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The gist: in-product experiments
Four simple - yet sneakily powerful - experiment ideas from 7shifts
👋 Hi, I’m Kyle from OpenView and welcome to my newsletter, Growth Unhinged. Every week I explore the playbooks behind the fastest growing startups. Join 17,000+ founders, investors and practitioners for an unorthodox take on how to scale faster.
Welcome back to the third edition of The Gist by Growth Unhinged, real-world growth tactics you can actually use. (You can catch up on the first two editions here.)
The Gist is my attempt to get to the point — highlighting concrete ways to grow faster 🚀 and do more with less 🤑. It’s a break from my regular long-form newsletter, delivered during Growth Unhinged off-weeks.
Today I’ll cover four simple, yet sneakily powerful, in-product experiments to improve new user activation, conversion, and expansion. These ideas come from Priya Bhatia, growth leader at 7shifts and Growth Unhinged superfan.
These four simple (and quick) in-product experiments could increase your free-to-paid conversion by 50% or more.
Why you should care
The first-day experience is the most critical part of the user journey. And it’s where most products fall flat. It’s on the first day that you have a user’s full attention and you have an extremely narrow window to impress them.
Drop-off rates after the first day can be surprisingly high. At the average SaaS company 40-60%+ of new users never return to the product on a second day. If a user does see value on their first day, they’re far more likely to become a paid customer and share your product with others compared to if they don’t.
Improvements to new user activation tend to improve all downstream KPIs: free-to-paid conversion, retention, net expansion, CAC payback, NPS, etc. If you can nail it, you’ll be on the path to a very strong business model.
Tell me more
Priya Bhatia leads product growth at 7shifts, a team management platform for restaurants. 7shifts counts nearly a million restaurant pros and over 35,000 restaurants as customers, has 350 team members, and might be the top (only?) PLG company HQ-ed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Priya unpacked four relatively simple in-product experiments from 2022 that collectively improved conversion by >50% and expansion revenue by 40%! Let’s dive in.
1. Removing demo mode
What they did: removed an option to start with a demo mode and forced users to DIY from the get-go. Improved activation and conversion by double digit percentages.
One should care because you might think a demo mode would activate users faster, but some user personas want to quickly get hands-on with the product.
How it applies: applicable to products who try multiple different things at the onboarding stage but don't really experiment or correlate it to how it impacts the north star metric (in this case conversion).
The experiment required almost no engineering work (it was removing a button), yet led to a sizable impact on both trial activation and conversion.
Priya’s team ran the test for 1.5 months in order to observe multiple trial cohorts and measure statistical significance.
2. Improving a getting started checklist
What they did: Improved the UI of 7shifts’ in-app checklist by focusing the customer on taking one action at a time with a clear CTA. Each action was limited to only a few steps in order to avoid overwhelming the user. Improved checklist completion rate and increased conversion.
One should care because product onboarding is all about hand-holding a user during their initial journey, but it shouldn’t overwhelm users with all of the actions they’ll need to take.
7shifts users previously dismissed the checklist or did not engage with it during the onboarding process. (The old version is on the left, the new one is on the right in the image below.)
While 7shifts built their in-app checklist on their own (there are also third-party vendors like Userflow), making changes to it required minimal engineering effort.
The increase in activation and conversion was statistically significant, although it wasn’t as large as experiment 1.
3. Moving setup moments to an onboarding wizard
What they did: A critical setup moment for a restaurant is setting up their departments and employee roles. Priya moved this process to an onboarding wizard, which pre-populated the typical roles at a restaurant. This additional step didn’t distract users from completing onboarding and did improve conversion rates.
One should care because setup moments are often forgotten in the ‘aha moment’ definition. A user needs to feel that we understand their business and this product could solve their problem.
This was a bigger lift experiment for 7shifts. It came with smart defaults and pre-populated data, but let users edit that data for their specific context.
The experiment originated as a support ticket – some customers indicated that they had trouble setting up their departments and roles in the app.
Again, the increase in activation and conversion was statistically significant, although it wasn’t as large as experiment 1.
4. Adding an in-app trial of a higher tier plan
What they did: 7shifts offers a range of different plans ranging from $29.99 to $135 per month per location. Priya’s team allowed customers to start a 14-day self service trial of a higher-tier plan in order to drive more expansion revenue. This has been extremely effective as a conversion paywall and as a way to increase monthly expansion revenue.
One should care because existing customers may have an appetite to use your advanced features, but don’t have a way of trying those features for themselves.
It’s hard for your CSM team to identify which customers would be the best-fit for expansion and to prioritize their time. In-app trials of higher tier plans provide much more targeted PQLs for the CSM team (they’re hand raisers).
7shifts also uses this tactic to drive MRR whenever a new feature is launched. After a new feature is launched, they’ll renew the trial of the new full plan in order to give the customer another chance to experience the additional value.
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New: we’re hiring!
In exciting news, the OpenView growth team is hiring! Our growth team is focused on helping our portfolio companies (and future portfolio companies) with acquiring, retaining and expanding customers. We're looking for someone who:
Has consulting and/or operating experience at a B2B SaaS company that's seen rapid scale
Has experience across multiple go-to-market functions (e.g. product growth, marketing, sales, RevOps, BizOps)
Lives in Boston or is willing to relocate here
Is eager to shape the next era of PLG!
There are more details available here if you or someone you know is interested!
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