Low completion rate for invitations?

Started by Danny Thorpe on Thursday, March 31, 2011


Showing 1-30 of 37 posts
3/31/2011 at 10:27 AM

I've sent invitations to several family members over the past year, using the invitation email box on their geni profile pages. Nearly all of them ended up creating their own new profiles rather than taking ownership of the profile I invited them into.

Why is that? What is in the invitation email that leads novices toward creating new profiles instead of taking the existing profile?

This seems like a serious new user acquisition failure for geni.com. I can fix the profile duplicity by merging profiles after the fact, but it creates a lot of tension and angst in the new members and sullies geni.com's reputation from the very start.


Private User
3/31/2011 at 10:51 AM

The answer is quite simple: People have learned to never click on mysterious links they get by mail from people they know but where the email the message is not from them.

Instead they manually enter the website address to check it out.

3/31/2011 at 11:01 AM

There is another problem - when I had sent invitation and person comes first time here then Geni asks something like "Do you have family here?". In most cases the newcomers are answering No and are starting to add duplicates of their parents, children and siblings to Geni. Why they can not find/see all of their tree already existing in Geni?

Private User
3/31/2011 at 12:08 PM

Lauri, could that be because profiles for living people are private? So once the user comes here WITHOUT using the invitation form, they lose the built-in opportunity to be automatically added to the existing family tree? Just wondering...

3/31/2011 at 1:02 PM

He/She comes via the invitation form - but for some reason he/she will start adding his/her family again. It looks like that existing tree is not proposed/displayed for invited newcomers or they can't somehow find it.

3/31/2011 at 1:55 PM

Except that it is. If you try to start a tree on Geni using an email address to which there's already a pending invitation, we direct you to review the invitation. Try it and see.

3/31/2011 at 3:22 PM

I agree though that the newcomer process is a little confusing. Even with talking to and emailing my daughter-in-law when she joined we still somehow ended up with two profiles we had to merge. And didn't there used to be a box somewhere that I could just put a single email address in and invite them without going through the checking my contacts in Gmail, seeing which family members are on here and so forth?

Even the "Tell a Friend" link at the bottom of the page takes you directly to the "Find your Friends" page. I've been through my contacts, Facebook, etc. several times and would prefer not to have to do that if I just meet a new person and only want to send the invitation to them.

And it's hard to tell exactly what the issue is that confuses newcomers. I guess I could make a new email address and invite myself just to see what happens and then I would be able to explain myself a little more clearly! But the newcomer has generally already clicked on a bunch of stuff and can't really remember how it happened since they are just getting used to the site anyway.

And I think the opening splash screen does lead people to start there and put themselves and their parents in before they are really completely signed in and integrated. Maybe there could be a "If you received an invitation to join Geni, please click here first" button or something that leads them through a wizard even if they typed the address in instead of clicking on the link in the invitation. Or even a simple Yes/No option that leads them through a different algorithm.

I've had this problem before when I have administrative rights to a program or site and I'm not sure what the newbie is seeing.

3/31/2011 at 3:43 PM

I re-tested this just to be sure. If you try to start a tree while there's a pending invitation for your email address, you get this: http://awesomescreenshot.com/0a2aks0c5

3/31/2011 at 3:53 PM

I don't know what happened in my daughter-in-law's case then. Other than a lot of people have several email addresses and if they choose to type in the address directly AND use a different email address it wouldn't take them to that screen.

Also, I have my Yahoo address listed in my profile, but when I used that to start a new account it let me. I deleted it as soon as I found that out. I was just being too lazy to go grab a temp email address.

3/31/2011 at 4:05 PM

I'd love to know, too, Pamela -- we obviously don't want anyone having difficulty joining our site! :-)

I'm not sure what you mean about it letting you use your email address to start a new account -- we've coded for that, too. Here's what it looks like if you try to start a tree using an email address that's already in use: http://awesomescreenshot.com/063aksr00

3/31/2011 at 5:11 PM

My login email is a Gmail address. I also have an ancient AOL, a Hotmail and a Yahoo address listed as additional contacts all within my profile, but it let me start a whole new account with the Yahoo address. I thought it would say it was already in use as well, but it apparently did not connect it with my profile.

I just sent an email to my daughter-in-law. She has a work web email address and then her personal Yahoo address and a Gmail address to go with her Android phone. She has the Gmail listed on her profile. I asked her if she remembers which email address I invited her with. I'll post her answer on here later.

3/31/2011 at 5:15 PM

Hmmmm...... you guys will have to investigate this one from your end! I don't think I've ever logged in with my Facebook either.

Kelly's answer:

I believe you sent me the invitation from genie to my gmail address. Then when i was in there i saw that you could sign in thru Facebook which is connected to my yahoo account. I think that is how the duplicate happened b/c i was wondering why i had to start my tree over when i clicked on the Facebook link. I believe i only added my parents again before i quit. Plus the second account had the same picture as my Facebook profile picture.

3/31/2011 at 5:26 PM

Did you have your Yahoo address on your profile as a secondary email? You must have, or I don't know why you'd expect the site to recognize it as the same profile as your gmail account..?)

You invited your daughter to her GMail address, and she signed in with Facebook connected to her Yahoo address. There's no way we can know that the two are the same.

3/31/2011 at 8:02 PM

Correct, my Yahoo address is listed as an additional email. Yeah, I don't know of any way you could know the connection between the invitation address and their FB address, but maybe that's causing some of the above issues. Hopefully someone smarter than I am will have a brilliant solution to that!

3/31/2011 at 9:02 PM

Ok I'll test the secondary email scenario.

Private User
3/31/2011 at 11:50 PM

Mike Stangel - could you also test: Add a secondary email to an account which already are used on another account.
I just did a test...
The other account got a "has invited you to his/her family tree on Geni" message and guess what happened...

4/1/2011 at 1:35 AM

Mike Stangel
Your first screen-shot...
This text is very difficult to understand even for me (and probably even worse for newcomers):
You have already been invited to join a tree on Geni. Would you like us to re-send your invitation to [bold: {email}], or would you rather start your own tree?
(we have currently translated it exactly like it is in English).

And as they don't know what will happen if they press "Resend My Invitation" they will chose "Start a New Tree" instead.

I think that - if somebody has already created his/her profile (and usually it is also together with part of his/her tree) then it is not needed at all to give him/her choice to "Start a New Tree" before he/she haven't been "inside" and over-looked all existing branches!!!

P.S. The phrase : You've already been invited! is not-translatable via Tr8n and remains in English.


4/1/2011 at 2:32 AM

And also from the second screen-shot:

An account already exists with this email address.
Login or retrieve your password below.

Both are not-translatable via Tr8n and will remain in English only.

Private User
4/1/2011 at 2:53 AM

Lauri, - translating the invitation email is a chicken and egg problem, - how can Geni know which language a none-Geni user will select WHEN/IF he/she become a member?

It is better that you write some additional personal message in the language you expect the user will use.

4/1/2011 at 5:46 AM

Private User I am not talking here about e-mails.

We are talking here about Geni Login Pages (as you can see at screen-shots here). These pages will be displayed in browser according to user preferred language - for you in Norwegian, for me in Estonian. Problem is, that only some of the phrases are remaining in English there (this mixed content is not good at all for beginners - especially for elderly people who have both difficulties with foreign languages and computer/browser/Geni usage itself).

4/1/2011 at 5:52 AM

Private User - About e-mails - If I will generate (sent out) invitation e-mail to somebody then it shall also be by default in Estonian, If you will send - then in Norwegian. If it is needed to send it out in English (or in another language) - user shall (temporarily) switch Geni environment to English (or in another language).

For Geni announcements and most of e-mails it is currently already so - you can test it if you want, with Polish, Spanish, French etc Geni announcements in your mailbox.


Private User
4/1/2011 at 6:24 AM

Well, - that is an error in Geni, - my language selection in Geni should NOT have any influence on which language the standard-messages should use when they are directed to a Geni member which have done his/hers own language selection. The members own language should be preferred or selectable. My translation recommendation for messages is to also include the English text.

Google documents have the same error for sharing and request to get access messages....

For the login screen: When logged out Geni does not know who will log in and what language he&she prefer. You can have some logic based on IP and browser settings, - but in any case the gray language selection are still available at the bottom of the page.

4/1/2011 at 7:57 AM

IMHO - the joining process should be made as simple as humanly possible, especially for someone who was invited by a current member. Get them in (hopefully with the email address they were invited with!), get them signed up, get them hooked up with the person who invited them, have a wizard walk them through the basic setup process and have pop up on-screen tips until they turn them off.

Part of the problem was also mentioned above for other reasons -- the people having this discussion are either very computer literate, very familiar with Geni or both. I signed up three years ago and I'm sure the joining process has changed mulitple times since then, plus I don't remember the details anyway!

Having been the "go to" person at several organizations for computer/program issues it never ceases to amaze me how people will make things ten times more difficult or confusing than they need to be! Geni has an extremely clean and simple user interface, but some people need that flashing neon sign to tell them where to go next!

I used to make user tutorials and email them to the members of the organization instead of waiting for them to look for help, especially if I noticed they weren't using a particular feature or there was a large percentage of people using something incorrectly. I still know people that don't know how to copy/paste or locate a picture on their computer to upload. If it isn't an icon on their desktop, they don't know what to do with it!

Helping my dad with his computer skills gave me a whole new insight on the word "beginner," and my dad was Major/pilot in the Air Force and then flew private jets for years after he retired. Obviously a very intelligent individual, but learning to use the computer was like me trying to learn Russian or Chinese!

And maybe a little more guidance on "Okay, what do I do now?" after they get their immediate family in. Point them toward Geni discussion groups, external websites they can search, etc. I know FamilySearch.org and FindAGrave.com aren't the authority we want for sources, but they are simple, easy to use, and would give a newcomer a sense of accomplishment.

I guess my bottom line is that you have to stick with the weakest link / lowest common denominator theory with new people - they aren't computer literate, they aren't familiar with Geni, and they aren't genealogy pros. You're trying to lure them into a fascinating new hobby and some people are going to need you to hold their hand a lot longer than others. Some of them will never be completely comfortable no matter how simple you make it.

What about sending new members a customer service questionnaire while the joining process is still fresh in their minds? And if they don't log back in for specified time periods they get another email to find out why and see if you can get them back in.

I'll shut up now, but this is one of the things I love about Geni -- it's not a piece of software you get in a box from Best Buy and you either like it or you don't -- they actually listen and respond to you.

4/2/2011 at 1:09 AM

Pamela Anne Moore

So much love to this post.

You are spot on in every single point you make.

Mike Stangel


If there's a way this post can be pointed to the right people at Geni to help make it happen?

As we've been finding time and time again, it's all about the varying skill levels and helping the newbie find their way.

Geni is a powerful and flexible platform that keep you hooked in discovering new layers. It also attracts quite intelligent people -- both of the "non IT" and "IT savvy" variety.

Let's do our best to accommodate both. Geni is continually improving ... I can't keep up! ... but this kind of post is a wonderful guideline for where we need to go.

4/2/2011 at 2:02 AM

Agreed Pam & Erica. Some helpful links that remain permanently on the profile page would make a world of difference to us all.

4/2/2011 at 5:58 AM

We've been watching this thread and discussing how we can do a better job of giving guidance to new users. We already have three or four disjoint systems for doing this -- the checklist atop the Home page, the profile completeness percentage on your own profile, and a guided mode in the tree -- it would be nice if we could unify these to give a more comprehensive guide to the site.

Sharon, what links do you suggest?

4/2/2011 at 7:07 AM

I agree with @Pamela Anne (Moore) Stigall. The page shown in Mike's first screenshot is very misleading to someone who has been invited. If a current member sends a GENI invitation, and that invitee decides to click on the link provided to join, he/she should be presented with a way to sign in and join the existing Tree from which he/she was invited. There should not even be an option to start a new Tree. I have invited many family members who clicked on the "start a new tree" option and then we had a lot of merging to do later.

4/2/2011 at 7:35 AM

If the invitee clicks the link the the email, he/she does not see the screen I captured above -- they get a question whether they would like to join your tree with Yes and No buttons. I cannot fathom why anyone would start a new tree instead, but I'm open to explanation and/or suggestions for how to prevent accidentally starting a new tree.

Private User
4/2/2011 at 8:27 AM

One possible reason for not accepting an invitation is that they want to sign in using another email than the one used in the invitation.
Very often people get invited by their work address and we should have an option to enter another email address as part of accepting the invitation, - or at least have some instructions on what to do to change the address when they get in.

4/2/2011 at 8:38 AM

On the same screen http://awesomescreenshot.com/0a2aks0c5 we shall just add third button - "Resend the invitation to another e-mail address"
Which shall then open window for entering new e-mail address. All relationships to the original sender of invitation and his/her tree shall remain in force, but Geni shall then also "forget" the first e-mail address...

Showing 1-30 of 37 posts

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