How I'd grow Duuce

September 23, 2020

Duuce is an online newsletter marketplace where users can buy or sell both free or paid newsletters.

The idea came to the founder after seeing that domain name and website marketplaces were popular, but none offered space to buy and sell email lists.

When starting a marketplace, focus on a specific category: it helps you scale, and keeps the door open for future expansion.

I agree with starting it as a newsletter itself. They’ll have few sellers initially, and visitors would hate seeing the same listing on repeat.

I’d put an example issue on the landing page to boost the conversion rate. People want to know what they’d be signing up for.

I’d also remove external links. Sending people to other websites is a big no-no. Some landing pages also remove navigation menus, which is a bit extreme.

For projects with a money exchange involved, trust is fundamental. I’d add social proof to make people more comfortable.

Duuce could replace those external links with short snippets showing real examples of the best newsletters that exchanged hands using their platform.

Starting a marketplace is hard, especially because you need to focus on growing both supply and demand simultaneously. It can be a daunting task.

But while supply and demand are very distinct in other marketplaces, in Duuce’s case they partially overlap.

In fact, some of the people who want to buy a newsletter today might want to sell one tomorrow.

This has a big side-benefit: growing supply will also help grow demand and vice versa, and make things simpler (especially if you have a small team).

Duuce should focus on growing supply first by manually scraping other aggregators, and contacting sellers one by one to offer them a free listing.

This strategy will grow the seller side, as well as inform sellers about Duuce so they can use it autonomously in the future.

With time, word of mouth will start spreading, and Duuce will get more and more autonomous listings, and gradually dismiss the outreach method.

And more importantly, people who organically joined the marketplace will pay the success fee and unlock monetization for Duuce.

Growing demand: when the site goes live, Duuce should create the best listing pages rich with details and unique content.

The goal: incentivize sellers to link to their detailed listing pages when spreading the word of selling their newsletter in their network.

Duuce needs to find the right demand growth channels by analyzing their customer personas. Who would be interested in buying a newsletter?

Off the top of my head:

- Other newsletter creators
- People who want to start or already own an online business

For the first persona, search would be the right channel to drive most of the long-term growth. Duuce should start working on their SEO from day one.

I'm saying this even though I’m well aware that there isn’t a big search demand from people wanting to buy a newsletter.

That’s why they need an informational keyword strategy, with marketing resources that newsletter creators search for.

Starting from zero means low domain authority, so the plan is to start from long-tail keywords and move to bigger ones as Duuce gets more backlinks.

Pro tip: initially, the best KWs are your audience’s questions, not KWs from tools. Competitors use identical tools, so they fight for the same terms.

There are untapped, easier KWs. To find them, visit groups, and don’t be afraid if tools show zero search volume.

The second persona is different. They’ll need to stumble upon a good, relevant offer to be tempted to buy it.

The right channel for people who are unaware and not actively looking for something is social. In particular, Twitter (organic) and Facebook (paid) for Duuce.

On Twitter I’d experiment with storytelling threads that dive into a newsletter with the backstory, data, and price.

On FB, Duuce will need ads. They own many email addresses, so they can create lookalike audiences and jumpstart their campaigns.

Get better at marketing in 5 minutes a week

Every two weeks I pick a website and write a short case study explaining exactly how I’d grow it