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#6.07: The “Fantastic Tell-a-Friend Forms” Issue

Get a huge number of recommendations by designing
fantastic tell-a-friend forms.

1> Why is
YouTube worth $1.6 billion?
2> 10 ways to
design a great tell-a-friend form
3> Video: The
power of tell-a-friend forms

1> Why is YouTube worth $1.6 billion?

… because there are 13 different ways to share every
video on YouTube.

 Think about this: Every video sharing site is pretty much
the same. You upload a video, you watch a video — not much to it. But YouTube made it easier to share
them. That’s all it took to make them a
global viral phenomenon, kick the competition’s butt, and become a $1.6 billion

2> 10 ways to design a great tell-a-friend form

  1. 5-second rule: Make sure the form can be filled out in 5 seconds or less. That means you only ask for name, email,
    friends’ names, friends’ emails. Maybe
    room for a message.
  2. Forms, not buttons: Replace the "tell a friend" link with a little form. Visible forms get more usage than forms
    buried behind a button.
  3. Privacy
    Put a link to your privacy
    promise on the form and conversion rates instantly increase.
  4. More friend
    If you have room for one friend
    (or a box where friends names’ are separated by commas), you tend to get only
    one recommendation. Put 3-5 separate
    fields for friends names, and you get more recommendations. This trick can double the number of referrals
    you get.
  5. Send a thank
    An email confirmation to the
    recommender triggers additional recommendations. Reinforce positive actions
    with gratitude! But some people might find it creepy that you are spying on
  6. Put it on every
    Don’t make shoppers hunt for a
    form. They won’t do it. Put a recommendation form on every page and every page
    gets recommended.
  7. Add a personal
    When senders add a note to the
    message, it makes them feel better about sending and it makes the message more
    likely to get opened.
  8. Make it exclusive: Make the referrer look smart and important by
    giving them an insider offer to pass along.
  9. Add a
    "Most Forwarded" list:
    People love to read these, and readers love to
    express themselves by forwarding the popular stuff, too.
  10. And the #1
    best way to get someone to pass along an offer
    : Write "Do Not Forward" right on top of an email. RELEVANT?
    This one doesn’t actually relate to forms, which is what this is supposed to be


3> Video: The power of tell-a-friend forms

Check out this video of me talking about the power of
tell-a-friend forms

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Bruce Judson September 6, 2007 at 11:30 pm #

    Great post on what makes for a great Tell-A-Friend form. In fact, I had already noticed on your newsletter that you had a fantastic Tell-A-Friend form. (Yes, I am such an Andy Sernovitz fan that I get both the newsletter and read the blog to ensure I don’t miss anything!)
    Since you raised the issue, now I feel it’sappropriate to ask the question I have been wondering about since I saw your newsletter some time ago: Where did you get your form and where does a humble fan who wants to follow your advice go to get a Tell-A-Friend form that meets the criteria you describe.
    I recognized the power of Tell-A-Friend forms a while ago. This recognition was reinforced when I saw your form on your newsletter. And, I really want to add one to add a great one to the new service I launched last week ( But, I have scoured the Web and there is no hosted service that I could find that comes close to meeting the design you describe.
    The one item missing from your post is where to get a form that meets the criteria you describe. Is there a hosted service you recommend? Is there a piece of software you recommend? Or, do those of us who want to follow your advice need to have these forms custom designed? And if so, is there someone you recommend for this design?
    A devoted fan,
    Bruce Judson
    Author, “Go It Alone!” (HarperCollins)
    Founder, Free For

  2. Andy Sernovitz September 7, 2007 at 8:02 am #

    Aww… Bruce, you’re too kind.
    I use a great little form from called MasterRecommend Pro. Installs in a snap, only $49. Been using it on all my sites for 7 years, it’s never failed me.

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