Going Viral - It just works!

by Robert Uhlemann

Dropbox just works. Within 20 minutes of becoming a Dropbox user I had Dropbox installed on my Mac, PC, iPhone, & iPad. My files were seamlessly synced and I was so impressed I instantly emailed my thumb drive addicted father to get on Dropbox. Heck of a conversion funnel and viral cycle time, which left me ecstatic and impressed with Dropbox from download number two.

Or not! Cake, on the other hand, required the user to scrap historical data from their financialinstitution, use Cake for financial advice, and then enter that informationback into their brokerage. If Cake had focused on being an integrated financial tool, such as Mint.com, it could have avoided conversion funnel complexity and long registration cycle times.

Who’s Your Customer?

RentJuice entered a complex real estate market with multiple potential customers by carving out a niche focusing on providing value to the permanent middleman, the broker. By providing brokers with valuable, standardized tools RentJuice attracted thehigh volume, permanent real estate player and thus will be able to expand upstream and downstream to the renter and landlord capturing a wide swath of the real estate market.

Like RentJuice, Aardvark entered a difficult market, this time, dominated Google. Aarkvard had the difficult task of appealing to search customers that already used ‘Google’ as a verb and the necessary extended friend network that would answer the uniquesearch. If customers aren’t craving an alternative, can you succeed? If active participation is required, can you encourage people to play?

RentJuice segmented their value proposition down to brokers and provided them with value, while Aardvark provided a unique, but complexsystem, to a market that was content with existing search features.

Is this a social behavior? Really? You’re sure?

“I have this great idea! Men go out to bars to pick up women with wingmen. This will definitely work online!” One small hypothesis test issue; wingmen in bars are socially acceptable, while online dating is still taboo. Triangulate tried to cross the online dating chasm with Wings, but failed to test the core social behavior behind their business model. While Wings is an intriguing concept, a few selective hypothesis tests may have saved the millions of dollars.

“I feel hot!” The Rent the Runway team knew they had something on their hands. The team managed to capture the social phenomenon of female dress shopping in their business model. By specifically targeting college females, RTR was able to reduce the cost, while increasing the quality of crucial life experience, and use Facebook Feeds as free marketing.

Fluke or not, RTR captured a positive reinforcing social behavior in their business model, while Triangulate failed to cross the chasm with their behavior changing platform.

What to do, What to do…?

  • K.I.S.S. and keep conversion funnel and cycle time as short as possible!
  • If entering a complex market, stake out a customer and provide them value! They will be grateful and that will translate into word of mouth advertising.
  • Leverage existing social behaviors. Women talk about dress purchases publically, not online dating and investing. Coincidence? I think not. 




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