Use Common Sense When Using Marketing Giveaways


I recently signed up to, what appeared to be a great subscription list.  The information on the site was well presented, and the few posts/articles that I read were pretty good.  So I decided to subscribe to the list.  It also helped that they were providing a fantastic product for free… well, it wasn’t free.

Providing a marketing giveaway is a great incentive to get people to sign-up to your subscription list, just make sure you follow through.

But what is very disappointing is what happened to me after I signed-up.

The site sent me a “thank you” message saying that they will send me a confirmation e-mail to confirm the subscription.  This is perfectly fine.  So I received the e-mail and there was a link to download my “free bonus”.  Cool.  Clicked the link.

Squeeze Page #1 – uh-oh, I smell “scam”…

They first try to sell me something.  That something was a 5-year old e-book.  I clicked “no thanks”.

Squeeze Page #2 – man, what is going on here!!!

Now they ask me if I can refer 3, 4 or 5 more people to this list if I found it valuable.  Come on!  I have yet to receive even one e-mail and you want me to hand over trusted names to you?  I don’t think so.

I couldn’t even by-pass this page.  As I scrolled to the bottom there was a note saying that in order for me to get my “free bonus” I had to send out 3 additional invitations.

Scam.  Scam.  Scam.

If you are running this type of system on your site – I have some advice for you.  Stop with the enforced e-mails!  I am not stupid, and I don’t think your visitors are either.  Trying to force or bribe people to forward your friends or family information in order to be rewarded with a “free bonus” is bad business.  Most people will not fall for it.  If anything, they may provide bogus information to you and you’ll need to settle the issues when you’re accused of spamming.

Viral marketing and giveaways work when consumers feel compelled to participate – not because you have bribed them with points or something else.

What Will Not Work

  • Suggesting that e-mail recipients forward your message to their friends and family will not work.
  • Adding a line at the bottom of your e-mail that reads “Please feel free to forward this message to a friend” will probably get the e-mail deleted.
  • Asking the reader to provide more names and e-mail addresses definately will not work.

What Will Work

  • Offering something worthy of sharing like a valuable discount, vital information or offering an incentive for sharing like additional entries into a sweepstakes or an added discount or premium service will work.
  • Relevant or timely information, research, or studies that are included in your e-mail might encourage the recipients to share with others.
  • Interactive content like a quiz or test, especially if it is fun, will inspire forwarding.
  • Jokes and cartoons are almost always forwarded to everybody the recipient knows.  I tend to forward jokes and cartoons because they are entertaining.
  • A cool multimedia experience is always going to achieve a lot of pass-along.

You can craft a well written e-mail following all the rules, but if someone visits your site and has an experience less that what was promised, you well certainly be part of a viral marketing campaign — the bad kind.

It is amazing how many people out there still try to use marketing techniques that may have worked 10 years ago today — many of them don’t work for the simple reason that people are much smarter today and they can smell something foul as soon as they hit your website.

E-mail addresses, especially those used by individuals for years are coveted by those individuals.  It’s tough getting those e-mail addresses, especially if they are an individuals last name or other vanity name because most (if not all) the good names have been taken by those using the top free e-mail services (MSN, Yahoo, Google).  I protect my Yahoo/Google/MSN address.  You won’t get it without good reason.

When you ask for someone to sign-up for your newsletter, or alert service and in return are offering a product of value — ensure that you give the product and don’t force them to jump through hoops only to be disappointed later.



About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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