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MassLandlords.net Conversion Rates and Statistics

MassLandlords.net is at the point where we have enough traffic to learn something about our site design, in particular, our conversion rates for member sign-ups.  Here’s an update that speaks simultaneously to how new I am at this, and also to the kinds of opportunities we have with statistical analysis.

The site has a “join” page, which presents visitors with two options:

  1. Give us just your email now to subscribe to our monthly newsletter; or
  2. Pay us now to have full access to the site and/or local meetings.

On May 21, the top part of the page went from this:


2014_05_21 - join before

to this:

2014_05_21 - join afterIf I were to summarize the differences, I’d say:

  • Fewer words
  • Easier English (“newsletter” instead of “each month we’ll blah blah blah”)
  • Tighter focus on alternatives with the ellipsis

The big, juicy “button” visible in these screenshots submits your email to register as a free member.  The really best features of the site are accessible only to paid members, and all the payment options are further down the screen. Since the paid sign-up design remained constant through the May 21 transition, I’m leaving it out of the analysis here.

One month later, today, here are some changes we’ve observed:

  • “Time on page” down 42%
  • “Bounce rate” down 56%
  • Rate of sign-up for the “free monthly newsletter” up 7x (700%)
  • Paid registration rate down 50%

Are those changes significant?

Enter what my brother taught me, “Fisher’s exact test.”  The probability that I would have gotten these results by random chance was very high for all changes, save one:

The odds of the free sign-up changing 7x by random chance are 1%.

Conclusion?  Maybe Landlords don’t want “each month we’ll give you premium content for free.”  What the hell does that mean?  But a newsletter?  Yeah, that sounds good.

But we should be careful.  All the statistics tell us is that between May and today, the people looking at our join page were significantly more likely to sign up for our email than from April to May. But the stats don’t say why.

Other factors include changing the privacy language, tightening the design up to remove whitespace, modifying that button, and a host of external factors, like the kinds of paid advertising we were doing to drive traffic.

Let’s talk about that button in particular.  Much is written about button size and color and shape.  In this case, our button changed because our CSS decided to do its own thing, and we let it go.  We didn’t intend for it to look different.  So don’t take this button as part of some big strategy.  It’s not, and I would be surprised if a deliberate button redesign could drive as much of a change as we saw.  When people write about buttons changing conversion rates, they conjure up images of cartoon character Stimpy being unable to resist pushing the beautiful red button, even though he knows it will erase history.

It’s worth watching Nickelodeon’s ads to see this clip.

The other benefit of running some stats behind the scenes is that we don’t have to panic about the decrease in paid registrations.  It looks like we lost half our paid customers, probably all of those to free email sign-ups.  But the probabilities are in favor of this change being a random fluctuation.  We’ll just continue to monitor it to make sure.

How I’m Spending My Time: Update

Back in September I wrote a short piece about how I was spending my time.  Since it’s about six months later I thought I’d update the graph.

Doug Quattrochi's Personal Time Tracking Data 2014_02_25

These are 40 day moving averages.  When I think about where my financial future lies, I think it’s mostly ArtistBomb and partly MassLandlords.net.  The way I spend my time backs that up.

The period in December where I focused less on ArtistBomb and more on the Worcester Property Owners Association (WPOA) coincides with the end of the restructuring effort at the WPOA.  This put in place a new Board of Directors and a new action team, and roles were changed for most folks.  Now WPOA is moving forward smoothly and the focus there is on MassLandlords.net, which I’ve spiked out separately.

MassLandlords.net has the potential to be a unified source of digital resources for landlords in Massachusetts.  I’m enormously proud of the work done by Stellar Web Studios and the WPOA Board of Directors to help get this project off the ground.

You can see that other projects, like the BagPack for Hands Free Groceries, and even this blog, are getting less attention now.  Partly this is because they’re getting less traction, partly it’s because they’re more clearly “lifestyle” activities.  Yes, I like selling little grocery carrying straps on the side.

ArtistBomb.com and MassLandlords.net have been improved by what I learned with Hands Free Groceries and dougjq.com.  So even if the latter properties aren’t as valuable, it’s not like the time spent there has been wasted.

Last month I commented on an article written by Rob Go that included the idea entrepreneurs should focus on “one company at a time”.  I think about that when this graph gets updated every couple of days.  Would either ArtistBomb or MassLandlords.net go faster if I wasn’t also actively landlording?  Yes.  Would they go faster if I were focusing on one and not both?  Yes.  Well, am I doing the wrong thing by splitting my attention so?

It seems like both businesses – ArtistBomb and MassLandlords.net — have the same kinds of challenges.  In particular, can you reach enough of your customers at a low enough cost to make it worthwhile?  The interesting thing about working both at the same time is that each has a different set of tools available.  So in theory I can work with two different teams trying different tactics.  What I learn at one can be brought to the aid of the other immediately.

From that point of view, I don’t think split focus is really so bad.  Not right now, anyway.

Thoughts?  Leave a comment.