How Did One SaaS Co. Cut Trial-to-Paid Conversion Time From 43 Days To 3 Days?

In this interview with SaaS and conversion rate optimization expert Lincoln Murphy (Twitter, LinkedIn) of Sixteen Ventures, Lincoln shared 3 fascinating case studies as well as some great insights into how he thinks about helping SaaS customers get value from the software, with research into value events or milestones, getting free trials off on the right step and more.

In particular, Lincoln shares a case study that has great relevance to lots of SaaS companies: how to reduce the time free trial customers take to convert to paid customers. The SaaS company he helped had a 30 day free trial… and on average that still didn’t suffice. People bought only 13 days after the end of the free trial, 43 days after signup! He helped them change their onboarding and selling so that it went down to a mere 3 days. Watch the video to learn how he did it!

If you’re watching, you may be interested in conversion rate optimization services for SaaS, to maximize trials and paid conversions.




Gab Goldenberg:            Hey. This is Gab Goldenberg of I’m here with Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures, one of the world’s most followed SaaS consultants. The guy can help you with your onboarding, with your free trial conversion rates, with many more things. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Lincoln, thanks for joining me.

Lincoln Murphy:              Oh, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah, for sure. Before we started this interview, I asked if you could share some things you’d like to talk about as well as some case studies. I have to say, there were some really remarkable things here. In particular, something that struck me, because I come from the world of search marketing, and I recently saw a case study where this guy in his very first year running a PPC agency took it from zero to two and a half million growth revenue in a year. I was like, “Wow. That’s crazy.” In this case study, the guy was talking about what was the secret to his success, something that will be very familiar to all of your SaaS followers, customer success, right? He was saying in those first two weeks, even in the first week, he wanted to get them big wins, and then that makes a happy customer, word of mouth, and it’s a virtuous cycle from there.

You’ve got some very interesting case studies here about going, for example, from 43 days to conversion to three days to conversion on a 30-day free trial. That must do fantastic things for cash flow and for acquisition. That’s Vision6, if I understand right?

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah.

Lincoln Murphy:              That was an email marketing company in Australia.

Gab Goldenberg:            Okay. They are an email marketing company in Australia. How did you help them? What was the research? What can you tell us about that experiment?

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. This is a company that I worked with over the years, probably going on about five years, just off and on. This is one of those companies that … Really, email marketing is one of those categories, product categories, that a lot of companies are fairly similar. They all copy each other. I had the opportunity one year to work with seven or eight email marketing companies, and it was my first real opportunity to work with several companies in the same product category.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              I work with a lot of SaaS companies, but these were the first to … I had some visibility into lots of different companies around the same time, and I really learned a few things from that experience. I saw that, first of all, a lot of the movement in the email marketing world, in terms of customers isn’t net new customers coming in and doing email marketing for the first time. It’s really customers moving from one vendor to another …

Gab Goldenberg:            Very interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              … because that first vendor didn’t solve their problem or didn’t help them.

Gab Goldenberg:            Oh, wow.

Lincoln Murphy:              So they move on to another one. That vendor doesn’t do what they want. The problem is, those vendors are all pretty much-

Gab Goldenberg:            Identical.

Lincoln Murphy:              They’re pretty similar, yeah. What that means is that something else is going on there. This is when I started to really understand this idea of a success gap. You talked about customer success. Customer success is when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              The problem is, there are some products and some companies, that even if you use my product to the fullest, you do everything that the product does and you come out the other end, and I look at it from the vendor standpoint, and I say, “You’ve done everything,” no matter what, you may still not achieve your desired outcome.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              That’s a problem, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              There’s a gap between the functional use of your product and the end result.

Gab Goldenberg:            They’re measuring the events, but the success is not just oh, they used every feature, therefore they’re happy.

Lincoln Murphy:              Exactly. Why does that happen? Well, because you can go through, build a list, send email, have it opened and maybe even consumed in some way, clicks or whatever, but if you were trying to get more people to buy a product or come to an event and they didn’t, even though you functionally used the product, you still didn’t achieve that desired outcome.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              What I learned was we need to do a lot to bridge that success gap. Going back to this example of Vision6, what we said was okay. We know that customers are coming in from … A lot of customers are coming in from other products. We actually did some analysis, and we actually talked to customers, which is this crazy idea, talk to prospects. We talked to prospects, but we also talked to existing customers to find out where they come from. Then we can start to really understand. Okay. Maybe they’re all coming from a certain competitor, or maybe they’re coming from all over, but at least we know that they are coming from … They have experience, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. They’re not brand newbies.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. We went back and looked at the onboarding flow. The onboarding flow is very catered towards newbies and very just … There were a lot of barriers to somebody that maybe already knew what they were wanting to achieve. You said 43 days, and just let me be be clear on that. They have a 30-day free trial. Originally it was taking, on average, 43 days for a prospect to convert to a customer, and that’s a free trial. What does that mean? It means the trial would expire, and then they would start asking for the sale rather than doing it during the trial. On average, on about day 43, and sometimes later. We looked at everything. Some people converted early, obviously. This is an average. Some took forever.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              We were like, okay, that’s obviously not good. We went back and refactored the entire sign up process to say what does somebody who already has experience, already knows what their desired outcome is, which is they need to be able to send these emails and have the action that they want to occur take place. How could we get them there quicker? We really just redesigned everything, did a thing where you could go in … This was based, again, off of talking to customers about what they wanted to achieve quickly. What were the first things that you need to do here?

I think just to take a little bit of a sidebar on that. I think sometimes we probably want to give our customers too much. There’s this concept in customer success called time to first value.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              It’s getting our customer to a point where they’ve achieved value quickly or they’ve achieved value for the first time or for the first time, they see the true value potential in your product outside of your sales and marketing.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. They’ve been the use case.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. Now, we know that time to first value is an important metric. Sometimes we as the vendor think of what value is in the wrong way. We think of it as this really big … Maybe the big concept where they use … We talked about with complete functional use of the product. They’ve done everything. If we understand our customers we go back and we talk to them, we understand their use case, we know where they’re coming from, we might realize that time to first value could be much shorter if we just changed our definition of what value is based on what they think.

Gab Goldenberg:            Correct.

Lincoln Murphy:              We are so often focused on what we think value is. With Vision6, we were able to say, no. They need to just be able to upload their list and send an email. In fact, they just need to be able to create an email, see how easy it is to do that within our tool, and then they need to upload their list. Then they can be off to the races.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              Flip that around. We actually took a lot of the barriers to entry down so they could just start writing an email …

Gab Goldenberg:            Got it.

Lincoln Murphy:              … without even logging in, without even creating an account.

Gab Goldenberg:            Oh, that’s clever, eliminating all the friction. That’s so smart. I like that.

Lincoln Murphy:              It was very much based on … We had some assumptions, right? You have to start somewhere, but then we went and we validated those assumptions before we ever even built a screen, before we ever even designed a wire frame or a mock up. Then you start going down this path of, well, if this is what the customer’s actual desired outcome is, and this is what we think, based on our conversations with them, that this is when they would achieve first value and they would really see the power of our product versus the competition, and we can do things to bridge those success gaps in that process even, help them write a better email. Point out things that … That subject line-

Gab Goldenberg:            It’s not going to get opened.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. A lot of times it’s … Well, that’s a spam email subject line. We don’t go the other direction and say, let’s help you write that. Maybe it’s too long. It’s not going to display correctly on a mobile device, whatever. All of those things go into helping the customer achieve that first value. Doing all of that, yeah, we took it down from 43 days, on average, on a 30-day free trial, kept the 30-day free trial, but got people to convert on day three. How did we do that? Well, we get them the value quickly, and once they’ve achieved value, once they’ve sent the emails and they’ve started getting a good response …

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure. Happy to pay for it.

Lincoln Murphy:              … then we ask for the sale. That’s what … Being logical about it when we ask for the sale is huge.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly. Exactly. You talked about that in a recent article that you shared with me about upsell. I’d love to get to that. I want to talk about something you just brought up, and I think it’s so critical in SaaS, in conversion rate optimization, in basically every niche. As somebody who’s only really learned it and appreciated it in the past few years … Partly my own fault. I think partly because until lean came about, people were just clutching at straws and nobody really even knew to do it properly. Talk about interviewing customers and speaking to them.

I would love to hear about your process. What are some of the questions you ask? How do you even reach out to people? Why do you think that people aren’t doing more of this? Is it the fear of rejection? I’m going to ask 100 people and five of them are going to say yes. I’m going to waste all that time that I reached out to the other 95 people. Five interviews. Is that really valuable? What are your thoughts on the customer research problems like that? Why don’t people do more of it? What are the questions that you ask? How do you get to those key insights?

Lincoln Murphy:              Why don’t people do it? I mean, I think it runs the gamut from not … I don’t know if people will readily admit this, but I think some people just don’t want to … They’re scared to talk to people. They’re scared to talk to customers. I think it also … Even in there, there’s a gradient. Some people just don’t want to have … They don’t want to talk to other people. Some don’t want to talk to those that could potentially turn them down. They fear that rejection. They don’t want to get feedback because … It could be that they don’t want to get the feedback because they don’t want to feel bad about what they’ve built, or they might think that the people giving them the feedback, what right do they have to give them the feedback?

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              I’ve run into people that fit all those different categories.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              I think at the end of the day, if you want to have a successful business, you need to get out of your own way. Put your ego to the side, and know that you’re … You’re either building this for you, or you’re building it for your customers. There’s a lot more, hopefully, customers out there than there are of you. You need to make sure that you’re building something that people will actually want to buy and use and be successful with and tell their friends about and that kind of thing. That’s hard. When you’re a founder, especially if you’re a technical founder or you’re a designer and you’ve built this yourself, to go out and say to people who you know don’t have the same qualifications as you, to say-

Gab Goldenberg:            What do you think? Give me feedback. Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. To get that and know that it’s not necessarily all going to be positive sounding.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah, it’s scary.

Lincoln Murphy:              Feedback is positive if you are taking it the right way. I think you’ve just got to get out of your own way and know that you have to build something that people would want. Let me be clear on that. I think this is where people can also get in trouble. Building something that people want or need is different than building what people ask for or what people say they need or want. This is going to your question about how do you ask the right questions? We’ve all heard that story about Henry Ford and asking people what they wanted, and they’d tell you a faster horse. Or how Steve Jobs never asked anybody what they wanted, and he just built something, and it changed the world.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              Okay. I think there’s some nuances in there, probably, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah. If I can share one. Steve Jobs is something … I don’t know how many people know, but before he came back to Apple, he launched a company with a lot of his own personal money that he made out of the first go round with Apple. I forget what the company was called, but he got his brightest engineers and designers and all that. I forget what the product was, but it was a total flop.

Lincoln Murphy:              The Next.

Gab Goldenberg:            The Next. Right. The iPhone was more of a success. There’s maybe some insights to be gleaned into maybe they were scratching their own itch or they got some other form of validation, but even a guy like Steve Jobs failed horribly with that. Go on.

Lincoln Murphy:              Sure. No, that’s awesome. Thank you for saying that, because I think we sometimes put people up on pedestals, and we don’t really … For that one thing they did, we don’t take into consideration that they probably had some flops. Next, by the way, actually ended up being part of the core of OS10.

Gab Goldenberg:            No kidding.

Lincoln Murphy:              It lives on. Yeah.

Gab Goldenberg:            Cool.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. We have to understand that even the best, even the people that are the most successful have had failures, and they tried things and they didn’t work. I think where I’m going with Steve Jobs there is that he maybe didn’t ask people, “Do you want an iPhone,” right? “Do you want this?” because we wouldn’t have wanted that. Maybe we would have wanted a smaller phone that just made better calls or whatever. What he did do was understood the customers, understood the market, better than we understood ourselves. He did that through, from what I understand, through a lot of direct research, through secondary research, through talking to people, and just really thinking about what could we want.

He was a little bit visionary, and maybe you don’t have to be that way in terms of you’re building a b to b product in the project management space. You don’t have to sit around and meditate on what the big thing is five years from now, but you do. You should sit around and think about, based on my understanding of our customers, what would their desired outcome be? What is their desired outcome? What do they want to achieve, and how do they want to achieve it?

If you can start to understand that, and think about things from the customer’s standpoint, then you’re going to be able to … Now when you go out and ask questions, you’re going to ask questions that aren’t about features and functionality and interfaces and whatever it is that’s project-based or focused on you as the vendor. You’re going to go out and ask questions that are about what the customers are trying to achieve. I don’t suggest you go out and say, “What’s our desired outcome?” Nobody knows what that means. If you ask about what’s the job to be done that you’re trying to achieve, they-

Gab Goldenberg:            Oh, sure. The job to be done framework.

Lincoln Murphy:              Now, I get a little bit … I get a little worried about that framework and frameworks in general. I say framework all the time. I build frameworks. I fear sometimes that they get a little bit almost religious, and you can’t move outside of them. I go all over the place with frameworks.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s great.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. There’s a job to be done. There’s a thing that you’re trying to achieve, that your customer has to achieve. The thing is, though, they can achieve that probably in lots of different ways, right? They can buy your product. They can buy a competitive product. They can use an open source product. They could roll their own. They could outsource it. They could hire somebody. Whatever. As part of the desired outcome, there’s an appropriate experience. An appropriate experience is what basically says I have that job to be done. This is how I need to get it done. This is the experience that I want to have when I do that thing. That’s ultimately going to be the most important aspect. The job to be done, the thing that has to be done, the required outcome of your customer, that’s what gets you in the game.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              If you don’t meet that, right, if you can’t do that, then it’s a non-starter. That thing is what you have to accomplish.

Gab Goldenberg:            Focus on.

Lincoln Murphy:              That, again, that can be done lots of different ways. They’re going to come to you. They’re going to buy from you because you helped them achieve that in the way that they want to achieve it. That’s what sets you apart from your competitors, sets you apart from all those other different ways of doing it. That way, when you ask those questions …

Gab Goldenberg:            Can I ask you … Sorry.

Lincoln Murphy:              … you have to figure that out. Sorry.

Gab Goldenberg:            Going back to the Vision6 case study, and we’ll go on to another one in a moment. I’m a bit curious, because you brought up something that I think makes a lot of sense, right? Some people might be using email marketing say to get people registered for an event. Some people want to move products, right? E-commerce vendors, let’s say. From what I heard … Maybe I misunderstood … the value for Vision6 vendors was just shifting quickly from their existing or previous email marketing source, right? They exported the list, and they just want an easy import and easy “what you see is what you get” type visual editor or something like that. I guess, what did you find … If you can share. If you can’t, obviously I understand … was the value for them and … Yeah. I guess what was the value there for them?

Lincoln Murphy:              There’s the required outcome, right? The required outcome is that they … We needed a way to send email. Every other vendor does that. That’s what gets you in the game. In the email marketing space, I need to be able to upload a list and write an email and send it and track the metrics, and that’s it.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              How I want to achieve that, it varies. Something like AWeber is very basic. It gets the job done, but something like Vision6 has, again, more of a well-designed UI, and it helps me achieve this required outcome in the appropriate way. Yeah. It was getting people to that point quickly. One of the other things that I mentioned was the success gap. Helping people achieve that desired outcome, not just giving them the tool, but giving them the resources both in app and externally, giving them content, giving them help and bridging that success gap. Again, I can write an email, and I can send it. If I write an email that’s garbage, and has a terrible call to action and a bad subject line, and all that other stuff, even though I sent the email, even though I did the thing that your product wanted, and I did the thing that I’d been doing. My habits don’t change just because I change vendors. I’m sending bad emails with those other vendors, I can still-

Gab Goldenberg:            I’m still sending bad emails ever since.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. How do we help you send better emails? How do we help you do that quickly?

Gab Goldenberg:            I get it.

Lincoln Murphy:              Building some of those things, like you said, into the product …

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s cool.

Lincoln Murphy:              … helping you … Yeah. It’s giving you an experience that’s appropriate to achieving that overall desired outcome. That’s the point. I think I might have missed that a little bit.

Gab Goldenberg:            You talked about it. I just missed it. I focused on the wrong place. Basically, helping them write emails that follow the better principles, the best practices, let’s say, of marketing and persuasion.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah.

Gab Goldenberg:            Okay, cool. That’s clear.

Lincoln Murphy:              We have that ability, by the way. If you’re building a technology product and you’re just giving people the functional, what I would say is a crud app, right? Where you can just create … It’s basically a database UI. That’s it. That’s almost a non-starter these days, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              You need to be providing real value to your customers. A lot of times, especially the more niche you go, the more you are less of a software vendor, and the more of almost a trusted advisor.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. It’s software as a service, literally.

Lincoln Murphy:              That’s a service.

Gab Goldenberg:            You’re replacing a consultant.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. One of the reasons I got really excited about SaaS a long time ago was I actually came from the supply chain management world. I didn’t come from enterprise software. I came from network-centric business models, and I saw that one of the huge benefits of SaaS is the network-centricity, the fact that we’re all using the same system.

Gab Goldenberg:            Correct.

Lincoln Murphy:              Now, I was a little bit early in that and the technology and the thinking wasn’t there, but I saw the potential, and I’ve seen that over the last few years really come to fruition. It’s not just another software delivery model. It’s not just I’m building a piece of software that people can log into on the web. That’s table stakes. That’s just the way it is.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              It’s how do we take that and benefit from all of those people using the product? If I as the vendor can push my knowledge, what I understand about this industry, out to my users, those users and customers benefit from that and feed the machine, and then I can roll that back out.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              Everybody is going to get much better, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly. Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              That’s very different-

Gab Goldenberg:            There’s a virtual cycle. Yeah. 100%. I’d like to go on to another case study you shared with me. Just give me a moment to pull it up. There were a few, actually, about onboarding, and basically giving people those better experiences. I think that talks more about what we’ve been doing now. Just from the after we purchased perspective, right? If I understand you, when you’re talking about onboarding, this is not the free trial. This is onboarding for the people who have already made the first payment?

Lincoln Murphy:              I think the examples I gave you were actually … These were free trial onboard.

Gab Goldenberg:            Okay.

Lincoln Murphy:              The thing is, it’s a little bit … If you do a free trial correctly, if you go about it the right way, that actually is the onboarding process. In other words, my goal isn’t to get you to evaluate this product. My goal is to get you to use it during the free trial. I have to think of it as literally part of your onboarding process to becoming a customer. I think that right there is a disconnect with how most companies still think of free trials, unfortunately. They think I’m going to come in, kick the tires, play around. Once I’ve decided that this is good, I’ll buy from you, and then I’ll start the process.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              The best companies start that process during the trial. When you sign up, I assume you’re going to become a customer.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              I’m going to get you to actually use the product. That’s what these are.

Gab Goldenberg:            Tell us a bit about some of the more original, the more creative things you’ve done with onboarding. What can other SaaS companies learn from your experience?

Lincoln Murphy:              Sure. One that I sent you is Project Bubble, which is a project management tool. The founder of the company reached out and said, “Look. We are at very, very low even activation rate.” Once they signed up for the free trial, validated their email address, went back into the app, almost 100% of the people at that point would drop off.

Gab Goldenberg:            Wow. That’s fatal.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. We knew it wasn’t an email … I’ve seen companies that had their email validation process set up in a way that almost always failed, so people weren’t even able to validate their email address and therefore weren’t able to get into the app. All of that was working. We looked at the data. We looked around at what was available, and we really couldn’t figure out what was going on. We had the founding team basically sit down with a live chat, and everybody that came in, they would ask a couple of questions. I didn’t answer your question earlier about what questions to ask. In this case, we wanted to know number one, what product were they using before they decided to try Project Bubble. Number two, what’s wrong … I don’t remember exactly what the wording was, but basically what could be improved about this onboarding experience?

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              That was it. Had them do that for a week, just sit there and talk to customer, talk to new sign ups. Then we went back and asked people that didn’t complete that, that basically dropped out before they really were even onboard during the trial. Pulled all that information together, and found that pretty much 100% of people were using Microsoft Project.

Gab Goldenberg:            Okay. Wow. That’s amazing.

Lincoln Murphy:              Number two, they couldn’t figure out what to do. They didn’t know what to do. It turns out, Project Bubble is one of those … The founder followed best practices around project management, but Microsoft Project didn’t.

Gab Goldenberg:            So people’s workflows were based on the Microsoft funny way of doing it.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. They came in and they were like, “I have no idea how to get started.”

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              Knowing that …. This was the hack that I think I said in the list that I sent you. Basically said … I did a little popover that said, “If you are coming from Microsoft Project, click here to get started.” Then it would take them to the appropriate place to get started. That basically almost tripled conversions in the first 30 days.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s awesome. Here’s a virtual high five for you.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah, thank you. It’s one of those little wins that … We wouldn’t have known that if we hadn’t talked to the customers. We could have gone back, kept adding features, adding functionality, doing all this stuff that would have been a big waste of time. It never would have been found, right? Talk to your customers. That’s a neat result. I’m super proud of it, but at the same time, it was a little thing. Once the hack was working and we knew that that was really the issue, then you go back and you actually re-engineer the user experience so that it’s not so hacky.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right, right.

Lincoln Murphy:              It looked fine.

Gab Goldenberg:            It just works naturally, like they don’t need to click somewhere special if they are coming from Microsoft Project. It just naturally … That’s the main flow or something.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right. To take a step back, the lesson there is most of the time in a free trial … I would say this. Free trials don’t convert prospects to customers most of the time, because they’re not designed to.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              You have to design your free trial to convert. Really, the biggest problem is that free trials are usually not even designed at all. They dump you into the product, and you either suffer from blank page syndrome, where you don’t know what to do because there’s not anything to do, or you’re overwhelmed with so many options, that you just quit, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              If it takes three or four clicks to get the customer to the first place that they need to go, just put them there initially.

Gab Goldenberg:            Oh, smart. Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              Think about this from the customer point of view. The pushback I usually get is there are so many things that our product does. We need to be able to show them all these different things. The reality is you’re going to show them so many different things that they’re not going to do any of it, so they’re going to miss all of it, and they’re going to leave.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. They are going to be overwhelmed by choice.

Lincoln Murphy:              Exactly. Go back and think about it from your customer’s standpoint. Another example that I shared was Kajabi, which allows you to take your content and basically sell it online. I can take content that I have and create a course or something, right? Well, they came to me and said, “Look. We’re getting a lot of signups.” They’re big in the internet marketing space. They have a lot of affiliates and a really big following.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              They’re very trusted advisors in that world, so when they put this out there, a lot of people signed up. Then a lot of people bailed because they couldn’t quite get started.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              We started digging through, and again, talking to customers. Looking at the feedback, because a lot of customers that churned out left some feedback. They didn’t churn out. They didn’t even sign up. They didn’t become customers.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              They just stopped before that part of the process. What we found is basically there were three types of prospects. One was a customer or prospect that had all of their content ready to go. All they needed was a system like Kajabi. They could upload it, get ready, start selling it, ready to go. On the other extreme, there were prospects that didn’t even have …

Gab Goldenberg:            A word written.

Lincoln Murphy:              Didn’t even have content. They didn’t have really even an idea of what they wanted to do. Then in the middle, there were those folks that had some content.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              They weren’t quite ready yet.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              The ones that were ready to go, those were the ones that were converting, because it was easy.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              The other two actually made up the majority.

Gab Goldenberg:            Interesting.

Lincoln Murphy:              What we did is said, okay. When you come in for the first time, let’s get you to self-select, self-identify.

Gab Goldenberg:            Oh, okay. Segmentation. Personalization.

Lincoln Murphy:              Exactly. From the very beginning, right? I have my content. I’m ready to go. I just need to upload it and start selling. Click. Okay. Now they are to the point where they can start realizing value quickly. Those that have some, we’re going to need to probably help them shape it. We need to give them some help, so we send them through a course and help them pull together what they already have.

Gab Goldenberg:            Nice.

Lincoln Murphy:              Manage expectations, also. This isn’t going to be an overnight thing.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              Right? You’re not going to be able to sign up and get started, but if you follow this over the next 30 days, you’ll be good to go.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. Cool.

Lincoln Murphy:              Then there were those folks that weren’t even there yet. We said, what if we do the smoke test for you? Allow you to put up a landing page with an idea …

Gab Goldenberg:            Right. And see who signs up.

Lincoln Murphy:              Start collecting leads … Yeah. There’s your three entry points, right?

Gab Goldenberg:            Nice.

Lincoln Murphy:              They went about 600% increase on conversions in the first 30 days.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s such a win.

Lincoln Murphy:              That’s pretty awesome.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s fantastic.

Lincoln Murphy:              It’s just one of those things where we just have to think about it, again, from the customer’s standpoint and understand that not all customers are the same.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              We need to make sure that we’re not treating them all the same.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure.

Lincoln Murphy:              There’s various ways to do that sort of segmentation. That was, I think, a pretty awesome example, and there are some extremes there, right? From people that are absolutely ready to those that weren’t at all, and still being able to figure out a way to help all of them.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah. That’s fantastic. Actually, I was just interviewing these guys, Barry Buckman and Fran Jacobowitz. They’re e-commerce marketing guys here in Israel. They did a similar thing with localization to personalize, right? When they spoke to their prospects in city X and said get service A in city X, then conversions just shot up. Similarly for a furniture store in a particular state, when then they gave them coupons for in-store traffic, they just drove so much foot traffic to the store, the sales went bananas. 100%.

Lincoln Murphy:              It’s making sure that you really resonate with the prospect, and if you’re talking about a free trial, with the customer. The things that apply at the top of the funnel, the CRO world, what’s so interesting to me is I don’t think people actually think this, but it seems to be the way. It’s like the catalyst that brought them, the things that we did to really connect to them at the top of the funnel …

Gab Goldenberg:            They’ve forgotten further down.

Lincoln Murphy:              It doesn’t. The catalyst doesn’t change. In fact, it theoretically should become stronger. You should be playing to that even more. There’s so much of a disconnect. There has been. We are starting to get better. I think as an industry, we’re still not anywhere near where we need to be. More and more companies are starting to recognize this and build really the entire marketing funnel and sales process all the way into the trial …

Gab Goldenberg:            Wow, that’s great.

Lincoln Murphy:              … and treating that part of the product as not just functional onboarding, but really part of … You’re not a customer until you’re a customer. Then, by the way, I need to work to keep you a customer.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yes, exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:              I can’t just rest on my laurels.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. I’d like to ask you if somebody wants to learn more about, first of all, your consulting services … for all of you guys watching and listening in … what are some of the different service offerings you can help people out with, right? If we’re talking about segmentation, what are some of the different audiences that come to you? What are some different ways you help them out?

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. These days, I have two full-time jobs. I have Sixteen Ventures and my consulting company, and I also work with a startup called Game Site, which is a customer success management product. I spend a lot of time helping companies with customer success, just understanding how to incorporate that into their organization. Really, if you go to, you can see that I write a lot about pricing and growth hacking and just other customer acquisition subjects.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure. Free trial optimization. Right. Upsells.

Lincoln Murphy:              You’ll start to notice a theme. The theme really is customer success. It’s this idea … Like I said, when customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company, which means customer success spans the entire customer life cycle, including the very earliest touch points with the customers from your sales and marketing all the way through conversion and then onboarding across the entire life cycle.

Gab Goldenberg:            Right.

Lincoln Murphy:              It’s important to really understand those things. I say go to, consume everything that I put out there. Basically, what I do is I work with companies, and then I write about it. I just have to get that stuff out of my head. I take clarity calls every once in a while, which are if you really need some immediate help, that’s the best way. In terms of consulting, I work with companies mostly on a strategic basis. We can get tactical, but I like to work with companies that have resources to be able to take action on what we come up with rather than having to go out and find a team myself to help them.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly.

Lincoln Murphy:     or follow me on Twitter at Lincoln Murphy. I think what I share … And I share so much stuff, that hopefully some of it would be able to help you.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah. I’d just like to reiterate for anybody watching. I’m a devoted subscriber to Lincoln’s emails. The guy’s got so much valuable knowledge to share, it’s really fun. If I can ask you, Lincoln, all of us learn, I think, from reading one another’s stuff. If you want to suggest some other people I should interview next, who would you give a shout out to?

Lincoln Murphy:              Oh, man.

Gab Goldenberg:            Two or three guys, girls.

Lincoln Murphy:              I mean, Steli from, if you’re talking about sales or … Gosh. I’m drawing a blank on everybody.

Gab Goldenberg:   Okay. I’ll speak to them.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah. Steli is the man. In terms of sales, I think there’s a lot of guys that I … Oh. Heather from Salesfolk is amazing in terms of sales, and she really focuses on cold email, but just the way … Everything that she says around conversion optimization, I think would apply.

Gab Goldenberg:            Fantastic.

Lincoln Murphy:              Yeah, man. Let me think.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s great. That’s great. I can focus on Steli and Heather. Thank you. Yeah. That’s super.

Lincoln Murphy:              Sorry, man.

Gab Goldenberg:            No, that’s super. Thank you so much, Lincoln. You’ve been really amazing. Thank you. Let’s be in touch soon.

Lincoln Murphy:              Absolutely. Thanks for having me, man.

Gab Goldenberg:            Sure thing. Take care.

What are your favourite Saas techniques? Share in the comments :).

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