Every savvy internet marketer is familiar with conversion rate optimization and will spend countless hours A/B testing to fine-tune the effectiveness of their website to turn visitors into customers. However, too much focus can be put on converting customers at the top of the funnel and not on the actions that lead customers to drop out the other end.
Stopping existing customers from leaving or costing you money can be an effective way to increase your LTV, thus boosting profits and giving you a bigger budget to attract new customers and exponentially grow your business. This is why advanced internet marketers also focus on the bottom of the funnel with aggressive unconversion rate optimization (uCRO) experiments.
Simply put, CRO is the practice of testing web pages to encourage visitors to take actions that drive value; uCRO is the practice of testing web pages to encourage visitors to *not* take actions which decrease profitability.
The Forgotten Pages
Many pages on a website are seen as necessary evils that developers and marketers quickly overlook when optimizing their sites. Cancellation, refund, support, and unsub pages are all locations on your website where money is dumping out of the end of your funnel.
When was the last time you even looked at these pages on your site?
The good news is, there are lot of opportunities for you to plug up the bottom of your funnel and help exponentially grow the profitability of your business. Let’s look at a few examples and discuss some experiments you can try.
Offering customers an easy way to cancel their account or paid subscription is a must-have for good customer service, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Customers visiting cancellation pages have a reason why they want to cancel. Most cancellation pages are designed to ask users why they want to cancel, and this presents an opportunity for A/B testing.
In this example, we see Alibaba’s cancellation page provides a list of reasons why the customer might be canceling their account.
Some quick optimizations that could be done on this cancel page include randomizing the order of the cancel reasons on each page load (will make the responses more accurate) and providing counterarguments specific for each cancellation reason.
For example, for the reason “I’m worried about scammers,” Alibaba could add subtext that says, “We have an aggressive program to stop scammers and customer protection guarantees” (assuming that’s true). By linking to any supporting articles or sections of their site in the counter argument, they could also draw clicks away from the dreaded cancel “Confirm” button.
Trying different combinations and styles of counterarguments can result in big gains. Use videos, different arguments or screen shots to get your message across.
On cancel pages, experiment with the reasons to cancel, counterarguments, offers to contact support, and include links to pages far away from the cancel page. Giving the customer the ability to put their account on hold for a while can also be super effective at lowering your cancellation rates.
E-commerce Refund & Return Pages
E-commerce sites focus so much on getting customers through the cart; they often forget the cart also has an escape hatch in the form of refund and return pages.
While site owners want to provide an easy experience to unsatisfied customers to return merchandise, often a little education or support could prevent that conversion from turning into an unconversion.
In addition to implementing counterargument strategies, webmasters can run uCRO experiments on refund pages including an offer for replacement products that may be a better fit and to contact customer support for the product they purchased.
Additionally, having custom counterarguments for each product in your inventory can be an effective way to prevent refunds and returns. Just like you would optimize product descriptions to sell products, you can also optimize product-specific descriptions for refund/return pages to prevent your sales from evaporating into thin air.
Unsub Pages “Punish Derrick”
Unsub pages are one of the most popular pages where many marketers actually focus on uCRO. As made famous by unsub pages like Groupon’s “Punish Derrick” variant, where unsubscribing to Groupon results in poor Derrick getting a face full of fake coffee, marketers started taking note of the bottom of the funnel.
Unsub pages are fun to test because the visitor is in a heightened state of emotion. They’ve received your email and have unleashed the fury of clicking on your unsubscribe button. They’ll show you!
The increased emotion of the visitor gives you the chance to use a little neuro-marketing to turn things around.
The use of humor and leveraging fear about what they’ll miss out on if they unsubscribe are great ways to stop people from leaving your list. I’m also a big fan of offering different subscription options where the visitor can limit the number of emails they receive. All of these approaches are great ways to help keep your list growing and strong.
When your customers are visiting your support documentation, they’re there for a reason. They want to solve a problem. If the customer clicks on “Contact Support,” your support documentation didn’t solve the customer’s problem. This is going to cost you money to communicate with the customer and it’s going to cost the customer time in getting a resolution to their problem. Lose, lose.
Experimenting with your support pages is a great way to reduce the money you spend supporting customers and the effectiveness of your website to quickly resolve problems for your customers.
Effective support page testing methods include using Readability Score to test different reading levels for the content in your articles, experimenting with videos versus screenshots, and offering optional contact options for support channels that cost you less money and are faster for your customer (e.g. chat versus phone).
Even small gains in helping customers and reducing support volume for your staff can go a long way to increasing the profitability of your business. It can even have a measurable impact on your cancellation rates!
Just remember with support page testing, the key is to help the customer solve their problem as quickly as possible while reducing your operational expenses for providing direct support.
Turning Lemons Into Lemonade
One of the holy grails of uCRO is to turn cancel pages into sales pages. Your experiments don’t have to be focused just on discouraging unprofitable actions, but can also include encouraging upgrades and upsells.
Think of how you can incorporate valuable actions into your experiments. For unsub pages, try including a CTA to buy your product or contact a sales person. Just because they don’t want your emails doesn’t mean they don’t want to give you money. For e-commerce refund pages, try including CTAs to buy complementary products. Maybe that wifi router the customer is looking to return will work better with a wifi booster?
Even your SaaS cancellation pages can be a net positive source of revenue!
At WP Engine we have many customers using our entry level $29 WordPress hosting plan. These customers sign up on our website, use the service, and some grow their businesses to a significant size.
For customers who aren’t familiar with our service, they don’t realize we offer enterprise WordPress hosting solutions for huge sites and brands like TechCrunch, PBS, AMD, and Warby Parker.
Because of their lack of knowledge of our enterprise solutions, sometimes they want to cancel their $29 plan without asking our sales reps about our larger solutions. This is why we monitor our cancel reasons to watch for opportunities to upsell the customer into a solution that’s a better fit. This gives us the opportunity to turn a $29 cancellation into a beefy enterprise upgrade. Those enterprise upgrades help make up for a lot of $29 cancels.
On your cancellation pages, try upselling to a bigger product or service. It could be the reason the customer wants to leave because they’re not aware they can buy more!!
“Negative Net Revenue Churn” …aka Exponential Growth
Every savvy business person knows the larger a business becomes, the harder it is to grow. The reason for this is that as you build large numbers of customers, the volume of customers who stop giving you money also grows.
The amount of revenue you have to acquire through marketing must always exceed your growing volume of cancellations and refunds for your business to grow as a whole.
By focusing on the bottom of your funnel with uCRO, you not only increase LTV, but you also reduce “net revenue churn,” making it easier to grow your business with marketing.
When you couple uCRO and upsell/upgrade experiments with existing customers, you can create “negative net revenue churn” where the revenue you get from existing customers grows instead of shrinks (even when accounting for customers who do cancel/get a refund). You’re pinching off the bottom of the revenue funnel and making the middle of the revenue funnel grow on its own.
By having negative net revenue churn, the customers you acquire at the top of the funnel are more valuable, allowing you to spend even more to acquire new customers, and give you the ability to exponentially grow your business and leave your revenue-bleeding competitors in the dust.
In-post Images: Screenshots by David Vogelpohl. Taken December 2016.