In this white paper, MarketingExperiments offers several good tips for how to get recipients of your e-mail messages to click your links. (One thing to be aware of, though: Their focus, and language, is from the for-profit marketing realm.) Here’s one of them, which they illustrate with a specific example in the white paper:
“Effective communication in every medium unfolds in a logical, orderly way. A comedian would never start a joke with a punch line, a magician would never start a trick by showing his assistant already sawed in half, and marketers should never start an email message with a direct sales pitch.
“Effective email messages that drive customers to action are little more than engaging conversations. By assigning a goal to each piece of your email (’From:’ field, subject line, headline, etc) that allows it to build on the piece before, you can guide your customers to the desired action.”