Thou Shalt Not Ask People to "Click Here"
Many small businesses treat email marketing like a spray-and-pray tactic for blasting marketing messages out to potential customers. Hopefully, through this series you're beginning to learn that email marketing should be more like a focused laser beam. When you begin to think of email marketing in this way, it's easier to see how email marketing also helps support your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts - the ways in which you try to make your website easier for people to find.
It's Always All About Your Audience
Targeted, data driven email marketing programs are based on knowing your audience. Where are they in the buying cycle? Are they in purchase mode or are they still fishing around for information? Have you built enough trust to send them a marketing message, or do you need to court them with free information for awhile longer? Have they been to your website, filled out a form, downloaded any of your content - or are you just introducing yourself? Where people are and what your relationship with them is like right now will determine what content you send.
Content rules SEO. If you deliver the right content to the right people at the right time, those people will click back to your website, which will grow more authoritative for the type of content you're delivering.
Instantly Increase Your Reach with Sharing Links
You know that sharing content on social media can help you get more leads (and if you don't, you can join our session on "Becoming a LinkedIn CIA Agent" at Social Media FTW). And while technically your email's recipients have the ability to share your content by clicking through to your website, copying the link, posting it to their stream, writing a descriptive comment - most people won't bother to go through all that. Social media sharing is much easier when sharing links are embedded in your emails.
Making your emails shareable means your emails have a wider potential audience. More people viewing your content means more clicks through to your website.
Help Your Readers and SEO Efforts with Keywords
Finally, keywords and phrases that you hyperlink to your website will help your site rank higher for those terms. One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing emails is to write the call to action like this:
"For more information about our purple widgets, click here!"
This doesn't work for at least two reasons. One, you've missed an opportunity to help the page you link to rank for a relevant search term. And two, someone scanning the email quickly (as the vast majority of recipients who read the email are likely to do) will probably just see "click here," but not the compelling reason to click, because the highlighted phrase doesn't speak to anyone's need but yours.
A better way to write this sentence is:
"For more information, view our online purple widgets catalog!"
Now the highlighted phrase will stand out to someone who wants to shop for purple widgets online, and your website has a better chance at ranking higher for the search term, "online purple widgets catalog."