Product links in the footer—do they work?

Subscriber Marc asked a question that I've gotten multiple times in the last couple of weeks:

I see that you've removed the direct links to your courses in the footer your emails.

Curious what your motivation is as it seemed a non intrusive method of promoting the offerings.

This comment reminded me of something that happened recently when I was in the checkout line at Costco.

Maybe a year ago or so, Costco switched to the chip-style of credit card readers—you know, the ones that make you shove your card into a little slot, then sit there for 47 seconds waiting for the screen to say, “Please Remove Your Card.”

The readers take so dang long, people kept forgetting their cards and leaving.

So they enabled a “friendly” auditory prompt:

An blaring, foghorn klaxon that sounded as soon as your transaction went through.

Really jarring.

Well a few weeks later I was checking out again, and I noticed that they'd changed the sound.

Now it was a pleasant, tinkling chime.

“Wow, that's a lot less obnoxious!” I said to the guy ringing me up.

“Yeah,” he replied, “and a lot less effective.”

This is an unfortunate reality in marketing.

Less intrusive nearly always means less effective.

Which brings me back to including “passive” links in the footer.

This is something I've tested out three different times now.

These links do get clicks.

The two links I had in my footer recently generated almost 2,200 unique pageviews on my site.

However this kind of casual browsing results in very few sales. Like, near zero levels.

I saw a similar pattern when I tested this approach on a list with 50,000 subscribers.

In that case I even got tricky and had the links automatically get customized based on the subscriber's buying history.

I was kinda proud of myself. No sales, though.

Product launches, affiliate campaigns, flash sales, etc. are a bit obnoxious and in-your-face.

What can I say:

Sometimes when the soothing chimes don't get the job done, you reach for the air raid siren.