If you’ve decided to start your own marketplace, you should give just as much attention to the pre-launch campaign for your online marketplace as you give to its actual release. People will only find out about your platform if they’re told and reminded about it in different and meaningful ways. In this article, we discuss the top 13 promotional strategies on how to start an online marketplace business.  

Start with your target audience

By now, you probably have singled your target market. Your target market consists of people who look for value in everything they do or choose. Consider everything about them, their age, likes and dislikes and where they spend their time off work. These considerations can give you possible answers to what strategy to choose and to not be obnoxious.

Top 13 promotional strategies how to start an online marketplace business.

We have compiled 13 online marketing and promotional strategies to help you focus your pre-launch marketing campaign. A marketing campaign is essential before your product is released. You shouldn’t hesitate and apply strategies that best fit your needs and goals. Gaining as much traction and getting people talking about your platform is what you want. Good rumors can be created if you choose one, several, or even all the ways mentioned below.

Show the key advantages of your product

Online marketplace key advantages
Source: Etsy.com

You’ve seen the need for a dedicated online platform and you’ve worked hard to create one. So you’re bound to know what pains your platform addresses and what problem it solves. Now you need to point out all these benefits to your target audience. Lower fees, higher pay, an outstanding user experience, a more appealing brand, or a safe app environment are just a few examples of your potential value proposition. Show why your platform is superior to others. No matter what promotional channel you choose, always include your value proposition.

Create a sign-up message

Online marketplace like uber
Source: uber.com

To get pre-launch traction and a rough idea of your first sales figures, send a sign-up message – a pre-launch teaser – to capture the interest of potential users. A landing page will allow you to make the most of your sign-up campaign. Start signing up users a few months before your actual release in order to have a built-in audience at launch.

Seek out existing sellers and service providers

Online marketplace like OLX
Source: olx.in

If there are similar marketplaces or venues, try contacting sellers and service providers who are already active on them. Get in touch with them via social networks or find them on any other platform. Using your value proposition, create a basic email template that you can edit and personalize to invite potential sellers or service providers to your platform. Airbnb had great success with this strategy during its soft launch.

Depending on the type of your marketplace, make use of offline business directories and aggregators to find potential buyers in your niche. Hold chamber of commerce meetings, attend hobby clubs, join trade associations, and visit online forums and internet review sites like Yelp to get access to your target audience. Simply put, go and meet people in your niche and talk to them. Tell them about your platform.

Address online communities

Online marketplace like Booking
Source: Facebook.com

Use social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to reach a wider audience. If your target customers are already using a Facebook group to communicate, then join the group and start participating in the discussions. After establishing a connection, you can start mentioning your marketplace concept and ask for feedback. If you manage to attract some interest, direct people to your landing page to sign up for your emails. You can create visuals, short videos, and catchy posts that revolve around your marketplace to get people’s attention. You can also boost the reach of your content with paid ads.

Address offline communities

Offline promotional channels can be valuable in your attempt to generate awareness of and excitement about your marketplace. You can start building a community by hosting offline meetups or events. Personally address communities and tell them about your marketplace’s value proposition and how your marketplace will benefit them. Word of mouth has always worked for any kind of business. It’s a way for you to advertize your marketplace with minimal resources needed. People are sure to tell to their friends what event they have been to, what they have heard and what they have learnt, especially if this event addresses their pains and needs, which your platform presentation should.

You can always start your promotional strategy locally and then expand to other cities where you will be able to find like-minded people. Meeting people in person helps you create even stronger connections. In the long run, it will be easier for you to reconnect with them online across all digital channels.

Use email

If you’ve generated a considerable number of contacts over time, you can use them to remind your contacts of your business goals. Once you’re ready to launch, you can send an email and inform your contacts. Later on, you can even send a link to register on your marketplace.

Use the media

You need to know your target audience inside out. In particular, you need to know where they catch up on the latest news. Media is a good tool to create buzz about the launch of your online marketplace business. Media coverage can also give you additional traction when attracting investors. 

Press coverage can be helpful, but you need to make sure you’re using the news channel your target audience follows. If your customers don’t read TechCrunch, then use other news sources. To get your media campaign right, you need to have a good story and talk to professional journalists who report specifically for your target audience.

Start blogging

Marketplace Promotional Strategies
Source: blog.aboutamazon.com

Create a blog and post relevant articles that are optimized for search engines. Write on topics related to your marketplace to draw in more traffic. Add a call to action with a signup link at the end of each post so that your articles can generate leads. This will also help you build an email list of people who are interested in your marketplace.

Find influencers

Influencers can create positive buzz around your product pre-launch and also make your marketplace credible. Get in touch with bloggers, social media marketers, and any other industry figures that have a rich online presence. You can offer them incentives such as free trials, exclusive access to the beta version of your website or app, or other perks to get them discussing your marketplace.

Surprise people

Everyone likes surprises, and you can be creative in your approach to promoting your marketplace. Giveaways make people remember you and your cause.

You can give away anything from personalized postcards to gifts sent to your subscribers’ doorsteps. Such surprises will draw attention and build excitement around your marketplace launch. The public is likely to appreciate your creativity and effort to introduce your marketplace in a personalized way.

Have a plan B

You should always be prepared in case things don’t go the way you expect. It’s best to prepare a plan B. If you see little interest in your marketplace, use your backup plan. You can even turn for advice to your business partners or people you trust.

You need to consider all possible outcomes and be realistic. Promoting a marketplace takes effort and time. If you are able to highlight the value of your platform, users will get convinced that they need your offer. A plan B can be anything from something simple to something outrageous.

Listen to your gut feeling

Here we list all these points. However, you can sometimes tell for sure what method will work best for your promotional strategy. Following your gut feeling can be the next choice you can make.

Start promoting your online marketplace

Marketplace Promotional Strategies
Source: sephora.com

You need to gain as much pre-launch momentum as possible to help you figure out the reach your platform will have at its first stages. Choosing one or several effective online marketing promotion strategies can pave the way for the success of your online marketplace. Learn as much as possible about your audience, your suppliers, and their relationships before starting your marketing campaign. Use emailing, reach out to your target audience on and offline. You can even get creative and send out little gifts to people. The end goal of each promotional strategy is to get customers as well as sellers and service providers using your platform.

Marketplace promotional strategies aim to help you connect with your audience before you launch your product. Since there are many people with different opinions and tastes, they perceive information differently. By segmenting your target audience, you can find a strategy that will appeal specifically to them.

At SteelKiwi, we know how to launch a product online. We have built a promotional app with ERP functionality, called Snaapy, for small and midsize businesses that offer on-demand services. NexDep, a marketplace app we have also developed, caters to providers of legal services and helps them find court staff quickly. You can read more about NexDep in our case study.

If you have any questions on how to launch an online business or want to know how much it might cost to create your own marketplace, contact us and we’ll provide all the information you need.