Why is my SaaS not converting?

The site in question: https://www.linguaquote.com - a sort of high-end, curated translation marketplace.

Been building this out as a side-project for a number of years now. The product is 90% ready (always something to improve…) and functional, have been using it myself, but of the 3000 ‘regular’ visitors since my last 5-10k+ traffic spikes from decent content, only 200 have visited the registration page, none of whom have signed up. :anguished:

So before I go ahead and try to drive masses more traffic to the site by content writing and adwords etc., what else can I improve?

###Things I’ve done to some extent:

  • Reworked the site copy from boring marketing-speak blurb to something with a bit more character and addressing client concerns.
  • Worked (for way too long) on page load time optimisation, ridding third party script loading, caching etc.
  • Gone from fixed subscription (with free 30 day trial, requiring CC to weedle out the tyre-kickers) to pay-to-post, with a later subscription option (upsell) if they find it useful. That’s a much more recent change, yet to see any impact though.

###Things I want to do

  • Add a video or animated gif of some kind as an intro, with a personable feel
  • Add testimonials (have none from clients directly yet, but could ask the translators who have signed up to provide a few?) and perhaps even logos of companies the suppliers have worked with? Or is that too much of a stretch?
  • Remove the need to register first, but can’t find a ‘nice’ Drupal way to do that yet.

I think I’m better positioned than I was a year ago, knowing better who I’m targeting, but it’s still obviously not hitting the mark.

Thanks for looking :green_heart:

Warning: Blunt words ahead.

Your headline should tell me in one succinct service what you offer. As far as I can tell, you are offering a place to find freelance translators. If that is so, then you need to make that instantly clear. Currently it is unclear at first glance what you offer.

Some problems:

Too many words! A wall of words confronted me when I clicked on to your site. To work out what your site does and whether it fits my need, I needed to read, parse, and interpret. Many people would immediately click the back button and try the next Google result.

“Translation done right” - says nothing. It probably means something different to me than it does to you, I think.

“creative and digital”, “technical, legal and financial” - these grabbed my eye immediately on your home page. They tell me nothing and do nothing. Get rid of them.

I think you need to rework, and rework, and rework again that home page copy.

Obligatory link to Joanna Wiebe’s Copy Hackers: https://copyhackers.com/ - read everything you can on that site about copywriting.


What is special about your site compared to using Upwork, or any of the other dozens of services? Even for translation, there are many sites that provide this.

What are you offering?


Thanks, Steve. I’m Luke, by the way.

No worries for the blunt words, for anyone reading the thread, feel free to pitch in. Just bear in mind (readers) that I’ve been self-employed and reading business literature (including waaaay too much Hacker News) for over a decade so while I do have a thick skin, I also know some of the things, so you know where to pitch your advice! Caveat: obviously not enough to raise the flag on this little SaaS of mine just yet.

So the offer is unclear. Got it. But first consider you’ve searched online for ‘professional translators’, because your report needs to be in French by Monday, and by some miracle my site appears in the no.1 spot of the results. You get to my site, you’re a legal-creative-technical agency and you are in the market for a translation. Does it speak to that imaginary version of you any better? Still no?

It could also read:

  • An alternative to (more expensive) translation agencies
  • Work with curated/vetted professional translators

I’ve read a bunch on copywriting, including a fair bit of Wiebe’s stuff, but most recently I wanted to test the approach taken by Michelle Slade over at http://mortifiedcow.com/, where she sells her book ‘May I Have Your Attention, Please?’.

So I might have gone overboard on the explainy-side, point taken, but hopefully that explains what I’m trying to do. I’ve heard a few times recently I need to get visuals on there. You won’t believe this, but I took them off last year to speed up page loads and try to embrace a ‘no BS’ website approach. No widgets flying out of every third-party domain known to man, just me, you and some text. But it’s not for everyone, and dare I say it, clearly not working.

I’m going to do the video thing, get some imagery and testimonials on there, make the offer clear to even mistaken visitors (or even kind Bootstrapped forum visitors!) and then perhaps report back.

If 200+ people have looked at the registration form and none have signed up, then I probably have a workflow issue too. Ideally a simple project brief would come before the sign-up details, but I haven’t managed a clean implementation of that yet.

Thanks for giving me things to think about and prioritize.

I second @SteveMcLeod’s opinion that there are too many words. This site is not easy on the eye.
Definitely create a video addressing the customers pain and what your solution has to offer to solve it.

Out of curiosity: where did your existing visitors come frome? Why did they end up being on your site?
Maybe your current traffic source / outbound efforts do not attract the right type of persons - and thus everyone leaves.

@shantnu, completely different market offering. The problem with a lot of ‘creative services’ is how they are now being commoditised. Designers, voice over artists, copywriters, translators - we’re all feeling the pressure of businesses dreaming of a $1 solution to something that deep down they know they should be investing in to realise the full potential ROI.

Sites like Upwork, Fiverrrrrrrrrrrr and their lot are generally cesspits of talent with the odd nugget of gold. The people who trust their businesses, careers, livelihoods and families to those sites are not generally the client I’m looking to work with. Maybe that’s a strategic error, ruling out the mass market, but I don’t want to do this if I can’t be proud of it.

I want a business that works with people who appreciate doing things properly, with integrity, for work they can be proud of. There are similar sites to mine in other industries, and even in my own industry, but most suffer from commoditisation creeping in around the edges, and few can guarantee quality. That’s what sets us apart. We’re leveraging the power of the internet, same as everyone else, but without taking quality shortcuts and without overcharging for what is essentially a middle-man service.

Check out:

I just can’t find my audience right now. That may be because I have very little traffic (working on that with content marketing) or it could be because my messaging is all wrong. Or combination thereof, or a bunch of other stuff could be wrong…

So to answer your question, we’re a translation marketplace where you only pay a per-job fee, can manage your project simple and securely, then settle your invoice with the translator off-site.

You save bags of time over sourcing qualified, domain experienced translators yourself, and save bags of money over leaving everything in the hands of a fully-staffed agency. All while getting a direct, close and valuable working relationship with your freelancers for quick communication.

Does that set it apart from other sites at all, or not so much?

PS - The translation industry is growing some 13-15% YoY, currently sitting at some $15bn split between North America and Europe, on the whole.

Out of curiosity: where did your existing visitors come frome? Why did they end up being on your site?

@holger - I’ve spent £50k on adwords ads.

I’m kidding! But you might be onto something there, with the vague target market. For a long while I thought hanging out at Hacker News would give me some perspective. Well… It certainly helped me see the dark underbelly of SV. At just over 1000 karma points I basically used their noprocrast tool and limited my usage to 15 minutes per session, with a 3-4 hour gap enforced between sessions. No other way but cold turkey sometimes with these low level compulsions.

So I posted a bunch of content there over the years about optimising your site with microcaching and nginx, or a few other semi-technical guides to startup/web stuff, thinking that startuppers would see that and then want to translate their sites all day. Except they don’t, really. Not until they have proven traction in the new market. Bit of a chicken and egg thing. So I tried to coin the term Translation marketing, obviously à la Content marketing but something tells me it’s not going to catch on too well :slight_smile:

The HN/reddit visitors still come, but they aren’t the target market now that I’ve realised all that, even if they can send 10k visits in a day, it’s all for nought really. I’m going to go at it hammer and tongs on a content market drive before too long, writing for small business on web promotion/marketing, productivity and cultural branding, international issues (branding, translation itself, etc.) and try to get those folks in over time with some evergreen content.

I’ve even considered a Kickstarter campaign to get more translators to join the anti-commoditisation movement and support Linguaquote on the supply-side. But we’re a wary bunch, linguists, having been scammed, un-paid, CV-frauded and so on one too many times. So it’s a hard sell in that respect, hinging largely on my reputation. Which at least I do still have, to a large extent.

Plan forming after comments so far:

  • Slim down site copy massively
  • Put explainer vid on front page
  • Start making headway into specific target markets (media/comms agencies, legal, financial firms) with content marketing aimed at them
  • Start trying to make some direct sales efforts in their general direction

Quick one for @SteveMcLeod while I’ve got you - what do you think of the front pages of these similar businesses in other niches:

No doubt they’re better capitalised and resourced than I am, but they appear to be doing OK.

Gun.io has a killer landing page…very clear, on point, and convincing.

A suggestion…try changing:

Need help with a translation?
From websites and branding to
manuals, contracts and financial translations,
work with our highly
professional and experienced translators


Hire a professional and experienced freelance translator

It’s not perfect but it tells me exactly what I can get from this site.

BTW I think @shantnu was asking rhetorically (could be wrong, sorry @shantnu if I misinterpreted!) . It’s not him who needs the answer; it is your website visitors.

BTW #2: “professional translators for legal documents”, “professional translators for medical documents”, etc, all deserve their own landing page. This is a great technique for getting focussed traffic - once you’ve worked out how to get visitors to convert.

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  1. When I clicked on register, I did not get who am I expected to be - a client or a translator? Why do I need to fill up all these fields if I only need to translate a document? I gave up right away.

  2. What is that price of 8 pounds? What it is for? It is too small for any translation, then what it is? Is it a monthly price? I do not want to pay you monthly! I just want to translate a document - once. And may be another in a month or two or five, if I find it working out good. I don’t know you yet.


  • The copy target audience is not clear
  • The pricing is not as expected mental model

Take a look at Wordy.com which is a proofreading service:

  • The copy is clearly for consumers of the service
  • The registration is free and minimal. The pricing is per word count (which is expected).

P.S. In fact, nowhere on the site I see prices for translation. Why would I sign up if I do not even know if it is within my budget?!

P.P.S. Why do I need to pay for posting a job?! This is just ridiculous. I do not mind to pay for job done, but not a job posted on some site that I see first time in my life. Besides, this is just a petty price comparing to expected translation price, so why not hide it in the translation fee instead?

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Thanks, Steve. That copy you quoted there is the latest attempt from an hour ago :slight_smile: Move fast and break things, right?

I can see what you were angling at initially now.

I thought you might think gun.io was vague also, but presumably the visitor has arrived there in the context of a search or word of mouth, so they know what they’re going to get. Maybe that allows them to be vague, though, if the customer just wants confirmation of their good choice of site to visit…

Appreciate the comments on @shantnu’s question and separate landing pages, freeing up the front page somewhat. Adding to plan…

Just looking for more imagery now on unsplash and can’t pick a theme. I was thinking travel, globe, stick with the pop-colour-scheme… will find something.

Your sign up form should have exactly two fields and one button:

Email: ___________________
Password: ___________________

[Create Account]

That’s it. All other fields are optional (if needed at all) and can be filled in later.

  • Each field you add diminishes conversion rate.
  • Having “confirm password” exists to reduce your support load. Get rid of it. If a customer forgets their password, that’s what your “reset password” feature is for.
  • Username should be email.
  • Get rid of the wordy explanation for email address. People know what email addresses are and what you’ll do with it.
  • Password should be minimum 8 characters and that’s it for validation.

Your aim here is to get people to click “Create Account”. Get rid of each and every barrier. Once you’ve got that email address willingly submitted to your system, you’ve got a major win.

Ooh yes, Wordy.com is smart.

I hear you on the confusion over buyer/supplier. The site is geared up to talk to buyers on the front end, suppliers have to work a bit harder to apply - see the ‘Features’ page for a quick rundown. Ugly as sin, in its umpteenth frankensteined iteration, but the info’s there.

For the fields/registration, that does seem to be turning people off, if the 200 who have been on that page recently were genuinely interested and didn’t sign up, we do have a problem. Or, like @holger says, I may just be attracting the wrong kind of person so far.

Pricing-wise the initial model (last year and before) was that buyers could sign up to a monthly subscription (£15-35 - B2B price range) to access all project management services unlimited. It was getting no traction so I productized a bit and went for the £8 job post. Well, £25 initially, but revised down. For that you get an account that lets you manage projects for £8 per project, with a subscription offer inside for regular users.

You arrange a separate invoice with the translator and deal with that yourself, the service takes no commission - so your £2-5000 translation project into 1-3 languages makes it look like a reasonable bet (in my mind) to access project management and reliable/vetted translators for £8 as a one-off.

Why do I need to pay for posting a job?! This is just ridiculous.

Paying to post a job was intended to fit in with the job board model. It has thrown you, though, so something’s up with it. But I’m also taking into account that you guys are coming at this cold and out of context, although your points are absolutely still clearly issues to resolve.

Why would I sign up if I do not even know if it is within my budget?!

You might have previous experience if you’re in my target market and need a translation at that moment, but you quite likely might not, in which case your point stands higher. So I could make it clear that they work directly with the freelancer, we take no commission, and they generally save money over agencies, perhaps ballparking an example job on the front page?

So I think we’re saying that:

  • Pricing needs clarifying
  • ‘How it works’ needs clarifying
  • Registration needs simplifying

Thank you. I have seen that info several times over the years, and seem to have actively disobeyed the common convention.


I think because I wanted to vet all the buyers at one point, to make sure the translators and I knew who we/they were dealing with. Perhaps it was seeing the full forms required on the likes of designinc.com and gun.io that made me think that this is a B2B product like theirs, promising savings in time and money, not a free mass-market todo-list app or some such (much respect to the todo list makers, I’m one too!). But I take your point that just getting name/email is enough to get the ball rolling on both sides.

So the importance you’re putting on this point, and the other points of friction you’ve all identified today, once rectified, should hopefully see me maybe coming back to you all with a first conversion at some point soon… he says hopefully.

I mean you don’t get any conversions for a while and you start to question the product and its fit in the market. And why I haven’t better validated it by now. It was just one of those projects, as a translation agency owner myself, I knew would be useful to me and hopefully 1000s more. But knowing it myself isn’t the same as facing the market in the cold light of Google…

EDIT: There are similar business models making money in this industry in others, so it’s relatively certain I can convert at least 1 person this year, if I sort out the offer presentation.

I see now. I see it as a problem. It is just too confusing. I now have two things to pay for, one of which is clear (the work I need to be done) and the second has a questionable value for me.

If I were you, I’d get take your cut from the translators - after all, you’re sending work their way. Referral fee would also be larger than 8, eh?


An alternative could be to explain this as a “flat rate” thing. “The translator sets their own price; we merely take a flat fee instead of a percentage. You get the best price, they get the best wage, and we don’t get in the way.”

I don’t see the issue with “there’s too many words”.

The amount of words really doesn’t matter.

What matters is the offer and the audience.

Here’s my brutally honest assessment below:

Perhaps I would be a good target audience for this (I hire translators on occasion and I’ve worked as one, as well).

This website doesn’t work for me, because it’s a translation agency website like about 1,000 other ones. There’s just no compelling reason to choose you over a more established player.

You’re offering access to translators. You’re a translation agency.

You might think you’re a sort of high-end, curated translation marketplace but I don’t see any evidence of this.

There’s no proof that you have “Highly experienced, translation association member translators” (who would claim the opposite anyway?), nor is there any proof that I’ll get “Translations that engage, inform, influence and convert”.

Secondly, because I don’t really understand the CTA - “Get Started just 7.99”. What will I be starting? And why would I pay for it? I usually think in terms of cost per words/lines/pages…

We live for translation and languages.” -> I’m reasonably sure you don’t :slight_smile: (if you offered your service for free, perhaps I’d think that could be the case…).

We save you the trouble of sourcing reliable translators and the overhead of working with an agency. => that’s not a pain I recognize. After all, you’re an agency. Most of the work is working with the translator, regardless of whether I hire them directly or from an agency.

No more marathon email threads or time lost tracking down attachments. It’s all in one place.” => I really don’t want another translation management tool. Or if it is one, why aren’t you positioning it as such?


Cheers, thanks for that. Two quick points before replying… 1) You’re seeing a version that’s less wordy than the initial version presented in the OP. 2) That version is now more of a WIP than the OP.

“Brutally honest”… well, it’s honest, but hardly brutal. You mean you didn’t sugarcoat it, of course, but I’m not 100% sure if your assumptions were all correct :slight_smile:

I think your overall message was that the site basically doesn’t convey what sets it apart from other translation services, agency, platform or otherwise.

The front page used to show all the translation associations we source translators from, proving that the translators have met their minimum entry requirements (so are not just any old ‘bilingual joes’) and adhere to their standards, so have accountability. It did not have examples of work done, or of the compelling translations available from these linguists.

The CTA being unclear we’ve covered above, and has given me pause for thought on the model. I’ll be repying to rfctr and ben.collins shortly to outline where I’m at on that front.

As for the copy - it being opinionated is sort of the idea, in that it hangs out our shingle telling folks our attitude and values, hoping to attract like-minded clients. But overly opinionated is perhaps as bad as not at all, so will keep working on that. WIP, as mentioned, so appreciate the mention about that.

You’re offering access to translators. You’re a translation agency.

So briefly back to the USP not being communicated - we’re aiming more at being a marketplace than an agency proper, so you manage your own project using our tools and our curated pool of linguists. This info is missing, definitely. It would help to differentiate the service if it was there, so cheers again.

the trouble of sourcing reliable translators […] not a pain I recognize.

I’m not convinced you are the exact target persona we’d be looking to attract, given that you’re already familiar with the industry and where and how to hire translation talent. For those who aren’t, bearing in mind it’s a growing industry, we want to give them a foolproof way to do that, without having the worry of being tricked/overcharged/mislead etc.

To convince you to use us, I’d probably try to sell you on the multi-language project management feature, should you ever come across a project in multiple language pairs (app, website, product descriptions?).

Being able to build your translation team in minutes and having their deliveries and discussions on a single page instead of scattered about your inbox, repeating instructions and updates to each translator etc. - it’s a clear time and stress saver. Is that worth the ticket price? Your call. I’d say it was cheap. Perhaps too cheap. But none of that is communicated clearly either, so you raise a valid point again.

I really don’t want another translation management tool. Or if it is one, why aren’t you positioning it as such?

It’s a tool and talent pool combined. The tool side of the copy has been neglected since the v0.1 of the front page. I used to have a feature matrix up on a pricing page, showing the features for file encryption, group messaging, applicant management etc. but tried to simplify the copy. May have gone too far…

If I were you, I’d get take your cut from the translators - after all, you’re sending work their way. Referral fee would also be larger than 8, eh?

I hear you, but that’s specifically the model I’m trying to avoid. I’ll reply to ben.collins now in more detail, but basically his suggestion is more in line with the strategy.

It’s to do with reversing the commodification of the industry, or at least preserving an uncommodified corner of it. They can meet new clients through the site, have their own relationship with them. We put them in touch, help them work, stay out of the way.

An alternative could be to explain this as a “flat rate” thing. “The translator sets their own price; we merely take a flat fee instead of a percentage. You get the best price, they get the best wage, and we don’t get in the way.”

That’s where I think the confusion over pricing has arisen, that we haven’t communicated what you’ve picked up on here. We’re stepping aside once we’ve paired up the working relationship. There’s simply less conflict of interest this way. We also avoid having to handle large (in theory) sums of money, when we’d only be taking a small cut, and incur all of those associated risks.

The original model, years ago, was to charge translation agencies a monthly subscription (£25-35) for access to the tools and curated talent pool to cover their staff shortages and keep their lead/prospect pipeline full. Freelance translators could make proposals/quotes alongside the agencies, at no cost, provided they met our criteria (association membership/degree/experience).

Then at some point I tried to simplify the pricing, so that buyers could pay a job-board type of flat fee to simplify their translation project workflow. I’m actually starting to think the original model was best - having the agencies with deeper pockets support free accounts for buyers and freelancers.

After our discussions here today, there still seems to be resistance to the idea that even if the site offered buyers value, they might still be reluctant to pay for it. Even if they were business users. Partly because of the unconventional model, partly because they expect not to pay.

I’m starting to think that if I can crack the pricing, it’d remove another barrier to sales. It’s just settling on a model that the mean target visitor would see as fair and normal.