Other Cool StuffStartups

How I Set Up and Sold a Product Using Unbounce, Wufoo and Chargify

By September 21, 2010 December 2nd, 2012 48 Comments

I’m going to show you how I concepted and built not one, but two recurring revenue products in one evening using Unbounce, Wufoo and Chargify – and I never wrote a single line of code.  And the results were unreal.

I am not a programmer.  I wish I was, but I took a different path after engineering school and went more into the marketing side.  My programmers are busy.  I can’t bother them, but I need revenue.  Do I get them off what they’re doing, or can I build something myself to test with some users?  There has to be a way….we get plenty of traffic, and somehow I’ve got to get the 1,500 people a week using our software, and the 10,000+ users in our mailing list to check this out.  I’ve got to do something without bothering engineering just yet….just till I can prove this works.

OK, here we go.  My first product is simply an SEO copywriting service that I just want to set up as a one-time fee for now.  $35 per article sounds good, and we’ll even write the tags you need (title, meta description, H1, etc.).  My second product is a link building service, and I want to get folks on a small, manageable plan, but one where we can keep working on month-to-month, chipping away and building good quality links the old-fashioned way – manually.  Both of these sound totally un-scalable and an absolute nightmare to execute.  But that’s OK because we’re engineers and we can figure out the process flow because that’s what we do…make things efficient.  (And I want to do a blog post later about Software AND a Service, versus Software AS a Service).  Why do I want to do this? Well, we learned from our software, and the 20,000+ websites we’ve run and the tons of customer feedback, that they need MORE than someone telling them their site sucks.  They want you to fix it.  I mean, you don’t go to a doctor and he tells you everything that’s wrong with you, and then send you on your way with a “good luck”, right?  There HAS to be something in adding a reasonable and reputable service to the software we have.  Yeah, it’s going to take some work internally, I mean this isn’t all “hands off” – but hey, it’s really no different than staffing up a bunch of support people anyway that most SaaS products are destined to have.

The first thing I did was log into my Unbounce account and set up my landing pages.  This beautiful interface lets me build landing pages in a snap without needing a single programmer.  The link building page took about 30 minutes longer because I had to spend a while playing with buttons, colors of the boxes, etc.  In the end, I thought it turned out OK.  You can see the SEO copywriting page here, and the link building page here.  Now you can see the modified page after tons of iterations, and lots of help from the guys at Unbounce 🙂

how i set up and sold a product using unbounce, chargify and wufoo

The second thing I went into my Wufoo online form builder account and created some info gathering forms in a jiffy.  Once a user clicks on the call-to-action button from the Unbounce landing page, they get dumped into the form and I ask them all of the info I need to know in order to start the job, right, so it’s like a “job request form”.  Easy.  Then I went back to the Unbounce landing pages and linked them all up to the various buttons, and I did send each unique landing page to a unique form, because depending on what they clicked on originally, I needed to send them to a specific Chargify page.

 

Now, enter Chargify, the leader in recurring billing for web 2.0 services.  These guys are really awesome, because they let me create all the products I want, and they only start charging me after I’ve hit 50 customers (regular charges from your merchant, like Authorize.net still apply).  So I created a product family for “SEO Copywriting” and one for “Link Building Services”, and under the link building services, I created three different products based on the three monthly plans we’re product workflow from unbounce to chargifyoffering.  They let me easily create a Payment Page that all I have to do is link to from the Wufoo form after they hit “submit” on the form, and they’ll send them on over for payment.  Oh yeah, I also used a KISS Insight page level survey on each Unbounce landing page, so I could gauge weather I was full of shit or not.

The result? Well, after an email blast this morning and linking to these pages in our existing software (which I can also do myself), we got 600 leads in the first day, and $1,450 of recurring monthly revenue and $350 of one-time revenue since 11 am this morning.

I get a confirmation from Wufoo and Chargify when someone completes the forms, so then all we have to do is match them up afterward, and start working on the project.  Chargify takes care of the auto-billing for me, and now all I need to do is let people know we have the service now (a marketing function, not an engineering function).

As for rapid iteration, I’ve already created a new product in Chargify and a different Wufoo form for 4 SEO articles per month for $100, and for $150 we will install it on your WordPress blog for you, and already we’ve gotten some folks to sign up.  Took me 8 minutes to create the new product.

At the end of the day, I completely hacked all of this together, but I didn’t need to write code, and I didn’t need to bother a code writer.  I can test various products and pricing, and let the engineers focus on something else.  My next task is to make sure we can keep a high quality product, fast turnaround (some of the articles are already done), and scalability.  Who knows, next week we might try a few more products 🙂

Update 9/22/10 2:31p – I just set up Chargify to send a successful transaction to a “thank you” page I set up.  Turns out I got 3 chats today asking me “what should I expect”, so now they know 🙂  I also set up a B page in Unbounce for the copywriting service to sell a 4 articles for $100/mo plan.  30% better conversion rate on that one!

Update 9/23/10 4:58p – I just hacked together a very simple rating system, again, no code required.  Since we started sending articles back to folks, I wanted to see what they thought of it, so in the bottom of the email, we put “Please Rate this Article: Awesome!Good :/Sucked 🙁” which then takes them to a page I created on our WordPress blog which has more information about how to fix an article, have us re-write it, or even order more.  My thought was I can track unique pageviews to identify a trend or problem.  It’s probably not the most effective thing in the world, but it works for now.

Update 9/24/9:58a – Yesterday I used Unbounce to create a variant of my Link Building landing page, which was sucking wind.  For whatever reasons, people think link building is a “spammy” SEO tactic.  So I went in and created a new variant to try and address that, and BAM!  1,271% better conversion rate!!

Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly

Ryan is the founder and CEO of Pear Analytics and has helped hundreds of customers with their Internet marketing since 2003. He has spoken on various topics of SEO, Analytics and other marketing at conferences in New York, Chicago and Vancouver. Clients he has consulted include Sears, KMart, CareerBuilder and PEER 1 Hosting. Ryan currently teaches two Internet marketing classes at Trinity University in San Antonio.

48 Comments

  • Lance Walley says:

    Hi there,

    Wow, this is a cool story. $1,450 in recurring revenue on your 1st day! That’s cool.

    Thanks for letting us be a part of it!

    — Lance
    — Chargify

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Thanks Lance, you guys have an awesome product….even I can figure it out!!

  • Oli Gardner says:

    Love to see a marketer piecing all of these products together. Super cool. It’s funny, I did an engineering degree too and now I’m also on the marketing side.

    Markgeneering? Enginarketing?

    Intrigued by your Software AND a Service concept, looking forward to reading about what you’re thinking there.

    Also want to know how the KISSinsights surveys turn out (whether you are indeed full of shit or not) 🙂

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    So far we’ve had 14 responses to each KISS survey – not enough for anything statistically significant, but enough direction. It turns out 78% of people are “skeptical” about the Link Building program. That’s reasonable, I guess since there are so many in our industry who give it a bad name. Now I need to adjust my landing page to address this, so perhaps put a case study or something.

    The other survey had 57% saying that “Yes”, they were interested in a monthly SEO copywriting service. I’ve already created the new products in Chargify and forms in Wufoo in less than 8 minutes 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll add another Unbounce page to do a 3-tiered plan like the link building page.

    I can say that this is actually a lot of fun!

  • Oli Gardner says:

    Nice!

    I like the instant feedback you get from KISSinsights. I’ve just started using it on the landing pages we create for ourselves and it allows you optimize really quickly. We stuck it on our pricing page and uncovered a gnarly little CSS bug where IE users couldn’t see the prices – and we only figured it out after several people asked “where’s the price?”

    Link building is such a tough one. So necessary, yet the industry is laced with many charlatans. Your service will be a welcome addition to the “doing it right” side of the fence.

  • Gustavo says:

    I’m totally feeling this. I had not even read this post but I recognized what Ryan was doing every step of the way as I clicked around. GREAT JOB Ryan! I’m also a Systems Engineer turned Designer turned Webeneur and will soon post my version of how I hacked 3rd party tools for my http://www.dafoodie.com webapp.

    Best!

  • Gustavo says:

    By the way, you can use the Wufoo Rule builder:

    http://wufoo.com/docs/rule-builder/

    to show the “If this is for an EXISTING page, please enter the page here” field once the user selects “Making an EXISTING article I have better” when they’re on the “OK, what are we doing here?” field.

    This will clean up your form a little and save some text.

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Thanks Gustavo, looking forward to reading your hack 🙂

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Oh neat, I’ll play with that some more!

  • Dan Martell says:

    Ryan, Since you’re already using all our friends great app … I just thought I’d hook you up with http://www.flowtown.com (for free) to get real time notifications of influencers as they convert to leads. We easily integrate with both Wufoo & Unbounce + we have a social media auto-responder features to help with lead nurturing.

    Yes, this is a bit self promotional, but you’ve documented something that all the companies involved hope to see aligned – just missing the final step 😉

    Cell: (415) 935-3254
    Twitter: @danmartell

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    @Oli @Lance you guys are fast on the response!

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Sounds great, Dan! I’ll give you a call this week to chat.

  • Kevin Flynn says:

    Great article. Do you need writers to handle all that new volume? We do SEO writing.

  • Ryan-

    Great read. Awesome timing for me. I have been wondering how to get a particular product launched while my dev resources work on client stuff. This makes total sense and you’ve inspired me to try this method. Thanks for the tips!

  • Ryan Teo says:

    Nice article about engineering a hack to the process =)

    Btw, a minor point, your copyrighting page has a spelling error. This might not be good if you are selling a copyrighting service: http://www.pearanalytics.net/seo-copywriting/
    — Text —
    Do you install the article on our website?

    Right now, we will send you the content along with the tags to use for the page or blog post, and will “reuquire” you to install it. We may offer the install in the future for customers who want us to continually build content for them.

  • Aymeric says:

    Hey Ryan, very interesting reading (I am coming from Hacker News).

    How big was the mailing list you sent your launch announcement to?

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Nice find, Ryan! I fixed it already. I guess that’s what I get for doing stuff at 2am! (Luckily, I’m not the one writing the copy, either)

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Aymeric,

    The list was around 10,000, and a couple hours after we sent, we found out that our buttons were linking to 404 pages (doh!). May have lost a couple leads there….

  • jagz says:

    Wow great one ryan. care to share how you got the mailing list??

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Our free website analyzer has been collecting them for almost 2 years now. We don’t collect them anymore just to get an analysis (we have a voluntary signup process), but we have had a couple thousand registered users of our SiteJuice software over the past year.

  • Andrew says:

    Your ‘service’ is shady – you’re basically selling inbound links for a monthly price?

    It’ll be a waste of money by your subscribers, as Google rejects these types of “SEO” improvements, usually.

    Especially when your inbound links are from fly-by-night recently registered domains ‘created’ for the sole purpose to facilitate Google rankings.

    Meh. I imagine a huge monthly turnover of the gullible.

  • Chris says:

    Cool post. As a matter of fact, we used this info to help create a better landing page and sign-up process for our resume review and writing service at http://resume.callmejobs.com/resume/

    Thanks man!

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Andrew,

    I welcome your comments, but fortunately they don’t apply to us. We’re not selling links, or doing anything shady. Link building is historically been a difficult part of SEO because it has to be as natural as possible, and it’s time consuming. You’re basically buying a block of our time to help you build links, and we think from what we know, our processes, and our tools, that we can deliver that quantity of new links in that amount of time. Think of it like a timeshare – you don’t want to buy the whole condo (in this case, an expensive SEO consultant), but rather a portion of the condo. We’re simply trying to make an expert service available to folks at an affordable price. Reciprocal linking, link farming, and other dubious efforts are what “shady” firms would probably do, and you are right, Google would reject this type of link building, but our link building efforts are based on data and strategy. If you are targeting local search, then there are multiple directories that look for “citations”. If you are looking to rank nationally, I can find pages with old broken links and ask them to replace the URL with yours, as an example. I can also quickly assess your existing links to find anchor text opportunities, or your competitors links, or sites that rank higher than you, to find other new opportunities.

    Here is a post (among many) from SEOmoz: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/5-rare-valuable-link-building-tactics

  • Oli Gardner says:

    Nice response Ryan.
    (byw, you should turn on threaded comments in the Settings>Discussion area in WordPress to allow time based and connected discussions)

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    @Oli – yeah, that feature is turned on. Must be our theme overriding it or something. Hmmm…have to look into that one. Thanks!

  • Great post and fantastic to see these services helping people succeed. To fuel the conversation (please don’t take this as anything negative) I would point out that you’re really building a front end for, as you fantastically defined it, “Software AND a Service”. The Service part is manual, so you didn’t need to engineer anything there. Would it be fair to say that this is more of a primer for building a service business vs building a product?

    Thanks so much for sharing this regardless – great stuff!

  • Colin8ch says:

    Great Post Ryan, Thanks! It’s awesome that it’s so quick and easy to get to market with a new product and analyze different marketing, pricing and product strategies. A word of caution though- Banks and processors are still in the dark ages and are not as flexible as these 3rd party providers allow you to be. Almost all merchant accounts are contractually confined to accept payments for a specific company, at a specific URL, for specific products types within a specified price range and sales volume. This means experimenting with selling a digital product, or a service, or a subscription (usually a merchant account is designated for one or the other) that is not consistent with your original agreement in many instances could lead to losing your merchant account, seizure of reserves and settlements, and even fines due to noncompliance. Unfortunately, it’s when you achieve some success and sales spike that providers like Paypal and direct merchant account processors will take notice and shut you down, leaving you with a viable product, a market and existing customers with an appetite… but no way to take payments.

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Evan, great question! The answer is “we don’t know yet.” I’d like to think that I can create an internal process so great that I do end up “productizing” these services. (is that a word? I think it is in the start-up world). For instance, we spend probably about 3 hours manually pulling link data on a link building project. I could probably build something to get all of that and analyze it by clicking a button, and have a server do it for me. Naturally, we haven’t built that yet because we’re testing demand. We’ll always need “people” somewhere in the process, but I’m betting I can reduce that to the same “people” needs even a true product needs to scale.

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Colin, thanks for the heads-up! I wasn’t aware of this, and thankfully, we haven’t had any issues yet with our Authorize.net account. We steer clear of PayPal for several reasons, and I even saw Lance from @Chargify post something on Twitter last week how he was fed up with them too.

  • Hello Ryan,

    I have been checking your landing pages and I saw they are in .net domain and it is indexed in google. Do you know if this is good for SEO?

    I also have my .com and some other domains (.org, .net , etc) redirected to the .com and I have ranked well for some keyword-rich-url landing pages. Do you think that if I create also those urls landing pages in the .net won’t be penalized in google as you have done with .net/seo-copywriting. Did you want here just to sell the product or also to rank well for seo copywriting??

    By the way, the description appearing in google is
    Have Pear Analytics build targeted content for your website
    ***Click-through template designed for a product. Replace the image placeholder with your product photo.***
    http://www.pearanalytics.net/seo-copywriting/

    Thanks and regards!

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Antonio,

    Having the .net domain was a “quick fix” for masking our domain for the Unbounce pages because they host the pages. I couldn’t put them on .com without doing a bunch of other work. If this whole thing really works, we will put these landing pages on .com, which will hopefully allow us to rank well for them because the .com has much more trust and authority than the .net right now. I’m not sure exactly what you’re doing by your explanation, but Google won’t penalize you for redirecting a .net page to a .com page. If the .net page had any value, it will pass it through to the .com if the content is the same.

    BTW, I did see I messed up the descriptions, and I fixed them yesterday, so the next crawl by Google should fix that!

  • Ok,

    I was just wondering if would be a good option to have both domains.

    Imagine you made your first post about, for example, “red shoes” in your .com with many content, keyword rich, etc some time ago and this post ranks very well, then you get an offer where you can sell “red shoes” from a shoes company and you want to use a landing page for that sale. do you think is a good option to have the landing page in .net/red-shoes and may be, you manage to rank well for both, the rich-content in .com and the landing .net??? or you just would create a landing for selling the product in .com but not trying to rank well for that landing page, and placing a link in the orginal rich-conent and well ranked one pointing to the landing one???

    Do you get my point?

    Thanks again and regards

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hey Antonio,

    sure, it’s possible that both domains could rank well for “red-shoes”, although unlikely if .net is just a few landing pages, and the domain has no authority or trust yet (like my .net). You would get faster results (from a sales standpoint) by improving the ranking for the .com, and then pointing it to the .net for the sales, where you now have a conversion rate issue, and not really a ranking issue.

    In our case, I’m not concerned about ranking for “seo copywriting” or “link building” just yet – we already get lots of traffic from “website analyzer”, “free seo analysis” and other similar words that get to the .com site, and then maybe I can get them interested in running the free software, or jumping off and reading about these new services we have.

    Now, in the event that it “just so happens” that a lot of people link to these .net landing pages, and low and behold we start to rank well, I can always do a 301 redirect from the .net pages and point them to some new .com pages if I wanted to and not lose any link juice or rankings (well, rankings may “flutter” for a bit, but they will be restored).

  • OK, good explanation !

    I have been checking ubounce and I see that for using a custom domain you have the subdomain option and the root domain, so the easiest and faster way of doing it is as you did, with a new domain, .net or whatever instead of the subdomain.

    I will give a try!!

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    The .net was easier for me instead of a subdomain on the .com, just because how it’s configured. However, from an SEO standpoint, both options are the same. The subdomain on an authoritative root domain (like your .com) won’t necessarily transfer over to the subdomain – Google actually sees these as different websites 🙂

  • Aidan Rogers says:

    Hi Ryan

    Just thought I’d point out that on wufoo form, the option “Local” or “National” might be a little unclear to those new to SEO.

    Awesome little case study and congrats.

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Aidan,

    thanks for that! Wufoo makes a nice tool tip feature that displays anytime you roll your mouse over the field – did you see that? Or are you saying what was there was unclear?

  • Aidan Rogers says:

    Ah so it does…totally missed it when I quickly scanned the form.

    What you have is pretty clear. Maybe you can try adjusting the size/colour to make it stand out a little more. 🙂

  • Colin8ch says:

    Hi Ryan, with the recent change in Chargify’s pricing structure are you considering staying with them or alternatives? I wrote a blog post recently discussing the pros, cons and costs of recurring billing options that may help: http://bit.ly/RecurringBillingOptions

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    As far as I can tell, we’re grandfathered in, so we’re not moving. Lance also informed us of some pretty cool features that they plan to roll out soon, so we’re excited about that.

  • Ryan, This is very cool. I’m putting this in place now and noticed that your unbounce landing pages go straight to chargify. Did you take Wufoo out of the picture, or reverse the order? The services we’re putting together require the buyer to answer several questions and I wasn’t sure if Wufoo could pass the info on to Chargify, or if we should charge first and then send the customer on the the questions at Wufoo.

  • Ryan Kelly says:

    Hi Aaron,

    We did change the order, so now it goes from landing page > checkout > form, but Wufoo can also send you to Chargify if you want. We changed it because people would fill out the form, but not checkout for whatever reason.

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