Here are 3 lessons we learned in pitching to people who are curious but not yet convinced, namely, our website visitors.
1) People listen more when you say less
Our first website was way too long with details that only we cared about. What led to this? Probably ego. Like a parent to a newborn, we thought our baby was so great that we wanted to tell the world how amazing our creation was with all the intricate details. For a company claiming to simplify an overcomplicated industry, our website and messaging was far from simple.
You can see how much of the homepage we chopped off. Although we reduced the page length by more than half, visitors time spent on the page went up by more than 50%! We were able to keep visitors longer by talking less. Ain't that... obvious in hindsight?
By de-cluttering the pitch and reducing the number of points conveyed, we were able to get visitors to stay longer and buy more often as our purchase rate almost doubled.
2) Be willing to lose some people
After the homepage overhaul, there was one metric that got worse: the bounce rate, measured as % of visitors leaving the website after seeing just the home page.
This makes sense. When people understand better what it is you’re pitching, they can more easily decide whether they're interested in what you're offering. The opposite of love is indifference, not hate. The worst response you can get is “it’s OK.” And the surest way to get lukewarm responses from everyone is to try to appeal to everyone.
When we first rolled out FACE KIT, we devoted a lot of space pitching its anti-acne benefits. It’s a big market, and the products work great for acne-prone skin, so of course we wanted to appeal to that market as well. But over time, we saw that our conversion rate was lower with younger folks (presumably pricing is an issue), and it really muddled the positioning we took on pitching FACE KIT. We were trying to appeal to folks under 20 AND over 30 at the same time, and that's only marginally easier than running a vegan steakhouse. So, we dropped the anti-acne angle to focus on our main audience.
3) Don't get cute. Get to the point.
When you first start a business, you get tempted to spend a lot of time on vanity projects like logos, slogans, etc. Of course we wanted to be cool, and our early slogans took on forms of meaningless gibberish. "Nothing but the best, baby" was our favorite slogan (named after a Sinatra song), and for a while it was the very first thing visitors saw on our website.
The obvious problem with that slogan is that it conveys no information. The best way to get someone's attention is to clearly say what you can do for them. And we were doing anything but that.
Our slogan has since evolved to "Elite grooming made simple." Frankly, we think this can be much better, and I'd appreciate your thoughts! Comment below or shoot me an email. I bet there are some master marketers among our customers; unleash your brilliance on us :) There's a FACE KIT and a bottle of Elijah Craig in it for ya if we use your idea.
The single, most valuable lesson we took away is to always put the customers first. Suppress the urge to talk about ourselves and prioritize what problems our customers face and what they value. To paraphrase JFK, say not who you are and what you make - say what you can do for your customers and how you’ll deliver it. We eventually reaped more rewards by thinking of others first. It's a good habit to cultivate.
Have some great stories or insight to share? Feel free to comment below (email is a required field but you can just type in gibberish if you prefer to not share your email) or email me directly at email@example.com
Follow-ups from last post:
Thanks for all the comments and emails! The last post naturally brought up questions/comments:
Q: Appreciate sharing all the insight and lessons learned. Aren’t you taking risk in being so open?
A: Perhaps! Honestly, we don’t know. One could argue it’s unnecessary risk.
At the same time, we see no shame in it. You don’t learn to ride a bike without taking a few spills and scrapes. Full debriefing after an accident is what prevents the next accident, so why not share the lessons with all of you and get even more feedback and insight.
One positive fallout from the early product and shipping issues was that we got to talk to a lot of customers. It’s clear that you’re a classy and patient bunch who appreciate upfront honesty, so we’ll keep things that way. We keep getting better at serving you, thanks to your feedback.
Q: How about some more new products!
A: We’re very glad to hear you approve of the new REBUILD and BUFF. We have a number of formulas in the pipeline that we’ll continue to roll out for you in 2018.
Looking further down, our next big launch will be in nutritional and performance supplements, which has been in the works long before we embarked on topical supplements (skincare). We’re pretty pumped about that.
Q: Will you offer subscription?
A: Yes, a subscription program is in the works. Stay tuned-