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I'm working on a site where you can email some customized site results. Our team has a theory that most of the time people who are using "email to a friend"-style functionality are actually emailing to themselves, however I can't find any data/studies to back that up. This would affect how we design our email form. I'm wondering if there is any research or proof out there that people primarily email pages to themselves?

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I don't have any research other than my own habits, but 90% of the time I have used something like that it has been to myself. –  mcrumley Jan 27 at 21:45
    
What is being emailed? –  Izhaki Jan 27 at 23:19
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I've observed users sending to themselves and then sending to a friend, as that way they can validate what's being sent in their name and possibly edit it, this also means if the friend replies, then it goes back to the 'right' person. –  Sam Jan 28 at 9:23
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Interesting question. If so, it would suggest that adding a "send this to my email" feature would be a good addition for such sites. –  André Jan 28 at 10:33
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If you want to do the research, just include two buttons: "send to a friend", "send to myself". They obviously do the same thing, but people will probably click the right one. –  Steve Bennett Jan 28 at 23:35

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

So, we settled on an approach that offers both "to yourself" and "to a friend," here's a mobile wireframe to get a concept of what we ended up with. If anyone has any additional thoughts or suggestions on how to improve this, would happily hear them:

Email wireframe

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Since you built it with the option for both, are you tracking the usage? I'd love to see your results over time posted back here. –  Gidgidonihah Feb 7 at 0:54
    
It won't be live till later this year but I can report back findings! –  Michael Histen Feb 19 at 21:48

I agree to your statement that it’s hard to find relevant data on your question. There are many opinions on what you’re asking, but very few answer. In addition, Yahoo! Answers aren’t valid in this context. That’s bad news.

However, there are good news too. Since this is “your” system, you can easy to check if you have signed in users, and e-mail is required. What you need to do is to compare the signed in users e-mail, compared to the e-mail to field in your applications e-mail page. It will not be 100 percent accurate, since users may use other e-mail addresses as well, but it would roughly give you a hint if it were 10 % or 90 % of your users mailing themselves.

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This would be a good approach, unfortunately our site has no sign-in feature so we wouldn't be able to do the comparison. –  Michael Histen Jan 28 at 15:04
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If you require both the to and from fields, you can do a comparison in the browser and just track whether they are the same address. Pseudo code for Google Analytics: form.onsubmit => _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Behavior', 'Share to self', to.value === from.value]) –  bfred.it Jan 29 at 1:23
    
In this particular case, you could do a compare on the To and From addresses. There are other "send to a friend" type things (i.e. send this to a friend and you both get 10% off) where many people probably do send to themselves, but use a different email address so they can get the offer code more than once. I've run into this a lot in the site I work on (major U.S. pizza chain.) In those cases, I have yet to find a way to prevent that from happening, or even to get any kind of data on how often it's happening. –  EmmyS Feb 3 at 21:21

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