MINDSET

5. Stand apart from the crowd

Thank you to the host Hannah Smith, and all of the speakers – you rocked it.

Congratulations to the Verve team, nailed it!

Looking forward to Search Leeds later this week, and hope to see many of you there.


Alyssa Ordu
Alyssa Ordu

Alyssa is a keen traveller, cocktails & dad jokes enthusiast who does Marketing, in that order. A lover of outreach, connect with her for opportunities to collaborate, or exchange a pun or two.



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