Persuasive Web Design Techniques – A Must-Have for Software and SaaS-selling Websites

Author: Iulia Boc / Leave a comment

These days, when talking about the customer experience on a website, people usually address issues about usability and user experience techniques – diving deep into the data, but is this enough to convince the users to transact with your business? You might improve your conversion rates by looking into the data, reading some tips and tricks on usability and user experience techniques – and that might improve the user’s ability to complete a transaction, but I am wondering if this is enough to engage them to the point where they’ll actually pay…

The bottom line is – it’s not enough. Even if the users are able to complete a transaction on your site, it doesn’t mean that they will actually transact. There are many times when users, especially in the software industry, place an order from your shopping cart and then come back for a cancellation, a refund, generate fake customer claims or simply don’t take the final payment step, like off-line payment methods such as wire transfers for example. These gaps in the purchase process happen when the user thinks he wants to place an order with you, moves on in the purchase process taking some action. However he is not actually motivated to purchase your product, he just wants a product from a certain category and makes an impulse purchase instead of an intentional purchase.

To be successful, a website must go beyond just being usable and start motivating users to make intentional purchases by taking advantage of persuasive tactics that will spur them to take action. The goal of a successful persuasive website is to make the users feel comfortable about making decisions and help them act on that decision. Persuasive design is all about helping users make the right decisions – not about manipulating them into doing something they don’t want. Understanding the user’s decision-making process and providing the information and tools necessary to facilitate said decision is mandatory to ensure the completion of the transaction.

In the four funnel steps of the AIDA decision-making process, we have the same user at different stages in the process: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Following a similar principle, Andrew Chak divided the website user into four buying types: browsers, evaluators, transactors and customers. One important secret in applying persuasive design techniques in web design is to build your website following all 4 types of users and helping them through all 4 decision-making stages to move them through the stages to close the transaction for your business.

Like most good webmasters and site developers, I am sure you are looking for benchmarks and best practices. This is a good exercise – unless you lose sight of what you are selling and apply the practices blindly. Most of the existing web marketing case studies are for industries outside of software. The user behavior, expectations, and motivation factors are totally different when referencing software products and SaaS offerings. You know your products or services better than anyone, so spend some time to put yourself in the users’ shoes and see what would motivate them to purchase your product for each of the four decision-making stages.

Does your website sell software products?

Then you have to help your users make choices. Answer these questions:

  • What is your unique value proposition? Tell them why they should buy from you – Max. 3 words.
  • What product best meets their needs? Present a comparison chart.
  • What are the key features? Help them understand how your product will meet their needs.
  • What are the system requirements? Help them understand if your product will work for their environment.
  • What are your current customers’ reviews? Illustrate you have an appreciated product.
  • What do they get for the price? Let them know what to expect once they decide ‘Yes, I want to buy your product’. They are mostly interested in: product price, local payment options, delivery methods, post-transaction support and communication (delivery confirmation, refund policy, support options, etc).

Does your website sell SaaS or online services?

Then you have to help your users make choices. Answer these questions:

  • Why are you the best provider for this service? Tell them how your service compares against the competition. What are the key differentiators?
  • What are your endorsements? Let them know if you have market recognition, partnerships, and awards.
  • What is the difference between starting a trial and paying for a regular product? Before making the effort to get to know your product, they want to know how much of the product you will let them see/use, so present a comparison chart between what is free and what is paid.
  • Have more than one buying option for your products? Buyers feel more confident purchasing when they see what options are available and what is included for each product iteration. Present this with a side-by-side comparison chart.
  • What do your current customers say about you? Let them know what your customers say about you – good and bad. Exposing all the reviews sends the message that you have nothing to hide and that you want them to make an informed decision about your product. Use negative reviews to highlight where updates and improvements have been made, and thank those customers for their critical feedback.

In the checkout process a lot of sensitive information is required and sometimes differentiations of previous steps might appear, based on local or international payment processing regulations.

To make sure you keep the users motivated, here are 5 tips and tricks to help you move the needle:

1. Tell them why new elements are being called out to them, such as the VAT applied to this European order:

total price

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Let the users know why you are asking for such information:

billing and payment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
3. Tell them what the available options are – it helps reduce friction and eliminate churn.

automatic renewal

 

 

 

4. Show that you have trusted technology to insure their transaction’s safety

trusted technology

 

 

 

5. Provide support contact information in their native region and language

support in local languages

 

 

 

Keep in mind that you can influence people’s behavior without using words. Persuasive web design works if you are honest and clear with your users. Always keep the 4 types of users in mind when designing a webpage or checkout process and influence said types by providing relevant content to guide them through the four stages of their decision-making process. This unique approach to persuasive design will shift that impulse buyer into an intentional buyer, and hopefully, a repeat buyer.

 

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“Mobile Is The Next Internet”- The WebAppTool Vision

Author: Delia Ene / Leave a comment

Micha Willemse WebAppToolWe’ve had the opportunity to chat recently with Micha Willemse, the COO of WebAppTool, a very cool online mobile app toolkit start-up out of The Netherlands. Insightful commentary, a remarkable company vision and a very generous discount coupon code offered to you, the reader. Dive in and enjoy!

Q1. WebAppTool was born out of a great vision – I think it’s worth taking a few moments and talk about it here, as an intro to the company.

Webapptool’s founder, Paul van der Meer, started building this toolkit in 2011 from the vision that “mobile is the next internet”. Everything and everyone is shifting to mobile and he has proven to be right about this. By the end of 2013 the use of internet through mobile devices such as smartphones exceeded desktop and laptop internet use.

From this vision came a number of business needs. First of all, since everyone is mobile, companies and organizations cannot afford to offer their customers a poor web experience when their site is visited from a mobile device. And still, 9 out of 10 websites do just that.

Second, the web design companies who build these websites will be facing increasing demand for high-quality, affordable mobile solutions and will be looking for tools to become more productive and cost efficient. Just like they use WordPress to build great, cost effective websites, they will be looking for tools to build great mobile experiences for their customers that go beyond a basic responsive site.

This is where Webapptool comes in. We offer an online toolkit for the professional service providers to build amazing mobile apps for their clients. With over 100 functionalities pre-programmed, little to no coding skills are needed to build and deliver apps fast.

Q2. Why SaaS – what attracted you in this business model?

We are a 100% online business, meaning that our customers find us online, evaluate our platform online during a 21-day free trial period and buy a license online.

A SaaS business model allows us to be extremely flexible and scalable. The world is our market, not just our own country. We have customers active in Australia, Indonesia, the US and Europe.

A SaaS business model allows our customers to use professional software without high upfront investments in licenses, implementation, etc. It’s a pay-as-you-go model that keeps their costs in line with their revenue.

Q3. Related to how you approach and interact with buyers, what would you say is your biggest challenge today and what are you doing to solve it?

As said, benefits of a SaaS model are flexibility and scalability. The downside of a SaaS business model, and especially a 100% online business model such as ours is that customers are more anonymous. You cannot look your customer in the eye and make a personal deal as you would in the traditional business world. You have to convince them online with your website, trial, demo’s, webinars, etc.

There is less “direct human” influence on the buying process. To ensure that we really know our customers we invest heavily in customer support. Jorg is our Chief Customer Success and he has a team of professionals that interacts with our prospects and customers as much as possible through all possible channels (telephone, chat, email, social media, etc.). We believe that if we can make our customers successful by helping them get to know our platform better, assisting in building their first apps, etc. we create customer loyalty and increase our conversion ratios.

Q4. What pressure is there to keep changing and innovate?

There are few markets out there that change faster than the mobile market. There are constantly new OS updates for all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Microsoft, Blackberry), every week new smartphone devices are released to the market and HTML5 is continuously adding new possibilities and features.

It is our job and responsibility towards our customers that web apps built with Webapptool always run on the latest operating system versions and the latest smartphone releases. This is our promise.

Furthermore, we are constantly discussing new functionalities with our users. If it helps their business become more successful, we will build it and make it available to all of our users. This is also one of the advantages of SaaS.

Q5. Talking of buyers – name what you think is the coolest App built with WebAppTool.

Thousands of web apps have already been built with Webapptool and we’re proud of all of them. I would say that the Buddha to Buddha app is a great example of how Webapptool can be used. Buddha to Buddha is a large international jewelry brand with hundreds of outlets around the world. Just check www.buddhatobuddha.com on your smartphone. Another cool app that was built with Webapptool is for a private driving company called Baas Chauffeursdiensten. The app is in Dutch but you’ll see how important freedom of design is. Check www.baaschauffeurs.nl on your smartphone.

Q6. If you were to give one piece of advice to your fellow software/ SaaS entrepreneurs, what would that be?

Actually I would give 2 pieces of advice. First, make sure that not only the front end of your website looks great but also invest in solid back end processes. You only get one chance with your “anonymous” prospect, so get it right the first time. Second, invest in customer service. The anonymity of the process and the recurring nature of the business mean that you have to earn your customer’s trust and to keep adding value throughout the customer lifecycle. Be ready to not only transact, but also to interact, support and service the customer across channels.
WebAppToool
Q7. OK, now give us your elevator pitch for WebAppTool and don’t forget about that coupon you promised our readers:

There are 4 important benefits that make Webapptool indispensible to web professionals:

  • 100% HTML5 web apps that run on every mobile platform and can be linked to the existing desktop website. No app stores needed
  • Complete freedom of design and navigation. No fixed templates. This is where web professionals can prove their added value. Every app is unique.
  • Secure hosting & backup
  • Very competitively priced, And here’s the discount coupon that I promised to make it even more competitive: the first 100 customers will get a 25% discount on the first term of the license they choose. Just enter coupon code WATAV040814 when ordering. This promotion ends August 31st.
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3 Steps and 7 Tips to Turn Your Software Products into Subscriptions

Author: Cristi Miculi / Comments (1)

I recently read an article on how shifting to subscriptions has affected Adobe products. Basically, the company saw a decrease in revenues in the short term, but current signs lead to a good prognosis on medium and long-term revenues.

This is just an example of the current trend of monetizing products and services via subscriptions, which is happening in many more verticals than just software and digital goods. A pay-per-use business model (subscriptions) has multiple advantages:

  • More customizable for individuals (consumers, small businesses, enterprises) in terms of the packaging and price
  • More predictable source of revenue for owners
  • More attractive to customers given the seamless product upgrades and uninterrupted service they benefit from as subscribers

So how can you take advantage of a subscription revenue model for your company? Here are 3 simple steps that will help you turn your product into a subscription.

1. Run competitive analysis. Don’t head into this endeavor without first finding out if your competitors have experimented with subscription products – and how that shift has worked for them. Try to uncover the complete context of their subscription efforts. How have subscriptions affected their revenues (very easy to discover if they’re public companies)? What effect have subscriptions had on distribution channels, such as affiliates, resellers, and more? Based on your research, you can anticipate how subscriptions might work for your company.

Tip: Don’t stop at your direct competitors – go a little broader with the analysis and make sure you look at merchants that work in your geographical “sweet spot”, as this will tell you a lot about regional payment preferences.

2. Draft subscription plans. Take into account the competitive analysis and, where possible, create a better offer than your competitors in terms of both functionality and price. Based on your research, you will be in a position to do some accurate estimates for your business plan. Experiment with different monthly packages and figure out how long it will take for the subscription model to pay off in the medium to long term.

Tip: Try running subscriptions in parallel with your current lifetime licensing to help your company absorb the immediate revenue shock of shifting to subscriptions.

Be sure to clearly outline the advantages of subscriptions to customers (like always having the products updated without extra cost and being able to use the service when needed most) and constantly monitor the evolution of sales between the lifetime licenses vs. subscriptions. You don’t want your existing options to cannibalize subscriptions, if you plan to fully shift to subscriptions in the future.

3. Ensure your payment processing solution is compatible with subscriptions. Be sure the digital commerce solution you use can help you with everything that’s needed to successfully launch and manage subscriptions for your products and services, including at the channel level – resellers and affiliates. Here are some of the many business needs you must take into account when choosing the right payment processing solution for your shift to subscriptions:

  • Will you be offering a trial before converting the customer to a subscription?

Tip: Most merchants use some type of “hook” to get a pool of potential customers on board and increase their conversion rates.

  • Will this trial be paid (small amount) or free?

Tip: Big brands with high awareness can go with paid trials; small ones should start free. If you start free, you may want to ask for customer payment data when beginning the trial, but only issue charges after the trial period is over.

  • Are you willing to offer discounts for potential customers who don’t buy a subscription?

Tip: Look for lead management solutions. These may be part of the eCommerce platform (as with Avangate), or an affiliate option (such as VeInteractive), and can help you convert uncertain customers who may need a custom offer.

  • If you’re shifting payment providers, import your existing subscriptions to the new platform.

Tip: This will make sure you can create compelling promotions for your existing customer base and offer them the level of service they’ve come to expect in terms of subscription payments or cancellations.

  • Do you want to credit affiliates for the subscription renewals their referred clients generate?

Tip: This is a great incentive for affiliates, especially for subscriptions that recur weekly or monthly. As affiliates are looking for fast money, they will be highly motivated by this incentive policy for short-term subscriptions.

Going from zero to profitable with subscriptions can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months or even years, but the shift is almost certainly going to be worth it in the long term. Use our tips to evaluate your subscription potential, and you’ll be on your way to subscription success.

Bottom line: anything that’s a digital good (especially access to information) can easily be translated into a subscription. That’s good in the long run, but may affect your revenue in the short term – but you’ll be prepared if you do the right analysis.

 

Cristi Miculi

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Security Update on Heartbleed

Author: Cristian Badea / Leave a comment

The web has been abuzz since the disclosure of CVE-2014-0160 , also known as the “heartbleed” OpenSSL bug. Given its potential impact, we wanted to make sure you all heard and understood its implications to youheartbleed

First, what is it?

For those less technical, it is a vulnerability that could expose what you thought was secure information from your servers. For those a bit more technical, “Heartbleed” is a security vulnerability that exploits a programming bug in the OpenSSL library that makes the remote process (web server, for instance) leak a random block of memory. Through repeating the malformed call, attackers could search for data patterns of sensitive information (passwords, credit cards, even private keys for the SSL certificates). Since this bug has been present in all the OpenSSL releases between March 14th 2012 and April 7th 2014 (versions 1.0.1 to 1.0.1g), a potential attacker that was aware of the bug could have extracted sensitive data during all this time from affected servers.

So what did we do about it for our customers?

As soon as the security bulletin broke, we have re-checked all our external-facing SSL-secured services against this vulnerability. None of the services related to the payment processing were found to be susceptible to this bug, as none of them were setup in a way to be ever vulnerable. This means that neither the private keys nor other sensitive information were leaked at any point of time due to this vulnerability, even to potential attackers that had knowledge of this exploit before its disclosure on April 7th 2014. Rest assured that our security team continues to work hard to keep your data secure.

So what should you do about this?

Changing your login passwords for Avangate Control Panels or API communication is not necessary due to the Heartbleed bug, however our recommendation is to change your passwords regularly to minimize the attack window for similar issues in the future.

We recommend to all our customers, many of whom have web services exposed to the Internet, to review their commerce, as well as other server setups to ensure that all sensitive materials potentially compromised are renewed. If you have SSL-secured services of your own, you should investigate if you had this bug at any point and consider updating keys and passwords.

For more information: http://heartbleed.com/.

The Avangate Operations Team

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The Mac Exclusive Contest is Now Open

Author: Andra Ioana / Comments (1)

affiliate mac contest

Our Exclusive Mac Affiliate Contest is Now Open!

Our Mac lovers’ affiliates have another reason to smile this April! The entire month is dedicated totally to Mac tools and merchants, and we have prepared a very special contest in which affiliates can win $1500 worth of Apple vouchers!

The sole condition to win these prizes is to have a minimum of $5000 total sales during the contest timeframe (April 1 – April 30). This is going to be super easy for you, because top-selling Mac titles are granted by our appraised partners: Absolute Software, Aiseesoft, Bitdefender, Bitex, Cartographica, DEVONtechnologies, Iobit, Markzware, Retrospect, Wondershare and more.

Act now! Join the competition and those Apple vouchers could be yours!

Learn more about the Mac Affiliate Contest!

 

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Leverage Recurring Revenue Alliance to Increase Renewal Sales

Author: Raj Badarinath / Leave a comment

RRA_blog_banner

In March 2014, Avangate joined the Recurring Revenue Alliance. This is a great initiative by ServiceSource, designed to help business make more money and hold on to more customers by creating best practices for subscription billing and recurring revenues.

What does the #RRAlliance mean for you?   

  • If you’re new to the subscription billing/recurring revenue model, the Recurring Revenue Alliance and its members can provide framework to help you better understand the complexities and necessities of a recurring revenue model with some real world examples of successful integrations and implementations.
  • For those of you already there, you’ll learn how to go beyond subscriptions and build a stronger, more powerful, and more resilient recurring revenue business.

As part of the Alliance, Avangate will partner with other digital companies to help solve key issues related to the recurring revenues and renewals market.

Understanding the Renewals Space

The renewals market falls into 2 categories in general:

  1. High Value, Low Volume and
  2. Low Value, High Volumes.

B2B contracts typically are the former, and B2sB (small business) and B2C contracts are typically the latter.

Increasing renewals by automating low dollar value, high volume contracts while retaining customers, is just one of the key issues that Avangate will look to address as part of the Alliance.

Avangate brings a wealth of subscription billing and recurring revenue knowledge to the table with its complete and powerful digital commerce platform.  The platform offers several automated renewal features to achieve that balance of increasing revenue with automation while reducing churn and retaining customer, such as:

  • Account Updater – automatically updates credit card numbers so you never miss a billing cycle
  • Global Notifications – notify customers of when subscriptions are about to expire, with grace periods, and integrated promotions
  • Custom Retry Logic – determine the best time to improve authorization rates
  • Intelligent Payment Routing – route to the most likely-to-succeed payment gateway with a sophisticated rules engine

Just the tip of the iceberg

The key point here is how to combine these recurring revenue-specific features with advanced marketing tools, smarter payments with worldwide coverage, distribution and fulfillment management, anti-fraud and charge-back/refund management. How do you service customers across all touchpoints? What is the right balance between automatic and personal engagement? How do you test and experiment with new things and how do you do this quickly so you can succeed or even fail fast, back-up and try again. All this while keeping a focus on your core business and your customers.

Customer-Centric Commerce

This is where Avangate really comes in. This post is the first in a series, with more to follow, as well as webinars, whitepapers and other tools you can leverage to dive deep into this topic. We’ll talk about what it means and what it takes to be customer-centric in a recurring business environment, why you need to go beyond just subscriptions or payments to improve retention and how to do it.

Between Avangate, ServiceSource and other members (such as BigMachines, Centrify, GoodData, MuleSoft, Okta, Pactera, Salesforce and Xactly) of the #RRAlliance, I’m confident we’ll share best practices and turn those challenges into recurring revenue opportunities.

Learn more about Avangate joining the Recurring Revenue Alliance.

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