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Conversion optimization at Yoast: how we boosted their sales like never before
Like so many successful digital companies, Yoast felt they knew enough about doing business online to manage their own sales and conversion strategy. And why not? After all, they are the creators of the number 1 SEO plugin for WordPress. But then they hired us. The result: we doubled their revenue without spending anything on advertising.
“It’s astonishing what we’ve accomplished in so little time. Not only have our sales increased like never before, we also feel like we now have our own CRO department. Which we love!”
Yoast is most famous for its WordPress plugin, which comes in a free version as well as a Premium one. The plug-in is used on more than 5 million websites worldwide.
Michiel from Yoast: “We wanted to increase both our sales of the Premium plugin and our free downloads. We knew that wouldn’t be easy. But hey, if it were easy, we wouldn’t have asked AGConsult.”
The result of 1 year of conversion optimization at Yoast
Different pages for different stages in the awareness funnel
Yoast had one product page for their Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. That sounds logical, doesn’t it?
But using one and the same page to target different kinds of visitors isn’t always the best strategy.
AGConsult co-founder Karl: “When you create a page for the average customer, you get average results. A salesperson who uses exactly the same sales pitch for every potential client, will not be very successful. A good salesperson adapts the message to the customer. Something most companies seem to forget when selling online.”
Project lead Davy Van Den Bremt: “Our research confirmed this. The page was visited by very different audiences, including:
Users of the free version of the plugin
And those various visitor groups all had different questions about the plugin. They were looking for different kinds of information.”
That’s why we made different landing pages (with different copy) for people in these different stages of awareness. And because we adapted the message to their needs and situation, this resulted in both more sales and more downloads.
Help people choose
Our user research also revealed that some visitors didn’t understand the differences between the free and the Premium version of the SEO plugin. The advantages of the Premium version weren’t very clear to a lot of people.
Karl: “That’s something we often see. Companies just list the features of their products but they leave all the hard work to the potential customers. They expect them to read everything, figure out what the real benefits are for themselves and then make up their mind.”
Compare this with real life. If you ask a bad salesperson a question, often they just read out the packaging to you. (We’ve all been there.) A good salesperson knows their product range inside out, asks you the right questions and guides you to the best solution for you.
Liesa Carton, conversion copywriter: “To help people choose the best SEO plugin for their needs we adapted the copywriting. We switched from a feature-oriented approach to a customer-centric approach: what is the advantage of a certain feature, when do you need it and how does it make your life easier.”
Of course we didn’t just blindly change the page, cross our fingers and hoped for the best. We AB-tested several versions and are in fact still tweaking the page. Because there’s always room for improvement.
Don’t be afraid to test things out of your comfort zone
“With results like this, it’s clear that choosing AGConsult as our conversion partner has been one of the best investments of the past years”, Michiel says. “That doesn’t mean it was smooth sailing right from the start. In the beginning, we were often worried about what our visitors might think of the A/B tests AGConsult wanted to run.”
“Like many companies, we invest a lot in our corporate identity. Some of the suggested changes provoked heated discussions within our company. But our curiosity won out in the end, so we decided to just test it. After all … we asked AGConsult for their expertise in conversion optimization. We might as well trust them to know what they’re doing.”
According to Karl, this attitude is the main reason Yoast got these results: “A lot of companies ask us to grow their business, but are then very reluctant to follow through on our proposals for A/B tests. Or they want us to adapt our proposals to what they think we should test. Of course, those type of watered-down A/B tests are failures more often than winners. Not Yoast, though. Yoast gives us almost 100% freedom. And the results have proven them right.”
The results of our collaboration? More sales than ever
After only 3 months of working together, Yoast had their best month ever in terms of sales.
Michiel: “As soon as we saw the results from the A/B tests, we felt like we had no time to lose. Of course, the implementation of a winning version is extra work. But if you can significantly increase your sales it’s just stupid not to act on those results. You’re literally losing money if you don’t do it.”
We’re now 1 year further in our collaboration with Yoast and their revenue more than doubled. Without Yoast spending anything on online advertsing. Karl: “We reached this result by optimizing what was already there. Now we get lots and lots more clients out of the visitors of the website and the users of the free version of the plug-in.”
A real collaboration
Michiel: “For us, it’s about more than just numbers and business. AGConsult has started to feel like our own conversion department. Even though since the start of our partnership, we’ve only met in person 3 times. Thanks to our weekly web meetings and regular messages on Basecamp and Github, we are involved in every step of the process.”
Why do we get such good results at Yoast?
I guess some of you might think that the Yoast website probably sucked when we started working for them.
To be honest: the opposite is true. Karl: “I think that’s one of the elements that surprises me. Yoast had a pretty good website. And they have an amazingly good product that everybody who uses WordPress knows. That’s why I never expected such an outcome. But thanks to that very good foundation and the very open company culture at Yoast, we could test and experiment at will.”
Davy: “Based on in-depth user research we propose variations and tests. The good thing about Yoast is that they don’t have 18 committees and 4 management levels that want to give feedback and give their blessing. At Yoast we show the tests and put them live. And winners are implemented by Yoast immediately. That means we can test and go forward at a very nice speed. Some of our other clients need the same time just to see when they can have a meeting to discuss the variation.