Mike and I were reading this great story over on TechCrunch about how it was that little message on the bottom of Hotmail emails, "Get your free Email at Hotmail", that helped kick off the massive spread of Hotmail back in 1996. The key reasons that message worked were:
1. Simply by using the product everyone became a salesperson.
2. The implied endorsement that came with the message made it very powerful. The receiver of the email could see that a) their friend is a user, b) the product works, c) it's free.
After adding that message Hotmail grew exponentially. From the blog post: "We would notice the first user from a university town or from India, and then the number of subscribers from that region would rapidly proliferate."
I'm not a huge fan of that message because adding it without the ability for users to remove it is spammy so I'd like to do it a little differently. The spammy feel to the message is what the Hotmail founders were worried about too, but it was very effective.
Reading this got Mike and I thinking, what's our "Get your free Email at Hotmail line"?
The email that we sent out to our friends and Shoes of Prey email newsletter subscribers last week worked extremely well. Offering a $50 credit to anyone who had the email forwarded to them saw Shoes of Prey receive over 10,000 visits from an email that we only sent to a couple of hundred people. And sales were great in our first week as a result. We saw emails that had been forwarded on 4 or 5 times. (Thanks to Dom for the awesome suggestion to do this!). However now that the credit offer has expired the email isn't being forwarded on anymore.
How else can we achieve a "Get your free Email at Hotmail" message? We'd love your thoughts!