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A customer buys a product from an online store and receives an order confirmation email. My company receives commission for having referred that customer.

We want to pay a bonus to the shopper (i.e. we want to share that commission) but only if she is willing to provide us with the full order confirmation email (so we know what she bought, when, and how much she spent). That's the trade.

(The store provides only very limited information, so we require the shopper's participation and willingness to provide the order details.)

We could either:

  1. ask the user to forward the email message to us
  2. ask the user to copy the email and paste it into a form on our site
  3. [do something else?]

Our system will then automatically parse the data and reward the shopper.

We're leaning toward Option 2 because it might be easier to describe (and show steps for) than forwarding an email and also because we could then add a validation step where the parser can prompt the user to correct any fields that it populated incorrectly. If we find that our parser is always 100% correct, we could then remove the validation step.

I'm looking for suggestions about how to make it dead simple to understand and to do. How can I instruct users how to copy an entire email message to their clipboard, visit my site, and paste it into a textarea field?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

My recommendation would be to go with the email approach. That would be a one click process and it's already used by companies like TripIt to build up travel itineraries.

Other than that, I am not sure if you can insert text into the email sent by the online store, but if you do have access, you can have a simple text link which says:

"Copy the text of this email and paste at it our site to receive a bonus"

This could take the user to the site page where you can have a simple text box form to enter the data.

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