When I look for new products or services, I tend to research them ahead of time before trying or purchasing. I have a high bar for anything that will require a significant amount of my time or money so social media or traditional advertising might gather my initial interest but not get me to purchase. This wasn’t the case with Dropbox as the company built an incredibly good form of engagement through initial social media outreach.
Initially, I heard about Dropbox through an email from a friend. Dropbox had set up a sharing mechanism that gave the sharer additional storage space, beyond the free 5GB, if the sharer sent an email to one of his or her contacts (friends, family, or colleagues) to try Dropbox. There was a benefit for the sharer, it provided a good lead with an “endorsement” of the product, and Dropbox acquired an additional user, and potential additional growth mechanism, for a small incremental cost in storage. My friend shared the signup link for Dropbox, got himself an additional 5GB in storage, and I found out about the service, which happened to be something I needed as I was starting school that year.
I immediately signed up for the free storage plan, knowing the initial amount should suit my needs for school. I also signed up a secondary free account on the other partition of my computer for non-school use. I quickly found use for the service during school but noticed the free space was inadequate for general personal use, due to the size of my photography collection. I had intended on using Dropbox as a backup solution for my photography hobby but realized I would have to purchase additional space for it. At the time, Dropbox was still very expensive for large storage needs (I would need up to 100GB of storage) so I delayed my decision until later that year when I realized there wasn’t a better offering out there. In total, it took me a few months before I made my first year’s purchase.
More recently, Coin used a traditional form of social media, Facebook, to advertise and fund their product development with a pre-order mechanism. One of my friends, who I trust for technology recommendations, shared the pre-order link with me on Facebook. I immediately linked to their website, read about the product, and placed a pre-order within 5 minutes of landing on their homepage. Admittedly, this was unusual for me as I typically would have delayed a decision like this. However, I was very excited about the product value proposition and did not want to delay getting it further by putting myself further down the waitlist. Interestingly enough, the product development has taken much longer than initially promised and I am finding myself getting less interested as Apple recently came out with a competing and more compelling solution. Regardless, Coin’s initial marketing and fundraising campaign was highly effective given the strong product value proposition.
– John Downey