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In this episode John Bonini chats with Adam Goyette, VP of Marketing at Help Scout, to learn how they grew their website conversion rate, and why that metric became a priority for the team.
Each year, the Help Scout executive team works together to identify what their annual revenue goal is, and what growth % they’re aiming to hit in the upcoming year.
Once they have this number and growth %, they work backward to find how many signups and new customers they’ll need in order to hit that goal.
Although the revenue goal is set annually, they’ll adjust the forecast of what they’re expecting quarter by quarter. This allows them to make smaller adjustments in real-time, as they see how things are trending.
Transparently sharing their performance
Every day, an email is delivered to the team, showing them how they’re progressing towards that month’s goal. It includes a breakdown of trials, sales opportunities, and projected MRR.
On top of that, individual teams meet weekly to review their own numbers. And executive teams meet once a month, reviewing what happened in the last month and where they’re going next month.
They feel that having the numbers transparently in front of the entire team, encourages everyone to be creative and offer up solutions to help improve that number.
Looking for growth opportunities
Once they have their growth goals in place, it’s time to figure out how to achieve them. Their goal is to find the right set of “levers” to pull, in order to move the needle on traffic, free trials, demo requests, weighted pipeline, and more.
And there are dozens of levers they could pull. It’s probably the same challenge you face at your company. Do you try new channels, or grow existing ones? Do you send more traffic, or improve conversion with the traffic you have?
To help narrow things down, they look how each stage of their funnel is performing, and how each channel is performing. Then they ask questions like, “what channels can we reasonably expect to grow?” and “what channels might be worth investing in?”
They also look for the easiest wins. For example, if paid channels are steeped in competition with deeper pockets, they’ll look for a channel where they can be more competitive. Or they might find they can get significant results just by doubling down on an existing channel.
Why they chose Website Conversion Rate
Adam and the team found that the free trial to paid conversion rate was 20%+, which was already high for the industry. But if they looked higher up in the funnel, they found they were getting 500,000 visitors every month.
They decided it would be far easier and more impactful for them to increase the website’s conversion rate (driving more free trial signups), than it would to increase an already high “trial to conversion rate” of 20%.
So they set to work running experiments.
They view their website content in 2 main buckets: “High-Intent Pages” and “Low-Intent Pages”.
High intent pages include the homepage or product pages, where people are visiting with the intent to explore and potentially sign up for the product. Here, the call to action is “sign up” or “start free trial”.
Low intent pages include content like a blog or thought leadership content, so they make the call to action something like “join the newsletter”. This encourages visitors to stay in the Help Scout ecosystem, without forcing them to take an action they have no intention of taking.
When setting out to measure and improve their website conversion rate, they only looked at conversion on the “high intent pages”. This helped them get a more accurate number of how they were performing on pages that had a set call to action of conversion.
Their current “website to free trial” conversion rate was 2% on those high intent pages, and their conversion rate from “free trial to active paying customer” was 20%.
They assembled a “task force” of stakeholders
Website conversion is often “cross-functional”. In other words, it’s owned or used by multiple teams.
Brand marketing might own the messaging. Product marketing might own the positioning. And growth marketing might own SEO or conversion rate.
So Adam and the team put together an “optimization squad”, comprised of all the stakeholders who needed to have input on the website.
This ensured that every stakeholder had seat at the table, and could work together on improving conversion without stepping on each other’s toes.
They tested everything
They experimented with just about everything. But they saw the biggest results by adding personalization.
Helpscout has a wide base of customers, so by understanding who their buyers are, they’re able to present more helpful messaging tailored to those personas.
For example, they found that smaller companies have to convert better by going through self-serve, while bigger companies almost always convert better when they speak with sales.
The optimization squad would take an insight like this, and present a dynamic (changing) call to action, depending on the person viewing the site. Someone from a company with more than 500 employees might see “talk with sales” while someone from a small company sees “start free trial”.
They’d also highlight different use cases of the product, and change the way they talked about Help Scout.
For example, if a 500+ person organization read, “Help desk software for small business”, they might feel Help Scout wasn’t for them.
By personalizing the team could show different customer logos (that looked like the visitor’s company), make the language more relevant, and be more helpful with use cases that visitor was interested in.
In total, personalization included dynamically presenting the call to action, headlines, length of free trial, use cases and social proof.
In just 6 months, they saw a 56% increase in demo requests and a 6% increase in trials.
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