Make trading great ag... err not that one.

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Make trading great ag... err not that one.
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Last Sunday, I posted a summary of what I did on Lestrade's in the last ~10 days, like I usually do. (And I did more after that, but I haven't documented anything.) Also as usual, I asked for readers to invite their friends. 2 days in, we've now reached an all-time low for active users. As a result of my announcement, 2 members left the group, and no one bothered to invite anyone (this is indicated in admin stats.) I always feel bad when I have to ask people to help with promoting the site, but I feel even worse when I see they don't even bother to click that damn Invite button.

I don't even know why I'm bothering... I have so much love for this site, and so much plans to develop it beyond its current status as the most usable trading site ever. But I'm in a situation where in order for it to be the best, it needs to be popular. I'm more comfortable the other way around.

What should I do? Pay people to join the site? Give up on my 5-hour nights and devote them to marketing?

I think the title of this topic is a subconscious way of saying, popularity these days comes not from talent, but marketing.
Lestrade's needs to reach the masses to work. More users = more choice = more reasons for me to build tools to help with the widening opportunities. But the more features I add, the less active users we have.

tl;dr: Has anyone here any marketing skills? Does anyone know anyone who'd be excited at the idea of helping LT get more popular? Usually, the job of marketing guys is to take an ordinary product and make it sound like it's better than the rest. Here, the product is definitely better, and will continue to be so. It's just that I'm the only one working on it and I don't see why I should also deal with marketing, since it's something I've always been terrible at, and risk losing motivation to work on the multiple projects I have for LT right now.

I need your help, plain and simple! Please post suggestions!

Pika! Pika!

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Re: Make trading great ag... err not that one.
« Reply #1,  »Last edited
I also have been wondering why people want to use Barter primarily when it is so so incredibly slow in finding matches or updating trade information. I suppose most simply do not know about its functionality and we're up against the first mover advantage. I did start a new thread at the Steam community as I noticed that it seems rather quiet there and most people probably do not even bother to look further if there appears little activity there. So what might work best is if a few more new threads are created at the Steam community by other people to show that there is activity. After that, people might have more success in inviting others.

To put the issue of the first mover advantage in perspective in for example the cryptocurrency market, everyone notices that Bitcoin is by the largest, even though there are now vastly superior alternatives. Bitcoin will however not remain the largest. Another example is the internetbubble. Most of the initial massive internet companies are now no longer around or fairly trivial, whilst other giants have come along which took over most of the market such as Google and Amazon. Of course the size of the markets is vastly different, but the same rules generally apply.

I think most people will probably keep using Lestrades if they have tried using it for about a week. The question to me seems how to get people to get to use it for a week. I do not think that giving away something should be necessary at this point. A tutorial might help with getting more users. At a later point it might be interesting to explore how users can be enticed to try it out for a week. Ultimately trading platforms help sellers of games as it improves liquidity. People tend to buy more bundles as they know they can exchange them for other items of interest. So what could potentially work is some kind of cooperation with certain gamebundle sellers. You could for example offer to provide a visible link to their websites in exchange for them offering a link to yours. Websites like Indiegala might like to pretend that their own trading platform is functional, but it really is not. So in that sense all parties stand to win something from such a setup, but the question is whether most gamebundle sellers also notice the strategic advantage from such kind of cooperation.

The alternative you have is to offer a service similar to what G2A has besides the trading platform. In case your prices would be lower than those of G2A, you'd attract an entirely different group of buyers and sellers and you could make money on each transaction. The downside is that you would then not be able to link to gamebundle sellers and vice versa.

As an alternative in case you would be interested in that, you could potentially decide to work together with Steamtrades / Steamgifts and integrate those platforms with what you have. The upside/downside is shared decision making. In case you would be able to integrate platforms, you would have access to a large user base by default. An alternative would be to join forces with Barter. Perhaps you can also join forces with others than the above mentioned who can give you what you need and vice versa.

All in all I think you have a lot of options, but what is most important is that you choose something that you are comfortable with yourself. I think the key questions are first of all whether you would like to run this as a profit or non-profit organisation and secondly how much help you need to accomplish those aims. Many people can have great ideas, but sometimes not all the skills are available to make it into a success. At other times, the cooperation itself can turn a success into a disaster, so best to choose wisely in that regard and set everything forth clearly into contracts in case you decide to work together with others if necessary (also the worst case situations, so that they can be undone relatively easy).

I myself unfortunately cannot offer much help as I am too busy with my own work. I do hope that the above is of some use.


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Re: Make trading great ag... err not that one.
« Reply #2,  »
I do not have marketing skills. Just come back from vacations, and will try to spread the word as much as I can.
The problem might be that, partially due to lack of users, it is much harder to make trades here than other places, and it is kind of dis-encouraging for new users.
My real wishlist is on steam.
My wishlist here is for trading purposes.
I like to trade for games I do not own based on Want/Have Ratio, rather than other approaches.


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Re: Make trading great ag... err not that one.
« Reply #3,  »
Agree with joaoarena.
Lack of (active) users is the main thing holding lestrades back, and personally i don't think there is much of a chance in grassroot campaigns (send invites via steam, use social media etc) to drive more users.

Most traders aren't "power traders".
At the moment, only "power traders" will use separate trading paltforms (like bvg and lestrades), and if you're new, you probably choose bvg at the moment, because it is much bigger in userbase.

I personally don't believe that active users here inviting friends will make a reasonable impact. Has been tried, does not seem to work.
So there needs to be something else to drive users here, Pika Pika might have suggested some good ideas.

Partner with highly influential sites.
Maybe platforms like reddit, maybe bundle providers, etc
So i agree with PikaPika


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Re: Make trading great ag... err not that one.
« Reply #4,  »
Well, as someone working in marketing (as a graphic designer) I think reworking the intro page for first time/signed out visitors might be a good idea and could help win over users.

Ugly as it may be, Barter's intro page (that you see when you're not signed in) has all the info to tell you what the site is about right there, "Trade Bundle Leftovers for Wishlist Games" is the biggest information right below the name.
SteamTrades cuts right to the trading bit and lets you start a search of what you have and want before you even sign in.
Whereas for Lestrade's, with the forum layout there's currently a lot of extra information that might be distracting.

What if the first thing someone visiting the site sees is something like this kind of one-page website for example, just real short paragraphs, maybe spruced up with some explanatory illustrations (I would be willing to help with that). Maybe have it set up roughly like this:
Lestrade's - Trading Steam Games the convenient way

Did you just buy a game bundle that has a game you already own or don't want?

Your friends don't want the games either and/or are all dead anyway?

Lestrades makes trading games easy and convenient, so you can get even more games that you won't have time to play.

Get started now:
(Sign In Button) / Read tutorial / Want/Have button*
*Would it be possible to add a feature similar to SteamTrades, where you could enter a game you have and a game you want and search the userbase's tradables based on that? Without having to sign in? Just as a preview, where then upon wanting to start an offer, it'd ask you to actually sign in. If it's a lot of work, then I don't think it's enough of a pay-off to have it. Just an idea.

Then, if you kept scrolling, you could also get to rest of the site info, as it's set up right now (or maybe even list and show some of Lestrade's advantages first) - I don't think the info is bad, it's just a lot if you don't even know what the site is about yet. Instead, on that initial visit, those first few seconds, very directly communicate with the visitor and get the message across quickly.

What do you think?