My goal for this program is to show you how to convert more of your site’s users into members or paid customers.
In the last 8 years, Rick has been responsible for the effectiveness of the conversion funnel where landing pages were not always used because of the challenge of getting them built and deployed in a timely manner. From his experience, the idea for Unbounce was born. The end result is available here.
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Here’s the program.
Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you build landing pages that convert? Joining me is Rick Perreault, co-founder of Unbounce, a tool that makes it dead easy to create and test landing pages. My goal for this interview is to learn how you can take someone who happens to visit your website and convert them into a user who takes action. Rick sent me a list of landing page tips before we started this interview, and I’m going to use that list to guide me through the program. Rick, welcome, and thanks for that list and thanks for all the notes.
Rick: Andrew, thank you. Thanks for having me on. I’m really excited about this.
Andrew: So, can you give me an example of what a landing page can do for a company? Do you have a case study that we can talk about?
Rick: Sure. A landing page really is an extension of your ad. Unfortunately, most companies will go out and spend advertising dollars, point their ads to a homepage that has its general purpose. Your homepage has information about the company. It has your latest promotion. It has sign up for a newsletter. So, there’s lots of things to distract a visitor when they arrive on your homepage.
However, by using a landing page that’s specifically tailored to match the content of the ad, what you’re going to see typically is a higher conversion rate. For example, we’ve got one customer, Chris Bracken. He’s the CEO of Colony Staffing. He started using Unbounce, and he used to do what most marketers do, send their PPC, specifically, traffic to their homepage. They must have been pretty good at really targeting their keywords, because he says to me, he says, and I quote, “We used to do a 10% conversion rate sending our traffic to our homepage.” That’s actually pretty good, especially when Google will say whether you’re selling cars or widgets, all things being equal, the conversion rate is universally about 2%. So that’s pretty good.
Since he’s been using Unbounce to really target his advertising to very specific landing pages that matches his ads, he said, and I quote, “Our PPC campaigns have rocketed from 10% to over 40% conversion rate in some cases.” That’s outstanding, and that’s because there’s a clear message match between the ad that prompted someone to click and the experience they get when they land on that page.
In a nutshell, that’s really what it is conceptually. Now we can go into how some of the things he’s doing to actually get those kinds of conversion rates.
Andrew: Let’s see if I understand this, though. Now, for every 100 people who click those PPC ads, he’s paying for those clicks, so for every 100 people who he paid to get over to his website, used to be 10 of them converted. Now 40 of them converted?
Rick: He’s saying, in some cases, as high as 40% are converting.
Andrew: I see. Because it’s a landing page, not a homepage, the user understands exactly what they’re coming there for and can take that action very clearly instead of hunting around the homepage for the action that they need to take. That’s, in essence, what we’re talking about. How about another example. Do you have another example?
Rick: Well, actually I have a perfect example. We can get a little bit into the whole testing idea. One of the things about landing pages is that they’re really easy to test. Rather than testing your homepage on a regular basis, and that requires buying, potentially, from a lot of different departments, with a landing page isolated to one ad, you can go in and just change the headline and experiment.
As a matter of fact, we have one customer. He wanted to test his headline and he’s selling a Supercar tour. He was selling tickets to this event. One of his headlines is “Life is short. Just drive.”. The other headline is, “Drive Five Fast Supercars. Join the Supercar Tour.” So one is very short and inspirational. One is very long and literal. Surprisingly, though, the short and inspirational actually converted 34% better, which is interesting, but it actually says something about the people who are interested in fast cars, so it was not surprising.
Andrew: All right. Let’s get into some of the tips here that you talked about. The first thing you say when it comes to landing pages, your first tip is to use them. We talked a little bit about why use them, but tell me a little bit more, because I can imagine that someone in the audience listening to us would say, “Of course Rick is telling us to use landing pages. His whole business is designed around creating quick landing pages that people can test.” So, let’s back that up. Why should they use landing pages?
Rick: Well, actually, first of all, I actually created this business because I needed landing pages in my past career. I needed them, and there was just no solution for us to actually get them done quickly and use them all the time. In most cases, especially the way marketing works in a really dynamic, fast moving, especially online . . .
Andrew: What did you use them for? Actually, before you answer that question, if you take the video that I am in, that little box, and move it under your camera, when you look at me, it will seem like you’re looking at the audience.
Rick: Oh. Sure.
Rick: There you go.
Andrew: Most people listen on the mp3, so it doesn’t matter, but for the few who watch video, they should be able to look directly in your eyes. What were you using landing pages for before you created Unbounce?
Rick: Typically for advertising. If we wanted to run a special campaign, if I’m working with a client and they want to offer 50% off of one of their products, they’re going to go out and we’re going to do a media spend. We’re going to have banners, and we’re going to do an e-mail campaign, and we’re going to do pay-per-click, and we’re going to send all of that somewhere. In most cases, unfortunately, we’d send that to a company homepage.
Early on, we realized a company homepage would have somewhere on the page this little block that said 50% off Product B. Somewhere we realized if we had the opportunity to just create a page dedicated to what Product B is and why we should buy it and here’s how I can buy it, our conversion rate should go up, and well, in fact, it does, significantly.
Why you should use landing pages is any time you have a special promotion. That’s really a common case. So we might want to act really quickly. We have two weeks to get the message out. We don’t have time to go through the politics of changing our homepage. Put up a landing page. Once you have your landing page up, there’s lots of tools out there that allow you to test them quite easily. So throughout the life cycle of your campaign, you can actually tweak and improve your conversion rate.
Andrew: I see. What most people do, though, is just, well, I’m thinking to myself. What I would do is, I use WordPress to host my site. I know that’s pretty popular beyond blogging now. All I would do is take a page on WordPress and make it into the landing page. If I was buying an add from Google, I wouldn’t send it to my homepage. I wouldn’t necessarily send it to a post on the site. I would create a page on WordPress and send traffic there. Why not use one of those templates? Why create a separate landing page?
Rick: Well, actually in that case, I think you could probably use WordPress or many other tools that exist out there to actually create a landing page. Whether you’re using a tool like ours or you have development staff who can execute on that, or in your case, a unique page, I think any of those solutions are good.
Andrew: I see. Okay. The point is, we’re not saying everyone has to go out there and use Unbounce, though I’ve used it, and I have to say, really dead easy to use. But the idea is, create a separate page that does what? What should a landing page have?
Rick: A landing page is actually an extension of your ad. It’s not so much what should it have, but what it shouldn’t have. So let’s start with that. I actually see a lot of advertising where marketers figure out, “Let’s not send it to our homepage. Why don’t we send it to the product page that we’re advertising?” But there are problems with that. Most websites have a navigation infrastructure. I can tell you from experiments I’ve done, the more links you have on a page, the less likely it is your visitor is going to click that one thing you want them to do. That’s the problem with a website.
Let’s start from scratch. A landing page basically should, first of all, have a clear headline that matches the message that was on the ad that prompted the visitor to click it in the first place. Then, from there, a few points about what this page is about, extending the ad. So, I’ve seen the headline. I know I’m at the right place. Here’s a few key points. Great. I know this is what I want. How do I participate? This is a very clear call to action. This is what we’re asking someone to do, whether it’s sign up for a newsletter, click here to buy something, fill out this form and get information, a PDF, a phone call, and really fundamentally that’s it. Keeping it really simple is where I’d start. From there, then you need test. Every business is different.
Andrew: Okay. So, you’re saying remove all navigation. I notice, actually, when I go to Neil Patel’s blog, for example, when he’s trying to sell something, there’s no link back to his homepage of his blog. There’s no “About”. There’s no “Contact”. There’s no Twitter. There’s nothing. All of those links are removed. Just the action. The second thing you’re saying is have a clear call to action. When Paul Graham was on here, he said be very explicit about where people need to click. Have a big red button, I think he said, telling them “Click Here” essentially.
Rick: Not only just click. It’s important that the prospect, the visitor to that page understands what’s going to happen next.
Andrew: I see.
Rick: So, “Click here to download.” “Click here to buy.”
Andrew: Okay. And exact wording we’re going to come back to. You test, test, test, test, test to figure out what it is. One more thing. That button, I’ve noticed in some A/B tests that I’ve seen online. I love it now that blogs have A/B tests and they let you decide which one you think is going to win, and then see which one actually did win with users. What I’m noticing is very often, the landing page format that wins is the one that has the call to action up and to the right. Is that something you’re finding?
Rick: I think that’s, in part, how people read. We read from left to right. So, yeah. I think your call to action needs to be visible. Within the first few seconds, when I arrive, me or you as a web visitor, we quickly internally, it takes a few seconds for us to make a decision whether or not we’re at the right place.
We ask ourselves, “Am I at the right place? Is this what I want? If so, how do I participate?” Up and to the right makes sense. It’s clearly visible. I don’t have to look around, scroll down to the bottom, read through a bunch of text. It’s, “Yep. I’m at the right place. It’s what I’m looking for. This is how I buy, fill out a form, whatever it is that the page is asking me to do.” I think it makes perfect sense that up and to the right will improve your conversion rates.
Andrew: Okay. So, the first tip we talked about is use landing pages. The second tip we talked about is keep it simple, and you said in your notes, “Single focus message vs. multiple messages.” You want a single focus message, and we discussed here how you want to get rid of links and so on. The next point is, you want to match the message of your page to the upstream ad, and you talked a little bit about that a little while ago. Tell me more. What does that mean specifically?
Rick: That means, how many times have you clicked an ad and you arrive somewhere, and you go, “Whoa, what is this?” and instantly get confused and leave? There is a reason why you clicked the ad, because there was something about that ad that was compelling to you. If it was something you were searching for, if it was a banner, it was like, “Hey, I’m interested in one of those. Maybe I’ll . . .” But we arrive at the landing experience, and there’s no message match. The experience is disjointed.
If it’s a banner ad, it might not look the same as the page I’m landing on. If it’s a text ad, maybe that headline isn’t clear. It’s so important to not confuse your visitor. So if it is a banner ad, make sure you carry over whatever image is in the banner, whatever image, whatever text, whatever you’re asking someone, whatever you’re saying that prompts someone to click, that has to be immediately visible on the page they arrive at.
That’s the same with a text ad. So if you’re saying, “Buy widget A at 50% off” in a text ad, that really needs to be one of the first things I see when I land at a landing page, or else I’ll get confused.
Andrew: Do you have an example of a company that’s done that, or maybe a time that you’ve done that well when you were building handmade landing pages?
Rick: Yes. Actually, in fact, I can think of an examples of when we haven’t done it well.
Andrew: When you have not? Oh, good. I love those, too.
Rick: I have done it well in situations, well actually I can talk about my own personal examples, but I can also talk of, actually I was preparing for a course last week. Oli and I, my partner, had an opportunity to do a session at the Landing Page Success Summit, and I was looking for examples of ads that were pointing to a homepage. It’s good to know that I was actually hard-pressed to find some, because it seems like in the last year a lot of people are starting to see that landing pages are useful. However, I was finding a lot of ads that were still pointing to an internal page of a website.
One example, I was looking for a small business content management solution, and I Googled that, and an ad came up, “Small business content management solution.”. I clicked the ad and it said, “Our Solution,” and it had paragraphs of text, and all these links. There was nothing about small business. There was nothing about content management. I just looked at it and said, “I have to read all this?” Back button. I went to the next ad, and it said, “Content management solution. Free demo.” Okay. I clicked that ad. Again, I arrive on this page that’s some internal product page, where the headline did not match the ad. I didn’t see anything about free demo, and it was paragraphs upon paragraphs of text I needed to read. So I backtracked.
Then I decided to switch topics and look for “small business CRM,” something I’m very interested in, because I’ve been challenged trying to find a good one. It said “small business CRM” in the ad. I said, “Perfect. I’ll click that.” What do I see? I saw the headline, that said, “A CRM designed for small business.” Perfect. So I’m like, “Well, let’s read on.” Three or four main points. On the right of the screen was a screenshot of their product, and then a button for a 30-day free trial. It was perfect. It was exactly everything what the ad said. I wasn’t confused. In fact, I bookmarked it, because I may take a look at them in the future.
Andrew: I see. I recognize that structure, by the way, from one of your templates. You have a template which has a logo at the top, a big headline, I think, underneath that, and then on the left side of the page is a short message. On the right side is a screenshot of the product, and underneath it a big, giant, or however big and giant you want to make it, button that says, “Start Now,” and of course underneath that there’s some details. All right. So I see how that works, and I see how that’s not enough either, that whatever the ad says, you need to create a separate landing page for.
That means that if I have five different ads that I’m testing out there, each one of them needs to go not just to a landing page that’s tracked differently, but one that’s written differently, too.
Rick: Absolutely. If I’m doing, like I said, a pay-per-click ad and a display ad, and I’m doing some offline media, and I’m doing some e-mail marketing, that landing page is going to be different based on the traffic sources. What’s actually really good about that, not just from a conversion point of view, but just from a practical point of view, as a marketing group, you want to understand which one of these initiatives work better for you. It’s easier to do that. If you have all your traffic coming in from different sources to one landing page, you’re going to be really hard-pressed to understand which one of these channels actually work best for you.
Andrew: All right. Next point in the list is to test those landing pages. Are people testing them now, or are they just testing their ads?
Rick: I would say most people do not test. Last year, we did a lot of research in terms of who’s using landing pages and trying to see who was testing. I interviewed about 100 marketers from the testing point of view, and I got a handful saying they test on a regular basis. I’ll be honest, that was my experience as well, previously. From a landing page point of view, we tracked 1,000 ads across ten different verticals, and we got about 21% of these ads pointing to landing pages. The rest were going to a homepage or some existing product page. So, no. They don’t, because it is a challenge.
I think, in part, it’s a challenge in two ways. They don’t know what to test, and then when they feel they want to test, it can be . . . until just recently, there’s a lot of great tools now that are very inexpensive, starting with Google Website Optimizer, which is free. Traditionally, it’s been quite expensive to set up an infrastructure for testing, and then it’s requiring expertise. But it is getting easier.
I think we are seeing, especially with the advent of a lot of tools, like Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, there’s all these tools. There’s one every month I’m hearing about, a new A/B testing, or multi-variant tool, and they’re getting easier and easier to use. So, I think you’re going to see a lot more people testing, advertisers making that as a requirement in their campaign.
We can get into the economics of it, I think, later, but it really does make sense to start testing. Even the smallest change, and I can give you a story on that, actually. The smallest change can make such a big difference.
Andrew: Really? Like what? I love stories like that.
Rick: We had a customer who, very early on when were kind of in beta, before we officially launched, we had this customer who was driving a lot of traffic, but his conversion rate was less than 1% on his forum. I’m thinking to myself, “Well, we said that anybody under 2%, we’re going to reach out and see if we can help them out.” I sent him an e-mail, and he writes me back, “Here’s my number. Give me a call.” I called him up, and he’s like, “Wow, this is the best conversion rate I ever got.” But I said, “It’s under 1%.” He goes, “Yeah, but . . .” He provides plastic surgery. He said, “I’ve never had more calls for my service.” At his price point, it was, for him, very effective. He said he’d never had so many calls, but he was testing just little things, testing a headline. Actually, in his case, he was testing how many form fields he should have on his page.
That was interesting story. Somebody who’s selling a widget for $2.00, a small increase might not make the campaign cost effective. But in his case, where he was selling a procedure that was $20,000, just the smallest little change in his conversion rate had a huge impact on his business.
Andrew: What I’ve found in doing interviews here is that a lot of people don’t test landing pages because, up until recently, it has been too tough or too much distracting work. They could either figure out how to do an A/B test and try to tweak the button color and the message and try to test that, or they can work on things that they do understand, like how to add a feature that their customer wants or how to figure out where to go and advertise. Is that something you’re seeing, too?
Rick: In part, yes. Certainly. I don’t know if I’ll get into the whole feature thing. Those things can be really important, as well. But from an advertising point of view, what I do see consistently is, “Oh. We need to increase sales, therefore we’re going to spend more on advertising.”
Andrew: I see. Yeah. If it works, then let’s keep spending more on it. And if it doesn’t, let’s test that one page only, without doing any A/B testing, without setting up multiple landing pages.’
Rick: Correct. I think that’s actually a mistake. If you spend, say, 10% of your budget on optimization, and you increase your conversion rate by X%, and of course I don’t have all the numbers here in front of me, but actually, if you search conversion economics, we’ve written a blog post about this, where rather than spending more on your advertising, spend a portion of that on optimization, which means the use of landing pages, doing some testing. And using very conservative increases in conversion rate, your cost of acquiring new customers comes down.
There’s a sweet spot. We’ve done some experiments where 25% of your budget being spent on optimization will get you about the lower CPA, and then at one point, if you spend even more on optimization, your CPA starts to rise, because you’re just not getting enough traffic. Every company is different, and that’s actually something really important to realize, like the example I just used, where his small increase had a huge impact.
I’ve actually seen the same pages, pretty much same structure being used with forms. In both situations, there was lead generation. They were capturing information from prospects, so that a sales team could follow up at a later date. The page layouts were relatively the same. Both of them were following I guess what you’d call best practices in terms of landing pages. One had a 30% conversion rate, and one had about a 1%. I remember seeing that, and going, “Wow. What are they doing upstream? Who are they attracting to those pages?”
That’s important. That’s part of the optimization process is to understand where you’re advertising and if you’re actually speaking to your right audience. Once you realize you’re doing that well, then look at their landing experience, and then look at their post-landing experience, and look at the sales process that takes place post conversion. There’s lots of things you can test. But throwing more money at the problem, I’d say, and I hear that time and time again, “Why don’t we just double our budget?” Why don’t we look at what’s preventing people from converting? What’s preventing people from clicking our ad? Those are the things we should look at.
Andrew: All right. Next point here is different pages for different channels, so a different one for pay-per-click, social media, display e-mail. If you do that it allows you to change and test your messaging without affecting your other channels. In other words, you’re saying what?
Rick: What I’m saying, for example, I’m running a pay-per-click campaign. In fact, actually, I might be running a pay-per-click campaign, but I’m targeting different keywords. If I’m sending all my pay-per-click traffic to one landing page, sure I might be able to look in my AdWords control panel, and I’ll know which ads, say, out of 20, which is an example. For example, out of 20 ads, I can see which ones are clicking better, but I don’t have the opportunity to actually really dig in and test which ads are actually converting. And if I want to run an experiment, that landing experience, I can’t really dig in deep with all the different keywords. But if I had a different landing page for every different keyword, then I could actually now start optimizing for those keywords for that ad group.
That’s the same for e-mail marketing, for example. If I have an e-mail marketing campaign going on, I don’t want to send that to the same page as my pay-per-click visitors. I want to isolate that and test that separately. Not just even testing. Your messaging might be a lot different. Again, your banner ads. If I have a banner ad campaign that has some imagery, that might not be applicable for my pay-per-click campaign, but I want to make sure my landing page has imagery on it, the same that my banner has.
Andrew: Does Unbounce allow me to automate the creation of landing pages based on the keywords that I’ve used to buy traffic to those pages?
Rick: Sorry. You’ll have to repeat that. You just kind of broke right up.
Andrew: Oh. Sure. No problem. Does Unbounce allow me to automate the creation of landing pages based on the keywords that are sending traffic to them?
Rick: That would be a killer feature, wouldn’t it? No.
Rick: No. There is still a manual process of going in. What we’ve been really focused on with Unbounce is based on, again, my own experience and the experience of those on the rest of the team, which is that getting landing pages made was the advertisers, the marketing department would have to go outside their department for the most part to get them done. So what we focused on is trying to make it easy enough for the marketing department to be able to create these landing pages, optimize, test these landing pages without involving their IT department. Again, that’s what we’ve been focused on. I keep saying if you can use PowerPoint, you can use Unbounce, so that’s what we’re aiming for.
Andrew: If you can use Word or PowerPoint, absolutely you can use Unbounce in a second. Next point here is don’t mix paid and SEO. Tell me about that.
Rick: Yeah. We get asked that all the time, and not just customers coming to us. I hear that in the forums, and actually there’s a lot of writing recently about optimizing your pay-per-click landing pages for organic search. In my experience, the two are completely separate. The goal of a pay-per-click landing page is not to attract traffic. It’s to convert that traffic when it arrives on the page, where the goal of an organic page is to attract the traffic in the first place, whereas conversion is secondary. It’s important, but it’s secondary.
In my experience, you always get the pay-per-click marketer and the SEO guru, and you get a mish-mosh of a page. Some people say there’s a happy medium there and you can achieve both. That may be true. I think, in practice, it’s very difficult to achieve, so I would certainly separate those purposes.
Andrew: The reason for that is because if I try to take a landing page that I’m using for ads that I’m buying, and make it multi-purpose, use it also for search engine optimization, I’d be tempted to take a page that converts high and start shoving keywords into it, start making sure that those keywords bubble to the top, start making sure that the title is different, instead of saying, “Screw what the search engines are looking for. I need to just hone in on the conversion and make sure that every word on that page results in conversion, instead of every word results in conversions and results in traffic.” That’s just too unfocused.
Rick: You’re absolutely right. You’re absolutely correct.
Andrew: If I don’t do that, then one of your customers that does do that, who happens to be my competitor, is going to and he is going to beat me for buying ads and for buying traffic to his site.
Andrew: I see. All right. Number seven, use trust indicators and social proof to improve conversion. I see this a lot. Tell me about that.
Rick: Yeah. That is a lot. Now that you’ve got the basics down, if you have a product, for example, if you’re asking for financial transactions, you want somebody to buy your product, a trust indicator is things indicating your payment processor, maybe having some high profile customers’ testimonials who have actually purchased and had a good experience with your product. That just helps when someone arrives there, especially if you’re an unknown brand, they arrive on your website and say, “Hey, I want one of these, but do I want to buy it from this company?” It helps answer that question.
The social proof is similar, whereas if I’m asking somebody to . . . actually, let me think of a good example of social proof.
Andrew: I think I’ve got it right here on your website. If anyone goes to Unbounce.com, they can see both in action. First of all, right underneath the “Sign Up Now” button, I see “Who’s using Unbounce to build landing pages now to get satisfaction. 99 designs, Slide Share, Retargetter.” And then underneath that, I’m seeing some social proof here with quotes directly from people who are using it, including David Garrett, Chris Bracken, who you mentioned earlier today, Tim Ash, that’s pretty impressive, and if I see that, then that gives me a greater sense of confidence in the product. That’s what you’re saying.
Rick: That’s what I’m saying.
Andrew: I’m actually hearing, I don’t see any news logos here, but I’m hearing from people that being in the New York Times doesn’t really get you any customers, but then having that New York Times logo on your landing page increases conversions, and that’s how you get customers from press appearances.
Rick: Yes, and I certainly think it hasn’t been an area we focused on. I think they work depending on your business. Things like that should work. They are a type of trust indicator. It just hasn’t been our focus.
Andrew: Feel free to test out, as seen on Mixergy.com. Big giant button on Unbounce.com.
Rick: We’ll do that.
Andrew: Let’s see if that increases conversions. By the way, I’m now looking at your web page, as I said. The “Sign Up Now” button doesn’t look to me like a button, and when I was trying to sign up, I didn’t realize that that’s what I needed to click to get started. I thought that was a badge, and so my eye didn’t even go to it to read what was on it. How much testing do you do on your site?
Rick: Not as much as we should.
Andrew: On your homepage, you do not?
Rick: No. We do some testing, but I’ll just put it there. We don’t do as much as we should. It’s something that I think we can do a better job at. In part, resource. We’re resource strapped. We’ll test landing pages. We do a lot of analytics. We track as much as possible, but yeah, I think we can do a better job of it. We’re advocating using landing pages and testing, and we sometimes joke about it, how we’ll launch something and not actually test it.
Andrew: Why not? Help me understand why you don’t, so that I can understand why my audience doesn’t, and maybe they’ll identify with that, and go, “Hey, you know what? I didn’t realize that I was making this decision for that reason, but this helps me to understand it myself.”
Rick: When you have a big workload, you evaluate. Should we test this or should we not? Like I said, there’s a lot of testing tools out there that make it easy, but it’s still not easy enough yet. Yeah. Absolutely, I think most companies in our position would be the same way. They test as much as possible, test what they feel is really, really important, but sometimes cut corners on things they don’t think that are as important. But as the tools expand, hopefully it will become easier for us to test everything.
Andrew: Okay. Where do you guys get your traffic? Where do you get your customers, I should ask.
Rick: Our customers, for the most part, I would say are 50% referral, which is mostly word of mouth. We get a significant amount of our customers through current customers writing about their experience using Unbounce, which is great. We have customers writing on their blog posts, doing tutorials of how to use Unbounce to achieve a certain thing. I would say the rest is through social media.
We have a strong inbound marketing program. The day we started development was the day we started marketing. We started writing about our own experiences on the Unbounce blog and started to build a following in what we were doing. We don’t talk about Unbounce, the product, on our blog. We talk about optimization and testing and best practices, a bit of design and communication. What that allowed us to do is by the time we were ready to start bringing customers to actually try a very early iteration of the product, we had hundreds and hundreds of leads to choose from of people who had signed up and were waiting to hear from us to try the product.
That’s really what we’ve been focused on. We’ve experimented a little bit with some pay-per-click. We’re doing a lot of experimenting right now, from a marketing point of view. The company officially launched seven months ago, so we’re a really young company. So there’s lots of different things we’re looking at trying.
Andrew: I’m taking a look here at your blog, too, as we’re talking, and I see that you do interviews on your website, too. Conversion Heroes, Part 6, Point of Conversion with someone from KISSmetrics, I guess that’s an interview. You’ve got an interview with Tim Ash, who we mentioned earlier. You guys are pretty active bloggers. All right. Let’s move on to the next point. Number eight, if you have video, consider using it.
Rick: Absolutely. There’s a lot of evidence recently where video, I actually read a stat the other day, as high as an 80% improvement to conversion rate. Something came out the other day on Forbes via Google where web visitors are actually much more interested in receiving information via video than they are via text. It kind of makes sense. We’ve grown up watching television and learning through video.
Video’s expensive. Good video can be expensive to produce. We’ve been using this little Jing, this great little tool where we can record our voice, do a screencast. I’d certainly consider experimenting with those.
Andrew: You guys are using Jing to create that video on your website? The 39 second video that explains what Unbounce is?
Rick: We may or may not have used Jing for that. We use it for most of everything else in the, in all of our recently asked questions and tutorials. Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s an awesome little tool for screen capture and recording voice.
Andrew: I use Screenflow. It’s so easy to create these videos today. You can take a website that’s tough to explain and would take lots of frequently asked questions to get into the heart of and just simplify it in a 30 second video with your own voice, on a program like Screenflow, put it up there, see if people are hitting play, see where they drop off, if you use Wistia, see what point people drop off, and if they drop off at a certain spot, go back, you re-edit, you delete that section out, and you make it a little more interesting, so people watch all the way through. The tools now are incredible.
Rick: Actually, I hope Carl’s listening to this, and we’ll give it a try. Our CTO is actually our video producer extraordinaire and does the great voiceovers.
Andrew: It’s not as hard as it used to be, and I see lots of people now create quick videos that, in the past, they would have had to hire professionals to make. You don’t even have to have your face on it, so you don’t have to worry about lighting issues like I do here.
Rick: Well, look at you and I. We’re having this communication over hundreds of miles. I’m in my living room. You’re in your studio. I’m on a laptop, and we’re able to do this. Five years ago, we would have had to bring in a crew to help us set this all up.
Andrew: No question about it. Actually, I sometimes interviewed people when I lived in Southern California, interviewed people who were blocks away from me, and they were surprised that I wouldn’t just come in there with cameras and do it in person. Screw that. Online, I get two camera shoots just like this, you and I. I get to edit the two cameras very easily. I actually use Screenflow to edit. That simple, and I post it online.
Meanwhile, I remember inviting Robert Scoble to Southern California to take a look at some of my friends’ Internet companies. He shot some video. He did it in person. He sent it up to Rocky to do editing for him. It took him weeks to produce that thing, because it’s a pain to adjust the audio levels, to do the camera angles. Video online is dead simple. Let’s move on past that point. I’m fascinated by video, but I can’t imagine everyone is as fascinated as I am.
So let’s go to the next point. Number nine, you say, “Take advantage of post-conversion opportunities. Use social sharing devices for viral contest.” Tell me about that one.
Rick: Actually, this is something that Oli is a huge, huge advocate of. Oli is our Director of Marketing. He does all of our blogging, very active via Twitter and other social media channels. Post conversion. I’ve come in, I’ve bought your product, but then now what? What we mean by that is now, here’s where you say, “Follow us on Twitter to keep up to date.” Or, that’s where, “Hey if you want to give us more information, maybe we’ll contact you at a later date.” Just things that might help someone stay engaged in your brand on a long-term basis.
If I download your PDF, which is a very common way for lead generation, people will give us, “Here’s our top ten tips on subject matter.” I download that. Sure, I filled out some information. I’ve gone to this page, I’ve downloaded the PDF, but now, “Follow us on Twitter.” Don’t necessarily do that on the main landing page, because I might start following you on Twitter before I’ve actually downloaded your product. Take advantage of that space, that experience after they’ve actually done the main thing you want them to do.
Andrew: I’ve seen someone do it really well – Noah Kagan at AppSumo. If you sign up for one of his newsletters, the very next page afterwards is just an input box where you can put your friends’ e-mail addresses. I don’t even think that he coded that into his site yet. I don’t even think he’s using a form system like Wufoo. I think it’s just Google Docs that he’s using to collect all those e-mail addresses, and my bet is that either he, or a virtual assistant, are manually e-mailing all of those people saying, “Hey, your friend signed up for this newsletter. You should sign up, too.” Maybe at some point later on, he’ll program that in so that it doesn’t have to be so manual, but I can see the power of it. He doesn’t have the “Tell A Friend” all over. When he wants you to sign up for the e-mail newsletter, that’s all he’s showing you. When he wants you to buy, that’s all he’s showing you. After you’ve done that, all he’s showing you is an opportunity to go tell your friends and spread the word, and sometimes he incentivizes it, too.
Rick: That’s a perfect example.
Andrew: Really good example. I don’t think he talks about it publicly. One of the problems I have with conversations like the one you and I are having is that the people who’ve figured out ways to increase conversions aren’t ready to talk about it yet. They might be willing to talk ten years from now, maybe even two years from now, once those tactics stop working. The specific tactics that work and don’t work, they don’t want to go on Mixergy and talk about it. They’ll just talk in broad strokes. They’ll say, “Test, test, test.” They won’t necessarily say, “Here’s what we learned by testing. We learned that . . .” I don’t know. If you say must, instead of please, then people like you.’
Rick: Actually, that’s interesting. I think that may be the case with some people in some very competitive spaces. I will say, though, the amount of information that people are sharing about their experiences, just in the last year, blogs about optimization, actually a great site I’d like to give a little plug to is WhichTestOne.com.
Andrew: WhichTestWorked. What a great site.
Andrew: Right. What a great site.
Rick: Yeah. You can go there and actually, it’s lots of different companies contribute real-world experiments, and you get to vote on which one you think produced a higher conversion rate. I’m 50/50 on these things, and I like that, because I’m learning something new, and seeing what other people are doing that works. I am seeing a lot more of this stuff, in the last year especially, of just people sharing their knowledge and their experiments. Somebody recently did an experiment on all button colors. We’ve heard that since the beginning of the Internet. “What color should my button be?” It came out that orange was the winning color.
Andrew: I see yours is orange.
Andrew: Not only is yours orange, but the templates on your site, actually, I think, create an orange button to start off, and then people could, of course, change that color to whatever they want.
Rick: Absolutely. I’m not sure that was influenced by that experiment, but I’ll have to talk to Oli about that.
Andrew: Fair point that there’s a lot of information out there. Here’s what they won’t say. They’ll say, “Here’s how to get more people to sign up to Twitter after registering.” What they won’t say is, “Here’s how to get more people to sign up without having them even click a button,” because there’s a way in Twitter to just automatically press that button for them. They’ll tell me that stuff in private. They won’t tell me in public. They’ll say, “Here’s a way for you to get your users’ contacts into the Tell a Friend form without having them do anything,” but they won’t say that publicly when they find those opportunities. Fair point?
Rick: Yes. Maybe. I don’t know what that is, and if I knew, I would say it here and share it with your audience
Andrew: Okay. I would hope so. All right. Let’s see where we are. Final point, the economics. You started bringing that up earlier.
Rick: Yeah. I guess I’ll just go back to the testing. So many times, we’ve been in a board room where we’ve got three different designs and we want to see which one works better. We pick one, and we put it online, and then we leave it. Then, it’s, “Okay. This seems to be working for us. We’re getting some sales. Let’s increase our ad budget.” As I touched on, rather than increasing your ad budget, why not take a bit of that ad budget and put it into optimization? I’ve seen it time and time again, and I can’t think of a scenario in my life where that has not produced better results, doing a bit of testing. Using a good ad-specific landing page has not produced better results from a CPA point of view.
What I mean by that, is that you do some optimization, a little bit of optimization. Your conversion rate will go up, and the cost of acquiring your customers will come down, and that’s really what you should be thinking of from a business point of view. You want that cost of acquisition to come down.
Andrew: I see.
Rick: The, once you’ve optimized that, you get it to a point where you’ve lowered your cost of acquisition by 30%. As you increase your ad spend, your ROI from your overall campaign actually goes up.
Andrew: Okay. Investing in optimization can give you better results than investing in advertising, and once you’ve optimized, it will also give you better results from your advertising.
Andrew: Okay. That’s the list of ten things that you had here in the notes and that we said we’d talk about in this interview. But the other thing that you mentioned in our pre-interview is that you guys founded the company with six people. Is that true? Six people are co-founders?
Rick: Six people.
Andrew: I haven’t heard of anything like that, but does that mean that each co-founder gets 16% or 17% ownership of the business?
Rick: No. Actually, we did something a little different. That’s what everyone thinks, and they think that if somebody leaves it will be very disruptive. What we did early on is we developed a cap table. We put a plan together, and where we think we can grow this business to, and unlike, say, some companies where it might split everything evenly, we pooled. We built the cap table, but divided up each segment, so a little bit for raising money, a little bit for stock options, and then we took a small chunk of founder shares, and then we took a chunk of what founders could earn over time, as long as they’re involved in the company.
Some founders have different financial needs than others, so we would balance the equity based on that. This problem we’re trying to solve is not like a little application, where you have a couple of developers, and you can sit in a room and develop something with a small team. It really required infrastructure. It required the marketing knowledge. It required the experience of actually landing pages. It wasn’t just an engineering problem, so we required these six people to address these six different areas of the business that we thought we needed early on to make it all work.
Andrew: So you’re saying it’s less than 16%. They have to even earn their share over time.
Andrew: Wow. What is the difficulty in creating a site like this? Most people would take a look on the outside, and say, create a couple of templates, have a system that automatically serves them up based on the number of templates that are used in each test, spit out data, bam, bam, whim, bam, boom, or whatever the phrase you want to use is, the site’s done. But it’s obviously tougher than that. What goes into it?
Rick: Well, actually, we made a decision early on to build an editor that would allow a marketer to actually . . . we’ve got templates but they’re completely editable.
Andrew: You’re talking about that WYSIWYG Editor that you have for each template.
Rick: A simple editor that would allow the use of templates, or if I have an existing brand or an existing design for a landing page, and I want to carry that through to Unbounce, I can recreate that in the WYSIWYG editor. We made a decision very early on that that’s where we wanted to position ourselves. There are other companies that have template based systems, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves from them. So that was a decision we made, and that was actually one of the technical challenges that required a lot of skill set, but it also has been one of the things that has really differentiated us in the creation process.
Then, there’s infrastructure and being able to manage the publishing of these and the serving of these pages and tracking data in pretty much real time. It was really something that we felt we needed to have the right person who had experience in high volume and this type of infrastructure requirements.
Andrew: What’s the toughest part of building Unbounce so far?
Rick: What’s been the toughest part of building Unbounce? Wow. That’s a good question. I think it’s all been a challenge. It’s been just getting it right. I think since day one, since the day we started developing, we’ve been talking to potential customers, and as we had customers, we talked to them on a regular basis. But really it’s a complicated system, and just spending time with them and trying to understand what they’re trying to achieve, so that we can build capabilities and functionality and usability that helps them achieve those needs very easily. That’s always a constant challenge. That’s something you can’t just throw resources at. It requires a lot of thinking and a lot of communicating with your customers. That’s been a big challenge.
Andrew: You told me, Rick, before we started the interview, that you guys validated the need for this product before you started developing it. How’d you validate the need for Unbounce?
Rick: I had my own experience, so I had a theory that most marketers are faced with a challenge that they’re not using landing pages because they can’t get them made on time to meet the timelines of the campaign. So I reached out to other marketers in the small and mid-sized business market and tried to understand what their pain points were in running effective advertising campaigns. Landing pages, getting them built by IT was one of the biggest challenges. Testing was the second biggest challenge. They had other challenges, but that’s a different problem that Unbounce doesn’t solve.
Andrew: Okay. What other challenges weren’t you guys able to solve?
Rick: Not that we’re unable to solve. It just . . .
Andrew: Or that you couldn’t address because this is too big an issue to get distracted?
Rick: Yeah. Things like knowing what to test analytics. They had a lot of challenges that were outside of the scope of what we were looking at doing that specifically deal with the deployment and use of landing pages.
Andrew: Okay. How many customers do you guys have?
Rick: We have just surpassed the 1,000 mark.
Rick: Yeah. It was a bit of a milestone for us, so we’re quite happy about that.
Andrew: And I think the lowest price, yeah, the lowest price is $25 a month. That means you guys are minimally doing $25,000 a month in business.
Andrew: Okay. But it’s more than that. I can see from your smile. But it’s still early days.
Rick: It’s still very early days, and we’ve got plans for that revenue.
Andrew: Where did your funding come from?
Rick: In part, founder funded. We bootstrapped for the first seven or eight months, and then the funding came locally, from a friend who is not an institutional investor and raised enough to get us to the point where we’re cash flow positive and have a really good understanding of our customer base and how we’ll expand and grow the business. That’s been our plan.
Andrew: It looks like you’ve made a great investment. I’ve been playing around with Unbounce for a few weeks now. It’s just so easy. I don’t even have to know how to create a template. I don’t even have to know how to adjust my template. I just know you guys have the templates that I’ve seen convert well for others, that I know for myself, I’m much more likely to interact with. You keep them basic. I can go in and adjust them the way I want to. I can create a button easily. I don’t remember the program that you used as an example, but I’m going to say, if you know how to use Word, you’re going to know how to use Unbounce and create landing pages.
Rick: Yeah. That’s our goal.
Andrew: If you know how to use Microsoft Word. It’s “grandma easy.” Someone earlier this week when I interviewed them said, “I want my business to just create products that are grandma easy. My grandmother should be able to use it,” he said. I think Unbounce is one of those sites. All right. Well, thanks for doing the interview here.
Rick: Andrew, thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.
Andrew: Actually, let me leave you off with this. People say that I need a more useful ending to my interviews. People who have listened this far have heard us give ten tips, have heard you give lots of examples. I want to give them one thing that they could do right now, instead of feeling overwhelmed by all of the information that we gave them. What’s the one thing that they could do right now with all this energy they have at the end of our interview?
Rick: Ask themselves if they’re getting the conversion rates that they’re expecting, and if they’re not, ask why. I think just asking why. We can never, whether you’re a marketer or business owner, we can never sit still, especially if we’re in an online business. We always wake up every day and ask ourselves why. Is there something we can do better? Testing is one of those things. I’d just start with asking yourself why. When I walk into work every day, I ask, “What can I do better today, that I did not do yesterday.”
Andrew: Ask themselves, what can they do better?
Rick: What can they do better?
Andrew: All right. Awesome. Thank you guys all for watching. Rick, thank you for doing the interview.
Rick: Thank you, Andrew.
Andrew: All right.
Rick: Thanks, everyone.
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