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The Art Of Persuasion in Link Exhange Requests

Leveraging Hot Buttons for Successful Link Requests



7:48 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

No one would make up a name like that in an attempt to appeal to the subconscious limbic part of our brain.

Ok, now we are getting to the meat of the matter: PERSUASION.

Hey caveman, I hear that's a song you can sing?

I saw a fascinating PBS program on Frontline a few months back, called The Persuaders [pbs.org]. In it they spoke with marketing people involved in persuading people to make a specific choice.

They spoke with a consultant named Clotaire Rapaille who bases his advice on appealing to the Lizard impulse. He was a psychiatrist working on autistic children when he concluded that words, shapes, smells etc. are learned are imprinted with emotional connections:

There's a first time to learn everything. The first time you understand, you imprint the meaning of this word; you create a mental connection that you're going to keep using the rest of your life. And to create this mental connection, you need some emotions. Without emotion, there is no production of neurotransmitters in the brain, and you don't create the connection. So actually every word has a mental highway. I call that a code, an unconscious code in the brain.

If you have a moment, read the entire interview [pbs.org]. I found it touched on some fascinating points.

Looked at from this perspective, the gender choice for a link exchange campaign is only a small first step. The choice of words and their subconscious emotional appeal might be a further area of exploration in the quest for the killer link exchange request.

Any thoughts?


8:35 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Clotaire Rapaille... Now that sounds like a made-up name if I ever heard one! ;)

Great article! That one got bookmarked.

He is so right about the reptilian brain. I tend to rely more on the cortex -- reptilian marketing, for the most part, doesn't work very well with me -- but he's spot on when he talks about mothers. As a mother, when it comes to my daughter I'm totally reptilian.

The Folgers and PT Cruiser stories are fascinating. Especially in demonstrating that you can't just rely on giving people what they say they want. You have to give them what their reptilian brain wants.

I can see how the principles work in our link exchange. I have a "reptilian" aversion to "adult topics" -- thus, an e-mail from some soft-"adult"-ish sexy-sounding person makes me think "ugh" and I'm instantly turned off. Perhaps with men -- or at least some men -- a mild soft-"adult"-ish style approach does work.

Beyond that, I'm not sure where we go. Besides sex, what reptilian responses could a link exchange target?

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:59 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2005]
[edit reason] spelling... [/edit]


10:26 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Real-sounding names probably work best with me. Yeah, like pleeker. An e-mail from, say, a Herbert Pleeker -- now, that's a real person! It has to be. No one would make up a name like that in an attempt to appeal to the subconscious limbic part of our brain.

Hehehehe. But it's actually a made-up nickname I use. :) Seriously, I do get your point.

And m'buster -- great interview, thanks for the link.


10:48 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Aw geeez mb, I keep trying to make jokes, and you keep making insightful, useful posts. Makes me look bad. ;-)

> I hear that's a song you can sing?
Say, were you present when I did my falsetto impression of Smokey Robinson at the last PubCon? Don't remember.

Anyway, you make a great point. Persuasion. That's what it's all about, certainly for most business oriented sites. And even info sites would do well to keep this in mind.

Personally, I think the Web could be 50% better in short order if site operators started thinking: "Now, who is my target user exactly, and what is s/he looking to learn or accomplish when arriving at my site. Quite different from starting at: "I have a great idea for a site...." and getting to the user somewhere around the first site upgrade 18 months later.

I was listening to a couple of Web guru's the other day, talking about how they made their millions. The smartest thing I heard them say had to do with their basic approach: Find a *passionate* target market, figure out what they already want to buy, and offer it to them in a way that they easily understand.

Great sites never start with the site; they start with the user.

Rupert Murdoch understands this as well as anyone, regardless of what you might think of his offerings. :-)


11:59 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ok for people who don't find the "adult-ish" requests enticing what works for you? You have to give it some sort of "personality" if it's to stand out and not get deleted right away, and from where I sit you haven't got them by the second or third sentence all is lost.


12:35 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Well, the requests from Rachel *do* get me...but that aside, what we try to do is really just write what we would like to hear from some other site...not what we want to tell them.

Subject Line

We forget things like:

  • "Link Request" (boring, get way too many...may work but we can do better)
  • "We've Linked to Your Site!" (spammy sites use this all the time, and go on to tell us that their work from home site is in the same category as our butterfly site, and we'll benefit blah blah blah)
  • "Would you like to exchange links?" (again we can do better.)
  • "Would you consider..." (No. OK, point made)

    Instead, we focus on each category and reference that in each subject line: It's like mentioning someone's name from time to time when talking with them...people like to hear words that relate to their own self interest, like their name (unless they're self-loathing, in which case you should say, "Hey dirt bag"), their site's topic of interest, etc. Oh, right...their site's topic of interest...


    Again, we forget:

  • "We believe..." (I don't care what you believe. Most who write don't seem to believe very intelligent thigns. I care about growing my site by getting relevant links from non-spammy, high PR, high traffic sites. OK, I won't always get that, but that's what I want.) ;-)
  • "We were looking at sites the other day..." (now there's something I haven't heard before, and there ya go talkin' about yourself again...)

    Instead, we focus on some aspect of the potential relationship between our sites (yes, relationship), that could make the other site owner feel good about having a relationship with us.

    Yeah, I know, this is a more burdensome approach. On the other hand, the days of the easy link back are more or less gone, and if you think about it, assuming you have a good site yourself, striking relationships with other good sites may be the ticket here. But it's often gonna take a more personalized, often emotional approach.

    Emotions worth considering in this regard include: 'admiration, belonging, comfort, envy, inclusion, power, reassurance, safety, success...'. The list goes on and on. ;-)

    Of course, if this approach isn't your thing, then there's always, "Link to my site, or I'll kill this dog," but you must have an email client that can include a graphic of a cute dog if you're gonna take that route. That's more of a fear/sympathy based emotional approach.

  • graywolf

    4:07 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Subject line


    will *almost* never trip up any spam filter, and will *usually* at least get it looked at.

    Do you prefer to see a joe@example.com, webmaster@example.com or tom@another-domain-example.com?

    creative craig

    11:26 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Good point graywolf, I have used a host of different email addresses when requesting links from hotmail accounts, funny sounding gmail accounts to the domain email address that I am link hunting for.. even used my company email address and had a good response from all.

    I think that it is hard to say for sure what works best. It is trial and error in every aspect when looking for links. I also think that different types of emails work for different markets from Travel and Tourism to Mobile Phone sites.


    1:47 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    I do think the best way to persuade or convince someone for a link is to be more on a personal level forget the *we* and *us* and keep with the *my* & *i*

    I think people do forget that it is someones website that they made and trying to get links for and not the company Emailing you.

    I like it if personsname@example.com Emails me instead of Bigcompany@example.com

    But if im getting a great link i wont care who its from :)


    2:19 am on Jan 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    Hey folks,

    What makes you think we need to be "persuaded" to exchange links with you? Today I've been reading a bunch of guff about links requests from females vs males, and all this garbage about the reptilian brain. What are you trying to offer--underwater real estate in Florida?

    Here's how I look at link exchange requests from the internet world. First, I don't give a hang if the requester gives a male or female name, whether or not it sounds like a sexy movie star or entices my libido. Nor do I care wether your name is Rashid Asman or Susie Smith.

    I look to see if you've offered me a link to your website in the email so I can see who I'm being asked to exchange links with. I vist your site. I look to see whether your home page has "links" or "resources" or whatever in even the tiniest font size giving a link from you home page to your links pages. I click there to see what category you might put my link in. And how many million other links you have listed in that same category. And whether you have adult material or sell something I would rather not have a link to, such as on-line casinos or viagra by mail.

    I look at what your site has to offer in the way of info or merchandise. (This is personal and intuitive and may, at this point have something to do with my reptilian brain, but it probably has as much to do with aesthetics). Do I like what you have? Then I ask myself what a link with your site can do for me. Do you attract visitors who might also be intested in my site? Are you located in a country I would like to get visitors from? If you sell merchandise, is it the kind visitors to my site might also be interest in buying?

    If I like what I see, I exchange links.

    It's that simple. Seems to me Clotaire Rapaille's techniques should be reserved for selling merchandise to customers, not trying to bs other webmasters.


    5:18 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

    aleatrix, that's pretty much how I saw things...two years ago. ;-)

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