Building a marketplace community of brand advocates

You should never lose sight of the fact that your marketplace is designed to facilitate transactions between your vendors and your customers. But by making your platform feel more like a marketplace community, those using it will be more engaged and will become your brand advocates.

If you do this well, your users will keep coming back for more and recommend your marketplace platform to others. Research has suggested that it costs five times more to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, so it’s worth putting the effort in to get it right.

If a user identifies with your platform and feels part of an online community marketplace, you can expect a high repeat purchase ratio, in other words, each customer will buy more and be loyal to you. Average repeat purchase rates for eCommerce companies fall between 20% and 40%. So you can use this as a guide. 

In addition, trust comes naturally when people feel part of a community marketplace platform, making it easier for them to complete transactions with each other. Furthermore, if customers and vendors have good experiences on your site, they will recommend you to others and your community will grow with like-minded people that are keen to be a part of it. In other words, your happy vendors and customers become a brand advocate.

A nice additional side effect is that if users (both vendors and customers) feel like they are part of a marketplace community they will proactively want to see it at its best, and will give you feedback when something goes wrong or can be improved. This is invaluable information for you to keep improving and delivering your marketplace at its optimum. 

So how do you create this community feeling about your marketplace?

Be clear about what you want to achieve

If you want other people to believe in your marketplace, they need to identify with what you are trying to achieve so they can buy into your vision. For them to do that you need to be really clear about it yourself. Don’t be afraid to ostracise yourself from other groups for something you believe in, other people will feel the same way as you do. Be true to yourself and your idea and people will respect that and want to be a part of it. 

You may not need to build a new marketplace community, rather solve problems for one that already exists, and again, they will be your brand advocates. 

Even though it’s your idea, listen to the marketplace community that you are tapping into, they will give you a really clear view of their actual problems, and if that means tinkering with your idea then do it. Listen to them and you’ll be able to respond with a great solution. 

Great marketplaces allow users to communicate with each other, that way you are building on your online community marketplace by getting them to realise they are all interested in the same thing. Hashtags on social media are good for this, or Facebook groups, building up to a community forum on your marketplace website. 

You’ll need to instigate chat on your forum, ask people questions, find out why they joined, get them talking to each other, in other words, set the tone of the forum and people will continue in that vein.
If people share stories about their experiences with your marketplace they will encourage other people to complete transactions by explaining the benefits you offer. If you have a group of people who work extra hard for you i.e. are brand advocates, consider rewarding them.

Want to learn how to build a marketplace community?

It’s worth noting here, there are always going to be people on a community forum that you don’t want, make sure you set out clear rules for what is, and isn’t, acceptable. That doesn’t mean not accepting criticism, but make sure you address it in an efficient and timely manner.

And a very important point, don’t forget that you can meet people in real life too! Depending on your marketplace, going out and talking to people ‘on the street’ can be just as effective, if not more so, than trying to do everything online. In fact, it can be a great idea to host a local event so people can meet face to face, chances are they will go away feeling like they have met like-minded people and will be really happy to be part of your community.