The beginning and end of The Dealer
Today I pulled down our site TheDealer.com.au – a daily deals aggregator that Cameron, Ruben and myself built way back in 2011.
As a challenge, we designed, coded and had the site live sending daily deals emails within 6 weeks; integrated with a dozen or so of the largest deals sites at the time – several of them no longer online, themselves, or now merged.
The initial objective with The Dealer was to fill a gap – there was no site at the time that would allow you to sign up for deals that were categorised, or tailored to you.
The space was booming and there were new deal sites launching daily. There was no reason for any customer to be loyal to any one site, and no one wanted to own this loyalty through strong customer service; both of which were part of the eventual bust in the space.
For us, this meant this was an opportunity to acquire a database by offering something simple: one email, in place of the noise.
Categorising and listing deals sounds simple enough, but it quickly got tricky.
Some sites would supply a feed, others never officially worked with us and we had to scrape their sites to get their deal data. Some categorised their own deals, some didn’t. Some sites would duplicate National deals throughout each city, so we’d end up with a page of duplicates.
For most sites we had to categorise deals based on a keyword matrix, weighing up the number of keywords matched in each category.
While we led into this thinking of The Dealer as a stand-alone product, that wasn’t the case. We were inhibited by the sites themselves and constantly having to rework out product to keep up with their individual quirks and changes. We were a team, and you’re only as strong as your weakest member, they say. In that scenario, some of our team members weren’t talking to us, some were playing different games altogether, and I don’t think some of them even knew they were in the game.
I think affiliate networks in Australia would have the same thing to say about the space and their partners: there’s a serious divide in complexity / understanding of online retail, and many sites are inhibited by their own technology and creativity.
The end of daily deals
It wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone when daily deals went bust. The merchants had been burnt, consumers were bored of the concept and the competitiveness of the space meant that merchants weren’t offering the same levels of discounts. Hair products and Bali holiday packages began to reign in place of pizza shops and Thai massages.
Looking back, it wasn’t just the space that failed, it was our own product. We started the site as a hobby, and once the excitement wore off, we weren’t committed. Other sites continue to improve, while we left ours as it was. We persevered with data issues, but our focus was on SEO and marketing over the product itself, so our rankings improved but we weren’t retaining users.
What we learnt
- – You’re only as strong as your partners, so chose them wisely.
- – Keep innovating.
- – Strike the balance between marketing + improving your product.
- – We can build a daily deals aggregator in a number of weeks, but that’s not a good enough reason!
More by Morris Bryant
1. You will be able to bid separately for mobile, tablet and desktop (again) Advertiers will soon be able to set bid adjustments for all three device types. Enhanced Campaigns ended this function when they launched in 2013 and grouped desktop and tablet bidding, and it’s a welcome change. For Advertisers, this means far greater […]Continue reading b
Facebook have been fairly aggressive in claiming a greater share of ad spend over the last few years; particularly reinventing their ad units for Mobile and to be more native to their platform. One of the most interesting ad units they’ve released in some time are the new Lead Ads. These ads allow users to enter […]Continue reading b
Bringing in 2016 with some fresh faces, Sparro have won four new digital accounts with SurfStitch, GUESS Australia, National Hearing Care and Bay Audiology (NZ). Working across digital marketing, partner outreach and paid search accounts, Sparro is looking forward to establishing great working relationship with the four exciting brands and helping them further cement their online […]Continue reading b
When my brother and I started our digital marketing agency, Sparro, in 2013, we were very confident in the direction we wanted to take in our business and our work. We wanted to take on the best qualities of all of the businesses we’d worked with, while avoiding the worst aspects of agencies that we’d […]Continue reading b
The most important question in our business, and maybe yours too, is often the question that’s most overlooked for its simplicity and because the answer is so commonly assumed. Here it is: What is the objective? Companies, businesses and individuals without an objective are like Twitter – there’s noise, activity and some level of assumed […]Continue reading b
Park outside the door Our Father would get you a park right outside the door of any busy event. He’d drive past crowds of people walking to the Easter Show from where they’d parked, streets away, and he’d tell us – they all think there’s no parking right outside, but you watch this. His theory […]Continue reading b
Mobile’s been a hot topic for a few years now, and it always seems to be ‘just about’ to take over. There’s no doubt it’s not going away and presents huge opportunities for any business, but is an app the right way to get in front of mobile users? In most cases, we don’t think so.Continue reading b