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March 2, 2016

How We Onboarded 490 Websites in 5 Months

We onboarded 490 Websites in only five months. You are likely thinking: that isn’t too good for business. We agree. That’s where the conversion and onboarding process begins. And it’s a make or break type of deal.

How did we do it?

We’re going to share with you 10 of our key onboarding tactics that have been successful… and continue to accelerate: 490 websites in five months equate to about four new websites per day. We’re currently at much more than that so our growth is very much exponential.

Our top 10 onboarding tactics

If you skim the list too quickly, you might run the risk of misunderstanding them as just the basics. However, people do the “basics” all the time and don’t achieve the same results. What’s different here?

If you’re interested in emulating our strategies and successful onboarding process, give some thought as to the finer details of how we use each marketing asset.

1. SAAS Sales Funnelling

2. Blog Lead Generation

3. Popup Distribution

4. Funnel Advancement

5. Available Pricing

6. Lifetime Free Account

7. All “About” Trust

8. Copywriting

9. Case Studies

10. Direct Onboarding

SAAS sales funneling

Let’s get real for a second. Professionally designing a marketing website is no longer the big challenge.

What we’ve observed is that the real challenge is understanding how your website functions as the axis of your full marketing funnel and how your users interact with it.

This includes multiple lead generation entry points. Our website is our digital marketing hub, which to be honest, is the case with many similar startups.

For simplification purposes, most web funnels tend to be visualized as just one big funnel – taking in leads and narrowing to customer conversions.

image1

Courtesy of Stipso

Adding another level of complication are the funnels that “go both ways:

image2

But these type of funnels symbolize a frictionless system of user onboarding, which it really is not.

A more accurate depiction would have not only multiple entry points but multiple funnels pointing leads in different directions personalized for their specific needs.

The classical funnel is great for showing how signups progress from new to qualified prospect to fully onboarded user but here’s a visualization of what you’re really up against:

 image3

Courtesy of ChiefMarTech

2. Blog lead generation

Our key traffic driver has always been our blog.

At the very minimum, you are someone that knows onboarding is very important. If I was wrong about that, you wouldn’t have read this far already.

And chances are you arrived here organically. We do not mean you fell off a pesticide-free vegetable delivery truck. We just mean you may have Googled us or saw our link shared in a social network.

The alternative is usually via an ad click where we pay for the privilege of making your acquaintance, each and every time.

We decided right from the beginning that our focus would be on inbound marketing. And our blog is structured as the main engine for our inbound traffic and leads.

Here’s your reality check. We run an active blogging schedule. Our traffic wasn’t an immediate avalanche. However, it was recurring, accumulating, and growing quickly as we refined our content marketing strategy.

We know our audience. We write for them, and we try for relaxed, easy to ready language. After all, you’re not here to get a Phd. Your time is limited and it’s our job to provide you with valuable content that is easy to digest…yum, yum, yum.

An example of a successful content marketing tactic

For a few months, our blog ran without much notice. We were producing “quality” content: unique, ever-green, more than 1,200 words blog posts that weren’t getting noticed.

Until, our 7 Essential Success Factors to Adopt from 12 Killer Blogs post changed all that.. 

Why was this one different?

Well, the post provided a unique and thoughtful analysis of a few very successful blogs. But, more importantly, it pulled the curtain and revealed the behind the scenes strategies of the people who are akin to celebrities in the pro blogging world.

That topic resonated with our audience, and it was so well targeted to them it spiked our traffic and conversions.

But the most important part was that some of the experts we featured shared the post on social media.

This created a buzz around the post and got it to go viral…I’m not talking buzzfeed here but viral by our own standards up till that point… Like this tweet below that went out to @CMIContent’s 168,000 followers:

image4

Instantly we gained a few dozen new Twitter followers and just as important Google started to pay attention too. So if you take away one piece of advice from this post so far it would be: write a unique and thorough post that features influencers in a flattering way. Then, point their attention to it. If the writing is engaging and the analysis thought provoking, then you have a very good chance they will share it.

In matters of formality, be aware that we do have a style guide and pay heavy attention to SEO tactics.

However, it’s the most whitehat of strategies that serves us the best. We choose highly targeted topics. Then we write about each of them in enough detail (including related keywords) that both web visitors and search engines alike recognize us as great info sources.

If you use those principles, the rabbit hole of complex SEO approaches isn’t something you have to get sucked into. However, SEO results are also much easier to achieve when you start out with a laser-focused understanding of your target audience and the content that will serve them best.

3. Pop up domination

Popups work! A carefully structured message delivered in a timely way… converts. However, we did not want to require our incoming users to have to search for these lead gen triggers.

Basically what a pop-up does is pancake your marketing funnel into a single stage. Every page becomes a landing page. For better and for worse. For example, our newsletter registration pop up has been converting from the onset (seen it yet?).

This led us to create an experiment of utilizing the popup lead generation strategy through our full website. That’s something we actively split tested and saw positive results for.

Why did we do it?

When your incoming traffic may have only seconds, you can’t be certain you’ll advance them effectively down the funnel to one particular lead conversion area.

So test converting them where they are… including on some of the main pages of your website. It’s not just about your blog anymore.

Here’s the thing though. pop-ups on your homepage or pricing page can have a negative effect on user experience and on your conversions.

We recommend starting out by testing on a small proportion of your traffic and using different triggers that aren’t too UX negative such as exit intent.

4. Call-to-action optimization

Your entire website has to be structured around advancing users through your funnel. As we noted, a big part of how we convert leads is through our pop up strategy.

It’s true that popups can be annoying sometimes. However, when there is a perception of annoyance, it has common roots:

Popups are annoying when they are not highly targeted to the user’s intent.

Pop-up ask the reader to stop what they’re doing right now and perform a different action they did not intend to perform before….Ish. That’s hard to do but not impossible. The secret is to optimize your pop-ups to find the sweet spot where you can maximize conversions while maintaining a positive user experience.

That’s the theory behind exit intent pop-ups but they don’t always work. So we tested for:

Timing

Placement

Message

CTA

Fields

How do we know to find the sweet spot between user experience and conversion rates? Because our visitors convert at a high rate and they don’t leave, quickly anyway.

We run optimization tests not only through our pop-up provider (SumoMe) but also through our A/B testing platform (Optimizely) where we also test for the best performing calls to action and content layouts.

For instance, we found that START NOW drives 87 percent more demo requests than the more obvious REQUEST A DEMO.

When you arrive at AdNgin, we try to deliver our pop ups that are a very close fit with your intent. We’ve achieved that through our content strategy. Of course, we like memes and fun stuff too — as you may or may not have noticed.

But as cool as the gangster, knife wielding crab is… if he makes it to our site, he has to relate to the topic. If you don’t believe us, just ask him.

5. Provide pricing

If you’re making a great pitch, one of the most frequent questions your visitor will have is: “How much?”

Before, we were strictly a “Request a demo” operation. The website did not provide any information on pricing or features per package.

By not having a pricing page, users were not aware that we offer a “Starter” package that is free for life. They had to go through the process of booking and attending a demo to find out, which obviously hurt our onboarding process.

Bottom line, we realized we had made a mistake by making key decision making information too hard to find.

6. Lifetime Free Account

As we noted, our Starter account is lifetime free. A strategy like this is only possible because we know that we will help our users grow and that one day they will be ready for a paying package.

And for the rest, we invite them to continue using the capabilities of our free account for as long as they would like. Moving to paid accounts happens when you reach a certain traffic or ad revenue threshold.

This is a break away from the traditional “freemium” model that offers a free and limited trial period after which you must pay to continue to use.

Our focus is on long-term relationships. When our Starter users are ready, they have the option to move into our commercial accounts. We let our users decide when they’re ready to upgrade. So far, this strategy has worked exceptionally well at onboarding new accounts and also in generating trust with our users.

7. All “About” Trust

Pricing was a good example. When we make that information available, we send a signal that we’re open about what we’re offering.

During our demos with potential users, we also noticed that they’re very interested in learning who we are, why we created AdNgin, and how we see our future. So we added an about page to the website.

The information there isn’t a short story, but acts as a perfect nutshell of who we are and what we stand for.

If you read “Our Story” you may notice that we’re in one of the world’s hottest startup markets here in Israel (we also have a sales office in New York), and that our team has extensive tech and AdTech backgrounds. That not only educates the reader but also creates a certain level of expectation that we’re very focused and fully invested in this platform.

These are the kinds of short but powerful introductions that help to develop both trust and authority. And it can be the info that makes the difference in getting your visitors to onboard — or not. They may like your idea, but need to know why you’re the team to deliver on those promises.

When people read our About page, they get to know why our team is one they can be confident in. Don’t forget to send that trust signal to your users.

8. Copywriting

We already gave you some insights into our copywriting methods. First, we use a style guide that we apply across the entire website. Second, we try to choose interesting topics to write about only. And third, we write with the basics of SEO in mind.

This isn’t too heavy reading, right? That’s because we target our blog writing to be informative, but also conversational. We want to give you value without making the reading too dull.

So since we’re talking copywriting, we’ll put it in as few words as possible: Know your audience, very well, and be consistent.

9. Case Studies

There are really two types of web visitors. Those who experience instant narcolepsy when they read the word “case study” and those that almost spill their coffee with joy.

We have a case study strategy in place. However, we feel that case studies play a very specific role. It’s a recognition that many users want data and more formal analysis of the results of what we offer. Keep in mind that these are very particular readers. Most likely, they’re already aware of your brand and are looking for trust signals to show that what you say you can do…you can actually do, and have done, over-and-over again.

As your leads move further down the sales funnel, case studies become more and more valuable. It makes the proposition of what you’ve described become a reality.

You’re describing not only what you can do, but what you have actually done. And you have the data to support it. It’s a way to create and manage expectations.

Case studies can be that necessary push that one needs to fall down the funnel. It’s a key resource that compels a user into making that onboarding conversion. Keep in mind, that most of your paying users are going to check out some of your case studies at one point or another.

10. Direct Onboarding

We touched on this topic before but let’s dig in a bit further. When it comes to onboarding new customers, we found that a balance between a formal enterprize-style onboarding approach, and one that is more direct works best. So we’ve made that transition.

Granted, that is also a measure of self-confidence in knowing our users are highly targeted, and that our software user interface is professionally designed. We know that a look inside of our platform will let users experience what we offer in an intuitive way.

Once users explore on their own, they can come to us with questions. And they’ll be more open to us following up to check in on how they are doing, or if they need help with anything.

Having a demo get in between their initial early interest and actually trying it out may have cost us some early leads. By going direct, and removing that point of friction in the signup process, we’re doing better conversions.

How are you doing with your onboarding?


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