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The Net Takeaway: "Forgot to mention..."


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"Forgot to mention..." · 03/02/2007 04:42 PM, Marketing

I recently received this email from a service I’ve used in the past called YouSendIt. Its actually not a bad service for sending files through email (though Pando is prettier and can integrate with Yahoo Instant Messenger… but I digress)... but I will probably not be using it too often til they respect their customers a bit more.

I was disappointed to see this marketing email printed below. You read it, see if you feel the way I do:

Subject: Here’s a Free Upgrade for Your Account

Free Upgrade to Business Plus


Your Lite account is great, but you deserve more. That’s why we are giving you a free upgrade to our most powerful service, YouSendIt Business Plus, to experience the many benefits it provides. This is a $29.99 value and you get it absolutely free – no strings attached.

Compared to your current account, some key advantages include the ability to:

* Track file downloads * Send multiple files at once * Customize file deliveries with your logo * Password protect your uploaded files

Plus, there are no ads on your pages or your recipient’s download pages.
Hurry, this promotion ends soon.

[A link I’ve removed was here]

Sent by Responsys, it included the proper Can-Spam stuff. Note that they left off my first name, but that’s not really the issue.

When you click, you go to a page with a list of the benefits, including larger files, etc. (probably things they should have mentioned in the mail, actually) and a login.

You then get to a page with 2 options, and here’s where I get disappointed.

1) Click here for a FREE upgrade! [Free Upgrade image].

Then in small print, “Upgrade valid for 30 days. Clicking this button upgrades you for free. Your credit card will not be charged and if you choose not to subscribe after the upgarde period ends your account will revert back to Lite status.”

(BTW, 2) is a signup form for full subscription).

Now, why am I disappointed? I shouldn’t be, they were truthful in every aspect of the message and login page… but only near the end did they mention that its a 30 day trial.

Like the online stores which hit you with S&H charges right before the final confirmation, I consider this a bait and switch. What could have been a real loyalty creator (give it to me for a year, but ask me to share the site with others by using it, and if not used 1x a month, remove it) really became yet another marketing flim flam.

Would I have even clicked if I knew that it was a trial? No, so creatively, they will have high clicks. But because they refused to let me know what I was going to experience, all it really does is disappoint the user, turning a gift into a negative experience.

There is no shortage of competitors in this One-Click Hosters space, so the only way to stand out is by clever marketing and smooth product functioning. Pando is leading the way on smooth, so others are choosing marketing. And in this case, bad marketing.

My suggestion to YouSendIt? Leverage the very technology you’ve built your business around, email, to send open and honest messages about trial upgrades, and maybe people will try them. But hide constraints or limitations til the end, and all you do is kick yourself. And consider the viral nature of your offering: if I use this to send a file to my friend, they will discover the service and use it for themselves (ala Hotmail in the early days). So, you should really want me to have that upgrade, and let me keep it only if I use it 1-3 times a month. Now, that’s a “free upgrade for my account”, and you’ve challenged me to show how much I appreciate it by using it.

Viral, sharing, and cheap. Wow, compared to the approach involving “almost deception” and “hide the facts”, it might just work.

Update… see Jeremy Wagstaff’s post on a related YouSendIt issue

* * *


  1. I appreciate your comments on this one. I agree with your take on it and I am glad I didn’t click on it. It smelled funny to me and I hate the bait and switch nature of it. It’s really hurt yousendit’s image for me and I doubt if I will be using them much anymore. This kind of marketing leads to other more deceptive tactics and it seems out of step with how people like to be open and forthright and let us make the decision on your service.

    Rob D    Mar 4, 02:23 PM    #

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