Project: ProofPop – Research Phase Part 1
This project will determine what possibility exists, if any, to enter and compete in the “Recent Sales Popup (RSP)” niche. For the purposes of this project, a RSP is software that is installed on a customer’s website and notifies visiting customers of recently purchased items and/or notable events. An example can be seen in the bottom left corner when visiting Kogan.
This project will follow the steps outlined in the Product Management section including the Business Model Canvas (BMC), Value Proposition Canvas (VPC), customer development, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, different MVP techniques, amongst others.
Initial Problem Statement
Version 1.1: My name is John. I am an eCommerce store owner. I spend money and effort on different marketing channels and tactics to drive traffic to my eCommerce store but visitors are not converting into paying customers. This problem hurts me because I’m spending money on marketing and not making sales. If this continues I may have to shut down my eCommerce store. This problem occurs all day every day.
The problem statement is broken down into its core assumptions to figure out how to determine if the assumptions are true or not. An explanation on how a team can work together with User Experience designers to unpack a problem statement can be found in section 3.2.5 Lean User Experience. Here’s how the problem statement is unpacked:
- Ecommerce store owner…
- Who are they?
- Do they exist as a User Persona with distinct requirements?
- Are they the person who might actually have this problem?
- Spend money and effort on different marketing channels…
- Do they spend money on marketing?
- Which marketing channels do they use?
- Visitors are not converting into paying customers…
- Are visitors arriving at the store at all?
- If so, how many?
- If not, why not?
- I’m spending money on marketing and not making sales…
- Are they spending enough to generate meaningful traffic to the site?
- Are they targeting the right User Persona?
- Does the User Persona have money to buy what they’re selling?
- I may have to shut down my commerce store…
- What are the repercussions of shutting down the store?
- Can the store remain operational without conversions? If so, would they want that?
- It occurs all day every day…
- Does it actually occur all day every day or just Monday to Friday 9 – 5?
STEP 1: Research
The research was conducted in four stages: quantitative external, quantitative internal, qualitative external, and qualitative internal. The processes can be found in section 3.1.2 Research Techniques and 3.1.3 Customer Development Research.
Quantitative external: The competitor analysis data has been captured in a feature list called Project: Recent Sales Popup Competitor Analysis. After analysing the direct competition it can be seen that all eleven companies offer very similar value propositions and taglines. Each of the value propositions purport to “instantly boost your website conversions with social proof” or “skyrocket your conversions with social proof.” Examples of taglines include “FOMO uses it to increase conversions on your site” and “generate 20x more leads.”
Most companies provide a three or four tier subscription plan. The basic prices varied considerably. Only HollerBox and ProofLeads offered a free subscription. The most expensive basic subscription was UseProof, starting at US$79 per month or US$66 per month if paid annually. The most expensive was UseProof’s Platinum monthly subscription at US$299 mo. UseProof, UseFomo, Notif, HollerBox, and ProofLeads differentiated themselves by adding either a seven or fourteen day free trial. Only Provely and HollerBox offer a thirty day money back guarantee. Only WPFomity offers a fourteen day money back guarantee. It should be noted that HollerBox differs in product offering and pricing model as they provide a suite of banners, popups and sales notifications for an an annual fee of either US$79 or US$99.
The product offerings for all companies are very similar. For each price point, the main product offerings are either a predetermined number of unique visits per month, a predetermined number of notifications per month, a limited number of websites the product can be install on or a combination of the these. Additional features offered include recent activity, activity notifications, white labeling, api access, page rules, optimized for mobile, different tiers of support, customizable design, integration with other SaaS platforms, location where to display, and timing when to display. The main insights gained from reviewing each of the product offerings is that UseFomo appears to be the only company that provides A/B testing and access via an Application Programming Interface (API). UseProof is the only one that offers Hot Streaks, language translation, and a “conversion club.” All the solutions can be installed on a customers website using either a plugin or a small piece of code.
The customer segments targeted vary somewhat. These include real estate, info/courses/coaching, affiliate marketing, fitness and nutrition, webinar creators, marketer and SaaS platforms. Others include eCommerce store owners, graphic designers, bloggers, internet businesses, WordPress website owners, “… people who sell stuff online with Woocommerce or Easy Digital Downloads.” Further, eCommerce shop owners who operate stores hosted on Shopify, Bigcommerce, Weebly, Ecwid and Woocommerce. UseProof has an affiliate program that with a 30% commission that pays out at the beginning of each month. It appears that UseProof has used this affiliate marketing strategy to boost ratings and credibility across their platform. While researching, it was observed that a large number of UseProof’s five star rating on Facebook are from online marketers and the like.
The internet traffic can be analysed in two ways. Firstly, the countries with the highest percentages can be ranked from highest to lowest regardless of how many times the countries appear across all the competitors. Secondly, the most common countries with the highest percentages can be ranked from highest to lowest. Here, the second option was chosen. When researching internet traffic to the competitor’s sites, it was observed that most of the competitor’s website traffic comes from the United States (US). This ranges from 8.7% to 44%. Brazil is the second highest source of traffic for two companies, UseProof and UseFomo, having 8% and 5.7% of traffic respectively. Vietnam is the third country that provides the greatest source of traffic with UseProof generating 4.5% and Notif generating 8.9%. A majority of all traffic for all companies is direct. At the high end, Yopify generates 98% of it’s traffic directly of which 94% is Facebook and 5.09% is YouTube. CrownLever, on the other hand, generates no direct traffic, and all organic and search traffic. The rest of the companies range from generating from 5.6% to 68% of their traffic directly.
Quantitative internal: The research conducted on customers of the direct competition resulted in the creation of one User Persona which can be found in the “Project: Recent Sales Popup Customer Persona eCommerce site Relay” document. Additionally, a How To Create A Customer Persona has been created for future reference.
The initial User Persona to be targeted is a 30 year old male named James Anderson. He lives in the city/suburbs, with access to a good internet connection. He is married with 1 – 2 children, has either a high school education or bachelor’s degree. He defines himself as an eCommerce store owner or solo / entrepreneur. He owns at least one eCommerce store that has been operating for 2 – 3 years and is in the growth stage. He is interested in lead generation, conversion, and sales of products by X% using social proof. He is also looking to expand globally using better integrations, better insights, more customizations, and more channels. He is after detailed reports for growth and considers high prices a deal killer. In his spare time, James loves the outdoors, attend sporting events, loves cycling, boating, hiking, and spending time holidaying with family and friends. This User Persona was created prior to conducting Customer Development interviews in order to get the Landing Page MVP live as soon as possible.
Qualitative external: The Landing Page MVP was created before any Customer Development interviews were conducted. It is much easier to set up an MVP and have it running then start Customer Development interviews. Here, both forms of research can be running in tandem and data collated at the end of each week. It is more difficult to begin Customer Development and try to build an MVP in between scheduled interviews.
Qualitative internal: N/A
A one week survey was conducted to test assumptions and gather data about the User Persona being tested. Five questions were asked. Three closed, multiple choice questions and two subjective, open ended questions. The five question survey was posted throughout Facebook groups that most accurately represented the User Persona being tested. The survey was also posted in several Reddit forums. An example of the Facebook posts can be seen below.
ADMIN: Please delete if inappropriate. Apologies in advance.
I’m researching an idea to help eCommerce owners achieve higher conversions. I’d love your input. Click the link below to answer 5 short questions and help me build a better product. It only takes 2 mins!
It can be seen that “eCommerce store owners” and “solo / entrepreneurs” find it extremely important to have a solution on their website that converts leads into customers. Additionally, conversion rate metrics, customization of the look at feel to match their brand, and A/B testing are also important features. While the results of this survey are limited they have been used to develop ProofPop’s first Landing Page MVP. This survey will continue to be run to establish more accurate feedback and insight.
Summary of Results
How important is it to have a solution on your website that converts leads into customers?
With the preliminary data collected, the next step was to define what was to be tested and how. This can be found in the “Project: Recent Sales Popup – MVP Tests” document. The instructions of how to set up an MVP can be found in the 3.3.1 Minimum Viable Product document. Below is an example of the document used to create the tests and capture their results.
For the first page of the Landing Page MVP four hypotheses were tested. The first hypothesis was the Value Proposition and tagline “ProofPop helps eCommerce owners increase sales using social proof and conversion rate metrics” and “Giving visitors confidence to buy from your store so you don’t have to lift a finger.” The second hypothesis tested was the benefits and features stated as “I believe that conversion rate optimization, customizing the solution to match the brand and A/B testing are the top three features requested.” The third hypothesis being tested was the User Persona stated as “I believe that eCommerce store owners have a problem increasing the conversion rates of their stores.” The final hypothesis for the landing page was the channel to market stated as “I believe that Facebook is the best channel for reaching eCommerce store owners at the best possible price and speed.” The test was conducted for one week using Facebook as the channel for marketing and the Minimum Criteria for Success across all four hypotheses is a 2.5% conversion rate for the email optin.
The WordPress theme being used, Divi, created by Elegant Themes, provides the ability to A/B test any element within a webpage. As such, two additional Value Propositions have been created for the main landing page. They are “ProofPop uses social proof and conversion rate metrics to boosts your eCommerce sales” and “ProofPop helps you boost your eCommerce sales and conversions using social proof and conversion rate metrics.” The tagline in all A/B testing scenarios have been kept the same.
The second page of the MVP Landing Page only tests three variations of the email optin form copy. The Value Proposition, tagline, and blurb are kept the same. This test is conducted using Divi’s built in A/B testing feature. The results are also provided by the A/B testing feature so no Minimum Criteria for Success needs to be set.
To test all these hypotheses, a once week Facebook marketing campaign will be run including the creation of a Facebook page, posting, commenting, and a AU$50 per week ad budget. The Minimum Criteria for Success for this test is a 2.5% signup to the email optin on the second page of the Landing Page MVP.
Low Fidelity MVP
Before The high-fidelity MVP was created, a low-fidelity wireframe of the Landing Page MVP was designed using Balsamiq to conceptualize the final result and plan the basic user experience. The wireframe can be seen below.
Landing Page MVP Page 1
Landing Page MVP Page 2
High Fidelity MVP
Once the low fidelity wireframe was designed, the high fidelity MVP could be implemented. The first test was to pick a suitable domain name. For this, NameVine was used. Once done, the domain name and hosting was purchased using NameCheap. NameCheap has a new feature in beta called EasyWP which automatically sets up WordPress. EasyWP was chosen because it is extremely cheap and quick to set up. The only minor drawback is the lack of access to the cpanel. Next, the Divi Theme was purchase for US$69 from Elegant Themes. This is one of the most widely used themes and includes the ability to A/B test different sections of a web page. It is also extremely easy to use. The final version of the high fidelity Landing Page MVP test can be seen below. In addition, MailChimp was setup and connected to the email optin form, Hotjar was installed to track use behavior across both pages, and google Analytics was setup to track user behaviour.
High Fidelity MVP Page 1
High Fidelity MVP Page 2
In the next blog post, the results of the one week test will be documented along with insights and the plan for the following week’s test.