YouAdMe is transforming traditional business-consumer dynamics through the latest trend in the world of marketing – social commerce. Customers are no longer at the end of the product purchase chain. Instead, they’re now a powerful tool in driving sales and helping brands grow through every purchase. The potential of online reviews and peer-to-peer recommendations at the onset of the trend in 2015 sparked a world of marketing innovation that led to the birth of YouAdMe.
In dialogue with Co-Founder and CEO of YouAdMe, Bernard Teo, states, “Most companies, especially startups, observed a decline in their marketing ROI with the disruption of the marketing world through the power of influencers. However, soon after, almost every customer wanted to share their personal experiences and reviews online – which we realized could do wonders to a brand if utilized properly.”
How YouAdMe is closing the gap between Brands and People
Derived from ‘You Advertise Me,’ the innovative marketing platform harnesses the power of social media to help brands connect with their customers by sharing their firsthand experiences. To Bernard, there is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth marketing that helps empower consumers through reviews and drive engagement for online purchases. Research shows that 92% of consumers are more likely to shop for products recommended by someone in their close circles. Similarly, over 84% of consumers trust a product’s reviews they read online before purchase.
Recognizing these trends, YouAdMe has created a dual login social media/eCommerce hybrid platform for consumers to post their reviews of products and services, which then connects the brand to the consumer’s network. Engagement driven through the customer’s posts is then rewarded through points and discounts from the retailer, which also helps retain customer loyalty. As per Bernard, “With YouAdMe, we provide consumers with the opportunity to support the brands they value by being part of their advertising and gaining rewards in the process – a win-win situation!”
“An Easy Start” for the Platform
Bernard is an experienced marketer of 15 years and used to run a traditional agency before founding YouAdMe. With the growth of influencer marketing, he realized that there were new ways to create value for brands. Like affiliate marketing, YouAdMe has successfully built a space for brands to grow through simple conversations on a social platform.
The platform kicked off in 2017 in Cambodia due to the large demographic of young people actively sharing content on social media. “This marketing model had gained traction at the time in a developed country like Singapore, which is why we shifted our focus to Cambodia, where it was still quite new,” explains Bernard. Yet, that leap wasn’t without its challenges. Amongst the earliest was obtaining funding and proving the business model to potential investors.
Sharing further, Bernard states that YouAdMe was only a web-based model during its initial stages. However, by securing funding from a prominent bank in Cambodia, the platform tapped into a large customer base at the very beginning. Soon after, in 2020, the company launched the YouAdMe app with the necessary login features for consumers and businesses. “In addition to this, we also used our resources to help businesses with other services, such as website development to help us generate increased revenue,” highlights Bernard.
Today, YouAdMe has been deemed the ‘Global brand’s best friend’ for its work with big names in the retail industry such as Adidas, Huawei, Charles & Keith, KFC, Decathlon, and many more. Over the years, the platform has also been recognized for its innovative and disruptive approach to marketing. Some of the notable accolades in YouAdMe’s cabinet are:
- Winner of the ASEAN Pitchfest 2018
- One of the ASEAN Top 10 Fintech Innovations in 2018
- One of the Top 3 Seedstars Best Startups in Cambodia 2019
- ASEAN Ricebowl Startup Awards – Best Fintech Startup in 2019
Overcoming the Challenges brought by the Pandemic
“The pandemic struck just as we were about to secure our second round of funding, and investors were understandably cautious,” states Bernard when asked about his biggest challenge at the time. He explains that this was a turning point for the platform. Then, the team shifted to eCommerce integration, and YouAdMe was no longer just about promotions. At the same time, the company expanded its efforts to help businesses come online.
The platform could now track where users came from and introduced the “Add to Cart” call-to-action feature and sharing on social media channels. Following these additions, the team optimized the platform’s user experience to promote products and content. Furthermore, by white-labeling YouAdMe to the bigger businesses, struggling retailers found it easier to promote their products on the app and remain afloat during this time.
What’s next for YouAdMe
In addition to Cambodia and Singapore, YouAdMe has also entered the Philippines, with its sights set on further expansion. However, the main focus will be on Cambodia, as Bernard believes there is potential yet to be tapped in its developing digital economy. He highlights that “Different markets have different user behaviors, and YouAdMe’s success may be reflected by the team’s extensive working in studying the Cambodian region to improve connections between consumers and brand owners over there.” With this, YouAdMe hopes to grow its team by getting more people to believe in the platform and improve its visibility over the next 1-2 years.
To emerging entrepreneurs, Bernard also shares his advice on first convincing the consumer of the product rather than focusing on content for its promotion. “The biggest seller is word-of-mouth – let your customers do the talking and watch your products sell more than any campaign imaginable.”