Shetoldme – How not to do it!

Some months ago, I joined Shetoldme.com, one of the many sites where you can publish your content in exchange for back links and share in a possible ad revenue generated by your content / article. I think I mentioned them even briefly in this context on this blog (have to check that one up). Truth is, I never used them much, I published only one article with them and for reasons I don’t remember (working of the site? / indexing speed?) never bothered again with them — until today.

I just started a new site, a home and garden niche article directory, and noticed that some of the articles published still hadn’t been indexed by Google a few days later.

So I decided to give them a little “push” with a short, supporting article. Just to show the Google Bot where to find the quality content 😉 And, hey!, I remembered my Shetoldme account. Exactly what would fit the bill, a short article on a well indexed site, to show the way to content gold to the search engine bots.

So, I sat down and wrote up a little post, called a “scoop” for SheToldMe. No double content, originally written, all in keeping with their content guidelines (I check them afresh, as it was quite some time ago that I had visited the site the last time). I hit submit and what do I get back? An “unvalid url” error for my link to my site. Ehm!? Without link, such a supporting article is quite useless, don’t you agree? After re-checking several times, I was sure that the mistake was not to be found in my part of the submission process. So I send a support ticket, and here is where the story really starts! Immediately I got the copy of my support ticket send to my email, as requested. Great, now I can be sure the ticket has arrived. And hey! Minutes later I receive an answer! Great customer care you think? Not really! Here the text of the answer to my support ticket:

“Thank you for your message, this is an automated email to let you know that the message has been sent correctly and I will read it soon.”

Wonderful, great, but then I read on:

“Do you have your own website/blog? SheToldMe.com is hosted by xyz-webhost, this is the best web hosting company I’ve found after many years of webmastering, have a look at (referral link) and if you’re interested in a free trial or to get a full account, use the coupon code “shetoldme” in order to have $50 off your order. If you need more info on why this web hosting company is the best I’ve found, contact me with your questions.

Cheers,
name of SheToldMe-Owner”

What the heck??? I submitted a support ticket, I didn’t subscribe to an email marketing list and I was surely not expecting getting a sales pitch in exchange for a support ticket I submitted because of the malfunctioning of his site. So I wrote back:

“Good grief, instead of a response to my problem, I get a sales pitch! Don’t think I will use your site ever again, bye, SY”

And, I guess before he could read my reply, I also received this answer to my ticket:

“Hello, thank you for your message regarding the URL checking system not working correctly. I’ll reboot the server now, and you can try again, maybe it will work. If not tomorrow it should be resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience, I understand it can be frustrating, but don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with your account.
Cheers, SheToldMe-Owner”

Bolding by me… So, what, a site that wants my content, needs their servers be re-booted “by hand” as soon as something goes wrong? Maybe it will work? Wow, what level of professionalism! Perhaps tomorrow? Or when? Don’t worry? Every time somebody tells me that, I DO worry! Cheers to you…

Don’t get me wrong, bad things do happen to good sites and things can be turned around in a heart beat to make a good impression despite a minor technical mishap. But sending a referral-sales pitch in response to a technical support ticket? And instead of simply acknowledging that: Yes, the problem is on our site, we work on it and will tell you when it is back to normal, I get a “maybe, try again, perhaps tomorrow”-style email? Not what I call good public relation skills! But then I also got another reply shortly after:

“Hello, well I also sent a reply to your email, saying that I’m working on it, the site might work tomorrow. You can’t possibly blame me for an automated message confirming your email has been received, along with a sales pitch, can you? Cheers, SheToldMe – Owner”

I can’t? Really? Who I beg to know, set up the automated sales pitch, some unknown alien that lives in your server – or your good self? Oh, and very glad to know, that your site might work tomorrow …

But it didn’t stop here, I received another email:

“But I’ll help you to avoid wasting time with my site by deleting your user account, which you hardly used anyway, it’s simpler that way. Sincerely sorry for the inconvenience this url checking problem caused you.
Cheers, SheToldMe-Owner”

To which I simply replied:

“You are welcome to do so! SY”

So, why do I bother to blog about this? Apart of the cathartic effect obviously? Because it is a great example how a complaint could have turned into something positive, but instead the situation got completely misused by greed to make the quick referral buck.

Compare what would have happened with this, theoretical, scenario:

  • Site user sends support ticket to report a bug / malfunction.
  • Site owner sends automated message that the support ticket has been received and will be answered shortly by a human.
  • Site owner sends apology for malfunction, says “Thank You” for reporting the bug and tells site user exactly when the problem will be solved and the site can be used as usual.
  • Site user appreciates the customer care, waits until the problem is solved and uses site again.
  • Site User writes a raving blog post about how good the support at XYZ.com is and helps to spread the word about this great site.

See the difference? What could have happened if the situation would have been handled wisely and what happened instead?

Oh, in case you don’t know how SheToldMe works, the idea is similar to Hubpages or Infobarrel (both highly recommended by me for their great level of customer care). You submit original content and get in return a dofollow backlink and a share in the advertisement revenue your article creates.

Disclaimer: This blog post just expresses my personal experience and opinion about how customer care is handled by SheToldMe.com, nothing else. Oh, and I have already web hosting which I am extremely happy with 😉

If you like this blog post and found it helpful, why not share it with your preferred social network? Handy links and bookmarklets above ^^^ 😉

14 comments to Shetoldme – How not to do it!

  • Hi SY – You’ve shared valuable advice about customer service in your “How Not to Do It.”

    I’m on lookout for solid ways to drive more traffic to my photo blog about photography and places and events in New York. Your above post is first time I’ve heard about Hubpagers and Infobarrel, so I just visited them – but I’m not quite sure if basic purpose is good fit for my goals – are posts there mainly meant to stand alone, or to also lead to one’s own blog?
    .-= AnnParryNY´s last blog ..NORTH MERRICK =-.

    • hospitalera

      Hi Ann! Long time not seen, how is life treating you? As for driving more traffic to your NY photo blog or website, that is a simple question that needs a very long answer. Putting it simple, you need to be found better in the search engines, so when somebody looks for “Family portrait New York”, you turn up on the first page of Google’s search results. The best way to achieve this is by having a lot of links pointing to your site. Hubs and Infobarrel, and Squidoo also, can help you with this if used wisely. You could also team up with other photographers that have blog / websites and exchange links. Basically you have to decide for which search terms you want to be found, check how much traffic potential they would have, how strong the competition is, build and optimize your website for these search terms and encourage people to link to you with the appropriate anchor text in the links. For example, nobody will search for “AnnParryNY” in Google. So, next time you post a comment here make it “Ann Parry@Your Keywords” and you have build already one link to your blog / website. Hope that helps, SY

  • Lol.. I cannot believe they promote/sell of stuff in reply back emails. Its quite common in other niches, but first time I am hearing from an article marketing website. Especially with a reply to a support question.

  • Good stuff here on how NOT to provide good customer service. I have the same gripe when I have to call someone up to complain about something, and before someone eventually comes on the phone I have to listen to continual sales pitches and the like.

    I’m doing a presentation on customer service in two weeks, and I hope to remember this story to share with my audience; thanks.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Facebook Changes And Alter Egos =-.

  • I wonder if it’s partly to do with this idea of not ‘leaving any money on the table’. Some of the Internet Marketing guru’s advocate getting every last dollar that you can from your site – i.e make sure you put Adsense on when your site first goes live, etc. Some would therefore interpret this as making sure you’ve monetised every communication with your visitors, including your autoresponder.

    The problem with this approach is that when you have a valid concern, as you did, the last thing in the world you want is to be marketed to.

    And when you get hit with an autoresponder like that the follow up customer service better be good!

    Great example of what not to do
    .-= Katie @ Pet Articles´s last blog ..Are You Trying To Find The Right Dog Training Book? =-.

    • hospitalera

      Yes, but sometimes greed is contra-productive and you leave money on the table by “over marketing”. I wouldn’t have objected if the sales pitch was in the email signature, well separated from the email text. But as it was, it was in the text body. Small things can make a big difference. As for the follow up customer service – I got my account deleted, no big loss, I barely used them at all. SY

  • Hmm I think I will just stick with posterous with that sort of attitude from them!
    .-= Lissie´s last blog ..Passive Income: End of the Quarter Review! =-.

    • hospitalera

      Yep, and a few others that keep creeping up, I thin I need to write soon a second edition of my “write your own backlinks” blog post, SY

  • Marketing through email could be ethical at times, but it is really important not to let the reader feel that the advertisement is more highlighted or given more importance than the mail itself. Sending an automated mail along with the marketing text is a smart way to make users read through the ads but instead they should try the marketing through email signatures or use them as footers of the email. This way, the reader is allowed to view the important part of the mail more effectively.
    .-= Brian@moving companies vancouver´s last blog ..Welcome to Budget City Movers, the Best Choice for your Relocation Needs =-.

    • hospitalera

      Well put! And you should also choose the text more carefully, putting a sales pitch in a support ticket, as happened here, will not have a good conversation rate, SY

  • I got the same auto-response email from Shetoldme as well.
    I posted 21 Scoops on Shetoldme, but I have never had even a page impression from them according to the records in my adsense account. That is very odd. So I contacted the Shetoldme owner and then got the auto-response email with the ads at the end. I want to know whether anyone can really make money on Shetoldme?
    Backlinks from shetoldme scoops? Maybe.
    Get paid through shetoldme adsense revenue sharing? I doubt.

    • hospitalera

      @Wayne
      Sorry to hear that, as for their back links, I would be intrigued to know how ell that works and how long the links stay indexed. Any input on that one? SY