Forget retention hacks! I cut churn in half by rewriting my homepage for my ideal customers
As a bootstrapped SaaS business owner, you spend most of your time trying to grow your revenue.
You are constantly marketing, selling, improving your product, and doing customer support—all with the hopes that you get more signups, your customers stick around longer, and they pay you more money. That’s how your business continues to grow.
Staying on top of everything is a constant struggle, so it’s always great to find a technique that can do more than one job for you without any extra work.
Great copywriting can do two jobs at once: increase signup conversions and increase customer retention.
Almost everything you see about copywriting talks about how it can help improve signup conversion rates, but no one talks about copywriting as a tool for improving retention.
How I used copywriting to slash churn rates in half
About three years ago, I took 30x500 to grow my trucking software business.
One of the most valuable and immediately actionable things I learned was the PDF pitch technique (PDF stands for Pain-Dream-Fix). This technique taught me to make insane improvements to the copywriting on my sales pages.
I was no stranger to making improvements through copywriting.
In the past I had purchased several Copy Hackers books by Joanna Wiebe and saw some great improvements from applying what I learned.
But 30x500 was what made everything really click for me.
I rewrote my sales pages on my most popular plans and saw a huge improvement to my signup conversions.
But you probably aren’t surprised that better copywriting made a big improvement on signups.
That’s what everyone already talks about all the time. (and there are far bigger success stories out there than a “meager” doubling of conversion rate)
Getting more signups wasn’t a surprise to me either. I knew the sales page was much better than before and that signups would improve—though I can’t say I expected them to double. That was actually a very happy result.
What I didn’t expect was what the rewrite did to my churn rate.
After the cohort from my new sales page made it through their 30-day trial and converted to a paid account, churn dropped dramatically—and has stayed consistently low ever since.
My churn rates dropped from the 5-10% range to the 2-5% **range…
But I made no changes to the product or onboarding process at all during this time.
How can this happen? Retention is supposed to be improved with product changes and through better customer relationships, not changes to the sales page.
It actually makes perfect sense.
Great copywriting convinces the right people to sign up.
Here’s how a typical sales pitch might convert signups:
Typical signup conversion
Some portion of signups will be from your ideal customers. The ratio is probably pretty close to the overall percentage of ideal customers in your entire market.
When I started out, my signup page was horrible so I didn’t get a lot of signups. Of those few signups, there were a mix of: small and large companies, with a variety of needs, and both good and bad fits for my product.
There wasn’t really much pattern between them other than the broad industry they were in (trucking businesses).
By optimizing your sales page to get more signups, the number of signups increases, but the percentage of ideal customers remains roughly the same. It looks like this:
Signups after optimization
This can be actually be bad for your business. More isn’t always better.
Before learning how to truly write a better sales pitch, I did a lot of things to try to optimize my sales page:
- I read 500 articles about improving signups.
- I changed the site to a more Saas-y theme that was popular at the time.
- I switched from feature-focused to benefits-focused sales copy.
- I tried to come up with a better Unique Value Proposition
- I also would have tried A/B testing if I had more traffic at the time.
These are the kind of things you are supposed to do to get better, and I collectively saw some pretty decent improvements.
But the proportion of bad-fit customers stayed roughly the same as before.
And this was problematic.
If you are attracting more bad-fit customers, it wreaks havoc on your business.
Here’s the havoc it wrought on my own business:
- I had higher churn, because my product didn’t solve problems the right way for a lot of the new signups I attracted.
- I had higher customer support load, because my product didn’t solve problems the right way for a lot of the signups I attracted
- I wasted time on sales calls with customers that
neededrequired features I didn’t have, because my product didn’t solve problems the right way for a lot of the signups I attracted.
You get the picture… but there was also another HUGE problem that I didn’t even recognize at the time.
By hearing a lot of different people telling me how my product wasn’t good enough, I felt worse and worse about what I had built.
Keeping your energy levels and motivation as high as possible are crucial for a bootstrapped business owner, because you are all alone out there. And this can kill your business.
It also made me waste time trying to build features that would make all these potential customers happy (because then they’d buy, right???).
So by blindly optimizing my signups without choosing who should be signing up, I made a lot of problems for myself that I didn’t need and didn’t have time for.
- higher churn
- higher support costs
- wasted sales efforts
- zapped energy and motivation
- wasted time building irrelevant features
You do not have time for this nonsense, either.
But with better copywriting techniques, you can focus your sales pitch on your ideal customers.
Then signups look more like this:
Targeting ideal customers
Not only do you get more signups overall, but more of your signups are from your ideal customers.
The great thing about ideal customers is that they are much more likely to stick around, because your product is much more valuable to them.
So then your churn rates go down and your customer lifetime value goes up.
This means your business can grow.
What I had to do was choose who I wanted to sell to
If you don’t choose who to sell to, then your choice is to sell to no one. (though you think you’re choosing to sell to everyone)
I took a hard look at my product and who was best able to use it to solve their problems and get value from it.
I chose to work with small companies, with fewer than 15 trucks.
Now, if someone’s “too big” I tell them they’re not a good fit. I no longer try to convince them to give it a shot.
I chose to work with owner operators.
I no longer tell employees that the product might work for them.
I chose to focus on a limited set of problems they face instead of everything they could possibly need.
Even though I didn’t have features for everything, I stopped telling people I would try to add it in the future. This decision was one of the hardest to make, but has probably paid off the most.
I completely stopped building features that I hoped would get more customers.
Now I only add features that fit with my own strategy.
Once I knew who I was selling to, copywriting was sooo much easier.
I researched my ideal customer to learn as much as I could about their pains. I read through old emails. I went through my call notes. I rounded up everything I knew about the pains of my ideal customer.
My new sales page was selling to them and no one else. Now, I get emails from customers telling me they feel like I wrote my page just for them.
They trust that my product is going to solve their problems and they sign up.
My sales page also alienates bad fits. They don’t contact me as much for sales anymore. They don’t sign up as much anymore.
And that’s why copywriting makes my retention better.
Here’s what you can do today
Who is your ideal customer?
Knowing your ideal customer is crucial.
If you don’t already know your ideal customer, that’s something you need to figure out right now.
Knowing your ideal customer will help you
- write better sales pitches
- have fewer irrelevant customer requests
- create help documentation that actually helps
- keep your product focused on essential features instead of being distracted with guesses
Don’t try to sell to everyone in your market
Once you know who your ideal customer is, only sell to them. To get the best retention benefits from your sales pages, you need to maximize the number of ideal customers that sign up.
When you target their pains, target the outcomes they desire, and speak like their peers, your sales pages will resonate with them.
When your sales pages resonate with your ideal customers, then you build trust. They trust that you understand them and their problems. They trust that your product will do what you promise and will give them the outcomes they desire.
TIP: Here’s a technique I use that helps me a lot. Pretend you are writing to a single, real person. It helps to make your sales pitch more personal and convincing.
If you don’t want to do the work, then hire a professional copywriter
Not everyone wants to become better at copywriting, even though it’s one of the most valuable things you can do for your business.
I think it’s crazy to not want this skill, but if that’s you, then you have to hire a pro. The results are too good to pass up.
Here are some resources to learn more
Here are my two favorite resources that made the biggest improvements for me. It’s not a coincidence that they both cost money.
30x500 Academy Learn more here
I was a student of Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman a couple years after I started my software business. The sales pitch writing part of this class alone is worth the price of the entire course (And I paid almost double what the price is now, while it was structured as a bootcamp).
I learned a ton of other techniques from this course that I use every single day to improve my business and my marketing.
Copy Hackers I learned a lot from the Copy Hackers books and they are a steal for the price.
Note: I don’t make affiliate sales from either of these products, I just love both of them.