How to Build Links with Email Marketing

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Quality links to your website remain one of the strongest contributors to high organic rankings in search engines. Plus, a link from a popular website could bring you increased traffic and brand recognition. All you email marketers out there may not realize the potential role you could play in generating links to your organization’s website. Link building is difficult in part because it requires you to start and cultivate relationships with people who care about issues relevant to your organization. You’ve already established this relationship with your list, making them an excellent potential source for links!

Note that the ideas here are not likely to net you “high profile” links from major news sites, but rather start and continue a steady flow of grass-roots and social media links that give increase in rankings over time.

Understanding the Linkers in Your List
Understanding the profile of a person who is likely to link increases your email marketing’s contribution to link building. In order for your list members to link to you, they have to have the ability to publish to the web in some capacity or other. Here are some examples of where your list’s linkers may publish:

  • personal or business blogs
  • personal or business websites
  • forums
  • social networks
  • social news sites
  • comment sections of favorite websites/blogs

Those of you sending B2C emails are more likely to have potential linkers on your list than those sending to B2B lists. There are B2B sectors that do have enormous numbers of linkers though – the one I know of is the online marketing sector, for which almost every website has its accompanying blog and there’s massive participation in forums. That said, at this point you’d be hard pressed to find an industry that’s NOT covered by at least one blog.

You must also understand that linkers are often folks who are opinionated and experienced subject matter experts or enthusiasts. Often times they are “influencers” who others trust to be curators of interesting or useful information. Understanding this will help you set the bar at the appropriate levels when you begin dreaming up your link incentives or casting about for incentives you’ve already developed.

Developing Link Incentives for Your List:

Now that you’ve got an idea of who your potential linkers are you can begin creating the incentives that will get them to link to you. The first and greatest link incentive is content. At Contactology we concentrate on creating solid, thorough informational content. First because this kind of content goes great in an email newsletter and a blog and second because it incents conscientious linkers who genuinely want to pass along something of value to their community.

That said, there are communities online that value news of an incredible sale, so if you’re wincing at the thought of writing or paying for all those helpful, informational articles there are other options. I broke up the incentives according to lists that are primarily informational and those that are primarily direct response.

Link Incentives for the Informational List:

1) Get a free ebook if you link to us
This ebook can be a compilation of your past blog posts or articles arranged into a “bigger picture” format. Think about not requiring a link to your site at all in exchange for the ebook – simply request that people review the ebook on the site of their choice.

2) Request that they share/spread the news
Links and news go hand in hand. Use this approach sparingly and make sure that any news you’re asking people to pass on to their own communities is BIG NEWS. This is especially effective for cause-oriented news or events.

3) Tell us your story about…
Any time you can publish the knowledge or personal experiences of your readership in your blog and email newsletter you increasing the chances that you’ll get links… at least from the people who tell you their stories 🙂

4) Awards… as voted by your readers
Create an award that the members of your list would be interested in winning. Remind people to vote – votes can be as simple as sending you an email. Potentially allow the contestants to request that their community vote for them. For the winner create an image they can paste on their site that includes a link back to your site.

5) Free (reduced-rate) consultation/service rates for linkers
This would work especially well for marketers who could do a written consultation and then also publish the consultation in their next newsletter. Always look for ways to publish the content you have to write in your day to day work.

Link Incentives for the Direct Response List:

1) Discount for linking
Discounts could include free shipping or a percentage off. Tracking could get cumbersome for this idea.

2) Great sales
There are consumer-run sites that report on incredible deals. If you can cut your prices for a popular product deep enough you could create an avalanche of interest and links.

A Few More Thoughts on Building Links with Email Marketing:

1) Make it Easy to Link

Always provide the url that you’d like people to link to in or near your requests for links. From a search engine perspective it’s nice to have different text surrounding links to your site but in certain cases it may make sense to provide the full text of the link for people to copy and paste.

When providing these ready-made link snippets remember that there’s different formatting on different types of pages. If you know that your readership includes a number of forum participants then consider formatting your link snippets in forum-ready html. If that makes no sense to you run the idea by your site designer.

2) Calls to Action

Remember that asking for a link requires a strong call to action, just like any marketing request. Here’s one way of wording a link request for cause-related news:
Help Spread the Word! Just Copy and Paste The Provided Code >>

3) A Note On Link Text

The actual text of the link that points to a page on your site plays a large role in your search marketing efforts. When possible in your linking efforts draw from the expertise of your search marketing team for the terms that you should pursue in and around your link text.

In Conclusion:

I hope that this article encourages the email marketers and search marketers in your organization to join forces for the common good! If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.

Garrett French is a long time search marketer, blogger, conversatrional marketing consultant and blogs for Contactology email marketing software.

Garrett French
Garrett French is a long time search marketer, blogger and conversatrional marketing consultant.
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  • Ian

    This is great advice. We send out a newsletter to over ten thousand subscribers a week and have never taken these steps.

  • Garrett French

    Hi Ian,

    I would love to hear what experience you have with finding ways to make it easy and needful for your list members to link to your site!

    I’d like to see a link to your past emails… are the informational or direct sales? Or both?

    Thanks for your comment!


  • Ian

    I post our newsletter on our blog after it is sent each week. We need to work on the layout but I think the content is good.

    We try to have a blend of information and product and are frequently told by our readership that they like the fact that we do more than just try and sell stuff.

  • Internet Marketing Joy

    Great points you’ve got here!…very insightful and true!

  • Sasha T.

    These days when it is getting harder to get quality links your tactic could help many of us. Thanks


  • Sierra

    I will try some of Your tactics maybe it will work:)

  • Xianhong

    thank you for your great advices, this is good to know.

  • Goran Giertz – Marketing

    Never thought of this. Thank you for the articles.

  • Paul Burani

    Re: discounting services in exchange for links — tread lightly, this could eventually be viewed the same as paid links.

  • Jacques – Web Marketing

    …exSEOllent post! Thank you for a great effort! Continued grass root effort definitely pays off. Search marketing is all about continious effort!

  • Markus

    Great suggestions, but people just don’t link as they used to before.. especially people who are aware how google works.. There is a certain kind of fear everyone has got.. a fear that they will get penalized or a drop in PR if they link to websites. Google certainly has to come up with some other way of ranking websites.. wonder if that is even possible

  • Posicionamiento en buscadores

    Probably it could be email marketing to drive traffic and also plays an important role…Great article!

  • resimler

    Never thought of this. Thank you for the articles

  • Firmalar

    Google certainly has to come up with some other way of ranking websites.. wonder if that is even possible

  • Rocky

    A good take on integrating email and search.

  • Seo Mack

    Thanks for Suggestion. Wish you all the success in your life

  • Seo Mumbai

    Thanks for Suggestion.

  • Chris Blackwell

    Some very good advice, thank you Garrett!

  • Ryan

    Just thought I’d post a link to The Email Marketing Kit over at SitePoint for people who are new to Email marketing. I used it when I first started and it has some great information in it.

  • Garrett French

    Thanks for all the kudos, folks!

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    Wow! This one really has my mind turning…great blog

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  • Peter

    Dear Garreth,
    I wonder if this article is still relevant. What about the current Google Panda update? Will this still be relevant to get many links to your site?
    It is anyhow interesting to get more traffic from other sources than Google.