Scott Yang
Scott Yang, Founder at OzBargain.com.au

Customer acquisition

How to grow a more diversified and balanced community website?

Hi SavvySME!

Let me introduce myself first. My name is Scott and I am the founder of OzBargain, a community website for shoppers in Australia to share and discuss bargains, deals, products, shopping, etc. It was started as a spare time project 6 years ago (well, I love cheap stuff), and that thing just grows - mostly virally. It now attracts 1.1 million unique visitors a month, mostly from Australia, and we have some members following our website religiously, checking it multiple times a day.

I have been working full time on it for almost 2 years now, and have 2 employees helping me to keep the site running and to keep on growing the site & its community. I guess some of you guys might have actually stumbled across my site. I know that many retailers and service providers, large or small, have been using OzBargain to push their promotions. I'm glad to join this small business community (and nice to meet both Phil & Wendy in person this week). I'll be here at SavvySME trying to help anyone with questions.

Now, here is a question of my own. OzBargain has historically been male-dominant. I am a gadget-loving nerdy guy, and I tend to seek and post deals that reflect that nature. Many of our early visitors came from Whirlpool.net.au, which is a tech-oriented community website (that I presume is also male-dominant). When I look at the popular deals on OzBargain, it's again mostly gadgets, computers, video games, etc. Even the most popular food-related deals on our site are Domino's pizza coupons. However, I think for OzBargain to move forward to serve the Australian bargain hunters, we will need to grow into a diversified and balanced community.

Rather than being male-dominant, I would like to see more balanced discussions. Rather than gadgets dominating our home page, I would like to see fashions, good dine outs, etc. I think the problem is more than just "how to attract more female members to sign up," but there will also be an internal resistance of change. The existing culture - opinionated, cynical, sometimes sexists comments - need to change as well, but at the same time I don't want to be seen as "oppressive" or "dictating." Or maybe I am fighting a battle that can't be won? Anyone experienced with running a community? Please share your ideas.

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4 Answers

Kevin Dam

Kevin Dam , Digital Marketing Strategist at E-Web Marketing (Platinum CMO)

Hi Scott,

You should know the answer to this! It's pretty much how you started OzBargains!

There are definitely people out there who want cheap stuff and a bargain, much like you 6 years ago, and I'm sure they can be found on the internet somewhere. They go to a specific place because it can be trusted and they find value in it...but that usually means that the path needs to be paved first. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to do the hard yards (or else we'd all be filthy rich) so you will need to pave the way for others to follow.

What you'll need to do is find those pockets of people (or they could be other large forums) and give them a reason to come to your website...convince and convert is your game (imoh).

Another thing I would suggest you look into is the useability of your website & who it currently appeals to. You've hit the nail on the head with who the website currently appeals to, so you'll need to 'make the switch' so that it appeals to both your markets.

Find out what your target market thinks about your current website and what you want them to think about your website, identify the gaps, then fill it in.

Scott Yang

Scott Yang , Founder at OzBargain.com.au

Thanks Kevin. Yes we do need the initial push of "doing the hard yard" although I'm probably looking for things that are more specific. I guess I can do some su... read more
Thanks Kevin. Yes we do need the initial push of "doing the hard yard" although I'm probably looking for things that are more specific. I guess I can do some survey or sampling how other communities are operated to get an idea that what specific demographic is attracted to.
Kevin Dam

Kevin Dam , Digital Marketing Strategist at E-Web Marketing (Platinum CMO)

What do you mean you are looking for things that are more specific? As in action items that you can do right away?
What do you mean you are looking for things that are more specific? As in action items that you can do right away?
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James Norquay

James Norquay , Consulting Director at Prosperity Media

Hi Scott,

I remember in the past I have done some social work for a fashion (70% female dominated) client, basically they wanted to spread the word about an offer they were promoting. I remember looking at the top 20 of so deals based websites in the niche. Pushed the deal out to most of the sites and it was picked up quickly as it was a well known brand. I remember moving to OzBargin to promote the offer and the lead time was a bit slower you had to do all this verification ect, sure it was probably to keep spammers out but if you are a big brand surely it could promote quicker movements (maybe an option) 

In regards to picking up more female customers, I think you need to think about partnerships with female dominate sites like Vouge forums for example. 

Another idea are you could make a new section for well priced cosmetics and then promote that to the female audience, I have worked on a few cosmetics sites in the past and ladies love a good cosmetics deal =)

Then the next thing is working out the best way to promote your female sections of the site to this new market, Guest posts, PR, promote via other websites ect. 

Hope this helps mate.

Kind Regards,

James Norquay

Scott Yang

Scott Yang , Founder at OzBargain.com.au

As of long lead time -- yes it was mainly to slow down the spammers or making the hurdle too high so the spammers won't bother. I know that the side effect is i... read more
As of long lead time -- yes it was mainly to slow down the spammers or making the hurdle too high so the spammers won't bother. I know that the side effect is incovenience to the new comers, which we are thinking to address. For big brands we can lift the initial ban (which is 24 hours for Australian IP). Just email support@ozbargain :) There are a lot of things a member can do, and only posting new deals is banned for the initial 24 hours. Thanks for the great suggestions though.
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Hari I

Hari I ,

I can understand you wanting to diversify to the female community, perhaps you could take tips from Wikipedia who has 84 % Male editors. In general it looks like women don't like to have conflicts and wage flame wars.

There are some good links to read related to that study that go behind the reasons, and the same apply here in OZbargain, everytime someone posts a deal that's an invitation to others to try and beat the deal on price.

Unless it's an extraordinarily great deal women especially might be hesitant because they know they'll get negged into oblivion by the community.

The sexist comments, jokes and puns and all the male Banter is what gives the community it's feel so not sure toning it down by force would be a great idea. You are right to leave it to the community to self moderate.

Hari I

Hari I ,

It is a pain to edit and post in the forum here, doesn't work well in chrome at all, anyway, you can look up the study and all the related info here, Could poss... read more
It is a pain to edit and post in the forum here, doesn't work well in chrome at all, anyway, you can look up the study and all the related info here, Could possibly pick up some targeted tips on making the community more inclusive of women. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedians http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Gender_gap The significant and stable under-representation of women results in persistently unbalanced coverage (e.g. articles related to football are much more developed than articles related to motherhood[dubious – discuss]) in Wikipedia.[citation needed] The gender gap may be driven significantly by Wikipedia's conflict-oriented culture. Experienced female editors can be very successful—they are more likely to become administrators than men—but they are more likely to leave if treated aggressively in discussions, especially as new editors, when their good-faith contributions are more likely to be reverted than a similarly good-faith contribution by a man.[7]
John OLoughlin

John OLoughlin ,

Scott, to add to the existing posts, currently the site content doesn't appear to offer much value targeted specifically to women, so that could be improved by ... read more
Scott, to add to the existing posts, currently the site content doesn't appear to offer much value targeted specifically to women, so that could be improved by seeding some discounts on products that women value and talk about, and the site design would also need to be updated to showcase that value as clearly as possible with larger images of branded products rather than the current text heavy design that favours technical specs. The current styling is like a cross between HackerNews and Reddit, both heavily male dominated. With the right content and design, your growth hacks and community building strategies will have a fighting chance rather than people just bouncing when they get to your site.
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Hari I

Hari I ,

HI Scotty,

How did your first attempt at attracting Female customers go ?

Ozbargain Attracting Female Customers.

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