Is Greater Transparency A 'Reason To Buy'?

from the seems-like-it dept

Last year, we wrote about comic book artist Steve Lieber's experience watching his graphic novel Underground shoot up in sales after engaging with fans on 4chan, who had scanned the whole thing online. We later had a fascinating discussion with Steve and his studio-mate Erika Moen about the whole experience of connecting with fans in such a manner.

More recently, we wrote about the indie band Uniform Motion and its decision to be ultra-transparent in revealing the details of how much they were making from various platforms. The two things may not seem directly related, but in an interesting way they absolutely are.

We mentioned this in our launch announcement for our Step2 from the Insight Community platform, but Andy Richards from Uniform Motion posted a really fantastic case study, discussing whether or not transparency itself can be a "reason to buy." I didn't want the details to be glossed over in the focus on the launch of the overall platform, and I think the question itself is really worthwhile, so I'm writing this post as well. In the cases of both Lieber and Richards, these content creators really opened up and shared pretty specific details about projects they were working on... and found that this actually contributed to even greater success.

Uniform Motion's experience suggested that, yes, greater transparency absolutely did act as a reason to buy. I'd argue that it did a few things: it helped introduce the band to new fans, helped connect with those fans and then provided a greater reason to buy... all in one. And that's supported by the numbers that Andy shared:
In one month, we went from 380 active users on our Facebook page to 620. (+63%). Our mailing list grew from 732 emails to 990 (+35%).

If we compare sales, plays and visits to our website in September to the 3 previous months, here's what we get.

Visits to our Bandcamp page increased 300%. Visits to our website increased 240%. Plays on our Bandcamp page (which we use as a player on our website as well) increased 310%. Album downloads increased 225% and direct sales increased 90%. More importantly though, the download to purchase ratio went from 10:1 to 5:1.

This means that for every 5 people who downloaded our album for free, 1 person purchased something.

iTunes sales skyrocketed. +2000%. (The sales in June, July and August were rather low to begin with though - see raw data)
If you click on through to the full case study, he's also got some detailed graphs showing a variety of things, from visits to streaming plays to purchases.

I think there's something really interesting here, which I honestly hadn't thought that much about previously. I'd always thought that transparency represented a cool way to connect with fans, but I never thought of it as an actual reason to buy. But Andy's case study has me thinking that it may actually be both. I've talked about how authenticity can be a "reason to buy," and transparency really is just a form of authenticity. It makes people want to support a band like Uniform Motion.

I know that it's difficult for many content creators to be so transparent, but I do wonder, if more begin to recognize how well it's worked for some others, if it will become somewhat more common. Beyond just creating a connection, it'll often help show fans, very directly, how much of an impact their support has.

I'm keeping the comments closed on this post, because we might as well keep the discussion going over at Andy's case study.


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