Episode 45 | How To Inspire Trust In Your Website
Rob: [0:01] This is Startups for the Rest of Us. Episode 45. [music]
Rob: [0:13] Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, a podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: [0:22] And I’m Mike.
Rob: [0:22] And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Mike?
Mike: [0:28] Well, next week, as you know, is microconf, and I have been spending just a load of time getting all the sponsorships taken care of, and making sure everyone’s got what they want. Making sure that we have everything that we need in terms of all the logistical information for the program and the giveaways. And all the other things that need to go into it. [0:48] And then the program is still in process right now, but there’s all this logistical stuff that just is all coming together all at once. So, it’s been a trying couple of weeks, I’ll say.
Rob: [0:58] Yeah. I felt the same way. I knew up front there’d be a lot of logistics we’d have to handle, but I hadn’t realized truly how much effort this would be. I think it’s one of those things that just keeps growing and growing and more items get added to the list. And then even the items that we knew would be on the list just took a lot longer than I thought they would. So especially spreading the word. I thought that marketing a conference would be easier.
Mike: [1:23] I did, too. I did, too. I figured it’s more of a social event, and it’d be a lot easier to get the word out and tell people about and get people to be interested in the conference and sign up. Yeah, you’re right. It’s a lot harder. It’s a lot different, I suppose.
Rob: [1:37] Yeah, that’s right. It is a trip that… I think with other launches I’ve done ‑ I mean, I think recently to publishing my book last year and, boy, when I launched the Academy a couple of years ago ‑ it was like you work up to the launch, you do a big launch, you get people in, but the product has already been built, right? You don’t still have to do leg work from there. You’re just dealing with people who’ve purchased, and ongoing marketing. [2:01] But with us, we did the big launch up front and then it’s like that’s when the work started. It’s really all been pushed to this last month, and now we’re dealing with the final marketing and the logistics of the event. So it’s kind of a double whammy, where we’re still building the product, so to speak.
[2:17] I also wanted to make a note, last podcast, for some reason I thought it was going to go live on the Tuesday of microconf. I said, “Yeah. Tuesday of microconf is today.” And it wasn’t, so I just wanted to make a correction. This one should go live the week after microconf.
[2:32] So, for me ‑ aside from microconf, like you’ve been doing ‑ I went to Michigan last week. Went to Grand Rapids and spoke at the Michigan Lean Startup conference. That was really cool there were a couple of highlights for me.
[2:45] One is, I’ve never done the same talk twice, and it was so, so much easier to do it the second time. Like 10 times easier. It wasn’t just easier; I got way better at it. My delivery was better. I knew some jokes had fallen flat the first time. Some points had fallen flat the first time, and I tweaked them or left them out.
[3:04] It just really allowed me to hone it, and I understand finally ‑ you hear about comedians doing this all the time, right? Just telling different jokes and tweaking them different ways to become better at it. Now I finally understand how a talk can just get better over time.
[3:17] So, that felt great. This is probably the first talk that I ever done that I’m quite proud of. I have fairly high standards for myself, and I just typically leave a talk thinking, “Oh, that should have been way better.” But this one, I felt like from soup to nuts was just solid. And so I’m looking forward. I’m making some tweaks to it ‑ adding some pieces, removing some pieces ‑ and doing it again at next week at microconf. So, I’m excited about that.
Mike: [3:45] That’s cool. I’ve found that when doing sales presentations and stuff like that, you tend to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I assume it’s exactly the same way with just about anything that you’re delivering verbally. Yeah, it does get a lot easier, and you do kind of figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Rob: [4:04] Yeah. That definitely played out for me. The other really cool things ‑ there were two others ‑ one is the conference. They were generous and they basically bought copies of all the speakers’ books. So, instead of paying us money, they bought 150 copies of “Start Small, Stay Small.” So, it was really cool to see everyone in the conference having a physical copy of my book walking around, and people coming up asking me questions about it. It was neat. That actually brings me to over 3,000 copies sold.
Mike: [4:32] Very cool.
Rob: [4:33] Yeah. So, if you’re a new listener, it’s startupbook.net, is where you can check out more info about the book. It’s for developers looking to launch a startup. [4:41] The last thing, the other key point which is really cool, is that I met a bunch of listeners of the podcast at the conference.
Mike: [4:47] Really?
Rob: [4:48] Yeah. It was so neat. It was a regional conference, so it was in Michigan and had attendees from four states. I don’t know. There are 200 people in the room; I don’t assume pretty much anyone is going to have heard us. There were at least five people who came up to me and said, “I listen to the podcast. I really enjoy it. Say hi to Mike for me.” It was really cool. [5:11] One guy specifically said that he loves the way ‑ I forget his name. I apologize; I know he’s listening right now. But, he has a long drive ‑ I think it’s to Detroit and back, so it’s a several hour drive ‑ and he was saying that we keep it pretty short, he doesn’t like long podcasts, the one or the two hour podcasts. He likes it we keep it to 30 or 40 minutes. He likes it we’re on point, and that we don’t tend to wander too much and just blab on. Even though, I know, our editor tells us we blab on all the time.
[5:44] Anyways, it was cool. He was mentioning other podcasts he listens to, and he’s like, “This is why you are different from them, and this is why I like yours, is that you have a unique element, that you tend have a single focus for each episode and that you cover that topic.” He said, “You provide value in every episode.” Is actually what he told me. It was good, it was really nice to hear that.
[6:06] I’ve only met a couple of listeners in all the time that we’ve been doing this, just because ‑ I mean, we’ve talked about it ‑ we have maybe 1,500 to 2,000 listeners. It was neat to meet several of them last week.
Mike: [6:19] Yeah. I’ve only met like two or three. Anyone I’ve talked to either hasn’t heard of the podcast, or I introduce it to them. Actually, that’s probably not true. There are some Academy members who I’ve met in different cities around the U.S. [6:33] Actually, I’ve met some Micropreneur Academy members when I was over in Germany last year as well, and they’ve listened to the podcast before. Aside from the people that, I guess, were already familiar with, I’ve never met a stranger or somebody at a conference or a gathering of developers who had heard of the conference. That’s cool. That’s cool that you ran into people like that.
Rob: [6:52] Yeah. So, with you, you have a little bit of travel coming up. You’re in Jersey right now, is that right?
Mike: [6:57] Yeah.
Rob: [6:58] And then what’s your next two weeks look like? It’s like ridiculous, from what I remember.
Mike: [7:02] It is. Yesterday was Memorial Day. So I flew out here to Jersey… I flew into Philly yesterday. Got a nice first class upgrade, thanks US Air. Got here, staying here until Friday. I fly home Friday night. Saturday night I fly to Vegas for the conference. And then Tuesday night I take the red‑eye home, so I’ll get back on Wednesday around, probably 9:30, 10:00 in the morning, somewhere along those lines. And then that evening, I drive down to Providence, and at 6: [7:28] 00 am on Thursday morning I have to be on another flight to go to the Bahamas for four days. When I get back, I get back on Sunday ‑ I think my schedule may be changing. I was originally supposed to go to Missouri. I think I’m going to end up coming down to New Jersey again. And then I’ll be doing that for a week, and then back. It’s just kind of a nightmare.
Rob: [7:53] At what point did any of that seem like a good idea when you were planning this?
Mike: [7:57] It never really does, but there’s never a good time to plan the travel, either. But whatever.
Rob: [8:03] Well, good. At least you’ll be somewhat fresh, because the conference is kind of early during that travel time. If the conference was the last thing, I’d be concerned that you’d fall asleep at the podium, or something.
Mike: [8:13] Yeah. I’m not really worried about the conference. The nice part is that I do get that four days of an all‑inclusive resort in the Bahamas.
Rob: [8:22] Yeah. That won’t be too hard.
Mike: [8:23] Yeah. The Monday after that is probably going to be a little bit of a problem.
Rob: [8:26] Seriously. Seriously, because you’ll have done the conference, which is like total adrenaline rush for 48 hours. Then you’ll be in the Bahamas to like decompress. Then you’re going to be so wiped out and you’re going to come back and try to work. It’s going to take you like three days just to figure out how to turn on your computer, man.
Mike: [8:40] Yeah. That’s about it, though. I haven’t really gotten back to AuditShark lately. Mainly because of all the stuff that’s been going on with the conference. But I think that once I get back from my trip to the Bahamas I’ll start in on that again and see if I can get ‑ at the very least ‑ an alpha stage build out there that people can start using and try it out in some of their environments. Overall, the architecture so far is coming along pretty good, and I’ve got worked out some of the other kinks I’ve been talking about on the show. So, I’m pleased where it’s at right now.
Rob: [9:10] Good. Well for me, final update is, I mentioned a big acquisition that I was working on a couple of episodes ago, and I put that on hold for now. I’m still interested in it, but there were a couple things that were holding me back, and basically, just the conference got in the way of it, as well as I just need more time to figure out if it’s what I want to do. Anyway, I just wanted to update people on that. [9:32] I’ve been struggling for well over the past six months figuring out what’s next for me. Am I going to write another book? Am I going to launch another product? And finally decided that I am going to refocus on my blog. I’ve been doing the blog pretty consistently, but I am going to double back and but some more work into it.
[9:52] Then I have an idea for a product, basically it’s a SaaS app in the SEO space. It’s kind of startup SEO space. I know the feature set that I want. I’m either going to start building it, or as I looked around there is a product out there that does it that has been left for dead. I’ve contacted the owners of it, and if they will sell it to me, I will buy it from them instead of building it from scratch. Because it’s almost exactly what I want to do as a v1.
[10:21] It’s kind of an interesting twist for me, but I’m pretty excited about it, so hopefully, I’ll be having some intriguing updates in future episodes with more information.
Mike: [10:30] Very cool.
Rob: [10:34] Our title this week is “How to Inspire Trust in Your Website.” And where does this come from? A listener question?
Mike: [10:39] Yes, it does. This particular listener said, “You mention mailing lists a lot and the importance of them. My question is this: As a startup with no real credibility, why would somebody who comes to my landing page sign up to the email list? Why wouldn’t they just assume I’m going to take that address and sell it to spammers? To put it another way, how do you get them to trust you? Keep up the great work, guys. Looking forward to the next podcast. Ricky.”
Rob: [11:06] I think there are two different things going on here. One is building trust that you’re going to actually deliver what you’re saying and that it’s going to be high quality. That’s one thing, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. [11:15] The other question of why wouldn’t someone assume you’re just going to take it and give it to spammers. Because spammers don’t really collect emails that way. They don’t really need email addresses that way. Because they’re so ridiculously not worth anything, that putting up a form and actually trying to drive traffic to it and collecting emails, it just isn’t financially viable.
Mike: [11:36] It’s too much work. It’s too much work for them.
Rob: [11:38] Totally, for what you get. We have worked at a credit card company, the guy was saying a stolen credit card number with expiration date, you can buy them in bulk on the black market for 50 cents a piece. That’s a credit card number. And if you come with CVV, it’s like a dollar, or something. He was rattling off these things. [11:56] Emails are worth fractions of pennies, right? They’re ridiculously cheap. That’s my first thing is, I don’t think that’s a realistic estimation that you sell to a spammer. What we’re going to cover today is how to build trust in your page so that someone does, in fact, think you’re legit and think you’re going to deliver on your product.
Mike: [12:15] Rule number one of inspiring trust in your website is to don’t look like a spam site. If you’ve ever been to those websites that just look sketchy, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They use a background, or there’s something about them that just looks like it’s…
Rob: [12:34] Flashing GIF’s and media music playing in the background. Like bad design, misspelled words, right? Put a list together.
Mike: [12:40] Right. Misspelled words, bad grammar ‑ those types of things are tell‑tale signs that your site is not necessarily to be trusted. As Rob said earlier, most people aren’t going to necessarily assume that just because you have a poor‑looking website, or that you have a website there to try and collect email addresses, that you’re going to try and turn around and sell them because that’s not realistic. Most people don’t actually get their email addresses that way when they’re trying to spam people. [13:07] Now, would the average user understand and know? Chances are, probably not.
Rob: [13:12] Mm‑hmm.
Mike: [13:12] But they will think twice about handing over their email address to a website that’s got very poor grammar, and bad layout and all kinds of terrible spammy looking things. I mean, if it looks like a web page that you would be directed to from a spam email, then they’re going to assume that if they give you their email, then that’s probably what’s going to happen.
Rob: [13:36] Yeah, that makes sense. That’s a good point, a counterpoint actually to what I said earlier. So yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with this one, I think even going one step beyond, “Don’t look like a spam site,” is great advice. Going a step beyond is like, the better your site looks, and the more professional it looks, the better the design, the more likely people are going to tend to be to trust it. [13:56] Getting a good design is not expensive, nor is it hard. There are crazy good templates available on themeforest.net, monstertemplates.com, and frankly from any premium WordPress theme. These things look professional and they are dirt cheap.
[14:13] A lot of the one page landing pages I’ve used from themeforest has been $7.00 for the html. You don’t get exclusive rights to them, but I’ve never seen anyone else use them, so it’s not like it’s a big deal. The WordPress themes can be up in the $50‑70 range.
[14:26] Not looking like a spam site is really quite easy. Actually, I wonder why spammers don’t figure that out.
Mike: [14:32] The funny part is that I also have one complete total counterexample to something like this as well, because you look at these spam sites and they have all these blocks of text, they don’t necessarily have a lot of images, bad design, and bad layout. You look at them and you say, “This has got to be a spam site.” Craigslist.
Rob: [14:53] Yeah, I can see it, but I think just everyone knows Craigslist so it doesn’t matter.
Mike: [14:57] I agree there are a lot of other things that factor into it, but just looking at Craigslist, OK, and saying, “Hmm. I don’t know about this site.”
Rob: [15:04] It’s the plain text look.
Mike: [15:06] But, it can work. There are certainly counterexamples.
Rob: [15:10] Right.
Mike: [15:11] But counterexamples don’t necessarily make a rule.
Rob: [15:13] Right. Well, approach number two for how to inspire trust in your website is to have an “About” page that tells a personal story. The idea is that when it’s clear that there’s an actual person behind the website, it helps to establish the trust you need to get someone to perhaps engage with you and offer you their email address. [15:30] I think having a nice bio tells your story, tells the story of what you’re doing, and has a head shot of you. I think that’s a huge, huge, deal for establishing ‑ I won’t say a personal relationship, but it is, it’s a first step in that direction.
Mike: [15:45] Do you put a headshot on every single one of your sites, or no?
Rob: [15:48] I don’t. You know what I do? I put “Brought to you by Rob Walling” at the bottom of them and link that to my “About” page on my blog which has a head shot and has all this info. I’ve looked at the traffic and quite a few people click through. [16:02] I don’t want to put too much info, like my book landing page was very sparse. Gosh, it was less than 200 words and so I didn’t want to have a bunch of junk about me. I really wanted to promote the book and then if you wanted more info there was a link at the bottom.
[16:17] Same thing with the microconf landing page that we did. We put, I think, two sentences about you and I. We put about our blogs and the podcast in the academy. That was it, but you could click through and find out more info if you wanted it. We’re trying to get an email here, so we’re trying not to guide people too far off the track.
Mike: [16:35] I was just curious about that. From another standpoint it also makes sense because if you have your bio in like eight or nine different places and you have to update it, then you have to go to eight or nine different places. [16:46] The third way to inspire trust in your website is to offer something in return for someone’s email address. This can be a discount, it could be an e‑book, it could be free services, it could be a newsletter, it could be all kinds of different things.
[17:00] The point is to offer them something that is something that they potentially want and are willing to “risk” giving their email address to in return for that. If you’re using any email service provider, which the vast majority of them at this point require that you have a double opted mechanism, then the person has the opportunity to make a decision at that point to either not pursue the double opt in if they’ve given you their valid email address. Or they could choose to go through with that and actually subscribe to your newsletter.
Mike: [18:18] I usually go based on gut feelings.
Rob: [18:20] Yeah.
Rob: [18:41] Right.
Mike: [18:42] But, usually there are enough other things that tend to be big enough red flags that I’ll just say, “No.”
Rob: [18:48] That makes sense.
Mike: [18:50] So the fifth way to inspire trust is to state your position on spammers. The reason for this is that real spammers tend to be not so subtle, and will actually try to trick you into giving up information using phishing methods or other tactics. [19:02] Like Rob talked about earlier, buying email addresses is so incredibly cheap, it’s not as if a spammer is going to go to the trouble of trying to solicit somebody’s email address and drive traffic to a website. Instead they are just going to go buy tens of millions of email addresses and spam them.
[19:20] If you post your position on spammers and tell people, “Look. This is what we’re going to use it for, we don’t believe in spamming, these are the types of emails that you’re going to get.” Then it certainly lends itself to giving you a lot more credibility and trust that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to, especially if you post that out there, because if somebody is trying to put one over on you, they’re not going to tell you up front. They’re probably not even going to make up stories about it. They’re just going to kind of leave it off the table and not necessarily provoke you into thinking about, “Well, why would this person say that?”
Rob: [19:55] The sixth approach is to provide an address, a physical address. This can be something through earthclass mail, mailbox forwarding, or any other mailing service like this. [20:04] There are some interesting advantages to doing this. I have actually had requests early on when I acquired dotnetinvoice to put a physical address because people just didn’t trust in the product, and the website was actually ‑ the design was pretty poor at the time. There were a couple of red flags for people, so they were kind of trying to look down this list ‑ their mental checklist of what would make this company look legitimate, and not having an address was one. So, I now have an earthclass mail address.
[20:33] Anyone can get an earthclass mail address but it is $20 a month so I think it could potentially make you more legitimate. I don’t know that it does or doesn’t, right? If you’re a spammer, couldn’t you still get one? But realistically, seeing an address and a location on a website pretty much always inspires more confidence in me when I see it, so I think this is a good step.
[20:53] Now, this is not for single landing pages. I wouldn’t see a need to put an address there. It’s more for like once you have a product website like dotnetinvoice and you’re trying to ask for an email on the home page and you’re trying to just inspire trust so we do provide an address on the “About” page along with the headshots and such. It just kind of inspires people to think higher of your company and have more of a relationship with you.
Mike: [21:19] The seventh way to inspire trust is to use an email service provider to collect the email addresses. I mentioned this briefly earlier, but if you’re telling the prospective subscriber that there’s a process they’re going to need to go through in order to confirm that they’re a real person and not a bogus email address. Then you are almost portraying to them that you are on the other side of the fence where you are trying to validate that emails that are being given to you are legitimate. [21:46] You don’t want to be sending off emails or paying for sending those emails and trying to track them to bogus email addresses because that’s not going to help you at all. If you show them that you are using an email service provider and you say explicitly, “I’m using aweber or mailchimp or whatever,” and that they are going to have to go through a double opt in mechanism just to be sure that’s a valid email address and that to be sure that they have knowingly and willfully given up their email address to you, then that’s going to go a long way in terms of inspiring that trust.
Rob: [22:20] Approach number eight is to provide external links that help identify you. For example, if there are press releases or news articles or other companies talking about you, link back to them. If you tend to quote the area they are talking about you; it’s a testimonial on the link out to them. This is just a basic marketing idea anyways, right? To try to build buzz and show that people are giving you press and such. [22:42] Beyond that, it absolutely builds trust not only that you aren’t a spammer, but it builds trust essentially that your product has some value and that you’re a legitimate company, depending on who’s talking about you, of course. If you have links from Newsweek and Tech Crunch and ABC News or something, it’s going to start building credibility in people’s minds pretty quickly.
Mike: [23:03] And the last way to inspire trust is that if you are posting news about the company or using blogs for the website make sure that they’re not stale. Don’t go to long without posting something new. Make sure that any of the dates that are showing up on these are fairly recent. Worst case scenario you could kind of refresh them if you really needed to, but that’s not really a long term strategy that’s going to work. Anyone who comes back to your website more than a couple times is probably going to notice those sorts of things, so you really need to be building new content. [23:34] Think about if you’re going to put a blog on there, how much are you really going to blog? If you’re going to put a news section on there, how much new news are you actually going to put out on that website? Because if it’s not going to be more than once every couple of weeks or every month, chances are good you should probably just remove the date from that section and go without it.
Rob: [23:55] Yeah, I would agree. I think this is a mistake pretty commonly made by companies. They think getting a blog up there is a great idea, but if you let it go stale it’s actually worse than maybe not having it.
Mike: [24:04] Yeah, definitely. The thing to keep in mind is that while some people are reluctant to give their email addresses out plenty of people will do so without any hesitation at all. Not everyone is as careful about handing out their email addresses as a developer tends to be. So trying to put yourself in the shoes of your customers is really often a flawed attempt to understand what they’re thinking when the only way to understand what they’re doing is to actually watch them try to do it.
Mike: [24:52] I also think that it depends a great deal on what you’re trying to inspire trust to get them to do. If it’s as simple as handing over an email address, you’re going to have to spend a lot less time and effort getting them to trust you than if you were asking them to plug in their bank account numbers and financial information about your business or your credit cards and things like that. [music]
Rob: [25:13] So we’re going to transition out of the main content, and we have a couple of listener questions we’re going to address. The first was, someone called in and mentioned that we should keep our 800 line open, and he asked where we got the 800 number from because I mentioned we pay two bucks a month for it and he was asking where that’s from. [25:33] That’s from a service called kall8.com. Of course, we’ll link it up in the show notes.
So, we got one call since our last podcast about no one calling, so we’ll see if anyone else calls and if not, we’ll probably shut it down pretty soon.
Our next question is the following: [25:50] I recently began work on a new service I plan to offer, online practice tests for HVAC professionals. That’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s online practice tests for HVAC professionals interested in taking certifications. You can check out the placeholder page at HVACpracticetests.com.” Hey, cool domain.
[26:12] “Do you have any suggestions for how I could do quantitative price testing before launch? Currently on my landing page I ask people to take a survey. Among other questions, I ask about price. I’m getting some good feedback, but I’d like to take my pricing research to the next level. I read this post today and thought it was a nice approach, but I’m not sure how it will work for my situation.” And he gives a hyperlink.
[26:33] “The way I see it, online practice tests aren’t your typical monthly based subscription service tier pricing. Users will purchase a subscription once and expect access to the test for a limited amount of time, like one month. Once they study and take the exam, they don’t need the practice tests anymore.
[26:47] “I’m also debating whether or not I should sell practice tests at different prices depending on which certification they are for. Users may be willing to pay more for a certain type of test. Any ideas?”
[26:57] OK, so it sounds like we have a few questions, and I think I’m going to start at the bottom. It’s whether to sell different certification tests for different prices. Mike, obviously I’ll weigh in and you can weigh in as well. I think absolutely. If the tests themselves cost more, then you can easily justify selling the test questions for more because it’s just the way things are done.
[27:16] It’s like if you study for the LSAT, the legal exam to get into law school, I think that’s way more expensive than certain other tests to get Master’s programs. So they happen to charge a heck of a lot more for those. I don’t see any reason to charge the same amount for the tests. How about that?
Mike: [27:33] There’s a subtle difference there in what you just explained though, is the fact that if you’re studying for an LSAT, there’s one LSAT test. It’s not as if there are variations of it. But I get the impression from what he’s saying is that there are basically the same set of questions somehow regardless of the type of certification that you’re taking. Maybe I’m reading too much into what he said.
Rob: [27:59] Yeah, I don’t get that at all. I think he’s just saying there are different certifications. There’s EPA. There’s NATE. There’s ICE. And I would see that as being like the SAT, the GRE, the LSAT, ACT, right? These are all just different types of tests that happen to be in the HVAC area. A better example is in technology certifications. Isn’t there like A+ and…
Mike: [28:21] Yeah. OK.
Rob: [28:22] …and MCSD and stuff? They’re really different. To get your MCSD, it’s like a gazillion. It’s five tests and a couple hundred bucks apiece. There’s a Cisco cert for example. It’s like thousands of dollars to take all the tests as opposed to a few hundred for the Microsoft one. So I would expect the Cisco practice tests to cost more.
Mike: [28:44] Right. Yup. No, that makes sense, and I was agreeing with where you were going with it anyway. Even if you were taking the stance that, well, it’s the exact same test. There just happens to be more questions in one versus another, or it’s the same type of material and maybe you take different sections. I don’t think that it matters because the fact of the matter is that when you’re looking at these different types of exams, basically you’re just doing market segmentation. [29:12] You’re saying, “I’m going to charge these people X. I’m going to charge these people Y.” Companies all over the world do it. If you look at all the different versions of, for example, Windows, how many different versions are there? There’s like five or seven or something like that? They have different features and the more features you want or more specific types of features you want, the more you’re going to pay for them.
[29:33] Even if there’s one feature in level five that you want and everything else is covered by level one, it doesn’t matter. In order to get that, you’re going to have to pay for the most expensive version, and I don’t see these as being any different at all.
Rob: [29:45] Yup. Yeah, I’d agree.
Mike: [29:48] So going back a little bit into his questions, he said he wanted to do some quantitative price testing before his launch. He said that that link that he showed us was more applicable to a SaaS application. With what he’s selling, he sees it as something you sell once. They use it for a limited amount of time, and then they never use it again. I don’t see why he can’t simply change the pricing. Now I don’t know as I see a big deal with that.
Rob: [30:16] You mean after he launches?
Mike: [30:18] Yeah.
Rob: [30:18] Like just launch it with the one price and then tweak with it over the course of months?
Mike: [30:22] Right.
Rob: [30:22] I agree. I think he has an advantage over SaaS pricing or over SaaS apps because he has a lot of one‑time customers who are going to come in and buy or not buy. And then they’re going to take the test and they’re going to go away. So you don’t really have to keep them around and worry about if you change pricing, but you have to move everybody around all the time. [30:39] The SaaS link that he sent us, it’s a link on Bufferapp.com. It’s a pretty cool story about someone basically doing a minimum viable product where they just put up a landing page, and when you click “Buy Now,” it takes you to the three tiers of SaaS pricing. Then when you click one of those, it says, “Oh, we’re not ready, but give us your email and we’ll notify you.”
[30:58] I can see that not working for test prep because when you’re researching test prep, I don’t think you’re going to be ready to buy right at that moment, right? I don’t think a lot of people are going to click “Buy Now.” You can certainly try it out. It’s not actually that hard to do, but my guess is that you won’t get a high click‑through rate. It won’t give you basically very good meaningful results.
[31:18] So I would agree with Mike. I think that instead of doing this MVP approach, the minimum viable product approach, I would probably go with a gut feeling. You are surveying people, although I’m a little skeptical about surveying people on price because behavior and what people think they will do and what they will actually do tends to be pretty different.
[31:41] Yeah, “How much do you think it would cost?” I guess is his question. “If you could use a HVAC practice test today, how much do you think it would cost?” He gives them just a text area. So I guess he’ll get some ideas. I guess if he gets 50 or 100 respondents, you could have a reasonable price range.
[31:57] There’s going to be a bunch of jokers who put in five bucks and nine bucks, and you’re going to ignore them and look at how the curve distributes to give maybe your launch day pricing. Go with your gut feel. Then like Mike said, I don’t know that there’s much disadvantage to just changing your pricing and looking how it impacts your conversion rates.
Mike: [32:14] Yeah, I think the only thing that bugs me about asking customers what they would be willing to pay is that, as you said, I just don’t feel like it’s representative of what the general market is actually willing to. I mean once you get to the point where you’re asking and soliciting somebody’s opinion on pricing, it’s almost too late. [32:34] You almost have to say, “This is what I’m thinking for pricing. Is it something you would pay for?” because people like to be led a little bit I guess. Whereas if they’re picking a number out of thin air, I don’t think it’s going to be in your favor.
Rob: [32:48] I would agree with that. I think that if you’ve gotten any responses at all, that now you probably have at least a reasonable idea of what you might charge. I would probably go back into the survey and do like Mike said and say, “We’re looking at charging $39 for this. Would you pay that?” And give them an either‑or rather than “Pick a price.”
Mike: [33:07] I guess I’m not even sure about that to be perfectly honest.
Rob: [33:10] All right.
Mike: [33:11] Yeah, I think I would almost go over to the link that he sent. Once they get to the point where in the survey or maybe even before the survey’s on the Buy Now page, he actually put some pricing up there and does A/B testing between them to figure out which one people click through to say, “Yes, I’m going to buy this now.” [33:32] Then he says, “Oh, I’m sorry. This isn’t available right now.” The people who click through are probably much more likely to actually buy at that price point than people who click through on a different price point.
Rob: [33:43] Yeah. I mean that’s what I was just talking about a couple minutes ago, but I was saying I don’t think that people who are buying test prep are actually going to click through. I don’t think a lot of them are going to click through. You think that they might?
Mike: [33:55] I think that they would because why else would they be there? And it’s really not any…
Rob: [34:00] It’s not any different, huh? Yeah.
Mike: [34:02] Yeah, I don’t see this as any different from any other market really.
Rob: [34:05] Yeah, I was thinking it was different. Shawn was as well obviously, thinking it was different than SaaS. I was thinking that with SaaS I would be more likely to sign up if I had an immediate need. But with test prep I could potentially just be researching stuff. Like I don’t tend to want to sign up right now if I’m not going to need it right now. But I guess that doesn’t make sense now that I think about it.
Mike: [34:27] I guess my point though is that if you show them the pricing and say, “This is $39″ and they click through it to get to the next page, and then you say, “Look. I’m sorry. This isn’t available right now, but please take a survey and do this,” then you’re still testing them to figure out whether or not they’re going to pay for it. [34:46] If they don’t click through that, then you can just take a look and do the A/B comparison. Let’s say you’ve got one page that shows the test costs $20 and another page shows that it costs $40. If your conversion rates on those two pages of people clicking through are the same, then I guess that doesn’t really tell you a whole heck of a lot unless you run it for a long time.
Rob: [35:12] No, it will tell you. It will tell you that you can make a lot more money with the 40 dollar if you get the same click‑through.
Mike: [35:17] Right.
Rob: [35:17] Yeah, the A/B testing, that’s essentially the link he sent us is someone doing that. You know, split testing between two different prices. I think you’re right. I think it’s worth a shot. I think Shawn is skeptical that it’s going to work, and I think when I started talking about this, I was skeptical that it was going to work for this market. [35:35] But as you’re saying this, it’s like I don’t see how this is different than the SaaS app. It’s certainly worth the couple of hours to set up this test to just run the dang thing and see what happens. This Shawn Murphy, by the way. I don’t know that I ever said who it was, and he has a second question.
[35:52] He says, “The primary goal of my landing page is to collect email addresses. I also have a secondary action I want users to take though, and that is to complete my survey. Originally, I added the survey link to the bottom of the page with a bit called “Action Copy,” but it wasn’t working at all. Very few people were completely that task.
[36:07] “So I tried changing the success message that appears after a user submits their email. Instead of saying, ‘OK, we’ll be in touch.’ It says, ‘OK, we’ll be in touch. Now go take the survey.’ That change worked really well. Now I have a pretty good percentage of people taking the survey, and it doesn’t distract them from giving me their email address. Cheers, Shawn Murphy.” So I guess it isn’t a question. It’s a listener tip.
[36:25] So, yes. So I’ve seen this done, too, with great success. It’s basically keeping people going down a single flow, and you’re just introducing something at the end of that flow rather than making them make a decision point early on where, if they go take the survey they’re going to forget and they’re not going to come back and give you their email.
[36:42] Or if they give you their email, they’re going to forget and they’re not going to come back and take the survey. So instead, you’ve made it a serial process instead of parallel, and this is always the way to do it.
[36:51] Now the other option I see is to not put it on the success page. Actually, they’re going to double opt‑in and then maybe one of the first emails you send them is, “Hey! Good to have you on this list. Here’s a little bit about the product. Would love your feedback.” And actually just send them the email with the survey link because that’s also doing a serial process of essentially getting them to do it.
Mike: [37:16] I don’t see that as being serial because you’re basically forcing them to do a context switch.
Rob: [37:21] Yeah, it’s serial in terms of not asking them to do two things at once, right? The parallel thing is when there’s two links on the home page. There’s a link to take a survey…
Mike: [37:28] Oh, I see what you’re saying.
Rob: [37:29] …or a way to put your email in. Once you do one, you basically lose the other. But what he’s done is put one after the other, and I’m saying this is another way to put it after the other. If they do do a context switch, they’ll get an email later. Assuming people open the email, you could see. But if his approach is working fine, then that’s a great way to do it as well.
Mike: [37:47] OK. [music]
Mike: [37:51] So I think that about wraps it up for today. If you have a question or comment, you can call it into our voice mail number at 1‑888‑801‑9690 or you can email it in MP3 or text format to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is NetSurf from “We’re Outta Control” by Moot used under Creative Commons. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider writing a review on iTunes by searching for Startups.
Rob: [38:14] We now have 35 ratings in iTunes.
Mike: [38:18] Do we?
Rob: [38:18] Did you know that? Yup.
Mike: [38:19] No.
Rob: [38:19] And there’s 34 five‑star and one four‑star rating.
Mike: [38:23] Wow!
Rob: [38:23] Yeah, it’s really cool. That makes me feel good. It makes me want to record more episodes, you know?
Mike: [38:30] That’s awesome!
Rob: [38:30] We got a couple more reviews. I guess it was actually last month in April, and so there’s one by Jay44557. It says, “I downloaded every podcast available after listening to just one to start off with. Great job. Love the podcast.” It’s really cool to see the number of ratings though. We’ve watched it climb from nothing to this, so it’s cool.
Mike: [38:50] You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or via RSS at StartupsForTheRestOfUs.com. The full transcript will be available on our website at StartupsForTheRestOfUs.com and thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.
Transcription by CastingWords