The Most Selfish Email I Received All Week

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The Most Selfish Email I Received All Week

In the digital world, traffic and search rankings are everything. Without those two, you might as well not exist.

If a tree falls in the forest when no one is there, does it make a sound?

If your website published something, but no one ever visits the site, did you really say anything?

Link building strategies have been around for ages. As long as Google has prioritized links in its algorithm for ranking websites, people have tried tons of different methods of getting other websites in your niche to publish a link back to your own website.

One common tactic that has increasingly been used due to semi automated tools out today such as mail shake, out reach ninja, etc. is to send a simulated personalized email asking for the link.

The email usually starts by saying they noticed your amazing similar niche website. And somehow they get to asking the website or blog owner to publish a link back to their own site.

The problem is, many times these desperate site owners forget to think about it from the recipients point of view and totally miss any chance to offer something of value with the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) in mind.

Here’s example of the most blatant ask email that I received this week. Take a look below:

Bad link building strategy

I have no idea who this guy is. This person has never interacted with me on any of my social channels or blogs.

BUT he has the nerve to say that he selfishly wants me to link back to his site so that he can siphon traffic from my site as well as gain in ranking on Google.

Never mind the typos and incomplete paragraph in the email. They care so much about me that they can’t even prove their own email – which probably was sent to hundreds of websites at the same time.

Gary Vaynerchuk book Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, spells it out right in the title. Using the boxing metaphor he saying that you need to deliver three “jabs”: give your audience three things of completely unselfish generous motivation, before you earn the right to throw a right hook: a call to action that benefits YOU, not them.

This email I received above has NO jabs.

They start with the right hook.

That allows me to easily evade the call to action and hit delete instead.

While this might seem blatant, most people don’t realize what they’re doing at all when they are doing it.

This happens all the time on social media from brand and organization accounts as well.

You see brand pages announce things, promote things, ask people to do things, consistently all day every day without trying to post anything that is relational, or generous that completely serve the audience without asking for anything in return.

In fact, most organizations wince at the thought of ever publishing something that does not mention the organization, a program they run, or has anything to do with them at all.

If you post something that is totally conversational for the sake of engagement and nurturing the audience, that would be heresy in most organizations.


Don’t be the stranger that only talks about themselves and asks you for a favor without any context or previous relationship currency built up.

Remember, the word “social” is in the phrase social media for a reason.

Take a look at your own messaging today. What is the mix of jabs to right hooks?

Are you basically doing the same thing as the author of the most selfish email that I received this week?

Do you have trouble planning or justifying publishing content that 100% serves the audience, but not your organization? Let’s talk about it.

Kenny Jahng is a content marketing advisor and communications strategist who helps nonprofit, cause-driven and faith-based organizations / churches. You can connect with Kenny on Twitter @kennyjahng

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