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Bootstrapping to $35M via Affiliate Fees: Swagbucks Co-founder Scott Dudelson (Part 4)

Posted on Sunday, Dec 30th 2012

Sramana: It seems that the key differentiator with is that you have made a move to host a destination site, and you no longer rely on other brands to promote your service. Is that correct?

Scott Dudelson: That is correct. In 2008 when we launched, we took control of attracting our own users.

Sramana: How do you entice users to come to

Scott Dudelson: Users will go to a loyalty site if the incentive is great enough. If you get a good enough incentive, then you can get people to change their search behavior. We knew that if we marketed to consumers, we would be able to attract a following based on our experience of building followers for brands.

In 2008 Facebook had just opened up its platform to allow companies to have pages. We were one of the first to have a company page. We did the same thing at Twitter, where we were also one of the first companies to have a Twitter account. We used social media to attract users. I remember very clearly when Twitter launched the trending topics feature because we were continually one of the trending topics.

Sramana: Can you give me some examples of your Twitter marketing?

Scott Dudelson: Our site was based on a currency. We knew that by giving out reward points off our site and through social media, it could be a very attractive way to bribe people to come to our page. That turned out to be one of the biggest factors in the growth of our site. We periodically release free Swagbucks codes on our Twitter account.

Sramana: How did you explain what could be done with points?

Scott Dudelson: The site itself has an on-boarding process and a good user flow. They get educated when they register for Swagbucks so that they know what the value is. We also educate users through our social media.

Sramana: You launched the site in 2008. What kind of traction did you get, and how were you able to morph your business as you moved along?

Scott Dudelson: We got traction very quickly. We were marketing the business through Facebook and Twitter and did that in conjunction with a referral program. If you referred your friends to the site and they signed up, then we gave you matching Swagbucks. So, for every Swagbuck that they earned, you would earn the match. That was a very big motivator to drive organic referral traffic to our site.

We started seeing traction very quickly. A lot of good startup companies try to get feedback from their users. We were very active about doing that. We asked our users what they liked about what we were doing and what they did not like about what we were doing. The answers were pretty much uniform. Everybody loved the concept of searching the web and earning rewards for doing those searches. People uniformly did not like how long it took them to earn points and accumulate them to earn something as simple as a $5 gift card.

We realized very quickly that we needed to give our customers more ways to earn Swagbucks. The only ways we could add ways were to find new monetization solutions. We started looking at different businesses that we could add into our site to add revenue and increase earning potential for our users.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping to $35M via Affiliate Fees: Swagbucks Co-founder Scott Dudelson
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