In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about how to plan for better productivity. Based on a blog post by Noah Kagan, they discuss some different tactics including organizing time by energy level and value.
Items mentioned in this episode:
Mike: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and I are going to be talking about planning for better productivity. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 361. 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’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.
Rob: And I’m Rob.
Mike: We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Rob, I’m back, your coup failed.
Rob: Aw man, I was going to ask if you listened to the episode last week. That’s funny. Did you listen to it or did someone…
Rob: You made it back. I figured I’d exiled you and this is my show now.
Mike: No, you know what, it’s funny because for whatever reason, it reminded me of the very first Micro Conf that we ran and the survey that I sent out afterwards. I don’t know if you remember this but the last question on the survey was who’d win in an arm wrestling match, Mike or Rob?
Rob: I don’t remember that.
Mike: You don’t remember that? 75% said that you would go down.
Rob: I would go down, yeah, well that makes sense. What do you think of the episode?
Mike: It was good. It’s probably always awkward to record something completely by yourself. I’ve listened to podcasts before where it’s just one person talking but I think there’s a lot to do with delivering content. Sometimes, it works out really well, sometimes it doesn’t. I think it depends a lot on whether or not the topic or the content resonates with you, and then there’s also the appeal of listening to the person who’s speaking.
Rob: Right. I did realize that I talk fast normally, but for some reason when there’s no one else on the podcast, I talk even faster. I just string the sentences together. I was listening to it at 1.5 speed and I was like whoa, you need to pause, dude, you need to have some space between the sentences.
Mike: Well, that actually also plays into when people are doing public speaking, they get excited and nervous. People tend to talk fast when that’s the case. But people, I’ve noticed, also talk fast when they are extremely knowledgeable about a particular topic because they want to get everything out as much as they possibly can.
Rob: Yeah, it’s like excitement and passion for this stuff.
Rob: That’s cool. Good, I’m glad you enjoyed it. What else is going on this week?
Mike: I’m in the middle of finishing up implementing [OWAF 00:02:20] inside of Bluetick in an effort to basically streamline the onboarding process because right now when somebody signs up, the first thing you have to do before anything else is set up a mailbox. If you’re using Gmail, it can be problematic at best. I’ve been getting on a call and essentially walking people through manually. It sucks. It’s not just that it sucks because I have to talk to them, the problem is that sometimes it doesn’t always work or you have to go into admin settings or each situation can be different based on how your G-suite account is set up or what admin settings are and which ones aren’t set.
It can be very difficult to figure out, and users will probably never be able to figure it out on their own. I’ve had a few go through and have no problems, but then there’s ones where settings were all over the place or they’re not an admin and the [OWAF] should just completely get rid of all of those things and just take care of it.
Rob: That would be really nice. That sounds like a nightmare when you talk on the phone like that, you can’t just have a single KB article or some type of walk through and you got to almost trouble shoot it, custom consulting just to get on boarded is pretty rough.
Mike: I do have a KB article for it. If I were to print it out, it’s probably five or six pages, which sucks. You can go through it, but I’d rather the person not have to. If that’s their first experience with it, it’s not a great experience. I really try to avoid that. Plus, I’ve had people who even I couldn’t get them on boarded because it just did not work. We couldn’t figure out what the settings was. Things worked for a little bit, and then Google has this algorithm in the background that if they think that it is hacks, it will just block access. You got to be kidding me, but [OWAFs 00:03:55] gets around that kind of stuff.
I’ve got it mostly working right now, mostly just going through some testing and making it so people can convert their existing mailbox over to using [OWAFs 00:04:05] instead of the app passwords that they have to use right now. But yeah, open to employ that out in the next couple of days and move on because that’s just been a nightmare.
Rob: It’s one of the few cases where you may actually have a silver bullet. Most of the time, it’s like oh, this is still not going to solve it. But if it actually does, that’s a big deal.
Cool, well I want to talk about MicroConf. We have save the dates for MicroConf Started Edition and Growth Edition next April in Las Vegas. Tickets are going to be available in the next few weeks. Mark your calendars now for Growth Edition is April 23rd and 24th, it’s a Monday, Tuesday. Of course, we have the Sunday evening reception on the 22nd. Started Edition follows that, much like last year, it is April 25th and 26th. If you are interested in hanging out with a couple hundred successful or aspiring to be successful bootstrap, startup founders, you can get on the mailing list at microconf.com. Historically, MicroConf has sold out pretty quickly. You will want to be on that mailing list if you want to get the first grab at tickets. In addition, MicroConf Europe is happening here in about five weeks in Lisbon, Portugal. Tickets are still available for that, microconfeurope.com.
Other than that, in terms of work, we’re doing a lot of scaling stuff. We have gotten out ahead, it’s so nice. Remember how several weeks ago I was talking about how cues and scaling were just a big issue. They’re perpetually going to be a big issue but we’re well out ahead of them now, it just feels like you have breathing room. Basically, I put together, it’s called a platform engineering team. It’s people, they’re just going to be working constantly on the scaling now.
Typically, every four to six months, we would turn our attention to it and then we go back to building features. It’s at the point now where we just have a staff of—it depends how urgent it is—between five and eight engineers who are just constantly going to be looking at how to 2X this and how to 5X this. We’re doing a chunk of it in a sprint for Black Friday, even though our volume is historically not gone up that much on Black Friday, we do just want to make sure that we can send emails very quickly. I think the other day, they 2X or 3X our email throughput with three, four weeks of work. They re architect something and they decoupled something, doing something asynchronous. You just slowly make those wins, that’s a big one. If they can 2X or 3X it again, we will be sitting pretty even based on our most pessimistic estimates of the volume that we’ll need to send.
Mike: That’s awesome. Sounds like things are firing on most, if not all, cylinders at this point.
Rob: Yup, it is good. It will be nice to get past that. We’re still working on features but we definitely have slowed feature development just a tad in order to make sure that we’re well equipped for it and then got some good stuff cooking for the end of the year.
Mike: Very cool.
Rob: What are we talking about today?
Mike: Speaking of optimization, we’re going to be talking about planning for better productivity. This episode is based off of an article that I read over on Noah Kagan’s blog at okdork.com, we’ll link it up in the show notes. It was a series of time management tips. We talk about time management tips a couple of times on this podcast but we haven’t gone in depth into anything in probably 100, 150 episodes or so. I’ve went back and made sure that we hadn’t done that recently.
I wanted to take some time and dig into a process that he outlines on this blogpost because the title of the blogpost is Time Management, Tips of Insanely Busy People. Because of a lot of the things I’m doing, more or less juggling back and forth between all these different activities for Bluetick, it’s been difficult to prioritize things properly and make sure that I’m spending enough time in a way that allows me to move forward in every direction as opposed to making too much progress in one direction and not enough process in others.
I took the time to actually read through this and start applying some things already. So far, this week, it’s actually worked out really well. I’m getting up early and reprioritized when I do certain things. What its helped me do is essentially helped me put myself in a position where I make time for the important stuff and then rearranged the time where I’m making poor decisions or my glucose levels are low and not able to make good decisions and push that off to times where I know that that’s more of a recovery time for example.
We’re going to go through this. The thing that jumped out at me the most in this particular article is that there was a line in there that said success is fundamentally about how you spend your time. If you think about it, conceptually, if all of us had the same amount of time in the day but some people are much more successful or much more productive than other people. Kind of want to take a look at this to see if there are ways that I can apply some of the stuff that we learned and wanted to share some of that stuff.
Rob: Indeed, let’s dive in.
Mike: The first thing that comes out of this article is the recommendation to list all of the different categories of work that you need done. There’s a screenshot in this article where he’d list out all the different activities that he does into the different categories. He’s got green for gym, salmon color for Sumo work, purple for podcast planning, recording, and brainstorming, and then he has grey for growth or learning or consuming, whether that’s reading, or podcast, or whatever. Then, red is all sorts of random stuff that he likes to do. His calendar is—I won’t say it’s completely full—but there’s a lot of places where there are areas of time that are blocked off for these different activities.
The basic idea here is to figure out what things you need to be doing and then categorize them and figure out what times of the day that you are spending time on those things. If you have five different things that you need to be spending your time on, are you actually spending the time there and what times of the day or what days of the week are you spending the time?
Categories might be marketing, engineering, or support. Another category might be your downtime, rest or recovery time, which is really winding down for the evening. That’s the way I look at it. Shutting down your computer at 7:00PM or 8:00PM to put you in a position where you can actually go to sleep at night.
Rob: Yeah, I think this is an interesting exercise to do. I’ve never thought—you have work in quotes, a list of categories of “work” you need to get done because you include sleep and social time and exercise. I think it is good to think about those things as something that you have to have on your calendar because although we don’t think of sleep as being a form of productivity, it’s something that allows you to be productive the next day.
I’ve never calendared something this specifically, I have done time blocking during the day where I’ve blocked out tasks to work on whatever it is, writing, or eating. I’ll put lunch in there or obviously meetings are time blocked, but I haven’t gone outside of my 9:00 to 5:00 schedule. I don’t time block stuff in the morning or after work. I don’t know that I would do that permanently, but I do think it could be an interesting experiment. It kind of reminds me of I don’t have a personal budget, but I did at one point. I tracked it for a couple of months and it gave me a decent sense of what we were spending. That allows me to have a ball park now.
That’s what I feel this would do, I wouldn’t want everything time boxed all the time but I do think doing this one or two weeks could give you a better idea about where you’re slipping and give you the discipline, that reminder dings and it says which task, that if you’re not getting stuff done, either you’re not giving yourself enough time, you’re not realistic enough about estimates, or maybe you’re getting distracted and it can be a reminder to get back on task. I like the discipline and just the idea of tracking everything for a period of time just to see what it actually looks like on your calendar and how it feels to work like that.
Mike: One of the things that I found when I was going through this was something that I haven’t done for a while now. Pay more attention or pay enough attention to exercising and going to the gym. Part of that was because my shoulder was all messed up for a while, but I also recognized that when the end of the day came along, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 at night, I lost the decision making ability to actually go to the gym. I would think about it and I would say no because I didn’t have the willpower to actually go to the gym at one point. It’s like I’ve been making decisions all day long, some of them were very difficult, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I think that a lot of people fall into that category, and I’ve done this myself in the past where after a hard day at work, you come home, you eat dinner, and then you sit on the couch and watch TV, but then you also snack which is a universal problem almost but you’ll sit there with popcorn or potato chips or something like that and you’ll veg out in front of the TV. You can’t stop yourself from eating those potato chips or the popcorn or whatever, and it’s because you don’t have any decision making capabilities left, you’ve lost the willpower.
What I do for example was I switched my schedule around and I put gym very first thing in the morning. The past four days, I’ve gotten up somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning and gone to the gym which is not normal for me. I do not do that, but I’ve actually found it very easy to get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning just because it’s the first thing I have to do. I’ve had a decent length of sleep, go to the gym, and it’s hard to discount going to the gym that early because I’ve made no other choices at that point.
Rob: Wow, that’s impressive. I have heard that exact thing that you slowly lose willpower during the day and that’s why midnight snacking and making poor decisions, buying things on Amazon late at night or whatever, are so much more common than when you have the energy.
It’s interesting, a big part of this I think is knowing yourself and how you work. There are certain times of the day where you are going to be more productive. The majority of people are most productive in the morning when you’re fresh. I find that I get a second wind often around 10:00PM and I used to work from 10:00PM to 2:00AM was when I’m ultra productive, like in college, at that time. That’s when I would do all my homework. And then even when I got out, I would write a lot of code when I was consulting and didn’t need to be in a day job, I would write a lot of my best code at night.
Over time though, having kids wrecks that. I learned to try to adjust back to mornings. I do think that knowing what constraints you have and knowing your own personal body clock is another big thing that you’re going to want to know before you start putting things on the calendar during the day.
Mike: One thing you mentioned there was doing code late at night and getting that second wind. I can do that as well but for whatever reason, you’re walking out the door and going to the gym at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 at night, that takes a lot more effort and willpower for me to do it than sitting down and coding does.
Rob: I agree. I’m on the same boat.
Mike: I think that it’s partly because of how interested you are in what it is that you are trying to get as a goal. I think there’s a lot of things that factor into that, but I recognize that I was not going to the gym and it was because I was pushing it off until later in the day. I didn’t have the willpower to make that decision anymore. It really helped.
Rob: I’m actually reading a book right now called Sleep Smarter, 21 Essential Strategies for Better Sleep, or something like that. In it, he talks about how they’ve done studies and that exercising in the evening is actually not good, that it amplifies stuff and it can negatively impact your sleep. Some people say I exercise in the evening, it makes me tired and then I go to sleep, but the studies have shown that that doesn’t tend to be the case in general so it is actually better to work out—I think he said no caffeine after 2:00PM in general, and you get the most sleep benefit if you worked out in the morning. If you worked out in the afternoon, it was a wash. Then if you worked out in the evening, it was a detractor to your quality of sleep, so something else to keep in mind.
Mike: Let’s move on so we can get into some of the different experiments that Noah had gone through in this article. The next step is after you’ve listed all the different categories of where you think you should be spending your time, your ideal workload for the week, then track how much time you’re actually spending in these areas. It’s very easy to put yourself in a situation where you think that you’re spending an hour on something and you actually spend two, or three, or four because one we’re not very good at estimating our time, but two we’re also not very good at looking back retroactively on oh, how much time was it that I spent on that yesterday? Unless you’re tracking it right at that point, it’s very easy to mis-estimate how much time you’ve spent on something.
Rob: Mis-estimate? Remember that bushism, mis-underestimate? That was good.
Rob: I think it’s really easy to go through your day on autopilot, and especially with ADHD inducing tools like Slack or Twitter or Reddit, if those are your jam. Even your email inbox. You can just wonder from thing to thing, checking them every 10 minutes, and that could be your whole day and you never get anything done. I think this entire thought process is a way to help you not do that and also looking at a calendar and actually slapping an hour on something and saying I only have an hour to do that, it’s a great way to force yourself to get stuff done and to focus. I think especially, I would pair this with my most productive times of day, I would pair it with a small amount of carefully titrated caffeine, I would have a playlist like deep focus or I have some punk playlist that I put on loop. I think that is the way you’re going to eek out the maximum productivity, but it’s the first step here as you’ve just said, becoming aware of where you are spending your time versus where you think you’re spending your time.
Mike: That’s exactly right. Once you have figured out where you are actually spending your time, you start to compare it against what your ideal time would look like so that you can analyze that and figure out where you need to make adjustments in order to improve it.
The first experiment that Noah had done was he went through and organized his time by what he called energy level. There were a couple of different things that he classified some of the work as. He has manager time, maker time, which he was talking about on this podcast before where manager time is you’re doing things that require management capabilities. For this type of stuff, you need anywhere from 30 to 60 minute blocks of time to handle that stuff. Whether it’s taking phone calls, or meetings, or checking email, or managing people, or doing certain types of planning work. Those are all essentially manager time.
Maker time, he says block off two to four hour blocks of this time so that you can really get into something. That includes writing, coding, any sort of creative activities where you need a couple of extra hours of uninterrupted time in order to work on it. If you’re interrupted, it’s going to throw off your schedule and you’re not going to be able to be as creative and be as productive on that stuff.
Rob: In my opinion, I’m kind of a self identified maker in general. I hate manager schedule, I’ve happened to have had a manager schedule for the past several years as I’ve been running Drip and I still do. When you’re a manager, you need to be constantly interrupted because you have to keep other people unblocked. You can’t make them wait 30 or 60 minutes to hear from you in general. But as someone who is strictly, since I was 8 years old, has been a maker, whether that’s writing books, writing blog posts, writing code, building things, I think the entire point of this should be to protect your maker time and to make it predictable and make it something that is deliberate and something that will not get interrupted.
The work environment these days, especially with tools like Slack, I’m going to say it again, I’m a little bit of a Slack basher. As much as we use it and it’s helpful, it is like being in a meeting all day with people. It has real pluses and minuses, obviously it improves communication for remote teams, but at the same time it’s just a constant interruption stream. I wind up snoozing. I’m snoozing Slack more and more. These days I’ll do one hour, sometimes I’ll do two hour blocks. I’ll tell people look, if it’s really urgent, you break my snooze. It’s easy enough to do that with just a click. All that to say, I think that maker time, it’s really easy in today’s work environment to lose your maker time unless you’re extremely deliberate about blocking, essentially snoozing or blocking all your notifications and then not allowing yourself to wonder off into the abyss of time suck.
Mike: One of the things I noticed when Noah was talking about the results of this planning exercise and going through this experiment where he organized his time by maker time versus manager time, you look at the proposed schedule that he wanted to do and it was very repetitive from day to day. There’s reading at the beginning and then morning rituals and then writing for several hours, that was his maker time, and then back to some manager time task. And then in a couple of places he had more maker time schedule.
But if you look across that, it’s very repetitive from one day to the next and it assumes no interruptions. It assumes that nothing is ever going to change in your schedule, there’s no other meetings that happen to come up on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning, and it forces everybody else to work around your schedule which I think depending on who you are, that can work in some cases and not in others.
Rob: Yeah, depends on how much control you have. I think if you are a founder or the CEO and you can dictate your schedule, I think you’re in a pretty good position. I think if you are working for a small startup where communication is fairly easy let’s say, or on an eight-person team and the culture is to just allow people to be makers, I think you probably have a pretty good shot at this. I have worked at places where that isn’t the culture, marketing driven cultures and sales driven cultures, I’ve worked at companies that are both. They’re all about this interrupt driven thing and it’s all real time.
The space that you’re given both in terms of time and in a lot of times in terms of how offices are set up are not super conducive to allowing you to actually create stuff, allowing you to have that maker time makes it really hard and you have to go out of your way to do it. It’s going to depend on how much control you actually have but I do think that odds are pretty good that if you’re a knowledge worker and either a founder or even just someone working at a startup, I would bet you could pretty dramatically improve your ability to carve out that maker time.
Mike: Something else that I found interesting about this was that one of the lessons he learned about this particular experiment was that how he spent his time was not necessarily how he spent his attention. I kind of draw an analogy between that and going to the gym for example where you can go to the gym and it’s time that you have to spend but you don’t necessarily have to pay attention very much when you’re at the gym.
If you’re just on a treadmill or elliptical machine or lifting weights or whatever, you tend to not have to pay that much attention to it. You just mechanically do those things, but you can listen to audio books or podcasts and things like that. One of the big benefits of that actually has been my ability to get through a lot of my backlog of podcasts that were queuing up that I hadn’t listened to that I wanted to but I just hadn’t really found the time because I was spending so much time doing all of these other tasks. I didn’t have the time available to sit down and just listen to a podcast, I couldn’t pay attention to it. I just didn’t do anything with them.
The second experiment that Noah had done in this was that he organized some of the different tasks that he needed to do by what their value was. I really liked the way that he separated out the different types of activities. What he did was he created this little spreadsheet that essentially classified all of his different activities as either $10 an hour, $100 an hour, $1,000 an hour, or $10,000 an hour activities. He categorized them into each of these by saying if it is incompetence activities, then that’s $10 an hour, these are things that you constantly encounter failure and frustration or conflict, you’re stressed out about them, you just do not like doing them.
Under those, he put things like running errands, working on social media, cleaning and sorting things, attending meetings, stuff like that. I think that for each of us, our list is going to be different for what is going to fall underneath each of those buckets. I think the point here is to make sure that you understand what the value of those activities is not just in your personal life and in your business but you personally. Because if it’s something you don’t like doing, you’re probably going to push it off, and then it becomes more of a cognitive overhead because it’s going to be in the back of your mind and it’s going to interrupt your thoughts when you’re doing other things.
Rob: And the next rung up are the $100 per hour tasks. Just as a note, Noah pulled this list from Perry Mashalls’ book 80-20 Sales and Marketing. $100 per hour tasks are things like solving a problem for a prospective or existing customer, talking to a qualified prospect, writing an email to prospects or customers, creating marketing tests, outsourcing simple tasks, customer follow up. It’s that next level up where you’re not essentially doing the work that is kind of one-to-one stuff but it’s either revenue producing—I guess some of it is one-to-one but it’s more about revenue producing or bulk stuff like writing an email to a group of prospects where it’s one to many and there’s some leverage here, or it’s like you said, outsourcing, which is something that is gonna really give you quite a bit of leverage.
And just as a note, Noah calls the $100 an hour work competent activities. It’s tasks where you meet the minimum standard but they cause you anxiety and they feel repetitive. I think that’s a good way to think about them.
Mike: The next rung up on the letter is the excellent activities which are classified under the category of $1,000 an hour work. These are tasks where you have superior skill and reputation but you don’t necessarily enjoy them, you just don’t have the passion for them. Under his list for these, these are things like planning and prioritizing your day, negotiating with prospects, building your sales funnel, creating pay per click campaigns, delegating complicated tasks, writing sales copy, other things fall into that bucket. Again, those tasks are specifically for him. These may move around for you.
Rob: And then the top rung of this ladder are unique ability activities and these are the $10,000 per hour work tasks that you can do. Noah defines them as tasks which you show superior skill, energy, passion, and desire for never ending improvement. I guess this is actually yeah, it’s Perry’s list and then Noah says he used a four tier system from Dan Sullivan to group them. He’s kind of combining the two things, the dollar per hour and then the rungs of the ladder, the incompetence all the unique abilities.
$10,000 per hour stuff may be things like improving your unique selling proposition, creating new and better offers, repositioning your message and your position, negotiating major deals, selecting team members, public speaking. These are really high value, high impact tasks that frankly, you’re probably one of the only people in your organization who is capable of doing them and they’re within your zone of genius.
Mike: What I like about Noah’s assessment of this is that it’s not important that you actually make $1,000 an hour or $10,000 an hour doing these things, but the relative value between the different tasks and those different categories, that’s the important piece. Those are the things that you need to pay attention to and make sure that you’re spending enough time on the stuff that would provide a heck of a lot more value than the things that are low value that perhaps you enjoy doing them but they don’t provide a lot of benefit to the business and they really don’t move it forward.
If you’re spending an exponential amount more time on support tasks, you really enjoy doing it, that’s greta but it probably doesn’t move your business forward because there’s other things that it is taking time away from that you need to dedicate some of that time towards.
Rob: What I’ve noticed is that if you’re a solopreneur, then it’s likely you’re going to start off doing all of these and then you slowly outsource the lowest ones on the totem pole. The higher you get up in this ladder, it’s harder to find good people at a cost that you can afford if you’re a boot strapper. What I’ve seen is that as my team grew and then post-acquisition, that it is so much easier with a, a larger team, and b, more resources, more money to be able to find people who can do these things very well and find someone whose zone of genius is outside of yours, who’s not a co-founder but actually hiring a director or a VP or a whatever who can really level up and do $1,000 an hour and $10,000 an hour tasks.
It’s pretty unique to find someone like that. It is very expensive. In general, it’s expensive. Obviously, you can find a unicorn somewhere, a diamond in the rough. These are things that are more of a challenge to do with a small team and/or a bootstrap team, but it’s still something that I think you should strive to do.
Mike: I think one of the things that Noah’s getting at in terms of assigning the dollar amounts to these is that it’s not necessarily how much it is of value to the business but if you were to do those things, what would you want to be paid for them, or what could you potentially get paid for doing those things? The $10,000 an hour work, you could potentially get paid a lot more for them versus the $10 an hour stuff. It’s stuff that you don’t like, it’s stuff that you’re not good at. Those are the things that you can mentally classify as oh, I need to outsource these, oh, I need to delegate these tasks to somebody else, not just because you’re not good at them but also because they don’t bring you any joy or fulfillment in your daily life. Chances are really good that you’re probably going to push those off to the future or just simply not do them. That’s where you get out of balance in terms of the amount of work that’s getting done in some of the different categories. Does that make sense?
Rob: I think it does.
Mike: Once you’ve classified all these different things and looked at the different ways you can cross section them, you look at when these different activities take place in your schedule and then adjust your schedule to fix what’s not working and then optimize what is working. If the things are not working, if there’s a balance that is completely out of whack for example, the activities you should be spending a lot more time on you’re not, those need to either get delegated or you need to dedicate the time to do those things. That could be by pulling away time from those activities that you really simply do not like doing or you’re not very good at. Take those things, offload them, outsource them, and move on to doing the things that you are really good at because you can provide yourself or your business a lot more value by doing those rather than those lower level activities that you just simply don’t enjoy.
Rob: Realize that Noah ran two experiments. One, he organized his time by energy level. The other one, he organized his time by the value. It’s a different way, it’s a different lens through which to view the tasks that you have to do. He had different takeaways trying both of those. It doesn’t come out at the end and say you should do one of these and the other one didn’t work, it wasn’t like that. I kind of feel if you’re going to do this that you should try both of them and see which one works better for you, but I also think just doing each of them will be a learning process for you to figure out which tasks you should no longer be doing, which ones are at your $10, or $100 levels, that you didn’t even realize you were doing. I think that’s a big part of tracking your time and running through these experiments is going to do.
Mike: I think if you’re really strapped for time, the title of the article as I said is Time Management, Tips of Insanely Busy People. He has a 80-20 version of the article at the bottom that you can go take a look at. It’s only a couple paragraphs. It gives you all the different highlights, and some of them we talked about in this episode. It’s a very interesting read, I would definitely highly recommend going through and taking a good, long look at this, especially if you’re strapped for time and find yourself juggling a lot of different things.
Rob: I think that wraps us up for the day. We have zero questions right now in the queue. No voicemails, no written questions. If you have a question for us, you can call our voicemail number at 888-801-9690 or you can email email 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.
Mike: Isn’t saying you’ve got no questions kind of like announcing on Twitter that you’ve got no emails in your mailbox which is going to let people comment on it so then you get more emails?
Rob: I don’t know, but that would be good if people send us questions then we’ll have them for the next Q&A show. Man, we were doing Q&A shows every other week trying to get through those. It was pretty cool the volume of the questions that were showing up. I can’t remember the last time we’ve literally had zero questions in the queue. I think it may have been a couple of years ago.
Mike: Yeah, I think so. Oh well. Hopefully we’ll hear from people and we can answer more questions on the show.
Episode 275 | How to Influence Decision Makers on Your Pricing Page
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.