- The first important decision a founder has to make is to choose between a freemium or a free trial. Or if you even want to have one. We decided to go with a free trial for Markcopy.ai from the very beginning. We presumed that because AI-generated copy was something new users would want to test it out before making a purchasing decision. We launched the product with a 7 days free trial period. And had zero conversions.
- The second important decision a founder has to make if they have zero or low conversion rate: is it about the product, or is it about the trial period? Or is it about something else? It’s not an easy decision to make. What helped us was being less emotional about it, more rational and actually listening to what users were saying. I have to tell here a bit how Markcopy.ai began. My co-founder and I — we personally had this need to use AI-generated content to grow our blogs, to be more active on social media without spending hours on these tasks. So we built a tool to scratch our own itch. Then we figured out, it could be a business as well. But whom do we target with it? We thought for a while and figured that the most reasonable option would be freelance copywriters. If we, developers, have to use AI-generated tools to deal with content creation faster, then these people would definitely love to have something like that, right? It will make their life so much easier, right? Wrong! When we started reaching out to freelancers they were like “we hate you, you’re going to steal our jobs''. We got frustrated but then we started looking around and seeing that there are some other startups that do what we are doing, and they are growing pretty well. So, it’s not about the product then? There’s a demand for it but maybe users don’t get the value within 7 days trial? The hateful comments actually helped us a lot to figure out that it was not about the wrong trial period but more about the wrong customers. When we started targeting a different segment — startup founders and marketing agencies, the picture changed.
- The third decision a founder should make is about the length of the trial period. As I mentioned, we did not hesitate so much about ours, because we looked at the market benchmarks. Most SaaS like ours were using 7 days free trial. I think it's the most reasonable length for a B2C tool. Now, when we have started to target agencies and added many features that are only useful for teams, we might offer a 30 days trial on a team plan. Because when you work in a team, everything takes more time: from getting value from the tool, to the purchasing decision, to actual payment.
- The fourth decision a founder should make is to make it opt-in or opt-out for the users. We went to the opt-out first. It helped us grow from $0 to $4.5K MRR. This is a controversial topic but we figured, without that we would have spent months to get the first $$. Also, if your audience doesn't want to enter their card details then the product is not solving a huge problem for them. It's a good way to find the right audience actually. In 6 months, in January 2022, we decided to switch to opt-in. The sign ups skyrocketed!
But obviously it also increased the churn. As more “random” people started creating accounts, a much smaller percentage of them actually even got to testing the tool within 7 days. Our free-to-paid conversion rate experienced some decrease. But we were ready for it. And for the next decision to make.
- Fifth stage — a founder has to decide how to get as much data as possible about customer’s behavior. In order to improve conversion rate, we have to find out that “Aha” moment — when do customers realize the value of the service. And we have to guide them to this moment as soon as they sign up. For this, you need a lot of user data. In our case, we decided to use a Product Hunt launch as a boost for signups that would allow us to get more data on users behavior. We launched Markcopy.ai on Product Hunt on the 31st of March 2022. We already had $7K MRR. The Product Hunt launched helped us to get to $10K MRR but what was more important — we got lots of new signups and users to track. We’ve been actively using Amplitude for that. Our goal was to find out:
- customer who convert — what features do they use the most
- what features were not that important — they were used by customers but did not lead to the conversion
- what kind of in-app customer behavior leads to more conversions, what kind of in-app customer behavior leads to less conversions.
Now that we have plenty of data we’re hoping to come up with a new design for a “customer path” that will lead users to that “Aha” moment faster and would highlight the features that provide most of the value.