Blog Startup Journey

Our 8 Biggest Conversion Optimization Wins of 2015 (So Far)

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We’re almost halfway through the year. Here’s what’s been working for us so far.

One of the curses of building a business is that you’re never doing enough.

No matter how high your conversion rates are, or your customer base, or your revenue… there’s room to grow.

And holding steady is not an option.

If you’re not doing more every single day to grow faster and stronger than the day before, then the hungrier company right behind you will.

Conversion optimization is no different.

They’ve been improving over the past couple of years, and yet they never feel like they’re really where they should be.

To some extent, that’s a really good thing, because it keeps us driving forward.

At any given time, we’re doing a dozen or more things to increase our conversions across the board.

Most of them fail.

But sometimes, we hit a winner.

We’re almost halfway through 2015, and I thought I’d share some of our biggest wins of the year so far.

I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped us.

Blog Subscription Conversion Wins

1) Premium Download + In-line Calls to Action

In the past, our blog subscribers have been incentivized to sign up for one reason, and one reason only: they loved our content, and they wanted to know when we published more of it.

Now, that’s not something that needs fixing. It’s a fantastic place to be, and we’re fortunate that we’ve been able to build a relationship with more than 30,000 people that way.

But we wondered what would happen if we added an extra nudge.

So earlier this year, we put together a 500+ page ebook that contains every lesson (plus bonus content) from our journey to $100,000 in MRR, and we added an in-line call to action offering the book as a free download for signing up.

Premium download Premium download

We went back and added the download to our past blog posts, and use them where appropriate on new posts, too.

Depending on the post, the form converts at around 1-1.5%, without impacting conversions on the other calls to action on our blog.

It was a great win for us, and we’re excited to experiment with more of these, and do more analysis on the behavior of these subscribers versus those who sign up from the other forms.

By the way, if you’re interested in the PDF, you can grab it for free right here:

2) Adding SumoMe

We’ve also added a SumoMe Smart Bar on some pages of this blog (and a Hello Bar to our customer support blog, as we evaluate both products) to collect email addresses in exchange for a content download.

The results have been positive so far, and we’ve collected nearly 1,500 email addresses.

Here’s a look at conversions (as you can see, they can vary wildly day to day, but tend to hover at a bit under 1% on average):

3) Running a Giveaway

In April, I published a post on 13 books that have changed the way I do business.

As part of the post, I decided to give away all 13 books to three of our readers (39 books in total).

To do that, we used Rafflecopter, which made it easy to run the giveaway, and let readers earn entries for sharing the post, Tweeting, following us and of course, signing up for our email list.

In just a few days, the giveaway generated nearly 1,500 new subscribers that hadn’t been on our list before, converting nearly 10% of the post’s visitors during that time period.

4) Scroll-up Box

The final place we’ve added a call to action this year has been in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. The box appears as the reader approaches the end of the post.

I know this seems like a lot of signup forms, but as we added them, we also removed the obtrusive full-page pop-up that annoyed so many of our readers. Our overall conversions have not gone down, but the number of angry messages certainly has.

The scroll-up box has been a helpful tool that’s less jarring and annoying than the full-page pop-up, but still nudges readers to sign up while they’re getting value from our content.

Groove Trial Signup Conversion Wins

5) Blog Autoresponder Call to Action

When a reader subscribes to our blog, they receive a series of emails that include some of our most valuable content (including some that doesn’t even appear on the blog).

This autoresponder sequence helps us ensure that new subscribers can get to know us more easily; it gives them an easy way to access our best tips, without having to go through and read two years worth of blog posts.

After a few emails, we send a message explaining what Groove is, and an offer to give it a try:

Since we added this email earlier this year, it’s been converting at just under 4%, and optimizing this will be a big focus for us moving forward.

6) Trial Signup Link in Blog Emails

Every week, we send at least two emails to our blog mailing lists.

One shares that week’s Journey to $500K blog post, and the other shares that week’s Customer Support Blog post.

It took us a long time, but we finally decided to test adding a trial signup call to action within those weekly emails.

While it doesn’t convert at a ridiculously high rate (usually around .05-.1%), that’s a handful of new trial users every single week that we were leaving on the table before, so I consider this to be a big win.

7) Forever Free Plan

In the past, we’ve offered a few different variations of limited trials to new users:

One thing I prioritize is getting as much advice as possible from people much smarter than I am.

And over the last year or so, one trumpet that’s been sounded loudly is the value of a “Forever Free” plan.

In fact, a number of successful entrepreneurs have mentioned it in our My First $100K interview series.

Free users can eventually pay you as they’re growing, but it’s not just that; your free users will drive you even more users.

Neil Patel, My First $100K

If I’m starting a new SaaS business today, I would highly consider having a free plan that you invest resources in and plan on keeping forever.

Hiten Shah, My First $100K

So a couple of months ago, we decided to test a Forever Free plan in Groove.

Right away, conversions on our pricing page went up. When the dust settled, we saw a nearly 30% boost!

Pricing Page Conversions Pricing Page Conversions

There’s a lot more to share about this experiment in a post we’ll publish soon.

8) “Competitor Alternative” Pages

One of the things we learned from our ongoing customer development efforts was that a large percentage of our new users were either weighing Groove versus Zendesk, or a shared Gmail inbox.

We wanted to make the decision easier, so we built a couple of pages to assist in making the comparison against Zendesk, Desk and email.

Not only has the page improved conversions (visitors who visit the Zendesk Alternative page are around 15% more likely to sign up), but the pages have had massive SEO benefits as prospects search for alternatives to the software they hate.

Plus, some marketing bloggers have even noticed the pages and written about them, resulting in even more exposure.

How to Apply This to Your Business

We’re always experimenting, and we’ve had plenty of fails in this arena as well (more on that soon), but I hope that from our wins, you’ve found at least a couple of ideas to test on your own business.

And if you do, be sure to come back and let us know how it goes.

Your turn: what have your biggest conversion wins this year been so far? Leave a comment and let me know.

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From “aha” to “oh shit”, we’re sharing everything on our journey to $10M in annual revenue. We’re learning a lot and so will you.

About the Author

Alex Turnbull is the CEO & Founder of Groove (simple helpdesk software for small businesses) who loves to build startups and surf.

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