Conversion optimization – where to start?

Conversion optimization is a HUGE thing. There are like a billion things you could do to convert someone-that-does-not-know-your-product into paying-user tomorrow. Targeted emails, writing blogposts, SEO, adding video’s to your homepage, tweeting, testimonials, include a picture of yourself in the about us page, analyze your heat maps and see where users click most, improve the copy, re-organize your call to actions, A/B test, google analytics, fine-tune your paid advertising, and the list goes on and on and on.

That overwhelming list of things to do is the reason why most people don’t act upon it. It feels a bit scary & a chaos. Where and when do you start with all of this? The key is: start with the low hanging fruit and ignore all the rest. It’s important to ignore the details when your basics are not yet nailed.

And what are the basics of any conversion funnel? The spots in the funnel that EVERYONE will pass by. Most obvious places are the homepage, the pricing page and the sign up page (the page where you create your account). Soon or late, every conversion will go via those pages. If you completely mess it up here, then every dollar spend to paid advertising is a dollar flushed away.

Do you want to flush lovely dollars down the toilet? Stop reading. In the other case, read on my friend.

Marketing and conversion optimizing deserve the same #hours and attention as the actual product development. And maybe that’s even an understatement. You absolutely need to reserve a couple of hours / week for marketing and conversion optimization for your product. What’s the value of adding features to your product, if your conversion funnel is not working?

Of all the time that we devote to ArchiSnapper, 50% goes to marketing effort, and 50% to product development. Don’t get me wrong, the 50% marketing equals NOT driving in a suit towards target users and doing PowerPoint presentations in order to convince them. The 50% of marketing is devoted to building a scalable automated marketing machine. More on the automated marketing engine in a later blogpost.

Can you show us some sample quick wins you recently did in ArchiSnapper?

Sure. Glad you asked. :-)

Last week(s), I started fine-tuning the section on our home page above the field (the section that everyone sees when they arrive on your homepage without any scrolling – so the very first impression).

Here is the old homepage (was still live a couple of days ago). Click on it for a full view.

And here is the new one:

This page is the very first thing that most of all new users will see. It would be plain stupid to not optimize it as the very first thing! So I focussed on the quick wins on the section above the field (which is by the way something that you should ALWAYS do and EVERYWHERE – focus on the next small thing that requires the least effort/money/time for the biggest ROI on money/time/effort).

What did we do:

  1. I wanted to start collecting emails of interested people. Building up a targeted mailing list of an interested audience is pure gold for your marketing engine (as said, more on that marketing engine in a later blogpost). Just imagine what you could do with 10K email addresses of people that are interested in what you offer. So, I replaced the primary call to action to “Download Your Sample Report Now” (in exchange for an email address), in stead of the “Free Trial” button. People are more likely to fill in their email address to get a sample report, than they would take the time and effort to make an account. The barrier is lower. Result? We collect now 2 – 10 email addresses per day, while before we collected 0 / day.
  2. I wanted to put the value / outcome of the product in the spotlight. Not the actual technics, mechanics or features behind the product matter. People are interested in what value your product brings them. Why would they pull our their credit card and pay you? What can you do for them? Does your product save them time, generates them money, brings joy? That’s what interests people. Nothing else. What’s in for them? So, I did focus more on the outcome and the result of using our product.
    – I replaced the iPad screenshot (which is not the outcome but the mechanics or the how-to) with a screenshot of a report (which IS the actual outcome)
    – I did replace our old video with a brand new video, that is focussing a lot on the value we create for them (saving time and administration). Check out the new video on our home page. It starts with mentioning a huge pain point they should recognize (if they don’t, they are not our target audience), then how our product can reduce that pain a lot, and how this will bring them rest, save them time, and save them money.
  3. I wanted real faces of real people on the homepage. Why? Since it has been proven over and over again that real pictures convert. Basecamp and so many others did tons of A/B testing on that subject. And it works. People love to connect with other people. Adding pictures to your web pages helps converting. So I replaced the reference logo’s with 2 real users testimonials and pictures.

Except for the video (I will explain in a future blogpost how I made our home page video for less than $120), this literally took me a couple of hours maximum. And it is already paying off (cfr. the emails we collect every day from the “download sample report” – a goldmine). And yes, I know, it’s not yet perfect, and there is so much more to do. But done is better than perfect. Looking back at the old version of our homepage, it does not look really nice and it was not really optimized for conversion. But it was good enough to build up > $2K MRR!!! So it would have been plain stupid to not have gone live with that first version a couple of months ago. Key again is to do some small improvements, and put them online. Then go for the next batch of small changes, deploy and so on. 

Don’t make the mistake of over-finetuning. When I started making those changes, I obliged myself to stick to a couple of hours and then push it on production. It forced me to focus and to stick to the essence and the quick wins. The whole goal was to have some improvements online in a short amount of time. Time box yourself, and then deploy.

The goal of this blogpost was not really to give you some conversation optimizing tips and tricks (there are a million on Google), but rather stress the fact that conversion optimizing is an ongoing process that requires weekly some hours of work, always focussing on the next most important thing / lowest hanging fruit. Not more and not less than that. Make it a weekly routing to spend half a day on conversion optimizing, and in 1 year from now you have a VERY good funnel.

Later more on conversion optimization and concrete tips and tricks, including:

  • what emails convert best
  • drip campaigns
  • an automated marketing machine
  • optimize the pricing page and the sign up page

I’ll try to be down to earth, so you have concrete and actionable to do’s that will give you better conversions for just a couple of hours of effort per week.

Cheers,

Pieter

(btw, tweet, share and like this if you loved this article, it is a motivator to write more often)

Author: Pieter Eerlings

http://www.linkedin.com/in/pietere http://www.last.fm/user/pietereerlings

3 thoughts on “Conversion optimization – where to start?”

  1. Pieter, I heard your interview on the Start From Nothing podcast and found my way here. Loved the detailed account of your process in the interview, and really enjoy the blog posts. Keep up the great work and thanks for the inspiration. I am in the initial stages of niche selection / idea extraction right now and we are very excited to get out of the seemingly undending cycle of “content consumption”. Before finding Dane and some other folks through Mixergy, I went out and learned to program Python / Django. I did not realize the trap of developing a product before talking to customers. I do not regret learning to do web development, it should come in handy in the future, but I now see the importance of customer first / fail fast.

    I will keep you posted on our progress here and may contact you for feedback on some of our experiences. Thanks again.

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