The Art of Linking: Effective Strategies for Email Marketing

Shawn Elledge
Shawn Elledge
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When it comes to email marketing, there are many factors to consider to achieve success. Every aspect of an email message plays a crucial role in its effectiveness, from crafting the perfect subject line to creating engaging content, segmenting your email lists by persona, and having the right call to action.

One aspect often overlooked is the number of links in an email. Including too many links in an email can affect the overall deliverability of your message.

Email providers use algorithms to determine which emails are legitimate and which are spam. One of the factors that can trigger the spam filter is the number of links in an email. If your email contains too many links, it may be flagged as spam and never reach your audience’s inbox. 

Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of the number of links you include in your email to ensure that it reaches your audience’s inbox and doesn’t get marked as spam.

In this article, we will explore the importance of limiting the number of links in an email message and help you understand what is the right number of links to have in your email messages.

Why Limit the Number of Links in an Email?

Avoid Overwhelming Your Audience

In today’s digital age, people are bombarded with emails on a daily basis. According to Prosperity Media, the average business person receives 121 daily emails. This means the average professional receives 9,000-15,000 emails a year. (We believe this estimate is low)

The amount of time a business professional takes to manage their email communications is estimated to be 15.5 hours or 38% of their work week.

Including too many links in an email can overwhelm your audience and reduce the campaign’s effectiveness. Your emails should have one goal in mind or one call to action. Having multiple links prevents this from happening.

Prevent Your Email from Being Marked as Spam

Another reason to limit the number of links in an email is to avoid being marked as spam.

Email service providers (ESPs) use algorithms to determine which emails are legitimate and which are spam. One of the factors that can trigger the spam filter is the number of links in an email. If your email contains too many links, it may be flagged as spam and never reach your audience’s inbox.

Spam software has become increasingly more and more aggressive and will check each and every link in your email before passing it on to the intended recipient. Therefore it’s a good idea to keep the number of links in our email to a minimum.

Improve Click-Through Rates

The ultimate goal of an email marketing campaign is to get your audience to take action. (Call to Action – CTA) Whether it’s making a purchase, downloading a piece of content, registering for a webinar or simply clicking through to your website, including too many links in an email can be distracting and may decrease in ROI. Limiting the number of links can ensure that your audience is focused on the most important call-to-action and increase your click-through rates and the ultimate success of your email campaign.

How Many Links Should You Have in an Email?

The General Rule of Thumb

While no set number of links is considered “too many”, a general rule of thumb is to limit the number of links to no more than three or four. This allows you to include the most critical links without overwhelming your audience. However, this rule may vary depending on the purpose of your email and the length of your message. We have seen email deliverability decline once we include more than seven links in our emails.

Consider the Length of Your Email

If your email is short and to the point, you should limit the number of links and focus on your primary call to action. However, if your email is longer and contains much information, you might get away with including more links, but we recommend no more than three or four links. This will prevent your email from becoming cluttered and ensure that your audience is focused on the most important links.

Prioritize Your Links

When deciding which links to include in your email, it’s important to prioritize them based on their importance. The most important links should be placed at the top of the email (above the fold) and stand out visually. This will ensure that your audience sees and clicks on the most critical links first.

Linking Rules to Follow

Use Relevant Links Only

When including links in an email, it’s essential to make sure they are relevant to the content of the email. Including irrelevant links can confuse your audience and may decrease the credibility of your message. Stick to links that are directly related to the purpose of your email and avoid including any unnecessary links.

Avoid Duplicate Links

Including duplicate links in an email can be redundant and may cause your audience to lose interest. If multiple links lead to the same destination, choose the most visually appealing or descriptive one to include in your email. This will prevent your email from becoming cluttered and ensure that your audience is focused on the most important links.

Don’t Use Link or URL Shorteners

Some email marketers don’t like using long and messy links in their emails because they believe these links might discourage your audience from clicking on them. However, URLs or link shorteners like Bitly or TinyURL shouldn’t be used in email marketing.

Why?

Spammers often use URL shorteners to mask where they are redirecting people. As a result, these public URL shorteners are often on a deny list, so your emails will be blocked.

If you are adamant about reducing the size of your links, consider creating your own URL Shortener. Replug does an excellent job of describing how to do this on their website here.

Test Your Links

Before sending out your email, testing all the links to ensure they are working correctly is essential. Broken links can be frustrating for your audience and may decrease the effectiveness of your email. Make sure to click on each link and ensure it leads to the correct destination before sending your email.

Adding Parameters to Your Links

While historically, there was some debate on whether or not long URLs hurt your deliverability, today, we don’t see this as a problem. In fact, we recommend using URL parameters at the end of your links to help track the success of your email campaigns. These parameters pass essential data to a web page or web analytic application like Google Analytics.

For example, if you have a URL parameter added to your link, your web analytics platform can tell you what link a website visitor clicked on, and what campaign as well as what marketing channel or medium ( email, direct mail, online ad, social media channel) they came from.

You can use Google’s free URL builder here to create these parameters.

Here is an example of a parameter for Sales Prophet.

The utm_source=SP (short for Sales Prophet), The medium is (email), the campaign is our (New Year Offer), and the campaign ID is 2024.

Takeaways

When it comes to email marketing, the number of links included in an email can significantly impact its effectiveness. Limiting the number of links can avoid overwhelming your audience, prevent your email from being marked as spam, and improve click-through rates to your primary call to action.

Prioritizing your links, following linking rules, and testing your links before sending out your email is essential. 

Make sure to use URL parameters to help you understand which links and which campaigns are performing best.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively manage the links in your email and increase the success of your email marketing campaigns.

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