There’s a ton of buzz on The Internets about the importance of building email lists. And few people (certainly no experienced marketers) dispute email’s potential effectiveness for building relationships with customers and prospective customers…
So it should come as no surprise that oodles – yes, oodles – of startups and established companies are creating tools to help you build your list. I’m guessing that you employ at least one such solution on your site…
One of the most talked-about tools for boosting your subscriber base is this: the modal opt-in form. AKA, overlay. AKA, email lightbox. AKA, HTML pop-up. [BTW, can we not agree on a name here? For some reason, nobody has coined a term that’s stuck. No matter… in this post, I’ll refer to them simply as overlays.]
Some site owners swear by them. Others won’t risk infuriating overlay (not overly) sensitive visitors. Whether you love ‘em or you hate ‘em, it’s tough to argue with the conversion results being touted. [We at Copy Hackers know it’s not just about the numbers, but that’s the subject of another post.]
One company that’s been making waves pushing the boundaries of list building with overlays is Bounce Exchange, in part because they take a very different approach to targeting visitors, and also due to their pricing structure (more on that soon).
While standard overlay tools allow you to configure scenarios by which to trigger an overlay on your site – typically based on visitor time on page or percent of page scrolled – Bounce Exchange let you target visitors who are about to leave your site. At its core, their tool gives you one extra shot at selling your visitor on becoming an email subscriber.
What’s particularly fascinating about Bounce Exchange’s twist on the traditional overlay is the price of their offering – which starts at $3995 per month. And their competitors, while not necessarily in the 4-digit range, are certainly more expensive than your average $49/month digital marketing SaaS tool.
So what brought me to write this post was a search for Bounce Exchange alternatives…
Over the past few months, a number of Copy Hackers readers have reached out to enquire about exit overlay tools, and while we’ve written a little about them (e.g., the copy used on the overlays), we’ve never really dug into how companies sell this type of product…
On my search for Bounce Exchange competitors, I was directed to a Quora page that included this rich discussion.
One of the Quora commenters had this to say:
“I’ve spent a good few months trying to work out how on earth people have been building such huge revenue streams on a product that cannot really be defended. As one of the answers below shows, there is some code available that lets you do it for free.”
– Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder of Ometria
That one comment got me thinking: How does Bounce Exchange do it?
I mean, there are at least 10 apparently viable solutions listed on the Quora page alone, including the aforementioned 100% free solution.
If you’re skeptical of free, then there’s OptinMonster, a WordPress plug-in that claims to deliver a similar result to Bounce Exchange, except that you pay a one-time fee of $199, which lets you use the tool on an unlimited number of websites.
So with these more wallet-friendly alternatives that appear to offer similar functionality, how is it that I keep hearing about Bounce Exchange?
And how does Bounce Exchange charge 10x to 100x more than their competitors?
And what can we learn from Bounce Exchange’s sales copy – if anything – so we, too, can earn 10x the revenue per user?
It was time to look at the sales pages of several exit overlay products, starting with Bounce Exchange.
For the 3 home pages discussed, I’ll assess the main components of each page so you can apply our thought process to your own site. Let’s dig in…
Assessing Bounce Exchange’s Copy
Service Starts at: $3995/mo
For maximum effectiveness, headlines need to build desire and communicate exclusivity (the 2 key ingredients to a unique value proposition). I’d argue that turning “abandoning visitors into customers” is pretty darned desirable. And when you compound that with the subhead’s explicit mention of exclusivity – delivered by their “exit-intent technology” – you have a powerful start to the home page.
Every CTA on this page leads to the demo request form at the bottom of the page. The use of the phrase “Apply for a Personal Demo” as the section heading is not likely an accident, and it may even add to the desirability of their solution.
But take a step back… Is a demo request form the ideal home page CTA? What about pairing the demo request with an amazing case study (delivered immediately by email) of how Bounce Exchange led to a 337% lift in email subscribers? I don’t see anything like that here.
Video / Demo
The short video at the top of the page does a nice job of explaining a key feature of Bounce Exchange, their “Exit Intent Technology”. However, there is no obvious demonstration of the product in action. When you decide it’s time to leave the site, you’ll trigger a Bounce Exchange exit overlay, but this approach seems suboptimal, since I’m ready to leave.
Why not give me a button that triggers an overlay as many times as I like so that I can see the various trigger events?
In addition, back on the topic of CTAs, I recommend telling visitors what they can expect to see when a sales representative calls. Don’t leave me guessing, because I’ll always assume the worst.
It’s clear that Bounce Exchange differentiates itself through its patented technology. Using the term “patented” definitely asserts their leadership in the space and may even allow them to enforce market leadership through litigation (no comment). Conveying exclusivity is critical in a fast-growing product niche, and these guys do it well.
In moving down the page, the copy loses some of its luster. The “Digital Pain Points” are generic and could be used on any site. A better alternative would be to include info about how Bounce Exchange overcomes the pain points.
More disturbing is how little copy is dedicated to overcoming marketer objections. We know objections exist at any price point – but especially for solutions that cost thousands per month.
It’s typically advisable – when you can anticipate visitors being shell-shocked by pricing – to acknowledge the anxiety and neutralize the perceived risk of making such a large investment. A well-placed FAQ (e.g., below a pricing table) can help overcome visitor objections in a non-salesy way.
Single page websites can work amazingly well (especially when structured as a narrative that walks you through a solution), but no matter how hard you work on the copy for your one pager, visitors still expect to see what they’re [considering] paying for.
For Bounce Exchange, there isn’t a single screenshot of the admin tool or backend reporting. Even a few quality shots could alleviate visitor angst about the cost.
The “Data Brain” image consumes a lot of real estate – especially to explain a single product feature – and the image is conceptual (i.e., not an actual screenshot).
Social Proof / Testimonials
While there are 2 testimonials and 3 mentions by institutions/publications, there are no in-depth case studies that demonstrate product value through the words of customers. In addition, the word “Trophies” in the top navigation may confuse some visitors. (Remember, don’t make me think.)
Why wouldn’t Bounce Exchange offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee? I assume many potential customers will worry about the risk of spending $4000+ per month on an unproven (to them) solution.
While the heading “Pricing Structure” may sound substantial, it’s no clearer than simply “Pricing” or “Plans & Pricing” and may actually conflate things. Much of the copy within the table is working well to position Bounce Exchange as an upscale offering, but it could be doing much more.
Key differentiators such as…
- Exit Intent Technology
- Full Service Campaign Management
- Premium Graphic Services
- Dedicated Conversion Director
… sound great, but the upscale phrasing could really use some support – in the form of concise, mouse over descriptions. It’s not enough to say “full service”, “premium”, or “conversion director”; there is simply too much room for interpretation. This is the time to sell prospects on the premium services included, since the monthly fees are staring visitors in the face.
When we break down the home page by looking at how visitors might research an exit overlay solution, it’s clear Bounce Exchange is doing some interesting (and I would argue effective) things with their copy. But there is still plenty of room to improve.
It’s possible that their marketing force (i.e., speed and reach of their marketing) is what’s enabling them to charge a premium… rather than their marketing copy.
On the same Quora thread where I learned about their competitors, I read that Bounce Exchange employs a team of salespeople, which sounds feasible given their price point. I’d love to see the language used in their sales scripts, because I’m betting there’s more in those scripts than what’s currently being used on the website.
Assessing Exit Monitor’s Copy
Service Starts at: $249/mo
The headline/subhead are a decent starting point, but some quick A/B testing could make a real difference. The word “we” is generally a no-no on any web page, let alone on the home page. I also worry that “exiting” will be read by many as “existing”, which would take some of the steam out of the headline.
Desirability. Check (who doesn’t want more leads?). Uniqueness. Not so much. What can Exit Monitor do for customers that no competitor can do (or do as well)?
In the subhead, “start measuring” isn’t very compelling, but I do think the immediacy of “right now” works well.
While there is a demo request positioned at the bottom of the page, the primary CTA is the signup button (located in the hero and the pricing table).
If I’ve visited the Bounce Exchange site and then Exit Monitor’s, I would see quite a contrast… going from no way to sign up (demo request only) to an easy way to see what Exit Monitor is all about – with no commitment (there’s no credit card required on the signup form).
The phrase “sign up” is an opportunity to improve, as surely there’s more behind the button that just a signup form. I mean, yes, there’s a signup form present, but what do I get once I complete a few fields?
Video / Demo
The Exit Monitor marketing team has chosen not to use an explainer video. Perhaps because there is a quick signup to start using the product, they felt it wasn’t necessary.
However, the right explainer video can do a ton of heavy lifting to get visitors interested… and there are some amazing free tools to help you create one.
Similar to the Bounce Exchange site, there is no obvious demonstration of the product in action (again, you have to be on your way out before you see what an exit overlay looks like). Exit Monitor team, here’s your chance to do more for your visitors than your competition.
The supporting copy is solid… concise, easy to digest, and well formatted for scanning, but it could include a few more benefit statements.
And once again, the page is light on addressing visitors’ objections to trying (and then paying for) the product. If you know your target market, you know what questions and objections they’ll have. A little user research goes a long way to developing killer copy.
There’s nothing offensive about the supporting images on the page, but why is there only one actual product screenshot (and a chopped one at that)? I suspect that $249/month and up is not a trivial expense for most businesses, so don’t make visitors signup to see what the product looks like. A few high-quality shots could really get people excited and persuade them to try it.
Social Proof / Testimonials
This site is also very light on social proof. The closest match is the list of product integrations, but as social proof, it’s a stretch.
Free plan aside, at these price points (like for Bounce Exchange) I would expect to see some kind of satisfaction guarantee. You don’t have to give me an outright refund, but assure me of something.
As pricing tables go, this one looks decent. The reminder about no credit card requirement may help drive clicks on the signup buttons. It’s clear how the plans are differentiated, and the set of product features listed isn’t too long.
As for potential improvements, which plan is most popular? Also, the primary cost driver for each plan is “pageviews”, but what exactly does that mean? Is it the number of times an exit overlay is displayed across all pages? The total number of page views on my site? Is it a monthly limit? If visitors aren’t 100% sure, they may sign up for the most basic plan available and tell themselves that they’ll upgrade later (which is not ideal for the business).
One additional question: At what point will I be asked for my credit card? Is this a time-limited trial?
While there is nothing off-putting about the site – and I’m sure first-time visitors will love the free Starter plan – a visitor-triggered demonstration of the product, a handful of attractive product shots, and some solid social proof would build a much stronger case for a trial run.
Assessing Picreel’s Copy
Service Starts at: $19/mo
At first glance, there is a lot going right with Picreel’s home page, starting with the headline/subhead.
“Recover abandoning visitors” is highly desirable. The use of bolding focused your eyes on the right words. And the subhead delivers exclusivity with the phrase, “the most powerful…” – very nice. The layout, however, with the copy to the left of the old-looking video, dates the hero section.
There are 2 closely weighted (i.e., same size but different colors) CTAs on the page, repeated several times as you move down (which I think is an innovative design choice).
The copy “Start Free Trial” probably works, but why not remind visitors of your promise – instead, going with something like “Reduce Your Bounce Rate”?
And finally, this is a site that lets me see a live demo of an exit overlay as often as I like. Score! When you have a product that’s in a competitive space and that’s relatively expensive, demo it!
Video / Demo
There’s a video with a chunky play button. The video is just over a minute long. And you learn there’s a 30-day trial – and no credit card needed. There’s even an arrow to direct your attention to the explainer video, positioned nicely over the secondary CTA.
With the great headline, clear CTAs, ability to demo, and explainer video, the hero section real estate is being used extremely well.
The section below the hero – grammatical error aside (spot it?) – is helpful and it finishes with 2 strong benefit statements. So far so good.
Below that, you see the “What do you get…” section, which probably anticipates a key question visitors will have when they arrive.
Each section that follows includes a benefit statement and is formatted for quick scanning (without losing meaning). It feels like the Picreel team spent some time massaging their messages.
There’s a big focus on social proof on Picreel’s home page, which comes through clearly in the imagery. But like the other 2 sites, there is a lack of product shots, even in the explainer video (where there are none).
There is a single, partial product shot that teases some of the product’s capabilities, but have these guys not seen what Apple does with its home page (and product pages)?
Social Proof / Testimonials
BOOM! This is what we’ve been waiting for. First you see an unobtrusive list of customers (I assume they’re customers) directly below the hero. Then about 2/3rds of the way down the page, you’re shown a list of actual exit overlays from Picreel’s customers (killing 2 birds with 1 stone!).
And then you’re given a scrolling selection of customer testimonials – with examples of how Picreel solves pain and headshots of the customers (for credibility). Alongside the testimonials are 14 clickable customer logos that lead to detailed case studies… that include conversion rates achieved and numbers of monthly leads generated (as well as a list of reference customers grouped by business vertical!).
Picreel competitors, take note.
Picreel doesn’t offer an explicit guarantee, but its signup page includes a series of promises that are somewhat reassuring. A guarantee would be much better though.
Picreel’s pricing table lives on its own, but it’s as solid as the home page.
Let’s see… a clear title… some persuasive lead-in copy… a well-structured table with clear copy and a “Popular” indicator… a plan breakdown that makes sense… more social proof (repeated from home page)… and a helpful FAQ that anticipates common visitor objections. What’s not to love?
Looking at the copy on Picreel’s home page and its reasonably priced plans, and as someone who is open to experimenting with different opt-in tools, they make a compelling case for me to take the next step.
One final thought…
Not surprisingly, all of these companies have positioned the exit overlay as a more sophisticated (and therefore more valuable?) version of the traditional email opt-in overlay.
What do I mean by that? Well, you don’t see these terms used on their home pages:
- Email List Builder
- Exit Pop-up
Instead, you see:
- Bounce Traffic Optimization
- Page Exit Recovery System
- Automated Customer Acquisition
Wouldn’t you pay more for the latter solutions than the former? [My question is only partially tongue-in-cheek.]
In fact, how you describe and position your product has a lot to do with the price people are willing to pay for it.
We’re not advocating the use of hyperbole, complicated language, or marketing-heavy buzzwords, but the next time you tweak your home page copy, be sure to use language that accurately conveys the full value or your product or service. Push beyond the obvious lingo.
Based on what you’ve seen, which of the 3 options seems to be worth $3995/mo? What would YOU need to hear to spend that kind of money?
— Jim Gray (@grayj_) May 29, 2014