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I was thinking of offering 10% to customers who promote my web site on online, related forums. We sell wedding gifts and accessories and many brides spend time on wedding related forums and boards. We would ask that the post be in direct response to a bride that was looking for advice or suggestion.
We would offer an additional 5% off for additional posts - up to 30%. We would state in our rules and conditions that only one post be made per forum.
Is this ethical?
Overall, I think the idea has quite a bit of risk. The line between helpful suggestions and spammy URL dropping can be surprisingly fine. I see problems with alienating some forum operators, and also difficulties in tracking commissions. Then again, maybe I don't understand the idea perfectly...
Tracking would be easy since we would just ask them to email us a link to the forum.
I am not interested in spamming or spammers or eating spam or anything spam related. I would only do this if its an ok thing to do.
I realize its a very fine line ... I actually do offer unique and cool stuff that brides would want to see.
Any one else have an opinion?
Here's how it works: Visit any online wedding related online forum and reply to a bride who might be interested in our products. For instance, maybe someone is looking for a ring bearer pillow? Or themed bridal accessories? Maybe you could reply to a post on creative guestbook ideas? Or if someone is looking for groom gift ideas, tell them about our custom watercolors.
For every endorsement you post, you will receive another 5% off your order up to 30%!
Send a link to your post to email@example.com. If your post is valid, we will ask you to create an account with us. Next, we will assign a 10% discount to your account. When you place your order with us, a 10% discount will be applied to your order total.
Wedding related forums are a great way to research local vendors online wedding stores as well as pick up tips and advice from other brides. Here is a list of forums:
[list of wedding forums]
Rules and Conditions: Remember, only posts that are relavent to the topic being discussed will be eligible for this offer. Similarly, we are not interested in any insincere promotion of our web site. Please limit your posts to one per forum. Only posts that state the web address will be valid. If you have questions regarding the relevancy of your post, please contact us.
If you reseach past discussion here, you'll see comments on the difficulty of distinguishing a spam post from a "legit" post. Some forums couldn't care less, others may flame you or your posters. The more successful your effort is, the more the "paid" nature of the posts becomes apparent.
In short, if the forums tolerate commercial posts, some kind of incentive may be fine. If the forums don't like commercial posts, I doubt if your customers will be sufficiently stealthy to prevent your campaign from looking like spam.
It's a double edged sword, to be sure, but take Paypal for example. They were giving $10, then $5 referal bonuses, and hoards of people spammed for Paypal throughout the net. A lot of people condemned them for spamming, but look at the level of success it brought Paypal. But, look at the number of imitators it brought too, and none of them reached (yet) the level of success that Paypal attained.
My frustration is when I see people on these forums asking where they can find my products specifically and no one knows!
AHHHH! I'm over here!
I'll give it some thought - maybe there is a way...
Why not just start an affiliate program to get others to sell from their websites...then working on seo to get high up in the serps, if you are not already there :).
I used to have a forum on my website but it took up too much of my spare time so I scraped it. The thing that made me the maddest was spam posts, IE: free advertising!
I also hate it when my guestbooks gets this kind of spam...the poster receives a hot email and if they repeat then their isp is notified.
Just my thoughts on the matter...spam no, affiliate program, yes!
If you offer a good advice service for brides thru your forum, then i dont see any problem with pluggin your own products.
Theres plenty of free forum software kicking about.
show them how to do a search on google. use a relevant search term that lists your site top. sneaky, but it works.
join the best of those forums and have yur contact details / web address in your profile. participate regularly, giving good advice etc. don't be afraid to promote other companies. by giving good advice about everything, you can earn a reputation as someone who knows what they are talking about. people may then view your profile and visit your site and maybe even purchase from you.
i've done both of these a couple of times elsewhere and i advise my clients to do the same and it works fine for them as well. i don't do it here tho.
and as jack says, optmise. spend a bit of time around here reading back through old threads and you'll pick up a lot of info very quickly.