WeTransfer leaves potential untapped

WeTransfer was founded in 2009 by Bas Beerens and Nalden. The latter acquired one-name fame as a result of being one of the first famous Dutch bloggers. WeTransfer is a file transfer service – nothing more, nothing less. Presently, WeTransfer has approximately 100 million users, transferring some 1 billion files monthly.

The business model? About half from advertising and half from a ‘plus’ service. Profitable from the start. Revenue sits around 30 million EUR in 2019. Not bad huh? Market focus is on creatives.

Let’s take a peek at how they’re doing against rivals Dropbox and Box. We used statistics obtained from http://expandedramblings.com and http://owler.com. Check it out for these and many other interesting statistics.

Box has 44 million registered users, doing roughly 100 million content interactions daily. Interestingly, Although Box seems smaller, Box focusses on enterprise market, reporting a revenue of 737 million USD in 2019.

Dropbox started two years prior, in 2007, and now has 600 million users, uploading 1.2 billion files daily. Dropbox has a – rumoured – revenue of about 1.8 billion USD.

Both Dropbox and Box operate at a scale 15 to 20 times the size of WeTransfer. Consequently, WeTransfer needs to up its game. So, let’s take a look at its untapped potential.

Untapped advertising potential

WeTransfer puts a big – full screen & rotating – wallpaper as a backdrop for its functionality. These wallpapers are advertising backdrops, cleverly mixed in with curated imagery of independent artists. The presentation is magazine like, a breath of fresh air. WeTransfer provides a fantastic platform for brands to own the entire experience, as WeTransfer presents itself as a small and bland box.

WeTransfer looks fantastic – and it also works fantastic for advertising! Where CTRs of display ads are between 0.2% and 0.5% (check adstage.io’s  benchmark reports for trends), WeTransfer reports a 0.7% CTR and and an average of 48 seconds in view. The fact that you need to keep your browser window open when interacting with WeTransfer surely helps goose these statistics!

All nice and cool, but WeTransfer leaves quite some advertising value untapped:

  • Create a psychographic or demographic targeting capability. Advertising is really worth it when you’re able to target your users. Facebook knows more about its users than anyone, Google has a great understanding what you’re looking for. WeTransfer knows nothing and only understands the user’s immediate intent: send a file from A to B. The advertising capability provided is interesting in it’s format, but that’s it. Not having these targeting capabilities is a fundamental issue, only fixable by changing the fundamentals of the service or adding some nifty AI smarts that provides these capabilities.
  • Advertising on WeTransfer should become easier and more accessible. Advertisers need to be in control. Basic stuff like setting a budget, managing running ads, analysing ad performance etc. Campaign management on WeTransfer is 10 15 years behind the curve. The advertising side needs to get the same love as the user side.

We believe that these measures are possible without sacrificing all the good that wetransfer stands for! 

Untapped user harvesting potential

For a basic user, there is no signup process at all. A simple click to agree to the terms of service and your off and running. There is no ‘free trial’ or request to enter a credit card number. You of course are required to enter your email address and the email address of the recipient. There is no harvesting of emails or nurturing users to paying users.

We have been using WeTransfer for years, and the only communication we have ever received is the ‘file transfer’ notifications by e-mail, containing an ever-so-humble up-sell CTA.

From a user’s perspective, it’s all nice and dandy. From a business perspective, it’s doubtful. There’s a lot to improve: either by nurturing the user to better convert to paid subscribers and/or to obtain more information about the users in order to provide bigger advertising value. 

We really appreciate the non-invasive approach of WeTransfer. However, we do believe that there is some space between where WeTransfer is now and what users may perceive as invasive.

Untapped feature potential

One direction to expand the WeTransfer features is to make WeTransfer much more ‘sticky’. It’s functionalities are strictly one-off and do not easily build into a habit for its users. Having apps on the mobile phone or Mac (no Windows) does help to make it sticky. UPDATE: WeTransfer offers a variety of apps on MacOs, iOs, Android. 

One way of making it more ‘sticky’ is to integrate WeTransfer in messaging apps – like Slack. To illustrate, the Google Drive integration is the most popular Slack integration currently available. Besides this, there are many more ways of making WeTransfer sticky. UPDATE: WeTransfer integrates with Slack.

Another direction would be to open up WeTransfer for other applications. Any application that needs to provide upload – download – storage facilities could use the WeTransfer service using its API. This feature will have more businesses use and rely on WeTransfer. UPDATE: WeTransfer offers a public API – check https://developers.wetransfer.com/ 

Note: it seems that a lot of the untapped feature potential has been used since the original publication of this article in 2017. 

WeTransfer is fantastic - and can be (a bit) better

WeTransfer provides a fantastic service to the creative community. A lot of thought went into making it super simple for the users. And it succeeded! WeTransfer is profitable and used by many. WeTransfer is in a competitive field and needs to up its game. 

Fortunately, there are still some areas with untapped potential – mainly in advertising and in user harvesting.