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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. 2X Founder: Conversio (acquired by Campaign Monitor) + WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic). Ex-Rockstar.

The Three Small Changes That Created 81% More Active Users

One of the biggest challenges we've had at Receiptful has been to get our users to switch their receipts to Live Mode.<...>

Receiptful works a lot like Stripe in that sense: you sign up, connect to your store, set up your receipt template, test that it's working fine and then you have to switch from Test Mode to Live Mode. Until once you've done that, can we start sending actual receipts for real orders to customers.

The rationale behind this is that we can't just switch on Live Mode by default, as every Receiptful user needs to make at least a few basic modifications (adding their logo for example) before the receipts should go out. There's also no way for us to programatically determine whether a receipt template is completely set up or looks great.

This however meant that many of our new signups simply weren't switching on Live Mode and we could thus not count them as active users.

Everyone knows that signups itself is a vanity metric, unless those signups actually becomes active (and discovers value in the product). So with the help of Hiten Shah we set out to fix this.

The Problem


The above KissMetrics funnel basically sums up our problem. The data is from the first three months of this year and shows that only 32% of our users ever became active. From what I've learnt from other SaaS founders, this absolute number doesn't seem to be very different to what other freemium SaaS apps experienced.

Regardless though it was problematic for us, because that meant that only 32% of our signups could potentially discover value.

The related challenge to that is that the top of our funnel isn't massive yet. Receiptful is still a niche app and we're gradually building out the social proof that we can add value to the marketing efforts of eCommerce stores. For the interim though, we need to be as efficient in possible in converting signups to active users as a way to accelerate that social proof (and our own learning).

Anyway, back to that funnel. Just looking at it, only revealed our absolute success or failure (32%) with no real context as to why it's happening. This is where a little trick (IMO) that I learnt from Hiten helped a truckload: Hiten suggested looking at the time that elapses between each crucial step of our funnel and then comparing the successful (activated) users versus unsuccessful (inactive) users.

This analysis lead to quite a few interesting learnings:

  • The median time for an user to switch on Live Mode after signing up was 28 minutes. If that didn't happen only 20% of users would ever switch on Live Mode.
  • The median time for an user to switch on Live Mode after their store had triggered Receiptful to send a receipt was 21 minutes. And after 9 hours, almost no one would switch to Live Mode.

This meant that we essentially had a 30-minute window (from initial signup), where we needed to move new users through the funnel as efficiently as possible. Our assumption was that if we could optimise for that, we would have significant increase of active users.

The Solution

We decided that there was two key events that needed to happen in that 30-minute window that we had identified:

  1. The user needed to set up their template; and
  2. They needed to switch on Live Mode.

So with that in mind, we made three changes:

1. Do First Things First

Prior to any changes, our signup flow looked like this:

  • Sign Up Step #1: Capture name, e-mail address & password
  • Sign Up Step #2: Select store type & enter store URL.
  • Sign Up Success: We tell you that you've been successful and what you should do next. For WooCommerce users that meant adding their API key to their WooCommerce installation. But Shopify users didn't have to do anything, because we could add the API key programatically.

The key thing however was that we redirected then to their Receiptful dashboard... Which was empty...

Receiptful Empty Dashboard

So the first change we made was to instead direct them directly to the Receipful Builder page, where they could then start editing their template with a slick drag 'n drop, WYSIWYG editor.

On top of that, we'd also learnt (via our Qualaroo widget) that the dummy content on our receipt was confusing users. The best example was that we were using USD as the dummy currency on our template. Whenever an user asked us about this, the answer was simple: "Once you send a live receipt, we automatically detect the currency of your store / order.".

We however assumed that a portion of our users just never e-mailed and they assumed that we only supported USD denominated stores.

So we set out to improve all of the dummy content on the initial receipt (prior to the user making any changes). These improvements fell into two categories:

  1. For content that the user needed to change (i.e. there was no generic default we could use) or for content that was the root of support tickets, we used explanatory copy i.e. "The date of the receipt goes here. We'll automatically change it based on your live receipts.".
  2. For content that the user didn't have to change, we used best practice defaults. This specifically applied to our upsell modules, where there was a generic default that the user could use without having to modify it.

The immediate impact of this change was an increase of 33,8% in the amount of users that saved their template. (Comparing two 30-day periods pre- and post-changes.)

2. Visual Cues

The next step was to get users to switch on Live Mode.

As context, if the user's account is not in Live Mode (but otherwise fully set up and connected to their store), we will still create receipts for live orders. Instead of sending those receipts to the customer though, the receipts just goes to the account holder.

So we included a massive notice in those receipts (i.e. for actual orders but triggered whilst not in Live Mode) with a reminder to switch on Live Mode:

Live Mode Notice

Our data about this interaction is imperfect, but this notice has influenced 50 users to take action (which is about 15% of all new signups).

3. Fix the first "failure"

We use Intercom for our user segmentation and lifecycle / onboarding e-mails. Prior to any changes, we were sending these e-mails for accounts that aren't in Live Mode:

  • On signup: Welcome e-mail with next steps and help resources.
  • On Day 3: A reminder that your account isn't in Live Mode yet.
  • On Day 7: Another reminder about Live Mode along with an offer to help out.

We augmented this by adding a new e-mail that is triggered as soon as an user has created an actual receipt via our API, but without having switched on Live Mode. This is what that e-mail looks like:

Intercom Email

You'll see that the subject line of that e-mail is quite aggressive in the use of the word URGENT as well as using strong language ("not fully functional") to communicate that Live Mode isn't switched on.

This was a purposeful attempt on our part to grab the attention of the recipient. The reality at this stage was the user had set up their account / template and had connected it to their store, so there should thus not be anything that holds them back from going to Live Mode and discovering value from Receiptful.

The response for this e-mail has been 76% (across more than 300 recipients) which has been almost 20% more than any of our other lifecycle / onboarding e-mails.

The Result

So let's look at another funnel (the same one as the one at the top of the article) with data after these changes had been implemented:

Post Funnel

You'll immediately see that we've increased the percentage of active users from 32% to 58%, which equals an increase of 81%.

In addition to that, when we compare our weekly cohorts (for the weeks immediately before and after these changes) there's been a 19% increase in users that switch to Live Mode in the first week.

This has also increased the percentage of our total number of active users of about 30% to 46%, which means that some of these tactics have also influenced (and re-engaged) earlier signups.

I think the key thing about these changes is that it required less than 10 human hours. They weren't elaborate or complicated and we managed to include them mostly on the fly.

That makes it a win-win, considering we have a small team with an always-growing to do list. :)

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