When we evaluate how Referly is doing, there are a lot of metrics to look at, and some (like web traffic and signups) are notorious for being “vanity metrics“. Getting someone’s email isn’t enough. Instead, we focus on activating new users. For us, activation means helping them add their first item to their profile.
Early on we had a very healthy activation rate, but in late July we saw this metric plummet.
Looking at the history of our product, we saw a few things that we hypothesized were contributing to the lower conversion rate:
- People signed up for Referly following our API launch, but they were looking for early developer access and weren’t using our consumer product
- Earlier in July, we simplified the website dramatically and removed a lot of the descriptive information about what we do and how it works. While simplicity is great, this change hurt our metrics across the board (signup conversion, etc.)
- We saw a big jump in traffic to deep linked pages (yay!) and often people who signed up via those pages didn’t understand what they had gotten themselves into (boo!)
Turning It Around
To combat this decline, we did what any good growth hackers would do: we formed some hypotheses and started running tests. At first my thinking was that a few small tweaks to the text and images might jumpstart activation. My mindset was all about doing the least possible iteration to get the most possible benefit.
But after two weeks of testing various ideas we weren’t getting anywhere, and the idea had been floated out there that we might want to do a more in-depth onboarding tour. I immediately balked at the idea of doing something that would require extensive front-end work (we’ve got a lot of good stuff cooking for you, stay tuned). But as the tests continued to run, iterate, run again and the needle wasn’t moving, it became clear. We needed a dramatic change that:
- Teaches people what Referly does (because people often signup right away without paying attention)
- Ensures people to add their first item to their profile
- Encourages people to share out that item to their social networks and start earning rewards
- Presents additional options for power users looking to explore
The rest of this blog post walks through the thinking behind our new onboarding flow screen by screen.
Step 1: First Post Signup Screen
This is the screen every new signed up user will see:
Step 2: Sharing & Editing Modal
We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to encourage social sharing or adding a description / photo selection, but at the same time we needed to make this easy to dismiss if you aren’t ready yet. I still feel like this might be a bit busy, but engagement with it seems to be good so far.
Step 3: Profile Ready + Other Exploration
We wanted to make sure people understood what they were getting sent to when they landed on their empty profile. The empty profile is still a bit confusing in my opinion, and next up for a refresh, but this also has other links for things to do next if you are into exploring Referly. Notably, we are not pushing friending as hard as we were before because until you *get* Referly it’s not that valuable to add friends.
And that’s it – feedback welcome, and please give it a try. You can email me at email@example.com or leave your comments on this post.