5 Marketing Lessons from-Odesk

If the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous, as management guru Peter Drucker famously wrote, then ODesk seems to have succeeded in living up to the principle. The popular and award-winning global job marketplace which offers its clients a unique online workplace to link up at has been growing at a phenomenal pace.


If you don't know what ODesk is, here's a brief. ODesk gives businesses looking for workers and contractors looking for work what they need - a place to meet, get work done, and get paid. This is great service for businesses that are unable to find the skills they are looking for, or businesses in remote areas with poor access to workforce, and workers who value flexibility.


In this scenario, ODesk uses some clever marketing tactics that renders traditional hard sell superfluous. The company's figures speak for its successful business model. As of December 2012, ODesk had 2.7 million freelancers on board and a bevy of 540,000 clients all over the world. Founded in 2005, the company has come a long way - services paid by the clients of the site totaled a whopping $360 million in 2012. This is a hefty figure for a company that grew around the relatively new concept of virtual assistants in a period of 7 years.


Of course, ODesk is not alone in its endeavors to connect businesses and contractual workers and freelancers online. It has plenty of competitors such as Elance, Guru, Freelancer, Nubelo etc. What has helped the ODesk team to take their company far ahead of its competitors is a stellar marketing strategy and software that promotes transparency. Here is a look at marketing lessons from Odesk.com that any online business can benefit from.



1. Customer is always king


Today's customers are empowered and they have a lot of choices. If you don't make buying easy for them, they will find another place to shop. Keeping this in mind, ODesk tries to make customer experience as hassle-free as possible. This starts with having an uncluttered and clean homepage that is easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. Focused messages on the ODesk homepage caters to exactly what the visitor wants and greatly increases chances of conversion.



2. Marketing is changing


And ODesk has already been an award winner for innovation in these changing times. Today, marketing is about transformation and evolution. It is also about being more customer friendly, and ODesk works to create an organization that creates happy customers who are delighted to advocate for the company. Social media links on the website are a great way to begin to tap into the word-of-mouth marketing that is so important today.


Affiliate marketing is also a great way to letting your users bring new leads to you. ODesk offers two affiliate programs, one for job posters and another for job seekers. It's also easy to join the programs, and ODesk offers support to users for using links and banners, RSS feeds for web content generation and CPC campaigns. ODesk also gives its users an affiliate site with all the tools and APIs that a developer would need for creating more advanced tools to generate more leads. As an online business, offering your clients a chance to promote your brand and become ambassadors of your company is a smart marketing tactic to include in your arsenal of marketing tools.



3. Engagement is the key


ODesk seems to understand that nurturing brand loyalty should be the long-term marketing focus of every brand. As a result, ODesk marketing is geared towards a customer-centric service. Job posters looking for


4. Transparency equals accountability


One of the key features that set ODesk apart from other websites (and its self-proclaimed USP) of its genre is the transparency with which the site operates. Transparency is significant in increasing credibility and showing clients that you are accountable.


ODesk manages to remain transparent by making available to its users the entire process of interaction between workers and job posters. The company's ODesk Team software allows clients to trust the billing done by a freelancer or contractor who the clients have never met and who probably lives halfway across the world. The Work Diary tool allows clients to track work-hours put in by contractors; contractors can also put in manual time that cannot be tracked by the ODesk team application.


ODesk is also very transparent about its sources of revenue. It charges a flat rate of 10 percent of the client's payment right at the outset. There are no membership fees or fees for signing up, applying for jobs or getting interviewed for them and taking tests. This maintains transparency - the client or contractor is always aware of what he or she is paying or getting paid.



5. Social is a smart way to engage and generate leads


ODesk is on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn, like any smart online business today. The company also maintains a blog at its website.


Social media is the fastest channel to mobilize an army of savvy customers who can carry out word of mouth marketing for your brand. ODesk maintains its social media platforms by regularly posting and curating content relevant to its large small-business clientele and contractors.


A look at the links that the company's Twitter channel, Facebook and Google plus pages share will offer a lesson in content curation. For a company that offers a service or product that is not easy to visualize and hence market on social media, ODesk does a good job of curating interesting content that will add value to its existing clientele.


The content that ODesk shares is relevant to small business owners and contractors that want to know more about building and running small businesses, virtual workplaces and working as a freelancer in today's economy. And the numbers reveal that the company is doing it right; ODesk has a total of 117,000 plus 'likes' on Facebook, and 37,000 plus followers on Twitter till date. That is significant for a brand with a non-visual product like Coco Cola (47 million plus likes) or pedigree such as AT&T (3 million plus likes).


Social media also opens up new leads. Studies have revealed that people trust reviews and recommendations by social media friends when it comes to making purchases. In this context, ODesk's social media channels open up a larger audience base and generate new leads that can be taken towards conversion.

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