The Hero Trap (How a Simple Sales Guide Lifted Conversions 112%)
This is a guest post from Mike of Stride. We talked recently about his experiences trying to grow the business and engage trial users. I think there’s a useful lesson in there for all businesses, so I asked him to share his thoughts with you. Here’s Mike! -Justin
Automated emails are a powerful way to increase conversions, referrals, retention, and other key business goals.
At Stride, we use several of these messages during our signup and onboarding process to maximize signups and conversions.
Recently, we made a few changes to one of those emails.
The result? A gigantic 112% increase in signups.
Today, I want to share the story of that email, and 4 key takeaways that you can apply to your own business.
Our Old Strategy for When Customers Abandoned Us at Signup
For any software as a service business, there are going to be some people who begin to sign up, only to stop somewhere between “enter your email” and the “complete signup” button.
Naturally, we want these people to come back and complete the signup process.
In this scenario, we have their email address from their partial signup, so we send them a note via email.
Here’s what the note originally said:
Reasonable enough, right? It’s a simple, straightforward offer of help.
We figured this would bring people back to complete the process.
But we were dead wrong. A few people came back, but not nearly as many as we had hoped.
“Maybe,” we thought, “some people just need a second reminder.” After all, even if your response rate is as high as 40%, over half of people aren’t taking action.
So we added a second email to the sequence and sent it few days after the first.
Here’s that second email:
By design, this was a more of a sales pitch. We wanted to make sure we hit the reasons others were having success with our product.
Again, we thought this would bring people back.
And again, we were wrong. People weren’t coming back.
What’s Going On Here?
After watching the numbers for a while, it was clear that this mini drip campaign wasn’t performing nearly as well as we needed it to.
It was frustrating, especially with this group of people.
I kept thinking, “They’ve shown enough interest in our product to enter their email. Why would they just drop off? Had something driven them away? Why weren’t they responding to the drip campaign?”
The Hero Trap
As we looked at it, we eventually came to a simple conclusion.
To illustrate the problem, let me ask this question…
In the two emails above, who’s the hero of the copy?
Answer: It’s Stride.
In both messages, we were basically reaching out to say, “Hey, look at us! We’re great! You should come back and finish signing up!”
Looking at it now, through that lens, it’s obvious why our drip campaign didn’t work.
Both messages were about us and our product, not about the readers and their needs.
I call this “The Hero Trap,” because it’s incredibly easy to forget that we’re not the hero of this story.
Our customers – not us – are the heroes.
They’re the ones who will fight the battles. Our job is to equip them with amazing tools or essential instruction.
I cannot stress this point enough. Because that change in perspective… it changes everything.
Our New Email
With the success of our customer firmly at the center of our strategy, we rewrote our email.
Here’s what we send today:
No sales pitch. No pressure. Just our best attempt to provide something useful.
When we send someone this email, it’s because we truly want them to be successful in their sales efforts. And that’s true whether they come back and sign up with us or not.
This email brings people back and converts 112% better than the previous multiple-email sequence.
Lessons For You
Here are 4 sales lessons that jump out to me when I think about this experience:
1. Embrace the Supporting Actor’s Role
If you’re a teacher, be the best one you can be.
If you make a product, make it amazing.
Remember, you’re not the hero. Your customer’s the hero. Your job is to help your customer achieve heroic feats.
So make your product with the same care and attention to detail that Lucius Fox would for Batman.
2. Make Helpful Stuff
This goes not just for your product, but your content too.
That sales guide we offer in our new email is a truly fantastic resource for anyone who wants to get better at sales.
We’re happy to give it away, no strings attached.
3. Be a Friend
A lot of commerce that used to happen face-to-face has been replaced by online shopping or shopping at big stores where you never see the same checkout person twice.
That’s why we chose to write “Hi Friend” to start our emails now. It’s a small thing, but we want to connect on a personal level.
I think that little shift in tone does a lot for our communications, along with the commitment to offering super-helpful stuff.
As a bonus, most companies have no idea how to act like a friend. If you can pull it off, people will notice.
4. Say Thanks
We say “thanks” twice in our new email, including the line “Thanks so much for visiting strideapp.com.”
A sincere thank you leaves a positive impression on the reader.
Plus it just feels good. Even if this person doesn’t come back and sign up for our product, the fact that he or she came and looked at it still makes me smile. Certainly that’s worth a thank you.
How Do You Make Your Customer The Hero?
I hope reading this little case study has been instructive for you. I know living it sure has been for us.
Let me leave you with a challenge: what one thing could you do today to put your customer in the hero’s role?
Let us know in the comments.