Living Social Growth Hacking – Strategies You Can Use
LivingSocial launched in 2007 at roughly the same time Facebook got started. Founders Tim O’Shaughnessy, Aaron Batalion, Eddie Frederick, and Val Aleksenko saw the advent of the social network as an opportunity to acquire users quickly and inexpensively.
Growth Hacks and Techniques
They tested this theory by creating a book-sharing application on Facebook called Virtual Bookshelf, which in its heyday had more book reviews than Amazon. Their next effort was LivingSocial, which in its first iteration simply asked users what they liked to do in real life and matched them with events in their area.
By going to a Facebook where they knew they could mine users, the LivingSocial founders were able to think out and refine their concept through testing. There really was no set plan for the direction of the business, which allowed them to tinker with their products, assemble a team, and follow what revenue was coming in.
They focused on brand awareness, user acquisition, and expansion. As they began to really develop a more coherent model, they poured all their resources into driving and refining it. What evolved out of those experiments was LivingSocial as it is known today, a local marketplace offering event tickets, vouchers, and gift certificates in the United States and 16 other countries.
The site has an estimated 70 million users and is, at its heart, a marketing platform to connect consumers and merchants through promotional offers. In any given area, about 55% to 65% of LivingSocial’s business will be with local businesses.
Through mining user data, Living Social is very good at targeting which consumers that merchants are most likely to reach. If a business needs to bring in 500 customers in one week, a featured email is likely the best option, but if the goal is five customers a week for 30 weeks, the quota can be reached within the marketplace. Measurable results for merchants are one of the best ways to keep existing business and enhance word of mouth referrals.
LivingSocial is also one of the largest online resources for consumers to purchase tickets to live events. Through relationships with exhibitors, the company maintains an inventory of tickets and is often the exclusive seller for an events pre-sale campaigns.
In 2013, the company brought in almost $400 million in revenue on $1 billion in sales in spite of events that caused a crisis of confidence among its users. In April, some 50 million user records were hacked exposing encrypted passwords and email addresses, but not credit card information. Still, users were forced to reset their passwords.
In multiple interviews, CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy expressed optimism going into 2014, however, and continued to talk like a growth hacker. LivingSocial plans to become more of a destination via mobile apps and cultivate a searchable database of long-term deals that will appeal to users.
A platform re-design allows business owners to now manage multiple discount campaigns from one account, which should help strengthen LivingSocial’s client relationships. Also, deal pages on the site are undergoing optimization to rank higher in searchers.
It is to LivingSocial’s benefit that the company has had a strong growth culture from day one and is prepared to test and redesign key elements of its infrastructure to enhance both the user and customer experience. Although facing stiff competition from Groupon, LivingSocial is still very much in the game and well positioned for even greater growth.