Exotel is a cloud telephony platform based out of Bengaluru, India. They are one of Asia’s largest cloud telephony companies, operating in 7 countries & handling close to 7 million calls a day. Founded in 2011, the company is often in startup news for all the right reasons. For instance, in the financial year ending March 2017, the company posted the revenue of $6.2+ million- a no mean feat if you consider that company has raised just $400k since its inception.
TL;DR: Show personalized content to site visitors
Like most SaaS businesses, folks at Exotel ran a decent number of ad campaigns.
Normally, for every kind of ad they had to create a separate landing page. That would have been fine had the number of ads been in single digits but it often exceeded way beyond that.
To alleviate the need to create myriad landing pages, whose requirement again was unpredictable, the team started exploring tools that allowed them to personalize a page as per the audience. Eventually, they landed on Freshmarketer and, as of today, are the power users of the Freshmarketer’s personalization module.
But given the fact that Freshmarketer is total CRO package they started exploring other modules within the tool and that’s how they landed on A/B testing.
In this post, we are going to discuss how conclusions from one of their A/B test experiments made them shift from “give-it-for-free” copywriting practice.
We spoke to Sahit Krishna who manages marketing at Exotel and also the one who leads all the optimization efforts there.
TL;DR: Dropping “give-it-for-free” copywriting practice would improve conversions.
In normal A/B tests, the hypothesis is clearly stated right in advance. The test is done to reject the hypothesis. But Exotel approached the test in a way what is often known as post-hoc analysis. They identified different areas for improvement and ran series of tests often based on arbitrary hypothesis. One of the improvement areas was site messaging.
Folks at Exotel were essentially trying to identify the right messaging type on their website as they had recently revamped it. To test that, their homepage became the starting point.
This is what the previous version of Exotel’s homepage looked like
Exotel’s previous version of homepage
They wanted to test if “take-it-for-free” strategy works or not. Now, it is so invariably common to see SaaS businesses offering a free trial that it has become a sort of expectation. Our assumption is that humans invariably like free stuff and we boost their propensity to try and purchase the product if we impress upon them that it is FREE FREE FREE.
Eventually, the essence of FREE runs through the entire marketing collateral. Every CTA, landing page, video tries to lure the prospects with the ‘free lunch’. Exotel was no exception.
But does everyone really want it? Exotel decided to test this very hypothesis with an A/B test.
The test is simple- the simply changed the copy of their CTA from “Start your free trial” to “Start your trial”. The results are below:
Result- The test achieved a 97% statistical significance and was thus conclusive by all means.
Sahit shares his reasoning behind the experiment with us.
“I knew our initial homepage CTA - 'Find Out How' was not effective enough as I got some feedback internally. So starting AB testing with different CTAs like - Get Started Free, Start Your Free Trial etc., We had used the word “Free” excessively across the website which kind of sounds needy and I did not want the brand to be positioned that way. Parallelly, I was also monitoring how different SaaS companies websites' CTAs and observed that companies including Freshdesk and Zendesk use different variations in CTAs without “Free”. Hence I started playing around with CTA without Free in it. It worked well for us.””
Exotel’s previous version of homepage
The test was simple but had a profound effect on the messaging strategy of Exotel, especially visible in their website copy. Sahit was kind enough to share with us some of the changes that they made in their website copy post conclusions from this test.
““Our primary use-case that we wanted to be addressed by Freshmarketer was Personalization. But we were writing our own custom scripts to accomplish that. Eventually, we migrated to Freshmarketer and it worked like a charm. The product totally has our recommendation.””