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30 January 2020

What Should the Best Marketplace Marketing Strategy Look Like

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To understand what the best marketing strategy for marketplaces should look like, just look at the successful campaigns of competitors. In our article you will find 15 such examples, as well as instructions on how to use these examples to promote your own online trading platform.

# 1. Trading niche



Examples of horizontal and vertical markets. Source of the image

When the Amazon website began operating in 1994, it was only possible to buy paper books on it. After the site became a leader in this niche, the assortment began to expand: in 1998 there were music recordings and video games, in 2000 - toys and electronics, in 2011 there were already 34 categories of goods on the site with a huge number of subsections. Now Amazon is not only a marketplace, but also a manufacturer of electronics and software, as well as a provider of cloud IT services.

Many large companies have gone from vertical to horizontal markets, starting with Microsoft (programming languages) or Apple (personal computers) and ending with Facebook (social networking) or Google (search engine). Another good example is Lululemon.


Lululemon worldwide revenue growth from 2008 to 2018. Source of the image

Lululemon is a Canadian brand that started with women's yoga clothing and has grown into many categories of clothing, backpacks, shoes and other sporting goods. Thanks to the indicated approach, the store took the leading sales position in each trading category, and its revenue over ten years of operation grew 10 times - from 350 million to 3.3 billion dollars.

How to apply it to your business. Like Amazon, select one product group and focus on becoming a market leader. When this is done, begin the gradual expansion of the assortment.

Choose a niche based on the following factors:

  1. Minimum level of competition. Ideally, if there will be no competitors at all, but this is now possible only in developing countries or when a new category of goods appears on the market, such as smartphones and smart watches at the end of the zero years of this century. Now the new categories of goods can be called virtual reality helmets.

  2. Adequate market demand. Not always people in the region where your marketplace will work will buy certain goods. For example, do not sell snowmobiles in Hawaii or gadgets that use cloud technology in regions where there is no normal Internet coverage.


2. Target Audience


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ShopClues advertising based on a comprehensive understanding of the target audience

Another important marker for an excellent marketing campaign for a marketplace is understanding your audience. An example of such an understanding is the campaign of the Indian marketplace ShopClues. ShopClues studied user behavior and found that their buying activity increased during daily trips to home from the office. Marketplace used this feature:

  1. By creating an advertising video in which office workers could not wait for the end of the working day to quickly go home and buy something at ShopClues during a routine, boring trip.

  2. By setting up the display of advertisements from 18:00 to 21:00 (when people go home).

  3. By creating several trading offers that are active only at this time of day.


As a result, after the start of the advertising campaign, the traffic on the ShopClues website in the first two weeks increased by 40%, and the campaign itself received the APAC Effie Awards 2016 for outstanding marketing results.

How to apply it to your business. Study the target audience and create personalized advertising content that takes into account the socio-demographic characteristics and habits of potential buyers. This can be an orientation to a specific time of display of advertising, as in the case of ShopClues, or something else, for example, type of work, marital status, favorite films, series and other entertainments.

# 4. Influence marketing


Robert Yerkes, one of the founders of ethology and zoopsychology, conducted an interesting experiment. From a typical group of chimpanzees, they took a low-ranking monkey and taught it, using several complex manipulations, to get bananas (and other sweets) from a special puzzle feeder. After the monkey left the skill, it was returned to the relatives with the feeder. A trained “smart” monkey deftly got a treat, but the trouble is, high-ranking males immediately took away its earned banana.

None of the relatives of the low-ranking “smart” monkey had the idea to learn how to get a banana from a puzzle on their own - “And really, why strain, mastering difficult tricks, if you can just take a delicacy”.

However, when the experiment was repeated in another typical group of chimpanzees, but with a high-ranking monkey (leader), after returning to the group, its relatives quickly learned to get a banana from the feeder on their own. At first, the chimpanzee watched with interest how the “smart” leader deftly handled with the feeder, and then the animals began to imitate it, thus learning a new skill.

The conclusion from the experiment is this: primates (including humans) imitate the behavior of those who are above them on the hierarchical ladder, and with those who are below, they do not stand on ceremony. This is the essence of influence marketing: you want to sell something, show that it something buys or uses a high-ranking individual: a celebrity, a leader politician, a person with a large number of followers on social networks.

A great example of using influence marketing is the Airbnb campaign. So, when Mariah Carey used Airbnb to rent a house in Israel, the company paid for her reservation in exchange for an Instagram post with 45,000 likes.


Mariah Carey Marketing Influence for Airbnb on Instagram

A clearer example of influence marketing is the HiSmile Teeth campaign featuring Conor McGregor, whose ad post earned an impressive 16 million likes.


Conor McGregor Influence Marketing for HiSmile Teeth

A more recent example is the campaign of the My1stYears.com marketplace selling clothes, toys and other things for babies. The site sent gift baskets to celebrities who had just become parents, expecting that they would like the gift and they would talk about it on social networks. For example, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Minogue, Binky Felstead and Elton John received such gifts. And it worked, many liked the gifts, and they shared it on social networks. And now My1stYears clothes can be seen in photographs of many children of celebrities, for example, Prince George.


Prince George of Cambridge in a My1stYears bathrobe next to his father, Duke William, and former US President Barack Obama. Source of the image

The eBay marketplace also uses influence marketing, but it does not rely on super-celebrities, but on people with 200-300 thousand subscribers. Such posts have less coverage, but more conversion (6-12% versus 1-2%, respectively) and lower cost.


EBay Impact Marketing

How to apply it to your business. To promote marketplaces, you can use approaches similar to the actions of Airbnb: look for celebrities who buy goods on your site and pay by their checks. Or you can not wait, but find in advance authoritative personalities that are significant for your audience, and order ads from them on social networks. At the same time, it’s better to bet not on celebrity, but on people with 50-300 thousand subscribers - this is cheaper and more effective.

# 5. Content marketing


Content marketing is the creation of online materials (for example, blog posts, infographics, GIFs, images, photos and videos) that appeal to your target audience. It is used as another communication channel with which you can tell potential customers about products, develop leadership and increase awareness of your brand.

A striking example of a content-based marketing strategy is the Beardbrand campaign. They have a blog called Urban Bearded Man focused on bearded men (men who pride for caring a beard).


The Beardbrand blog at beardbrand.com

The blog has a lot of guides about different aspects of beard care and everything related to it - from razor models to the optimal temperature of the towel that is applied to the face after shaving. These long reads attract the target audience while allowing them to sell Beardbrand products.


Links in the article to products in the Beardbrand marketplace

And since the texts are well written and are of real benefit to bearded people, they are readily rummaged in social networks, which attracts a large amount of free traffic to the Beardbrand website due to the viral effect. As a result: the site has hundreds of thousands of visits every month.


Dynamics of traffic on Beardbrand over the past six months. Source of the image

Quality articles are not the only content that can attract an audience. As stated above, video content can perform this task, as in the case of Luxy Hair. This brand focused on hair extensions has created tons of YouTube hair styling and hair care guides.


YouTube Luxy Hair Feed

As in the case of Beardbrand, with this content Luxy Hair attracts potential customers to its channel and then redirects them to its store: links to the store are under the video + some products are described in the video.


Links under the video immediately direct to the desired product, and sometimes you can get a discount on them

As a result: 3.2 million subscribers and more than 470 million video views on their channel. Even if the conversion at 1% is 47 million clicks.


YouTube Luxy Hair Channel Statistics. Source of the image

Another example of a great video marketing strategy that relies on video is the fun ads for the Dollar Shave Club brand. They are focused on men with a good sense of humor, who accept themselves as they are, without any glamor and pathos.

https://youtu.be/3A7eQshM90c
Dollar Shave Club Launched on Father's Day

Dollar Shave Club has fewer videos than Luxy Hair, but views in them are several orders of magnitude more - up to 26 million.


Like the Luxy Hair channel, under the Dollar Shave Club video there are links with a link to a store or to a page of a specific product or set of products (for example, a set for Father’s Day)

How to apply it to your business. Analyze YouTube and Google searches relevant to your chosen niche to understand what’s interesting to your target audience, and create content based on these data. Select specific topics based on the number of these requests: the more there are, the better.

# 6. Paid advertising


When Intercom (the chat and chatbot software for e-Commerce) started, they used an interesting marketing strategy, the essence of which is “stealing” traffic from competitors. It looked like this:

  1. Intercom analyzed competitors' traffic and what search queries users use to get to their sites (landing pages).

  2. Then landing web pages were created that convinced people to use Intercom software (a review of their product or comparison of their software with a competitor’s software, for example, the Drift developer).

  3. Intercom launched a campaign in the search engine (and social networks) targeting keywords received in the first stage.


Thus, when someone entered a search query, the organic search results of which led to the page of, for example, Drift, then above this organic search the user saw a paid ad with text from Intercom:


Ad of Drift Intercom Trafficking Enticement. Source of the image

And since 90% of Internet users do not mean any specific preferences regarding the brand when they use search engines for purchases, a significant part of users followed the link in the advertisement, and not in the first line of the search results. With this simple technique, Intercom “stole” a significant portion of customers from competitors, so they managed to raise their income level from $ 1 to $ 50 million over several years.

How to apply it to your business. Examine the pages of your competitors. Find out what search queries they get traffic from and use this data to create alternative landing pages. But remember that competitors will not sit with their hands clasped, if they see a threat in you, they will begin a similar campaign. Drift did exactly that when they found out that Intercom was “stealing” their customers.


Drift page to lure customers at Intercom

# 7. Email-marketing


Despite the growing popularity of messenger apps and social networks, the email newsletter is still one of the best channels to attract customers to your marketplace. If we talk about specific numbers, then according to studies, the return on investment in this channel is 3800%, while the average check for purchases through e-mail is 3 times more, than when buying through social networks.

A good example of such a marketing strategy for the marketplace is the Huckberry advertising mailing list, which relied on the so-called “beer goggles effect” (the hypothesis that “the closer to the closure of the bar, the more beautiful the girls.” Previously, it was believed that this was due to alcohol, but scientists found that it was a shortage (“the closer to closure, the fewer girls remain, therefore, the more valuable the remaining individuals become”). And this effect extends not only to the girls in the bar.

So, in the experiment of Stephen Worchel, people were offered two cans: one had ten cookies, and the other only two. When participants were asked which can they would prefer, they overwhelmingly chose a can with two cookies! In the case of online marketing, the following tricks are used instead of two cookie cans:

  1. “Fix this great price while you can.”

  2. “Today's discount is ending. It remains: 10 hours, 8 minutes, 11 seconds. "

  3. “Limited Time Offer”.

  4. “50% off ends tomorrow.”

  5. “5 people are looking right now.”

  6. “5 items left in stock”.


Returning to the Huckberry mailing list, we can say that this company used such tricks:



As you can see, Huckberry already on the first screen of the letter used three triggers to launch the “beer goggles effect”. If you look below, there will be another trigger:



In addition to using the “beer goggles effect” when advertising a marketplace by e-mail, you also need to either demonstrate the product on models using photographs or somehow visualize the “exclusivity” of the offer. For example, as J.Crew does in his mailing list:


Visualization of exclusive J.Crew offers on the website and in emails

In addition, you can remind users of products that they added to the cart and didn’t buy using the mailing list. This will have a particularly large effect if you add an algorithm for generating unique discounts for products in such reminders. Here is an example of such an email from Amazon:



To get a better response from such letters, you can make them fun, as in the case of Dollar Shave Club mailings:



Or glossy like Glossier do:



How to apply it to your business. Email marketing campaign consists of two steps:

  1. Create a list of email addresses for users.

  2. Creating emails (content that will be used in them).


You can get user addresses using a subscription blog or in exchange for discounts, bonuses and other attractive trading offers.
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