Groupon hasn’t been doing so well lately. We also saw backlash against the company after their less-than-tactful Super Bowl ads, but I’m not sure that’s why their numbers, according to reports, are down yet another 30%+ in March. Deal aggregator Yipit threw out some theories for the decrease in popularity:
- Groupon is now sharing the market, especially with Living Social, who saw a huge growth this month once again.
- At first, Groupon users got one deal a day, but now they have several personalized deals for each user every day.
- The Groupon demographic is young and single, so they may be limiting their growth potential (in contrast, Living Social’s users are older with more varying interests).
Point one makes tons of sense – if you’re the first and only company doing something, you’re going to control the whole market. When competition starts popping up, no matter how good you are, your growth is going to slow down as people migrate to try other companies.
The third point also makes a lot of sense. Maybe Groupon targeted the wrong demographic from the start. Young users don’t have as much money (even for deals) and tend to have more focused interests (which don’t always align with the deals available).
But what I want to really examine is that second point. At first glance, it might not make a lot of sense. How could offering more deals be a bad thing, especially if they are personalized for the user’s interest (based on demographics and zip code)?
The same goes for your blog. Doesn’t offering more choices make the most sense?
- Posting five times a day, as long as you maintain quality, is certainly better than posting once a week, right?
- Offering three versions of your product at different price points is certainly better than offering just a single version, right?
- Eighty categories that separate your posts into relevant topics for your readers is better than just five broad categories, right?
While it might seem as though the answers are “Yes, yes yes!”, for many bloggers, the answers are actually “No, no, no!” Like Groupon, this could be one of the reasons you aren’t growing as fast as you’d like or even why you could see a decrease in traffic.
Let’s first think about post frequency. I blog for myself and for others, so I have a different perspective on this than many others might. When I first started blogging professionally, circa 2006ish, there was a big push for us to post as often as possible. I actually remember that one of my first clients (who paid based on traffic with a rev share model, rather than based on post count), held competitions for their bloggers – the people in the network who ended the month with the most posts got a bonus. Most of my clients still do want me to post as often as they can afford.
I think there’s an emphasis today on quality over quantity, but at the same time the decrease in quality is perhaps not the only reason it makes sense to post less often. First, by posting less often, you build anticipation. Let’s say that I write a blog you LOVE to read. If I only post once a week, you get excited for that post. If I post every day or multiple times per day, there’s no time for you to feel that anticipation. More importantly, though, people just don’t have time for it, no matter how awesome you are.
Think of it this way: If you open your inbox and there are ten notifications for new Groupon deals (or even ten links in a single email), are you going to have time to read them all? Even if they’re awesome, you might only check out the one that sounds the very best. On the other hand, if those notifications were sent once a day over ten days, you might check out all of them. Posts are the same way. If you want busy readers to check out all of them, posting ten times a day might not be best.
Different Versions of Products
I see a lot of bloggers who have complete stores on their websites, either with their own products or with affiliate products. While you don’t want to eliminate potential sales by only offering a single product that isn’t relevant to most of your readers, it can be dangerous to offer too many products. People tend to get overwhelmed when they have too many choices, which leads to them not buying anything at all.
In addition, you have to consider your readers’ budgets (and their perceived budgets). If you release ten products over the course of a month, some of your readers might not be able to afford them all, and once you start them thinking that way, they start to wonder if they can afford anything. Or, because a lower-priced option is available, that’s what they buy, even though if it was the only one offered they would have shelled out the money for the higher-priced product. It’s a fine line to walk between too many offerings and not enough offerings, but I think finding this balance is important.
Links on Your Site
Too many choices are bad in general (for many blogs – as always, it depends on your niche). This applies to any kind of navigation system on your site – pages, categories, tags, even links within a post. Again, it’s about balance. If you don’t have any kind of navigation, it could make your site confusing and less useful to readers, but too many options can make your blog too overwhelming.
For example, let’s say you come to my blog and I have ten links within my 300-word post. If it’s a resource post (i.e., all about the links), that might make sense, but if I’m just linking to other categories on my site, other posts talking about the same topic, news stories, etc. it can be too much. Those links can get so distracting, that you might never finish my post over even come back to my site.
Or let’s say that you want to read more about me. If I have pages called About Me, About My Site, Contact, Social Networking, My Resume, Speaking Experience, As Seen On, 100 Things About Allison, My Story….well, as you can see, it can be confusing where to even start. It’s okay to have multiple pages, but keep things under control.
Will Groupon bounce back? I don’t think the company is going anywhere, and they’re still relatively young, so I think they’ll continue testing different things to see what works best. In general, the number of choices they give users is definitely something they should consider – and as a blogger, there are some lessons you can learn as well.