Have you ever had a conversation with an old friend and suddenly found out something totally unexpected about him? Something you probably should have known?
Like he’s been surfing all his life. Or, he likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And terrible 70’s music.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me that?” you ask.
He comes back with the classic response, “You never asked.”
Now, just imagine that this person represents your ideal customers… and that conversation you’re having is on your website.
The case for asking your customers questions
Before I write any copy, I do at least a minimum of customer research. Whether it’s going through survey responses, testimonials, or even reviews of comparable competitor products/solutions, I look for the key messages that answer these questions:
- How is the product/solution solving the customer’s problems?
- What are the benefits of the product/solution in the customer’s eyes?
- What are the potential sources of friction around purchasing? i.e. no facts to back up claims, lack of social proof, etc.
Why go to all this trouble? Taking the time to learn what your customer cares about and what drives his behavior means you’re less likely to write ineffective copy on your website.
Because your copy is a conversation. Don’t give your website visitors the right information at the right time and they might not take the action you’d like. Talk about things they don’t value or meet their expectations and they’ll wonder if it’s worth it to move down the page.
Increasing conversions on the LearnVisualStudio.net website
This is exactly what was happening on the Learn Visual Studio website. LVS is a subscription model business where people can sign up for a yearly or lifetime membership to gain access to videos teaching the .NET programming language.
My CRO colleague, Dustin Drees, approached me to help him rework the copy on the home page and come to some conclusions about how we could better optimize the site as a whole.
I started the process by going through recent customer surveys. Based on responses to a number of open-ended questions, I put together lists of needs, wants, and friction points and then ranked them by how often they appeared.
Here’s what the open-ended questions told us in order of importance:
What we realized after teasing apart the voice of customer data was twofold: visitors were having a difficult time understanding how much value the courses could provide and encountering friction by not having their primary concerns addressed.
Making simple copy changes can bring big wins
Given the data, we hypothesized that doing a better job giving visitors enough information to make an informed decision before they landed on the offer would improve sign up numbers. So, here’s what we did with the copy:
Improved the value proposition
By tweaking the headline to include C# and .NET, we highlighted the specificity and unique quality of the courses. The sub-headline makes use of words used over and over again by customers in the survey responses – “practical exercises” and “step by step roadmap.”
Targeted the benefits customers were getting from the course while addressing their biggest anxieties
With the copy below the fold, we did this in two different ways. First, we framed their anxieties in the form of solutions the courses could provide for them.
Then, we recapped the top 3 benefits uncovered in the survey responses and rounded them out with additional copy making sure to include some of the most heavily used words straight from the customers’ mouths.
Changed the call to action sending visitors to the next most logical place in the sales funnel
Instead of continuing to send visitors straight to the Plans and Pricing page, we directed them to the Curriculum page where they could get a better idea of what was included in the courses. One of the biggest sources of friction for visitors was being unsure if joining LVS would fit their needs.
Added a video of the instructor talking about all the benefits of taking the courses
One of the biggest selling points of the program is the teacher of all the video courses, Bob Tabor. The most recent customer survey showed overwhelmingly that people were drawn to Bob’s style and personality in his videos. So, our aim was to get him seen as soon as people landed on the home page.
Conversions and learnings increased
Our variation outperformed the original on the main call to action button above the fold by 66.3%. Significantly more people were choosing to check out the Curriculum page over the Plans and Pricing page.
In fact, we saw a rise in visits to the Curriculum page overall without the call to action traffic factored in – meaning even if visitors chose not to click on the main button they were still more likely to visit that page.
And, here’s the cool thing. Fewer people ended up visiting the Plans and Pricing page but we saw more sign-ups to the yearly membership plan.
The upside in knowing what’s going on in your customer’s head
Our changes based on the voice of customer research proved visitors want more information before making the leap to becoming a paying customer. By increasing engagement with more motivated visitors and getting them on the right path, we realized positive movement where it counted most.
Interested in finding out more about voice of customer research? Check out my blog post on ConversionXL where I first wrote about this case study and go into more detail about my process.