For nine years now I've been focused on creating tools and services that are of benefit primarily to the Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization community. Those tools have been very valuable, both to my customers and myself. I am proud of them, and they continue to flourish and grow.
However, for some time now I have also been aware that there is a bigger world out there than just Internet Marketing. That I'm missing a huge boat that's been sitting in front of me. I see apps in iTunes and on my Android phone that have millions of users, even some that I consider stupid and wonder why anybody would ever buy something like that! I see social sites that started in college dorm rooms and go on to have millions (or, in the most obvious case, over a billion) active users.
So I decided to step out of the Internet Marketing Box that I've been in for the last nine years. To create something that I think is truly useful and beneficial to a much larger crowd of people, but which many IM'ers will also find useful.
Thus ShareWith.me was born.
How It Works
The ShareWith.me concept is simple. Users find and share the absolute best deals currently available on Amazon.com. Everyone benefits by browsing the deals (using the menu on the left of the site) and saving lots of cash on the stuff they need.
What's really great is that when you share a deal you're automatically entered to win a $100 gift card to Amazon.com. We give away a new gift card every day, and you can enter to win every day by sharing new deals.
No purchase is necessary to win. We reward our users for sharing the best deals. You don't have to buy anything to have a chance at winning the daily gift card.
What's In It For Me
As you probably suspected, the benefit to me as a businessman and marketer is that when people click-through the deals and buy, they're clicking through my affiliate link.
"But there's no purchase required!" you protest?
That's true, but seriously: Amazon does an awesome job at selling. If enough people are browsing Amazon looking for great deals to share in the hopes of winning the gift card, some people are going to buy something. Plus, people shop at Amazon every day, and if they have my affiliate cookie set when they do, all the better for me, right?
The Marketing Lessons
I opened up the system to a few non-IM'ers to get their feedback. It has been incredibly positive. From just a couple of dozen users there are already more than 200 deals on the site. So I think I've found a niche here.
Lesson 1. Incentives.
The first lesson learned here is one of incentives. Finding the right incentive to get people to use your product or service is vital. Even if it's a great idea, you have to encourage people to get involved and use it.
Saving money is great in itself, but it's not enough. That's because you have to encourage people to take the time to download and install the ShareWith.me browser extension (which only takes about 60 seconds) and to click on the sharing icon it places in the browser window when they find a great deal on Amazon.
That requires an incentive. The daily give-away is that incentive. To help people get excited about it, the name of the daily winner is placed on the home page.
Lesson 2. User Feedback.
Another lesson here, one that I learned early on in my product-development career, is that you have to listen to user feedback about your products -- and take action to implement the popular suggestions. I've made a number of changes to the ShareWith.me site based on user feedback.
The creation of personal shopping lists, putting the daily winner's name on the home page, even the number of deals displayed on each page were all suggested and agreed upon by the early testers of ShareWith.me. Those additions have seriously improved the experience on the site.
I will continue to take those suggestions and improve the product, because the better the product the more viral it becomes and the quicker it grows.
Lesson 3. Don't Be Afraid.
The last lesson from this project is not to be afraid of experimenting, of stepping outside of your box. I've learned a lot from working on this project, and it's opened my awareness up to all kinds of other things that I could do in the future.
If this experiment proves profitable, then my next step is to create Android and iPhone/iPad apps that let people do their sharing on their mobiles. That will be take me out of another box in my software development experience, another box that I've needed to get out of for some time and just haven't had the right, um, incentive.
Even if your initial experiments fail, they give you valuable experience that will help you find and create that winning product in the end. That's something that keeping your vision narrow will never achieve.
So if you like to save money, and you like to win prizes and you (like me) love Amazon.com, take two minutes to get started using ShareWith.me. Here's the link:
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