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I have observed that only 1% of users who visit those pages actually click on that 'email a friend' link and use the feature.
The demographics of the users is that they are mostly travel lovers who want to see pictures of the places and get some tips.
It will be great if someone could share your insights on the following:
Is the 1% CTR good enough?
What goes in the mind of a user and makes a user 'share' the page with friends.
While entering the email id in the email text box, will the html name of form field be made such that it will assist auto-complete feature of the broswer.
Will a colourful button instead of hyper link increase the CTR.
Your inputs and experiences will contribute a lot in increasing the CTR
Geeks have an awful propensity for considering themselves the "owner" of all PID that they get.
Basically, if they can get the information, they own it, and can do whatever the heck they want with it.
A great deal of the spam I get these days comes from my "friends" giving away my PID to unscrupulous geeks.
I think the question is a much wider one, about establishing true trust amongst the industry, not these toothless "privacy policies," set up by ruthless marketing folks that want to abuse the privacy of everyone they can.
This is the kind of logic so few Web designers follow, which is why there are so many debacles. A great deal of usability and accessibility stems from an understanding of human nature, motives and user context.
Anyway, I would test a (nice looking) button that says "Share This Photo with a Friend" or something along those lines.
On the other lines one cannot generalize everyone will spam.
But everyone will generalize. I don't think enough people realize the incredible damage done to online services by crooks and spammers.
Enough geeks misuse the information to tar everybody.
That's the world in which we live, and we need to adjust for it; not expect it of our visitors.
IMHO, probably best to focus more on increasing this figure on your site than comparing with others (which I understand is addressed in the rest of your post).
While not a fan of this type of feature - two possible things to try:
1. Add a disclaimer next to the link. Something along the lines of "we do not store, share or use the email address...". This could also be repeated on the actual form. While I personally would still not use the feature - there are many who might feel 'assured' by this.
2. Rather than open a web based form - you could open the users email application - with the subject/message pre-filled with the web page details. This in itself has some usability issues - though still possibly worth a try...