Found this Quora post about How Udemy got to 5,000 courses and I found their seeding of the marketplace and content creation process interesting.
The lessons for any marketplace business
– Seed the supply first; its extremely hard to get early adopters without users.
– Create some initial success stories however you can. Don’t focus on too many; 1 or 2 is enough.
– Figure out how to promote their successes to more people. Your supply side will start to multiply.
– If you get this far, you’ll know what to do next.
No one wants to the be first to the party and unfortunately, marketplaces like Amazon are self-perpetuating. You can’t get exposure or better placement on the never ending list of products until you get more views, purchases, or reviews but you can’t get traffic, conversions, or feedback because no one can find your listing! Super annoying.
The only way to jump start this process is to introduce something from outside the system. For Daily Deals, I recommend using your network of family, friends, facebook, linkedin, etc on 15 Daily Deal Tips. Here Udemy did what any smartup would have done, just rolled up their sleeves and hacked it . They used
commons-licensed courses on the internet as part of the OpenCourseWare movement. [They] legally obtained these videos and posted them on Udemy.
On top of this they used outsourced VAs or virtual assistants to find leads, then a member of the Udemy team would contact them and close the deal. Similar to the Predictable Revenue model – the OG of Sales Hacks.
Then they used Initial Success Stories, basically a form of Reviews to get more. Reviews on Amazon are extremely valuable for the same reason. They are self perpetuating. Reviews anywhere searchable on Google is like gold.
Udemy hacked content creation by introducing something from outside their system to jump start the wave of early adopters they had.
If you don’t know much about Growth Hacking. Check out some definitions that I compiled together here.
So many definitions and views on Growth Hacking, so I thought I’d put some of my favorite together here for safe keeping.
Sean Ellis – “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. Is positioning important? Only if a case can be made that it is important for driving sustainable growth (FWIW, a case can generally be made).”
He’s also the guy behind GrowthHackers.com
Andrew Chen‘s interpretation of the above is a bit more practical “Sean Ellis coined the term while working with Sequoia companies. It was the embodiment of a direct response marketer combined with a product manager that had a deep focus on analytics.”
Andrew Chen also insightfully added “Growth is a system, not a bag of tricks”
A lot of smart people have also said “Growth Hacking is Bullshit“.
Wikipedia – “Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.”
Gregory Ciotti‘s a bit more lackadaisical “So if you’re someone with coding skills, marketing know-how, and a drive to create sustainable growth, you can be a growth hacker. Fair enough.”
Aaron Ginn – “growth hacker (noun) – one whose passion and focus is pushing a metric through use of a testable and scalable methodology.”
I’ve worked with some of the biggest Daily Deal and Flash sites in the world including Groupon, Gilt, Zuilily, and LivingSocial.
Here’s 14 Tips on How to Get Started with Daily Deals.
- Do your research. Visit a daily deal community like Slickdeals.net or do a simple Google Shopping search to find similar deals for your product. Slickdeals is great because you’ll be able to look at historical pricing and popularity (# of thumbs given by the community, more thumbs, better the deal).
- Sign up. Sign up for daily emails for all daily deal sites that you are interested in. And, don’t just sign up for your category. Receive the same email as most people without any filters or preference. It’ll give you an idea of what they are looking for in a good deal.
- Follow their social media accounts. Compare their number of followers, and see if you can figure out what type of deals do they highlight on social – is it all or only a certain or handpicked?
- Dig into demo and traffic sources. Visit Alexa.com and SimilarWeb.com to view website stats. You probably want to make sure most of the traffic and traffic sources are legit and US based. Similar Web is particularly great because you can view their competitors (more daily deal websites to go after next time around).
- Pricing. Work backwards to set your MSRP. Figure out your all-in-costs plus the average margin required in your category. You might want to consider breaking even or making a fraction of what you would normally need to in order to ensure the best pricing at the time of the promotion. Remember some sites won’t do a deal unless it’s at least 20% off, but I like to aim for 50-60%.
- Craft your proposal. Put together the most compelling argument that you can for why this deal would crush it. Historical stats on sales you’ve done plus provide examples of similar promos from other vendors on your target daily deal site.
- Pitch. Clearly, pitch why your deal is better. Does it tote a larger percent off or is there a value-add that your competitors simply cannot match.
- Work your network. If anyone you know on linkedin or through networking events have worked with the Daily Deal site you are pitching, ask for an intro to their account manager.
- Read the contract. Figure out the payment terms and the delivery terms. Note all of the costs and penalties. Does it require you to cover the drop shipping charges or will they take on a portion of inventory via 3pl.
- Be prepared. Figure out exactly what your team can fulfill. If you need to lower your quantities before the sale starts, do it. You can always increase quantity as the sale continues to gain momentum but it’s hard to decrease inventory once it starts. Prep your customer service team and be on standby to answer any email questions that a customer may have.
- Final copy and image check. Request a preview of the sale 1 week before it’s launch to check for any mistakes. Make sure you that the deal is accurate and more importantly that your brand is represented the way you want it to be.
- Make the best first impression as possible. Remember that customers can be harsh and don’t take it personally. Monitor your brand during the sale with google alerts. Be prepared to handle customer service questions and comments from the entire blogosphere by creating a FAQ beforehand. If you have language to deal with the harshest reviews, it’ll be easier to and faster to handle.
- Jumpstart. Unless you’re ready to shell out some serious cash, you may not get the prime top homepage and email placement for your deal. You’ll need to do some work to jumpstart the daily deal algorithm so your deal trends higher on the page. Email all your of your friends and family and ask them to check out your deal. If you have a social media following, make sure you get them involved. You need your own viral coefficient. If you can add a call out on your own business webpage or from any of your friends, do it. Don’t be ashamed. You need the clicks.
- Follow up. You’ll need to follow up both with the daily deal site and with your new customers. The best time to propose your next daily deal is while your first one is still going. You have to keep the momentum going at all costs. Same goes with your troves of new customers. Offer them exclusive discounts via email. Make them feel like they owe you something so they keep coming back.
- Ask for reviews. I’ll say it again – ask for reviews! Ask people to do it for free or incentivize them with a chance to win an Amazon gift card/ whatever, but start collecting reviews early. You an use something you’ve built in-house or direct them to an Amazon listing where they can leave their stellar review. This will become handy in the future. Trust me.
Read more about what I’ve done through Daily Deal Partnerships here.
So you’ve got a great new product or service, but what now?
Everyone is giving you conflicting info:
- Paid definitely – great testing ground, but terrible if you’re still figuring it out, since it requires you to pony up some $. Steep learning curve here too
- Facebook/ Twitter – same as above but sometimes worst because of the shares and retweets if you say something wrong or piss the wrong person off
- Content marketing – takes weeks, months to write enough posts, videos, and ebooks to be taken seriously
- Email – but you don’t even have any
And the list goes on and on.
Ideally, you would have multiple channels working simultaneously, but something with immediate return and what drove affiliate at my current startup was Social Acquisition.
No, not just paid Facebook and Twitter ads, but Social Acquistion – anything that builds and maintains relationships to improve the traditional customer acquisition and retention processes, as well as puts an emphasis on building and monetizing relationships
Here’s some examples:
- Community Forums – my personal favorite
- This Neil Patel post on Quicksprout actually talks about backlinks , but it’s the exact same idea. Sign up for google alerts for whatever keyword or product you are targeting, find community forums, roll up your sleeves, and dig in. Engage with users, ask them questions and answer theirs about the product
- Twitter Eavesdropping
- Use Mention, BuzzSumo or whatever your favorite tool is for monitoring social keywords. You can even use twitter and save your search history, and start replying, favoriting, building lists of users and finding people who are interested or might be interested in our product
- A little harder but if you start buying Facebook media, start the comments section by announcing that you are here to help and answer questions. This will get the convo going
- Blog Comments
- Use Google to search trending news posts of there’s similar products or things that might tie in well with your product or service. Then see if there’s any active blog commenter and start engaging with them. Usually, they are the worst criticizers, but if you can connect and sell them, you can do it on anyone.
- If you get any PR, be sure to monitor the comment sections of any pub that writes about you.
Ideally, this will help you learn your sales process and improve marketing language. You’ll also uncover some great new channels like Affiliate and can improve your conversation rates on any Paid Twitter/ Facebook ads you’ll run. If someone knows you’re there and willinng to help then any last reservation they have can be easily overcome.
Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter or learn more about me here.
Also here’s some useful Marketing Tools if you’re interested
I’m Samantha Lewe, and I’m a growth and user acqusition marketer focused on daily deal and ecommerce marketing strategies.
I’ve grown long term strategic partnerships with Slickdeals.net, Groupon, Woot, RueLaLa, LivingSocial, Zuilily and others where both side mutually benefit from working together, as well as executed new customer acquisition campaigns with a focus on value proposition, brand positioning, and driving competitive differentiation in multiple countries worldwide
I’m mostly focused on:
Growth & acquisition: Daily Deal/ Flash Sales, Ecommerce, Affiliate, Marketplace, Strategic Partnerships, Social Media, Community, Press
Product: Price Strategy, Planning, Forecasting, Purchasing, Inventory
Brand Management: Ratings & Reviews, SEO, Creative, Top influencers
Leadership: Project Management, Cross functional teams
Feel free to say hello on Twitter @samanthalewe or on Linkedin.
Thanks for swinging by,