What difference is there between Square and LevelUp? They are mobile payment platforms, but I think the difference lies not in what they do, but how they do it. The brand names seem barely distinguishable, however, they actually describe the ways these companies are distinct. Square and LevelUp take completely different routes to acquire new business. But whose strategy is most effective?
A quick look at the data from Compete PRO shows that squareup.com gets significantly more traffic than thelevelup.com. Yet LevelUp’s Facebook page has over 11,000 more likes than Square’s. The answer for what explains this incongruity could lie in the different marketing strategies.
Square targets small to medium sized business owners and invests heavily in online advertising. Facebook ads for Square run regularly, enticing individuals with calls to action like “Grow your business” or “Get your free card reader today!” Clicking one of these ads automatically sends one through to the squareup.com homepage.
Weekly videos published on YouTube outline benefits of product use, give testimonials from real business owners, and provide customer support, all while building brand image, reputation, and thought leadership. This seems to be an effective strategy as YouTube was the fifth highest provider of incoming traffic in July.
Email is another channel that Square utilizes to update and inform customers, making it one of the top traffic drivers with Yahoo! Mail and Gmail accounting for roughly 8% of the sites total visits.
The greatest source of traffic, excluding direct, is from search portals. In July, Square saw 214k search referrals. However, what really stands out about this figure is the amount of these search referrals that are paid. In the same month, they had 57k paid search referrals, amounting to a little over a quarter of search referrals and 6% of total visits. This alone shows the emphasis that Square places on paid search to drive traffic.
Taking A Different Approach
Instead of investing online to gain business, LevelUp relies on customer acquisition and loyalty campaigns. Customer acquisition campaigns incentivize individuals to join LevelUp by offering credit to spend at businesses. Loyalty campaigns are reward based and depend on how often a member uses LevelUp. Rather than marketing to business owners online, the company appeals to consumers offline and through its app. This alone may explain the lack of traffic to their site. It may also account for the popularity of its Facebook page, especially if there was a campaign than gave credit for likes.
Square and LevelUp are two very similar products with very different approaches to marketing. This disparity makes it very difficult to determine which is effective and may be contributing to the sharp contrast in brand perception. Square’s heavy investment in a diverse online marketing portfolio seems to be paying off, but LevelUp’s focus on offline customer acquisition seems to be creating a more engaged customer base. Which strategy do you think has been more effective?
Becca currently works on the Business Development Team at Compete, Inc. Now entering her third year at Boston University, Becca specializes in advertising. Connect with her on Google+.