Here’s how the tiniest Know Your Company feature that took 20 minutes to code led to the biggest impact on our business…
A few months ago, we moved Know Your Company to self-signup. This means that when people come to our site, they can sign up for the product themselves, give it a spin for free for two weeks, and decide whether or not they want to purchase it. (Prior to this move to self-signup, we sold our product manually, via in-person demos that I would do myself.)
After we launched self-signup, the first month was a little slow. We typically see 4–6 sales a month. But in May, we only saw three sales come through self-signup.
Hmm. Three sales wasn’t abysmal, but it wasn’t promising either. If Matt (our other employee at Know Your Company) and I wanted self-signup to work and help more people benefit from Know Your Company, we needed to find a way to get more than three sales from self-signup in a month. Like a lot of folks who run software products that offer a free trial period, we needed to figure out: How do we improve our trial to convert more signups into sales?
To answer this question, we set out to talk to the people who we knew would know: our potential customers.
Going to the source
We emailed a handful of people who’d signed-up for Know Your Company but had not bought the product. We asked if they’d like to jump on the phone for 10 minutes to help us figure out what we could improve. If you were curious, here’s an example of an email we actually sent:
My name’s Matt, and I’m a programmer with Know Your Company. Just wanted to say hello and say thanks for checking us out!
I’ve got a small favor to ask…
I’m doing some research to better understand why people try Know Your Company. Would you be willing to chat by phone for 10 minutes?
If so, just let me know when (and a good number to reach you)! Thanks Josh — this would be a big help as we improve our service 🙂
We sent this email to about twenty “good fits” — CEOs who’d signed up for the product and had 25–75 employees (this is who the product works the best for). We ended up getting on the phone with about six of them.
From these conversations, we found that the #1 reason why these CEOs didn’t buy Know Your Company after trying it out was because of the participation rate. The number of their employees’ who responded to questions was lower than what they expected.
These CEOs were typically seeing ~25% response rates with Know Your Company. On the flip side, companies who had purchased Know Your Company had seen at least 50% response rates during their trial. Interesting.
We walked away with a huge insight from those customer conversations: For CEOs, participation from their employees was the indicator of success for the trial. Seeing their employees actively participate with Know Your Company is when they have the “ah ha moment” that this is something that adds value to their company. It’s the barometer they use to see if Know Your Company is working for them.
And I get it. Know Your Company is about helping you to get to know your employees better. And if only three out of your twelve employees you’ve added to Know Your Company are answering, the quality of the insights you receive are going to feel underwhelming.
So Matt and I started wracking our brains… How do we help our CEOs achieve what they see as a successful outcome with the trial? How do we help them see the participation rate that they’re expecting?
Direct, small, and easy
We decided to approach it from the most direct way possible: What if employees simply got a friendly, nonintrusive email reminder asking them to respond to a Know Your Company question, if they hadn’t yet?
I could imagine how easy it was for an employee to forget to respond to the Know Your Company question or even outright ignore it — especially if they weren’t 100% convinced yet that it was a genuine effort on the part of their CEO.
We chose to design the email reminder around the Company Question — it’s a rotating question we ask every Wednesday about something specific in the company (for example: “Do you think the company is the right size?”). The Wednesday Company Question is the one our CEOs often tell us that they receive the most insights from and feel the greatest impact. That being the case, our thinking was… if a CEO could see a significant response rate to the Company Question during their trial, perhaps she or he would want to buy the product.
Here’s what we came up with. For anyone who hasn’t yet answered the Company Question she or he receives an email that looks like this:
In this example, the email is coming from Victor, the CEO in the company (all Know Your Company questions come from the CEO), addressing the employee, Jared.
You’ll notice a few things about this email. It’s friendly, and natural-sounding. It was important to us that this email didn’t bug someone or didn’t feel nagging.
In fact, we were so worried about bugging people, that if someone also forgot to answer the Company Question during the second week of the trial, we created an alternate email with different wording to send to them so it wouldn’t feel too stale or automated.
The email reminder also points out the importance of answering the Know Your Company question (note where it reads: “it’d really help us see how Know Your Company could be a useful tool for the company”). We wanted to make sure this was clear to employees — that answering this Know Your Company question would help their CEO understand if the tool was a good fit for the company or not.
What were the results?
Since launching this feature on June 7th, the average company question response rate amongst trial signups has gone up to 41% (it was previously 25%).
We saw our sales for last month triple — we did nine sales in June. If you recall, we’d only done three in May. This is the highest number of sales in a month we’ve done this year so far, and it matches the highest number of sales we’ve done in a month ever.
Six of those nine sales came after the launch of this feature, with two of those companies seeing their response rates improved by 3X and 4X than what they had previously been before.
One caveat is that we had a high increase in the number of inbound leads: We saw more than 3,000 visitors come to the Know Your Company website week that this Fast Company article was published, and that traffic bump continued throughout June. So we did have a significantly larger pool of leads coming in June.
Yet in spite of this, there’s a distinct difference in our conversion rate before and after we launched this feature. Our conversation rate from signup to sale was 15% for June. In May, it was 5%.
As a whole, I think it’s fair to attribute the dramatic boost in sales last month to this one, tiny little email that barely took any time to code.
A few lessons learned
It blows my mind that something so small, and required such little time and technical complexity, was able to have such a profound impact on our business.
It was an important reminder for me to “play detective” in our business. To look in the nooks and crannies of our business for insights and learnings that can help our customers get more of the outcomes that they want to see.
Specifically, it reminded me to…
1) Ask yourself: What barometer do potential customers use to judge whether or not this product is going to work for them? What’s the equivalent of a “high participation rate” in your business?
2) If you don’t know the answer to the question in #1, go talk to your potential customers to answer this question. It’s easy to forget that your customers and potential customers truly do have all the answers. They will tell you what they were doing before they used your product, when they decided to switch and purchase your product, and the forces that influenced them along the way. All you have to do is ask.
3) Don’t be afraid to try something direct, small, and easy. Matt and I looked for the most direct way we could impact the outcome that our CEOs are looking to have. And we didn’t dismiss an idea it because it wasn’t technically advanced enough or “a big enough idea.” It’s amazing how something as small as one email can make a difference in your business.
For you, I hope sharing this reminds you as much as it did me to be on the look out for truffles like this. Even the smallest lever can have a big impact.
P.S.: If you did indeed enjoy this piece, please feel free to share + give it ❤️ so others can find it too. Thanks 😊 (And you can always say hi at @clairejlew.)