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  • Writer's pictureDarren Cody

A-CAR: A Non-Technical Guide to Nurturing User Adoption


Welcome back, aspiring marketplace founders! Today, we're diving into a critical phase of your journey - Adoption. We're translating the tech-speak into practical steps to make your marketplace a user-favorite.

Looping back around, we’ve already covered the first three aspects of A-CAR: The Overview, Attraction, and Conversion. Today, we are facing Adoption; it is something you will more than likely fear at the beginning of your marketplace and transform into true love as it will become the beating heart of your business. 

Easy way to put it, keeping an existing customer happy is less expensive than buying a new one.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Role of Adoption in a Marketplace

In the highly competitive space you’re in or planning on jumping into, there is a lot of noise, and it is hard to keep a user’s attention when there’s a new episode of the latest and greatest out (If this were 2018, it would be Silicon Valley). Adoption keeps the user returning to use your product based on your average frequency rate (Stickiness Rate), which is how many times a user returns every week/month.

Let’s bring Nick from MAD (Marketplace Auto Detailing) back into the story and discuss how his marketplace performs. Last we heard, Nick focused on converting potential customers into Signups, Listings, and Bookings. 

Adoption will tie into many areas and metrics, building your eventual KPIs, but repeat bookings are unmistakably essential. Most of your paid marketing or attraction methods will focus on people who haven’t heard of your marketplace before, then get them to your home page and attempt to bring them down the funnel to the checkout or publish the listing page. 

Shouldn’t the user journey be different for those who know and understand the marketplace than for those unfamiliar? The correct answer might change, but for this sake, we will say yes, yes, it should be drastically different. 

Nick has been following these posts and has devised some plans to add to his NNL (Now, Next, Later) project for pre-development. We’ll return to this a little later.

Important Adoption Metrics For Your Marketplace

Let’s say Nick is planning an event and he wants to track his guest engagement.

  1. User Acquisition Rate: Imagine your marketplace is a party. This metric tells you how many new guests are showing up each day, week, or month. If fewer people start coming, you might need to send out more invitations or make your party more appealing.

  2. Active Users: This is like checking how many of your party guests are actually dancing, chatting, or enjoying the food, not just sitting in a corner. You want a lot of active participants to keep the party lively.

  3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Think of this as how much a friend spends on gifts for you over your entire friendship. In business terms, it's the total amount a customer will spend in your marketplace over their "lifetime" or duration as a customer.

  4. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This is akin to how much you spend to convince a friend to come to your party, including invitations and reminders. In your marketplace, it's the cost of marketing and sales efforts to gain one new customer.

  5. Churn Rate: If your party starts at 8 PM and by 9 PM, half of your guests leave, that's not a good sign. In your marketplace, churn rate tells you how many customers or sellers stop using your platform over a certain period.

  6. Conversion Rate: Imagine you're handing out flyers for your party. If 100 people take a flyer and 10 actually show up, your conversion rate is 10%. It's a measure of how many people who visit your marketplace end up making a purchase or listing an item.

  7. Seller Acquisition Rate: Similar to inviting friends to your party, this metric tracks how fast you're convincing new sellers to join your marketplace. More sellers mean more variety and options for buyers.

  8. Time on Site and Page Views per Visit: This is like noting how long guests stay at your party and how many different activities they engage in. It shows how engaging your marketplace is for users.

  9. Supply-Demand Ratio: This is about balancing the snacks (supply) and the number of guests (demand) at your party. In your marketplace, it's about having the right balance between what's being sold and what buyers want.

  10. Repeat Purchase Rate: If your friends loved the party so much that they can't wait for the next one, you're doing something right. This metric measures how often customers come back to make another purchase.

Practical Strategies for Boosting User Adoption

Defensible Features / Workflows

Try to understand a User’s motivation for interacting with your marketplace instead of another solution. What makes your marketplace worthy of frequent visits? Is it a shiny new feature you just released? The ability to solve their problems expertly? Perhaps the community you’ve created around the marketplace allows members to connect and grow without spending money. 

Clearly defining how your marketplace plays defense will help determine your North Star that your company is working towards. 

Shopify might have many, but one significant contributing factor to its success was the Shopify App Store and the developer community it created. A competitor couldn’t replicate it overnight, and it offered only customer benefits. 

For Amazon, one of the many defensible features could be the distribution of a network with fast delivery. What’s more important to you: finding a specific item or getting it as fast as possible?

Dynamic Personalization

Personalization is fascinating and complex to do a rounded job at, but there are easy ways to start. For example, you can ask users what categories they’re interested in during the signup or complete profile phases. Once they click the “Complete” button, they land on a personalized search results page with those categories pre-defined. 

For Nick, he does that with his customers. He asks them User questions regarding their car and cleaning frequency (weekly, monthly, or as needed). Once they’ve joined, he can completely change that User’s experience. 

Personalized search recommendations go a long way to increasing conversions. Again, Nick can show customers exactly what they want to see without extra effort or involvement. 

The dynamic listing process can help supply understand that your marketplace is built for them, no matter how many categories you’re in. Take Nick, for example; he was able to define a complex taxonomy before development that would create a dynamic posting process for auto detailers. The entire flow adjusts based on the category and subcategories the owner selects. For example, if I am an Owner and prefer to only work on high-end vehicles, I shouldn’t see any questions related to industrial vehicles or be allowed to be booked by a dump truck company to clean their fleet. 

These rules help the user feel in control, and the marketplace understands what they want and need. 

Ultimately, the level of personalization you can implement into your marketplace depends on your data strategy. How you collect it, how it’s stored, how it’s synced, and how it’s deployed. You can collect information for free by integrating Google Tag Manager or, using a developer to add Pendo for a low-code implementation or Mixpanel for a detailed integration. Eventually, you’ll graduate to tools like Segment, which will take control of your data strategy and leverage it to the maximum capability. 

If you’re interested in how a data strategy is defined, planned, and executed, please email us to learn more about it. 

Re-Engagement Campaigns

Drawing from your data strategy, you can create re-engagement campaigns that target Users who come to “roadblocks” in your marketplace. Roadblocks are dead ends in the journey of a particular workflow that don’t provide paths to another significant action or loop in another part of the marketplace to engage them later. 

An important exercise here is defining a User Journey map to accurately describe, visualize, and target the roadblocks for Users and, in a low-code manner, re-engage the user back into your marketplace funnel. You can see a free example that Marketplace Studio created from an example marketplace workflow. 

If you collect data on the signup or complete the profile process, you can segment your email list based on the relevant groups to your marketplace. First, an email Drip Campaign involves a series of automated emails sent to potential or existing users at predetermined intervals or based on specific actions. These emails aim to educate, engage, and encourage recipients to purchase or become more active on the platform. The campaign could include a welcome series for new sign-ups, educational content about the marketplace's benefits, personalized recommendations based on user behavior, and re-engagement emails targeting inactive users. This strategy helps gradually build a relationship with the audience, increasing loyalty and conversion rates.

If you have any apps on your phone, they are done through Push Notifications. Uber Eats is a prime example of how to do them promptly and elegantly. I get them not when it is 5:00 or 6:00 pm when I’m ready to eat dinner; I get push notifications to remind me of available deals around 3:00 pm when I’m starting to plan my meal. They’re also personalized based on my search and order history. 

If you are reading this and aren’t running a marketplace that is the size of Uber but rather a scrappy startup, you’ll most likely have to align your expectations to the size of your budget.

In your campaign, you should be identifying and tracking these metrics:

  • Open Rate: Measures the percentage of recipients who open that individual email and rolls up to a campaign overview level

  • Click-Through Rate: Gauges the proportion of email recipients who click on one or more links within an email.

  • Activation Rate: Assesses the percentage of users who take a desired action (like making a purchase or signing up for a service) after clicking a link in the email. 

Reward System / Gamification

When we started our first marketplace, our lead designer came up with the idea of planting trees for significant actions. This grew into Tree Points, earned for every Signup, New Listing, Booking, and Review. A desired action from our side earned every point, and the User felt good knowing that one tree was planted for that action. 

We later built out a wallet credit where, again, users were rewarded with credits when they completed a Value Added action such as a new listing, a booking, a review. Each action had a different value associated with it tied to an expiration date to limit the company’s liability. Every credit was equal to $1 and they could redeem them on bookings or store them in the wallet. 

In Summary: Keeping Adoption Top of Mind

In the bustling world of marketplace startups, mastering the art of user adoption is akin to capturing lightning in a bottle—it's challenging, but the rewards are electrifying. Through our exploration, we've unpacked the essence of adoption in a way that demystifies the technical jargon and lays out a clear path for non-technical founders. From Nick's journey with Marketplace Auto Detailing (MAD) to practical strategies for engaging users, we've covered the ground to help you transform casual visitors into loyal customers.

Adoption: The Heartbeat of Your Marketplace

Adoption isn't just a phase; it's the ongoing process that keeps the heart of your marketplace beating. It's about making users—both buyers and sellers—feel at home, ensuring they not only visit but stay, engage, and grow with your platform. Nick's focus on creating a distinct journey for existing users underscores the importance of tailoring experiences to foster deep, lasting connections.

Key Metrics: Your Compass in the World of Adoption

We've illustrated crucial metrics through relatable analogies, like gauging the success of a party to understanding your marketplace's dynamics. Whether it's monitoring the flow of new guests (User Acquisition Rate) or ensuring the party remains lively with active participation (Active Users), these metrics serve as your compass. They help you navigate the vast seas of user engagement, ensuring you're always moving towards your North Star.

Strategies That Stick: From Personalization to Gamification

The strategies we've delved into—defensible features, dynamic personalization, re-engagement campaigns, and a reward system—are your toolkit for boosting user adoption. They're about understanding and leveraging the unique motivations of your users, making each interaction with your marketplace not just a transaction, but a memorable experience.

Nick's approach, from personalized search results to the innovative use of data for dynamic listings, exemplifies how understanding your users' needs and desires can lead to a more engaging and successful marketplace. The introduction of Tree Points and wallet credits further highlights the potential of gamification in encouraging valuable user actions.

Conclusion: Crafting Your Marketplace Legacy

As you embark on this journey, remember that the path to a thriving marketplace is paved with more than just transactions—it's built on the experiences, connections, and value you provide to your users. By focusing on adoption and employing the strategies outlined, you can turn your marketplace into a destination where users feel valued, understood, and excited to return.

Your marketplace is more than a platform; it's a community, a journey, and, ultimately, a reflection of the vision and passion you bring to the table. Embrace these insights and strategies as you work towards crafting a marketplace legacy that stands the test of time, turning casual visitors into a loyal and engaged community.

As we close this chapter on Adoption, let's carry forward the lessons learned and the strategies discussed, applying them to continue growing and nurturing our marketplace ecosystems. The journey doesn't end here—it's just getting started.


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