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Finally experiencing a little success


#1

I’ve been working since early 2011 on trying to make my SaaS business, Snip Salon Software (scheduling software for hair salons), get off the ground.

Long story short, I’ve been working on the business for four years and I only have 10 customers and about $380/mo in revenue. I believe I got 4 customers “manually” via door-to-door sales, 3 by referrals, and 3 more online, in that chronological order.

My intention for the last couple years has been to build an online selling system that brings me customers more or less automatically. Until recently this has been exasperatingly unsuccessful.

A big breakthrough appeared for me last year when I read Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing. Somewhere in that book, Perry says something like, “If your sales funnel isn’t working, break your funnel into pieces and make the first piece work, starting at the wide end of the funnel.”

This advice seems so obvious in hindsight but I never would have put those words together myself. So I decided to try to fix my sales funnel in that manner.

I tried SEO for a while to get traffic but it didn’t seem like I could come up with an opt-in on my website that people found compelling. Conversion rates were less than 1%. Like I said above, my website only brought me three customers.

Then recently I landed a really lucrative consulting gig, on top of a pretty good gig I’m already doing. So I can very easily justify putting some money toward PPC. Also, a few factors aligned serendipitously at this time:

  • I was getting close to being about “done” with all the things I could do that cost time but not money (e.g. setting up lifecycle emails, building a setup wizard)
  • I was about to have some money
  • There came into existence a PPC service called Capterra which didn’t seem to exist when I started Snip

So I decided to put $500/mo toward PPC for a while to see what would happen. I actually paid for a website redesign first since my website is terrible, but I ended up getting impatient and pulling the trigger on the PPC first. I allocated $250/mo for AdWords and $250/mo for Capterra, which charges me a flat $2.25/click.

I was originally pointing both PPC campaigns straight to my homepage, which is not the PPC best practice, but I tend to favor “done” over “perfect” or even “good” with this kind of stuff because I know I’ll never get it out the door if I don’t settle for a shitty solution in the beginning. Then a Capterra rep called me and reminded me what I already knew, which was that I should create a landing page and point my PPC campaigns there. She even linked me to a couple examples of what she claimed to be high-converting landing pages. I looked at a particular example she gave me and imagined how I could just replace their headline with mine, their opt-in with mine, etc. So that’s exactly what I did. And I used the color scheme and font from my website redesign to do it so it doesn’t look like absolute shit.

I put the landing page up on a Monday (Monday before last). My call to action was “Get Free Demo”. I was surprised to find that in the first four days of the landing page’s existence, I got four conversions. Now, after 10 days of the landing page being up, I’ve gotten 11 conversions. So it’s looking pretty predictable. Mixpanel says my conversion rate is about 20%. Out of the 11 people who requested a demo, one of them signed up for a 30-day trial.

So that means that so far, I’m seeing a 20% conversion rate on the first step of my funnel and 1/11 = 9% conversion rate on the second step. My numbers are of course too small to really be meaningful, but something is finally happening. My 20% “Get Free Demo” conversion is based on 70 visits and 14 conversions, so those numbers are maybe somewhat more reliable.

I don’t want to get my hopes up prematurely high but the results I’m seeing so far seem pretty good. I feel like the landing page is a fairly clear victory, like I’m checking off the first box in a sequential list.

So I thought I’d share that little victory in case it’s encouraging to anyone, and in case anyone has any feedback.

My plan now is to properly measure the next step of my funnel, which is starting a 30-day trial after they view the demo video.


#2

Hello,

I’ve visited your website, and I think that you must improve it. The main page doesn’t look like a main page, and I think that the content is poor (examples: https://www.snipsalonsoftware.com/features/client-history/ and https://www.snipsalonsoftware.com/features/reporting/).

Try to add more screenshots, extend the content, add some stock photos and I’m sure you’ll get more conversions! :wink:

One more thing: In my computer (Ubuntu with latest Firefox), the pricing page (https://www.snipsalonsoftware.com/pricing/) is completely broken (http://es.tinypic.com/r/rt259f/8).


#3

I have to agree with mcasas, the sight is pretty horrible. I did a quick Google and your competitors sites are stunning in comparison and their software screen shots look great.


#4

First up – yay for you, good to be making progress.

And glad the person at Capterra was so helpful.

If we’re going to be critiquing your website, okay, I can get involved in that, and hopefully be constructive. Sorry if this isn’t helpful.

This article is a good review of 5 things to do on a landing page: The 5 Essential Elements of a Winning Landing Page and you could maybe aim to add just 1 more of these on the front page, for starters: “Social Proof”.

I think some kind of quote from an existing customer would be a good improvement. Something that gives the visitor a feeling of how this solution reduced their stress.

Also – that big white area on the front page could have a nice background image that conveys this feeling of peace. Perhaps the styling could be moved toward that stress-free peaceful feeling. There’s free “do what you want” hi res photos available at unsplash and no doubt lots of other places too, but maybe start there.

Best of luck!


#5

Your pricing page looks completely messed up for me (Mac OS X 10.9.5, Chrome 43): http://imgur.com/Xx4Zly5


#6

Same here (Windows 8.1 Chrome 43)

http://imgur.com/VxYqYkO


#7

Thanks for the website critiques. The landing page I’m sending people to is actually totally separate from the main website. I don’t want to send people there and throw off my conversion rate measurement, so here’s a screenshot.

The website definitely does need to be fixed. I actually had a designer redo it recently, I just haven’t put up the new version yet.


#8

Jason,

First off, I just ran across your 8 day blog post series from a while back where you were going to go to 10 salons per day for 8 days to try to get business… man, what an inspirational reminder that doing the leg work sometimes pays off, but is always tough.

I read that you’re doing a site redesign, so I won’t tell you about the things that are broken in Chrome; just get that new design up quick, so you don’t turn away potential customers! :wink:

Keep at it, and hopefully you’ll see the payoff!

-Ben


#9

Jason,

You need to make it more, for lack of a better term, sexy.

Look at the websites of hair salons- they use pictures of models with impressive hair-dos. That’s what salon owners who have professional websites are used to.

Your website looks more like what a geek would prefer. Plain, simple, and to the point. :smile:

I would pay for some stock photos.

PS: Well done on the progress!


#10

Hi Jason,

Great to see the progress your making, I have read your blog and I have to admire your doggedness, looking forward to seeing the new re-design, as current design looks like I designed it.


#11

Agreed with the other critiques that you need to improve the look of the site. Something that’s changed from even a couple years ago is that you can buy a really nice looking set of static pages to make up a site like yours for $25-$50. Go on Themeforest (or wherever) and choose something, you can be going in a couple hours for less than a 10th of what you’re spending on PPC monthly.


#12

Hi Jason,

Firstly, good on you for actually getting something out there.

I agree with the others that the impression the design gives is important, but possibly more so is the content. You may want to experiment (possibly with A/B split testing) tweaking some of the following landing page content:

Your main title ‘for medium-sized hair salons’ could easily act as a barrier (your first testimonial appears to be from someone with a small salon), so I would recommend removing this extra text. Size is relative, and you’ve not given any reference points.

Also consider the benefits…

‘Impress your clients with text and email reminders’ is okay but I would have thought (from the perspective of the salon owner) that reducing missed appointments would be way higher on my agenda, and as such more motivating.

I would recommend trying to come up as many reasons why a salon owner would use the software, then go and talk to some owners… Read them out and see which one’s trigger excitement/interest. This should help identify the top 5 or 6 benefits.

Finally the button ‘Get your free demo’. ‘Get… ’ could infer that they’ll need to install something (I appreciate you’ve said there’s nothing to install, but not everyone reads everything) so maybe worth playing with the call to action;’ Try for free now’, etc

All the best, Neal.


#13

I simply want to say, well done. Just for perseverance sake. You’ve overcome so many more battles than I have already. Keep going!

PS. Whats your money goal in order to work fulltime?


#14

@courtz Thanks! And good question. I figure I can support my family reasonably well on $5K/mo, so that’s my target for reaching “job-optional” status.

@shovels Thanks. I appreciate the suggestions to improve the copy.


#15

I have advertised on Capterra and found it worthwhile, although it is getting more popular so harder to get value. I find on the Salon page for a $1.00 to $1.50 click will get you into about 5-6 position early in the month and 3-4 position later in the month (when peoples credit expires).

We spent around $5k over a 6 month period on therr and generated about 30 new clients from about 300 signups. But make sure you optimize you landing page, this is ours http://www.youreontime.com/content/capteralanding


#16

@craigvn Thanks. I guess Capterra is getting more competitive. I’m currently paying $2.25/click for position 8-9. I’m spending $500/mo with them.

I’m experiencing a nice 20% conversion rate on my landing page, but after they supply their email in exchange for a demo, it’s kind of like “Okay, so what do I do with the prospect now?” Maybe I should follow your example and offer a trial right off the bat as opposed to a demo video.


#17

I would stick with Capterra for a while, I think it gives more bang for buck than Google Ads.


#18

If anyone is interested to see, I just put out a refresh of my website yesterday. It still has a lot of room for improvement, but this is at least better. https://www.snipsalonsoftware.com/


#19

Nice design!

Only one thing: In the pricing tab, I think that you should make the pricing table bigger.


#20

Agree with @mcasas

The pricing plans page should be improved.
Also you can add one more option: “Demo Plan for 30 days | Free” or something like this with “Sign Up” call to action button, to convert visitors into subscribers right from Pricing page.