CASE STUDY: ConvertKit’s 5 strategies to convert website visitors into paid customers
Why you must read this case study:
ConvertKit is an email marketing company that acquires 75 paying customers on average per day. Last year they did $17.37 million in net revenue and had $1.6 million in MRR.
They’ve made their financial metrics public on convertkit.baremetrics.com
It’s a fine example of a high converting, uniquely positioned SaaS website which sells your product on auto-pilot and keeps your business growing exponentially through word of mouth.
We will take a look at ConvertKit’s product messaging, positioning and learn how their website converts visitors into trial & paid signups daily.
Overview of what you’ll learn:
- How to nail your product messaging by picking a niche
- “Name drop” cold email script used by the founder
- A strategy that instantly increases your conversion rate.
- Why targeted messaging converts more visitors
- Using benefit driven testimonials to acquire more of your best customers
- Painting your prospects “dream state” (in step by step manner)
- Using feature differentiation to stand out from competition.
- Address objections so that the product sells itself and how to do it.
1. Nail Your Product Messaging by Picking a Niche
Going after a specific niche is so useful.
When Nathan Barry first started ConvertKit, his initial goal was to get to $5,000 in MRR within 6 months.
So what did he do?
He decided to go the direct sales route by going after a very specific niche by answering these 3 questions:
- Who’s using the platform already (they had 100 customers at that time)
- Who are the 5 most successful customers using us?
- What happens if we broadened it and included 50 more people like them?
The Name Drop Cold-Email Strategy
First he looked at the customers that were having the most success using ConvertKit.
He found out that one of them was a men’s fashion blogger in New York.
Therefore when he did his cold outreach, he specifically went to a very narrow market i.e men’s fashion bloggers in New York.
They’re easy to find because they all follow each other and talk to one another; they hang out in this echo chamber.
And I’ll try to sell to just one of them. As soon as I get one, I leverage that to get the rest of the niche using ConvertKit. That way, when I name drop someone in a sales call, I’m not name dropping the biggest name on the internet. These people don’t care if Google uses us.
Instead, it’s like, ‘oh, this person who I know and who I saw at this conference two months ago is using your product? That’s pretty cool.’
And so in that way, I’m dropping the most relevant names.
Here’s the cold email script Nathan used to go from $2k to $25k MRR
Hey, I saw that you were using Mailchimp.
Is there anything you find frustrating about using it?
The reason I ask is because I run an email marketing company for professional bloggers called ConvertKit and we are used by (name drop 3 most relevant people in their niche they might have heard of)
Thank you for your time
“By doubling down and switching my focus to direct sales, I brought in higher quality customers who were more likely to stay long-term. That also switched our focus to the specific niche of bloggers, rather than just anyone who happened to need email marketing.
The new messaging and focus was a game-changer. Now our fans had clear language to describe us: “Email marketing for professional bloggers” and “The power of Infusionsoft, but easier to use than MailChimp.” — Nathan Barry
2. Pick Sides —Strategy that instantly improve your product messaging & boosts conversions
When you go to convertkit.com, this first thing you read:
Audience building for “creators”
When Nathan started CK, he picked a niche and built an email marketing tool built specifically for authors/bloggers that needed a good solution for selling digital products.
He didn’t try to appeal to everyone.
Instead he choose a niche which made it easy for him to define his value proposition and nail his product messaging.
Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp puts it this way:
“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”
For Convertkit, it’s clear that they stand for creators who love to share their work with the world and want to build a business doing it.
Once you pick sides, you can talk to a specific segment of the market and thus strike a nerve of your target market when they read your messaging.
Why Targeted Messaging Converts More Visitors
Whenever visitors arrive on your page, you have 5 seconds to demonstrate if the website is relevant to them or not.
If it’s not relevant, they’ll bounce.
Therefore it’s important to match your visitors expectations and make your website’s hero section relevant to your target visitor.
So let’s say you are a visitor (a creator) and you reach ConvertKit’s homepage and the first thing you read is the headline which says “Audience building for creators” you’ll instantly recognize that it’s relevant to you and you’ll scroll down to learn more.
That’s the power of picking sides and being specific about who your product is for in your message.
2. Using benefit driven testimonials to acquire more of your best customers
I haven’t seen many SaaS companies do this on their website, but it’s probably the most effective way of building trust with ideal prospects.
Showcasing stories of your best customers (the ones having the most success using your product) via testimonials that reflect the benefit they get after using your product.
Take a look at this testimonial from their home-page:
“Turn your side-hustle into your career”
It’s the big benefit that you’ll get after choosing ConvertKit.
But that’s not it, let’s look at it from the perspective of a ConvertKit’s ideal prospect i.e an online creator coming to the page because a friend theirs recommended CKit to them (most of their marketing is based on word of mouth)
For example: Imagine you’re a fashion blogger scrolling through the home page and stumble on a testimonial which talks about how another fashion blogger was able to turn his side hustle into a career.
I’m sure you will be able to relate with them just by reading their story.
And now suddenly you’ll trust the product (subconsciously if not consciously) and it’s ability to help me you with email marketing since someone exactly like you is already using this product.
How to increase conversions by using benefit driven testimonials
Your website copy must be specific and relatable to your ideal prospects so much so that when they land your website, their inner voice says:
“Hey, I can totally relate with that or that’s exactly what I was looking for or how come they understand my problems so well”
One easy way to reach that is by showcasing benefit driven testimonials like ConvertKit does on their homepage.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Look for existing customers that are actively using your product, getting the best results from it, recommending it to their friends and bringing the most revenue.
- They might be from different industries or demographics which is normal. Now pick one best customer from each segment (if different segments use your product) and ask them for a testimonial.
This is different from asking for regular testimonials.
We are not going to showcase generic testimonials from any customer.
Rather we want to ask and showcase testimonials from our best customers (easiest to sell, stay the longest, recommend others, less complaints & requests)
This way we will attract more customers from the same demographic when they read our website copy and also getting an ROI on marketing becomes easier since we know exactly who we want to attract.
Once you have a testimonial, you can create a benefit driven headline followed by before & after state of your customer and then a blurb quoting the customer just like CK did ;)
3. Paint the “dream state” (in step by step manner)
Specifying the steps it takes to reach a goal removes friction and makes it easy for us brain to comprehend how much effort it would take to go from where we are now to where we want to be.
That’s the reason why titles like 10 steps to success or 22 laws of marketing sells amazingly well or drive the most traffic.
People love certainty.
They love to know how long it’s going to take for them to go from point A to B.
You can use this concept to sell your SaaS product on your website.
Here’s how folks at ConvertKit do it:
With ConvertKit, in 3 steps you can go from where you are now to where you want to be as a creator. You can share ideas, connect with your audience and earn an income in a step by step manner.
Pipedrive also uses this powerful technique on their homepage.
When you show your prospects how easy it is to use your product to go from where they are now (their problematic state) to where they want to be (their desired state) it creates certainty for them that your product will deliver on what it promises.
You can add supporting screen demos of your product along with the steps mentioned.
Like pipedrive does.
4. Feature differentiation : What makes you unique
Your website receives all kinds of traffic
From existing customers wanting to sign in to lukewarm visitors coming from a referred or affiliate website to cold visitors that have no idea what your product is about.
Therefore, talking about features and technical aspects of your product before even explaining to the visitor what your product is about, what problem it solves and how it can help them get a job done is futile.
Talking about your features is the right thing to do when you know for sure that the majority of traffic coming are visitors that are in the consideration stage and are comparing your product against the competitors.
One way to determine the level of awareness of your visitor is to use tools like Hotjar and create an on-site survey that pops up and asks a question like:
Which one of these best describes you?
And create options for different stages of awareness
For most SaaS companies that are trying to create a new market category most of the traffic they’d be receiving on their website will probably be in the problem aware stage.
Therefore you must first sell them on the fact that your product can solve the visitors problem successfully (before creating feature differentiation).
Why ConvertKit doesn’t talk about features on their homepage
Creating different pages for different use cases of your product is a powerful way to differentiate yourself in the vast red ocean of email marketing solutions.
Let’s take a look at how ConvertKit does this
When you hover over features in the navigation bar, you get this drop down:
The first thing that catches your eye is
Features overview —
As I mentioned earlier, creating a different feature page gives you a chance to show your prospect why your product is unique, sell each feature on a different page which increases the perceived value of your product.
And specifically look at how CK subtitles the features overview by saying — find out why creators choose ConvertKit.
Which simply put means, find out why people choose us and not the other email marketing solutions in the market.
And then when you land on their features page, you’ll get mind blown with what you can do with their product.
If most of your website traffic consists of visitors that are in the product aware stage, meaning they already know what your product does and are considering whether to choose you or some other solution — don’t talk about features on the homepage.
5. Address objections so that the product sells itself
Your prospects are leaning against the door that’s stacked with all their objections. If you take them away they will fall through the door and would have no other choice but to sign up — Nathan Barry
Addressing objections & anxieties your prospects might have before making the buying decision is one of the best ways to turn your website into a sales machine which sells your product on auto-pilot.
One way to know the objections & anxieties your customers have before signing up is to listen to demo sales calls, read customer support chats, your product reviews etc.
And once you’ve gathered them, answer the most frequently brought up objections on your home page or like ConvertKit does on their feature page.
Let’s explore how they do it:
We’ll help you switch tools for free.
In the earlier stages building CK, Nathan was doing sales demo to show why CK is better than the email marketing solution prospects were already using.
Most of them would love what CK could do for them but they will end the demo call by saying: It all sounds great, but we won’t switch.
This was the biggest objection prospects had when switching to a different email marketing platform and Nathan heard it over and over again on his demo calls.
So in the earlier stages, Nathan manually helped people switch from their existing email marketing solution to ConvertKit (for free)
But now they have a concierge migration which address the most common objections prospect have before making a switch.
And now ConvertKit sells itself because they have addressed all the important, frequently brought up objections on their page.
And you should do it too.
Remove the friction prospects feel by answering their objections upfront on your website and watch a surprising rise in your conversions.
Key Takeaways from ConvertKit’s Multi-Million Dollar Product Messaging
- Pick a niche: ConvertKit didn’t aim to build an email marketing solution for everyone. They picked a specific niche — online creators, understood where the existing email marketing solutions lack and built the perfect product to solve the problem for that niche (slowly).
- Talk to your prospects & customers: Each & every day get in direct touch with them and learn about what’s stopping them from using your product and then create a solution. As Nathan would say, there is no fast way to build a great company. Either shut down or double down
- Stand up for something & pick a side: Once you pick a specific segment of a market that deals with a specific problem, positioning your product as a unique solution for solving that problem becomes easy.
- Benefit driven testimonials: Ask for testimonials from your best customers, the customers that pay the most, have been using your product for the longest time, recommend it to other people. Demonstrate those testimonials on your website and you will keep attract people similar to your best customers.
- Paint your prospects dream state: When you show your prospects how easy it is to use your product to go from where they are now (their problematic state) to where they want to be (their desired state) it creates certainty for them that your product will deliver on what it promises.
- Feature differentiation: Creating a different feature page gives you a chance to show your prospect why your product is unique, sell each feature on a different page which increases the perceived value of your product.
- Make it easy for them to say yes: Addressing objections & anxieties your prospects might have before making the buying decision is one of the best ways to turn your website into a sales machine which sells your product on auto-pilot.