This should absolutely not be your first step in contacting someone. If you want to know how to identify and warm up prospects check out our article on getting links from sites you approach.
Writing link requests
Imagine you’re attending an out-of-town business conference where you don’t know a soul. There’s a social event the night before and you decide to go along.
You enter the room and there are over 50 complete strangers. You grab yourself a drink and look round the room hopefully. You walk up to another delegate, also on his own and say:
“It would be mutually beneficial if we could have a chat. Chatting together would raise both our social standings in the room and reduce the anxiety we both feel about being on our own ...”
They would run a mile and rightly so.
The sentiments you’ve expressed to the other delegate are probably true ... but the awkward and labored words you use would have him squirming and looking for a quick escape.
So if that type of approach is disastrous at a social event, it will be disastrous in a link request.
You’ve got to approach people in a natural, friendly way. Don’t fall into the trap of following a rigid format for a link request that makes you look amateurish.
To be successful, the subject line of your link request email needs to be directly relevant to them.
So if I have a fountain pen website and I find someone who publishes a resource that lists fountain pen websites, my subject line would be something like:
“Another fountain pen resource for your website”
If I find someone who has a shopping site offering to review gift products, my subject line would be something like:
“Fountain pen gift set for your review”
And if I find a marketing publication looking for story ideas, my subject line might be something like:
"Story idea: The Handmade Brand”
In each of the three cases above, I’m promoting exactly the same website, but the approach I use is geared to what the individual link prospect is looking for.
Does this mean you can’t use an email template?
No it doesn’t, templates are great for saving time and helping you be effective. But you should only use each template for the appropriate type of site.
So you might have:
A template for all resource sites ...
Another template for all shopping sites ...
Another template for all publication sites ...
And so on.
This variety in link requests will allow your request to stand out, and your link prospect will be more likely to open your email.
Tips for writing link requests:
- Always find a name to approach. It’s people who make links not websites, so spend time discovering the person you need to contact.
- Write a subject line that is going to be of immediate interest to your link prospect. Otherwise your link prospect won’t even get opened.
- Highlight the benefits to them and their site visitors rather than the benefit you’ll get from the link.
- Show you’ve read their site by mentioning a particular resource or article they’ve published.
- Be brief and to the point. Don’t write paragraphs explaining yourself and what you want. Be as direct as you can be - too many words can hide your meaning.
- Be creative. You don’t have to be overly formal - a quirky, funny or original approach can often work.