Today we are going to talk about mistakes in classifieds and online marketplaces. You need to know that not all stories are successful stories. But before moving to setup or build your classifieds sites we would like to point out the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
All stories and projects start with passion, but if you don't get traction soon, probably you will loose this passion and become a little frustrated with your project. First of all I would like to let you know that online businesses are hard to start. Just raising a domain could take months before Google decide to index you. That means you probably will be invisible even you have the best software or design for your site.
With that comment I just want to clarify also the Yclas plans policies. We understand that nobody can raise a decent project without 1 year of commitment. Our paid plans are starting with a 1 year of commitment in order to avoid that initial frustration. You can spend an entire year to raise your domain, to get visitors, users and of course customers and money.
Having said this, let's go to the Top 8 mistakes to avoid when running your classifieds site (although I already gave you 2 tips ;) )
1.- No monetization plan:
I want to start with one of the biggest problems our customers/users and many other worldwide have when starting an online marketplace or classifieds site. To go directly to the point: you can not monetize or trying to monetize your site at early stages.
- You don't have traffic. Any monetization plan would not be justified.
- You don't have anything to offer. A 'Featured' ad or 'Bring to Top' don't make sense when you have only 10 ads published on your site.
- You don't have users. Forget memberships in this stage, they won't pay and you will burn potential customers for a short period of term.
- Banners are not a holy grail. I understand those sites that insert banners, they have million visitors per day or month, and they can get good amount of money. At early stages using banners, your site will look ugly, and won't make sense to monetize that way.
The solution: 3 easy steps:
- Focus on your product, must be working as your requirements. Setup your site before moving to next step.
- Traffic and users. Focus on traffic not money. Use online marketing strategies or Growth Hacking techniques like we use in our previous post: How to get from 0 to 10k visitors
- Before moving to paid customers, look for potentials clients for real feedback, offering paid solutions you will offer but for Free, you can call them Ambassadors of your brand. Here are some good tips to get 10 Ambassadors
2.- Documentation and Content insufficient
When you as user go to a site and you won't find clear solutions, answers or content, probably you will leave that site immediately. Avoid this and create a well-resourced website. With Yclas you can create FAQs in order to explain in detail any particularity of your marketplace whether you are going to buy or sell, all must be clear and you could do it with FAQs.
Also creating a community as forums you can engage your customers and give them the right answers they need. If you want to succeed with a forum, answer as soon as possible! ;)
Content. Create content for your audience, not for a general public. You must be different of other sites and marketplaces with your exclusive content targeted to your users. Create a blog with our feature How to create a blog with Yclas.
3.- Choosing the wrong software to build your site
This is crucial in your business success. Choosing a software is not just a simple step. You have to look into many things before deciding on purchasing. Obviously I am not going to recommend other softwares here, but what I can let you know is there are some very good softwares out there for marketplaces. But Yclas is a step ahead of them.
You can see all the features we have for classifieds and online marketplaces. But what I would like to offer you is to sign up with our Free plan and test it yourself. No trials, no commitment of time, you can stay in our Free plan forever with ALL FEATURES ENABLED. This is another reason we don't have monthly plans, we offer probably the best Free solution worldwide and you can test it and re-test it before deciding to purchase. But if you decide to upgrade to a paid plan, you must commit a year minimum to build your marketplace.
4.- Don't analyze your traffic
If you don't analyze your site, probably you can not improve it. That is it.
Insert a Google Tracking code in your site and Google will do the rest. They will tell you whether you are getting visitors, where they come from, how did you get it, time, country etc etc etc. It is a powerful solution and is Free. You don't have excuses to not use it.
I will spend a complete post in the future, talking about how you can use Google Analytics and how to perform your site with those metrics.
For now, look into the visitors, where they come from (country and source) and your main traffic stats. Pay attention to all the information Google gives to you and use them to improve your site.
Always I give the same example: if you find that all your visitors are using mobile device to check your site, please optimize and spend time to improve your mobile version (responsive).
5.- Setting payments options
Setting payment options are sometimes a hassle. You need to get the information from your analytics in order to know the countries your visitors come from. And research the main payment options in that country.
Generally Credit Cards are used worldwide which means that for me Stripe should be the first option for payments. Easy to use and understand and great service for users. My second option would be Paypal and then allow a third option focused on the country you are going to target. Examples: South America = MercadoPago, Asian countries = Alipay, or without targeting countries but focusing communities a "techy" community would prefer to use Bitcoins instead.
My opinion is to use 3 options and you will have a trusted solution for 90% - 95% of your visitors.
6.- Lack at security
Before I say anything related to this topic, think for a moment if you go to a grocery and you realize that there is a poster on the main entrance saying "Hey, I am not using any certificate to prove my food or products are in good conditions. Would you buy there?
Then think about security before moving to a monetization plan, why your customers want to buy/sell in your site if they don't feel a trustworthy site. At Yclas we offer SSL certificates in order to protect your site and your visitors. Upgrade to our Growth plan with SSL now
7.- Social Media = Users = Money
Nowadays when you decide to launch a website, a classifieds site or an online marketplace, the first you do is to create your social media accounts (Fb, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc) WHY? Do you have a plan or strategy to mange those social accounts? Are you sure your audience want to see your videos on Youtube to buy/sell in your site?
Well, those are questions I always ask to my customers when they ask for Social Media in their sites. After a silence, they say No, I have no idea how to manage it, but all online business are doing it right?
Let me tell you something, it is better to don't have a Fb account rather than have one with 36 Fans and no post since last year.
Running social media accounts require time, money and a high efforts. But could compensate to get more visitors and probably money if you do the right work on it. I would recommend to ask yourself the questions I wrote in the beginning of this topic and then decide if you need FB an Twitter, or just FB or just Instagram or nothing. Once you have clear that you need one of them, create a strategy, what are you going to tell your fans via your social network? Am I ready to post fresh content with a short period of time? and etc. I think is a good post to talk about in the future, I will write something for Social Media.
Use social media wisely and don't burn an account on it without a strong plan.
8.- Focus on a finalized product
What I mean with that is you don't need to have a platform completely full of features before launching your project to the public. Most entrepreneurs think about creating the best site and it must be 100% customized and featured. This is a serious mistake. You will loose money, time, efforts and when you are ready to launch, you won't have visitors and your break point will be higher.
Create an MVP and start getting traction, also if the project fails, you would not loose much money than you would loose if decide to launch on "full equipe" mode. People and users understand that you are starting your business and you can be bugs, or improvements if you told them. A word on your header "Beta version" could solve those issues.
There are 100 mistakes but I think those 8 are the most common ones which could be easily avoided and have more repercussion than little ones. Hope you enjoy this post, comments and all feedback are welcomed.