One of the highlights of London's LinkLove conference in 2012 was Mike King's talk on outreach email analysis (much of it manual) that had been carried out by his company iAcquire on 300,000 outreach emails. Here are some of the tips he passed on on what to incorporate into your link building requests ...
As you would expect, using your link prospect's first name made a difference to closing the deal - 6.52% requests were successful when using it, which is 2.41% higher than when not personalizing the email. So do take the trouble to find that name - contact details can be gathered from your prospects' websites using Wordtracker's Link Builder tool
Hi, hello, hey or aloha?
"Hi" won this one.
Although "Hey" did very well percentage-wise, this was based on a very low number of emails sent using that term so there isn't a definitive yes to "Hey".
Day of the week
Surprisingly, iAcquire found that the weekend is a great day to send an initial link building email. You're more likely to get your request agreed to on a Saturday or Sunday simply because there are fewer emails sent on a weekend and they're therefore more likely to be seen.
Time of day
They weren't able to pin this one down to a particular hour of the day, but it does seem that sending between 10pm at night and 9am in the morning will probably reap benefits. iAcquire believes that "email fatigue" probably sets in later in the day, and people are more likely to respond to emails already in their inbox in the morning, when the enthusiasm is still there!
Number of emails
Persistence pays and this is borne out by the figures. You can even go up to six emails if you've received no response. (Of course if the recipient has said "no" three emails back then stop!)
60% more responses are received by sending the 2nd and 3rd email. The lesson here is not to give up if you don't immediately get a reply.
Length of emails
Short emails were judged by iAcquire as those with less than 1000 characters and long ones 1000 characters or more. iAcquire found that although there was a 1.54% higher response rate with short emails, it was the longer emails that closed the deal. Probably because of the greater amount of detail in a longer email. Unfortunately we're not told how long is too long :o)
First contact on Twitter
Based on a very small number of emails, the response rate was much higher for those who had contacted their potential linking partner via Twitter first - in fact there was a 37.5% response rate for the tweeters. iAcquire do warn that the figures are not statistically significant because only 347 emails were analyzed in this instance, though it's a point worth bearing in mind. It does make sense that getting yourself known beforehand may result in fewer trashed emails.
I was surprised at the conference to hear that there's a theory that women do better than men at outreach campaigns. The analysis carried out by iAcquire from their own data, and data from Buzzstream, doesn't bear this theory out - women were slightly better at getting a response (+2.1%) but men were a tiny bit better at closing the deal (a meager 0.31%).
Therefore it makes no real difference whether the person in your company tasked with link building outreach is male or female.
In summary, tweet first, email whether you're a man or a woman, say "Hi Mike" and send or schedule your email for sending on a Friday night. And don't give up until you're tired of sending all those long emails!
More link building request resources
Requesting links can be a difficult and disheartening task and much of the time link requesters are working in the dark, hoping their techniques will work. Ken McGaffin gives lots of advice on getting to know those you are seeking links from before you get in touch with them, in his article How to make a link request
He also advises on why link requests aren't doing what you think they should in 10 reasons why your link requests are failing
The full iAcquire report is available at iAcquire: Quantifying outreach
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About Julie McNamee
Julie McNamee was part of the marketing team at Wordtracker where she worked for over eight years. She's now a freelance writer, blogger and editor with her own travel blog Quirky Travel. Amongst other clients, she authors local search articles for TargetLocal Get in touch for a quote at Web 'n' Words She's on Google+ Or contact her on Twitter