Rackspace Cloud (Mosso) Link To Us Payola

 

The Rackspace Cloud (Formerly Mosso) – need to change their marketing systems rather than gaming Google

Dear Rackspace

I am actually a fan of your new Cloud Servers service. There are some huge benefits in using your service that as both a marketing geek and affiliate I can highlight and potentially drive you a lot of business.

However today you have just introduced a payola scheme that will make every one of my clean affiliate links look like a paid link, thus I am going to have to nofollow every single link I give you, forever.

You want me to use badges like this, and in exchange will give me “Goodies” of an unspecified nature.

Powered by Rackspace Cloud Hosting - Formerly Mosso

Powered by Rackspace Cloud Hosting

The links are visible, nothing is hidden, but all the same it is effectively a paid linking scheme.

Here is what they said in an email sent to customers

Our New “Link-To-Us” Program
We’re also launching a new “Link-To-Us” program today. In essence, customers who post new links or change their old Mosso links on their websites to our new http://www.rackspacecloud.com site will receive special goodies. The more sites you post a link on, the more great stuff you will get. How cool is that? Please check out all the links here: http://www.rackspacecloud.com/links

Thanks so much for being a part of the Rackspace family, and please keep the feedback coming so that we can continue to build the most complete and easy-to-use cloud platform on the web.

The sad thing is this would all be unnecessary if you just made some minor changes to your affiliate program.

The Rackspace Cloud Affiliate Program

As far as I am aware, the Rackspace Cloud affiliate program is effectively “customers only”, as in you have to actually create an account, but you don’t have to necessarily spend anything on their various cloud services.

That being said they have a decent Cloudfiles storage product, and their CDN is reasonably priced, offers incredible low latency, and has a strong API.

The Cloud Servers product is new, the API is still in beta, and on first glance looks to actually be more expensive than using the Slicehost sister service, but if you are looking to create a highly scalable platform, there are significant advantages.

The Mosso Cloudsites service is also highly regarded, though you have to be careful on processor cycles – for an affiliate the referral payout on Cloudsites is much more attractive, just a shame it isn’t monthly recurring.

Problems With Rackspace Cloud Referral Program

Have You Heard About The Rackspace Cloud Referral Program?

Here is how it works:
If someone you refer to Cloud Sites hosts with us for at least 31 days (past their first billing cycle), we will either credit your account $100 or cut you a check for the same (if you want the check, just sign some tax information and that’s it). For all Cloud Files and Cloud Servers referrals there is a $10 referral commission.
There is no need to register before participating, simply have any referral use the primary email address on your account as the ‘referral code’ during the sign-up process online. To give you credit, they MUST enter your email address when signing up. Questions? Don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime. 1-877-934-0409.

One of the big problems is the referral code – you have to encourage people to enter your primary email address as a coupon code.

The obvious workaround is to create a new primary email address for your Rackspace account (and display it as an image)

andyrackspace

It would be so much easier if you could define your own coupons

The next problem is incentive – why would someone use my Rackspace referral code?

Rackspace do not currently offer their own incentive to use a coupon, so it would be down to an affiliate to offer something of significant perceived value as an added incentive.

I have something planned for that, that will only be available to people who sign up for a Rackspace Cloud account using my email as a Rackspace coupon. (note: they are still using the mosso.com domain)

I currently have no idea how to make delivery of bonuses scalable, as there doesn’t seem to be a reporting interface for affiliates in the current control panel – maybe they have a dedicated affiliate panel as well, under their original Rackspace affiliate program.

Added Friction

Rackspace might think that not running a formal affiliate system, and just using email addresses somehow removed friction from the referral process, but in many ways it adds friction for serious affiliates.

80% of new customers will be referred by only the top 20% of affiliates, it might even be 90/10 or 95/5

Not Suitable For PPC

There is no way to effectively track this affiliate program offering

  • no subids
  • no deep linking
  • no way to export data (that I can see)
  • no thought to integration marketing

Disclosure

This Rackspace marketing campaign seems totally unworkable, especially the direction disclosure is taking.

I am sure Robert Scoble will love the idea of his employers shilling for links.

Izea & PayPerPost have more transparency and better disclosure than Rackspace in this new marketing campaign.
That being said, I always wonder what benefits large blogs have when they frequently have followed links to their hosting providers. Sure they like the service, but that can’t possibly be the full monty.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Think someone is more focused on the inbound links for the site with the new badge, without looking at the bigger picture you’ve pointed out here

  2. says

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the feedback. We are all ears, and would love to engage with you in a discussion on how to do this better. Many of what we are offering was in response to feedback from customers. However, we will make it better with your help.

    When is a good time to talk? Please shoot me an email, and we can figure it out.

    Thanks again.

    Emil Sayegh
    General Manager
    The Rackspace Cloud

  3. says

    I can appreciate the relative transparency of their scheme, but unfortunately, it can undermine the credibility, in the eyes of Google, of those sites which choose to link to them. So that sort of sucks.

  4. Micheal Martin says

    I love the fact that they provide a piece of code that leaves a big footprint. The only thing Google has to do is search for all links with the link title “Web Hosting by Rackspace Cloud Hosting – Formerly Mosso” and filter them out. Rackspace didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, but in both feet…

  5. says

    Andy, I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying here. I recently joined Rackspace’s “Partner Network” (http://www.rackspace.com/partners/index.php) which may be a little more like what you’re looking for, but still doesn’t fulfill the ideal affiliate program needs. I’m not even sure if or how I can refer to Mosso or the cloud right now.

    With the partner network, they do give you a coupon code, and people who enter it get 5% off. I am supposed to get a custom landing page with my logo, but this has not happened yet. I also recently got moved over to a new rep with the program and that person hasn’t responded to my emails yet (it’s been about a week). So I’m not sure how well this is going to work out.

    Glad you posted on the topic though, because prior to this I didn’t know anyone personally who was doing server / hosting referrals. If you ever want to drop me a line to share ideas, feel free.

    Chris H.

    • says

      Chris H-

      I am a long time “Racker” and I want to help make things right for you. Please contact me directly when you have time and I will make sure that your partner rep gets back to you ASAP. I can be reached at 210-312-4303, or you can email me at tmcnish@rackspace.com.

      We will get you taken care of, Chris! Thank you for partnering with Rackspace.

      Tommy McNish
      Rackspace Hosting

  6. says

    Surely, they need to reconsider the status of their marketing/affiliate manager position. The way this affiliate program works is so oldish, like from the past century.

  7. says

    That’s great info bro, especially for me who just started blogging few months ago.

    Thanks alot and keep sharing

  8. says

    Here’s what I posted on your item over on friendfeed: “Ahhh, not good. I’d rather earn links the old fashioned way: have customers who are so happy with your service that they can’t help to tell everyone about you.”

    I wish I had seen this effort before it was posted. That said, if you sell your links that cheaply I gotta wonder.

    • says

      I can actually see the “white” side of this – I think even Matt Cutts has suggested in the past if you are changing domain name, to try to get those links you control, plus maybe some of your external links changed to link to the new domain, as an indicator that this is a legitimate change.

      I can even see the reason to somehow offer an incentive – the problem is the current melting pot that Google has created with multiple tiers of “intent” with some allowed to thank their paid sponsors in blog posts, and others not allowed to link to people for $5 or fear a Google penalty.

      Even if I was offered a Rackspace coffee cup for a link, the real cost to Rackspace to send it to me might be in excess of $40 (I doubt there are many Rackspace coffee cups in Poland), and Google does like to send out their own trinkets to thank people each year, or give away smartphones.

      • Johnathan Malok says

        I think you hit the nail on the head. Matt Cutts from Google has suggested this method when switching domain names. It’s the same place & the same service, new link. I am currently linking because I am very happy with Mosso like Scoble ‘tried’ to say and changing my link only took a second to help them out when they make the switch.

  9. Johnathan Malok says

    Since I was already linking to Mosso I am glad they asked me to change my links ahead of time. Seems like a great idea for those who link because we are fans of Mosso and not to just be a part of an affiliate program or to make money from them. Though a new affiliate program would be nice for those that want to make some extra bucks :)

  10. says

    Cloud is really the way to go, especially if hit when a lot of traffic. Mosso is a bit spendy but seems more versatile than s3

    • says

      In many ways The Rackspace Cloud Servers are MUCH cheaper than using Amazon, you just need to understand the fundamentals of server load and twist the logic around a little.

  11. says

    Andy, look like you got their attention!

    Thought I’d mention RackSpace hosted our site for a few years. We were very happy with their service. A bit pricey but they’re good.

  12. says

    It does sound like Rackspace has some serious flaws in there marketing department. At least there product is sound. I have used them in the past and plan on using them in the future for large projects. Great article. Very in depth.

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