Eforce cracks 20,000 member mark

The 'viral marketing' strategy employed by Christchurch-based consumer site Eforce has seen the venture's membership top 20,000 inside a month.

The "viral marketing" strategy employed by Christchurch-based consumer site Eforce has seen the venture's membership top 20,000 inside a month.

Eforce is offering a prize draw for an iMac each day for 100 days, and a Volkswagen Beetle as the main prize in its launch promotion. New members go in the draw for the day they signed up - and for each day when a friend they have referred signs up.

The promotion began on April 12, several weeks after Eforce's soft launch, when the company had 4000 members. Creative director Paul Fairbairn says membership reached 21,000 over the weekend.

Like the free ISPs i4free and surf4nix, Eforce provides Web-based forms that allow new members to email up to six friends at once. Fairbairn, who helped devise the scheme, says the multiple mailing ability hasn't been perceived as a "spam your friends" system.

"We haven't had feedback to that effect," says Fairbairn. "We have reconfigured the email a little bit more so that it does come from the friend's actual email address rather than from the company, but the positive feedback far outweighs the negative with the amount of people passing through it. We don't think it's being perceived as spam."

Eforce operates by negotiating bulk rates for products and services on its members' behalf. So far, members can use the site to compare and change electricity providers, take discount magazine subscriptions and join "CoBuy" bulk purchases on a range of consumer goods.

Eforce also accepts suggestions for new products and services from members, and hosts public discussion forums on its site.

"There's been some interesting suggestions. The most common is for a cellphone deal. We're chasing a good deal on cellphone minutes at the moment."

Eforce yesterday reported a net loss of $1.6 million for the past year. The loss is largely composed of costs associated with winding up the company's former incarnation, Paynter Timber.

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