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How we improved our conversion rates by 450 percent

4 min read  •  June 07, 2016
Our world is changing continuously – and in the digital age, digital services and the cloud-tools are growing extraordinarily fast. Naturally, many people are looking to benefit as much as possible from these changes, which is why more and more new companies are founded and cloud-tools are created. Exactly this trend is what makes it increasingly difficult for cloud market participants to reach customers and ultimately to succeed: the offer is simply too big.

For customers, this wide range of tools is of course great, and enables them to lift their needs to a higher level. Not so long ago, only a limited number of tools were available for a particular purpose and thus any buying decision was based on a couple of questions. A good example here is the competition between Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel. The functionality was virtually similar, the design very “simple”, therefore only a few questions remained to be answered: Does the program work on my computer? How much does it cost?

These simple questions belong to the past: Nowadays, you can download almost every tool through the App Store or it runs in your browser – and only a few tools require a specific operating system. What about the price? Due to the huge competition, software is getting cheaper and cheaper, and hardly any provider is allowed to set extremely high prices given that the customer can opt for a different tool quite quickly.

Because of this change, the question that emerges is how a software provider and more specifically a SaaS provider can differentiate itself from the competition. How can I win and lock in customers when my competition is offering similar features and is quickly accessible?

The answer: Emotions! Nothing is more important for binding a customer to your product. Ferdinand Porsche understood this early on and described his product with the phrase: "We build cars that nobody needs but everybody wants to have." This statement can’t be directly transferred to cloud tools, but it is evident why it’s nevertheless relevant. In relation to Project Management, it can be interpreted as follows: Similarly to cars, no one needs yet another software with which stupid projects can be tracked, unless it is so well done that everyone wants to have it.

I have already highlighted that the level within the SaaS segment is very high and that the competition is fierce, and this is exactly why the phrase “that everybody wants to have” is crucial. A Porsche evokes childhood dreams, and almost every persons connects that car with wealth and success – and this is what ultimately creates emotions and desires when viewing the car.

These associations are admittedly harder to achieve for a SaaS product, therefore emotions must be produced in a different way. For this purpose, we use different stylistic elements.

1. Intimacy vs. Distance

In the business world it is a common thing to act in a very polite manner. Although this is a sign of courtesy, it also creates a certain distance. Exactly this distance is what we want to overcome, so that every user can feel welcomed and familiar on the platform. Ultimately, a user stays (at best) almost the entire working day on our platform and for this reason a distant relationship would be inappropriate.

2. Warm colors

Even though Stackfield has a lot of white and gray, we always make sure that the entire user interface is warm. In certain places, such as room groups or labels, where individual colors can be assigned, we have deliberately chosen warm tones. Waiving bright colors is pleasant to the human eye and consequently the platform is still nice to look at even after several hours – even if at a first glance, a unique eye-catcher may be missing.

3. Illustrations

Illustration to start the tour of the platform

We guide our customers through the platform with the help of various illustrations. So, our comic character (and his dog) waits together with the user in front of a computer while the central encryption key is generated or greets the user along with other characters at the start of the tutorial.

Errors can unfortunately happen – Illustration for local errors

From our evaluations, the reactions to the illustrations were highly different. Our surveyed users either loved the usage of illustrations or they hated it, although the former opinion is much more frequent. This proves, however, that the illustrations serve their purpose: they create emotions among users.

Illustration for depicting direct messaging

Illustration for the creation of a new room

Generating encryption keys takes a bit – this illustration bridges the waiting time

Illustration when creating a new organization

At the end of the trial, the illustrated character takes a look at the piggy bank

What were the results of the emotional orientation of the platform?

Along with the introduction of illustrations, we noticed that the users stayed longer at relevant points and that the conversion rate increased considerably. Even the dropout rate of relevant processes, like some waiting times, has fallen. Once again the illustrations have met their purpose by directing the user at the right time. Simultaneously, the emotional bond increased the LTV (=lifetime value) of the customer.

An illustration that few have seen: Our 404-Page

The “Emotions” theme is very difficult for the B2B sector and is often received with little enthusiasm by decision makers. However, there was a moment for us when we noticed that there isn’t really much difference between B2C and B2B: The desire for a wider choice of Smileys was the most frequently voiced theme for months. This may sound trivial, but this has led us to a rethinking process that we are now more than happy we had: the frequently expressed differences in design between B2C and B2B software no longer exist.

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Christopher Diesing
About the Author:
Christopher Diesing is the COO of Stackfield. He loves all kinds of marketing, product design as well as photography.
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