Posted by xp on October 21, 2003 at 21:05 [188.8.131.52]
In Reply to: Re: Referral: GOOD or BAD??? posted by its mee on October 21, 2003 at 17:27
Wow. I would like to thank everyone for their thoughtful and well reasoned responses. The opinions expressed have been very helpful. I have been thinking about the matter a lot over the last 24 hours.
MMK, jerab, and DaddyA, thanks for the great input. I fully realize that people will complain. I also realize that it is good business practice (and just plain decent) to hear their concerns and try to respond in a responsible manner.
its mee, I hear what you are saying about referrals being impersonal. This is probably the biggest drawback and the main reason why people do not like them. You see it in your basket and think "what did he do to deserve part of my purchase?" You are also 100% correct that there is no direct benefit to the customer. The same could be said if I decided to buy a banner ad on wetset. Like most advertising the benefit is indirect.
Your analogy abut the grocery clerk is an interesting one. However, it implies that the store owner does not know about the $5.00 being taken, which is not the case here. All stores pay their cashiers. How they do it is usually not a big concern of the shopper. (Unless they are on strike like here in CA...)
A better analogy might be if they paid $0.50 of every sale to the guy who dusts the shelves at night. The customers never see him, they don't get any direct benefit from his presence, yet in a small way he is contributing to the success of the store. Better yet, when you get to checkout it asks you: Was the store clean? If you say 'no' then, hey, no $0.50 for that guy. It's kind of like giving a tip, except that it doesn't come out of your pocket.
There is no simple answer I guess. The fact is that advertising costs money. Wether it is paid directly out of the sale (referral), or indirectly out of operating cash (Google ads, Yahoo listings, putting a billboard on the freeway, etc.) makes no difference in the end. The intent is to introduce the product and service to people who I sincerely hope will find it useful and valuable.
My goal is to do so in the most honest, forthright and respectful method possible. For this reason I do not use spam, pop-unders, or blinking neon ads. I have, however, decided to continue the referral program in its current form. If anyone wishes to bypass the referral, please feel free to delete if from the cart before checking out.
And davee, thanks for the tip. As a result of your feedback, I have made some changes to the presentation of the referral in the basket. It now gives the full name of the referring organization, and has a clickable link that brings up a further explanation of what it is all about.