Josh Ledgard

How Acompli Launched with KickoffLabs and Went On to a $200M Acquisition

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Acompli is an amazing email application available on Android and iOS… this is their story of starting as a KickoffLabs customer, going well beyond that being recently acquired for $200 million dollars by Microsoft.

It was interesting because when I saw the news stories coming across as the acquisition, I had to go back and say “wait a minute… think I remember a customer by that name”.

So I dug through our customer list and sure enough, saw that they got their start as a launch page and API using our product!

Joining us to share their story is Kevin Henrikson. He currently leads engineering for Outlook mobile at Microsoft.

Prior to that he was a co-founder and head of engineering at Acompli…

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Tell us a little more about your background.

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

I grew up in California, have lived here all my life. Went to school in Los Angeles. Started studying to become a mechanical engineer and then realized that the internet was happening.

I graduated school in like ‘99 or ‘00, so the internet made a lot more sense than building cars and airplanes, even though that – as a kid growing up – was more what I expected to be doing.

I’ve been working at software companies since about ‘99.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What lead you to found Acompli?

 

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Around 2001, after the first startup where I was working went bankrupt, I moved up to the Bay Area and joined a company called Openwave, which was focused on carrier email. So I’ve been doing email of email related software for the last 15 years.

Then worked for a company called Zimbra, focused on enterprise email.

And now Acompli, which is like taking it to the modern age asking: “How do we make people more productive with email, specifically on their mobile phones?”.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

How did you know that was a winning idea?

 

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

I think there are 2 pieces to that:

  1. What are the key pieces of how we came up with Acompli?
  2. And why we thought about the problem were trying to solve?

The background for that, over the last years… up until the last year or two there’s been lots of new people “re-inventing” email.

You think about Sparrow being the kind of first original, very popular Gmail client.

And then Mailbox had went through their really crazy, wild launch where they had a huge waiting list, and a million people trying it. And then Dropbox acquiring them for $85 or $100 million.

That was about the same time I was starting to look at new ideas and talk to lots of founders.

Javier Soltero, my co-founder and I were having this conversation saying “all of the things that folks have done around email, today even, have been really focused around the consumer”.

So they’re building something on top of Gmail which, is possible but it’s not as technically hard because there’s lots of free code to connect to IMAP servers.

I used to joke that within an hour you can go to GitHub and grab a project, connect to an IMAP server at GMAIL, OAuth into it and then paint a screen; whether it’s Javascript, Objective-C or whatever.

As we started thinking through that, we knew, with Zimbra coming from the trying to sell email servers against Exchange (it was just the dominant force, particularly in enterprise – where the global 2000 all used Exchange).

We knew that if we were going to build an email client – sitting on Exchange for work, and Gmail for our personal mail – having an email client that can combine all of that and having a modern UI was something we thought would be interesting.

So we started to tear that apart at business meetings and asking: “why don’t you use a lot of email on your mobile phone?”.

  • When you travel around to meetings or are driving around, you’re constantly jumping in and out of your phone. If you get a set of emails you have to wait until you get back to the office.
  • Composing and typing anything but the simplest email is hard, forget about long responses.
  • Search was very broken. There was a continued search on server, that would sort of work if it was local, but it would only search your inbox folder.
  • The context was scattered. App switching sucks. You get things coming in for email and you have to look up something in another app… even for something as basic as meetings.

It was this constant back and forth, and we asked “how can we make somebody’s workflow easier, and do that on a mobile phone?”. Where an average app session is 24 seconds, we asked “what can people do in 24 seconds to go and be very productive with email?”.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I have to admit that I came from a Microsoft background, so when I left Microsoft I really missed using Outlook. Because on a Mac desktop, the Email and Calendar apps being separate is just such a pain.

Then my first time using your app on the iPhone was the first time I experienced that on the phone where it was like “wow, certain things like email and calendar just makes sense to be together”.

You guys executed brilliantly on that basic idea. The rest of it is great too, it’s just that was the magic part that hit me that I really loved.

So, you have this idea and you talked a little bit about following the money. Everybody is focusing on the consumer and you’re focused on the enterprise.

Even though you’re focused on the business side of things, lets talk a little bit about the concept of putting up a launch page.

 What made you want to put up a launch page before you had an app, before you had customers? Because you weren’t targeting the consumer side, you were targeting business customers.

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Can you talk about the motivation for the launch page?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We think of everybody as a consumer.

The notion that people are only a business user or only a consumer has been destroyed with the app store.

Whether you’re a consumer or a business person in enterprise, everybody has a job or at least everyone has email these days.

And so the fact that you’re kind of both, there’s these things that you choose for your personal productivity and there’s things that your job or company provides that you don’t choose.

Our view is that the world is going to move to a place where consumers have more power, and even consumers inside of the enterprise will have more power to choose. That’s where we came up with the idea of how do we connect those two.

The idea of a launch page was simple: Validate the idea with more people outside of our own scope.

The very first launch page is a much less pretty version that I literally built with my engineering skills, not my design skills…

1st acompli page

… the idea was that we could start talking about this with friends and family whenever they asked what we were working on.

The page didn’t even mention email, just a vague launching soon landing page.

We had hundreds, probably in the low thousands of users before we announced the company and launched the first official launch landing page.

We launched it when we announced $5 million dollar funding from Redpoint and another $2 million dollars from some really great investors.

That basically led us to say we’re doing email and we knew iOS would be first, with the goal of reinventing email on the iPhone.

We had a really cool launch video and set up the launch landing page. At that point, with the help of press articles, it exploded the number of users that signed up.

Then we slowly started sending out invites.

At this point we really started to accelerate that and use some of the viral features built into KickoffLabs to say “hey, tell your friends”.

We would send an email to our list saying that the the top referring people would get more invites. Instantly we would see people trying to game the system by posting on Reddit or writing blog posts trying to promote it, which is awesome! That was what we were trying to create.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That definitely seemed to give you a boost. I won’t give away your numbers, but I can see that you benefited from people sharing their KickoffLabs unique social referral links.

How did you get users to sign up when you were in stealth mode?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

It was basically my family that would sign up when they asked what I was working on, then they would tell their friends.

We were tweeting about doing Acompli saying very vague things, we wouldn’t say we were working on email, we would say that we were doing something cool for the iPhone.

It was literally hustling; tweeting people directly, asking people at cafes to try the app… very much guerrilla marketing, getting people one-by-one to signup.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I want to ask about the page itself, as it was pretty minimal. And that’s a mistake I see a lot of people make: try and throw as many things on the page as they can.

But you used everything to kind of amplify itself; with the background image, the video option, etc…

How did you come up with the copy and the message? Did you test variations of that?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yes, we did. Our CMO is awesome, he was the VP of Marketing at Flurry, Peter Farago. He came up with a ton of crazy taglines, where we tested some with Facebook and Google Adwords.

We also had another domain, which was like something, something email app dot com… it was very long and generic yet very specific keyword spammy looking domain. And we setup the same webpage on that as a secondary domain inside of KickoffLabs. We used that to kind of test and bought traffic against it to see what would convert… among testing a few other things.

Most of the tests were to test the tagline that we ended up putting on our main launch landing page.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So before you really focused on the page, you actually did the simple thing of testing headlines with ads trying to see which one gets more people to click?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yup, exactly. And it’s super cheap to test ads on Facebook for even $10 dollars. It’s pretty inexpensive.

 

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yeah, I tell people all the time. It’s an easy win for people when they are just starting out.

Most are so focused on Google Adwords, but that’s become a very expensive place to start testing if you’re after big targets.

So you had a video on the page that you highlighted…

Do you have any metrics or a rough idea of how many people watched the video?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

In terms of the exact percentage, I’m not too sure. But it was definitely higher than average early on, because we kind of forced it front and center as the hero video; having this whole narrative of the app making you awesome at work.

It wasn’t cheap to make a video like that, but I think it was something that made a big difference. Especially now that iTunes and Google let’s you upload video as part of the app store.

Leading up to the launch, the video was helpful in telling our story in a visual way. Because as you know, some people are visual learners, some just want to read about it, some don’t care and just sign up for anything new.

We literally tried everything to try and get as many users as we could. What we needed them for was testing. In reality, we were creating our QA team.

With the app world as it is, it’s very hard to test something as complex as an email and calendaring app with all the different ways that people do it.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You started talking a little about the marketing of the launch and you talked about starting with just the really simple page with friends and family, Facebook ads, etc.

Once you were really ready with this page…

What marketing strategies were successful before you had the app ready for download?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Having people game against each other to see if they can refer other people to get to the top of the list worked well.

We also found all the places that you can launch an app, a company, or a startup. So we came up with a list of about a hundred different sites, where we tested about 75 of them.

Some of them were paid, like Betalist where we bought an ad for a few hundred bucks. Some of them were just free by submitting your site.

Many of those drove conversions. Betalist by far worked the best in terms of being able to attract a large number of users at a low cost.

More importantly, whenever I would share a link with one of these… I would post a KickoffLabs link with a referral code and so then you can track who was bringing them back based on which source. It was pretty easy to see that Betalist drove a lot of pre-registrations.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So you literally went out and did the thing of finding all the places you can possibly register cheaply and did that to start doing the promotion.

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, at this point it was either me just walking down the street telling people, “hey, what do you use for email? You should try this cool app”.

Or finding places on the web and throwing up a link to see if we can get a few more users. Because at the size we were at, we knew that every user helped.

Every time we would get one person to sign up, we would use the viral features to potentially have them share it and get into the beta earlier.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

One of our attendees sent in an interesting question asking:

Do you think a higher cost product could use KickoffLabs during their launch?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

For sure… Acompli, the app itself was free but what we were selling to businesses was millions of dollars.

The way we license our software was very expensive. But that 1 free app user that then converted into a very large enterprise sale

The way Acompli made money was by offering a free app, but then as a business or as an IT person you could buy additional services and acquire a paid plan with dedicated hosting, tenants and stuff on the backend.

What we were actually selling was a very high value product. True that the frontend of it was a free app.

Having something that is low-cost or no-cost, obviously it’s a lot easier to collect somebody’s email address. That’s just kind of basic marketing.

The way I’ve marketed other very high-cost things in the past is by offering free ebooks, free webinars, etc… get people to sign up for things.

Give people something whether it’s information or some kind of service that you’re offering at a very low-cost or no-cost to start that conversation. And then you can go deeper.

Clearly more expensive things are going to take longer to convert.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

We’re not going to talk about exact numbers, but…

Can you give us an idea of how many people you got before the app was ready to go?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We had on the order of tens of thousands prior to launching in the app store.

Prior to launching the company we had single digit thousands, so less than 10,000 users.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That leads into measuring where the hits are coming from and using the referral codes or campaign links for each.

What were you optimizing the launch landing page for?

Raw numbers trying to drive as much traffic as humanly possible? Looking for a high conversion rate?

How were you measuring the success leading up to the launch?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

The conversion rate obviously varied across channels; Twitter, Facebook, Betalist, our friends, a popular person that writes a blog post because they heard about or know us.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

What kind of relationship did you have with influencers or press people that helped grow your list?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We don’t really have a relationship with press people, but people picked it up after they saw the launch and wrote about it.

We’ve built companies before and have friends in the Bay Area, but it’s nobody superfamous.

Anybody that we could convince that had a blog, we would try to get them to write about it.

Peter, who was our CMO had a great relationship with the press. So we did a ton of outreach and pitched our story to them.

We did have a PR firm that helped with some of the introductions, but at the end of the day you have to have a great story.

Acompli on NBC News

The best stories and the articles were ones where we sat down with those reporters, demoed the app, walked through the app, told a story and was able to demonstrate value.

However, the goal was really signups… how many unique email addresses can we collect to start that conversation? From there it was… how do we get people into our app?

As we were marketing an iPhone app, we knew that eventually we would get to Android… so we were collecting and segmenting those people, letting them opt-in to which one they wanted.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you automatically include everybody on the list into the beta? Or how did you know that somebody was a good participant?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

1. We started by filtering out competitors, which was pretty obvious when they signed up with their name.

2. And then we started ranking by who’d referred the most people, people who seemed active on social media, or had some kind of activity inside of it… so we granted access in waves.

Every time you make a big change to your onboarding or your signup flow, you really can’t test the old users… you have to use new users. So we purposely launched in patches to walk through that at a slow pace. Making sure that we always had fresh users every week to add to the cycle. Testing the quality of that funnel and how accurate we were.

3. We were very active on Twitter and through email talking to our beta users.

4. We used a program called HelpShift, which is in-app customer support. That was super instrumental in helping us have a conversation with our beta users privately.

Inside of the app they were able to just tap a button, load up a chat and talk back and forth.

That was helpful for us talking to people about features, bugs, etc. This allowed us to augment that close relationship.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

You guys are fanatical about 2 things; 1) figuring out what the customers wanted as a group, not just the minority. & 2) focusing on the quality during the beta.

How do you balance that with the innovation that you wanted to drive?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, we use another service called HockeyApp which is pretty popular… Microsoft acquired them shortly after they acquired us, which allows you to collect crash reporting and details around that.

So we use that as a first-line of defense, because if the app is crashing people get frustrated.

Then we ran a weekly report of the support tickets and categorized them into groups. We obviously dealt with users individually, but for our future roadmap we looked at it as a whole.

The third is the critical piece of innovation. Where we constantly have to think about improving the general workflow and productivity of our users.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I think what sums it up, is that your team is focused on customer happiness :-)

During the beta were there any other metrics or statistics that you were measuring?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

If you had to pick one metric in the mobile world, it’s retention.

If you can’t keep users, no matter how many users you buy or you get… you’re going to lose them.

Are users staying and at a high percentage?

From our point of view, we discovered that users who only use a single personal email address retained at one rate, while people with different business accounts retained at another.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

So in addition to all the other stuff, you were focused on measuring retention? Seeing people stick with the app, using it day in and day out.

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One thing I saw that Acompli did was trying to leverage people who were influencers (people who are big fans of the app) after you launched.

You created a landing page off of your site, called #RockTheDock Twitter contest.

There you asked people to take a screenshot of their dock with Acompli installed and tweet it.

How did this campaign work for you?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yeah, our CMO came up with idea of people getting people to “rock their dock” with our app. We wanted to see if we could get to replace the email client that lives in somebody’s dock.

Generally, as we started to talk to more people, we realized that was the ultimate signup commitment. If you had moved this dock into your app, we just started putting that in the tagline of our email marketing and built the landing page to promote it event more.

We would retweet and comment with people, give them badges and be kind of cute on Twitter talking to people… just some kind of virtual award for posting their dock.

It worked well, because you started to see more and more Twitter famous people say “hey, this is something that I’m using and I like it”. Then they’d tweet it and that would pick up more.

We had some really good bursts of user pickup from the #RockTheDock campaign.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

That was interesting market research for Acompli too, right?

 

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Yes, because we got to see what other apps people were using… It was really insightful seeing who the users were, but also more importantly their email app use behaviour.

 

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Did you measure any of that and have your team go through the images? Or did you see them as they came in?

 

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We never got super data-driven around the exact makeup of the various homescreens that were tweeted, but we did look at a lot of those.

The ones we did see, we were categorizing between them thinking about potential inter-linkings and partnerships.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

I love when a campaign is able to take something that helps you and also do the marketing.

One of the reasons that at KickoffLabs we do regular landing page reviews, where we ask people to submit their pages and then we’ll take a look at them publicly (if they’re willing the stand up to the scrutiny).

Selfishly that really helps us do market research, because we get to see all kinds of campaigns and landing pages. A majority of the pages submitted aren’t even on our platform yet, so A) we get to pitch them or B) if nothing else, we’re able to help them.

So I love hearing about stories when it’s a marketing campaign, but it’s dual-purposed as market research.

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How did you approach companies that would be a good fit for an acquisition?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We never intended to sell the company. Great companies are bought, not sold.

Our goal was to build a company that we liked working for, with people we like, while doing something we thought was meaningful and interesting.

That was the path we were on… yeah, we were getting great press & reviews, and the user base was growing well beyond our expectations. So at that point we were looking to license our software to some enterprise customers and some ISPs. We really wanted to get Acompli everywhere.

One of the discussions we had with Microsoft was about licensing our software as a potential client to use for their various email platforms.

That was how that conversation started and then escalated to the ultimate acquisition. But we never went out and tried to reach out to companies to buy us.

We had great software that a lot of people were using and loved, so the discussion centered around that.

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Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Where do you think the future is for email and mobile apps?

 

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We can’t talk specifically about what the Microsoft Outlook roadmap is, but the mission that Acompli was on to make users more productive with email and calendar on their device is only just beginning.

We’d only been in the app store for like 6 months. We really had just gotten our first version, we didn’t even have time to rollout our version 2 yet. It was really early.

We still feel that way. What we produced is great and people love it. But we have lots of new things to do to continue the theme.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Yeah, I was really impressed with the acquisition at how quickly you guys turned around. It spoke both about the quality of your team and also that Microsoft was interested in letting you keep that.

Apple Right Now

Lastly…

For the email collection and the viral stuff… what product did you use for that?

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

We used the KickoffLabs API to connect our custom landing page to the KickoffLabs platform.

Initially we had the landing page hosted for free on KickoffLabs, then moved to the API and continued to use that until we were well into our public beta.

We were using KickoffLabs to drive all our leads to the beta because we could allow people to promote and share with their friends.

We also integrated with Mailchimp to push leads from KickoffLabs into a list, then we would market to them directly with the Mailchimp tools.

But the first few emails that we sent were through KickoffLabs – the automatic thank you email, influencer email & viral incentive emails.

Josh Ledgard, Co-Founder of KickoffLabs:

Happy to hear it!

I was thrilled when I looked back – when I heard about the acquisition – to see that you had created 2 more campaigns after you had launched 2 different ones for the beta.

It’s our intention to help with long-term marketing, not just launches.

It was a lot of fun, thank you!

Kevin Henrikson, Co-Founder of Acompli:

Thanks, Josh! Thanks for having me.


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We love telling these stories and want to tell more of them!

You really should get started now with KickoffLabs.

We want to help you get your own success so you can come back and tell an amazing tale, like Kevin just did!

Introducing KickoffLabs Viral Incentive Emails

You won’t find this anywhere else! Viral sharing has always been included by default with KickoffLabs. This referral generation accelerates your growth much quicker than traditional approaches.

Today, we are excited to announce the something which will take this to another level, Incentive Emails.

Incentive Emails

This is a feature you won’t find with any other Landing Page or Online Form provider.
With Incentive Emails, you can deliver emails to your leads once they reach key sharing thresholds. For example, you could send a lead an email after they have generated three new leads for your business.

Check it out…

incentive-list

Some common use cases:

1. Deliver an ebook after one successful referral

2. Offer a discount after 3 referrals

3. Offer an extra discounts or coupon codes after 10 referrals

How to activate this…

1. Log into your KickoffLabs account.

2. Select your Campaign.

3. Click Emails > Incentive Emails

incentive-setup

4. Click Add New Incentive Email

5. Choose a referral number that will trigger this email.

6. Write your email, preview, and save!

incentive-email-new

We know incentive emails will help supercharge your lead generation campaign and we cannot wait to see what you do with them.

This capability works great with our viral thank you pages.
Thanks,
Scott Watermasysk
Co-Founder – KickoffLabs

Using Social Referrals to Supercharge Your Landing Page Conversion Rate

Supercharge Your Conversion Rate

What if your campaign converted at 50%? Would that have a meaningful impact on  your business? Of course it would. And it’s not hard. Check out what a recent KickoffLabs customer had to say recently… 

“…I got a 50% conversion rate on my landing page using social referrals. After 2.5 weeks of having my site up (www.northwoodproject.ca) here’s what the stats look like:”

50% Conversion Rate

They are not alone. Anyone can follow the best practices they used. In fact there have already been several hugely successful campaigns that were built to encourage social referrals and get their own “Viral Boost”.

What are social referrals and what is a viral boost?

You probably know that your conversion rate is simply: 

People that achieved your goal / Unique People to a Landing Page

If 3 people visit your landing page and one person signs up… you have a 33% conversion rate.

A social referral is anyone that someone else refers to your landing page. So if, after someone signs up, they get 5 friends to sign up… each of these additional signups is a referral from the first person.

A Viral Boost is the boost you are getting on your campaign because of the number of social referrals. In the example above 27% of their leads are being referred by someone else directly.

Why is a Viral Boost important?

If you have the money to get 1,000 people to your campaign and 200 sign up. That’s a 20% conversion rate. But if you can get even 50% of those people to tell 2 friends. Your conversion rate goes from 20% to 40%. This is what you saw happen above.  Anyone can do it.

How about some great examples besides this company I’ve never heard of?

Ok.  Perhaps you’ve read about the Harry’s launch success story on the Tim Ferriss blog.  Simply put… they collected 100,000 emails in a week because of the social referrals they were able to generate. It worked like this…

harrys slide

Another great example? The RobinHood.IO campaign:

robinhood-launch

Ok – How do I get a viral boost with social referrals for MY campaign?

You could start by following these best practices we’ve learned from our 40,000 customers and analyzing their top performing campaigns.

1. Have an initial conversion rate better than 15%.

Pure conversion rate optimization is not the focus of this post, but you want to make sure you are converting a good chunk of the initial traffic you get to your landing pages. Otherwise you are choking the effectiveness out of any effort you put into the viral part of your campaign. You are also throwing money away… but that’s not the topic of this post. :)

Making something more viral won’t suddenly take you from a 5% to a 50% conversion rate since most people won’t even get that far.  Here are some great articles on nailing the basics so you have a good baseline conversion rate:

Short version… Have clear copy that simply explains the benefits of converting and offers some incentive for doing so right now.

People want to share things that:

  1. They clearly understand the value of.
  2. They think is cool. Since it will, in turn, make them look great for finding it first.

2. When someone signs up… say thank you and deliver the goods.

If you offered an incentive, and you should, then you should deliver the incentive to the person ASAP along with a thank you message. You are about to ask these folks to do something for you in step 3 so you want them to feel in debt to you a bit. They won’t feel that way if they sign up and you turn around and say “oh… could you also”.

But if the approach is… “Oh – thanks for signing up. Here is the download you wanted… We know you’ll love it so why don’t you…”.

3. Ask the engaged customers to share what they’ve found right away.

Immediately after the thank you message you should display a simple, and obvious, second call to action… to share what they’ve just found with their friends and colleagues.

You want to do this on the thank you experience because you’ve got them hooked at this moment. You just got them interested in what you are doing. You just delivered them some value. This is the moment to ask them to share what they’ve found. You should also send this request in the thank you email.

It should be as easy as clicking a button from them to share because you’ll have the sharing buttons pre-configured for them to share a specific message for you. :)

step3

 4. Drop the share request to their email as well…

This example, from Robinhood.io, was simple and to the point. I would have included some easy to use buttons instead of a link they had to cut and paste… but you get the idea.

step3-robin

5. Offer customers amazing incentives for sharing.

No one tells other people about your business out of the goodness of their hearts. We all want to believe that what we’ve built is simply that amazing. In reality you need to properly motivate people to take meaningful action even if you’ve got an amazing product offer. Your incentives need to be:

A. Achievable

The person has to believe it’s possible for them to accomplish. If, for example, you say that you’ll give them an award for referring 50 friends it won’t feel very achievable. Remember that the majority of people that generate a referral will generate between 1-3. It’s a dramatic drop off from the couple of people that will share and get 20+ referrals.

I don’t personally have 50 friends I feel like I could convince to to any one thing in a short amount of time. But I do have 3 or 4 people I know that might be interested in what you are offering.  What could you do for people at that level?

B. Worth it

So… you want me to spam my friends, get 10 of them to signup, and you are going to offer me a $5 off coupon? No thanks. That’s simply not an offer that’s worth it for anyone you want as a customer.

Now… tell me that for 3 friends I’ll get 10% off and  at 10 referrals you’ll give me 3 free months of your service… now you’re talking.

Here are two examples that felt achievable and worthwhile for perspective customers:

incentives

In this example ‘Level 0′ reinforces the thank you. ‘Level 5′ exists as a free informational product they will deliver to you. 10 referral get’s you a free month of membership… etc. It scales up nicely in a way that feels achievable at each step.

northwood2

Simple and effective… get 5 people signed up and we’ll send you free product! The reward scheme doesn’t have to be complex to work.

Here are some template examples to get you thinking:

  • Sign up 5 friends and get… (something for free)
  • Most referrals wins… (contests for BIG prizes do get people motivated)
  • Prize levels at 3, 5, 10, 50… (achievable and scaled for influencers)
  • Get 3 and you are in… (to the beta)
  • Move up in line… (get earlier access)

6. Follow-up with influencers via email.

There is a myth that says people will keep coming back to your landing pages in order to check their status. They won’t. The only one that obsesses about your campaign every day is you. For everyone else… send them gentle thank you notes and reminders via email.

When someone generates 1 or more referrals in a 24 hour period… you should send them an email that thanks them, delivers any rewards, and encourages them to share more. For example:

influencer mail

This is an example of the “Influencer Mail” that KickoffLabs automatically sends whenever a person has successfully gotten friends to sign up. We find this email to be an effective way of encouraging people to keep sharing. It makes them feel good about what they did and encourages them to keep going. This is the same philosophy discussed earlier… take someone that demonstrated engagement and get more out of them.

For people that share a lot (like the example above) I recommend taking the time to personally send them a thank you mail. That will do wonders for your PR and their determination to keep sharing. :)

7. Don’t forget about your existing audience and people that haven’t shared yet.

Someone entered your contest that ends next month and hasn’t shared yet… why would you give up on them? Same story for your launch campaign. The worst thing you could do is collect an email address, wait six months, and then send them some grand launch email.

You should be keeping them updated every 2-4 weeks. Let them know how things are going, deliver some value, and encourage them to start sharing because you’ve made it worthwhile to do so.

Yes – some people may unsubscribe from your campaign. You don’t want them there anyway. You want to find the people, throughout your campaign, that are the most engaged and get them acting on your behalf. And if your emails are providing value along the way in the form of advice, inspiration, entertainment, sneak peaks, etc… most people will NOT subscribe.

Remember…

When people hear about “viral growth” they have the impression that it has to be a hockey stick (meaning every person who signs up brings in two more people). They think they failed if that’s not the case. The hockey stick makes for a great story. A good unicorn that comes along every once in a while. For everyone else, adding virality is a tool to improve our odds and increase our conversion rates.

If you were given the choice between running an A/B test giving you results that were 10% more effective or adding a viral boost to gain a 27% boost (as seen above) which do you think is more worthwhile? Which should you choose? I think it’s obvious.

Everyone could use a viral boost.

For more commentary and insight check out our webinar on the subject of viral boosts.

You can also check out the slides here:

BTW – All of the mechanics in this post are things that we do “out of the box” with KickoffLabs. We’ve made adding a viral boost to any campaign very simple. Why not sign up today and check it out. 

Your Marketing Questions… Answered by the Pros [Pt 2]

Our chat series is a chance for us to share the knowledge we’ve acquired running KickoffLabs and watching what works for our customers and their successful campaigns.

These are all questions that have been submitted to us via our chat page and gives us a chance to be more interactive with our amazing audience.

Be sure to watch the video for a behind the scenes look at new KickoffLabs features!


Q1 – Differences between US focused landing pages and international? Are there any marketing differences that you are aware of?

For example; we tried to create landing pages for Russia, but received no conversions…

We get people all the time that ask “can you create landing pages in multiple languages”. YES, KickoffLabs lets you create landing pages in multiple languages, but that’s kind of the easy part.

There are however some things we recommend when you do that.

Let’s say you’ve got an ebook download and you have 2 landing pages in different languages;

  • Publish the pages to a separate domain each.
  • Market the pages to separate audiences.
  • Cross-link between the pages. Include a small link at the top so if somebody prefers the other language version, they can quickly switch.
  • The follow up email should be a separate campaign so you can address them specifically in their native language.

All that seems to make sense, but it’s amazing how many people miss those basic things first.

What if you already covered the basics?

There can be a lot of reasons why your landing page is not converting. We don’t think it’s specifically the language of the page. The biggest reason people typically don’t get conversions is not bringing the right traffic and understanding the subtle difference in the audience in that market.

There might be some communities where you are marketing your English landing pages, that work really well for getting people in. But if you don’t find those similar communities in other languages, then maybe the market doesn’t exist.

Culture shock

Of course, there are subtle cultural difference to take into account as well. Some cultures dislike filling out forms more than others. I mean take a look at this landing page from KFC in Japan…

KFC_-_www_kfc_co_jp_campaign_colonelsday_thanks3_index_html

Stuff is happening all over the page and there is no sign up form (only Facebook & Twitter share buttons), and yet it’s one of their highest performing campaigns.

“Different countries and cultures require different types of landing pages to convert.”

Get more specific

If you are getting a decent amount of traffic and you do believe the traffic is coming from the right keywords, on the right pages (and you have someone available that speaks the landing page language)… put up a chat widget!

Go to Olark or some other live website chat provider and install it onto the landing page.

When somebody visits the site, ask them in their native language “why aren’t you signing up to the page?”. Maybe there is some bad grammar, spelling, you’ll get all sorts of good feedback.

The simple fact is, if you don’t have someone that understands the country and culture you are targeting (and have an understanding of recent events), it’s going to be tough getting people to join.


Q2 – Best advice for creating a page just designed to capture corp network staff interest rather than conversions?

Just starting up with enterprise security solution & first product isn’t ready yet.

For people that have a really niche audience like this; solving a B2B (Business-to-Business) problem, you have to think about what kind of free education can you give away.

Capture interest

The first step is finding your audience. For the B2B space, we generally recommend a good mix of LinkedIn, communities where people talk about business or IT, cold-calling, and general networking.

Drive prospects to a basic landing page for your product that explains what it is and tries to get initial interest. Use this landing page for general advertising and marketing campaigns.

Market specifically to people in larger companies working in Mid to Junior level departments. They are the potential users of your solution and gatekeepers to the decision making senior level executives.

Close sales with free content

In the corporate space offering free training has an immense amount of value. If you’re willing to offer a little more sweat equity, you’re going to capture a lot of email addresses.

Let’s say you already have a product page, your pitch shouldn’t be to get them to sign up yet… you should be focused on getting people to sign up for a free educational webinar.

Do as we’ve done and set up a landing page that offers people the chance to fill in questions ahead of time. That’ll guarantee you have questions and can prepare in advance.

KickoffLabs_Live_Marketing_Chats_-_grow_kickofflabs_com_live

On the sharing side you can really exploit things by encouraging people to invite their team. You might get 3 or 4 people from the same department come to your webinar.

“Capture buyers interest by offering a free educational event.”

During the end of the webinar and in the follow up emails, is the opportune time to talk about your product being in pre-release and point people to the general signup landing page.


Q3 – What incentive can I provide for a free unlaunched mobile game?

Why would someone be interested in unlocking a character or something if they didn’t know the game yet? I could insert screenshots or a video of gameplay, but is that enough?

We’re seeing a lot more of this in the video game development space; where if somebody pre-orders a game, they get a code with their pre-order box, and can use that code to unlock a character.

This takes a lot of effort.

Unlocking a character is certainly something that works for pre-purchased games. But the reason they’re giving that much value is because people have actually put down money and not just signed up to be notified of a free unlaunched game.

Leverage something special and exclusive

If you’ve got an unreleased game, you’ve got the advantage of screenshots and video gameplay. You don’t need as much of an incentive when you are not asking someone to purchase.

“For free, don’t work on over-engineering the opt in bribe.”

Offer a simple incentive like: “Enter your email address and unlock our trailer for the game”. Especially in the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) space, there’s a lot of value in offering things that people perceive as cool and would want to tell their friends about.


Q4 – Do you have any special advice for website courses?

It’s the start of a beautiful friendship… Courses are a great way to offer the biggest bang for the buck, before people sign up.

Have a look at our “Landing Pages 107”, a free email course on landing page fundamentals that  teaching about the uses of landing pages, launching companies, calls-to-action, promotion, & more…

Landing_Pages_107_-_Join_this_free_email_course_to_learn_landing_page_fundamentals__-_www_landingpages107_com

And while we have a dedicated landing page for the course, we promote it on just about our entire site using an exit popup widget.

kickofflabs_exit_intent_popup_widget

“It’s 100% FREE is the value & Get the First Lesson Now is the instant gratification.”

As soon as somebody signs up, they get the link to the first video. They are also sent through our marketing conversion funnel and begin receiving the email course through a drip campaign.

We use the awesome Drip email marketing automation tool to trigger the sequence.

Prime attention

People get an immediate follow up email, which happens to have the highest open rate (about 45-55%) of any email in the drip campaign.

This goes to show that you have to make the first email experience really strong. Include BIG calls-to-action and tell people what it is you want them to do. Use this as a chance to throw in some branding of your own and send people back to other parts of your website.

The next 3 to 4 emails are also critical. Once you’re at about email 5 you’ll lose some people.

Timing is everything

We used to deliver our course over 30 days but found that open rates improved delivering the value closer together. People want the course for a reason, so just give them all the emails in a shorter amount of time upfront. We now deliver 1 email a day for 10 days.

Secondary attention

About halfway through the email drip sequence, we’ll lose another 40% of our audience and the open rates will drop to 20-30% for those last five emails.

You can really see the drive where it’ll spike at the first email, people will be engaged, then some people will unsubscribe. But the people who are hooked will keep reading your content!


Q5 – What are best practices for building and hosting a simple launch page with a form to indicate interest in either beta, job, or co-founder position?

People often find that they have so many business needs to startup, they try and cram 3 or 4 calls-to-action on the page…

… You need to pick which 1 is most important to you and have your main landing page dedicated just to that.

Always put your customers first

The most important page should be gathering signups for the beta. Focus the primary aspect on pitching the product and encouraging people to sign up. These are potentially the customers who are going to pay you, without them your business is non-existent.

No landing page yet? This is something you can easily do with KickoffLabs, it’s one of our bread-and-butter areas :)

Nail the pitch

Anybody who wants to work for you or with you, has got to be really interested in that problem. If you can clearly communicate the problem to your audience, you’ll do a better of communicating it to your potential team members.

“It always ends up better to pitch the problem, talk about your solution, and get interest from customers. If you do a great job at that, the rest will work itself out.”

Offer jobs to like-minded people

For job offers, we recommend a landing page that’s a secondary page off of the same domain.

Have a link below on the main page that says “Want to work with us? Go here”. If they are interested enough, they’ll click through to a second page which has more specifics about what you’re looking for and the job. You can then capture their information on that second page.

The best pitch for a co-founder

To be brutally honest, we haven’t heard of too many cases where people have found their co-founder by advertising it on their landing page or website. Most success stories have actually been more about networking. But you never know… you just might get lucky.

We’re not saying it CANNOT work, but rather believe the focus needs to be on pitching the business to potential customers.

The best pitch ever is “Hey, I’ve got 5,000 people signed up for this product. I just need to build it”! To a co-founder that means the hard part is done, you’ve already built an audience and have customers lined up.

Want to learn more on finding the right business co-founder? Have a look at Paul Graham’s, from Y Combinator, Startup FAQs here.


Q6 – What is the biggest bang for the buck in launching social media campaigns on a bootstrapped budget?

The quickest way is to set up campaign and landing pages yourself, using either KickoffLabs or another tool.

Hack and optimize for paid advertising

  • Retargeting. Track people that don’t sign up for your campaign right away with a tool like PerfectAudience or AdRoll. You can follow them around the internet and it’s a great way to market to people later. We see a huge return on a very small amount of money being spent on retargeting.
  • Social Ads. These tend to perform well because you can target a very strong niche. You can get specific in terms of the groups that people are a member of, their preferences, etc… it’s a great way to spend money on ads.
  • Google Ads. They work, it’s just that there are so many people buying these ads, it drives prices up and thus can get pretty expensive.
  • Native Ads. If your audience lives somewhere online, GO FIND THEM and advertise directly within that community. Buying ads direct from a community tends to be much cheaper than going through a display network, and also you can be a lot more targeted.

Assemble your current crowd

Include your current leads into the promotion. Make them feel special by offering a reward just for participating.

Even if you have a small # of current subscribers, you can’t ignore those people. These are potential ambassadors for your brand and you have to make every effort to turn them into that.

All contests are not created equal

You can get all the benefits of a great social contest without having to spend a lot of money. Contests don’t have to be expensive… they just have to be cool & worth sharing.

Don’t run a contest and just give away something like an iPad. The point is to give away something that is related to your specific audience. You’ll get more engagement from a higher quality audience by filtering out the people that just want to win an iPad.

Become a successful social contest master by learning about the Keys to Killer Online Contests.

Get a Viral Boost

We see, even outside of contests, 35% more leads for people that have the option enabled. And that’s without any added incentive, just making it easy to share after somebody signs up.

So if you want to make that $100 turn into $135 dollars worth of advertisements, make sure your campaigns have the sharing (and ideally some reward as part of the sharing).

BTW, each and every KickoffLabs page has this viral sharing option built-in

viral-boost

Not only that but you get the added bonus of generating personal referral links for each and every one of your signups!

Get into other people’s business

We’ve seen this with some Ecommerce sites lately, where they will partner up with 3 or 4 other Ecommerce sites. The goal with this is to educate each others audience about your potential products.

Even if your audience is smaller, grouping together a bunch of smaller audiences is going to amplify everybody’s impact.

Think about ways to:

  • co-promote with banner ads, in email newsletters, on product forums, on niche blogs…
  • co-present webinars, pdfs, educational guides, free content…
  • co-giveaway with social contests, prizes, coupons, discounts…

Find a way to grab an audience that’s not yours, but related to yours, and let them know about what you have.

Put in the work

Of course time is money, but sweat equity (putting in the work effort) will help you identify your audience online.

Take 10 of your current customers and just profile them. Go to their LinkedIn profiles, Twitter profiles, Facebook profiles, etc. Go to where they hang out online, find those communities and start engaging with those people online.

You can ask questions there, you can promote to them there, you can buy ads in those communities. Gain an understanding of your audience and go to the places where they hang out to drive them to your site.

Watch the video to see how KickoffLabs makes creating marketing campaigns super easy!


Send us your questions

We host a weekly chat series where we either tackle your most pressing marketing questions or give your landing page a well deserved tune-up, all free of charge! That’s one of our many ways of adding a ton of value to the word “FREE”.

Visit grow.kickofflabs.com/live and save your spot for the next event!

Click here and register for the next event!

We’d really like to see you there!

Josh Ledgard

Co-Founder of KickoffLabs

 

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September 2014 Trends & Our Favorite Landing Pages

It’s that time again… to share how our customers campaigns have been performing and our roundup of the best landing pages for the month of September 2014!

First, our combined customer analytics…

September Leads Generated

231,262

Our proudest public metric. These are the number of quality leads that KickoffLabs generated for our customers during the month of September.

September Conversion Rate

13.4%

Our free plan has really been taking off and growing in popularity! That’s mirific, we want everyone to access KickoffLabs powerful lead generation tools. But with that unfortunately comes a slight drop in our overall customer conversion rate.

It’s a real shame, especially when anyone can easily get a professional landing page review from our team for FREE.

September Viral Boost

56.1%

Over half of all signups this month we’re sharing their unique referral link with their friends! Goes to show that simply asking for the share can drive more referral traffic to your signup page.

September Age Groups

demographics sept 2014

This is how age groups were distributed:

  • 25-34 & 35-44 yr olds consistently hold the top age groups.
  • Steady increase in engagement from older demographics.

September Gender

m-f demographic sept 2014

The female demographic has been steadily climbing month per month, where now we normally see a +70% of the demographic share.

This aligns with a recent article published by QuickSprout, where they conclude that women are more active on social networks with a higher share frequency rate:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

While men are more active on social networks with less sharing going on:

  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube

If you’re wondering how we’re getting the demographic data, KickoffLabs has a feature called Magic Contact Data that automatically takes customer email addresses and fills in missing data such as Twitter names, Facebook profiles, biography, current employer, and even their full names. Services normally charge ONLY for this service, BUT comes included with any paid KickoffLabs account ;)

September’s Favorite Pages

We might have packed too many pages into this month’s best, but there were just so many great contest, signup and launch pages that we couldn’t resist sharing them all with you.

The best contest landing pages

Companies large and small were using contests as an incentive to drive a large amount signups of our customers combined signups…

1. Kaffexpress are using their product launch as a contest to drive more signups using our Small Box theme.

Kaffexpress_-_M_nadsleverans_av_f_rskrostat_och_gott_kaffe_fr_n_lokala_rosterier_direkt_hem_till_dig__-_kaffexpress_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Besides being coffee lovers ourselves, the page is doesn’t need much copy to describe what people are signing up for.

2. BabyLegs have been quite the busy bees, launching one contest after another… and it seems they’ve fallen in love with our Small Box

BabyLegs_and_Aden___Anais_-_Coming_Soon__-_babylegs-aden-anais_kickoffpages_com

& Flat Box – Light themes… who can blame them, they look stunning!

BabyLegs___Ergobaby_Giveaway__-_babylegs-ergo-baby-2_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Uses great background images to engage visitors

3. MakerMex are giving away one of their MM1 Modular 3D printers using our Big Show – Video theme.

Win_the_MM1_Modular_3D_Printer_-_winmakermex_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: We love seeing innovative products being boosted by our platform.

4. Century 21 Canada got creative building a custom contest page for their Air Miles contest.

CENTURY_21_Canadian_Home_Critic_Contest_-_infographic-contest_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: It’s a beautiful page that aside from capturing prospects information, they are looking to educate their audience.

5. The Love Lab launched a speed-dating contest using our Viral Giveaway – Double Opt In theme.

The_Love_Lab_Denver_I_Winter_Lovin__Contest_-_love-lab-denver_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Red is always a bold color choice but works well for this page, it POPS!

6. CrowdTap customized our Small Box theme for a contest page that’s unique to their brand.

Share_and_Win_a_Shopping_Spree_-_tellafriend_crowdtap_com_savingscatcher

Why we like it:

  1. They associate with a well known brand name, Walmart.
  2. The CTA is hard to miss.
  3. Steps work well for directing your visitors actions.

7. The team over at John Daly Cocktail offered a getaway contest using our Viral Giveaway – Double Opt In theme.

Win_a_round_with_John_contest_-_Still_not_convinced____-_copy-win-round-john-contest_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: John (the guy in the photograph) is signaling to the eye-catching copy and CTA, “hey, sign up for this”.

8. Bruce Power built a great looking contest landing page with a customized version of our Big Box theme.

Win_free_electricity_for_a_year____Bruce_Power_-_copy-free-electricity-2014-3_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: By getting people to use their energy calculators to obtain contest answers, they are driving engagement with their mobile apps.

9. JookBox used our Flat Box – Dark theme to create their contest page…

Win_JookBox_Wireless_Speakers_-_bsxjookbox_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: They only ask for an email address. That and the call-to-action text says “Win!”.

The Best Incentivized Landing Pages

Not only was September the month of awesome contests, it was also a month packed with great signup incentives…

1. O Tempo from Brazil used another slightly customized version of our Big Box theme to create an ebook download landing page.

GR_TIS__eBook_de_Quest_es_Comentadas_-_materiais_otempoconcursos_com_br_e-book-de-questoes-comentadas

Why we like it: This is exactly the kind of incentive that can drive a ton of signups… I may not fully understand the language (it’s Portuguese), but I like how the visual is clearly tied to the free ebook download. And the way they portray the ebook as a solution to one of the most dreaded tasks… an exam.

2. Using our Three Step Social Contest with the embed form option, African Clean Energy is increasing their social following all the while collecting email addresses for delivering their ebook.

Join_Cook4Cooks__I_African_Clean_Energy_-_www_africancleanenergy_com_cook4cooks-2

Why we like it: Proves how easy it is to implement a viral form into your current site!

3. Our friends at PurpleSlate put together a custom form using the KickoffLabs API.

Party_planning_guide_-_partyguide_mypurpleslate_com

Why we like it: Uses logos as trust factors. It’s okay if their only from the resources.

4. African Management Initiative has done a great job of starting off with our Lead Form – Text Focus theme and creating landing pages that reflect their brand.

Managing_Projects_-_www_africanmanagers_co_managing-project

Why we like it: Integrates perfectly with their current site. They’re also helping with the development of their country, which in itself a great accomplishment.

5. Rosetta Patios & Walkways used our Traditional Pitch theme to create a landing page that’s hard to turn away from!

RosettaHardscapesBigIdeaBook_-_rosettabigideabook_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Even though this page is for a company specializing in patios & walkways, they are using a proven layout for getting people’s email address and information.

They are taking the classic catalog to a new level and treating it as incentivized ebook download. That’s pretty smart!

6. Trunkey built another custom page using the KickoffLabs API… the result is impressive!

We_are_Trunkey__Everything_you_want___Delivered_in_minutes_-_trunkeylaunch-2_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it:

  • They use a great background image that directs attention to the eye-catching call-to-action button.
  • The copy is brief, yet informative.
  • Use of a valuable time-based incentive.

The Best Overall Landing Pages

1. StuffHopper is a new app that is already looking amazing using our Lead Form – Background Image theme.

StuffHopper_-_www_stuffhopper_com

Why we like it: The page is simple, has a great headline and just the right amount of copy. The CTA button text is relative to the action being taken, “Sell my stuff for me!”.

2. Using our Flat Box theme, new clothing line designer Gregory Martin created a very simple, yet effective launch page.

Gregorymartin_-_You_need_a_great_tagline__-_www_gregorymartin_com_au

Why we like it: The simplicity of the signup page conveys an aura of elegance to the brand.

3. MundoExperts built an incredibly balanced landing page using our Small Box theme.

Mundo_Experts__Red_de_Consultores_para_empresas_en_Latinoam_rica_-_www_mundoexperts_com

Why we like it: All the elements and copy are optimally sized. The color choice is also spot on, in my opinion.

4. Lostmy.name launched a beautiful landing page for an upcoming storybook using our Traditional Pitch theme.

Starte_deine_eigene__pers_nliche_Abenteuerreise_-_ankuendigung_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Using cheerful images and plenty of whitespace help bring this landing page to life!

5. TravelAdvisorPeru is looking to garner attention for their cause using our Small Box theme (boy that theme sure is popular!)

Travel_Advisor_-_traveladvisor_kickoffpages_com

Why we like it: Despite the KickoffLabs branding (hey, it’s a free account), the rest of the page is actually very nicely designed. Simple, great background image choice, and a CTA that is easy to see.

6. EasyEyeTracking customized our The Art of Sales theme to perfectly fit their business needs.

Easy_Eye_Tracking_I_Gain_Insight_to_Maximize_Performance_-_www_easyeyetracking_com

Why we like it: We really love how they turned our theme into a full blown launch home page that looks great and is incredibly effective.

There you have it…

Contests were the reigning champ for this month, and it’s no surprise… with KickoffLabs built-in viral features businesses get the advantage of leveraging their audience’s social network for an even greater boost in signups.

Looking at these amazing pages, are you feeling inspired to create your own high-converting landing page? Sign up for your FREE ACCOUNT and launch a smarter campaign today!

If you already have an account with us and would like to get better results, we can help with that too. Submit your site here to get a free professional conversion rate optimization during our next Live Landing Page Reviews.

 

Thanks for reading and for sharing!

-Josh Ledgard

Co-Founder of KickoffLabs

 

October 2014 Landing Page Reviews

For a long time, we’ve been doing free 1-to-1 consultations with new paying customers to help them get more conversions. We wanted to see if we could take this a little further and start helping a broader audience. So we decided to start doing a live landing page review series, this is now the 6th in the series.

Find the prior reviews here:

It’s always a lot of fun, the only caveat is that there are always a ton of improvements that every campaign can make; that would involve how the pages are marketed, advertised, etc. We’re going to focus on the 80% changes, the ones that will make the most improvement based on what we can see on the landing pages.

Be sure to watch the full video for plenty more marketing advice.


1 – HandPick

What we like

  • Simplicity of the page
  • short, watchable video that entices people to hit play
  • It’s mobile responsive

Handpick_-_www_handpick_co-callouts

Things to improve

#1 – Tagline is too simple. You want to have some more context on the page, like the video does to explain your service. Maybe using a tagline underneath you main headline encouraging people to watch your video.

#2 – Add an incentive. Why should people sign up today?

#3 – Customize your share message and remind about the incentive. People need to have a great reason for sharing your page with their friends. Even if it’s a simple goal like “Get 1 friend onboard and we’ll give them something for free”.

We had a customer recently that didn’t include any kind of incentive where they were getting around 20% of the people to bring on additional referrals. When they added a simple incentive, that # shot up to 60% of the people coming through personal referral links!

It’s really a huge win to get people to think about the second step and add the incentive there.

#4 – Leave out the social media buttons. Especially if you’re just starting out and don’t have a large following, don’t expect your landing page to generate thousands of fans & followers. At this point, focus only on getting the email and avoid people clicking away from the page.

However, your thank you message should always include social share options.

http://www.handpick.co

2 – Kunvay

Kunvay___Transfer_copyright_and_intellectual_property__IP__ownership_online_-_www_kunvay_com

Things to improve

#1 – Eyes get torn in too many directions. The main call-to-action is buried underneath all the graphics. The first thing to grab people, after they see a teaser headline, should be your call-to-action button.

#2 – Stay away from “we”. The first lines of copy are talking about your company. Focus on writing the headlines and the first two paragraphs from the perspective of your customer. Don’t say “WE”, say “YOU”, and relate to their business problem first instead of trying to sell your solution.

#3 – Placement matters. There are several elements that we’d recommend experimenting with. Perhaps the most effective change would be placing the explainer video more prominently, in place of the “Featured in” elements.

#4 – Don’t constrain the page. We are not fans of tabs, they only work to hide content. You’re better off creating separate sections on the page.

https://www.kunvay.com

3 – Phase2Body

What we like

phase2body_-_www_phase2body_com

Things to improve

#1 – Your logo needs to stand out. The logo could be easier to read if the text was a whiter color. When designing your logo, a great option is to design a normal color logo, a black colored logo (for light backgrounds), and a white colored logo (for dark backgrounds).

#2 – Clean up the fonts. Limit the font choices and colors on the page for a cleaner overall look.

#3 – Link your incentive. There is a great prize that is buried in the text. This isn’t as obvious to visitors as it should be. Use your call-to-action text imply there is a contest on the page. If people happened to miss the incentive, they see that there is one in the button text.

http://www.phase2body.com

4 – LifeLogger

What we like

  • Minimal design with a focus on the form
  • Great headline that makes it easy to understand what they’re doing

LifeLogger_Launch_Coming_Soon_-_beta_lifelogger_com-2

Things to improve

#1 – Fix slow loading images. Due to their file size, the images took an awful long time to load. When placing images on the page, make sure that they are sized appropriately and optimized before you upload!

#2 – Give a real reason to sign up. There is no clear incentive on the page. What’s in it for people now?

#3 – Match the tagline. Saying you’re “above the rest” can be said about any company, it’s not specific to you. Think about how you’re using that space to augment your message and speak to your visitors.

#4 – Collect only useful data. Generally, any additional required information on the form is a little out of place. If you’re a KickoffLabs customer, you’ll notice that we automatically record valuable information about your signups, so you don’t have to ask these unnecessary questions.

#5 – Remove misleading headlines. You probably don’t need the “Coming Soon”. The product is in beta, but this makes it seems as if the product is not ready at all.

http://lifelogger.com

5 – Body Of A Spartan

Body_of_a_Spartan___Body_of_a_Spartan_-_bodyofaspartan_com

Things to improve

#1 – Design for the sale. A sales pitch can work, but only if you design for it. Even changing the color of the header would have a big impact in not making the page feel so seedy.

#2 – Price = Page length. The page is too long for a sale that is $25. Usually these types of long sales pages are used to convince people in paying for high-ticketed items. If you want to sell something, the page copy should scale appropriately to the size of the sale.

#3 – Offer up a free incentive. There is plenty of information on the page where you could create a separate download to give away for free as an incentive in exchange for an email address. From there you can follow up with all the people that visited your site, but never bought.

#4 – Include a secondary call-to-action. If I don’t buy the product, there is nothing for me to do on the page. Again, getting at least the email address is a big win.

http://bodyofaspartan.com

6 – Dropz

-_unbouncepages_com_dropz

Things to improve

#1 – Form placement matters. People usually start looking at the left hand side of their screen. If the first thing they see is a signup form, it’s vital seconds lost in your visitor looking for an explanation of your product or service. Usually (but NOT always) your form is best place on the right hand side of the screen.

#2 – Limit form fields. Don’t include non-descriptive form fields like “message”. It has no place on a signup page. It’s a lot better to follow up any questions via email. Ask only for the information you need to get going.

#3 – Define the unique value proposition. The headline is hard to understand. You as the builder of the page, or the founder of the company have a ton of knowledge on what you’re selling, but for the average person that comes to the page has almost zero context.

#4 – Speak directly to your visitors. The copy is very “me” focused, when it should be “you” focused. How are you going to help people? What is the benefit to them?

#5 – What is the competition doing? Look at other companies in your space and see how they’re pitching to their customers. That will give you some indication of what works and what doesn’t. It’s OK to borrow a little learned knowledge from them.

#6 – Customize the thank you message. The share screen is fairly dry, there’s not even any social share buttons to really get an extra boost from your newly gained subscribers. This is what is going to provide those additional huge wins.

http://unbouncepages.com/dropz

7 – Dojo4.us

Let_s_take_on_Wall_Street__-_Discover_the_easy_way_to_earn_money_by_investing_using_dojo4_us_-_www_dojo4_us

Things to improve

#1 – Clearly describe the advantage. Use more descriptive headlines to provide better information about the benefits of your product.

#2 – Increase brand awareness. The background image could place the logo more prominently, that way you wouldn’t have to mention your company name as many times on the page. On top of that, it’ll add to the pages trust factor.

#3 – Provide a good reason to sign up now. Nowhere in the page is there any mention of an incentive. If you really want to motivate people to give up their email address and share with friends, you have to offer up something of value in exchange.

http://www.dojo4.us

8 – SortMoney

Money_Manager_for_smart_people_-_www_sortmoney_com

Things to improve

#1 – Inform right away. The top of the fold area feels a little sparse. You could place an image or an explainer video in the empty area below the call-to-action button.

#2 – Guide your visitors. The sections on the page could use a bit of reordering. First you need to inform people what your product is, and then why they should trust you.

http://www.sortmoney.com

In Closing

Hopefully you were able to extract at least a few gold nuggets of useful information. Now it’s up to you to take what you’ve learned and build the best darn campaigns you can!

If you ever need any assistance getting a killer landing page up, we’re more than happy to help. Send us an email at support@kickofflabs.com and we’ll take good care of you and your conversion rates.

 

Go forth and convert the world!

 

Thanks for reading AND for sharing,

Josh Ledgard

Co-Founder of KickoffLabs

August 2014 Landing Page Analytics & Our Favorite Pages

People love getting a real glimpse into how our customers campaigns are performing, and we’re more than glad to share those metrics with the world!

Here’s a look at combined customer metrics and a list of our favorite landing pages for the month of August…

August Conversion Rate

17.5%

This number dropped slightly from last months 19% conversion rate average. This is the overall customer conversion rate, so there are a lot of variables that go into defining this number.

While I’ve seen no shortage of great looking landing pages, I often find that these either have too much or too little information. We always want to see this number increasing, so be sure to check out this article for creating a great launch page.

Better yet, get your landing page reviewed by us, for free: visit KickoffLabs Live Landing Page Reviews.

August Viral Boost

33%

That means 33% of leads captured by KickoffLabs came from our people sharing their unique referral link with friends.

Besides having an easy way to capture the email, you should always be encouraging people to share your page.

Does your current platform have a built-in personal url generator for each new signup?

KickoffLabs does, and this kind of virality is what gives every campaign that essential social boost.

August Age Groups

august_2014_metrics_-_age_groups

This is how age groups were spread across:

  • 25-34 & 35-44 yr olds hold a strong percentage of signups
  • Steady 1.5% increase month per month in older demographic brackets

August Gender

august_2014_metrics_-_gender

Once again, August signups were dominated by females at almost 73%!

Hmmm, which gender should you be targeting in your marketing and PPC campaigns?


August’s Favorite Pages

Favorite Overall Page

MarketingPodcasts_com_-_marketingpodcasts_kickoffpages_com

This page comes to us from Jay Baer of Convince and Convert (one of today’s top digital marketing advisors).

Jay knows exactly how to convert people, that’s why in his MarketingPodcasts.com landing page, he focuses only on getting the email address.

Why we like it:

  • No excess form fields that hurt conversions
  • The copy is brief and easy to read
  • Beautiful use of our Flat Box launch theme

Favorite Physical Product Launch Page

LILT_Cycles_-_Bikes_design_-_www_liltcycles_com_br

LiltCycles is a new urban bicycle manufacturer from Brazil. This is a super basic page, but that’s why I love it so much. All they really added was a high-quality photograph as a background image and the page looks great!

Why we like it:

  • Minimal signup form using our Small Box launch theme
  • Sets expectations by including a stunning background image
  • Only asks for the email address

Favorite Mobile App Launch Page #1 (It’s a TIE!)

ParentsNearby_-_www_parentsnearby_com

This is a beautiful custom HTML / CSS mobile app launch page from ParentsNearby, an iOS and Android app that connects like-minded parents living nearby.

Why we like it:

  • They’re smart enough to have built a referral system themselves, but value their time so they used our API to effortlessly connect to KickoffLabs Viral Boost.
  • Uses signups to gauge interest in other parts of the world
  • It’s a stunning page!

Favorite Mobile App Launch Page #2 (It’s a TIE!)

AirrTrade_-_signup_airrtrade_com

AirrTrade has a pretty cool concept, never get stuck with a middle seat when airline travelling.

What I really like about the page is how they explain the service in a series of steps, which is always easier for people to comprehend.

The only thing I would change on the page would be the “Submit” button text. Personalizing the button copy will always increase your conversion rate.

Why we like it:

  • Only asks for an email address
  • Adds scarcity and urgency with “Limited invites available”
  • Appeals to various types of visitors with short headlines, longer form explained steps, and even an explainer video! This reinforces our co-founder Josh’s motto: “you never know what copy is going to get people to convert”

Favorite Web App Launch Page

Measured_Search_-_Search___Recommendations_for_your_apps_-_www_measuredsearch_com

MeasuredSearch created another custom HTML / CSS page that leverages our unique personal referral system to get that extra viral boost from signups.

It’s a well developed page that includes just the right amount of copy for describing their business.

Why we like it:

  • Only asks for an email address
  • Page copy calls out customer pains
  • Uses customer logos to reinforce trust

Favorite Call-To-Action Page

pfoody_-_pfoodyzine_-_Dein_Newsletter_f_r_gesunde_Hundeern_hrung_-_newsletter_pfoody_de

This page is from pfoody.de, a german producer of high-quality dog food. They used our Grand Headlines lead generation theme to setup an easy way to collect email newsletter leads.

I’ll have to admit, they had me with the image of cute animals signaling for the call-to-action! Note that this kind of directional cue has a powerful effect on focusing people’s attention.

Why we like it:

  • They’re not selling anything (yet), they’re offering FREE valuable tips for the healthy nutrition of dogs
  • They offer a € 5.00 off incentive just for signing up

Favorite Most Improved Page

Nice_Ride___The_Modern_Motor_Club_-_getniceride_com

NiceRide is a page that we’ve mentioned in the past, and since the last time I saw the page, the presentation has gotten way better! I give them props.

Why we like it:

  • AWESOME use of an incentive (free membership for early adopters)
  • Short, straightforward headlines
  • Custom HTML landing page that is nicely styled

Favorite Contest Page

Preview_I_FYF_-_app_kickofflabs_com_dashboard_sites_32288_preview_317608

Using our Three Step Social Contest theme, MeUndies created a great looking contest offering up concert tickets the LA’s FYF Fest. In order to increase engagement, they embedded the page directly onto their main site.

As you can see in the image below, the contest page still lives on-site actively collecting signups…

MeUndies_-_World_s_Most_Comfortable_Underwear__Socks__and_T-Shirts_-_MeUndies_-_www_meundies_com_fyf

This is a great post contest tactic, and one that we talk about in our Step-by-Step Guide To Successful Contests.

Why we like it:

  • Uses our proven contest step process to increase their social following
  • Beautifully matched our theme to their site color scheme
  • Everybody loves a contest (even I entered)

We look forward to seeing your page!

Those were customer metrics and our favorite pages for the month of August…

Want to make the next list of our favorite pages?

Get the chance optimize your landing page during our next marketing live chats…

… All you have to do is head over to this page here, leave us your page url and an email and we’ll get your page’s conversion rate improved!

Did I mention this is a labor of love, as in… it’s COMPLETELY FREE (normally this kind of landing page and site optimization can cost you well into the thousands of $$$’s)!

Get Your FREE Landing Page Review

Thanks for hanging out with us on the KickoffLabs blog!

-Josh Ledgard

Co-Founder of KickoffLabs

 

P.S. Share this article and get a virtual high-five!

Launch like a PRO: 8 Hacks for Building Your Audience

Be sure to check out the video for plenty more hidden marketing gems!


Let’s start things off with a quote (because who doesn’t love a good quote?)…

“…it’s more important to serve a customer than it is to build a product. Remember: you’re here to solve a problem…”

-Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot CTO and Founder

One of the core beliefs we have at KickoffLabs is that supporting customers, even if our product can’t do something and finding a way for them to do it and solve their problem is always going to lead to more success down the road.

  1. If you keep having to do this, you’re going to eventually build it into your product.
  2. It creates a way to get engaged with customers.

We personally emailed our first 1,000 customers offering personalized suggestions for their landing pages and continue to do so. This is something that gives us a huge advantage.

It’s important to remember as you go through the launch to get more personally engaged with people, than not to.

#1 – Hack validation

1_Hack_validation

A lot of people use our product to validate an idea. But let’s dive into a little more specifically about what it means…There are several different parts of validation:

Copy

Quick story: a customer of ours (who shall go nameless), got about 5,000 page views but only around 30 signups. If you’re wondering, that’s a ridiculously low conversion rate. When I looked at their page, it was easy to understand why…

The page only said something along the lines of “Coming Soon. Improve your business.” with an email capture form below it.

There was no validation happening there… of course everybody would like to improve their business! The only thing they validated was that a vague launch page is not enough these days to get people to sign up for your idea.

One of the most important things you want to do, and some people have even found it helpful to do before you put up the launch page, is to take your pitch and refine it down to a short email, find 10 people that are potential customers and email them that pitch saying “hey, does this make sense to you?” “Do you understand what we’re going after?”

Price

It’s one thing to have a great idea. But if you’re going to be charging money for it you don’t necessarily have to put the price up front, at least put some indications that it is going to be a paid service. Either by offering a discount for people that sign up, or by putting up some arbitrary price as a way to indicate the paid options.

One of the worst things that you can do is capture 5,000 emails from people who all thought it was going to be free… you’ll realize that no one wants to pay money because they all signed up for something they thought was going to be free. It’s a huge mistake we see people make all the time!

Incentive

Validate that you’ve got a proper incentive for people to sign up today, right now for something. And if you think about it, there’s a lot you can do to get those people to sign up.

You could take a couple blog posts and put them into a PDF and say “hey, download my 5 free tips. Just give me your email address and I’ll give you this. My product is not ready, but I’ll give you 5 tips anyways on how to make your life easier”.

Landing Page

The key is that your launch page doesn’t have to be about your product, it can be about solving the customers problem in another way.

Some of the best converting launch pages are ones that do this; where they take an idea and say “here’s how I’m going to solve your problem in advance. And when we launch, we’ll have an even better way to do it!”…

Landscapely

This landing page is from one of our recent customers, Landscapely.

  • The pitch is simple. So it talks about the problem and the benefit the customers get.
  • It talks about price. Landscaping from $35.
  • An incentive. Early access to the app and 25% off your first service.
  • Form is minimal. etc…

They have a great landing page, but the point is that by using this page, by viewing their conversion rate they are now able to validate:

  • Is this the right copy?
  • Do people sign up for the price?
  • Are people incentived by 25% off?

And they got all that within the package of a really simple launch page that converts well for them!

The big vision of this hack: Don’t skip talking to customers first!

#2 – Hack the incentive

2_Hack_the_incentive

Talking about incentives, we’re going to dive a little deeper into what I mean by having a proper incentive, because it’s so important!

Relevant

The incentive should be related to your business, but more importantly; should solve a problem.

Offers free value

If you want to capture the email address, you need to provide something of free value. Yes, that means giving something away.

Immediate

The “25% off when we launch” from our previous example doesn’t fit that immediate bill. Something more immediate could have been “5 Ways To Reduce Your Lawn Care Costs” as a downloadable PDF would be something more immediate, in addition to the percentage off.

Simple

Here’s another example of a recent customer: NiceRide, they are sort of a competitor to the classic AAA motor club. And they are basically saying that if you join their launch list, you get a free year of roadside assistance and member benefits when they launch.

It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s something that people will be incentived to get. They also change the CTA button text to say “Get It Free” to give more emphasis to the benefit.

The best incentive would be to combine these 4 hacks into a super incentive.

#3 – Hack the big boys

3_Hack_the_big_boys

Find them

When I say “hack the big boys”, what I’m talking about here is finding where your customers live. Chances are you have almost no audience today. And even if you’ve got 10,000 email addresses, assuming you’re addressing a sizeable market; 10,000 emails still equates to “you have no audience” in the grand scheme of things.

There are other people who have a larger audience built that service your customers today. Their either related or their directly competing with you. Your goal is to find out where your customers hang out. You can do that with Google search, look for forums, etc.

Cultivate relationships

When you find these places where discussions are happening, start engaging with them and cultivating relationships.

Be a guide

Start answering their questions, start becoming known as an expert in that community.

I did it for KickoffLabs

If you’re wondering what the results can be from something like that, we’ve tried this with several communities, but I’ll just take one: There’s a lot of marketers and entrepreneurs on Quora (which is a Q&A based community).

Both before and after our launch, even through today, we go and participate in these communities. And when I say “participate”, I want to be clear that over a long time span, I’ve posted just over 90 answers to questions. So it’s not a ton of work, and from those 90 answers we’ve netted almost $100K in revenue so far :)

This is just one community, one location, 90 posts. If someone just told you that if you were to post 90 things in a forum, and you could make a hundred thousand dollars… I think you’d say yes!

quora_revenue

The work is not that hard it’s actually kind of fun to go in and see what problems your customers have that are; either related directly (those are the best questions), or even indirectly to the product or service that you’re offering to those customers. It’s not only yielded us direct revenue, it’s yielded us relationships in the space, contacts with other companies, etc.

Like I said, we did this up to launch to build a reputation. So pre-launch we we’re focused more on learning about the entrepreneur and internet marketing customer that was in our space. Post-launch, we started shifting the participation to answering questions that were beneficial to both the customers and us.

Totally worth it… And don’t think that there’s not a place for you to participate and benefit potential customers. For every space you’re in, there’s a gathering of people somewhere online that you can leverage before and after launch.

#4 – Hack someone else’s tribe

4_Hack_somone_elses_tribe

Unless you are doing something that is completely unique and does not exist today… there is a competitor in the space. Not only that, there are probably people that range the spectrum from competitors to frenemies (people that do very similar, related things but don’t directly compete with you) that already exist.

If a competitor does not exist, I would personally question whether you’ve done enough research or whether or not there’s money in the space. As soon as someone proves there is money, there is a competitor.

Spec out the competition

So first you have to go out and find the competition. Use tools like Moz or UberSuggest and use keywords to locate competitors.

Engage their customers

We literally would look for tweets with people that were frustrated with a competitor and personally ask them what other frustrations they had. There wasn’t some spambot on Twitter replying to everything, I had a scheduled item on my tasks lists to look through the queries, where there would be 50-100 complaints a day, and pick out a handful of them and respond to their questions.

When you start identifying the problems and frustrations people have from your competitors, you can start to figure out where you can differentiate yourself and how you can speak better to them through your landing page copy.

Look through their support forums

This is an easy win. What questions do people have that go unanswered? What things can you help out with? I’ve even answered questions about our competitors product, just because I know the answer. The kudos you get from doing that paid dividends in the end.

Predict opportunities and trends

When you’re engaging with potential customers through communities, forums, and social you can see what the opportunities for you to stand out are.

#5 – Hack virality

5_Hack_virality

Be realistic

Something that a lot of people forget, is making sure that your launch has a viral component. When a lot of people think about virality, there tend to be 2 different answers you get from people:

  1. Really not understanding what it means.
  2. People who think the only way something viral is a success is if you get 10 million hits on YouTube and getting that “hockey stick growth”.

Hockey stick growth is not unheard of, it’s just something that you shouldn’t necessarily think of as the only form of success in virality.

If, for example, every 1 person that you sign up brings on .3 additional people – you are still getting a nice boost from having virality built into your launch and app.

It’s not all or nothing… Set a realistic goal to get people to share what you’re doing.

Personalize it

Making it associated with your brand, with your rewards.

Just ask

Don’t forget to ask people to share. On the landing page, thank you screen, and on the email.

Focus on 3

I tend to tell people to focus on the three core communities, so Facebook, Twitter and Email. If you’re a B2B app, then perhaps you also want to focus on LinkedIn as well.

Here’s a great example from a customer of ours named Curate…

Engage your sign ups

When you get to their thank you screen, they immediately offer an incentive. Invite 3 people and get into the beta sooner. They make it ridiculously easy by providing the share links and a counter that show how many people have joined.

If your page just sends somebody to the standard Mailchimp “Thank You” screen after joining your list, I would consider that a gigantic lost opportunity.

Why? Over 35% of leads we’ve generated (thats 4 million+ leads!) have come from people clicking on one of our referral links and sharing it out.

That means that our customers on average are getting an additional 35% lift that they would NOT have gotten, had they just sent somebody to a “Thank you for signing up. We’ll be in touch soon.” style page. That boost can make a huge difference in the bottom line long-term, both through your launch and through revenue growth.

This is something we use to differentiate ourselves (yep, it’s a KickoffLabs exclusive feature), something that we make easy, and is something that we believe in as a key to success.

#6 – Hack scarcity and urgency

6_Hack_scarcity_and_urgency

Create an illusion

Whether real or not, it does produce real results. Just today, our other KickoffLabs co-founder, Scott, sent me an email about the new Mailbox app offering up 1 of his 3 invites.

They could probably let everyone in today, they’re owned by DropBox so there’s no limitation. They are creating the illusion of scarcity where each person can only invite 3 people into their beta and I’m sure that it’s helping them.

Put up a wall

They are also putting up an artificial wall that makes people that “get in” feel part of an exclusive club. That’s a powerful psychological trick!

The way it works is dealing with people’s feelings of loss to something they might not have even had.

Gamify your launch

“Hey! Here’s something great! BUT you might not get it!”

That impact on conversion rate can be incredible because it’s a powerful motivational force for anyone. It’s a trick that people use all the time to make people want things more, and it can be really simple.

Join now or lose out

Here’s an example from our customer, HostelRocket who are using a simple countdown to create a sense of urgency.

hostel_rocket_urgency_with_countdown

Ideally, if you’re going to make this a core component of your campaign, as you get within each week you would be sending email updates to people reminding that t. Each closer step you get, assuming you’re growing your list along the way, you’ll see people taking that next step to whatever it is you want them to do.

#7 – Hack social insights

7_Hack_social_insights

Learn more

The more you know about your customers, the more you can refine your copy, offer and pitch.

Get more personal

The more you personalize your emails, the more you can segment your emails.

Ask for less

If you understand your customers, you’re asking for less data over time.

Our report

This is a KickoffLabs report of our webinar audience. We didn’t have to ask our audience about any of their demographic information, but we’ve got it broken down into actionable data. These are great generalizations to use for segmenting your audience!

social_insights_hack

We capture a lot of this data whenever somebody signs up to your landing page, and this can be incredibly powerful. If you know that a majority of your audience is within a certain demographic, there are things you can do to appeal to them by changing your message. The name of the game is keeping your list more personal and engaging.

#8 – Hack pre / post launch

8_Hack_pre_post_launch

I’ve mentioned this several times before, so it must be important…

Keep in the loop

It’s about keeping your signups engaged by letting them know what you’re company is up to.

Get feedback

Don’t forget to ask questions as you send email updates.

Slow launch

You want to let them in. There’s the concept of the “slow launch” of just letting something like 10 people in at a time, so you can get more feedback as you go.

Deliver the goods

Ultimately, you want to ship something amazing…

Here’s an awesome example of a great email that keeps people in the loop:

pre_post_launch_hack


 

Note: The second half of the presentation was meant to be led by our in-house growth hacker, Izzy Palmerin. But due to some technical difficulties with Google Hangouts, things didn’t work out as planned. Still there’s nothing to prevent you from learning from these additional growth tactics.

Bonus hacks

9_Bonus_Hacks

*easy hack: Change your CTA text

Make your call-to-action text directly related to the incentive. That seems to work best.

Things that don’t work well are when it says “Join”, or “Sign Up”, or the worst case “Submit” – because it’s not related to what you’re doing. You can have some fun with the call-to-action text!

Optimize your ads

If you’re running ads, through retargeting, Facebook ads, Google, etc… Those are some of the best places to try out copy before putting it up on the landing page.

If all of a sudden you try out a different headline in your ad that gets you twice the clickthrough rate, you should match that headline on the landing page to leverage what worked for that variation of the ad – and vice versa, make a change to your landing page that works well, try those changes to your ad.

Submit your launch

There’s a lot of place where you can submit pre-launch companies. Especially if you’re targeting early adopters and startups, there’s places like BetaList, StartupList, Show Hacker News, there’s a ton of communities!

But the best community to announce your pre-launch is the original niche community you’ve found (using our 3rd Hack). Just simply doing a post that says “I’m doing something you might find interesting, I’d love to get your feedback”. That approach is not spammy and won’t get you kicked out of message boards. Above all, it gets you a chance to engage with people and get real feedback as you’re going.

For a nicely compiled list of places to submit your launch, check out this post on Hacker News.

Launch soon

Although I’d love for you to use our service and take forever to launch. The truth is the sooner you get through launch, the sooner you can start using our other tools to continually build your email list.

Launch a little bit before you’re ready, because you need that feedback.

Hack fails

hack_fails

Our general take on some of these past “successful” launches: they had generic launch pages that didn’t explain what they were doing and they got a ton of signups. But guess what? None of these companies are still in business!

What did they do wrong?

The reality is you want people to sign up that are going to understand what they’re getting into that are eventually going to take the next step of purchasing something, engaging with your app, working with your product, etc.

What happened in all of these cases is that people didn’t know what they were signing up for. They didn’t have that context. You could signup hundreds of thousands of people, but if you’re not engaging with them and providing with them that context, they are not ultimately going to buy or use your offering.

Second to not getting ANY attention to your page, the biggest failure is getting the wrong attention.

Hack wins

hack_wins

Dropbox

Look at DropBox’s classic win of setting up a great explainer video and inviting friends.

SpringSled

Went from 0 to 138,790 users in less than 40 days, check out the case study here.

Robinhood

300,000 signups for a product that isn’t even released yet, check out the case study here..

What you’ll notice about all of these examples, is that they clearly define their audience, they only ask for something really simple (an email address), and they really do push and encourage the sharing.

Other than DropBox, they’re not necessarily getting a greater than 1 viral factor, but they are getting enough people to share where it makes a huge difference in their contributions.


 

“The best launch is if you have a product that other people like using so much that they tell other people about it.”

-Robert Scoble, tech evangelist

It’s a great quote and I’m a fan of Robert’s, but I would modify this quote to: “The best launch is if you have an EXPERIENCE that other people like so much they tell other people about it.”

It’s not just about the copy on your landing page, not just about capturing the email address, not just about the product – it’s the complete experience.

Did people feel like there was a connection? Do people feel like they can trust you?

That’s what you need to think through. And part of thinking through that, is if there are parts that you can make easier on yourself, like using a landing page builder to make the landing page so you can spend your time on both the product and the experience that goes around the launch landing page.

 

Thanks for reading and for sharing!

-Josh Ledgard,

Co-Founder of KickofflLabs

 

P.S. If you like what you’ve learned here, don’t miss what we have in store for you during our next Live Marketing Chats webinar.

We’d love for you to join us! Reserve your spot here and bring us your most toughest marketing questions.

It’s 2014 – Are you listening to the best marketing and business podcasts?

I grew up with a parent who was a talk radio addict in the car. We rarely listened to music. Instead my ears were fed a diet of NPR, Larry King, and news, and sports talk. Podcasts are the talk radio of our generation. Sure, there are music based podcasts, but that’s not where the medium really shines in my opinion.

Whether you’re in the car, working out, cleaning house, or relaxing at home – podcasts give you easy access to all of the news, information, and education you’re looking for, and you don’t even have to stop what you’re doing.

The challenge, with podcasts, is that the selection is huge. Practically anyone can start a podcast today so it’s hard to know which ones are worth your time.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of some of our favorites! This list has a set of podcasts that have consistently demonstrated value over the last year for our own business.

Startup Focussed Podcasts

These podcasts are for anyone looking to start or grow their businesses.

Startups for the Rest of Us – Rob Walling and Mike Taber have both launched several successful ventures and host an amazing conference for bootstrapped entrepreneurs twice a year. The show is tight, to the point, and packed with nuggets for anyone starting or growing their new business.

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Bootstrapped with Kids – Scott and Brecht rock. I met them both at Microconf and can attest to how down to earth, genuinely good people they are. Every week now I listen in to find out if Brecht’s family has survived the most recent part of his bootstrapped journey across the country in a giant airstream trailer.

Bootstrapped.fm – Had a chance to meet Ian of Ian Landsman and Andrey Burtov at Microconf this year and it’s clear they’ve got the experience and knowledge to back up the advice they share with their journey. Give them a listen.

This Week in Startups – A weekly podcast hosted by Jason Calacanis. Whether you’re looking for insider tips and tricks, or just want to know what’s going on in Silicon Valley, Calacanis offers his listeners an insider’s look into the tech industry.

Mixergy – There are some really good interviews here, but some even more awesome classes taught by really neat founders.

Entrepreneur on Fire – John Lee Dumas provides his listeners with a new podcast episode 7 days a week. Each episode features a new entrepreneur who shares their successes, failures, best kept secrets, and more! This one is a favorite or mine. :)

Seth Godin’s Startup School – In this podcast mini-series, Seth Godin guides 30 entrepreneurs through a workshop to turn their startup dreams into successful realities. Although it’s no longer in production, it’s definitely worth a listen to be part of that class. Listen to the whole series.

Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner – Entrepreneurship Corner only produces podcasts during school months, but with over 3,000 to choose from, I think there is plenty to keep anyone busy during the summer breaks. Pick and choose from the best ones in the catalog here.

TropicalMBA – Dan and Ian’s show brings you the inside story of bootstrappers travelling the world while working to make their businesses profitable and successful. You have to learn how people selling cat furniture made more money than you right?

The Rocketship Podcast – They have now passed 50 20 minute interviews with successful entrepreneurs.  Every one I’ve heard contains several useful gems.

 

Marketing Focused Podcasts

The BeanCast – The BeanCast is the self-proclaimed “best marketing podcast anywhere” – well, it made this list, so it’s got to be doing something right. Listen in as Bob Knorpp brings you a weekly episode full of the best of the best in marketing, advertising, and public relations.

beancast

Marketing Smarts – A 30 minute, weekly podcast that interviews marketer’s from all walks of life. Listen in as the folks at Marketing Profs teach you how to market smarter.

Marketing over Coffee – Chris Penn and John Wall give their listeners bite-sized shows that are designed to be listened to while you drink your morning cup of coffee. Don’t let the show length fool you, you’ll hear everything from what’s new in technology to information interviews with industry.

HBR Ideacast– A weekly podcast by Harvard Business Review that features the leading thinkers in business and management.

Internet Business Mastery – A weekly podcast that focuses on becoming successful in Internet marketing and online business. Internet Business Mastery touches on everything you may ever need to know about running your own online business – step by step, from the beginning.

The Lede by CopyBlogger – Copyblogger’s Director of Content, Jerod Morris, hosts a short weekly podcast in which he interviews Copyblogger staff and a variety of special guests to bring you everything you want to know about copywriting, content marketing, Email marketing, and more!

Six Pixels of Separation – Mitch Joel from Twist Image blog discusses the complex world of social media and digital marketing, bringing you marketing and communications insights “from the edge”.

Internet Marketing – One of the UK’s most popular Internet marketing podcasts, Internet Marketing focuses mostly on digital and SEO marketing. Andy White interviews the likes of Avinash Kaushik and Seth Godin (to name a few).

SEO101 – If you are even slightly interested in learning about SEO, this is a must-hear podcast. Ross Dunn and John Carcutt break down the enigma that is SEO and teach you the ins and outs, from square one.

Smart Passive Income – Host by Pat Flynn teaches you how he has built his business to be able to support his family with passive income alone, so that you can do the same.

 

When You Need an Inspirational Break…

Sometimes you just need a good story or laugh in between all the quick hitting tips and tricks. Balance your listening out with the following:

Freakonomics Radio- Brought to you by the men who brought us Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Freakonomics Radio continues where the books left off by bringing you the things you never thought you wanted to know, and revealing that you may not know as much as you think!

FreakRadio-sbanner

This American Life – This weekly podcast is one of the most popular podcasts in the country. The podcast mainly features true stories about everyday people and the lives they live. Some notable subjects are babysitting, life aboard the USS Stennis, stories about summer camp, children switched at birth – the list is really endless and you’re bound to find a new appreciation for the people around you just by listening.

Ted Radio Hour – This podcast is based on the show TEDTalks. Guy Raz takes his listeners on a journey to discover Ideas Worth Spreading. You’ll learn about interesting new inventions, new solutions to old problems, and maybe even get a fresh perspective on how to create your own new ideas.

RadioLab from WNYC – RadioLab weaves compelling stories with music to create something truly captivating. Host Jad Abumrad will take you on a journey through science, philosophy and human experience meant to enlighten and broaden your mind.

 

What do you think?

Did we miss any?  I should also include a shameless plug for our regular marketing chats. You can join them live at http://grow.kickofflabs.com/live Not technically a podcast… but can watch the archive and participate in new shows. :)