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 🙂
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 offering. 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!!