Every marketplace professional knows that quality content is the key to success. Without good user-generated content, you won’t drive traffic to your platform.
The quality of your content helps build trust (a vital element to marketplace success) and directly impacts conversions, engagement and retention. In fact, visitors are more than twice as likely to return to your site if they encounter high-quality content on their first visit.
What constitutes good content can differ wildly depending on; your audience, the services your platform facilitates and the overall competition in your specific niche.
However, we’ve collected some general rules of thumb that rarely fail.
What’s a good online marketplace profile?
A good online marketplace profile helps build trust in the owner, makes it easy to identify and re-identify them, and provides the reader with enough relevant information to decide whether engaging makes sense.
Polina Yelkina, Manager of Russia & Ukraine, Community Relations at Blablacar breaks down their view on a good profile to the following:
- Maximized useful info (bio, preferences, photo, certified phone/email, car
- Real information.
- Relevant content (no gibberish)
- No surname was mentioned.
- No contact details are publicly visible.
- No advertising/spam.
- No offensive/insulting content in the profile.
- Content that complies with the rules of the platform.
Expanding on this and based on our experience, it’s clear that there’s some universal criteria quality profiles meet:
Good profiles contain relevant information that helps readers understand whether the profile matches their current needs. Which information is relevant will depend on the platform, and the service exchanged between the profile owner and the person viewing it.
For a profile on a car-sharing platform, for instance, it might be relevant to include reviews or information such as whether the driver accepts smokers or not.
Spam and advertising are completely unacceptable, and links that lead off the site are inadvisable due to the risk of fraud and platform leakage.
Profiles should be streamlined to communicate the exact message needed for the reader to understand who they are about to engage with. It must be clear who the profile owner is, so pictures of multiple people are usually a no-go. While the profile should be informative, it also shouldn’t contain irrelevant information. Short and to the point is better than rambling and incoherent.
We live in a visual age. Regardless of whether the profile is for a classified site, a gamer account, or a car-sharing platform, having a visual representation of the user is important. In general, this should be in the form of a picture of the user but could also be an avatar for platforms that are more lenient on anonymity (like community sites for kids or gaming platforms). The image should, however, be recognizable so the representation is always easy to identify as the profile owner.
We’ll get further into this in the next paragraph, but make sure the image is clear, sharp, properly formatted and inviting.
What’s a good image for an online marketplace?
What constitutes a good image is highly reliant on context. However, usually, the following is true:
Blurry images communicate low quality and don’t instill trust in the person looking at it. Make sure users upload sharp images where it’s easy to see the subject.
Images that are formatted wrong or too dark or bright signal low value and should generally be avoided.
Photos that look genuine are preferable, so try to get users to stay away from the stock photo look. There is such a thing as too perfect. In general, if your users are trying to sell an item it’s good to have multiple images. A couple that shows the item, some that show details of the item in closeup and one or two that show the item in action (preferably in a natural, yet non-home-video-style fashion).
For profile pictures, a good image ensures that the face is easily distinguishable. After all, you’re trying to simulate a face-to-face encounter. Sunglasses, shots from behind and other images that remove information should be discouraged.
Depending on your site policies you may also want to remove inappropriate images where people have gone in the opposite direction and reveal too much.
In a qualitative survey on user search experience 100% of all participants highlighted good images as a reason to click on an advert. Underlining that great pictures drive engagement and conversions.
“The pictures are showing that it actually belongs to a real person. It looks less blurry, and like the seller really cares to sell the item” – Louise
Anibis.ch’s Product Support Lead, Ana Castro and Anti-Fraud Specialist Jelena Moncilli reveals that their internal guidelines echo this call for genuine and clear images.
“A good quality image is an authentic image captured by the user, directly related to the listing, without contacts or web links, and where the product or service offered can be clearly visualized, without being blurred.”
The same message of clarity is repeated by Polina Yelkina, Manager Russia & Ukraine, Community Relations at Blablacar.
In pictures of cars we want the following to be true:
- The whole car should be visible.
- The car from the picture should be easily recognized by passengers.
- No people in the picture.
- No contact details/advertising visible in the picture or on the car itself.”
What’s a good marketplace listing?
What is the purpose of listing text? It’s to provide the potential buyer or user with enough information for them to decide whether to engage with the seller.
If it takes too much effort on the buyer-side to decode the item or service specifications, it’s likely the buyer gives up and moves on to the next listing or worse, to the next platform.
As such the goal with listing text should be to clearly and concisely describe the service or item for sale. Misinformation, spammy, scammy or inappropriate content should obviously be disallowed and immediately removed.
Detailed descriptions aren’t just good for the browsing experience, it also helps with SEO driving traffic to the listing and the platform as a whole. The second-hand marketplaces do this really well.
Listing text is also very important in building long-term trust in the platform brand. Since the buyer can’t physically examine the item, they have to rely on the description. Trust will quickly deteriorate if this turns out to be dishonest or lacking. As such an honest and detailed description is recommendable as a good listing text.
Ana Castro and Jelena Moncilli backs the need for detailed descriptions stating:
“A good quality listing is a listing in compliance with our insertion rules, offering only one service or product, placed in the right category at a fair price, with a clear title with good key words which help to find the service or product offered by going through a list of results. Description should contain all necessary information like the size, the color etc. A good listing is completed by a picture illustrating the item or the service which is sold. All necessary contact information should be correctly filled in the specific field.
For the three points above, all of them must respect our insertion rules as well as the Swiss law.”
The perils of low-quality content
We’ve listed a lot of benefits to high-quality content, but what issues does low-quality content cause?
Imagine walking by your local clothing store and seeing dirty, tattered dresses tossed around in the window. You’d be unlikely to enter the store and even less likely to purchase from there.
The page a visitor lands on when first visiting your site is your storefront. It should be inviting and beautiful. You want the user generated content to show your platform in the best light possible. Blurry images, lacking descriptions and user profiles that don’t give insight into the owner will deter visitors. Guide users to create and submit better content and take care of the bad pieces that inevitably slip through. That way you’ll ensure a more successful platform with more engagement, traffic and higher retention.
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