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CMO One-to-One: LivingSocial Evolves from Deals Site to Deals Marketplace



Barry Judge
CMO
LivingSocial

For eMarketer’s CMO One-to-One series, Barry Judge, CMO of LivingSocial, spoke with eMarketer about the importance of personalization and relevancy in a deals marketplace.

eMarketer: What are LivingSocial’s top priorities for 2014?

Barry Judge: Our first priority is to learn as much as we possibly can about our consumer target. We’re predominantly a business where educated, affluent women shop, and 78% of our business comes from that consumer. We’re working hard to understand the product she likes, the way she likes to be engaged, the kinds of web and mobile interfaces she enjoys and the social platforms she frequents.

We’re focusing on our website, our mobile platform and personalization. Additionally, we’ll be spending more on new subscriber acquisition, which is predominantly what we spent money on in the past. We’ll also be spending on marketing our deals off our site, both through digital channels and affiliates.

Finally, we’re working hard on personalization and relevancy in all of our communication, particularly email, which is a big part of our business. We want to make those emails much more personal and relevant.

“We’re a deals marketplace. Today, we have over 12,000 deals live on any given day.”

eMarketer: You mentioned personalization. For a daily deals company, how critical is that?

Judge: It’s interesting that you say daily deals, because we’ve evolved the business in the past year from a focus on one deal each day—or even a few deals that last a week—to really thousands of deals that live on our website now. We’re a deals marketplace. Today, we have over 12,000 deals live on any given day. We’ve greatly expanded the inventory of things you can buy from us and really expanded the number of merchants that are participating with us.

For merchants that want business driven through their doors, we can do that. But for merchants that just want a steady flow of customers, we now have a product for them as well. There’s a lot more flexibility for merchants in terms of how they want to participate with us, which then enables us to have more merchants and more products for the consumer to buy.

Now we need to have good search and create ways to navigate the site differently. We need more relevancy and personalization because we’ve got a lot more inventory. When we were a daily deals company, we didn’t need that, but now that we’re a deals marketplace, we do.

eMarketer: Are more consumers accessing deals via their smartphones?

Judge: Close to 40% of our business is done on mobile. Mobile is a huge business for us. The price points are going up. The gross billings are growing. Gifting is growing. Mobile is a big channel for us, and it’s only getting bigger. On Black Friday through Cyber Monday, our mobile revenues were up 102% vs. the prior year.

We recently upgraded our apps and have a very good Android app now. Our iOS app is always good. We’ll be working on a first-time user experience on mobile because that’s important.

eMarketer: Mobile is important, but email is still a key player for you.

Judge: Email is very important to us—that’s how the business was built. It’s a significant percentage of our revenues, and relevancy is a real focus for us. We’ve got a lot of resources pointed at improving relevancy. Our goal is that you smile when you receive that email from us because there’s something that you want to buy.

eMarketer: Does social help drive purchases?

Judge: Social is an important part of any marketer’s mix. One thing that we have that’s different from anything else in the marketplace is an evergreen offer, which is called Me+3. If you buy a deal and you get three of your friends to buy it, you get it for free. That’s a significant portion of our revenues today because endorsements from users to their friends is a big driver.

“Our goal is that you smile when you receive that email from us because there’s something that you want to buy.”

We’re going to continue working on improving our sharing value proposition. We’ll probably have some prepurchase sharing offers. A big portion of our new subscribers comes from a “refer a friend,” and we’re going to continue using our customers’ networks to grow our business.

eMarketer: How has the daily deals space evolved over the years?

Judge: It has evolved in a couple of ways. Deals aren’t daily, and there are more of them out there. A deals marketplace is a big component of what we do, but in addition to that, we’ve got national deals. In October of last year, we launched a coupons marketplace where users can go to the coupon section of our website—or access it through their mobile device—and search for Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macy’s or whatever brand they like to shop and, likely, we’re going to have a coupon that they can use.

Many might think of us as a company that provides services such as spas and pedicures, teeth cleaning or laser hair removal, but the deals themselves have evolved. The breadth of categories has expanded, and there’s a way for national brands—which users are familiar with—to participate as well.

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