As Beeminder super-fans may remember, I am the Beeminder Minister of the Exterior, who started a few months ago helping out the BeeTeam. Since I started, I’ve actually mainly been focusing on interior work at Beeminder (financial processes) but I’m transitioning into working on finding new ways to bring people on to Beeminder!
One of the concepts I’m most excited about is a referral program. I know that before I joined the Beeminder staff, I blogged regularly about Beeminder and constantly was telling my friends how great it was. Word-of-mouth is one of the biggest ways that the Bee-love gets spread. So: would you take advantage of a referral program? What kind would you prefer?
Option 1: Beemium Coupon method: A referral program that gives both you and the new user a month of bee plus or infinibee when they use your referral code. Theoretically, if you regularly refer people to Beeminder, you could have a premium account at no cost to you.
Option 2: Cold Hard Cash method A referral program that gives you some amount of cash (let’s say ~$5) after someone signs up using your referral link and creates a goal. You’d have to create an account on a separate website most likely (like referralcandy) but once set up, it would be set up forever, and you’d get cash on an ongoing basis. I had this set up for YNAB (my budgeting software) and I netted around $80/year just from having my referral link in my signature on a forum.
Option 3: Affliate/ambassador program A program that you need to apply for rather than have the code generated automatically. This could be combined with either the options above or it may have a more closely revenue-sharing mode. This is the most marketing-y of all the options. It probably wouldn’t make sense for you if you don’t have a large online following, but could end up being a great revenue source for a Beeminder lover who also is a blogger and/or superuser of Pinstafacesnapgram.
What do you think? Complete this sentence “A potential beeminder referral program makes me feel ______.” (e.g. excited, bored, icky)
But more important than the option, do you guys have a great one pager article (pref. 3rd party?).
Most of the time when I tell people about Beeminder, they think I’m nuts. (Hmm… nutsier.) “So, if I don’t lose a half pound a week, these guys charge my credit card! How great is that?” And, they back away slowly.
I can only really see myself referring someone to Beeminder if we had a conversation about procrastination / productivity and I was able to say, “I use these guys. Here’s a link and an article.”
I would love to see some sort of incentive program for integrations - something like @galtsubery’s beemind.me has I think been super useful to folks and might cause more goals to be created, but may not necessarily be driving new users to register. (I’m assuming people tend to use that sort of integration after being a user for a bit).
That being said, I can see how that would be hard to measure and a simpler signup only program might be an easier place to start - Option 1 is the most appealing to me.
Option 1. Especially if combined with an explanatory link that doesn’t make people think I’m crazy. Most of my Beeminder-related conversations end around the time I mention paying actual money when I derail.
Option 3 would be intriguing if I had some kind of online presence, but I don’t.
No referral program would interest me. In general, referral programs make me feel icky, as a referrer. Probably because when I’m on the receiving end, it instantly devalues someone else’s recommendation when I discover they get something out of having pitched a service to me.
I think that last point is worth deeper consideration in Beeminder’s specific case: Beeminder is entwined with money by design. People already have a hard time understanding the appeal of paying money when you fail to achieve your goals. So when a trufan is waxing lyrical about the wonders of Beeminder, I think it doubly undercuts their believability if they’re recouping some of their losses in the process. I’m not sure a referral program would actually increase new user numbers—it might even decrease them.
(Obviously that depends on how many more people would hear about Beeminder, how many would be put off by the friend getting a “kickback,” etc., which are probably really hard to quantify up front. Just a point I thought worth mentioning while you’re brainstorming.)
If I could like @grayson’s post more than once, I’d do it. So here’s another
I do think that learning to beemind works best if a trusted friend can talk you through your first steps, so giving y’all the words and explanations to effectively evangelise would help tremendously.
This is genius. Integrations make Beeminder more useful, but can be expensive to maintain, so there’s quite a hurdle to deciding to support a new one. Whatever this incentive programme might look like, it needs to ensure that there’s incentive to keep the integration running smoothly…
Grayson & Philip, that is exactly what I was concerned about - some (Danny included) feel that referral programs are icky and corporate. This is good to hear and a large part of why I started this process with a forum post. Here’s why I like referral programs:
While plenty of people refer Beeminder out of the goodness of their heart, it would be nice to give them something in exchange for creating new users. Since we’re all about incentives and disincentives (carrots and sticks) at Beeminder it seems perfectly fair to appropriately reward people for creating new users. Money or free premium plan months are the most efficient ways to do that.
Speaking of incentives, knowing you might actually get something from referring people, beyond the warm fuzzies of helping your friends achieve your goals, might motivate you to write that blog post, have that conversation, etc. I know I have a Beeminder-related blog post I’ve been sitting on for almost a year I might finish if there was a potential “bounty” at the end.
I am by no means a gung-ho “grow at all costs” gal but we definitely need to grow Beeminder so that the wonderful folks that made it (Danny and Bee) can be paid close to what they’d be making at a “real job”. Unfortunately for us, that means we have to spend money on marketing. There’s two ways to do that:
more paid advertising - most likely more facebook ads and google ads. Meaning we give more money to giant companies.
more grassroots growth - most likely a referral program and affiliate relationships with other allied brands/users. Meaning we give money to people we like (you!) instead of giant companies.
The reason I like grassroots growth over paid advertising is precisely because Beeminder is so scary. If Beeminder the company tries to convince you that Beeminder is a great idea, you may feel like you’re getting scammed. If a friend explains how it’s helped them lose weight, finish their PHD, exercise through depression, read 52 books in a year, it helps add credibility to the case. But I understand for some affiliate/referral programs take the edge off the recommendation.
It’s really good to get your feedback, as your worries were precisely what we were afraid of when considering this strategy. Given that Beeminder is a rather confusing/scary concept for many, it might be time to invest in more explanatory marketing materials (perhaps incentivizing youtube creators with an already large following into using Beeminder for a month?) rather than referrals.
I’m icked out by a lot of marketing things (see my snarktacular description of our cyber monday deal) but @anomalily convinced me that this need not be icky, as long as it’s always disclosed, of course.
If people feel that offsetting the derailments dampens the sting, as @grayson speculates, we could stick with Option 1 (earning a premium plan). But I actually don’t think that sharing Beeminder revenue should harm the incentives. Are you harming the incentives if you offset a costly derailment by spending extra time at your day job? Helping evangelize Beeminder is real work and we want to share the spoils of it!
It’s actually ironic because I find a lot of things businesses do much ickier than most people but I find money less icky than anyone else I know. And that includes actual economists.
The kind of incentives that feel least icky to me are those that help both parties (the person doing the referring and the person who signs up). So that’d be Option 1. Paid subscriptions are also my preferred form of reimbursement, because they’re only useful to someone who’s actually using the service (ie, your friend can at least be confident you’re not just scamming them for cash).
Other ways of getting folks to do more public Beeminder praise:
The one-page version @davidhm21 mentioned would be a huge help. There are lots of blog posts and such that cover similar topics, but not many which are written (and graphic-designed) with the question of “That sounds weird. Why would I want to do that?” in mind.
A testimonials page (or pages, grouped by life area of the beeminding) that instead of general praise has user stories, preferably with each testimonial tied to a featured graph. Ideally, this would involve telling the story around a particular goal - what it was, what you wanted to do, and how Beeminder helped you achieve that goal (or realize you didn’t actually want to). This is particularly important given the fact that featured graphs currently don’t show their fine print and often don’t have good descriptions, so it can be hard to tell what the graph is even about.
I’d be happy with all three options. I like #2 more than #1, since I can imagine referring enough people that it would outpace the amount I pay for premium, but that’s unlikely enough that my 2 > 1 preference isn’t very strong.
Part of my email response which I’ll throw out for more public agreement/disagreement –
I’ve gotten bolder about singing the praises of Beeminder in public (when people ask me why I was never stressed about comps, for example), but so far no one has been interested enough to try it. My awesome goal-accomplishing friends tend to say “Neat! My own system works great for me too.” My flailing friends tend to have really strong negative reactions, and then I can talk them around to, “well, I guess I can see how something like that could be good for you, but I would never be able to use it.” I think for the friends who are currently stuck in the not-awesome not-living-up-to-their-goals spiral, they can tell that just signing up for Beeminder isn’t actually sufficient in itself – you also have to formulate good goals, and then do the daily work to accomplish them – and they get turned off by something that they imagine as only ever punishing them for failures. But maybe they’re just not Type Bee people?
So, it can be a weirdly personal thing to try to actually refer someone to Beeminder, rather than just talking about it generally, because figuring out whether it would work can involve essentially asking, “Do you actually want to do the things you say you want to do?”
+1 to this. A lot of the time when I talk to my friends, my advice boils down to “Well, it depends what exactly your goals are.” Which is something folks aren’t used to thinking closely about - it’s easy to say “I want X” without wondering why you want X or what the best way for you to achieve X is. I think a testimonial/how-to gallery would do a lot to help with this concern. Then instead of just giving a general recommendation, we could link to a specific story of “Here’s a person that achieved X using Beeminder, with the details of how they did it and why they took that approach.”