How we grew our conversion rate by redesigning our website
We are at heart developers not marketers. Our focus has been unflinchingly on the development of RealtimeCRM and the marketing website has been largely on the back burner.
When we first built the marketing website RealtimeCRM was not a fully formed product. We were still testing and building - the marketing site was a sort of placeholder that we would eventually get round to optimising.
In fact, our idea was to get web designers in to redo it all. That’s one of the reasons we went with a WordPress site just to make it easier for our future web designers to come in and rework everything. It turned out to be a dumb decision that we went back on but you live and learn.
So before even attempting to change a single thing we had to do some preliminary leg work. Ales Nesetril, Creative Director at SRTV and Editor of the Design Insights blog offers some great advice about how to approach the whole thing.
Unfortunately, there is no ‘universal rule’ or best practices on how to improve any marketing site. This goes down to the project brief, goals and choosing the right strategy when redesigning a specific product. You can’t just apply general knowledge to any use case, besides tweaking the obvious such as improving usability or accessibility for better conversions. It won’t work in 100% of cases.
Each case needs a proper analysis, setting up goals of the redesign and then finding solutions for each problem you find along the way.
So heeding Ales’ advice we had to think about why we were doing this, what goals did we want to achieve in our context as SaaS products company - and then what problems we would face in trying to achieve each goal in turn.
Even if you’re not thinking of building a SaaS marketing site the same analysis will apply to any marketing site you build for any product you’re trying to sell. You’ll have to ask the same questions we did and find the answers that are relevant to you.
We redesigned the website primarily because we redesigned the look of RealtimeCRM itself:
We wanted to make a clear distinction between the darker navigation sidebar and the lighter working area. Sort of like a bound ledger. Not only that we wanted something interesting and beautiful on our user’s screen - if its attractive then it’s engaging and that’s what we want. Nobody wants some soul crushing clunky spreadsheet when they want to get work done - it’s demotivating.
Our old marketing site
As mentioned earlier, this was a placeholder. There were fundamental problems with it not simply that now it was disconnected from RealtimeCRM itself aesthetically.
What we wanted was that as soon as you land on our marketing site you’d know what RealtimeCRM was going to be like in terms of look and feel. There was now an obvious disharmony between the two.
Plus the old marketing site just wasn’t us. It was too generic, it lacked a personality and it was muddled - the call to action to sign up wasn’t obvious.
It didn’t clearly communicate the answers to questions visitors to the site had. Let’s take an example. Our pricing is pretty simple; your first user is free and then it’s £20 per user per month. Here is how our old marketing site communicated that simple piece of information:
We talk about simple pricing yet it looked like we had three tiers of pricing. It needed an overhaul.
What’s the point of a marketing website?
It seems like a ridiculous question to ask, the answer is obvious it’s about telling the story of your product right?
Not really, why should anyone care about your product? What your marketing site should be about is how your product meets the pain points of the visitor.
Our old marketing site never explicitly dealt with that question. It just generically listed off the advantages of a CRM, not even RealtimeCRM (We’re not marketers forgive us any marketers reading this).
We had a lot of “stuff” on our site but we wanted to take a broadsword to it and only keep things which are useful to the visitor. The simpler the better because it makes communicating a message easier.
These are the four bare essentials we wanted our new site to cover:
Points three and four are easy. Our pricing is that the first user is free then you pay £20 per user per month and our call to action was that they sign up for their free account and try us out.
On the other hand points one and two required more thought. We’ll go through each point by order of difficulty.
Dealing with point two
It was the 23rd January 2018 and everybody was in the office. Most of our team work remotely but everyone came in for our annual company review - it’s where we as a group run through the highs and lows of the previous year and set goals for the next one.
Since everyone was in, we decided to take advantage of this and deal with the question of the site.
The afternoon was spent trying to get into the heads of our users. Why did they sign up? People wouldn’t sign up to us and leave their current solution if there wasn’t some problem it didn’t solve. There’s a time and monetary cost to making a transition to anything so there had to be something or a bunch of somethings compelling them to make the move.
This is what we came up with that afternoon in answer to point two:
It was very productive. We had a host of pain points that RealtimeCRM solved for our users, now we just had to translate that into an easily understood medium on our site.
The answer was an off the cuff thing. Our users have a problem then RealtimeCRM solves that problem, why not zoom into the specific bit of RealtimeCRM which solves that problem and there we had the answer to how we explain how we solve the pain points:
So, for example the problem you face is that you’re losing track of your opportunities and therefore you’re losing business. The way RealtimeCRM solves that problem is via the pipeline. It can track the status of your opportunities and even at a glance tell you how valuable they are. So that’s how we explain it by showing the pipeline doing just that.
Dealing with point one and four
Point one on the other hand is a value proposition (VP). It isn’t just what RealtimeCRM is and does but what it does better than the visitor’s current solution.
The obvious next question is what is their current solution?
Looking at most of our users they’re small businesses or startups. They’re working with post-it notes, spreadsheets and memory but they’ve grown so much that the complexity is stretching those solutions to their limits and it’s starting to hinder growth.
The VP that we first came up with centred around the fact that you can find the information you need for your business to function inside RealtimeCRM.
This VP had to be front and centre when the visitor first hit the site. It had to be a clear pithy statement and then a couple of sentences elaborating.
In addition we decided to combine point four (the call to action - signing up) and a clear image of the user interface (UI) in one hit. We created a mock up and liked what we saw.
Our older site almost hid images of the UI and the call to action wasn’t clear. We would rectify this by hitting visitors with both as soon as they land on the site.
Not only that we simplified the call to action. All you’d need to sign up is an email address and we’d do the rest.
The goal is to make things as simple as possible and therefore easy. The last thing you want to do is annoy targets before they even have a chance to try out your product.
Dealing with point three
Most marketing sites deal with pricing on a separate page but we didn’t want to do that. This is because pricing is sort of a negative, we wanted to bookend it with positives. Those positives being the jobs RealtimeCRM does for you and then the key features you get with RealtimeCRM. So the last thought in the visitors head after landing on our site would be a positive one.
To further reinforce this positive effect we wanted to put testimonials from our users right under the pricing. Social proof from user reviews is incredibly powerful and is one of the best tools in your toolkit to help convert visitors on your site.
In fact, wherever there is a call to action you’ll see a testimonial right under it in our new design.
The framework for the site
As previously mentioned our old site was a WordPress site - we never got round to hiring those web designers.
We never really liked WordPress because it was clunky and not inviting so it was largely left alone - not good.
So we moved over to a static website because:
- It’s much faster.
- As developers we have complete control.
- We don’t need a fancy web server so it’s much cheaper to host.
- As we don’t need a server we don’t need to worry about security or maintenance. We can instead focus on content.
We went with Hugo as our static website platform. It’s super easy to use, just write the markdown files and then generate the site in a second. Perfect for what we needed.
What we learned
Our main takeaway was to apply the jobs to be done framework to our site. We don’t sell RealtimeCRM on features but on the jobs it does for you better, faster and stress free compared to your current solution.
We were too wooly when we needed to get to the point and be specific. Answer the questions the visitor has and then make it obvious how they can sign up and make that process as quick and easy as possible.
Our new site:
When you rework your website you expect a dip after the transitory period but we didn’t experience a big dip at all, in fact our session durations on our new marketing site have quadrupled since moving to the new design and most importantly of all, our conversion rate has gone up significantly too.
Look at your own site what are the goals you want it to achieve? Does it achieve those goals? If not what strategy do you need to implement to ensure it does?
When you go down the redesign path it’ll be different to ours but in order to know what you have to do.
You have to ask the right questions first.