When Cross-Promotion Makes Sense

A few weeks ago I railed against one-time cross-promotional "deals", arguing that they're rarely worth doing since the expected upside (some number of leads) is easily bought with cash. Put differently, if all you can expect in exchange for spamming your own mailing list with someone else's message is a bunch of landings then you're better off scrounging together some cash and buying some AdWords or placing a few Facebook Ads. Save your email blasts for something worthwhile that can't be bought with cash.

Buried in that general admonition are two assumptions:

  1. The landings from the cross-promo partner will be indistinguishable from the ones you can buy from Google or Facebook or Twitter. 
  2. Being "introduced" by the partner to their email list will have no impact on how the recipients view and engage with your brand and product.

Those are two pretty big assumptions but I think they're both pretty good ones. First, ad and social networks are good at precise targeting which makes recreating a generic version of the partner's lead an easy thing to do. Second, people recognize a mass email when they see one and it's the rare piece of promotional spam that can create warm feelings.