In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike answer a number of listeners questions. Some of the topics include dealing with contractors, improving conversion from trials to paid, and time management.
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Rob: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Mike and I talk about staying motivated, improving onboarding, improving conversions, and more listener questions. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 369.
But before we dive into the intro, Mike, I have a question for you.
Mike: Oh, boy!
Rob: Why doesn’t McDonald’s sell hotdogs?
Mike: They have, actually.
Mike; They’ve done a bunch of experiments with selling hotdogs. I think I’ve seen them in Texas but I’ve also seen them in other places where it’s certain times of the year. They’ll just test it out to see whether it’s going to work or not. It’s usually just like a limited edition item. But they have tried it, I know that. And now you know.
Rob: Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: I’m Mike.
Mike: I had something on my throat.
Rob: What happened with your throat? We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Oh, this is a good week for the intro.
Mike: Perfect, yes.
Rob: I realized something because I was flying to and from Europe and I downloaded just some older episodes, in the 200s, I just wanted to check out what we were talking about back then. The intro was different. It was like building software products or something, instead of building, launching, and growing. I think I like our new one. For a long time, it was just developers building software products, and now it’s developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. For sure our audience has expanded over the years. It was just kinda funny to hear it and for it to trick something, click something in my brain and I’m like, “Ugh, that’s not the intro.”
Mike: Yeah, definitely. Things have changed over time but it is interesting sometimes going back and reviewing things that you remember from a long time ago. It definitely is a different tone or connotation with it. Actually, Benedikt mentioned something about the fact that he was thinking about MicroConf Europe and how over time, his view of the conference has changed but also, he has changed as a person after several years of coming to MicroConf just based on the things that he’s learned, the things he has done. Although the conference, in many ways, stayed the same, he has changed and evolved.
Rob: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for bringing him on, by the way. It was a bummer week. You and I couldn’t discuss MicroConf Europe but I felt that you guys did a really good job of covering the topics.
Mike: Yeah, we ran a little bit out of time at the end there. We didn’t get the chance to cover end of the attendee talks which all of them were I thought were fantastic, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more time to dive into those.
Rob: Sure. That’s my updates for the week, I guess for the past few weeks, because I haven’t been on the show for a bit due to the travel. Really was going to Lisbon and I really enjoyed getting to know Lisbon. It’s a very livable city, obviously a lot more relaxed than Barcelona. There’s not as much there in terms of museums and sites to see but we really enjoyed it. We got a great little Airbnb. I was there with my kids and a nanny and we were just hanging out doing some travel. It was a lot of fun. Then, I did MicroConf Europe obviously, then met Sherrie in Rome the following week. We all hung out there for an additional week.
I just got back in town about six or seven days ago. It’s good be back in the States but travel’s always fun. It expands your mind. I found myself being way more creative and seeing things with new eyes. This is my second time back to Rome, really the whole family’s second back to Rome. It was neat to see our kids seeing the Colosseum, seeing these museums, and these sites, and remembering and talking about the last time we were there.
Since they were older, it was so much easier. I think it was three or four years ago we took them, the youngest was three or four years old and I just remembered it was hard and it was tiring, this trip was not that. It was so much more. They’re really good at travel now because they’ve done it a few times. Even on the long flights and the time change, it was a seven or eight hour time difference, they just handle it now. It was a really good trip. It was a really relaxing two weeks and I didn’t know if it would be, you’re travelling with two kids, and a nanny, and sometimes the wife, and sometimes not. There were multiple plane flights, there was a six-hour layover in Canada and we were all off time and we got tired at times but overall, it was such a worthwhile thing to do.
Mike: Awesome! Our kids today are much better traveller these days than they used to be but we still don’t travel too much, I don’t think. We went to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, and that’s a five-hour drive or so but it’s not too bad. We spent about three days there and drove back.
Rob: How about you? What’s been going on?
Mike: Well, my wife got me a scotch whiskey advent calendar for Christmas.
Rob: Oh, man! Best gift ever!
Mike: Yeah, so that starts tomorrow, which I’m very excited about.
Rob: An advent calendar for those who don’t know, it starts in December 1st and there’s a little door that you open each day and it’s supposed to count you towards Christmas. The original advent calendar were pieces of a nativity scene which is the birth of Jesus. You open it and you built the scene over the course of the month. But now, there are lego advent calendars, chocolate advent calendars, and I had not heard of a scotch one but that is gonna be awesome. Every morning, you’re gonna open up and drink scotch with breakfast, is that the idea?
Mike: I was gonna wait until the evening. But, the others…
Mike: There’s 24 different ones in here.
Rob: Oh man, that’s gonna be good. Are they like the little airplane bottles?
Mike: They are like little 50 milliliter, or actually, I think 30 milliliter drams. It’s about a shot or so. It’s just a regular size but you know, there’s 24 of them in here and I saw the list of them and a lot of them are things that I’ve never tried before. It will be really interesting to try some of them.
Rob: For sure. 30 milliliters, Mike. That’s a third of a shot for me.
Mike: Well, I know. It depends on your hands.
Rob: Cool. Today, we are gonna be answering a slew of listener questions. We actually have four listener questions left over from MicroConf Europe. They’re not listener questions, they’re attendee questions.
You and I did a Q&A session at Europe and we asked folks for questions in advance and we ran out of time to answer them all. Maybe we’ll start with those and then go into our store of questions.
The first question is from Mark and he says “Rob, have you thought about integrating Drip with CRM platforms? Something like Salesforce, MS Dynamics, other more enterprise things. Often, a simple UI is missing the error.” We have discussed it. We do integrate with Pipedrive, with Close.io, we have a basic web-to-lead with Salesforce where a new subscriber comes in and you can just push them into Salesforce. I think we have Insightly as well, so we do have some CRM integrations.
There’s a couple things to this question. One is what do you mean by an integration? Do you just mean when they hit a certain lead score, you can push them into your CRM? Because we already do that with several systems. But if you mean a full two-way integration where it’s syncing up the data and tags and all this stuff, that kind of stuff is extremely, extremely complicated. The Salesforce alone would probably be about nine months of business development and partnership and development work. A huge amount of effort. That is one reason why I have not done it.
Another reason is our core market is not people with sales teams. That’s a whole other problem that other tools solve. We focus on people who are driving digital commerce, it’s like ecommerce, people who are selling things online, or if you take credit card online, we definitely work with SaaS apps and ecommerce sites and info marketers. Once you have a sales team, it’s less in our core competency and it’s not something that we really wanna double down on or spend the time on at this point.
Mike: One of the reasons this type of question comes up is because once you put your product out there and people start using it, they’re going to use it in ways that you didn’t necessarily envision, and you make changes to accommodate what seem like reasonable requests, but they start down a path of allowing people to do things that the product wasn’t necessarily designed to do from the very beginning. You just didn’t have the vision in it for it. To give you a prime example of that, which is in Drip, you’ve got the lifetime value that you can assign to somebody and that’s built right in. I wouldn’t say it’s front and center, but it is right there, kind of a standard option. That translates back to a CRM where you say, “Oh, what’s the lifetime value of these particular people?” It starts people down that path. It leads to questions like this, like how do you do the full two-way sync integration between Drip and whatever CRM that you have.
I think you have a great answer for it which is really trying to focus on what the things are that you do best and leave the other things to somebody else because you don’t want to try to be everything to everyone.
Rob: Yep, you have to focus.
Our next question is from Johannes and he says, “Hey, at the breakfast this morning, we discussed driving traffic either through side projects, and that was part of what Alex Yumashev had talked about which is kind of engineering as marketing. It’s building a tool that you launch on a weekend that does something; a website creator, an SEO creator, and then use that to drive leads, or through blog posts on subjects close to your product but not mainly about your product. Questions came up about how to convert these visitors into paying customers. What is you experience there and do you have any good advice?”
What do you think, Mike?
Mike: I wouldn’t say that I have any specific experience with taking side projects like that and trying to drive traffic. For context, because not everybody was there to listen to Alex’s attendee talk, but he talked about how he had built a number of side projects and then through those side projects had linked back to his main business website, and ended up getting traffic to his main website and converting those people into paying customers down the road, just by virtually the fact that he’s doing a lot of stuff in the open source community and people can browse that and they end up back in his website.
You have to treat is as something like a landing page or a lead generation mechanism as well. If people are there for a particular project, and that is in some way related to your primary product or set of products, then you have to think about how would you get them to basically buy into the commercial offering that you have. Is it related? Is the side project something that is tangential? Is it like a limited form of your main product? There’s a lot of variability there based on what the side product actually is versus what your main business does. Thinking about those things, and then using it as more or less like a landing page or launching area where you get those people over to your site, and whether it’s a specific landing page you have, maybe giving them additional resources on your website, get them on your mailing list. That’s really an entry point into your sales funnel is what you’re looking for. That’s probably the best approach for that. What do you think, Rob?
Rob: Yes, it’s all about if you’re driving people, his question is specifically if you’re getting people to these blog posts or getting them to the side project, how do you then convert them to paid? It’s all about email. It’s all about getting their email address, typically these side project things ask for an email upfront before they can use it, or you give them some results, and if they enter their email they get the rest of it then they’re on your list. There’s the WP Engine website speedgrader, there was the HubSpot website grader which I think was like SEO stuff that Dharmesh built, you had to enter emails for those. It was a nurture, education, and then it gets you through to become interested in using the product ultimately.
Mike: Right. I was actually thinking of it from a standpoint of you have a project on GitHub and it’s an open source offering versus what you had just mentioned, most of what Alex’s talk was about. The online tools that are free, engineering is marketing at that point, and you are absolutely right. You need to get that email address.
Rob: Our next question is from Paul and he says, “As a founder, I found my emotions get entangled in the success of my business. Any advice for emotionally distancing yourself from your business so you can make decisions more rationally?”
It’s obviously a longer answer but my short answer is go to zenfounder.com, listen to the podcast, click Contact Us link and talk to Sherrie Walling. That’s my quasi-joking answer but it’s actually a learned skill and someone who’s good at it can teach you. What do you think, Mike?
Mike: I agree with you that it is a skill. I have a hard time buying into the idea that there’s one set of things that you can do and those set of things are gonna work for everyone. Just based on who we are, our backgrounds, what sorts of things we’re interested in, and how involved we are mentally in our business and whether or not you are able to shut that off easily is gonna greatly impact the things that will work for you and what won’t.
It’s just like exercise for example. Some people have a really easy time getting up and going to the gym, other people don’t. Same thing with going to sleep at night or a variety of other things, whether it’s weight loss or what have you. There are different things that are going to work for each person, and there’s probably a lot of experimentation that you’re gonna have to do to figure out what those things are that work for you. You can get ideas from other people but that doesn’t mean that everything you hear is gonna work for you or is gonna work as well for you as it did for them.
Rob: This is really hard. This is the age old question and it’s one that I think every founder probably struggles with. I know that I did and I still do. I never quite was able to completely conquer this. I don’t think anybody has. That’s part of being about a good founder is that you care a lot. I used to joke, well half-joke, when my apps are unstable, I’m unstable and say things like my happiness is based on my MRR growth and while that isn’t totally true, it was…
Mike: There’s a lot of truth there.
Rob: There’s a little more truth than I would care to admit. I do think it’s learning, it’s becoming self-aware, or being able to gauge when you are really stressed out and then asking why. I’ll tell you what I do. What I’ve learned is that when I’m stressed out or when I’m angry or when I’m frustrated, I stop and I say, “Why do I feel this way? Is it something real or is it something that is fake, that is manufactured?” Someone said something stupid on Twitter that pissed me off, or someone is attacking this, or someone said something negative about my product and it hurt my feelings, and then I say, “That is a very real thing, but do I need to still be thinking about that now or is it time to let that go?” This all sounds very simple but this is how I cope with it and then I will totally be done, I’m gonna be done with that thing and I’m gonna make myself feel better. It’s actively thinking why do I have this stressed out feeling?
Also, a lot of people swear by it, I don’t do it but I did do meditation when the acquisition talks were going on because I probably have never been that stressed in my entire life. I would sit in the parking lot and I would meditate for four or five minutes each morning. It’s just listening to your breath and being aware of what’s going on with you rather than having your mind race about other things. That would help me get centered going into the day. I know that a lot of people swear by that. There’s a lot of different skills.
Deep breaths is something else I’ll do. I’ll sit there for 30 seconds and take three or four deep breaths if I wanna calm myself down in the moment. These are all small things that I do when I’m actively stressed. Trying to disconnect to yourself from the business as the original asker was asking is you don’t want it to trainwreck you when things go sideways, but it should impact you in some way. You care about that a lot, it’s kind of like losing a game that you’re really interested in. You’re playing soccer, or you’re playing chess or whatever and you’re really into it and then you lose the game. You should be a good sport about it but I personally believe that you should be pissed off too because I’m a competitor. You’re playing the game to win, that’s why I play games. If things are not going great in your startup, that you should feel a little stressed out, but it’s finding the balance of not feeling so stressed out that it just dictates your day-to-day mood based on your MRR growth or whatever.
Mike: That is probably the more common issue is being too invested in the outcome versus the journey along the way, as you’ve mentioned, that ties a lot back to the financial aspects of it. It’s really hard to disconnect yourself from it when things are not going well or not as well as you would like, really.
Rob: Last question from MicroConf Europe and then we’ll get into some other questions, is from Alex. He said, “Do you have any advice on time management as a solo founder? Is it better to dedicate to specific skills, like marketing, for example?”
Mike: Going back to my comments about the fact that different things for managing your emotions are going to work differently for different people. The same kind of advice generally applies here as well. Doing stuff on individual days is gonna work for some people, just doing time blocks, for example, is gonna work for other people. I do think that there are certain types of tasks that you need to do that timeboxing within a day is not necessarily going to work as well. For example, programming tasks or anything where you really need to get into deep focus and be able to spend a fair amount of time in order to make good progress on it, those are things that you can’t spread throughout the day. You really need to be able to schedule those things better. That’s the fundamental piece of time management is being able to figure out when you’re going to be effective at certain things and when your decision-making skills are just totally shot and you really need to flip over to something else.
Rob, we’ve talked about this in terms of managing your glucose levels throughout the day. It seems like an optimization but being cognisant of when you are better at certain things that other times of the day is extremely important.
Rob: Yeah, we’ve covered this on the podcast and we’ve had guests. We talked about the timeboxing approach that some people use, there’s a couple of guys at my work that do that, they swear by it. I have to done it when I’m derailed. I do it as a short term fix to get me back on track if I’m unmotivated or I’m struggling to figure out what to do.
Personally, time management for me is about priority management. If I know what I should be working on and then what I should be working on next and I don’t have to evaluate that every time I finish a task, I’m highly efficient. What derails me is if I finish something and I look around, and I go through my email, then I go to Trello, I wind up going to Amazon or Twitter and then I look around and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to be doing and that’s where I lose, that’s where I mismanage my time, is if I don’t have these clear-cut priorities. Like you said, if I do have the clear-cut priorities and it’s the morning hours when I happen to be most productive between let’s say, 8:00AM and noon or 9:00AM and 1:00PM, then that’s it, that’s where I’m killing it. I try to push all of my meetings to afternoons, I try to push all of my calls to one day per week because those are distracting and interruptive for me and it doesn’t allow me to do deep work.
Alex’s question is is it better to dedicate specific days to specific skills like marketing for example. I think if that works best for you, then you should do it. I don’t think I ever did that. I don’t think I’ve ever blocked stuff off like that, like a whole day just for marketing then a whole day to just do development, but it was because when I have, let’s say I have this Trello board of 20 tasks, one was to whatever, go in and fix the forgot password thing that broke, and then the next one is to go start a Facebook Ad campaign. For me, that’s not a hard context switch if I finished one and then I move on to Facebook. I didn’t feel like I had to stuff all the marketing stuff on one day, it was just about which priority it needed to be. If I was switching back and forth between tasks when they’re undone, then there’s the big switching cause. But if I’m actually finishing and moving onto the next thing, I don’t feel like I need to separate the disciplines to different days, personally. But your mileage may vary for yourself.
Thanks again for the questions, guys. I’m glad we were able to get through the last four here on the podcast. Our next question is not actually a question, it is a thanks to us from a Nathan. He says, “Thanks for all the motivation. Thanks for the show, it’s been really motivating to get me started on my journey into the world of startups. I haven’t released a product yet but I’m working on building a public reputation and a mailing list. I just released a plugin for the Craft CMS which I use to run my personal site because I couldn’t find a good way to add events and tag emails to my Drip account for people who filled up my contact form. Releasing something even though I’m not selling it directly feels amazing. Can’t wait to release even more things in the future.” Thanks so much.
Mike: Thanks for that, Nathan! I find it interesting that the first thing you did was integrating it into Drip, especially given the other question about CMSs and you integrating with CMSs from MicroConf.
Rob: That one was CRM actually.
Mike: Okay, yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Sorry
Rob: Different TLA, three-letter-act.
Rob: Alright, our next question is about how to take over duties from your contractor, it’s from John Hollows. He says, “Howdy, I started my SaaS at the time when I didn’t know much about frontend development but I was focused on backend data handling and product decisions. I hired a contractor and it’s been great but it’s become a roadblock to development. I can’t update the frontend without sending him a Slack message and waiting a few days for a reply.” That’s a bummer. He says,” I’ve gotten good enough that now, I can do it for myself. Could you cover how to manage scaling down or letting go a contractor? I foresee requesting things to be more documented, then gradually taking back ownership of different aspects while giving him modular work, like creating a frontend module that handles the new feature. Thanks and keep up the great work.”
What do you think?
Mike: I think this is an interesting one just because a lot of people find themselves in this situation, whether it’s for financially-related reasons or because somebody just isn’t working out. They want to basically take over control or responsibility for the things so they can move faster. This I think is a really common problem if you’re early on and you’ve got money to spare and you’re hiring people and maybe they are not putting the time because you, obviously, don’t have enough money to pay them full time but at the same time, you’re beholden to their schedule. Even if you want to move faster, you can’t necessarily do it. I think that it’s just a very common situation that people find themselves in. The key to this is not to be put in a situation where you have to go back to them afterwards and start asking for documentation and start cleaning things up, and putting things in order so you could transition from one person to another, that person being them and transitioning it back to you. One thing you can do is you can go through yourself and start understanding it.
If you really are gonna take it over, then you have to understand it to begin with. You going through and doing some of that documentation work yourself might be at least a good start but you also want to put together a framework or a process for how the documentation should be put together. What sort of processes need to be put in place or documented so what when you get to a point and after you’ve taken over and you’ve been doing it and you need to shift onto something else, and you need to take this and hand it off, then you’ve got all the documentation put together and you’ve been keeping it up-to-date. If you get everything documented and then you take it over and do stuff for six months or a year but you don’t maintain the documentation, you’re gonna be back exactly where you were when you first took it over.
It’s important that the stuff that you’re putting in place are things that you are going to continue doing as part of the process and you are not opposed to doing them because if you don’t, it’s just gonna fall apart for you later on.
Rob: The way I would approach this, I’m gonna assume you have a good relationship with your contractor. You’re gonna have to judge if you tell the contractor totally honestly upfront, “Hey, I’m gonna look at taking over all the dev work. Could we start by having you create some documentation and have you walk me through the thing to get me up-to-speed, and then I’m slowly gonna take it over, over time, over the next three to six months. And let’s just transition it.” If he can do that, great. Most of the contractors that I’ve worked with have no problems with that.
If you think that the contractors is gonna be a pain in the ass about it then you can take a different tactic and let him or her know that, “Hey, I’m gonna be taking over some of the front end development work. I just find that I have more time and I wanna do some blah blah blah…” You don’t really say that you’re gonna basically be letting him go in six months. You could also say, “We may be thinking of bringing more contractors or other people and I really just want some documentation, could we put together some documentation and then walk me through it.” It’s pretty standard stuff as a contractor, I would totally expect someone to come to me and say this. You’re thinking process here that you’re gonna want some documentation, you’re probably gonna want a walk through, you’re gonna want to slowly take over more, slowly shrink the contractor’s sphere of ownership, and then eventually just take over all the work.
My guess is if the contractor is pretty good, you’re always gonna have some lower priority stuff that can wait a few days. Then there’s the high priority stuff but if the contractor saw it and knows the code-base and has delivered for you, I bet that by the time that you get to a place where you’re doing all the frontend work and you’re doing the, I should say, the high priority stuff that needs to get done quick, that you’re gonna have enough lower priority stuff that still needs to get done that you may want to actually keep the contractor around, whether it’s the amount of hours that they’re doing now or fewer, it’s always good to have another resource to help out with this stuff. There could be a lot of truth in this statement of, “I wanna learn this so that we can share the burden rather than you taking over everything.” I hope that helps. Thanks for the question.
Our next question is from Tim, it’s about improving conversions. He says, “I’ve been tracking signups across the board and about 50% of the people that come onto my pricing page follow through to signup and they use the app. However, the number of converting paying users is very low.” He has a trial obviously, he says, “I’m talking under 1%.” His trial to paid is under 1%, I’m gonna assume with a 50% signup rate of people who visit the pricing page that he is not asking for credit card in advance of the trial. “Can you point me to a resource I can use to take the first step to tackling this problem?”
Instead of pointing him to a resource, Mike, why don’t we just become the resource?
Mike: He has two different products here. One of them is called Article Insights and the other one is SEO Content Machine. I don’t know which one he’s specifically referring to. It’s probably a little bit difficult to drill directly into those. But there’s two approaches that I would take.
One is to take a look at the people who have converted and ask them why they started paying, what was important to them, maybe analyze how long they stick around and see if their lifetime value is extremely low for what you would expect, maybe you expect them to stick around for three months or six months and they’re staying around for a month or two. That’s a warning sign that either they’re signing up for something and they thought that they were getting something else or it’s just really not delivering the value that they thought they were gonna get out of it.
The other thing is you can go and start talking to those people who have signed up but if you put an offer in front of them, for example, after seven days that they could convert into a paid account, ask the people who didn’t why they didn’t or what were the biggest turn offs to them. Whether you ask them to respond to an email or get on a call with them. If you can get on a call with them, great, but I understand that a lot of them are probably not going to. But if you’ve got 99% of them who were not converting into paid then you’ve got a lot of opportunities to get them onto a call. It’s really about understanding what it is that they thought they were signing up for and what value they thought that they were gonna get, what their position is. Are they just kicking the tires, is the reason you have really high sign up rate is because they’re just tire kickers and it’s free so they figured, “What the heck, I’ll throw my email address in there,” or is it that they actually had a business problem that they were trying to solve and that’s the part that you’re really trying to get at is what are the pain points that they’re actually trying to solve and does the product actually deliver those things. Or is it that you think that it does but the reality is that their situation or problem is a little bit more tangential than your product delivers on.
Rob: Yeah, I recommend checking out a talk that I gave back in, I’m guessing it was 2013 at MicroConf. It’s gonna be on Vimeo. It’s called How to 10X in 15 Months, or it might be How I 10Xed in 15 Months. It’s basically the story of acquiring HitTail and then 10x-ing the revenue. Some part of that had a pretty noticeable impact was getting the trial to paid numbers way up. I did that using email sequences, event-based emails that would hit people up if they didn’t get onboarded, and then I’m trying to think, I should have had in-app stuff, I don’t know if I did, but that would have been another one. It’s just about getting people onboarded. I think your approach, Mike, of talking to people has gotta be the first step just to try to assess why are people not doing it. I do think that adding email reminders is going to absolutely have a pretty substantial impact, even before you know why people getting onboarded versus not getting onboarded. I still think email will have an impact if you’re not sending any today. That’s where I would start.
I enjoy these kinds of problems because it’s like you know that you’re a lot lower than you should be and it’s just a puzzle. How do you get that 1% up to 3% or up to 5%. Even 5%-15% for no credit card, it’s somewhere in there. Maybe it’s even 5%-20%. You should be able to substantially increase this and it’s just figuring out where the break is. If you can fix that, this is how you scale a business. This is where you go from trudging along, growing at a $100 or a couple $100 a month to suddenly really, really being able to hockey stick this thing if the numbers are right.
Our last question for the day is from Alex Sommerfeld and he says, “Hey, Mike and Rob. This one if more for Rob. What do you think about the newly-launched Drip service from Kickstarter?” D.rip is the service.
In essence, what’s interesting is it’s not actually a launched product that Kickstarter launched. It was a startup that started after Drip. Drip, basically, we worked on code in 2012, we launched in 2013, and I think it was some time in mid to late 2014 that this company called Drip launched and it was a music social network and it was a startup that raised a bunch of money and they bought the drip.com domain name because I couldn’t afford it, they bought it from a squatter. Once I saw that they owned it, I remember telling Derrick that I’m just counting and counting the months, 15-18 months they’re gonna be out of business because it’s a music social network, the odds of it working are just miniscule. You typically raise funding for 15-18 months of expenses.
Sure enough, sometime in, don’t quote me on this, it was sometime in 2015 they basically went under and I actually contacted their CTO and their CFO, all of the people involved and eventually was talking about trying to buy the domain name but it turned out that Kickstarter had basically just acquired the assets of Drip, of that social network, and some reason either didn’t buy the domain name or I don’t know if they didn’t want to or if it didn’t come with the package, or what happened.
The drip.com at that point got separated from this music social network but Kickstarter acquired the assets and I don’t know what the assets of it, if it was a team of people or if there was any type of software. But in essence, they turned it into a Patreon competitor. That’s what it is. Kickstarter is launching a way to do subscription-giving to support creators.
This name has been around for a long time in bizarre context. The end of the story is my Drip got acquired by LeadPages and we bought the drip.com domain name, maybe four or five months ago. Now, if you go to drip.com, it’s our website, all our email addresses are now using drip.com, I don’t know how I feel about it. It sucks to have two things and the exact same name, you can’t trademark that name drip because it’s too generic. I should’ve tried to do that back in 2014-2015. It is what it is. There’s gonna be some confusion. We have the .com, I feel like that’s a win, it all depends on how given that we are not competitors at all. Drip does seem to just be, that word and phrase, is being used in marketing and it’s being used in juts to mean something that is released over time because that’s what this is. It’s subscription, it’s payments to creators over time versus dripping out email over time. I don’t know, I have strong opinions on it, I’m not terribly offended by it. I wasn’t super happy when they launched three years ago but I’m over it just because they’ve been around, I’ve watched the whole thing play out. You have other thoughts on it?
Mike: It’s interesting that the color schemes and everything else are extremely similar. Drip, where you work is LeadPages, it’s capital D, they’ve got a lowercase D and their I is upside down but other than that, it just looks very similar.
Rob: Yeah, when you think of of drip, you’re gonna tend to use blue, so we both used blue and startup blue is a common thing anyway.
Mike: Yeah, I don’t know. I can foresee there could be a lot of confusion, to be honest, which sucks. As many domain names as there are, there’s only so much you can do.
I think that about wraps us up for today. If you have a question, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at email@example.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for Startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next time.
In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about how to influence decision makers on your pricing page. Inspired by a listener question they give you some tips on how to optimize for better conversion.
Items mentioned in this episode:
Mike [00:00]: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Rob and I are going to be talking about how to influence decision-makers on your pricing page. This is Startups for the Rest of Us, Episode 275. Welcome to Startups for The Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve build your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.
Rob [00:25]: And I’m Rob.
Mike [00:26]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How you doing this week, Rob?
Rob [00:30]: I’m doing pretty good. I’m feeling excited and, I guess, relaxed to be on the other side of my launch. Last week’s podcast episode, Derrick and I talked about launching the big feature in Drip called “Workflows”, and I feel so much more relaxed now. Trials are coming in. We’re going to look to have the biggest month of growth we’ve ever had, and it’s like you have two fears. I feel like I have two fears when I launch something like this. One, that the feature itself somehow isn’t going to work, right? You’re going to have bugs, you’re going to give yourself some performance errors, or something like that, none of which happened. Then the other one is that you’re going to do it and no one is going to care. You’re going to spend all this time and just have crickets. So far, neither of those has happened. So it just feels good, and I feel a lot more calm than I was last week.
Mike [01:16]: Yeah. That was a huge change, I’ll say.
Rob [01:18]: Yeah, it really changed the focus of the app, and brings us on or above parity with a lot of really big competitors. So it’s definitely starting to have a ripple. And what we’re seeing is that launch day we got more trials than usual, but then it just kept going, and just every day after that there’s conversations in Facebook groups I’m being pulled into, and forums, and people are now asking questions like, “What really is the difference anymore between DRIP and all these big competitors?” Just that those discussions are being had with a lot of strong opinions has just up’ed the game. I mean we’re just being mentioned in places where there’re previously probably an open and shut case of, “I’m an infusion suffusion user, and that’s’ all I’m going to use.” or Entrepot or ActiveCampaign, or something like that. That just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. And it’s noticeable as the trial count has – at least for now – and we only launched last week, in essence, but we already have reached a new normal for trial counts. We don’t know how long that will last, but so far it’s looking really good. How about you? What’s going on? You were at the Big Snow Tiny Conf last week.
Mike [02:16]: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. The unfortunate thing is that the New England area is not exactly cold right now, for whatever reason. We’re just having a warm winter. It did rain one of the first nights we were there, so the next day there was a lot of ice on the mountain, as opposed to snow. But it was still a lot of fun, and there were a lot of great conversations that were had, and people were grilling me early on. There was actually a betting campaign going on about what my upcoming product is, because people who were there were listening to the podcast, and they were like, “Oh, I think I know what it is!” So they went around the table. They wanted to start a pool. I don’t think any money ever actually exchanged hands, but some of the things that they came up with were rather interesting.
Rob [02:57]: That’s cool. That’s fun. To dive into that with folks, especially when people are already invested in the thought of it. So you pulled the trigger? You pick a name? You get something up?
Mike [03:07]: Yeah. so I guess I’ll finally pull the rabbit out of the hat, so to speak. I’ve got a minimal website up and running right now. The product is called Bluetick, and you can find it at bluetick.io. It’s animated follow-up software aimed at freelancers and small agencies who have high-touch sales pipelines. So if you think of current tools that you’re probably using – something like Boomerang or FollowUp.cc – it’s similar, but it goes a step further. In those types of tools, those will detect whether or not somebody replied to you, and if not it will throw something in your inbox and say, “Hey, you’ve got to go talk to this person.” Or, “You’ve got to follow up with them.” The Bluetick software that I’m working on will take that a step further, and will actually send the e-mail to them automatically so that you don’t have to.
And if there’s additional e-mails that need to be sent, it will do those as well. If there is a workflow in place that you need to put such that you’re walking them through a sales process, then it will be able to handle that stuff as well. So I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from it so far, especially over at Big Snow Tiny Conf and then, as I said, I’ve got 12 people who have placed preorders for it. And right now I’ve got a team of developers who are tasked with building it based on the designs and stuff that I’ve put together, and they’ve been working on it. Things are going pretty well so far, and right now I’m focused more on all the marketing stuff, and I’m trying to stay completely out of all the tech stuff. People have been asking me for decisions and stuff on different things. Generally speaking, I’ve stayed out of the code.
Rob [04:32]: Got it. If someone’s a freelancer or an agency and they have a high-touch sales pipeline, they might want to check out bluetick.io, get on your list at least to see what you’re up to and hear the updates on the product. We set a deadline for this, didn’t we?
Mike [04:44]: The target deadline for having it in front of the people who’ve placed preorders from me is April 1. It’s a coincidence. Maybe I should have said May 30th or 31st or whatever it is, March. Whatever those months happen to be. Maybe I failed grade school, I’m not sure.
Rob [05:01]: It’s approximately 60 days from now.
Mike [05:04]: Yep.
Rob [05:05]: And are you on track?
Mike [05:06]: So far, I seem to be.
Rob [05:07]: The only other thing, I was just looking at my e-mail, and Sherry, my wife, is writing an e-book about founder retreats, and it is shaping up pretty cool. I just saw the final, or almost final, PDF version, and it’s going to be e-book PDF Kindle and ePUB. She got the layouts from a designer who cranked it out. It’s looking really nice. It’s looks to be about 28 or 30 pages, and it has a worksheet, and that kind of stuff. We’re going to be launching it more through zenfounder.com, if you’re not on that mailing list. If you’re interested in hearing more about founder retreats; whether you’ve taken one and you feel like you might need more guidance, or if thought about taking one and want, kind of, what at this point I’m thinking it’s the definitive guide to founder retreats. Mike, you wrote about it in your book. Sherry and I have talked about on the podcast. She wrote a little one or two page helper thing a while back, but this is where she just said I’m going to put down everything, all the knowledge that we have on this into a single resource. So if that sounds interesting, head over to zenfounder.com and get on that list, because we’ll be launching that in the next couple of weeks. What are we talking about today?
Mike [06:13]: Well, we got an e-mail from Dave and he asked us, “Hey guys. I’d love to hear an episode in regards to tactics for getting people to sign up for your highest plans. We have four plans but only 4% of people sign up for the highest two. Why is that? I’d love to know what the benchmark should be in terms of the percent of sign-ups and revenue your highest plans, on average, should be and tactics for increasing that percentage.”
Rob [06:33]: Dave is from ninjaoutreach.com. So we’re going to take the rest of the episode to explore Dave’s question. Really quick, I wanted to chime in on – he has a precursor question where he says, “We have four plans, but only 4% of people sign up for the highest two. Why is that?” Frankly, because a lot of your traffic these days is probably bloggers and small agencies. Which is, you have four plans. There’s blogger for $29, small agency for $49, large agency for $129 and enterprise for $249, and either you’re getting more bloggers and small agencies than large and enterprise, or it’s the fact that the price points are so different, right? You have a $49 plan. It’s your first from the bottom. Then your large agency plan is a big jump to 129. If people aren’t getting value out of your software yet, they’re probably not willing to dive in with both feet to pay 129 bucks. Most people want to try a lower priced plan to dip their feet in. As long as it has the same amount of functionality, why not sign up for the one user $29 a month plan, just to give it a shot so that, maybe, if accidentally I forget to cancel, or forget to stop after my trial, then I’ll only get billed 29 bucks – always knowing that if the person does start to get a lot of value out of it, they can quickly upgrade to the $49 or $129 plan. That would be my take on why only a small percentage sign up for the higher ones, because there’s no feature gating here. There’s no features that are not in the lower plans, and so there’s not much reason for them to sign up for the higher plans until they’ve seen value from your software.
Mike [08:02]: What Rob just said takes us into the first point of our outline for this episode. That is to highlight a default plan for the user. This, kind of, ties back into segmentation a little bit. You have to know who your audience is, and the bulk of the users who are coming in. For example, specifically on this page, the small agency plan is highlighted. So if you wanted to try and push people up into those larger tiers, you could highlight the large agency of the enterprise plan. I wouldn’t do the enterprise plan because it’s not typical to highlight your priciest plan, but highlighting the large agency plan would probably be a good bet there. The other thing that you’re doing here is that the names of the plans are essentially a self-categorization of the user. For example, enterprise users or enterprise companies are not going to sign up for a blogger plan or a small agency plan, because they can’t really justify that. Patrick McKenzie has some great stories about how he went in and tried to sign up his company for a personal plan that was only $9 a month, and his boss crossed it out and said, “Yeah, we’re signing up for the $500 a month plan,” and he said, “We only need the $9 a month plan,” he’s like, “Nope, we’re an enterprise. We pay for the top of the line.”
Rob [09:10]: Yeah, I think something else to think about is, where did you get these names from? We have blogger, small agency, large agency and enterprise. They’re great first cuts to allow people to self-select. But have you spoken to folks who’ve signed up for your small agency plan and asked them, “Are you actually a small agency? Do you identify as a small agency?” Try to forget how many of them are just random people. Maybe they run in a SaaS app or sell info products and they’re not an agency at all, but that’s the plan that they needed based on the number of users and contacts that you allow. So I would circle back and go for some qualitative data from your existing customers, because “large agency”, right off the bat, makes me think of a 50% company, and a 50% company probably needs more than four users, which is what this plan has, and she’d probably be paying more than 129.
That’s just my opinion. I’m not a small or large agencies, so I’m not necessarily an authority on this, but that’s what I’m saying is go to the people who are signing up and really figure out if these are the right names or if there’s another angle that you can take here with the naming. I think one other thing that I would throw out is we have four SaaS tiers on this pricing page. and I’m not sure if we really need tiers, or just doing a per user pricing, much like a CRM, would be a better approach. If you did $29 a month per user and each user gets whatever it is, 1500 or 2500 contacts, it would simplify your pricing. It will be an interesting test. I’m not saying it would absolutely be better, but since you’re not feature gating, and if someone is really a large agency and they do need 10 people in there, it would, kind of, be nice for them to come in and be able to pay that 290 bucks and get started with one user as they’re just getting their feet wet with it, and trialling it out, and then ramp up piece at a time instead of feeling like they have these big jumps between tiers. So here’s definitely arguments. It’s probably whole episode to talk about a per user or per subscriber cost, versus actually having tiers, and feature gating, and that kind of stuff. But that’s something that comes to mind here as maybe if these folks are used to paying per seat or per user, which I bet agencies are – because that’s how CRM is done, that’s how project management – then maybe that model could be closer to the other tools they’re using and therefore it might make a little more sense for them.
Mike [11:23]: The next item for how to influence decision-makers on your pricing page is to limit the number of sign up options. By that, what I really mean is if you’re trying to do too much on your page, it’s going to hurt the level of sign-ups that you get. If you start looking at most people’s pricing pages, you’ll see things like, “Oh, we have a monthly pricing, we have annual pricing, and then we also have three plans or four different plans that you’re offering,” and in some cases you’ll see things like a trial button, to sign up for a free trial versus a ‘buy now’ button. Once you start compounding those options, now you’ll say, “Okay, well, I have to decide, first of all, whether I’m going to do an annual or a monthly plan. Then I have to decide which of the plans I’m going to go for.” In addition to that, you also have to decide, “Do I want a free trial, or do I just want to pay for it now?” And tied it with that last piece is, are you going to ask them for a credit card upfront, or are you going to ask from them for a credit card down the road? That may be tied directly to whether or not it’s a free trial versus buy now. But again, you’re putting a lot of options in front of your prospective customer, and that serves almost as a road block to them even signing up, because they have to make all these decisions both before they get the software and start setting things up.
Rob [12:31]: Yeah. I’m not sure that I’ve seen this before, where there’s a 14 day free trial button for each tier, and then a ‘buy now’ button right below it. That feels to me like unnecessary decision-making, because now someone has to think, “Wow, do I want to do a trial or do I just want to buy it?” And I can’t imagine anyone’s going to want to buy it now without a trial, even if they know they want to use it eventually and they’re 100% sure, they still want to take advantage of the free trial. So that would be something I would definitely consider not having that ‘buy now’ button. It will remove another color from the screen, because that’s a green button, and it will simplify your pricing grid, in terms of there’s one call to action there and it will just be sign up for the free trial..
Mike [13:08]: The next item on the list is to deemphasize specific options. These are especially things you don’t necessarily want people to sign up for. For example, let’s say that you had a starter plan, where it was one user and it was very stripped down. You might have just a link there for that particular plan. If it’s a $9 a month plan, you might want to just get somebody started on your application and then up-sell them inside of it to a higher pricing plan. But then there’s also things like the enterprise plan, which if you have something that is going to be much more of a custom plan for that person, depending on the number of plans that you already have, you may not even want to have a column or a tier for that. You may just want to put down in the text some place that says, “Are you thinking that you’re an enterprise customer? You need something more than this? Just call us.” That way it doesn’t take up one of the spots on your page as a full blown pricing tier.
Rob [14:00]: And for that button on the enterprise tier, I’ve seen folks do ‘Call us now’. I think requested demo is an interesting test for that enterprise tier, because if they really are enterprise they probably want a demo before they can even think about anything else. They don’t typically want to start a free trial without seeing a demo of it. So what’s nice about requested demo is then, boom, you instantly ask for their contact information. You’re not making them contact you. You just pop up a form right there and ask for an e-mail, phone, perhaps how big their list its; some metric to where you can figure out how large of a customer they might be. Then the ball is in your court to follow up with them. And you could use fancy software like Bluetick.io or you could just put it in your CRM, or however you’re going to do it. Then, like I said, you are essentially in control at that point. So that’s another angle. Instead of having them taking action in terms of calling you, it’s nice to set it up where you have their contact information and can follow up as needed.
Mike [14:58]: A bit of a follow up to one that you mentioned a few minutes ago, Rob, which was removing either the free trial button or the ‘buy now’ button and just having the one to help limit the number of calls to action, and eliminate an additional color on the screen that’s fighting for attention. You can deemphasize other navigation options. So whether that’s up at the header, or in the footer, or even just removing pop-ups. I’ve seen pricing pages where they will still pop-up something that will try and get you to sign up for their newsletter. The one exception to them might be if you have something there that asks them if they have pricing questions, or have some sort of little widget there that allows you to interact with the person to help them make a decision. But that’s something I would definitely test. I wouldn’t just throw it out there and just hope that it’s going to work, or expect that it is doing its job. That’s something that you definitely want to test to make sure that it is moving people in the right direction.
Rob [15:49]: Yeah. I agree. I tend to strip away all the noise that I possibly can, all the buttons, all the colors and everything that you can, off of your pricing page and make it almost a little bit minimalist, or a little boring. Then the only colors that you need are on those buttons that you want folks to use, like the ‘start a free trial’ button. Those can be a nice, attractive – like an orange or a yellow – and they’ll really stand out. And you don’t have to make them flash, and have a marquee tag or something to stand out against all the other noise on your page.
Mike [16:21]: The next item on the list is using heat mapping software. On your pricing page, especially if you have enough traffic coming to the page where it makes sense to go in that direction, there’s a lot of different options out there. There’s Crazy Egg, ClickTale, Get Clicky. You really want to see where people are looking on your page, and find out if there’re other elements on the page that either people are clicking on because they’re distracting those people, or if there is copy that is drawing their attention and, kind of, influencing them on the page. Those are the types of things you want to know, and find out whether or not they’re additional things that you need to add on the page or remove from the page, because it’s either confusing the user or it is retracting from them moving in the direction that you want them to go.
Rob [17:06]: Yeah. Heat maps are really cool. I’ve learnt a lot from them. The two tools that I would use these days are Crazy Egg and Inspectlet. Those both give you a nice heat maps. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from one of these. They also have scroll maps that shows you where people are scrolling and where they’re looking around. This is worth running on your homepage and pricing page at a minimum.
Mike [17:30]: The next item on the list is to identify feature differences. General advice and general wisdom basically says that you should be talking about the benefits of your products. But I think on the pricing page it is an exception to the rule, because on the pricing page people are much closer to making a decision. By that time, the expectation from you is that they have most of what they need to make a decision, and what they’re looking for is, what the pricing is, and which of the plans is right for them. They’re not trying to figure out, “Is this going to do something for my business? Is this the right tool for me?” What they’re really looking for is, “Which of these pricing plans do I fit into?” And, “I need help making that decision.” So at that point, comparing and contrasting the feature differences between your plans is much more important than it would be on your homepage, for example, or on a page where you’re talking about the benefits of using the software, or why you would use it. The pricing page, I would tend to err on the side of doing feature comparisons between the pricing tiers.
Rob [18:30]: Yeah. On a pricing page, you still want to be building that social proof with testimonial and these trust markers that we’ll talk about in a minute, but you don’t want to be still talking at a high level in terms of benefits. I think that’s something that people make that mistake of getting overly benefitted, and it feels like it’s vague, if you’re still talking about too many benefits — you can have a nice headline that’s a benefit, or the button can have the benefit on it, but if you have any other text on this page, people are already at decision-making process and they’re trying to figure out– it’s hard enough to make a decision. They’re trying to decide between your tiers. Make it really simple, really clear and very specific as to what they’re signing up for. Because without that, it’s going to sow the seed of doubt in their mind and the odds are they’re going to back out and not click that free trial button.
Mike [19:15]: One of the things that you just mentioned, Rob, was the trust symbols. With trust symbols, sometimes you can be pointing to third party rating systems, or maybe you’ll show like an SSL Certificate. Sometimes they have site seals that you can put on your website just to say, “Hey, this is secure.” I don’t know if I would put that on the pricing page itself. I might put it up on the sign up page, because I think on the pricing page it would probablydetract from the sign-up experience. But you do want to show – once they go through and they click the buy now button or the free trial – that you are securing their information. So that’s probably where I’d put the site seal information. On the pricing page, you might want to put some testimonials to talk about what other people are saying about your products, and what sorts of benefits those people have experienced.
When you’re doing that – I see this when people are using comments from Twitter, for example – and I’ve made this mistake myself. I actually still have a place where I have it on my list to do to change it, but If you have dates on those testimonials because they’re coming directly from Twitter, then somebody might look at that and say, “Oh, well that testimonial is a year old,” or two years old or five years old. You have to be a little bit careful about that, because you don’t want it to look outdated. You want it to look as if somebody just recently said that. I think that If you have those dates on there you do have to be a little careful about making sure that you either updating them with more recent things, or doing a live stream from Twitter is little bit of a risk because then you could have somebody goes on and just complains about it, and that could end up on your website inadvertently, and you don’t want that in your pricing page. You do want to make sure that you pay attention to whether or not those dates are displayed.
Rob [20:45]: I’m a fan of having testimonials, but not a big fan of having the big, bulky tweet boxes that come natively when you do a little plug in, or a Java Script thing that displays it, because there’s then just so many buttons appearing. You have like the person’s headshot, their name, their Twitter username, a follow-up button, a heart button, and a retweet. It just adds to the noise on the page. So when I tend to do testimonials, I like having a headshot if I can. I like having something in quotes, right? That’s the testimonial, and include the quotes around it. Then a name, and perhaps a URL that’s not underlined, that’s not blue, that doesn’t drag away the eye from the rest of the page. So if you are going to have tweets on it, I would opt to not use the big, bulky or fancy tweet boxes with all the options, because you want to remove that noise. It doesn’t necessarily add to the value of it to have all of that on the page. You can certainly use someone’s Twitter handle, and grab their headshot from their Twitter account and use it, but I would think twice before adding a lot of extra noise to the pricing page.
Mike [21:51]: The next thing on our list is to mitigate the risk for the user of signing up. This comes into play when you are looking at using a free trial button versus some sort of a buy now and saying there’s a satisfaction guarantee. If you use a free trial, there’s a limited time window during which they have to get in and they have to start setting things up. There’s this time pressure for them to do it. On the other side of it is if they’re buying it now, then they know that they’ve just paid for it and they have usually like a month or a year before they have to pay for it again. So hopefully, during any point up to that renewal time, they can go in there and start using the software. But you are forcing them to make a choice about whether or not they are going to get started using it right away, or they’re going to, kind of, delay that decision. So it does factor into that, and the trial length also factors into that as well, if you’re going to use free trials. So whether it’s 14 days, 21 days or 30 days, the trial length is something you’ll probably want to play around with a little bit to see whether or not there’s a difference in conversion. You want to be able to provide that value to them as quickly as you possibly can, but you also want to make sure that that’s as short as possible so that you can start getting them as a paying customer. So there’s a balancing act that you need to take into account.
Rob [23:04]: In terms of trial length I always try to go as short as possible so that you can run the most split tests. When I first required HitTail years ago, the trial was 60 days long, and that meant that I could only run six tests a year on the on-boarding e-mails, or on making changes. Then if you’re running marketing experiments, and different quality leads were coming in the phone, you didn’t know for two months. So you can make a lot of mistakes. Pretty quickly I had dropped that down to 30, and I wound up getting it down to 21. The reason I couldn’t go shorter than 21 is it was taking people about 21 days to get a lot of value out of HitTail at the time. Later on we rewrote the code and we were able to give value a lot quicker than that. But if you can do a seven day trial and people can get value out of your software in that timeframe then that’s what I would go with – even going as far as to charge upfront if you can. I feel like when you’re first starting out and you don’t have any type of brand or word of mouth, it’s a little hard to do that, not impossible – especially if you’re still learning about the app, and what people want, and what features you need, and the feedback is rally valuable – I’d probably still do free trials to get people in. But the time urgency of a free trial, there’s a benefit there. In terms of mitigating a risk for the users who are signing up, one of the big ones is to have that 100% money-back guarantee and to display it prominently on the pricing page, and to let people know that you will always refund the most recent monthly payment, you have a money-back guarantee within 30 days, just all that stuff.
There’s no reason not to do that. I know that some apps won’t refund payments, and to me it’s such short-term thinking. Yes, you’ll get some people who’ll screw around with it and they’ll get their $19 or their $39 back from you and it will feel unjust and the principle of it doesn’t feel right. It is absolutely not worth screwing all the other people who genuinely didn’t mean to do whatever. They forgot about something. They weren’t using it. There are lots of legitimate businesses that just have a reason to get the refund, and this world of ours is not that big. I know you think that you can, perhaps, not refund people and it won’t get around, but eventually it will. If you hit any type of size, word just gets around that you are not treating people fairly. So that’s always been my policy. It also helps keep chargebacks from happening, because charge-backs are expensive, and they’re a pain in the butt and you either have to fight them, and you spend the time to do that, or you get this extra charge. So if someone was not happy and you don’t give them a refund, the odds are they’re going to charge you back anyways and you might lose that as well, and it’s definitely going to waste time. So those are some thoughts around free trial, trial length and how to offer that money-back guarantee.
Mike [25:30]: The last item on our list is if you’re displaying answers to FAQ questions, make them relevant to the pricing tiers that you have. So rather than displaying a huge list of FAQs that are relevant to you products, make the FAQ questions that you’re going to display specifically relevant to the plans themselves. For example, maybe you have something in there about your cancellation policy, or whether somebody wants to upgrade or downgrade from a particular plan. Those are the types of things that are relevant. But things like “How to use your product” or “How to use a specific feature.” – those are things that should not appear on your pricing page.
Rob [26:07]: Right. Examples of questions that apply directly – either to the tiers, or just signing up for a trial – are something that I’m pulling here from the HitTail and the DRIP pricing pages. Questions like, “How does the trial work? What if I go over my monthly limit? Do I have to sign a long term contract? What happens when I start a free trial? What’s the set up process like? Can I change my plan?” Right? Those are things that people are thinking about as they’re looking at your pricing grid. So they may not answer specific questions about a specific pricing tier, but it is what’s going through the person’s head as they’re deciding whether or not to sign up, and they’re thinking, “What are the risks? What are the negatives of doing this?”
Mike [26:42]: And if you’re looking for additional resources on conversion rate optimization, we’ll include a link over to quicksprout.com, where they have the definitive guide to conversion optimization. There are a few things from this episode that were taking from that, but there’s a lot of things on there that are generally applicable to your website itself, or to learning pages. So there’s a different instances where some of the things that they have in there would be applicable.
Rob [27:04]: We outlined and recorded this entire episode based on a listener question from Dave at Ninja Outreach. If you have question for us, call our voicemail number at 8-8-8-8-0-1-9-6-9-0, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from ‘We’re Out of Control’ by MoOt, used under creative commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups in business, startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.