Groupon. Why not?
For the past couple of weeks my partner and I have been heavily involved in using Groupon.com. If you have not heard of it yet then use this link to sign up it is free and I get $10 if one of those referrals makes a purchase. Here is how it works: a person gets an email with the Groupon almost every day. If you like the group coupon then you sign up and put in your credit card. If enough people sign up for the deal then the deal goes through and all the people that signed up will be charged and their Groupon will be emailed to them.
As an experiment I tried canvasing new members through two different channels. One was through a social media channel like Facebook and another was in a purely social environment. I made a strong presentation in both cases trying to get new potential customers to the site using my link (or not). Facebook’s case was pretty easy as I could reach a wide range of people quickly. All I did was post a short testimonial and ask if there were any questions. I did respond to a few people but it was quite easy having people sign up. The other was I gave a short testimonial in the lunchroom at work. That was so much more difficult. I found more people to be much more skeptical when I presented things in person then if I had just emailed them asking them to sign up because it was good.
The range of questions was broader in the pure social presentation and I had to deal with a heckler (you know who you are if you are reading this). Dealing with someone who questions the product tends to bring down the impact of my own testimonial and ultimately it was difficult to convince the group that this was a valuable service.
In all it was an interesting experiment to try to persuade users to sign up for something they had never heard of. I also noted that those who didn’t sign up immediately after the presentation were most likely not to sign up at all despite myself telling the potential new sign-up that it was free and they could remove themselves from any emails.