Now that you’ve done the research and built your marketplace platform, it’s finally time for you to attract customers to your marketplace and facilitate the transactions with your vendors.
It’s imperative to know at this stage that you are meeting your customers’ needs. Meeting their needs with a quality service is far more important than providing an average service to a greater volume of customers. So focus on the quality, not the quantity.
Getting vendors onboarded to your marketplace is where you’ve been focussing, but you should have also been starting conversations with potential customers in the early stages. Think about collecting email addresses via a landing page in the run up to your marketplace so you have already generated interest. As an aside, if this list looks healthy, it can be useful to show to potential vendors too.
The way to attract a marketplace customer is very similar to the way you get vendors. Think about who your first customers are likely to be, and how you can communicate with them, both online and off.
Build a community
Identify your potential customers and target them. Write blogs, join social media sites, put on events… all with a view to showing them why your marketplace is relevant to them. Make sure anything you write online is optimised for search engines, so people going online to solve a problem will be directed to you. Also be sure to engage with other people’s content if it’s relevant to your marketplace, comment, talk… make yourself part of the community.
Look at existing communities
There may be an existing Facebook group or forum filled with perfect potential marketplace customers. If you find one, start communicating with them, talk about your marketplace in a way that generates useful feedback. Anyone who is interested can be pointed to a landing page where you are signing people up for your email list. Also consider what type of people will be able to influence potential customers, be sure to contact them and tell them about your value so they will be your brand advocates.
For localised marketplaces, drop flyers to people, talk to them, make them feel included and they will be keen to support you.
Once you have your list it’s time to let those potential customers start using your site, in other words it’s product launch time!
So how exactly do you go about doing a product launch? If you haven’t validated your concept yet (How do I validate my marketplace idea?) don’t think of this as a huge marketing launch, you’ll want to save that for when you know you have everything in place. Concentrate on this being purely a product launch – ideally aimed at a chosen group of people who you already know will be confident about using your marketplace. In a similar way as to how you spoke to early vendors, make these users feel exclusive with access to an early launch. You could even incentivise them to give you feedback by offering a discount.
Don’t be put off by how much time this will take, if you can make sure these initial vendors and customers alike are happy with your marketplace, it is worth its weight in gold.
Looking to attract customers to your marketplace?
And now it’s time for a full marketing launch! The idea here is to make a lot of noise about your marketplace and gain interest from a lot of potential vendors and customers in one go. As a result, you’ll be aiming to generate as many transactions in a short space of time.
If the email list of potential customers that you’ve been collating has enough names on it, you could simply use that for your launch. But there are other things you’ll want to consider in addition to that list. These include:
Talking to an influencer that you think your potential customers will trust. Using an influencer helps generate credibility immediately.
Quickly position yourself at the top of the search engine result page (SERPs) for specific search terms, or to display adverts to a targeted set of users on social media channels.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO for marketplaces is the practice of positioning yourself at the top of the organic search engine result page (SERPs) without having to pay-per-click.
Building a community of potential customers via an organic or paid social media content strategy.
Involving the press, as long as you are confident you are going to get good coverage from the right publications. Take your story to journalists at publications pertinent to your marketplace who will reach your potential target audience. The idea behind your marketplace may be enough to generate interest, or you may need to talk more generally about the industry that you’re in. Either way, if the story is good enough you are likely to get press coverage.
None of these approaches are mutually exclusive and some may require the assistance of a marketplace marketing agency like Code23. You should do whatever it takes to make your launch successful, whilst maintaining the quality and added value of your marketplace at all times.
And if you don’t get the results you hoped for? As long as you’ve positioned your marketplace correctly, stick with it. Again, we’ll emphasise here the need for a good product launch and taking onboard the feedback before a marketing launch. Once you’ve got it working perfectly for a small audience you can scale up to the wider audience.