I was 18 and on my way downtown to start my first company.
Many aspects were uncertain, but one thing was for sure: the name had to sound legit. If I wanted my company to be successful like the ones on TV, people would need to think it was huge.
So naturally, I took my initials, added some awesome, and ended up with MHG Enterprises.
I did everything right. I started with business cards, a fancy title, a “business” phone number (my parent’s home phone), address labels, printed envelopes…the whole shebang!
Except I did everything wrong. People love working with small companies…as long as they have strong faith that you’re capable of delivering on your promises.
For the past few years, I’ve drifted towards the other end of the spectrum naming my current company Small HQ.
But it wasn’t until recently that we realized the negative effects this was having on our product, HookFeed.
Without even thinking twice about it, we took the pride of being small and injected it directly into HookFeed’s sign up page.
The Old Page
This wasn’t our first rodeo - we’d been building and supporting products for about a year.
One realization we’d made was that a personal touch could go a long way. It’s one of the (many) reasons why we use Intercom to communicate with our customers.
I love when, as the customer of another product, the founder reaches out to help me. It shows that they are small enough to be the sort of company I’d like to work with, and serious enough that the founder sees the value in going the extra mile for customers.
But Joelle and I let this personalization go a bit too far when designing our page:
“HookFeed is 100% founder-funded and made with love in sunny San Diego”
Why? Mostly selfish reasons. What does our funding or location have to do with what our potential customers are thinking when they sign up? Not-a-damn-thing!
Not to mention the form was so tall that it pushed the section off the page for most visitors.
The New Page
After taking a second look many weeks later (with a clear mind), we decided to remove the section.
It made us seem like too small of a team to take seriously, and didn’t accomplish the original goal: showing that we’re here, and ready to hustle for whatever you need as our customer.
A Personal Touch
We wanted to keep a personal photo of one of us, and offer to help with any questions they may have. We really are just an email away, and that sets us apart from a large, faceless company.
The new help box is featured prominently, and doesn’t give the impression that the company is tiny, unlike the first version.
When you’re a small team running a big product…it’s easy to get a page to “Done” and then move on to more important matters for weeks or months.
In the case of our sign up page, we launched with two objection-squashing Q&As right next to the credit card form (inspired by Freckle’s sign up page).
At the time of launch, we didn’t have a free plan, so the Q&As were focused on the concerns of paying users. In the rush to update our pricing structure…we forgot to update our sign up page with more appropriate objection-busters.
I know that if I were signing up for a free plan, I would not expect to need to give a credit card!
Here are the subtle changes we made to these Q&As that now adapt based on the plan you select on the previous page. If you’re a free user, we address entirely different concerns.
Will I be charged [now vs. anything]?
If I’m signing up to become a free user of a product, and I see “Will I be charged now?” in the FAQs…it leads me to believe that at some point in the future, I will be charged.
Whereas if I’m signing up for a paid plan with a trial, my main concern is that I won’t be charged until my trial has completed.
We also clarify that if you ever do need to upgrade, we will give you advance notice before making any changes to your account that will trigger a charge.
Why do you need my card?
Similar to the first question, if our explanation of why we need your credit card includes language about your trial expiring, then it’s natural to assume that something will change at that point in time for your account.
“Free trial?! I thought I was signing up for a free plan!”
This is why we changed the language for free users to not mention a trial in any way.
For paid customers, we focus on keeping your account functional rather than emphasizing “back-and-forth” hassle when your trial ends.
What Can You Do to Avoid the Same Mistakes?
Every new feature or change in direction requires that you revisit old pages, copy, and positioning.
There is no “done” with SaaS products.
As you grow, this laundry list of product aspects to monitor and keep up-to-date grows so do your best to limit your early scope to the bare minimum.
Constantly revisit the flows that your customers experience. When each member of your team goes heads-down on improving parts of your product, it’s easy to neglect the experience as a whole.
"What's HookFeed?" It's a software product that helps your whole team understand your customers on a deeper level based on their behavior and our research about them. Check it out >