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I'm working on a online coaching tool which consists on making users reflect, watch coach's videos and answer questions about themselves. Each session has different parts, the last one asks for user's feedback. Almost all of them are filling the feedback questions with constructive suggestions and critics.

To bring new customers we're thinking about creating a new question at the last part, asking them to suggest other possible customers (friends, family, &c) that need coaching but it's not an obligatory field so that they won't feel unconfortable.

Some of our customers wants privacy, they don't want other people to know they're making coaching for personal reasons. For that, we can explain on that field that we can contact that possible customer without telling them who did told us.

My question is, if we can't tell the possible customer who did suggest those coaching sessions, won't be strange to receive that mail he didn't opt-in to? I'm afraid that could affect our "senderscore", making some possible customers to be afraid of that "invasion" on their mailbox. Do you have another strategy to avoid this situation?

Thank you very much!

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Personally, I think this feature is deeply problematic and would just remove it.

From the customer's side:

  • Getting customers to recommend your product to people they know is a big ask under normal circumstances. People don't want to serve as your advertisers. Normally this strategy doesn't work without some strong incentives.
  • If the topic is sensitive, it is likely to make people feel uncomfortable and reduce trust in your brand, even if it is optional.
  • People will likely worry that their friends would guess who referred them anyway.
  • It might reduce the quality of your survey results, as people might resent this question (or think the whole survey is an excuse to get referrals) and thus not submit the form.

From the side of the person referred:

  • It will, indeed be a problem that the email appears as spam.
  • Even if you say "you were referred by someone" without stating who it was, people will assume this isn't really true, and the email will appear to be spam. In fact, this will seem more spammy.

When referrals work, it is based on the relationship between the customer and the person referred. By making it anonymous, you lose the main benefit. This is likely to do more harm than good.

I would say, keep the feedback form focused on getting feedback. If you feel that some customers might be willing to refer others (identifiably, not anonymously), provide a separate button on the site to contact a friend. Making it an optional feature, that is clear what they are doing when they click on it, will be less threatening. Also, the option should allow the customer to compose the email their friend would see (pre-filling it with a link to your site and some boilerplate text that they can change), rather than giving you permission to spam them.

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  • thanks for the advice, the separate button idea is great. So that, no other areas would be "infected" with user's frustration of being asked to advertise the product to others. You mentioned users won't normally do that unless they have a big reason behind it. Have you ever tried to do that in one project? Is giving discounts and/or privileges a good way to begin? I wouldn't like to run a survey dealing exclusively with this to avoid abusing our users.
    – Carbon
    Oct 10, 2014 at 16:50
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    @Patrick, I don't have direct experience with it. I think it depends very much on how users feel about your product--how much they want to share it with others, and how much the incentives are worth to them. You probably wouldn't need to run a survey. Instead, try an incentive, and if it doesn't work, try something else.
    – user31143
    Oct 11, 2014 at 6:56

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