So you’ve bought a domain, built version one of your marketplace, have a number of partners interested in selling their services via your platform, now what?
Building a marketplace is the easy part, developing it into a successful marketplace is where it gets hard.
How will you attract consumers to your marketplace? Will your website be two-facing, meaning that it is directed at business partners (B2B) & end-users (B2C) or will it solely be customer-facing? What are your options for growth hacks? Who does it make sense to hire from the get-go? Has enough thought gone into your UX (user experience)? These are some of the questions we will help you overcome.
If you are still at the inception stage of creating a marketplace, check out the following three resources as they will help you get started:
- Sharetribe’s Marketplace Academy
(Guide on how to build an online marketplace business)
- Common Mistakes Made By Marketplace Sellers
(Basic tips on learning from other people’s mistakes)
- Launching a marketplace platform? Avoid these startup mistakes
(Research is key. Interview with CEO of marketplace promotion company)
Turning Your Marketplace Into A Success
There are two things every entrepreneur & enterprise should focus on when developing an e-commerce platform and/or destination marketplace:
- Building Inbound Traffic
- Converting Website Visitors with eCommerce Tools
Nail your content creation & content distribution strategy. Every outbound effort you put into motion should produce inbound results. For the first few blogs, social media & misc. posts, you can use your best judgment to see what kind of audience you are working with. Over time, however, you need to know exactly who you are targeting with your content.
- If your niche is broad, tighten the scope. Start with a specific theme of services, don’t spread yourself too thin.
- Build an ideal customer profile (ICP) & customer personas. Which social media platforms does your customer use? Where does he/she get information? How does he/she like to digest information? Are there any noteworthy purchasing habits or patterns?
- Exhaust all possible free resources and then some. Consult reddit, forums, listing services, industry-specific groups on Facebook & Linkedin, and then consider outsourcing tasks via platforms like Growth Geeks.
- The bare minimum package you need to pursue is: writing a weekly blog, using two or three suitable social media outlets, managing one email marketing platform (e.g. MailChimp), partnering with three complementary partners, and having a strong initial cold outreach (phone, email, in-person).
- Remember to think like a middle man. An effective marketplace takes into account the interests of both significant parties – vendors & end-users.
Now that you have established your traffic-building tools, line up all the conversion-oriented platforms at your disposal to maximize revenue. When converting leads into paying customers, you’re going to want to avoid re-inventing the wheel and consolidating business tools wherever possible. Generally speaking, you do not need advanced programming skills to set things up.
There are many affordable services that can help you connect all the moving pieces such as capturing a consumer-facing transaction, collecting a booking surcharge or processing fee, creating a vendor database & backend management app, as well as generally setting things up for scale. Here are a few platforms to try:
- FullStory or Hotjar to track how your consumers are engaging with your destination marketplace. These platforms will provide you with heat maps that highlight which portions of your website customer engage with most.
- Add a live chat box like Olark to your website for real-time communication with customers. This is a great way to add a human element to your digital marketplace.
- Create A/B test scenarios using Optimizely to decide which colors, fonts, sidebars, templates & more produce the greatest clicks and results.
- Try Adventure Bucket List’s DMP platform that consolidates all needs for a serviceable marketplace into a single plugin solution. This will eliminate your need for custom software and does not require extensive programming knowledge.
Your greatest adversary will be traffic and your greatest asset will be consistency. To build a successful marketplace for activities, experiences and services you will need to dedicate your marketplace to a specific niche in the form of geography, vertical and demographic.
By staying up-to-date on upcoming platforms and using the correct search terms to find what you are looking for, you can drastically reduce your spend compared to what would otherwise have been spent a decade ago. For more information and support, email [email protected] to find out how you can build a prominent marketplace for services.