People may be mentioning your brand without linking to your site. Don't leave that traffic on the table. Run a quick search to find mentions of your product and ask for a link.
High-quality backlinks mean more brand awareness, more referral traffic, and a boost in the search rankings. But all too often, founders and their companies are mentioned without being linked. To remedy this, all you've got to do is find unlinked mentions and reach out about adding a link. Since they already know who you are, these warm emails have a high conversion rate. A simple Google search will get the ball rolling: "your product's name" -site:yourwebsite.com. But services like BuzzSumo and Ahrefs will be more efficient, as you can set filters (like Domain Rating) to find the best options. Speed is a factor too since people seem to be more likely to make edits to recent posts. So set up alerts for your brand with Google or the services mentioned above.
Wherever you're hanging out online, other users will be more likely to check out your product if there's an easy way to find it. When posting or leaving a comment in online forums, sign off with your name and website to bring in new leads.
Stuart McKeown of Gleam was just leaving his name on posts and comments, and thinking nothing of it. But as soon as he started signing off as Stuart @ Gleam.io, the number of people reaching out to him increased by about 150%. He was already taking part in discussions so it didn't take any extra work on his end, but more people started checking out his product. Whether you change your display name or just sign off differently at the end is up to you (and the forum).
Getting to #1 on Google can be tough, but getting to the first page is a little easier. And from there, you can jump to #1 by winning the snippet. Optimize for featured snippets to get to the top and increase traffic.
Featured snippets are answers that appear as tables, lists, videos, etc. above Google's organic search results. They put you right at the top and give you more real estate. It goes without saying that this is great for your brand and (if you do it right) your traffic. Case and point, Cyrus Shepard of Zyppy had a featured snippet and when he experimented with opting out, his traffic went down by 12%. Featured snippets are taken directly from top-ranking pages so you've got to be on the first page to be a contender, and the higher the better. Keep featured snippets in mind when writing new articles. But the lowest hanging fruit is to optimize pages that already rank highly for keywords with featured snippets. Make sure the relevant part of your article uses the same styling (bullets, table, etc.) as the current snippet. State the question that you're answering in H1, then seed keywords (and potential "People Also Ask" questions) in H2s throughout. Use a conversational tone. And of course, make the answers flawless and concise. Not too concise, though — you still want them to click the link.
Paid newsletters are all the rage these days, but your readers are busy and they may not be interested in paying for more of the same. To get paid subscribers, offer a complementary (but distinct) paid newsletter instead of a paid tier.
@joshspector of For The Interested figured his subscribers would pay for an expanded version of his free newsletter. But it turned out that they didn't want more — they wanted different. After the paid tier flopped, he decided to keep his original newsletter free and invite his subscribers to pay for a complementary one. Not only were his subscribers willing to pay, but they were willing to pay more. Within two months of launching it, he had more than doubled his subscribers and revenue compared to his first attempt. And he also maintained the quality of his free newsletter since he didn't have to save the best content for a paid tier. If you give it a shot, make sure both newsletters have well-defined roles and that they complement each other nicely. For example, Josh's free newsletter helps subscribers with their creations, while his paid newsletter shows exactly how he grows his own creations.
The longer visitors stay on your site, the better you'll rank on Google. Keep people engaged by sprinkling high-quality animated images into your articles.
Brian Dean of Backlinko found that including animated images can increase the average session duration of an article. That's a big deal because more time on site correlates with a higher position on Google's results. When adding these visuals, Animated SVGs are a high-quality option, but a simple GIF will work too. If you're not sure what would add value and grab a reader's attention, try showing a step-by-step process of how something is done. Screen capturing services like gifcap and ScreenToGif can help.
Videos are powerful marketing tools as they are, but personalized videos are a cut above the rest. The trouble is that they're time-consuming. To increase email engagement at scale, automate your video personalization.
Compared to your run-of-the-mill video, personalized videos get a higher click-through rate by 164% and they close more deals. They're great for personalized outreach, upsells, relationship nurturing, and re-engagement. And luckily for us, personalized videos are now more scalable than ever. Start by segmenting your audience, if you aren't already doing so. Plug this data into a service like Pirsonal or Rocketium. Then create a video template that swaps out text, audio, imagery, and so on according to the recipient's data. You'll want to grab the viewer's attention immediately by personalizing something (usually their name) right at the start of the video. Email is usually the best way to distribute these, so make sure your video platform integrates with your email platform.
If you're using Instagram to build an audience, some types of posts will be more effective than others. Give your engagement a boost by posting content as carousels.
In a study of over 22 million Instagram posts, carousels got the most engagement, with a rate of 1.92% versus 1.74% for single images and 1.45% for videos. The data also showed that using all ten slides increased the engagement rate to 2%, and utilizing both images and videos in the carousel got it up to 2.33%. Putting "swipe left" in the caption (or on the first image) helps too, as this prevents people from missing the rest of your content. To post a carousel, just click the icon that looks like two squares when you're posting, then select multiple photos and videos. For those who dabble in paid ads, this data applies to you too.
Seeing a big old "Not Secure" next to a URL can be a little disconcerting. Make your visitors feel safe enough to stick around by using HTTPS.
As obvious as using HTTPS may seem these days, 35% of websites still aren't doing it. Getting a valid SSL certificate will give you a slight bump in SEO. But more importantly, since it secures the connection between your visitor and the server, it can instill a sense of trust. And that'll make them more likely to stick around. Start by purchasing an SSL certificate. You can get one for free at Let’s Encrypt, but purchasing it through your web hosting company may simplify the installation process. Next, have the hosting company install the certificate on your account. Before going live, make sure that all internal links are updated to HTTPS, since having a mix is confusing for users and hurts your SEO. And set up a 301 redirect through your CMS (or manually) to notify search engines that your site needs to be indexed again.
If your blog post needs a boost, a simple Google search can point you in the right direction. Get your post to rank for more keywords by adding new sections according to what top-ranking pages include.
By expanding your blog post to include topics covered by articles on the first page of Google, you can rank for new keywords and increase traffic. This is particularly helpful for boosting blog posts, but it works for other pages as well. Here's the process:
Just make sure you're adding value. It's not worth it if the new section detracts from the piece, even if it improves your SEO.
Like backlinks, internal links have a big impact on SEO. Unlike backlinks, they put the power firmly into your own hands. If one of your webpages needs a boost, add relevant links to it from your highest-ranking pages.
Internal links help search engines discover pages while increasing PageRank. Plus, their anchor text adds context for search engines. And all of that leads to more organic traffic. In fact, one study showed that adding a link between two levels of a site's hierarchy brought a combined 25% boost in organic traffic across both levels. To give lagging pages (or new blog posts) a boost, add relevant links to them from your highest-authority pages. Or find particularly relevant pages to link from by searching the following: site:yourdomain.com “keyword related to the page”. Just remember that the quality of the links is important and each subsequent link added will have less impact, so linking to unrelated pages won't be much help.
A simple but oft-forgotten way to increase the efficacy of your emails is to add a profile image. Yep, that's it. Boost your clickthrough rate by adding your logo (or face) to your accounts.
Adding a profile image to your emails can increase your clickthrough rate by as much as 25%. What you use for the image will depend on the voice of your brand, but a good rule of thumb is to use your face for promotional emails and your logo for transactional emails. Your recipient's email client will determine where the image is pulled from, but Google and Gravatar will cover most of your bases. So set up accounts for both with the relevant email address(es), then add your image.
Though time-intensive, amplification groups are an extremely effective method of getting your content out there. Amplify your work by creating a group of people who will occasionally post your highest-quality pieces.
@randfish of SparkToro agreed to be an "amplifier" for a couple of acquaintances and he says he posts the content that he receives from them about 10% of the time. That's some solid promotion, especially considering that he's just one of maybe 50 amplifiers in each group. To leverage an amplification group of your own, Rand recommends putting together a list of 30-50 colleagues in your industry with small- to mid-range followings. Build relationships, either offline or by interacting authentically with their content. Then ask for their permission to send high-value content from time to time. Those who agree are your amplification group. Send a short email to the group via BCC every month or so with content that is perfect for their audience. And remember, it's only worth their while to open your email if you are consistently sending stellar content that brings them tons of engagement.
With 50% open rates, it's tempting to use your welcome email to make a sale. Instead, get the relationship started on the right foot by asking how you can be of service.
Your welcome email sets the tone for your entire relationship with a new subscriber, and it should therefore provide value. An upsell is one way of doing that, but prioritizing the relationship can pay dividends long-term. @joshspector of For The Interested's welcome email promoted various products and resources until he decided to cut it down and focus on starting a conversation instead. He asked how he could help, letting the subscriber know that he would respond to them personally. Then he offered advice and resources according to the content of their individual messages. Not only did people love the personal touch, but he learned a ton about his readers. As for all that stuff he had been promoting, he created a landing page for it and included a single link in the email.
Like all relationships, customer relationships require good listening. Create loyal customers by following them back so that you can hear what they have to say.
Following your customers doesn't just make them feel all warm and fuzzy. It allows you to listen to what they have to say. And that means you can learn about issues with your product, get a feel for how the public perceives you, and generally keep your ear to the ground. Perhaps even more importantly, it lets you respond quickly, which will increase customer loyalty and retention. Just make sure to vet the accounts first so that you don't let spammers into your ecosystem.
Your first release is bound to have a few quirks. And while live users are a huge help when it comes to sniffing out issues, they may also bail when they find one. Batch your releases and start with your warmest leads to mitigate risk.
A batched release means fewer people will be affected by each bug. It also allows you to get feedback from friendly faces and iterate before releasing to people who might be less forgiving. And the result is lower churn right out of the gate. There are plenty of ways to execute a batched release, but consider taking a page from KP (@trulykp) of LetterDrop's playbook. He builds in public and creates a waitlist. When he's ready to launch, he shares it with his founder friends and mastermind group. He iterates on their feedback, then does a launch with his biggest supporters. Next comes the waitlist. Then his Twitter audience. And finally, he releases to the general public via IH and Product Hunt.
If you're interested in paid advertising but the "paid" part feels a bit daunting, a shared ad could be a good option. Get more reach with less money by teaming up and promoting multiple brands with one ad.
Your adspend will go a lot further if others match it. That's why going in on a shared ad with complementary companies can be effective for indie hackers. In one experiment, @Cohoist put out a single Promoted Tweet that advertised four related companies. After stating the general problem that these companies solved, they @ mentioned each one with a few words about their individual offerings, and linked to a shared landing page. Each company spent $80 ($320 total). And in the end, they got 292,411 impressions, 9,710 engagements, 3,783 link clicks, 892 likes, 120 retweets, and each member gained about 40 followers. They also saw increases in their sales, with one member getting a 46% boost. You can do the same manually by teaming up with founders you know, or by checking out services like Cohoist.
Some customers are just more trouble than they're worth, no matter what type of business you run. Fire customers who drain your resources so that you have more time and energy to grow your business.
Preetam Nath (@hipreetam93) of SuperLemon recently "broke up" with two of his clients. While he says it was a scary decision to make, these clients required an excessive amount of support, and the opportunity costs were too high for him. Now, he has more time and energy for higher-leverage tasks. Of course, you've got to be careful not to fire clients out of hand. Like it or not, their feedback is valuable. And there are often less extreme alternatives (e.g. proactive support). Furthermore, some high-maintenance clients make it worth your while with money, referrals, and so on. At the end of the day, it's a judgment call. But if you choose to part ways, try to do so on good terms. Make sure you're appreciative and positive. Take responsibility. Extend goodwill, like well-wishes and refunds. And offer them alternative solutions that might fit their needs.
If you've got a B2C product, you might be able to harness the power of other companies to grow. Consider expanding your focus to enterprise customers who can sell your product for you.
Jacob Jaquet (@jacobj132)of Rezi ($8,000/mo) recently launched a feature designed to bring enterprise customers into the fold. Now, instead of just working directly with consumers, he works with businesses so that they can offer his product to their users. This has already put his brand in front of new eyes, to the point that it increased his userbase by 5%, or 2,550 people. And while this isn't always the case, Jacob's end-users still see his brand — it isn't white-labeled. So think about how other organizations can benefit from giving your product to their customers. Many companies are open to this type of partnership, and some might even pay.
Don't make your readers dig through paragraphs of fluff to get to the juicy bits of your article. Save them (and yourself) the trouble while improving SEO by capping your articles at roughly 1,750 words.
While many believe that longer posts make for better SEO, Ahrefs found that this correlation is only true up to a point. At about 1,000 words, the positive correlation between word count and backlinks becomes negative. And the slight correlation between word count and organic traffic cuts off at about 2,000 words. Similarly, Medium found that engagement begins to drop for articles longer than seven minutes, which equates to about 1,750 words. So, be concise. Cut out the fluff so that people can easily find the value in your content, increasing the likelihood of backlinks and the like. Of course, some articles will necessarily be longer than others, but keeping most below 1,750 words is a good goal. If you need help cutting down your next article, Hemingway App is a great place to start.
Most people want to do business with a human, not a faceless brand. Show off your mug to grow a community of advocates and set your company apart.
@guillaume_lemlist of Lemlist, @harrydry of Marketing Examples, and our very own @csallen all have something in common: They are the faces of their respective brands. Putting yourself front-and-center is a reminder to your audience that a real, live person is behind your company. It fosters a sense of community and inspires customer loyalty while setting your company apart from your faceless competitors. And studies back this up with evidence that faces draw attention and create trust. Plus, it doesn't hurt that you'll be growing your personal brand while you're at it. So put your face on your visual content. Sign off with your name and photo after each post. Write your website's "About" page from your own perspective. Take interviews and speak at events, webinars, etc. And don't hide the quirks that make you unique — lean into them.
Every bill you send a customer reminds them that they're giving you money, and that increases the likelihood of cancellation. Decrease churn by using each billing email to remind customers why your product is worth it.
Invoicing customers can have an unfortunate side-effect — cancellations. The good news is that these emails can also be an opportunity to remind users of how valuable your product is. Especially considering that open rates on transactional emails are four to eight times higher than other emails. So don't turn off these notifications. Instead, showcase new features and improvements. Get users excited about your roadmap. Show them use cases. Share social proof and case studies of successful customers. Celebrate their milestones and make personalized suggestions. Or use it as an opportunity to check in and see how everything is going. You don't have anything to prove, but a simple reminder can go a long way.
Ever ditched an article because you figured it would take too long to read? Yeah, your readers have too. Keep them interested by stating exactly how much time it'll take. Btw, this is a 37-second read. 😉
When Brian Cray added estimated reading times to his articles, overall time on site increased by 13.8%. And he got more engagement to boot — subscribes, follows, and retweets increased by a total of 66.7%. If you're thinking that this might scare people away from longer posts, Dave Ross found that it actually decreased his bounce rate on articles over 1,000 words by 13%. And that adds up. Studies show that the more people know about something (including time investment), the more likely they are to commit to it. So either choose a platform that calculates ERT automatically or add it yourself by dividing the word count by an adult's average reading speed (~250 words per minute).
If your Twitter following is in its infancy and you've got a bit of time on your hands, there's a simple way to get a boost. Grow your audience by liking the tweets of people who follow your competitors.
@catalinionescu of The Side Hustler was able to get about 50 profile views and 10-20 new followers per day by liking the latest tweets of people who were following his competitors. And then doing it again and again until he'd interacted with 100-150 accounts every day. It was time-consuming so in the end, it wasn't sustainable for Catalin. But it's a simple and effective way to find high-quality leads and start building momentum on Twitter. Just make sure that you actually appreciate the tweet that you're engaging so you don't send the wrong message. And consider throwing an occasional comment into the mix, as these may get even more attention.
When growing your newsletter, it's important to get the right kinds of signups. Build a solid list and decrease unsubscribes by displaying a sample newsletter in advance.
By showing potential subscribers what to expect, you can decrease unsubscribes and make sure your list actually wants to receive your emails. Give them a brief description, let them know how often you'll reach out, and then display a sample newsletter. Just be careful not to distract visitors from the opt-in while you're at it.
Though often underutilized, GitHub can be an excellent source of traffic — particularly if your product is designed for developers. Get more eyes on your app by optimizing for GitHub stars.
A few days after launch, Froala Design Blocks was listed on GitHub's list of trending repositories. Within a week, it had over 3,500 GitHub stars. Why does that matter? Developers tend to trust GitHub stars, probably because people are more discerning with them. And it puts your product in front of more eyes, helping you to build community and get top-quality feedback. In fact, GitHub is Froala Design Blocks' biggest source of traffic. To get the stars rolling in, @diananeculai recommends making a good first impression with a beautiful and informative README. Make it stand out with images. Include information about the project, what you want from the reader (labels are great for this), and how to use the product. Add topics to your repo to help others discover it. And add a tweet button with predefined text to the README title. Once you're done with that, add GitHub buttons to your website and spread the word about your GitHub page across your usual channels.
It's tempting to put out a fire and hope no one notices, but being forthright about it can save you time (and customers). Decrease support requests and increase customer satisfaction by communicating with your users as soon as a problem arises.
Things break. It's how you deal with them that will be the difference between churn and retention. Proactive communication about outages, bugs, delays, and so on will improve customer satisfaction and decrease your support load. It also allows you to control the tone of the conversation. So let them hear it from you first. Use your normal customer service channels (in-app messaging, email, etc.) to contact those who could be affected by the issue. Speak confidently. Let them know what happened and that you're on it. Make it clear that you care. Set clear expectations including an ETA (if you're reasonably certain), and keep them informed. Be available for those who still reach out. And when the coast is clear, let them know right away.
Even a tiny amount of friction can hurt your opt-in rate. Use autofocus to remove friction by putting your visitors' attention (and cursor) where you want it.
A simple HTML trick called autofocus will put each visitor's cursor into the email input box automatically when they arrive on your landing page. Sure, it's a pretty minor improvement, but it's quick and easy. And every little bit helps.
Posting third-party video links on social media? You might be missing out on views. Use native videos to get your hard work in front of more eyes.
Videos that are uploaded directly to a social media platform are generally prioritized by the algorithm over linked videos. They also offer a better experience to viewers. And the result is more views and engagement. In fact, one study showed that native uploads resulted in an average of 530% more comments than linked content. It should be noted that if you're trying to boost engagement specifically where the video is housed, you may still want to link out. But for overall views and engagement, native videos are the way to go.
There's a way to reap the benefits of a freemium model without giving the product away for free. Offer your core product at a low one-time price to get customers, then upsell them on a subscription to a more lucrative supplementary product or service.
Joey Xoto grew Viddyoze ($3,000,000/mo) using a "paid freemium" business model. He charges a flat fee for a full license of his video animation software, but then upsells customers to a recurring plan for unlimited video templates. People seem to find paying just $67 for a full software license enticing, so this approach gets users in the door (much like a standard freemium model). And once they see the value, a significant portion (20-25%) actually ends up converting to the subscription. But Joey doesn't leave it up to chance. The subscription gets pitched to new users during their very first onboarding video.
Even if your site makes its way to the first page of Google's search results, it can be hard to stand out. Get seen by optimizing your website for sitelinks.
Sitelinks are sub-listings displayed beneath a search result, and they're designed to get people where they want to go faster. That alone makes them an asset, but they also make your site stand out by taking up more space in the search results. In fact, one study showed that they can increase click-through rates by over 60%. But here's the rub: Sitelinks are algorithmically created so (with the exception of paid ads) you can't just go in and create them. You can, however, nudge your site in the right direction. Here are a few pointers:
If you'd like to know where you currently stand, services like Ahrefs will tell you whether any keywords currently trigger sitelinks for your site.
We all know the power of email marketing. But to benefit from it, your subscribers have to actually receive your emails. Improve deliverability by running them through a spam filter test before hitting send.
Even though you've been given permission, an average of 16% of your emails may never make it to their destinations. Luckily, running your emails through a spam filter test before sending them can help you catch potential issues and improve deliverability. And that means a greater return on investment. In fact, these tests have been shown to increase ROI for email campaigns from 39:1 to 51:1. Check out services like Litmus Spam Testing or GlockApps' free Inbox Insight to see how you can improve deliverability before sending your next email.
Tweeting to your audience is great, but it's important to expand your reach to new audiences as well. To branch out, be the first to comment on soon-to-be popular tweets from influencers.
According to Toby Howell of Morning Brew, an easy way to grow your audience is by piggyback on popular tweets. Set up push notifications to alert you when influencers in your industry tweet something. When you're notified, take a look right away. If you think the tweet could get some engagement and you've got something valuable to say, be the first to add a thoughtful comment. Speed is key here so if you plan to make your comments stand out with images, make sure you've got a service like Canva or Stencil locked and loaded.
The first email you send to a new user has an unusually high likelihood of getting their attention. Increase paid conversions by using your welcome email to encourage free users to upgrade.
Welcome emails have one of the highest open rates of any email, averaging at around 50%. That makes them prime real estate, and if the recipient happens to be on your free tier, it's a perfect opportunity to let them know what a premium account could do for them. But first, it's important to make the new user feel welcome — that's the point of the email, after all. Make sure they know that they're a valued member of the community. Then, set them up for success by educating them and providing links to valuable resources. This is a great place to plug your premium tier. You can also add a button close to the bottom of the email with a strong call to action. And to sweeten the deal, consider offering a time-sensitive discount.
Your day-to-day communications are opportunities to passively promote your company and push the needle for your latest initiatives. Create an email signature with a call to action to pique the interest of your recipients.
One study showed that adding an email signature to employee emails directly increased website traffic for the company. And not only were there more visitors, but they visited more pages and spent up to 3 times longer on each page than their average visitor. Not bad for something that took a few minutes, max. And that's just your run-of-the-mill email signature. A great way to push the envelope even further is to add a button with a CTA for scheduling a meeting, downloading key content, subscribing to your newsletter, or whatever else your little heart desires. You could even add dynamic content like a link to your latest article, if that's more your speed. But at a minimum, make sure to include your name, photo (better yet, a GIF), title, contact info, and social info. To get started, check out Newoldstamp or Hubspot's Email Signature Generator to customize your signature and turn it into HTML.
Content is king when it comes to building an audience. But content can also be a pain. Make it easier on yourself by sharing your journey as you build your product.
People love a good story. And by following along with yours as you have your ups and downs, they'll often become big advocates of your brand. That's why it's so powerful to build in the open. Not to mention that it grows your audience, connects you with like-minded people, promotes your product, and garners real-time feedback. Plus, building in the open keeps you accountable, while helping you learn through your own observations. So share what you're doing regularly on social media, your blog, communities, and wherever else your crowd hangs out. And if you're looking for a good place to start, tell other indie hackers what's new by adding a milestone.
Referral programs are well-known for their efficacy, and a great way to get them moving is by offering tiered incentives. Use a milestone referral program to reach new people.
The Hustle got 300,000 subscribers in a few months with a milestone referral program. To get ambassadors, they created a dedicated ambassador landing page and brought their subscribers to it through an email campaign. On the ambassador landing page, they shared exactly how to be successful at bringing in new subscribers and showcased all the prizes they could win (access to a private Facebook group, swag, etc.). After someone becomes an ambassador, it's important to show them their progress and how much further they've got to go before they're rewarded. When they unlock a prize, send an email giving them the option to redeem the prize or keep going for a better one. If they redeem it, send their prize promptly and consider including a handwritten card.
The hard truth is that 70% of your website visitors won't come back. Get their attention right away by throwing a popup with a strong call to action when they land on your site.
Welcome mats are popups that display immediately upon entering a site. If you need to get your visitors' attention fast (and who doesn't?), this can be a powerful way to do it. You can display targeted offers, showcase new products, highlight your best content, invite them to join your email list, and so on. Just make sure that you're adding value. Sure, some visitors still may not like it, but the benefits could outweigh the costs. Take Nature TTL, for example. They used a welcome mat to boost their conversions by over 800%.
Improving user experience is crucial for SaaS products, especially if you're experiencing a dropoff after signup. Get a clear understanding of what's happening for new users by screen sharing, and then iterating on what you saw.
After launching Syften, Michal Mazurek (@akfaew) realized that a significant portion of users didn't complete the basic setup. In response, he headed to a Facebook group and offered three free months to anyone who would share their screen with him as they opened the product for the first time. To his surprise, people were genuinely interested in helping. He watched them as they stumbled around, then made updates and did it again. By the end, he went through 15 iterations, all of which were pretty minor. And the results were impressive. The percentage of users who achieved a desired result after signing up went from 42% to 74%. He says the key was to let the users do the talking and to encourage them to answer their own questions.
Google Images is responsible for over 20% of all online searches, which makes it a surprisingly good source of traffic. Get more eyes on your site by improving the alt text of your images.
The alt text of an image is often overlooked. But improving it can increase traffic from Google Images, improve your topical relevance by giving Google more info about the page, and improve accessibility for the visually impaired (2.4% of US citizens). To optimize yours, head to whatever pages get the most traffic from organic search and use an extension like the free Alt Text Tester Chrome to view the image data. Make sure your alt text is concise and accurate. Avoid keyword stuffing and redundancy. And remember that not all images need alt text (e.g. decorative images). If your alt text is in need of some love, add or edit it through your CMS or by adding an alt attribute to the <img> tag in the HTML. For example: <img src=“pie.jpg” alt=“strawberry rhubarb pie”>.
Waitlists are a great way to garner attention and find customers pre-launch, but making people sign up via a form is a missed opportunity. Nurture prospective customers by requiring that they email you personally to join the list.
Instead of filling out a form to get on HEY's waitlist, those who wanted access had to send them an email. Seeing HEY's overwhelming success with this approach, @alexhillman of Stacking the Bricks decided to give it a shot with his new book, Tiny MBA. He put out a few posts on social media inviting people to email him if they were interested in the book, and within 24 hours, 90 people had contacted him requesting a pre-sale link. That's 25-40% of the people who liked his posts. In addition to creating demand, this made it easy for him to nurture his relationship with each potential customer, increasing the likelihood of conversion. And then there's all the time he saved — he didn't even have to build a landing page. Use a service like Zapier or automate.io to grab email addresses from anyone you tag as a preorder and save them to your email marketing platform for future announcements. But for your launch email, take another page out of Alex's book. He plans to email each person individually when he launches, and since he'll be replying to their original email, he knows it won't be marked as spam.
Freelancing can be a great way to keep the lights on while you build your company, but you may be leaving money on the table. Create an agency to increase revenue.
If there's a good amount of demand for your freelancing work, it might be time to set up a separate entity. Yes, it's a hassle to register a company, get a bank account, create a website, and so on. But it's worth it because it increases your credibility, allowing you to bring in new business and charge more for your services. It also opens up a whole new market of companies that only work with agencies. @andrewjdavison of Luhhu was able to win bigger clients and increase his hourly rate from $100/hr to $175/hr with this small adjustment alone.
With open startups growing in popularity, sharing your numbers is a great way to gain exposure and increase trust — especially early on. Join the movement to gain loyal customers.
Radical transparency is in demand, and since it's still relatively rare, it makes companies stand out. It can also work as social proof, while increasing trust and customer loyalty. There are even people out there who prefer working with open startups to the degree that they specifically seek them out. Of course, there is some risk involved. For example, potential customers may be hesitant to sign up if your revenue is low, and copycats may show up if your revenue is high. But many founders swear by it, especially in the beginning. Take @mattiasgeniar, who opened up Oh Dear ($8,000/mo). He attributes up to 3% of his current signups to this transparency. Create a dedicated /open page sharing your revenue, users, traffic, and so on in numbers and charts. Add yourself to open startup lists. And if you haven't already done so, put your product on the IH product page. Then tell your story as it unfolds (including the numbers) on social media.
Sending bulk emails right after purchasing a new domain is a surefire way to get blacklisted. Make sure your future recipients actually receive your cold emails by taking the time to send and receive normal (warm) emails first.
When you purchase a new domain, the host will be keeping a close eye on your account to ensure that you aren't a spammer. And if you confirm their suspicions, your email campaigns will suffer. According to Hans Dekker (@WizardofGrowth) of Wiza, many founders who now have low open-rates were probably blacklisted early on when they were sending from a fresh domain. He recommends warming up your email by getting some activity going first. Email colleagues and friends, then reply to their responses. Subscribe to newsletters. When you start sending cold emails a few weeks later, keep it under 20 per day and don't send them all at once. From there, you can slowly increase your cold emails. You should be on pretty solid ground after a month but it's best to play it safe for about three months.
There are lots of Chrome extensions out there that are no longer being maintained, but that still have users. Purchase one on the cheap and use it to send new customers to your product.
Nathan Ganser (@Webbiger) of Nat bought an old extension, and it's been sending a significant amount of traffic his way ever since. He did a basic search for extensions that were somewhat related to his startup, then reached out to ten of them. Two were interested, and he bought one. The extension has roughly 1,000 daily active users and its page gets 1,000 daily visitors. Though he can't disclose exactly what he paid for it, it was south of $1,000. After purchasing the extension, Nathan didn't do much except add a call to action (both in the app and in the app's description), and he gets about 150 website hits every week from it. So far, one of these hits has become a paying customer.
If you aren't making use of services like HARO, you're missing out on coverage and content. Request and offer expertise to find new content and increase your exposure.
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is an email list of 800,000 journalists, bloggers, and founders. Needless to say, it's a fantastic resource. Signing up gets you three emails per day with requests from journalists and bloggers for industry expertise. Giving them the info they need will get you the exposure you need in order to grow your business and become a thought leader. Remember to be direct and concise in your pitches, and focus on the facts. On the flip side, if you're looking for content or expertise for your blog, you can put out a request. @brettfriedman of Marpipe does this and says it's their biggest source of traffic. He asks questions and experts get back to him with subject matter that he turns into articles. In return, he backlinks and tags them. Check it out and see how you can utilize this resource for free.
If you've got a special offer for your users, don't let it sit in their email inbox. Strike while the iron is hot by presenting the offer through in-app messaging.
When Josh Pigford of Baremetrics offered monthly users a free month if they upgraded to an annual plan, he originally did it via email. While he had some success with this approach, it wasn't until he switched to in-app messaging that he saw a 30% increase to annual plans. The reason for this appears to be context — the offer was presented while the user was working on the platform and (hopefully) deriving a lot of value from it. Compare that to email, where the recipient's receptivity to upsells at the time of opening is anyone's guess. And it's not just offers. Feature education, requests for feedback, etc. get increased interactions across the board.
Getting exposure right after launch is important — possibly even more so than earning those first few dollars. Give your first users a free upgrade and ask them to share your product in return.
Everyone loves free stuff. When Steve Albrechtsen (@albydarned) launched slickbit, he upgraded his first 25 users to premium for free. Then he personally emailed each one to let them know, and he asked for feedback and shares in return. Many were happy to do so, with roughly half of them offering solid feedback and sharing his product on social media. It brought in a few new customers and he says this was one of the best decisions he made during his launch.
Customer support directly impacts retention, but it's notoriously time-consuming. Increase customer satisfaction and save time by adding two layers of support before your team gets involved.
Conversational support funnels are three-layer support sequences that reduce your support load, saving you valuable time and energy, while improving customer satisfaction. In other words, it's a great way of decreasing spend while increasing retention. At the top of the funnel is proactive support. You can answer questions before they're asked by adding tooltips or FAQs to key points in the flow, and by alerting customers about known issues like bugs, outages, delivery delays, etc. You can even use machine learning to predict questions according to actions (and inaction). These small tweaks are huge time-savers. Then there's self-serve support, where bots in your in-app messaging system answer common questions for you. That saves you even more time, as MongoDB can attest — they saved 3700 hours (and counting) this way. Plus, bots are quicker than humans, increasing response time by 3x and improving customer satisfaction. Finally, there's good, old-fashioned human support for the most complex and unique questions. Human support is important and you should never make it hard to reach a human, but giving users the chance to easily answer their own questions first can be a game-changer.
Twitter threads pack more of a punch than your average tweet. Get around the stifling 280 character limit by posting threads so that you can increase engagement and impressions.
Twitter threads get an average of 63% more impressions than tweets with links, and an average of 54% more engagement (though they don't get as many link clicks). They're great for complex ideas, stories, tutorials, rants, live-tweets, and so on. And they're a powerful way to build an audience. One user, hey_ciara, got over 13,000 new followers, 47,000 retweets, and even increased her blog views by 10x with one tweet thread. That's obviously an outlier, but she's not alone. @PeteRamsey of Built for Mars got 317 retweets and 452 likes when he put out a thread. And that's a lot, considering that he only had 300 followers at the time. He emphasizes the importance of being concise, compressing real value into the thread, and saving self-promotion for the end.
Cleaning your email list allows you to actually reach your recipients, but don't delete subscribers without checking in first. Use a re-engagement campaign to bring your them back into the fold.
Re-engaging subscribers is four to eight times cheaper than finding new ones. So while it's a good idea to remove inactive subscribers from your email list, it's not a good idea to give them the boot without trying to re-engage them first. The best time to begin a re-engagement campaign varies, but 90 days without opening an email is generally a good starting point. Win them back with an offer or by making your value clear (with social proof, "best of" lists, etc.). Obviously, if people aren't opening your emails, you'll need to convey much of this in your subject lines. For recipients who aren't swayed, gradually decrease the number of emails you're sending and see if they start reading again. Finally, if that doesn't work, let them go. Send a goodbye email that either informs them that they've been unsubscribed (giving them the option to opt back in) or tells them that they will be unsubscribed in X days. For the customers who do re-engage, make sure to put them into a new segment in your list, as they are high-risk. And very importantly, make sure this whole process happens quickly and painlessly.
If someone lands on your page from a search engine, the time they spend before clicking 'Back' is used as an indicator of your website's quality. That makes it a big opportunity for your SEO. Keep your visitors on-site by giving them goals.
@Salil of ProsperCircle.org saw a 100% increase in organic traffic within two weeks, in part by giving visitors tasks to complete. While giving people a todo list may seem unwise, Salil says people like checking off todos because they feel a sense of accomplishment. And the more time they spend checking off your tasks, the better it is for your domain authority. As an example, Salil put a todo list on an article that offered tips for video interviews. As you scroll, todos (like reading a given group of tips) are checked off automatically. Users were originally viewing 33% of the page, but after adding the todo list, they're scrolling to 80%. There's even a todo for signing up for his newsletter, though the jury's still out on whether that will increase signups.
If your target market tends to use a specific technology (or even a competitor's product), there's an easy way to find leads. Use a website profiler to find sites using that technology, then reach out and convert them.
Services like BuiltWith and NerdyData allow you to identify websites that use specific technologies. If you know the technologies that your target market uses, you can leverage these services to find people who may be interested in your product, along with their approximate spend and traffic volume. And if your competitor's product is a technology that is inserted into websites, you can even find out exactly who their customers are. Use the information you garner to identify quality prospects, then find a contact person on LinkedIn or track down an email address on services like Hunter and Clearbit. Reach out and let them know how your product could be a perfect fit for their company.
Annual plans are good for business but they're a big commitment for someone who is new to your product. Increase annual plans by upselling monthly users a few months after they sign up.
Annual plans decrease churn. They also provide you with lump sums, which are helpful for your cashflow. So how do you get users to commit for the long-term? Give them time to fall in love with your product, then give them an incentive to upgrade. Baremetrics sends out an email three months after a customer signs up. In the email, they offer three months free (instead of their usual two months) for joining the annual plan. Then they lower the barrier even further by saying that they'll take care of the upgrade on their end — all the user needs to do is reply. This approach resulted in an influx of $14,000 in seven days. A heck of a start. And when they started using in-app messaging to send the offers, it got even better. They increased annual plans by 30%.
If you want more people to click a button, don't just tell them to click it. Let them tell you. Get more clicks by using first-person perspective in your calls to action.
Switching from second-person CTAs to first-person can be a boon to your conversion rate. Michael Aagaard tested and found that "Create Your Account" was about 25% less effective than "Create My Account". Surprised, he tested this on other sites and consistently saw that "My" performed better than "Your" in buttons. In fact, one company saw a 90% increase in their click-through rate. This is low-investment, high-reward so give it a shot. And, as always, make sure to A/B test.
It's common for visitors to bounce once you ask for their payment info, even if they won't be charged. Get their email addresses before this happens and create a drip sequence to convert them.
E-commerce companies get over 50% open rates and 30% conversion rates on their abandoned cart emails. With a few tweaks, you can do the same with your SaaS product. When someone selects a tier, don't request their payment info right away. Instead, ask for their email. Once you have that, take them to the payment page. Now, even if these hot leads bounce, you can reach out and give them a nudge with a discount, a helping hand, or by reminding them of your value. It worked for Ninja Outreach, whose 2-email drip sequence achieved a 36% open rate, 14% click-through rate, and 11.6% trial conversion rate. The best timing for these emails varies so A/B test it, but a good starting point is the length of time it usually takes your users to convert.
As the saying goes, "Show, don't tell." Explainer videos allow you to show off your product and make its value clear. Boost sales by adding one to your homepage.
Explainer videos are short videos that explain what your product is and how to use it in order to clearly convey its value. They're a huge asset, with some sites seeing a 144% increase in their conversion rates just by placing them on their homepage, landing pages, etc. To get started, Benjamin Davis (@Benjamingjd) of Habit suggests deciding between live-action, whiteboard sketching, and animation. Then write your script and make sure to include an overview of the product, key features (and how they're used), the problems your product solves, social proof, and a call to action. Keep it short, 90 seconds max. Next comes the voiceover. Do it yourself on Audacity or find voice actors from platforms like Fiverr and Bunny Studio. Finally, you can do the video production yourself to save a few bucks or head to Fiverr or Upwork to get a freelancer. If you hire a professional, they can help with music and sound effects. Otherwise, you can find free audio at Freesound or Audio Jungle.
Your sender reputation determines whether your emails are delivered, and being marked as spam is a sure way to damage it. Maintain a good reputation by emailing only the subscribers who actually want your messages.
It's important to clean your email list, especially if you use a single opt-in. If you don't clean it, you may fall victim to spam traps, old email addresses, email addresses with typos, and forgetful subscribers marking you as spam. That lowers your sender reputation score, damaging your deliverability and decreasing the ROI on your email campaigns, particularly if your email marketing service charges by volume. If you track email opens, check your list at least once a year (preferably more) and find out who isn't opening your emails. You can ask them to opt in again or simply remove them. This will keep your deliverability high, ensuring that your readers and customers actually receive your emails. Get started manually, through your email service's features, or with email scrubbing tools like Verifalia and Zero Bounce.
If your email doesn't immediately seem relevant to the recipient, they'll delete it. Get their attention and increase your open rate by personalizing subject lines.
With all the emails that people get these days, you've got to stand out. Using dynamic content to personalize subject lines helps you do that. In fact, it has been found to increase open rates by 26%. Address your subscribers and customers by their first names by adding a variable to your subject lines. You can also get creative if they've supplied personal information other than their names.
It's true that some email clients don't support interactive forms, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. In your next email campaign, increase conversions by using interactive forms with fallbacks in case they don't work.
By using interactive forms in your email campaigns, you can collect reviews, run surveys, and generate leads from within the email. That's way less friction than static forms that take you out of the email to a webpage. And less friction means a higher likelihood of achieving your goal, whether that's gathering feedback or converting a lead. As for the email clients that don't support interactive forms, the trick is to set up fallbacks. In other words, your emails should take advantage of interactive forms where they work: Apple Mail, Gmail (desktop web), and Yahoo (desktop web). And display a fallback (like a static form that redirects) where they don't: Outlook, Windows, and all mobile devices. If you code, here's how to do it. If not, products like GetFeedback and Salesforce's Content Builder can handle it.
It may sound too good to be true, but there's a way to funnel users to your free trial and get paid for doing it. Create challenges that guide users to the results they seek, and introduce customers to your software along the way.
The idea is to take the end result that your customers are looking for and create a system that manually gets them there. Then offer that result within a short timeframe to potential customers (for example, "Hit #1 in Google for your local market in 7 days") — this is the "challenge". During the challenge, you help them to achieve that result by educating them, walking them through the process, and eventually introducing a tool that will help them along the way — your software. They'll sign up for a free trial and learn all about the software as they complete the challenge. And voila, you've got new trial users who know how and why to use your product.
This worked for Austin Ford of Funnel Build's client, The Credit Repair Club. At prelaunch, 423 people purchased access to their challenge, and 60% of those turned into free trials for their flagship product. This is particularly effective for software with a steep learning curve, but it can work for any SaaS. All you need is the industry know-how to create an effective challenge.
Press coverage can mean the difference between a successful launch and a missed opportunity — and since journalists are busy, they'll often pass you by. Make it easier for them to cover you by supplying a press kit.
PR converts at 10 to 50 times higher than advertising. And the key to getting coverage is creating a thorough press kit for your company before reaching out to reporters. It should include the following:
Some people even include a sample news story that journalists can edit and publish without writing their own. Here are some great examples to get you started. After putting it together, create a page on your site to house your press kit and reach out to journalists with a link to your press kit front-and-center.
The easiest way to maintain a high-quality email list is through a double opt-in signup process. Not only can it increase your engagement rate, but it can also ensure your emails are actually delivered.
Since subscribers essentially have to say yes twice, it's safe to assume that they actually wanted to subscribe. And that means they'll be more engaged, which will lead to a higher engagement rate. It also means that they'll be less likely to mark your email as spam, which affects your sender reputation (and whether your emails are delivered). Plus, typos won't often result in losing subscribers, and your list won't be full of bots. The downside? Double opt-ins increase signup barriers and failure points. But there are ways to get around these. For instance, you can make sure emails are triggered within seconds so users don't have to wait, direct users to their email right away on the webpage, give users an option to resend the confirmation email, and make sure your confirmation email is extremely succinct. Ultimately, a lot of factors come into choosing the right way to do email permissions, but hopefully these summaries of single opt-ins and double opt-ins are a good starting point.
The simplest way for someone to become a subscriber is through a single opt-in signup process. It maximizes both the size and total engagements of your email list.
People are pretty much evenly divided in the debate between single opt-in and double opt-in (53.5% vs 46.5%, respectively). Using a single opt-in means that people become subscribers by simply entering their email addresses — no confirmation is required. This minimizes signup barriers and failure points, which are responsible for 20–40% failure rates in double opt-ins. Single opt-ins also produce higher overall engagement. The downside? They do all this at the expense of quality. But you can safeguard your list's quality by requiring users to enter their emails twice, validating addresses with tools like BriteVerify and Fresh Address, and periodically removing subscribers that don't engage with your emails. Even if you prefer double opt-ins, single opt-ins can still be useful in scenarios where the user has already been validated in other ways (like making a purchase). Before implementing, look into relevant laws, as some industries and localities don't allow single opt-ins.
Up next: Double opt-ins.
Product Hunt badges are a quick and easy way to level up your launch. Add a badge after posting to encourage more upvotes and get featured.
Adding the Product Hunt badge to your site right when you launch will make it easier for your audience to notice and upvote your post. As engagement climbs, it can also be used as a form of social proof because the badge displays your upvote count. And while this isn't confirmed, some people believe that just by embedding the badge, you have a higher chance of being featured in PH's Top 5. You'll get access to the badge as soon as you post on Product Hunt, and then if you're featured as a top post, you'll get access to "Featured" and "Top Post" badges. Head here for info on how to embed the badges.
If your subject line doesn't catch your reader's eye, you'll miss out on precious engagement. Be conspicuous and increase your open rate by using emojis.
When Experian experimented with adding emojis to their email subject lines, their open rates increased by 56%. Since only 2% of companies are using them, they help you stand out in a crowded inbox. Plus, emojis help you save precious space, convey emotion, and reinforce branding. Go with popular emojis, make sure they're relevant, don't overdo it, and split test to see what your audience likes. Of course, emojis may not be suitable for some audiences (and brands), so be discerning. And then there are the rendering issues. Nearly every email client supports emojis these days, but some older ones don't, so some recipients may see a ☐ character. Sometimes emojis even get replaced with the word “emoji”, which isn't great. Long story short, emojis work, but test before sending.
Potential customers often require multiple touches to convert, and each one of those touches is a golden opportunity. Don't waste them by making the same offer every time. Lead visitors toward the finish line by adjusting your calls to action.
Have you ever signed up for a newsletter and then returned to the site later, only to be asked to sign up again? If so, you won't be surprised to hear that these static CTAs result in missed opportunities. In fact, dynamic CTAs outperform other CTAs by 202%. So create a few options and display them according to the user's stage in the customer lifecycle. For example, you could offer new visitors a special offer or direct them to download your lead magnet. Repeat visitors could be encouraged to sign up for your newsletter. Newsletter subscribers could be led to the next layer of the funnel, and so on. CRM tools like Hubspot or SharpSpring can make it easier to get started, as they can handle dynamic CTAs right out of the box.
Your users actually look at the transactional emails they receive, and that makes them a big opportunity. Use these emails to promote products and offers while you have their attention.
Transactional emails, which include receipts, confirmations, shipping notifications, password resets, and so on, have the highest open rates — we're talking four to eight times higher than other emails. And that makes them a huge opportunity to drive metrics like engagement and revenue. Take the time to make these emails as beautiful (and branded) as your email campaigns. Then use them for some light promotion of offers, products, or whatever else might push the needle for your company. But don't let the actual purpose of the email get lost in the mix. And keep in mind that some transactional emails are too important to dilute. For example, it's not a good idea to distract the recipient from confirming their email on a double opt-in.
Shoutouts are a great way to reach new audiences and increase word-of-mouth growth. Promote the things you love, and they might just return the favor.
According to @AndrewKamphey of Influence Weekly, there's an art to shoutouts. It may take a while to find out what works for you, but it's worth it — he's gotten as many as 55 subscribers from one shoutout. He says the key is to just start spreading the love as much as possible. Write about one of your favorite people or products (big audiences are a plus), then put it out in a newsletter, a tweet, an email, or any other medium. Then do it again. Eventually, the people you're praising will take notice and start returning the favor. Asking for a shoutout or trading shoutouts can work well too, and if you go that route, it helps to let them know what you'd like them to say.
People are competitive. You can tap into this to increase user engagement. Reward customers with badges when they complete key activities to keep them motivated and retained.
Studies show that using badges to gamify software leads to a significant increase in user activity. And users agree — when asked, 87% of badge recipients reported feeling more engaged. That's really good for retention. Put simply, badges reward customers for using your product (and for using it well), and they incentivize them to keep coming back. So identify what use cases are good for business and offer badges for completing the relevant actions.
Your power users can be one of your company's greatest assets. Keep them engaged and get invaluable feedback by giving them access to new features before anyone else.
Studies show that people are 15 percent more likely to take action when given a label that signifies their importance. Figure out who your best customers are and let them know that they're your VIPs. Then show them some love by giving them beta access to new features. Sneak peeks give your VIPs early access to more value (hopefully!) and show them that their opinion matters, both of which will increase their emotional investment in your product. Plus, you'll get feedback from your best critics before the features are live. You can get the ball rolling by reaching out with good old email. But for 10x conversions, consider notifying them in-app as well.
A one-size-fits-all approach to emails will miss the mark with many of your recipients. Get more out of each email campaign by splitting your list into segments and sending tailored emails to each one.
Segmented email campaigns lead to 760% more revenue than unsegmented campaigns. The more segmented your list, the better the results. Get to know each subscriber with interviews and surveys. Listen to the language they use, the values they hold, the problems they're dealing with, and so on. And keep track of where they came from (funnels, ads, etc.). Then, using the information you've gathered, place them into segments and create tailored messaging for each. As those segments grow, you can divide them into increasingly granular groups. Many email tools like Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp support segmentation, so start there.
It can be tough to get outside of your circle and reach new audiences. Leverage Twitter chats to gain high-quality followers that might never have found you otherwise.
Twitter chats are conversations hosted on Twitter under a designated hashtag at a given (usually recurring) day and time. Hosting them is a great way to expand your reach, increase brand awareness, get new followers, and become an authority. Just set a recurring 30-60 minute block of time and designate a broad topic to be discussed, then spread the word. To get things moving, you can contact influencers and incentivize their participation — particularly if you don't have much of an audience. As the day approaches, select a sub-topic, put together 5-15 questions (labeled Q1, Q2, etc.), and display them as images to increase sharability. After the chat, use the best answers to create content, then share it with the participants. An easier, but still powerful option is simply participating in chats. Though you may not be the focal point, you can still reap all the benefits by participating consistently. Check out Tweet Reports for upcoming chats.
Testimonials can have a big impact on whether people buy your product — if they actually read them. Use an engaging narrative to lead visitors all the way through to the end.
Jen Yip (@lunchbag) of Lunch Money had a wealth of testimonials and wanted to capitalize on them. But she didn't want a giant wall of text that no one would read. Her solution? She made the testimonials interesting by turning them into a narrative. She did this by sorting them into groups of three, according to their content. Then she connected each group with a thread that weaved in and out of each group. You can check it out here. This made her testimonial page more interesting and allowed readers to easily find the most relevant testimonials from the bunch. In fact, 50% of her visitors now make it to the bottom. And as you might expect, people who view the page typically have a higher conversion rate — sometimes double.
We all know that good customer service is crucial, but you might be missing an opportunity after the customer's problem has been solved. Increase customer satisfaction and retention by checking in a week or two later.
According to HBR, the biggest complaint people have about businesses is the lack of follow-up about an issue they're having. So after you solve a user's problem, why not go the extra mile by checking in to see if the fix is working? This degree of care tends to impress customers and improve relationships. It's also a nice opportunity for businesses to make sure their customers are satisfied (and that they won't be going anywhere). Plus, if the customer does still have a problem, you can nip it in the bud and turn a bad situation into a good one.
There's a surprisingly simple (and fun) way to increase your click-through rate. Make your emails more engaging and effective by conveying messages visually through animated GIFs.
We all love GIFs. When added to emails, these fun tidbits can be used to entertain, capture attention, evoke emotion, bring products to life, and even educate. And they do all that in a blink, which makes them all the more powerful in this attention economy. When Bluefly started using GIFs in their emails, their click-through rate increased by 5% and dollars spent by customers went up by 12%. Then there's Dell, which actually saw a whopping 42% increase in their click-through rate. And they're not alone — 72% of email marketers who use GIFs record increased click-through rates. To employ GIFs effectively, be sparing and make sure that each one has a specific benefit. And since some versions of Outlook only display the first frame, position the most important info first. To get started, there are plenty of fun GIFs available online, and you can make GIFs specific to your product with services like Giphy and GIFMaker.me.
If signing up for your email list isn't incredibly simple, your conversions will suffer. Make converting easy by keeping your calls to action on-screen while users scroll.
Sticky widgets were a huge help to Noah Kagan on his journey to 700,000 subscribers — the audience to which he launched AppSumo. He kept certain calls to action on-screen as users scrolled, and this led to more conversions. Makes sense. After all, users were constantly being reminded of the conversion opportunity and they didn't have to go looking for the CTA in order to convert. Sticky sidebars are a good place to start for desktop, while sticky footers are particularly helpful on mobile since they don't take up much space.
Most users need a very good reason to spread the word about your product, so give them one. Increase word-of-mouth growth by delighting users with unexpected easter eggs hidden within your product.
Easter eggs are fun features that are hidden within products in order to (among other things) get people talking. And they're powerful. SEMrush amassed about 8,000 promotional tweets from users with one set of easter eggs, and that wasn't even their main goal. They were trying to educate users about some new functionality, and since it was Easter, they strategically hid actual (albeit digital) Easter eggs within the new features. When an egg was found, a popup gave the user a clue for the next egg while also offering a pre-populated tweet about the find. The tools that they were highlighting got lots of usage and some remained popular long after the hunt. Your easter eggs don't need to be anything extravagant — something as simple as a hidden joke can work wonders. And remember, your users actually need to be able to find them for this to work.
It's not enough for your content to be compelling — it needs to be crazy easy to share too. Add social share buttons so that people can spread the love with a click.
Social share buttons lower the barrier for visitors to share your content, thus increasing your reach and traffic. They're great for articles, especially if you cherrypick and pre-populate key quotes like we do on our founder interviews, but they're also worth adding to landing pages, emails, etc. They can even be used as social proof by displaying a counter for the number of shares. When Child Mind Institute added social share buttons to their mobile site they increased total shares by 400% and saw a 2.5% boost in new users. If you're setting social share buttons up on your own, here's the documentation for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Alternatively, check out services like ShareThis or AddThis — the latter even dynamically displays whatever networks the visitor actually uses.
Social proof works wonders, but all the fake reviews out there have understandably diminished trust. If customers love your product and you want prospects to believe the hype, include photos in your company's testimonials.
Studies suggest that showing a photo next to a statement leads to increased trust in that statement. They also show that people are naturally drawn to human faces. So by adding a photo of the customer who provided the testimonial, you're increasing the likelihood that users will both see it and believe it. Super simple, and given that social proof is fuel for conversions, it's well worth testing.
Getting people to sign up for your free trial is a big step, but paid conversions put food on the table. Make it more likely that they'll take the next step by engaging them in a shared Slack channel.
Instead of using an email drip campaign, Kunal Jasty (@memn0nis) of Across converts trials to paid plans by automatically inviting new users to a shared Slack channel. This makes it easier (and more personal) to start conversations. In fact, he's talking to 50% more users now. In these conversations, he can answer questions, gather feedback, train users, cultivate relationships, and ultimately increase the chance of conversions. And since Kunal leaves the channel open after the trial, it keeps his company top-of-mind, even if users don't convert right away. For context, this tactic works for him because he sells a B2B product that requires a high-touch trial. It's also great if your customers have a high lifetime value or if you need lots of feedback, fast.
Most social networks are already pretty content-saturated, but TikTok is still young. Reach new people by harnessing the TikTok algorithm while competition is low.
TikTok has roughly 800 million monthly active users, but indie hackers are still seeing very little competition on the platform. That makes it a big opportunity. @RobJCalderon of Chartbot, for example, is averaging 100 new users per day from a tutorial that he put on TikTok. Similarly, @LouTromans of Spread has 700,000 video views, and the link in his bio has brought in 34 beta signups (and counting). So what's the best way to leverage the TikTok algorithm? Louis goes on to say that the watch time, video completion rate, and the rewatch rate are key. So grab viewers' attention right away, make the content compelling and short, and hint at important info coming later in the video to keep people watching. Shares are also important (more so than likes and comments) so encourage those. And make sure to upload at optimal times.
Subject lines play an important role in email open rates, but there's another factor that is too often forgotten. Optimize the first couple of sentences in your message to make the most out of the preview.
A quarter of your recipients will determine whether they'll open your email by reading the preview. That makes the opening sentences of your email even more valuable than they already were. In fact, when WeddingWire optimized their previews, their click-through rate went up by 30%. Hans Dekker (@WizardofGrowth) of Wiza points out that the most popular email clients show previews of anywhere from 55 to 140 characters, so it's important to use this real estate wisely. Don't repeat info from the subject line. Include useful and specific information. Let users know if the message is time-sensitive. And consider showing your personality right off the bat. Sometimes it's even useful to sum up the whole email right then and there. And, of course, A/B test to find out what works.
If your customers are leaving and you can't understand why, there's still hope. In times of urgency, consider replacing your in-app cancelation flow with manual cancelation until your retention improves.
You might be wondering why this Growth Bite contradicts yesterday's. After all, manual cancelation undermines user experience, right? Well, when Josh Pigford of Baremetrics was battling a 13% churn rate and couldn't get enough actionable feedback despite surveying customers in his cancelation flow, he turned to drastic measures. He removed his in-app cancelation but, importantly, still made it incredibly easy to cancel manually by offering multiple channels (live chat, in-app messaging, email, twitter, phone) and responding quickly. Suddenly, his team was able to get tons of great feedback while preventing roughly 15% of cancelations. In fact, he says this saved his business. He held the course until he'd gotten enough feedback to cut his churn in half (2 years), and then finally allowed in-app cancelations again.
If you aren't allowing customers to cancel their subscriptions in-app you might be missing out on an opportunity to reduce churn. Boost retention by adding a cancelation flow that surveys users and offers them alternatives.
Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures saw an immediate 15% decrease in churn when one of his clients stopped requiring a phone call to cancel, and added an in-app cancelation flow instead. If you do it right, you'll be able to hold onto some of these customers and improve your product while you're at it. Plus, those who leave will do so on better terms. In the cancelation flow, start with a survey asking users why they're leaving. This info will help you iterate in a way that improves retention in the long run. Then offer them an alternative based on the reason they provided. For example, customers who aren't getting enough value out of the product could be bumped up to a tier with more functionality. But remember, these users are still high-risk for churn, so stay in touch.
Long forms add an unnecessary cognitive load, making it much more likely that users will give up. Help them convert by breaking the forms up and displaying each field individually.
People bail on forms all the time, it's just a fact of life. Even if you can't remove any fields from your forms, you can still increase the likelihood of conversions. Make your signup form (and any other form, for that matter) more accessible by displaying one question at a time. Gene Maryushenko (@genemachine) of Growth Design Insider has seen this work time and again. He even had one client whose conversions increased by 300%.
If you're housing your blog on a subdomain, you could be missing out on precious traffic. Get a higher Google ranking and more views by housing it on a subfolder instead.
In a 2017 case study, one company achieved an increase in organic blog traffic of 65.3% within 2 weeks by switching their blog from a subdomain (e.g. subdomain.domain.com) to a subfolder (e.g. domain.com/subfolder). Another went from essentially nowhere in the Google rankings for their target keyword to 57th with this change alone. And if you're wondering whether this still works in 2020, indie hacker Jon Hogg just did it and got a significant boost in traffic. So if your blog is languishing in a subdomain, consider making the switch. Then sit back and watch as your traffic (hopefully) climbs.
Customers are easily overwhelmed, so don't show them a long list of purchasing options. If you have a lot of products, minimize cognitive effort, and increase paid conversions by displaying them in small groups.
Joanna Wiebe took a massive list of products and narrowed them into smaller sets, maximizing each customer's understanding of the options and allowing them to compare products more easily. This directly resulted in a 61% increase in paid conversions for her e-commerce client, AppDesignVault. Joanna suggests giving each subset a title and a short description, as well as a preview that shows three of the products. And within each subset, position the most similar products nearest each other to help customers narrow options even further.
The copy on your site's buttons might be the reason that people are bouncing instead of converting. Make sure each button is optimized for conversions by replacing high-friction words with terms signaling a low time investment.
In your button copy, it's important to keep friction low by using words that describe what people want to do; not what they have to do. The worst words for conversion are those which imply that the user will have to give something up (e.g. time or money) — words like "buy", "sign up", or "complete". Then there are words that indicate a loss, but also a reward, like "join", "find", and "earn". Those are better, but still not optimal. If possible, replace these friction words with words like "get", "discover", and "reveal" that imply less work on the user's end.
For example, one B2B company got a 38% lift in conversions just by changing their button from "Order information" to "Get information." If for some reason a problematic word can't be replaced, it sometimes helps to lead with a benefit, even if it means adding a few words. And either way, make sure to A/B test.
Writing content based on high-volume SEO keywords is great for boosting traffic and email signups, but when it comes to paid conversions, it's worth considering another option. Target low-volume terms that have high purchase intent.
The real moneymakers for Marc Thomas (@iammarcthomas) of doopoll ($13,800/mo) were his long-tail articles, which targeted specific search terms. They brought in less traffic than short-tail content, but the people who found them were way more likely to buy. In fact, some of these articles converted at 14% higher than doopoll's other posts. Plus, there's way less competition for these terms on Google. Get started by identifying pain points that potential customers are looking to solve. Then find high-intent search terms for those topics by speaking to customers or conducting surveys, and check out the traffic for each keyword on services like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Once you've got the keywords dialed in, incorporate them into new content that addresses the relevant pain point.
Cold leads are notoriously difficult to convert, and even your subscribers usually require multiple touches. Increase sales by forming a personal connection with them on social media before asking for anything.
Whether you're doing cold outreach or sending a new offer to your mailing list, it's important to form a relationship first. Social media is a great place to do this — look your subscribers up and follow, like, share, and comment on their content. No, this won't scale, so it's ideal for early-stage companies and those dealing with high lifetime values. Cold leads will become familiar with you and your subscribers will love the white-glove treatment. Eventually, when your email turns up in their inbox, they'll see a friend instead of a stranger trying to get their attention.
If your product is useful to someone, it'll probably be useful to some of their friends too. Increase pre-launch signups by requiring users to invite others before gaining access.
Groove was able to get 30% more beta signups each day by implementing a viral signup form that required users to invite three friends in order to get access. As you can imagine, this resulted in a sizeable drop in registrations initially. But some people still signed up, and when their friends did the same, virality kicked in and signups bounced back even higher than before. It's definitely worth A/B testing before you go all-in, though — this blade can cut both ways.
Getting paid before you build it — that's the dream. And it's not too far-fetched. Try crowdfunding as a way to sell your idea to new people before going all-in on product development.
When Nathan Chan of Foundr wanted to validate a new physical product idea, he leveraged a crowdfunding platform. Not only was he able to validate the idea, but he reached a new audience and launched the product with pre-sales and capital already locked in. Nathan went with Kickstarter, but other options like Indiegogo could have gotten the job done as well. He emphasizes the importance of making your crowdfunding video and landing page pop — that's huge. Then focus on getting as many sales as possible within 24 hours of launching in order to get your product trending on the platform. That means getting media coverage ahead of time, as well as using marketing funnels, content strategies, and the rest of your marketing toolbox.
Social proof can be an easy way to increase conversions. If you're a B2B company, add your clients' logos front-and-center on your homepage as evidence of your value and trustworthiness.
Leveraging social proof by adding client logos played a significant roll in boosting Voices.com's conversion rate by 400%. Big-name clients obviously lend your company the most credibility but unknown startups are better than nothing. If your product has been mentioned in the media, you can also showcase the places where you've been featured. In fact, it could be worth submitting content for that very reason.
Potential customers need to remember your message in order to convert, so make it easy for them. Increase sales by planting uncommon words in your sales copy.
According to one study, people were best able to recall messages when unexpected words were thrown into the mix with standard ones. It's known as the "Bizarreness Effect": Unusual and unfamiliar things are easier to remember than the commonplace. Why do we care? Assuming that you're writing your sales copy as a tool to increase conversions, you'll want users to remember your message. And it's not just your words — unusual pricing ($96.47 vs $95), quirky branding, and other oddities are worth A/B testing too. So add the occasional zany word to your copy, but make sure that it's still intelligible. And yes, SEO could suffer if you go overboard, but a few words here and there shouldn't hurt. And they'll do a better job of imparting your... communiqué.
Affiliates can make your sales skyrocket, but good ones are often hard to find. Make it easier on yourself by using Google's advanced search operators to find bloggers who are already affiliates of companies like yours.
Simon Alcott (@SaaS_Growth) of Whalepages found a nifty little shortcut to finding qualified affiliates. All you've got to do is head to Google and search for:
Since affiliates usually disclose the fact that they will make a commission, Simon suggests going with "I may receive", "affiliate link", "disclosure", or "commission". You could even add in your competitor's name to specifically target their affiliates. Just like that, you've identified candidates in your industry with a proven interest in affiliate relationships. For example, here are the magic search parameters that an email marketing company could use to find affiliates:
As your company grows, you'll have more opportunities to increase conversions via social proof, like displaying real-time activity to potential customers. Use notifications to highlight your popularity and increase conversions.
Unobtrusive popups that notify potential customers of current (or recent) activity on a website can have a big impact on conversions. In fact, they're so good at delivering social proof that conversions have been shown to jump 15% with their addition. Some sites showcase the number of people currently viewing a page or call out new registrations and purchases as they happen, but any relevant event will work. Just don't be too in-your-face about it; keep the notifications small and out of the way. Services like TrustPulse and PopKit offer plug-and-play options, so they could be good places to start.
Sometimes people are interested in your product but they just haven't found the time to follow through. At the end of your drip sequence, light a fire under them with one last email making it clear that they won't hear from you again.
Hans Dekker (@WizardofGrowth) of Wiza sends breakup emails regularly. They get a 5–6% higher response rate than any other email in his campaigns, and those who respond are almost always interested. He usually sends them as the 4th or 5th email in a sequence, saying something like, "Looks like now wasn’t the best time to connect. If anything changes, feel free to check in again." People are often taken aback by this email. It makes it clear that this is the end of the road, and if the recipient is at all interested, they'll often book a call right then and there to avoid missing out. And if not, it's still a welcome email as it saves them the trouble of unsubscribing.
You don't need to wait for revenue-sharing partners to come to you. Your email subscribers and customers are already fans, so make them affiliates automatically and ensure that they have no reason not to participate.
Systeme.io ($126,000/mo) makes 75% of its revenue from affiliates, and the "how" of it is actually quite simple. They make every single person on their mailing list an affiliate automatically, which means they get a share of the revenue when they refer others to the product. It's not just a standard user referral program. When someone is added to the list by subscribing or purchasing a product, System.io sends an affiliate ID, as well as access to the affiliate dashboard which gives the user access to promotional tools like free offerings, multiple sales funnels, and so on. The new subscriber probably never even considered becoming an affiliate but with the heavy lifting already done, why not make some extra cash? And, just in case, Systeme.io continues encouraging them in newsletters and follow-up emails.
Getting a new user to trust your site enough to enter their credit card info isn't always easy. Put them at ease and increase conversions by getting your site vetted by a 3rd-party and displaying their "trust badge" on your checkout page.
A 2017 study showed that concerns about payment security were the primary reason that 19% of respondents had abandoned their carts — up from 15% in 2015. USCutter solved this problem by boosting users' sense of safety with a trust badge, and the result was an 11% increase in sales. While e-commerce is the obvious vertical for this tactic, it can work for anyone. For example, Blue Fountain Media added a badge to a form where potential customers requested quotes, and saw a 42% increase in conversions. If you're wondering what service to use, a study done by the Baymard Institute suggested that badges from Norton were seen by users as the most trustworthy, followed by the Better Business Bureau and McAfee.
If you've temporarily closed shop due to the coronavirus, you're probably missing out on leads. Make sure these potential customers are ready and waiting by incentivizing visitors to sign up for a notification when you reopen.
Just because you've paused temporarily doesn't mean people have stopped needing a product like yours. Use a prominent call to action like a banner to clearly state that you'll be reopening soon and direct visitors to a field where they can enter their email addresses to get notified. Then sweeten the pot by offering a nice discount on their future purchase for doing so. Collin Davis (@collins88) of Blue Digits has a client in the travel space who added a lead capture like this and now 2% of visitors who would have otherwise bounced are becoming leads for later. Don't add their emails to your standard mailing list, though — keep the barrier to entry low by making it clear that you'll only contact them when you open back up.
If your copy isn't converting the way you'd hoped, check your tone — people often put their guard up when companies try to convince them of something. Win them over by using a tone that conveys your sincere desire to help.
ActiveNetwork wanted to increase signups without spending a lot of time on it, so they decided to keep on with business as usual, but change up their tone. In their emails, they switched from a salesy approach where they said something like, "You're one step away from getting free access to our award-winning product," to a more helpful one like, "We're here to provide you with whatever assistance you need in reaching your goal.” A/B testing showed that the change in tone got ActiveNetwork a 349% increase in total lead inquiries. Admittedly, this is more than most people will see from such a small change, but even a fraction of these results could make it worthwhile.
Your vibe inspires an emotional response in users, which is huge when it comes to decision making. To audit your tone, get a few fresh pairs of eyes on your copy — do these readers feel like they're being sold something or does it feel like genuine assistance is being offered? Make tweaks accordingly and A/B test them.
It's important to show each user that you care about them — and most won't be fooled by your "personalized" emails. But you can't fake a personalized video, so send these at key moments to increase conversions and retention.
The folks at Ontraport increased their trial conversions by 20% and cut their no-show rate for sales calls in half by sending personalized videos for their booking confirmations. Videos can also be used to add a personal touch to cold emails. Or you can employ them post-sale for onboarding, creating a relationship, and to request reviews (personalized video requests get 50% more reviews!). Services like Bonjoro and Loom allow you to quickly and easily create personalized videos, which can then be sent as a link. Just make it very clear that the link leads to a personal message, or they'll assume it's generic without clicking.
Creating a course is a great way to funnel customers to your products, but it can take a lot of time and energy. Partner with a course creator to increase exposure without all the extra work.
Partnering up allowed @DaveRogenmoser of Payfunnels ($10,000/mo) to bring in a significant number of new customers each month without having to build a thing. He reached out to a fast-growing course creator in a related field and worked out a deal: The course creator would recommend Payfunnels in his courses and, in return, Dave would offer the trainees a 60% discount. It's worth noting that this deal was a little unusual — Dave says a standard approach would have been a 30-40% commission for every sale he made via the course creator's recommendation. If you want to find a similar partnership, approach course creators in your industry (there are plenty on IH) or find them on sites like Udemy and Coursera.
When your users have to follow a sequence of actions in order to convert, a little emotional support will get more of them through the funnel. Try displaying their progress toward the end goal and creating the perception that they are further along than they actually are.
Researchers Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dréze, experimented with the "endowed progress effect" with loyalty cards at a car wash. On half of the cards, customers got a free car wash for every eight washes. On the other half, it was every ten washes, but two were already stamped. They found that the pre-stamped cards resulted in 1.79 times more repeat business than the unstamped ones. Your customers will be more committed if they feel that they've made progress, and that'll make them more likely to convert. So whether it's a loyalty program, your onboarding or checkout process, or something else, embellish their progress a bit. Progress bars and checklists are a great place to start.
If you only give customers the option to cancel their subscriptions, you might be losing people who would have actually preferred a less final option. Reduce churn by allowing them to put their subscriptions on hold.
@nickfogle of Wavve ($83,000/mo) saw an immediate 3% decrease in churn when he started allowing his customers to pause their subscriptions instead of canceling outright. His paused users weren't paying anything so it was a lot like losing customers at first, but he found that they were way more likely to reactivate. And when they did, that was money in his pocket that otherwise would have been lost. If you decide to give users the option to pause, you can increase the likelihood that they'll come back by sending email reminders and limited-time offers. You can even let them set a date for the plan to automatically reactivate.
Faster is usually better, but sometimes more users will convert when they see your product working hard. If people assume a lot of processing power goes into an important feature of your product, consider lengthening the feature's execution time and displaying a progress bar.
Amit Mehta of Boost Software fixed all the bugs that were slowing his product down, but his conversions didn't budge. Then it dawned on him — now that his product's "scan" took mere seconds (down from a couple of minutes), his users weren't convinced it was doing as much as it had before. He noticed his competitors' scans were on the slow side too. To make his product seem like it was working harder, he slowed it down. And to his amazement, his conversions nearly doubled.
Amit's in good company — other sites employing this counterintuitive tactic include the likes of Priceline and Expedia.
How can you know which features to deliberately lengthen? It ultimately comes down to user expectations, which you can gauge by taking a look at how the same feature is implemented in other applications.
No one likes to give their credit card information away, especially for a free trial. A simple reassurance about why you need their info will build trust and increase your signups.
Potential customers signing up for Crazy Egg's free trial were stalling out when it came time to enter their credit card info. In an attempt to put these users at ease, they updated their checkout page, explaining why the info was needed (to prevent the same users from re-upping on multiple free trials) and how it would be used (no charge for 30 days). By offering this explanation, they helped customers build empathy for the policy and reduced any suspicion that the company was merely being greedy. Crazy Egg also changed the order total from "$49 per month" to the more explicit "$0 for 30 days and after 30 days: $49 per month." Together with one final adjustment to their call to action — a list of other companies that used their product, which added social proof — Crazy Egg increased their free-trial signups by 116%.
Your articles can work harder for you without much effort on your part. If you're already giving away tons of free content, get more subscribers by locking a few posts and requiring an email address to see them in full.
On Brian Dean of Backlinko's blog, he grays out the previews of some posts and adds an "Unlock Now" button. When the reader clicks the button, a popup asks for an email address in order to access the full post. It's important to keep doing all that free content but adding this occasionally has brought in 1,614 email subscribers (and counting) in a short period of time. And he's not alone. Here at IH, partially blocking access to the IH product page increased our overall signups by 4%, despite the fact that we offer unconditional access to all other content.
Your customers can sell their friends on your product better than you can. But they need a nudge. Try including extra units of your product with some orders so people can share with others.
RC Williams of Rejuvia ($55,000/mo) was pleasantly surprised when he experimented with doubling some of his customers' orders. When they purchased a product, he'd send them two and ask them to share one with a friend who would appreciate it (or enjoy it themselves). The result was 0.45 more new customers for every doubled order, which amounts to nearly one new customer for every two orders. And then there's the fact that customer reviews and relationships were improved, which led to even more engagement and word-of-mouth exposure.
You don't need a physical product to see these benefits — you can throw in an extra software license, a coupon for 3 free months on a new subscription, etc.
Unless you've really got your ad campaigns dialed in, you're probably wasting money by advertising to the wrong people. Get more bang for your buck by placing advertisements in niche newsletters instead.
@AdrienJarthon of updown.io ($4,000/mo) started targeting potential customers more directly when he purchased ad space from two newsletters in his industry. Just like that, his conversion rate was 5x what it had been with Google Adsense, and the leads were higher-quality. If you don't know of a good newsletter to try, ask colleagues or customers in your niche what their favorite blogs are. Or use a search engine to narrow down newsletter candidates with a query like: "Best newsletters for [enter your niche here]".
Don't miss out on the ripest opportunities to generate social proof for your company. Right after you've provided value, request feedback in-app.
@CristianDobos of Deepstash got 260% more app reviews when he implemented an in-app modal that requested a review once the user had experienced a high-value feature (in his case, when the user saved 5 ideas and made a "stash"). No joke, their download-to-rating ratio is now double that of competing apps. And here's why that's important: More reviews led to better rankings, which led to more downloads (peaking at about 4,000/day), which led to more reviews and so on.
Even if you're not using a marketplace like Google Play, this can work for you — it may not increase your rankings but it will provide valuable feedback for a better product, as well as testimonials for that oh-so-important social proof.
Email campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. Avoid recipient fatigue by segmenting your subscriber list and tailoring your emails accordingly. Your conversions will thank you.
Since he stopped "square-pegging, round-holing", Chris Hexton of Vero has seen a 450% increase in conversions — from 2% to nearly 8%. Chris broke his subscriber list into groups based on four attributes:
Then he tailored the tone and style of each email to fit the specific segment. Here at IH we're big fans of email segmentation — our users choose from 8 specialized newsletters (like this one). This has allowed us to double the number of emails we send, increase our open rate, and provide more value to our community.
Word-of-mouth might be the most effective form of marketing, but it's hard to quantify what works and what doesn't. For a surefire approach, feature customers in your content.
Instead of talking about how great his company is, Baird Hall (@baird) of Wavve ($80,000/mo) and LoFi Ventures talks about how great his customers are. He invites users to tag his company when they post what they've created with his product, and then he shares it. Other companies highlight a customer of the week or show off how users achieved success through their products. You could even let customers tell their own stories on your blog — the possibilities are endless. The main idea is that if you feature someone, they're likely to share the content. And they'll feel appreciated, which means they'll stick around and keep spreading the word long afterward.
A ton of potential customers ditch their purchases at the last moment. Prevent these hard-earned sales from falling through by offering discounts before users leave the checkout flow.
Cart abandonment rates are at 69.57% globally. But a lot of potential customers who've made it to the final purchasing steps can be nudged over the line with a small discount. NameBadge got 6.8% of these users to stay on the site and complete their purchases by offering a 15% discount. To detect when users were preparing to abandon their carts, the company used an exit-intent popup which displayed the offer when users moused outside of the window as if they were going to leave. The popup form required users to enter their email addresses to receive discount codes, so NameBadge didn't only convert more sales but they also added subscribers to their mailing list.
A launch isn't just an opportunity to sell your new product. Generate extra revenue by also recommending complementary items from your inventory.
Don't burn yourself out creating content. If you've got old articles that are languishing, put them back to work by revamping and relaunching them.
Brian Dean of Backlinko identifies which of his blog posts has the biggest dip in traffic, then reworks it. He adds up-to-date information, timely examples, new ideas, or simply enhances the readability. From there, you've got two options. Either relaunch it like it's new — doing this with one article resulted in a 260% boost in Brian's organic traffic. Or you can quietly ship it. You might not think the latter would be effective, but it increased search engine traffic to one of Brian's posts by 17.68%.
Long onboarding processes scare customers away. If your onboarding can't be shortened, increase your conversions by adding a commitment checkbox to the beginning of the process.
Conversion Voodoo increased a client's conversion rate by 11% by adding a checkbox to the beginning of their onboarding process. Users were filling out long mortgage applications and were leaving partway through. So they asked for a soft commitment by asking users to click a box which read: "Yes! I'm ready for a better rate today!" The text served to emphasize the end goal while creating a sense that gratification was near ("today!"). It almost seems too simple, but the act of clicking the box can reinforce a user's commitment and help them get to the finish line — particularly for products with necessarily long onboarding processes.
It's tough finding influencers who will publicly support your content. To get their attention, start courting them early by interacting with their posts. Then request feedback on a piece of content so that they feel invested when you ship it.
Before launching his blog, Alex Turnbull of Groove created a list of influencers he hoped would share his first post. Then he got to work devouring their content, leaving insightful comments, and blasting their content from his own social media platforms. A month in, he emailed these influencers to let them know about his own blog idea, giving them a link to what he'd planned for the first post and welcoming their feedback. Thanks to the relationships he'd built, 85% of influencers said "yes" to providing feedback and by the time he actually went live with his first blog post, he'd already validated it. After posting, he got some big-name comments which boosted his credibility — not to mention 1,000 subscribers within 24 hours.
Getting someone to read your cold email is hard enough; don't add friction with fancy words. Keep it simple instead. Like, third-grade simple.
No one wants to comb through a densely written email from someone they don't know. Keep cold emails simple and short. Emails written at 3rd-grade reading levels get 17% more responses than those written at high school reading levels. And by shooting for between 50 and 125 words, you can up your response rate as well. Not sure how your writing stacks up against a third-grader? Head over to the Hemingway App and paste it into the editor to find out.
Users may churn if they aren't getting the most out of your product. Try sending them personalized, actionable reports showing them how they can take better advantage of the features.
AdRoll's nearly unheard-of 97% annual retention rate speaks for itself. A lot goes into garnering that kind of loyalty, but a big factor is their automated monthly digest email. The metrics in these emails aren't just personalized for each user — they're actionable as well. The digest shows what the customer has achieved (reiterating the product's value) and uses their metrics to make personalized suggestions about how to improve. In AdRoll's case, ad placements are a key feature of their product so if a user’s ads aren't getting many clicks, the digest email might suggest that they create fresh ones. Try using a tool like Segment or Hull to port your customer data to a marketing automation tool like Customer.io or Autopilot. Then set up data triggers using if/else logic for the recommendations.
If your product lacks important features, your users may churn and opt for a competitor. Keep them invested by showing where your product is heading. Better yet, have them vote to inform the roadmap.
Malte Scholz, co-founder of Airfocus, understands that people choose products based not only on the current feature-set, but also on what's planned for the future. He keeps his customers engaged and excited by sharing his product roadmap on Trello and even encouraging customers to offer direction by voting for the features they're most excited about. It's no surprise that Airfocus saw a 3% decrease in churn when they started doing this. If you want to give this a shot, they recommend not sharing more than 2-3 months out. And be careful not to over-promise.
Your users are at risk of churning when their free trials end. Avoid this by sending a survey asking how likely they would be to recommend your product — then use their responses to decide what kind of discount or perk might keep them interested.
The day after a user's trial ends, Mention sends an email with a run-of-the-mill survey asking, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely they are to recommend the software to a friend. If the score is less than 6, they simply send an email thanking the user for their feedback. If the score is 6 to 8, they extend the user's free trial. And if it's 9 or 10, they offer the user a discount on upgrading to a subscription.
By sending this survey, Mention gives users who are on the fence more time to decide, while giving their bigger fans one more reason to pay — and one more reason to spread the word. This tactic worked so well for Mention, they reduced churn by half.
Brand new users are the most likely to churn. Retain them by engaging them immediately with an interactive onboarding process that showcases your best features.
Around 80% of users churn within the first three months of signing up for an app, and poor onboarding is often to blame. That's why Lookout uses a quick interactive quiz to onboard new users instead of a boring tutorial. The quiz has four questions pertaining to specific use cases that users are likely to run into. And, because the quiz is practically a walkthrough of in-your-face value propositions, it also serves as a reminder of Lookout's best features — which translates to more users actually using the app.
Here's an example: Instead of asking users for permission to use their location with a popup alone, the quiz asks, "You lost your iPhone, what do you do?" The user must choose between "Panic" or "Locate it using Lookout." Then, after reminding the user of this feature, the location popup is finally displayed.
Never let a customer go without asking why they're leaving. This simple and oft-overlooked action reduces churn rates — big time.
While most users won't take the time to tell you why they're leaving, the insights you do gain will be worth their weight in gold. Alex Turnbull of Groove ($500,000/mo) reduced churn by a whopping 71% by sending an email to customers when they canceled or didn't upgrade their subscriptions. The ask was simple: "What could we have done better to keep you as a customer?" Patterns regarding why people left soon emerged and Alex was able to identify what needed to be immediately addressed, thus dramatically reducing churn.
Longer pageload times = more customers leaving your site. No surprise there. But it's worth digging into just how much money you might be leaving on the table.
If a page takes longer than three seconds to load, nearly half of your users will bounce — pageload speed matters that much. For Mobify, every 100-millisecond improvement in their homepage's load time resulted in a 1.11% increase in conversions. Likewise, when Mozilla reduced the pageload time for the Firefox landing page by 2.2 seconds, they increased their conversions by 15.4%.
Here's where you can start: Check your current website speed at Pingdom or WebpageTest, then go through this list and see what measures you can take to speed things up. In the meantime, here's a quick fix to give the illusion of a faster load-time: Move your stylesheet references to the <head> of your HTML document so that each page loads progressively from the top.
Creating new content takes time. But there are free(ish) ways to enlist a community of co-creators who can help you.
Take an Instagram account, for example. Instead of constantly thinking up photo ideas, you can host a contest where followers win prizes for sharing photos of your brand. Then you can repost these photos to your account (with permission, of course). Buffer followed this playbook to grow from 4,250 to 21,000 followers.
Things get trickier for text-based content, since no two brands are the same. A good first step is to start a community for your users via Slack, Discourse, a new subreddit, Facebook group, etc. Then incentivize the community — with contests, polls, or good old-fashioned conversation — to weigh in on the topics you want to write about.
When competitors go out of business, people still search for their products! Intercept this traffic by writing keyword articles naming yourself as an alternative.
An article that Margaret O’Brien (@wavehopper) of Boyne Analytics wrote about one of her competitors brought in her first paid customer. A couple of weeks before, Margaret had done a quick checkup on her competitors' offerings and found that a few were now defunct. She then wrote blog posts aimed at SEO on the products' names, explaining why they were no longer functional and mentioning her service as an alternative. Pretty straightforward. Just be respectful — gloating isn't a good look.
If you shy away from self-promotion, you'll lose out on growth. Just do it tastefully: never ask for favors without earning the goodwill of your readers.
@harrydry of Marketing Examples could hardly be more direct with his self-promotional requests. Here he is at the end of one of his articles: "I won't lie, this one took a while to write. If you're feeling generous please like or retweet the post on Twitter. It really does help :)". This worked! Harry believes it brought him dozens of extra likes and retweets. But it only worked because he had already generated tons of goodwill with his readers. And how'd Harry pull that off? By working his ass off to write content that solved peoples' problems. So don't take any shortcuts. But don't be afraid to ask for favors either.
Try texting users to convert sales instead of putting them on automated email lists — especially if your customer lifetime value is high.
Shane White (@shanefromfargo) of The Match Artist ($10,200/mo) originally used drip campaigns to communicate with potential customers. When he transitioned to texting them instead, 30% more converted to paying customers. Not the most efficient way to communicate, but the lifetime value of his customers justifies the personal touch. Just make sure you're clear in your messaging, since not every customer expects you to send them a text. And if you've got too many users to text personally, check out companies like MobileMonkey or SimpleTexting for automated SMS drip campaigns.
Keep your best customers retained and spending more money by offering them rewards through a loyalty program.
The e-commerce platform Shop4Vitamins rolled out their loyalty program to the highest-spending 10% of their customers. The result? A 265% increase in repeat orders — from $21,441 to nearly $57,000. In their particular case, the reward for loyal customers was 10–15% cash back on every purchase, but you might want to experiment with different perks if you don't have a transactional business model or work in the e-commerce space. For example, you could offer a one-on-one consultation on how to get more out of your product or, if you're selling a subscription-based product, you could offer a discount for upgrading to a more expensive plan.
Reduce churn by reaching out to users who barely log in in the first week or two and offer one-on-one advice on how to get the most out of your product.
When Alex Turnbull of Groove became proactive about his outreach in this way, he reduced his churn rate by 71%. He sent an email to users who logged in less than twice in their first 10 days inviting them to hop on a call so that he could share with them how similar users found success with his product. He also sent an email to users with sessions that lasted fewer than two minutes offering to personally walk them through the setup process.
Increase paid conversions and make sure users get the most out of your product by using a short checklist to onboard new users.
Sked Social saw 3x higher conversion rates when they implemented a checklist into their onboarding process. The checklist opens automatically when a user logs in and only has four tasks so that the user isn't overwhelmed. Each task links the user to the relevant page and the first task, "account created," is already checked off to show the user that they've already made progress. You can start creating your checklist with Userpilot or Checklist.
Kickstart momentum by offering your product for free on select occasions while seeking early traction.
Alex Chernikov (@alexcher) of Gikken made his app Mate free for one day out of the year and pulled in 120,000 downloads and 700 new ratings, which ramped up his App Store rating to 4.67. He says it's not enough to just change your price to "free" in the App Store. He recommends using subreddits like /r/AppHookup and /r/Apple to promote the free day. Keep in mind that current users may feel jilted! Alex offered his paying customers his other app for free a few days before the promotion.
To reach new users pre-launch, create a waitlist for people to try your beta and reward anyone who invites a friend by reducing their wait time.
Aljaž Fajmu @internetsamurai of NightWatch ($40,000/mo) had his beta invitation post shared 300 times on Twitter with this approach, expanding his reach and attracting new customers. He just created a special beta launch page which allowed users to apply for a beta invitation. If someone invited a friend to join the waitlist, they earned points which led to a faster invitation.
Increase your revenue by replacing your free trial with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Lilia Tovbin of HelpTeaching.com ($40,000/mo) credits this, in part, for the 100% increase in revenue she saw for three years in a row after implementing it. It kept risk low for her potential users without sacrificing income. According to one study, money-back guarantees evoke a positive emotional response in the consumer, making them more likely to buy at a premium price. They may even weed out low-quality leads and increase trust in your product.
Sprinkle FAQs into important areas of your signup flow to decrease churn and boost conversions.
After Dominic Monn of MentorCruise ($700/mo) began placing relevant FAQ snippets and links to his FAQ page in his signup flow, conversion rates doubled and 20% more people stayed on after the trial period. Another option is to use tooltips that present useful FAQs in hover boxes when users mouse over them. This way, you can inform your users while also keeping them in the signup flow.
Boost conversions by pushing new users to log in with Google, but allow them to opt for email signup if they prefer.
Raj Mahal of PlanMoreTrips saw a 50% increase in conversions when he did this, and now he gets 92% of his signups this way. Before implementing it, his login required an email address but no password so he thought it was simple enough. Within days of adding Google login, though, he saw the benefits.
Increase your subscribers and retention rate by creating a member's area with a community, discounts, and resources.
Sam Dickie of NoCode saw his number of subscribers double and retention rate improve when he did this. In exchange for an email address, the member's area offers exclusive discount codes for tools and resources featured on the site, a community forum, a newsletter, a promotion directory list, and access to his other side project. Nile Frater, who took over for Dickie, says it continues to be a huge advantage for them. Obviously, it's important to hype the member's area and make its benefits visible before anyone signs up.
Try out the subject line, "I found you through [insert relevant name]" to get more cold email responses.
For LeadGenius, this results in email open rates of 87%, click rates of 15%, and reply rates of 26%. When tested against four other potential subject lines for cold emails, this one was the clear winner. In the subject line, you can name the person who connected you or the author of an article where you first heard of the lead. If you can't find a name to use, try referencing the website or platform where you found them.
Leverage Product Hunt's pre-launch service called "Ship" to get new subscribers and users.
Raj Mahal of PlanMoreTrips got 4,485 new Product Hunt and email list subscribers in one week this way. After his Product Hunt launch bombed, he decided to try Product Hunt Ship and paid $70 for them to promote him. He uploaded his email list of 800 people so that it showed that he had 800 subscribers. Many of these subscribers had Product Hunt accounts and were therefore linked to his product, showing their photos on his product's page. He then ranked on Product Hunt's first page which, along with the social proof of 800 followers, led to lots of new email subscribers. From there, he pointed these new subscribers to his beta, leading to many new installs.
Bring in new customers by offering users something for referring friends, and offering more if those friends take a specific action.
Evernote acquired 13% of their customers by doing this. They offered customers three free months of a premium plan in exchange for referring three friends. Then, if the referred friend ended up buying a premium plan themselves, the one who referred them got an extra free month of the premium plan on top of the three free months they'd already received. This simple design encourages current customers to continue making referrals so that they can maintain access to the premium plan for free.
To increase conversions, do away with the navigation menu and other distracting links on landing and checkout pages.
When Yuppiechef did this, their conversion rate doubled from 3% to 6%. Any link on a conversion-focused page is a possible distraction from the conversion, making it more likely that potential customers will wander off.
Tweet the story of your company and tag people who were part of the journey to gain new customers.
Dennis Müller of Coco got 150 people to join his waitlist this way. He included photos in his tweet storm to make it more personal and tagged people who inspired him so that they could like and retweet. Then, at the end of the tweet, he finally linked his product. Here's the tweet for inspiration if you'd like to tell your own story.
If you don't yet have your own audience, leverage a marketplace with a built-in audience and then migrate the product to your own site later.
Pippin Williamson of Sandhills Development ($256,000/mo) says this was critical to his success. He had no reputation, no following, no way to reach potential customers, so he used Code Canyon to build an early customer base. Once he was up and running, he migrated his products to his own site so that he could control payment terms and also keep 100% of each sale. The marketplace you choose will depend on your product. Just make sure their terms don't prevent you from selling the product on your own site.
Boost conversions by using progress bars to show how much of the sign-up process has been completed.
Flir Systems split-tested sign-up forms with and without a progress bar. The former increased conversions by 28.2%. Progress bars aid in holding users' attention, so they're especially helpful when the sign-up process requires a few steps. To add your own progress bar check out Leadpages or Tutorialzine. And if you want to keep this as simple as possible, just try adding a few images of a progress bar to your sign-up process. It's been shown to boost conversions.
Make users choose between a "Yes" or a "No" option on pop-up forms for higher conversion rates.
Copyhackers did this and saw a 5x increase in conversions. On a pop-up offering a free guide, they added a two-button opt-in form with a button on the left that said, "Yes get the free guide," and a button on the right that said, "No I reject the persuasion guide." Adding a negative option highlights the unhappy consequences of not saying "Yes" to the offering. And until users click one of these two buttons, the pop-up doesn't close.
Increase conversions by creating a product-specific quiz that only shows results to those who enter their email addresses.
Cam Adair of Game Quitters increased his email sign ups by 233% this way. His quiz determines whether a person has a video game addiction, and he puts it front-and-center on his homepage. At the end of the form, he offers to deliver the results by email, so there's a functional lead-in to this request for the quiz-taker's information.
Ruthlessly eliminate signup fields to convert more users.
Alan Warsoff of SelfDecode ($17,000/mo) increased his conversion rate by ruthlessly eliminating unnecessary fields from his signup form. He eventually managed to cut it down to two fields — email address and confirm email address. This tactic doesn't mean that you should avoid seeking additional data from new users, just that you'll allow this to happen later in the signup flow after they've submitted the bare essentials and created their accounts.
Create multiple variants of sales pages and email campaigns geared toward different segments of your audience to make more sales.
Kira Hug did this for a client, helping him get 3,000 leads per campaign and $355,000 in profit at his launch. She first conducted live interviews with clients to inform her copy. Then she broke the diverse group of clients into three relevant segments and created tailored sales pages and email campaigns for each, making them feel personalized.
Increase conversions by adding a countdown timer to time-sensitive offers.
Upgrade your content by adding a signup perk to the end of a popular post and increase your conversions.
This simple strategy instantly increased Brian Dean of Backlinko's conversion rate by 785% in a single day, jumping from 0.54% to 4.82%. He began by identifying his most high-traffic piece of content and determining what resource or addition would make this content better. He chose to add a checklist as a signup perk below the post, requesting users' email addresses in exchange for access. Signup perks could be anything from a checklist that supports the original post to more detailed information about the topic.
To avoid losing potential customers at your paywall, get emails instead of payments and then nurture every lead while they're on the waiting list.
Gregg Blanchard of PeakFeed ($1,000/mo) converts between 7% and 20% of his traffic to his waiting list, and 10% of these convert to paying customers. He doesn't allow anyone to just sign up and pay him money; they can only give him their email address. This makes it less likely that people who are on the fence will walk away, and it allows him to capture emails of everyone who is interested in the product. Once he has that, he emails them every day: day one includes a link to actually sign up; day two includes an offer to get a free account if three of their friends sign up; and days three through five focus on the product and features to convince people to sign up.
This tactic works best for products without a free version and Blanchard says it might not work for mature products, but for his small app which is constantly releasing new features, it works well. It even allows him to reduce churn because he can delay new user signups when bugs are present.
Increase your sales by selling bundles of your products at a 50% discount.
As soon as Bastien Siebman of Asana Superheroes ($800/mo) started bundling his products, he saw an increase in sales. When he released his second e-book, he sold it both individually and bundled with his first e-book and a few templates at a 50% discount. Then he focused his promotional efforts on this bundle rather than on the individual products. He still sells each product individually as well, but says it's much easier to promote a big package — especially when it comes with a big discount. Each new bundle tends to appeal to a broader subset than a new product would.
Gain new customers through "native ads" by promoting your company somewhere on the product that you sell.
John "Pliny" Eremic of Endcrawl ($20,000/mo) gets roughly 10% of new customers this way. He places his company's name and logo and the bottom of all Endcrawl projects as default. These can be removed by the customer but many choose to leave them there. As a result, Endcrawl is sprinkled across hundreds of films, including roughly a third of the films at Sundance. He encourages all founders to put thought into what might constitute a "native ad" in their space.
Increase your conversions and traffic by investing in product review software and asking customers for reviews.
Hugo Meana of doctorSIM ($400,000/mo) saw a 4-5% increase in conversions when he did this, and he believes that it can set you apart from your competitors — especially the paid plans, which allow for more control and automation. To ensure that he has new reviews every day, he messages customers once they receive their product with a personalized message inviting them to review. This may also result in more positive reviews. And he doesn't hide negative reviews; he replies in public and learns from the feedback. Of all the review platforms he's tried, TrustPilot and eKomi worked best for him, increasing traffic by 15%.
Grow your list with high-quality subscribers by running a give-away contest and including social sharing.
Jesse Neugarten of Dollar Flight Club ($1,500/mo) grew his list to 10,000 subscribers when he gave away a free flight. The flight was a good choice because it appealed to his audience, giving him high-quality and engaged subscribers. He also offered them five extra entries if they followed him on social media, or four extra entries if they shared it, which made the tactic even more successful.
Ask for customer information on your Thank You page to qualify leads and gather information for future marketing and sales efforts.
Talia Wolfe increased a client's direct sales by 52% when she advised them to recreate their Thank You page so that it included a personal message, an image of the co-founders, and (most importantly) a request for more information. Specifically, she asked for:
She then used this information successfully to market other products and services to new customers.
Reference the customer reviews of related products to create high-converting copy that matches the language and concerns of your market.
That's how Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers found copy that got 400% more clicks and 20% more lead generation compared to the control. As she was creating copy for a rehab center, she combed reviews of books geared towards addicts or their families where she found the line, "If you think you need rehab, you do," which seemed to resonate with a lot of readers. She added the line to the landing page and had resounding success. Wiebe says this is especially useful as a pre-launch tactic for those who don't yet have any customer reviews of their own. Go to where related products are sold, like the App Store or Amazon, and pull out the stickiest messages that appear repeatedly or have lots of upvotes.
Increase conversions by displaying disabled premium features to free users, with a link to upgrade.
Yoann Moinet of Fenêtre ($550/mo) saw his sales more than double when he did this. His free users have a limited feature-set but they still see the premium features in the Settings menu. These features are disabled, with a link to upgrade right below. Though he's unable to say exactly how much of his increase in sales was due to this specific tactic, he believes it played a big role.
Convert more users by using a warm color, like red, for your call-to-action buttons.
Hubspot did this and saw a 21% boost in conversions. They A/B tested green buttons against red buttons with over 2,000 users and saw red buttons gain 21% more conversions than green. Orange is also a good color to use and, while these colors have been shown to outperform others, that doesn't necessarily mean you should use them. The most important thing is choosing a warm, high-contrast color that dominates the visual hierarchy.
Offer positive testimonials for the products and services you use in order to increase exposure.
Nicolas Tranchant of VivaLatina ($7,200/mo) found that companies published his reviews of their products 80% of the time, along with a link to his company. Although he doesn't know how many conversions this has brought, he believes it has been very helpful to his brand. These providers are often very relevant to his niche and high in domain authority, so it gives his company high-quality exposure. Just make sure to be honest in your testimonials.
Send your newsletters and promotional emails in plain text to avoid them getting lost in Gmail's "Promotions" tab.
Louis Vieira of E-commerce Ranker consistently gets over a 40% open rate and high click-throughs on his promotional emails this way. Plain text emails usually aren't flagged by Gmail as promotions, which means the emails end up in the recipient's normal inbox instead of getting lost. Bold and italics don't seem to affect this, so he does use these functions sometimes to enhance readability. These plain text emails also look more like normal business emails, so the likelihood of the recipient paying attention to (and clicking or responding) is higher. According to Vieira, this tactic should not be applied to transactional emails or catalog-type emails.
Use interactive content like quizzes to grow your subscribers and generate sales.
Jen Olmstead of Tonic Site Shop did this, netting over 2,000 new subscribers and generating over $20,000 in sales within two months of launching her quiz. She spent $0 on ads. To create a quiz that benefits your business, do the following:
For further assistance in creating your quiz check out products like Interact and Quiz Maker.
Improve upon a competitor's link-worthy content and get people to link to your content instead, increasing your organic traffic.
Brian Dean of BackLinko did this and increased his organic search traffic by 110% in just 14 days — that single post drove more than 300,000 referrals to his site. To do this yourself, find link-worthy content and create something even better by making it longer, more thorough, and/or more up-to-date. Then reach out to people who are linking back to the original article and let them know what's better about your version so that they'll link to you instead. To get started, head to Ahrefs or SEMrush and export all the links pointing to your competitor's content. Then reach out with the email template at the bottom of this article.
Add the word "today" to the end of an article's headline to increase your click-through rate.
Marcus Taylor of MusicLawContracts.com added this single word to his headline so that it read, "Simple tips to reduce your website's bounce rate today" and increased his CTR from 0.77% to 3.94%. As a test, he then reduced urgency by using the phrases "this week" or "this month" instead of "today" and saw his CTR immediately decline. Interestingly, using the word "now" instead of "today" also reduced CTR, but that seems to be dependent on context.
Increase conversions by offering an extension to users 10 days before their free trial ends.
After doing this, Eran Galperin of Martial Arts on Rails ($5,000/mo) found that 30-40% of free trials requested an extension and 74% of these converted to paid plans, as opposed to his usual 20%. Ten days before the end of a user's trial period, Eran sends an email offering an extension of the free trial. He says people often start a free trial and forget about it, so this email serves as a reminder that they are running out of time and gives them an option to extend it so that they won't give up before seeing its value. The extension also works well because his users' dependency on the product increases with time.
Translate your product into high-leverage languages in order to increase your revenue.
Jérémy Mouzin translated Hercules ($1,000/mo) and he makes 16% of his revenue from these different translations. As a general rule, he recommends prioritizing English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. But the most important thing is to pick the language of a country where people can afford the product. If you see people from a different country using your product in its current language, that's a great place to start. Don't forget to localize your promotional content as well. Mouzin used Tomedes to translate his app, and there are plenty of other options, like Gengo.
To increase product implementation and retention, add a call-to-action to your confirmation page, directing users to the next step in implementing your product.
Talia Wolfe did this for a client and saw a 39% increase in the implementation of their product. By simply adding the text "Download Now" and an arrow on the confirmation page, more people actually downloaded and used the product — this resulted in more opportunities for the customer to find value in the product, recommend it to others, and make future purchases. And this doesn't only apply to downloadable products. For example, you could direct students to the first module of your class or show users how to get started with your SaaS.
Increase exposure and conversion by making philanthropy a key element of your value proposition, and being vocal about your cause and contributions.
Filip Pejic of Society Socks ($6,000/mo) says that upwards of 60% of new customers buy their products because they feel moved by the social cause alone — it has been a key driver for his growth. With every pair of socks that he sells, he donates another pair to youth homeless shelters, and he makes it clear that this is a core element of his value proposition. He emphasizes the cause and its social impact on his landing page, as well as a dedicated page, and in Society Socks' blog which is dedicated to social impact. This ensures that his company is known for its cause, and it brings in customers who are already warm due to their interest in philanthropy.
Scour online communities for complaints about features that your competitors are missing, then implement them and notify the original poster.
Dinesh Agarwal of RecurPost ($4,000/mo) did this and saw between a 20% and 50% increase in referrals, depending on the channel. He was already active in many online communities, so he kept an eye out for these complaints and, once he identified and implemented the feature, he told the original poster that RecurPost supported it. Afterward, he kept an eye out for anyone else making the same complaint. Social channels like Facebook groups, Twitter, reddit, etc. performed the best, at right around a 50% increase in referrals.
Livestream your work on a platform like YouTube or Twitch to increase sales pre-launch.
William Candillon of Start React Native ($5,100/mo) got about 95 sales before he even finished his project this way. He started developing a UI Kit live on YouTube, figuring that even if no one watched, it would still force him to be productive. To his surprise, people in the comments started requesting access to his product. He ended up making $3,000 before launch. The livestreams made him more relatable and gave potential customers a sense of what they would be buying. And they also helped with customer support, because he could point people to relevant videos.
To increase signups for your online courses, limit their availability to only twice a year rather than keeping them up permanently.
Paul Jarvis of PJRVS ($33,000/mo) found that when he started doing this, he was making more from each course in the two weeks a year that they were open than he made when they were open for 52 weeks a year. He says people need a reason to act now instead of always thinking they'll do it later. This tactic also helps him as a solo founder because it allows him to put 100% of his focus on the courses when it's time to put them out, and 100% on other initiatives the rest of the year.
Gain paid users and important data by launching with pay-what-you-want, and then changing your pricing later.
Gregg Blanchard of PeakFeed ($1,000/mo) was able to quickly get his first 115 paying users this way. It also gave him lots of good user testimonials for his marketing efforts. He recommends a pay-what-you-want model for people who are just getting started, but says you'll hit a ceiling pretty quickly. Today, he uses a standard tiered pricing structure, which he based on the data he got from his pay-what-you-want users. And he still uses his testimonials to inform his marketing message and gain insights into his key features.
Get new signups by using your company's unique data to create compelling infographics.
Marc Montagne of Toolwatch.io ($4,000/mo) got 600 signups in one day after putting his first infographic on reddit. Since he had measured so many watches, his company had a lot of data that were both unique and relevant to his product. It made him stand out right away, and it continued to bring in hundreds of signups each time he put out a new infographic. Think about how you can use your company's data to create a compelling piece of content, then use something like Canva or Piktochart to make it visually appealing.
Reduce churn by offering 50% off the first month instead of a free trial.
Joe Howard of WP Buffs ($69,000/mo) brought his churn rate from 65% down to single digits when he switched from a 30-day free trial to 50% off the first month. His customer acquisition stayed the same but the customers he attracted were much higher quality. The psychology of sunk cost might also encourage some users to stick around for longer.
Increase your conversion rate by requiring users to signup before they get anything for free.
Rick Van Haasteren of SiteGuru ($500/mo) used this tactic to increase conversions from 5% to 20%. Originally, Rick offered a limited version of his product for free without taking an email address, but only a few users signed up for the paid version. Now he makes sure to require them in order to convert users through weekly emails which include personalized tips about improving their websites.
Even if your traffic is low, monetize your content by finding niche sponsors and offering them long-term perks.
Joe Stetch of Compelling Science Fiction ($1,000/mo) became cashflow positive when he did this. He was already creating and selling niche content, so he cold-emailed businesses who demonstrated an interest in content like his, explaining why he was reaching out and that they could support such content through sponsorships while reaching new customers. He had a 20% success rate with these emails. Since his website traffic was low, he also let them know that the sponsorships would be associated with the story forever, creating potential long-tail exposure. Once he landed the $360 sponsorship, he would promote them with a small 1-2 sentence note at the top of his latest piece of content.
Use long-form stories for ad copy on Facebook to boost post engagement and gain subscribers.
Despite conventional wisdom that concise copy is best on platforms like Facebook, Olly Richards of I Will Teach You a Language did this and gained 3,000+ followers in a week. He used copy that began with a story while also stating what the ad was about in the first sentence. He used, "Sprinters can teach us a lot about how to learn Spanish," as his opening sentence. He allowed the post to retain lots of details, even those that seemed non-essential, if they supported the story he was telling. Though it might seem counterintuitive, relatable details are what allow your message to take shape in a reader's mind and to evoke an emotional connection.
Host webinars with people who have similar audiences to find and acquire new subscribers — especially if you don't have your own audience.
Over the course of a summer, Brennan Dunn of Double Your Freelancing ($78,000/mo) did over $150,000 in revenue and added 10,000 people to his email list with a single joint-venture webinar. After finding a likely co-host, he made his request hard to refuse by offering a breakdown of what he would cover, a promise not to hard-sell their audience, and his average revenue per registration, per live attendee, and per sale. Even if you've never hosted a webinar before, this tactic can work if you have something of value to share — just join forces with someone who has a smaller audience for your first go-around.
For help getting started, reach out to community members on Indie Hackers.
Create microsites with unique, quality, and highly-shareable content to improve your SEO and bring in leads.
Varun Aggarwal of Designhill ($110,000/mo) was able to rank organically and get lots of traffic when he created guides like this and an interactive quiz. He then housed them in their own, self-contained webpages on his company's domain. As this content was shared due to its easily digestible and sticky nature, his company got lots of traffic, giving them coverage without spending money on a PR agency.
Write something fun and easily digestible to get the ball rolling — it doesn't even have to be specific to your work if you house it on a page that's not visible in your main menu.
Place your product's highest price on the left to make the other prices look more attractive and convert more sales.
Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers A/B tested pricing her client's products from lowest to highest and vice versa, and saw a 500% percent increase in conversions when products were priced from high to low. If you don't have different pricing options, this tactic can still work for you. Just compare your product's price to a competitor's price, making sure to present theirs on the left and yours on the right for utmost potency.
Remove everything from your landing page that isn't essential to increase your opt-in rate.
Brian Kidwell and Scott Keyes of Scott's Cheap Flights ($320,000/mo) are getting a whopping 30-40% of new visitors to sign up for emails, and they did this in part by stripping their website down to the essentials. First, they turned the original home page into a formal landing page, adding one consistent call-to-action throughout and removing anything that could distract a person from signing up — including the menu and sharing buttons. Then, they added everything that would help visitors make a decision about the service, like a clear value proposition at the top, a "featured in" section, testimonials, past deals they've offered, etc. This systematic stripping of the website led to their stellar opt-in rate. If you need inspiration, here's a list of some good minimalist landing pages.
Add an opt-in form to every page of your website to dramatically improve your conversion rates.
Jason Swett of CodeWithJason.com ($200/mo) discovered this inadvertently with a previous product. After originally adding these opt-ins to every page, he removed them without suspecting it would matter. His conversions dove by as much as 50% for four months before he put the form back on every page and saw his sales pick back up again. Though other variables may have also influenced his sales, he's confident the calls to action were the primary factor.
Increase conversions by implementing alerts that tell you when users are spending too much time on particular tasks.
Alex Turnbull of Groove ($500,000/mo) made customers 350% more likely to convert when he began using these “red flag metrics” to tell him when a customer was having trouble with his app. His team built a simple alert system and reached out to struggling users via email to ensure they had a good experience. These emails got a 10% response rate, and 30% of the users were still customers after 30 days — more than 350% higher than their average free trial users.
Get more signups by "acquiring" your old blog, republishing the articles, and redirecting links to your business.
Dave Schneider of NinjaOutreach ($50,000/mo) turned a bad quarter around when his company recycled his first blog.. It hadn't been a promising start to the year and he was beginning to think they'd peaked, but republishing articles from that blog and redirecting all the old links to NinjaOutreach led to a big increase in traffic and signups. After that, they bought other websites and repeated the process, which led to even more. By the end of the quarter, they were back on their feet with $20,000 in MRR.
If you don't have an old site to repurpose, reach out to old blogs in your industry, or check out marketplaces like Transferslot or SideProjector.
Offer a personal demo to every single person who signs up to convert free users into paid customers.
Wyatt Jozwowski of Demio ($43,000/mo) believes this tactic played a big role in attracting more than 800 users. During their beta, he filled his calendar with these demos — not only establishing more personal relationships with his customers, but also learning a tremendous amount about what his customers did and didn't want, and what stopped them from using the platform. They continued their demos after launch and he says it's where they've gotten the majority of their customers.
Setting up scheduling with services like neatCal or Calendly can support this process. Also, check out services like Livestorm or Zoom for your demos.
To create buzz and momentum for your launch, run a presale offer of your product with some additional perks.
Jason Swett of CodeWithJason.com ($200/mo) did this for his previous venture, an e-book called Angular on Rails, and it helped him to eventually launch to 300 people with seven pre-orders.
First, he wrote narrowly focused blog posts related to his product to increase relevant traffic. Then, he offered a lead magnet (a free copy in exchange for an email address) on that same topic to get subscribers. And, finally, he contacted those subscribers, inviting them to pre-order.
Grow your audience by writing guest posts tailored specifically to the user segment that you and the blog have in common.
Alex Turnbull of Groove ($500,000/mo) reached more than a million people this way. He says a few things are critical:
Add chat support to your site to convert visitors to new users and educate them in the process.
Potential customers didn't know how to use Andrew Carpenter of Intrinio's ($10,000/mo) services until he added chat support to the website. Not only did this increase customer acquisition but it increased retention as well. He believed that fast answers from knowledgable people create loyal users, so everyone on Andrew's team had the chat feature on their phones around the clock. Check out chat software like tawk.to and JivoChat.
Gain more email list subscribers by creating a dedicated opt-in page that you can link people to.
Harry Dry of Marketing Examples did this and his "Subscribe" page has a 45% opt-in rate, bringing his overall rate up to 12.9%. When he creates value on platforms like reddit and links directly to this page, conversion is much more likely. In fact, of the 1,070 users who went directly to Dry's subscribe page in a three month period, nearly 500 joined the email list. For inspiration, check out marketingexamples.com/subscribe.
Sell lifetime subscriptions to give you more runway when your company is early-stage.
David Kramaley of Chessable ($6,000/mo) got his business off the ground this way. He offered monthly subscriptions for $9.99, yearly for $59.99, and lifetime for $299.99. Not only did the big lifetime payments get him started, but they often amounted to 50% of his revenue, giving him extra cash to pay for campaigns and other essentials.
Include a narrative in your blog posts to keep your readers reading and grow your audience.
When Alex Turnbull of Groove ($500,000/mo) compared blog posts with a clear narrative element to "no-nonsense" blog posts without one, he found that narratives made people 300% more likely to scroll to the bottom, with 500% more time spent on the page. This higher perceived value can quickly translate to growth. He recommends these four tips for adding storytelling to your content:
Join a co-working space and network with your fellow co-workers to create word-of-mouth advocates.
Instead of spending time and money on marketing, Austin Ginder of Anchor Hosting ($19,000/mo) has grown organically through the relationships he's cultivated at his co-working space. Focusing on the people most likely to refer customers to him (in his case, web designers and developers), he's kept his introductions simple while making sure to mention exactly what he's working on: "Hi, my name is Austin, and I XYZ." From there, his growth strategy has been to seek out opportunities to become a core member of the community — by organizing and speaking at meet-ups, for example. To give this a try, check out co-working spaces like WeWork or Regus.
Offer your product to startups for free to convert them to loyal customers over the long term.
Intrinio ($10,000/mo) gained several new customers this way. They launched a program offering six months of free data to startups. Of the 70 startups that signed up, many stuck around after the program ended, leading to plenty of revenue with little added effort. If you want to create your own startup program, try promoting it in the Indie Hackers Deals group and in other communities where your audience hangs out.
In your subscription copy, be transparent about what you're offering and how many people are subscribed.
Steph Smith grew her newsletter by 700 subscribers this way. By referencing the number of current subscribers and changing the CTA from "Subscribe" to "Stay updated!" she made the offer more appealing with social proof. She also added personal reassurances by guaranteeing she'd never spam subscribers and by being explicit about what she was offering — a weekly newsletter.
Get higher conversion and open rates by using verbatim customer quotes as email subject lines in your lead-nurturing campaigns.
Garrett Moon of CoSchedule routinely sees 70-90% email open rates and 25% conversion rates when he does this, and it really drives revenue for his company. A good example is, "I've recently fallen in love with CoSchedule." To find subject lines like this, you can comb through relevant feedback in your emails, app store ratings, and sites like Trustpilot and Capterra.
Recapture users who don't convert after a free trial by sending them automated win-back emails.
Alex Turnbull of Groove ($500,000/mo) netted several hundred users when he began sending these emails to people who hadn't converted after the free trial. In terms of the timing, he experimented with sending win-back emails at 7, 21, and 90 days after a user didn’t convert, and the 90-day emails were the most successful. In the email, he offered former users another free trial, no strings attached. Check out the exact copy he used to win users back here. And to automate your own emails, try Drip or ConvertKit.
Increase slow sales by pricing your basic product as pay-what-you-can with a minimum.
Linda Formichelli of Hero's Journey Content increased her revenue by 10x when she made her e-course available with a pay-what-you-can option with a minimum payment of $30. In the past, Linda had sold the same course for $120, and about two or three students had enrolled each time. With this new option, enrollment skyrocketed to 128 people. If you try this out, try gradually raising the minimum price based on what people are willing to pay.
If one of your new features will only appeal to some of your users, try offering it as a paid add-on.
The only feature that ever significantly moved the needle for Josh Pigford of Baremetrics ($107,000/mo) was one that he made available as a paid add-on. He was frustrated that his new features never led to growth, but when he eventually launched one as an add-on, he saw a big increase in revenue. This tactic worked well with this specific feature because not everyone would have used it — if he had bundled it into the normal price, it may have gotten buried with the other features, and those who used it would have been undercharged.
Reduce churn by requiring a phone number at signup and calling new users right away.
Before Thiago Obaid of Proposeful came up with this approach, new users would sign up for his app but drop out before using it. This all changed when he started asking for their numbers and onboarding them with a personal phone call. He would say, "I'm calling to ask why you signed up so that I can assist you." Large companies often spend a lot of money doing this, but bootstrapped startups can do it too. It increased engagement, decreased churn, and eventually tailored the onboarding process to the most qualified customers.
Add exit-intent popups to your side projects to drive traffic to your paid product.
Alan Warsoff of SelfDecode ($17,000/mo) saw a 1.2% click-through rate when he added one to his co-founder's website. He simply triggered a popup when the user's mouse left the page, asking them to check out his product. About 60% of SelfDecode's traffic comes from this website and, of all the ways they've tried to divert traffic, these exit-intent popups have performed the best. Check out these examples and best practices to get started.
Alex Lashkov of Linguix.com ($1,000/mo) grew to 4,700 users by targeting less saturated foreign markets, which gave him enough traction to get into bigger markets. It's often cheaper to advertise in non-English speaking countries, yet millions of English speakers reside there and are an under-tapped potential. So, he targeted these smaller markets and countries where his product might have a potential audience. Then, since he didn't know what was popular on the web in those places, he paid $10-20 for consultations through UpWork to ask natives in those markets where to post his content.
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Timur Valishev of JivoChat ($625,000/mo) reduced churn by strategically integrating with third-party software. In fact, "those who have used the integration features stayed on the premium plan for 18% more time than those who didn't use integrations." By integrating with similar businesses (other communication channels in this case, like Facebook, email, phone systems, etc.), they've increased the probability that even if their clients stop using JivoChat on their website, they'll continue to use it on other platforms through the integrations. Furthermore, targeting their customers' CRM systems specifically made "switching to competitors a bit more complex because the customer will have to go through the integration and data transfer process once again."
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Adriaan van Rossum of Simple Analytics ($2,900/mo) hit $30k in ARR, due in large part to the creation of a feature where customers could make their stats public and share them — inspiring organic promotion. When employing this tactic, he says to select anything that would be interesting to the outside world, without revealing information which the customer would want to remain private. About 30% of his customers chose to make their data public, so it was great exposure for his brand. "There are plenty of tweets out there sharing their dashboard and at the same time they are sharing Simple Analytics."
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Hrishikesh Pardeshi of Flexiple drew 1,000+ subscribers to his blog before he wrote a single blog post. He wanted to gauge interest first, so he wrote a very detailed meta-post about the series of articles he planned to write, along with a link to subscribe. And then he shared it on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Not only did a large number of people subscribe, but they were engaged — his first official blog post "saw 45% opens and 19% clicks!"
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Nathan Barry of ConvertKit ($1.43MM/mo) grew from $1,300 to $5,000 per month when he started doing free migrations for potential customers. After speaking with them, he realized many were interested in his product, but the work required to switch was prohibitive. "So, on a whim, I said I'd do it for them. For free. That worked. We later called it concierge migrations and started doing that for hundreds of customers." From there, his momentum only continued to grow, eventually becoming what it is today.
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Maura Vella of 105F replaced month-to-month subscription plans with year-long memberships and saw a 34% rise in membership. Now that clients are no longer able to pause or cancel at any time, retention is at an all-time high. Revenue also spiked and is much more steady. After trying "everything" to attract new clients and keep old ones, she says this small tweak has been a "game-changer."
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Garrett Moon of CoSchedule generated 17,530 email sign-ups from repurposing an old (but popular) blog post into an actionable "kit" that he gated behind an email opt-in form. He created an infographic that had the post's unique data and research, and he included Google Analytics reports. To employ this tactic yourself, grab your most popular content, add infographics and one or more of the following to the "kit" — templates, calculators, worksheets, and/or any other document that helps your audience apply what the original post taught. "Best part?" said Garrett. "It was low effort to create."
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Manuel Frigerio's formula for pricing helped him grow ReferralHero to $13k/mo. Someone once told him that if he doesn't know what to charge, "pick what seems a reasonable price and multiply by 3." He says people often default to a "soft spot" when they don't know what to charge, which is much lower than people would actually pay, and this formula mitigates that tendency.
Rather than doing a one-and-done launch, Danielle Johnson represented the release of multiple new features as a new version of Leave Me Alone ($2.4k/mo), which she then launched to gain new users and revenue. "It's been 9 months since we launched the first version of Leave Me Alone," she said, "and we've hit some amazing milestones since then!" So, if your first launch doesn't go well, or even if it does, don't sweat it — build a new version and relaunch.
Michael Ramirez grew LabelGrid to $5k/mo, largely by turning features into their own products. He says that isolating his features, turning them into standalone SaaS products, and then cross-promoting them, was by far his most effective way of growing revenue. It "allows us to pull in leads while monetizing a separate service at the same time."
Pete Codes of No CS OK ($97/mo) grew his job board to 1,040 subscribers in nine days. One tactic which helped him achieve this was surprisingly straightforward: "I had a nice simple email CTA in the header of my website... I didn't go for the boring 'subscribe' button but a 'get a job' CTA which is obviously a lot more grabby." Make your CTAs more compelling by highlighting your value proposition to the user — what do they ultimately get out of clicking the button?
"Instagram is a huge pyramid scheme," said Gerald of GrepMed, which he grew to 10,000 followers on Instagram. He followed, liked, and commented on posts from people around his same popularity level. He joined "pods" of users for mutual post engagement and cross-promoted with users who had similar content. Once he hit 500 followers, momentum began to build on its own as Instagram's algorithm exposed his posts to more followers. And as his popularity rose, people with fewer followers began to ride his coattails by liking and commenting on his posts in an attempt to get to the top themselves.
Your product might be able to solve problems that potential customers hire freelancers for. Find these customers on freelancing sites.
Alex Kehaya of ActionPages ($4,000/mo) found customers this way on Upwork. He searched for people looking to hire coders for specific tasks, then explained how his product could do the same job. Usefully, the customers had expressed interest in his service and set aside budgets for it ahead of time. In addition to Upwork, you can try this out on freelancing sites like Fiverr and Toptal.