Customers are often under-utilized when it comes to link marketing. Even if your company isn't a Zappos when it comes to customer service, you can still use customers for link development. Here are some ideas, and insights to jumpstart your strategy.
Make it Exclusive
Make your customers feel special and like they belong by offering a special discount to all whom participate. This could be as simple as a special sale, or offering them access to new products before the general public.
Have items with a low cost of goods? Send everyone who participates a gift. Or send them custom T-shirts. They're low cost when ordered in volume.
If you're decide to offer T-shirts, create one that will start a conversation. That way you get your customers talking about your products and company. The right T-shirt could pay for this link marketing campaign.
Make it Interactive
Instead of just asking for a link, make it interactive. This could range from having customers take a picture of themselves with your product to an interactive contest.
Make it a Recurring Event
Create a game for your site. Each week or month, give a prize to the highest scorer.
Depending on your budget this could be a sophisticated game or something low-tech. What's important is it fits your customer demographics and keeps them coming back.
Make it Funny
It's no secret that funny things spread and go viral quickly. Use this to your advantage in mobilizing your customers. This works well for companies that are willing to make fun of their own industry or company.
Let's say you're in the wedding industry such as favors, rings, or even a florist. Run a contest for customers to submit the funniest wedding vows. Then have customer vote for the winners -- that way it's more interactive.
Make it Drive Traffic
This one is simple. Create a contest for the person who drives the most traffic to your site during a given time period. Offer first, second, and third place prizes to get more people involved.
To add legitimacy, have people send traffic to a particular page you set up for this contest, then do a screenshot of the top refers. That way you can be transparent without revealing your normal top referrals to your competition. Depending on your analytics software, you may want to set up a separate account for this contest.
Make it Useful
Get your customers to contribute to a useful resource. Let's say you're in the travel industry. Have customers submit travel tips. Any tips published earns an entry to win a prize.
Make it Simple
Finally, make things as simple as possible. Don't make your customers have to think about it.
Let's say you're asking customers to blog about their favorite product. Make it as easy as possible. An example would be adding a copy-and-paste form for the image on each product page.
Once you find something that works for your business, find ways to expand it and incorporate it into your general marketing strategy.