Friday Updates: New Homepage, Focusing on Professionals, Data Intake Form, Acquisitions Anonymous, Startup

Photo by Manuel Venturini

Hey friends, it’s been a few weeks since my last update. I’m probably not going to do these weekly right now, but hopefully can still find time for one or two a month going forward.


New homepage

For years now Preceden’s homepage has had a sign up form above the fold:

There was a time when the sign up page was separate, but I A/B tested it back in like 2014 and putting the sign up form on the homepage almost doubled sign ups, and so that’s where it’s remained ever since.

There was an example timeline below the fold and there’s also a whole section of the site with examples, but a large % of users signed up without actually seeing the type of timelines that Preceden can create. And as a result, a lot bail immediately after signing up, I suspect because there’s some misalignment between what type of timeline they expect vs reality.

To remedy this, Milan (the front-end designer I work with) and I redesigned the homepage to ensure everyone visiting has a better idea of what Preceden is capable of:

The tradeoff is that the homepage to sign up conversion rate winds up dropping, but I’m alright with that because new sign ups are a lot higher quality now and I’m not wasting the time of people that Preceden isn’t a good fit for.

The day after this change there was a huge spike in sign ups – about double compared to the day prior. My optimistic take on it at the time was that the homepage was resonating with a lot more visitors which was leading to more sign ups than in the past. But… after digging in it turned out that a large % of the sign ups were bots. Whomp whomp. I suspect that there are bots that look for /signups paths, fill out the form with garbage content, and then look for more forms in-app to spam. Preceden’s in-app experience doesn’t lend itself well to bots so all of the bots gave up immediately after signing up, but it still wound up inflating sign ups and hurting a bunch of post-sign up conversion rates. I was able to prevent the bot sign ups by looking at a few factors like whether they had keystrokes on the sign up form (these bots did not) which dropped sign ups back down to a more realistic level.

Focusing on professionals

When people sign up for Preceden, I ask them what they plan to use it for. Historically the options were Professional Use, Personal Use, School, and Teaching. Preceden has been a general purpose timeline maker tool and these are the groups that virtually everyone falls into. But… being general purpose is tough. It’s difficult to focus the copy on one audience, it’s difficult to focus the product, etc. I’ve been hesitant to focus on one because no single group dominates revenue. For example, people who choose Professional Use have made up about 5% of sign ups but 40% of revenue. The risk of focusing on them is that you execute on it poorly and put the other 60% of revenue at risk.

But… after years of waffling on this issue, that’s the direction I’m now headed: focusing on professionals. They are great customers and there’s a lot of long term upside if I can pull it off, even though I might wind up seeing lower revenue in the short term.

Practically speaking, it means things like:

  • Removing School and Teaching from the sign up form options
  • Focusing the examples on professionals
  • Focusing the copy on project planning and whatnot
  • Reworking the plans which have historically included a low-cost Student plan

We’ll see how it all turns out, but I’m optimistic and excited to work on it.

Help Scout

Michael, the new data lead who joined in May, set up a data request intake form which has gone a long way towards organizing our day-to-day data work at Help Scout. Here’s the current version:

These get sent to an Asana board with lists that we can move the tasks around as needed: Inbox, Backlog, Blocked, In Progress, and Complete.

Should have set something up like this a long time ago.

What I’m listening to

What I’m watching

Startup on Netflix:

Take care y’all.

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