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Is the benefit of writing completely personal email

outweighed by the time involved?

     
10:40 am on Oct 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Most somewhat experienced web users can recognise a template email right away, especially webmasters.

There is obviously a benefit in taking the personal approach, especially when you're asking for a 1 way link. But going through 2-300 sites, visiting them personally in order to write a genuine personal email is tedious and time consuming and doesn't even guarantee a response.

I've tried template emails and response wasn't astonishing but at least it saved a hell of a lot of time. When do the benefits of writing personal emails become outweighed by the time involved?

Did you do a test to see if the response is better than template emailing? Do you try emailing 20, 50, 80 webmasters before you give up? What did you find works best in personal email?

I am thinking of trying one/more of the following:

  • If the site is a resource site compliment the webmaster on its selectiveness
  • Ask for honest opinion on the content/site you want a link to and make the link request a marginal issue (at least for first contact)
  • If the site is very selective ask the webmaster what the site/article lacks to meet his approval
  • Ask what criteria he/she uses to pick the resources listed on the site
  • Often when the site is very selective and chances of earning a link are slim, make it sound as if I understand that I'll probably not get a link, but that I'd value his/her honest opinion as someone who recognises valuable resources.
  • Email first as a writer asking questions about specific topics on the site and in the followup mention I've written some articles and would appreciate feedback and take it from there

Would these techniques work when you're pushing editorial content (e.g. articles) to sites that link out on merit (such as libraries, guides etc). I'm thinking people like to feel important and being asked an opinion but maybe this does not work these days when the inbox is full.

Any ideas?

9:28 pm on Oct 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm thinking people like to feel important and being asked an opinion but maybe this does not work these days when the inbox is full.

Time is short and emails take time - you are asking me to take my time to do something for you so keep it very short, very clear. Who you are, what you want, why I should do it (what is the benefit to me?). Anything else and I hit delete.

I set a filter on all my sites webmaster@ address to redirect subject lines that incorporate "link request" or similar to a folder for infrequent (once a month perhaps) review. If the email is html, over 2KB, or has an attachment it is deleted automatically.

Then I trash remaining requests (at about one per two seconds) if it is an obvious template, if it is apparent you have never visited my site, if your site's content is not (IMO) compatible with mine, if your spelling/grammar bothers me (exception for obvious non-English senders).

Very few (often none) are left at this point.

If your request does survive I will: do search using several keywords/phrases that should bring your site content up; enter your url in SEs and see if it lists; enter your url in my browser and peruse your site for content compatibility with mine, fact/truth, originality, etc.; check your site for code validity and cross browser appearance.

A major miss at any step and I stop and delete your request.

All your questions and your interest is valid and would be appreciated if we were having a conversation. At the initial contact stage this is not likely to get you anywhere but ignored.

I do have a long correspondance list and enjoy online conversations with other webmaster/webdesigners very very much. But not in a request.

10:01 pm on Oct 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Nice reply iamlost

Got the message LOUD and CLEAR.

Off to brush up my act.

6:15 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<<All your questions and your interest is valid and would be appreciated if we were having a conversation. At the initial contact stage this is not likely to get you anywhere but ignored.

I do have a long correspondance list and enjoy online conversations with other webmaster/webdesigners very very much. But not in a request. >>

But wouldn't this make me a hypocrite? After all, I'm after a link and the conversation, no matter how genuine it may be, it's still a means to an end.

I too enjoy conversations with webmasters when I don't have anything to ask for but when I do, because it's my job, do I have to take a different approach? I'm obviously doing things wrong.

By the way, my job is getting 1 way links. I don't like it, but that's how it is. I have tried long and hard to come up with a benefit for the other webmaster other than a link back but failed miserably to do so. Giving them genuine appreciation and a feeling of importance is the only thing left I could find.

Thanks

8:43 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It is like iamlost puts it, automated = spam

Yes i think you should write them all, not a copy n paste job.

You never know you might end up with business partners, become in 'the loop' so to speak.

Good tips include:

- Mention the webmasters Name ie: Hi Jim!

- Talk about specific pages not the whole site!

- Ask more than just a link get your imagination going! Instead of saying 'Can you add my site?' Think about new things get your links in the content! Say why your link will help my readers!

- Subject line is very important! Make it look original and new not... 'Link exchange'

- Takes time but when i do it - it works :-)

Please dont - dont dont:

- Say: i was please to read your content...

- If he doesnít answer the first time to your spam chances are he wont the second unless you really write it!

- dont even bother sending it a third time! i get one TWO days later i get another saying 'i emailed you a while back about a link exchange...'

- dont go about telling people how links help in 8 paragraphs? if they have links on the page they know!

Does this help any more? Can anyone add more :)

9:05 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've sent 20 emails, each had the webmaster's name, each had a different approach such as:

-suggested a link or commented on some specific aspects of the website and suggested a link or
-asked for their opinion in an issue my article addresses without even mentioning the link or
-asked if such an article would be of benefit to their readers.

Each email is entirely different. No replies back so far.

10:09 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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When did you send them?

heh Also its not only the Email you have to take into account the website you've Emailed!

I could ask google for a link - well lets say i wouldnt get far :(

Also did you make the Subject line interesting?

Many webmasters will only look at the subject looks good - maybe open it if not its in the spam folder or deleated!

Webmasters are busy people some have many many websites! And some just dont have the time...

Also!

Your own website plays a big part. - If it looks spammy then no you wouldnt get the link, if its well designed and has great information that would help the webmasters readers you Emailed then you have more chance!

When i get requests they can sit in my link folder for 2weeks upto a month...

rj

1:13 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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By the way, my job is getting 1 way links.

Why would a webmaster be interested in "giving" one way links?

No reciprocity and obviously no cash so why, why, why?

This is not a comment on you or even on your job. It is a comment on the business model that is apparently expecting something for nothing.

Not a hope with anyone I know in this business.
Or am I missing/misunderstanding something?

5:43 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I should rephrase, my job is earning 1 way links. By this I mean writing articles with original content/from a different angle/approaching issues not discussed before, etc. that earn links by merit (although I still have to ask for them, otherwise I'm in for a long wait).

I am not targetting webmasters that link out solely for financial/PR gain, but those that link out to share valuable resources with their readers.

As an update, I'm finding the response rate is much, much higher when I don't even mention the link in my initial email.

I have not taken the conversation with the other party further to see if it finalizes in a link but will keep you posted.

I am now convinced of the benefits of truly personal email and if the response is high enough, I will certainly preach and practice this method from now on.

5:51 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Something to consider is that time is not the only scarce resource here. In some topic areas there are only so many sites you can ask for links before it becomes very, very difficult to find additional possibilities.

Strive to find an approach that helps you get the most mileage out of your prospect list, not just the most mileage for your time.

6:09 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks buckworks, that's a very good point. Fortunately, this is a field where there's anything but shortage of sites to contact, but you are right, I have to make the most of my prospect list.
9:51 am on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Why would a webmaster be interested in "giving" one way links?

Well you see some websites link to other websites to help the readers and not just for page rank and serps etc

8:16 pm on Oct 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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rj87uk: I agree that webmasters (myself included) do link to other websites without recipricol links because we deem the information pertinent to our visitors.

However, I can not think of an instance (in my case) where a link was offered, explicitly without reciprocity, by the site itself.

If I understand hairycoo correctly he plans to provide original copy on some subject(s) which may well be valuable to other sites and to which those sites may well be interested in linking.

My concern is that he apparently has no interest other than providing content in exchange for the link. For an established "expert" site this is normal; for a new site unusual.

To get my interest in such a case both the site and the copy would have to be absolutely unique and extraordinary. After all, my clients (and myself) add original detailed content regularly in an attempt to be "the destination" for whatever info/product they provide. Most webmasters do much the same.

hairycoo: Your comment of not bringing up links in the initial email is probably the only way to get past the "delete" impulse. Personal targeted emails aimed at getting webmasters to view your site/content and waiting on an impressed response prior to requesting them to link is likely the most viable. I wish you good fortune and prosperity.

 

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