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Dropbox and the Golden Rule of Referral Marketing

Dropbox is a service that I both use extensively, and admire.

  • It synchronizes all of my data across all of the devices that I use – seamlessly, effortlessly, with no errors.
  • It makes my documents totally mobile.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve reached for my iPad to grab a contract or a document from the cloud, when in the past I would have had to return to my desk.
  • It lets me create on the fly “shares” in the cloud so that I can give other people access to documents.
  • Best of all, it works across Microsoft and Apple products, both of which I use.

In short, I think it’s pretty close to being the perfect synchronizing and sharing solution.  As a result, I often find myself recommending Dropbox to friends.

Dropbox tickled my inbox with an offer this afternoon.  For each of my friends that I invite to Dropbox, and who accept, they offered me an extra 500M of storage. Why not get extra space for doing something I already do?

And that’s where I made my mistake.  I loaded my Google address book into their handy program, and pressed the button, expecting to be able to write something like what I just wrote above.  I expected to be able to explain to everyone I was mailing exactly why I thought so much of Dropbox. I wanted to tell them about my personal experience.  I was hoping to encourage them to use the product because it’s that good. And I wanted to let them know that they could get extra storage by simply telling their friends.

For Dropbox, I would have been the perfect evangelist customer.

I didn’t get the chance.  Dropbox’s mailer simply spammed my contacts with the one liner “Alec Saunders wants you to use Dropbox to sync and share files online and across computers.”  I felt like an idiot.  People asked why I was spamming their inbox.  Dropbox lost a golden opportunity.


The Golden Rule of Referral Marketing?  Let me explain why I am referring this company to you.  Otherwise you’re simply asking for permission to spam my contacts, and that’s not something I really want to do.

And by the way, despite this experience, I still think Dropbox rocks.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Vince Perriello September 14, 2010, 2:13 pm

    Well… I'd been poised to do this anyway… even had the app already installed on the iPhone. So I went ahead and did it when your "spam" arrived. And I got 250M as a bonus for responding to the referral.

    That said… I agree that a personal note from a jazzed user beats marketing-speak from robomailers every time!

  • Dan York September 14, 2010, 7:24 pm


    Aha! I wondered why you spammed me today. :-)

    So the question is, though, after it is all done… how many referrals will you get out of today?

    Dan (also a very happy DropBox user for quite some time now)

  • Mom September 15, 2010, 6:46 am

    I was wondering what that invitation yesterday was all about and was going to phone you! Now I don't have to do that. I don't think your Dad and I would have much use for all that dropbox has to offer. We don't even carry a mobile phone.

  • Casey September 16, 2010, 2:45 pm

    why is it spam if they write the message instead of you? it's still spam if you send it to your entire contact list. if you wanted to control the message you should just copy and paste the link yourself into your own email.

  • Jim Courtney September 28, 2010, 5:55 am


    I have used DropBox for over a year. Last week I was able to add DropBox for BlackBerry to my DropBox clients.

    One caution, until they launch a feature called "Sync Select", DropBox can fill up your PC's disk with Folders or content that have no relevance to what you need. Once you set up a "master folder" all the folders underneath are shared whether you want them or not; Sync Select is a feature currently in beta at Dropbox that will resolve this issue. I had two different PC's end up with full disks because of this. In one case I had to uninstall DropBox; in the other case I was able to remove about 1/3 of the disk content as it was no longer relevant to what I need.

    Currently it's more of a personal folders product as opposed to a business product.

  • Paul Alexander October 11, 2010, 2:51 pm

    3 gb referral – http://db.tt/VnxvzRs
    I love dropbox but as a student, I am quickly running out of space. Since I signed up during one of their promotions with a .edu email address, the person who uses my referral link receives an extra 1 gb of space (as well as me). That gives you an immediate 3 gb of space and helps me get more space too! My referral link is http://db.tt/VnxvzRs. Thanks in advance.

  • asy January 8, 2011, 9:44 am

    Sync your files online and across computers with @Dropbox. 2GB account is free + 250MB bonus! http://db.tt/rP3UWBf

  • dante291 January 22, 2011, 9:30 pm

    dropbox really rocks with its sync/indexing feature, its getting really hard to live without it, i have on all my computer and on my phone, anyway i would appreciate it if you would use my referral link :) http://db.tt/DUbJjtr

  • Jeremy May 27, 2011, 4:53 pm

    Please use me as a referral.


  • Tudor Leah June 3, 2011, 3:06 am

    Always have your stuff when you need it with @Dropbox. 2GB account is free! http://db.tt/l2A8iPs

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