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Offering A Discount In Exchange For A Link?

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19 replies to this topic

#16 DJKay


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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:28 PM

Hi Gang,

I agree for nice choice for thread of the week. Very interesting perspectives, will add my two cents.

I come from a direct/database marketing background where we look at things like recency frequency monetary analysis, the life time value of a customer, etc.

I would say it depends. To Qwerty's point, it depends on the size of the sale and many other factors, but to put it plainly, you have to determine whether its worth it to spend the money on this promotion. Do you want to or should you give discounts to customers that are already buying from you? Is that the best course of action? You may ramp up sales and get some more links, but what if it disintegrates your profit margins?


#17 eBoostEvan


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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:31 PM

This sounded like a good idea to me too and I'm sure it can work in the right situation or within the right strategy. But it sure didn't work when I tried it. We were brainstorming link building ideas for a client for which we did SEO, PPC and Email. We decided to send an Email to our list of 20,000 subscribers offering a discount in exchange for links from their blogs, social media profiles, websites, whatever. Internally, we labeled this tactic "Email Begging." smile.gif It was by far the least successful email we ever sent for this client. We got exactly 1 link out of it. Not a very good conversion rate, to say the least. Like I said, I imagine it could work in other scenarios and I would be interested to hear any success stories from people who used this tactic.


#18 qwerty


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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:35 PM

I've been working on a similar idea for a not-for-profit site. The idea is to include getting links as acceptable donations. There is a whole strategy involved with this, that would incourage those with disabilities (the site is for a disability) who use the site and their families to shop or give business to sites that support ours through their links. No reciprical linking, just the incentive to buy from those who support us.

That's an interesting idea, and it raises quite a few questions.

You say that this won't be reciprocal linking, but won't it? I'm picturing a page of "supporters," companies that have linked to your site because they choose to publicly support your cause. Won't this list of companies link back to their sites, or will it just be a list?

I remember a minor controversy in the SEO community a few years ago. The World Wide Web Consortium (which is certainly relevant to search) had a page listing and linking to their donors. I think you had to contribute about $1000 (USD) to be listed there, and a few SEOs got themselves listed. A link from a site with that level of authority is a pretty valuable thing, although I doubt I'd say it was worth a thousand dollars. And a contribution to such an organization is arguably a very laudable thing. So were these paid links, which Google would want the W3C to nofollow, or is it a list of donors? Are those two things just two names for the same thing?

The page is still there, and there are some interesting donors listed, with names like "generic viagra" and "diet pills." But it looks like they changed the threshold for getting link from a donation last year:
What value contribution is required to be listed here?

* Premier Supporters have made a contribution of ≥ 10000 USD (or equivalent in another currency).
* Major Supporters have made a contribution of 2500 - 9999 USD (or equivalent in another currency). Note: This is the value as of 22 September 2008, increased from $1000 USD.
* Contributing Supporters have made a contribution of 100 - 2499 USD (or equivalent in another currency).

So did the people who gave just $1000 and are now listed but no longer linked to lose something? If they'd made a charitable contribution, they can't really complain, since they're still listed. If they bought a link, on the other hand...

Edited by qwerty, 18 March 2009 - 02:40 PM.

#19 Orpheus Descending

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:01 AM

You say that this won't be reciprocal linking, but won't it? I'm picturing a page of "supporters," companies that have linked to your site because they choose to publicly support your cause. Won't this list of companies link back to their sites, or will it just be a list?

I'm being pretty adamant that we will not link back. In other words, we will have a page with a static list of companies and logos, but no links back. I'm not sure if that will work or not - at this point in Ireland, eCommerce isn't the thing, people go online to look for things they want to buy and then they get in their cars and go to the shops. If our users do want to buy online, they have to take the extra step of searching for the brand.

I'm also trying to get this to fall under the 'gifts-in-kind' column rather than the monetary gift column so there can be no question of buying the links. We don't have the same donation laws here as in the States, so putting a value on this to get a tax right off is not what we're after.

The thread of this post just got me thinking - will we now have to care where our donations come from? If a prostitute or even a drug dealer comes in and gives us money for our cause, do I care where the money came from? Not on a level that matters to the organisation receipting the donation - but that's also because once I have receipt of the money, there is no association between us. If a porn site want to link to ours, (and I'm not above thinking some of our users might like that service) do I say no? There might not be value in the link, but there might be value in getting their clientèle to see our charity and to give to our charity. The issue is the association between our two websites because of the link, not the value of the link itself. It's one hell of a question. Something for cyber ethics to be sure.

#20 Randy


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Posted 19 March 2009 - 06:40 AM

hysterical.gif It's such a conundrum when you have to consider the worst possible case becoming a reality, isn't it? Well done in thinking that far outside the box before it reaches out and touches you OD. I doubt such a scenario has occurred to anyone else at the not-for-profit.

I actually had a similar situation arise back in my old Design days when doing some gratis work for a local charitable organization. They wanted to have a page where they recognized major donors, which sounds great on its surface. Before the page ever went up they got one of those major donations from someone who was, shall we say, a bit infamous for not exactly all the right reasons. The charity ended up having to explain to a lot of people why the page never went up. Under the idea that it was better to disappoint everyone than to treat this one person differently than all the rest. Luckily for them the major donors weren't giving to get listed, but for more wholesome reasons.

Bob, you raise an excellent point with W3C. Even though they state rather plainly that there is no association between W3C and the supporters other than the contribution, those folks do receive permission to use a special logo on their site. My guess is W3C simply decided to disregard any notion of being morality police.

FWIW, their thing on getting listed isn't a pay once get listed forever kind of situation. Those places have to pay every year to maintain their status. And the page itself is set up to be Index, Nofollow in the meta robots. So the engines shouldn't be conferring any link popularity. This small fact however still doesn't necessarily negate a perception or a certain stamp of approval in users minds.

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