What is A-CAR?
Attract, Convert, Adopt, and Retain are the four key considerations when building a product, especially a marketplace. This is because the majority of methods or frameworks to develop products are made with that individual feature or integration in mind, as showcased in our first blog of this series, which can be found here.
Attraction ensures that the marketplace draws in an audience who can be converted into users for supply or demand, adopt the product and become advocates, which means reduced churn and increased retention.
We have found that layering the A-CAR method on top of your existing processes is perfect for a cohesive product development process.
We created a scorecard that fairly assesses a feature on even criteria to calculate which could be up next or saved for later.
Each item is scored 1 (Good), 2 (Better), and 3 (Great).
Level of Effort
In terms of time for dedicated resources
Level of Impact
Relevant to Target Persona
Level of Cost
How much money it will require from start to finish
Level of Cohesiveness
How it blends with your product vision/ strategy
Level of Shininess
How will this attract new or existing customers
Level of Throughput
How will this assist in converting new customers
Level of Joy
Will the user enjoy it enough to continue using
Level of Support
Will the user become an advocate for the marketplace
Outside the scoring criteria, you also set these to align everything.
A business objective
Supply, Demand, or Company
EROI (Expected Return on Investment)
Now, Short-Term or Long-Term
Here’s Nick; he’s the founder of a professional services marketplace that focuses on mobile auto detailing, has a phase 1 marketplace in production, and is deciding what to build next.
As the Mobile Auto Detailing (MAD) marketplace continues to grow, it becomes increasingly clear that the development of new features needs to be tied to data and no longer Founder instinct to appease investors. Nick needs to be able to back up his choices of how he’s spending investor’s money and how they are contributing to the company’s growth.
Nick has available space in his next development run and wants to get something that will grab the investor's attention or build a feature that will grow his Supply network. What should Nick choose? Trick question: it isn’t a choice; it should be evidence-based or data-driven.
Nick could use the scorecard above to run through his two features and see what makes the most logical sense.
How Does Attraction Affect The Process?
There is likely a current solution to the problem your marketplace solves or a workaround. Nick's market is noisy, with loads of individual Auto Detailers marketing in their respective geographies. How does he break through other companies' different ads or value propositions? What is a feature that genuinely solves a central pain point or can generate a measurable amount of noise itself?
Any feature, Phase 1, 2, or 3 and beyond, should contribute to your marketplace's Attraction Factor. Whether it's from promoting a simple adjustment on a core feature in a release to refocusing your marketplace in the customer’s attention, perhaps having the ability to send images of cars from your phone to the same listing they are creating on a desktop to create a showcase portfolio. Maybe it's a significant release containing the ability for Auto Detailers to integrate their own Google Ads account to generate ads or, even better, an advertising tool within the marketplace.
The two examples are enough to attract a new audience segment for supply. Even a non-technical process that calls our Detailers to send raw information to Nick, and he’ll create the listings for them. Nick can yell this new initiative in a crowded room and surely grab someone’s attention.
Picture this: you have four features you want to build, each with a catchy headline. You create bistro board posters and tap them with a sales rep standing under each in Grand Central Station, then wait and watch. You wait to see what sign catches more attention by passing glances, direct looks, and if anyone walks up to ask a question.
The feature you don’t want to build is the sign that gets the most glances. Yes, maybe it is the hypothetical slogan, but for reason's sake, let’s say it’s perfect.
The sign that gets the most direct looks would be under consideration to be built.
The sign that gets any walk-ups is the winner, even if it is vastly outnumbered by the other 2 or 3. This demonstrates that people are interested in the idea enough to ask questions about it. These people are most likely the exact audience you’re marketing to typically, and they most likely have enough initiative to adopt that feature when it’s released.
This is the power of A-CAR; if we are siloing Attraction, then it is a different conversation. The board with the most glances might have won because it grabbed the most attention. Considering the entire framework, it makes sense to bet on the people who walked up and asked a question.
Getting The Right Attention
It is essential to have your audience clearly defined in User Persona Cards. This allows anyone in the company to reference “Erlich Bachman” as the ideal user representing Supply for Auto Detailers. Erlich has a Tech Savviness of ⅗ and an online presence of ⅖ with pen and paper as his current solution. Of course, a persona card can be much more thorough and bring their pains and strengths to life, but we will keep it simple here.
Now that we have a simplified version of Mr. Bachman’s card, Nick can quickly relate Product Efforts to Erlich’s needs or wants. From the example persona card, Nick knows that he should spend most of his marketing time on Facebook to find others and that he’ll need an industry micro-influencer to help push Erlich to become a customer on MAD.
We mainly compete against an old-school method, usually free or a meagre budget. This is perfect because we only enhance Erich’s online presence and get more paying customers for his van. We are not asking any Erlichs to remove or replace their current tools and methods; just add MAD to complement them, gain more business and make life easier for them.
Nick knows that to get the proper attention, the attention of an Erlich is achieved by two faucets: a Facebook presence and a peer referral. Perhaps dedicating the empty slot in the next development cycle to an Advocacy or Referral Program would make the most sense.
The Grand Central Station exercise aimed to understand the difference between impressions, clicks, and bounce rate. When you start digital advertising, your campaigns will have these metrics: impressions, clicks, CTR (Click-through rate), Bounce Rate, and a million and a half more. Impressions are just that: a person glanced at your ad before continuing with their journey. Clicks: someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website. CTR is the amount who clicked versus the amount it is shown online. Bounce Rate is the amount of traffic that lands on your website and leaves within a few seconds.
Glancers = Impressions
Direct Looks = Bounced
Asked Questions = Potential to Convert
You will only want to spend money on ads or marketing channels if they yield results. If some campaigns have high impressions but low conversion, which could be measured by impact on signups, new listings, bookings, or recurring adoption, it is not a good use of money. It is drawing the attention of the wrong people. Instead of Erlichs, you’re finding a bunch of Gavins.
Attraction is much more than a tagline or copy on an ad. It has everything to do with everything in the marketplace. From why a customer will choose you over alternatives, how they find you you exist, and most importantly, why they choose to stay.
Attracting the right people is equally important. Even if you are the Amazon of X industry, you would want Persona Cards for each category / vertical in which you’re entering or building an expansion.
Once you have the attention of the ideal user group, do you have the means to convert them, make them adopt, and effectively retain them?