About a week ago, I made my website Rocket Spelling completely free:
The response since then has been amazing. Before making it free, Rocket Spelling had 115 paying customers. In the past week, over 1,500 teachers have joined. Here's the graph of unique users per day for the last 28 days:
The response took me totally off guard. I wasn't expecting this kind of spike, so I've been trying to decipher what went on.
Money clearly acted as a real roadblock to teachers, but it isn't immediately obvious why. Is Rocket Spelling too expensive to afford? This may sometimes be true, but I suspect that most schools with access to computers can afford to pay. If a teacher wants to use the website, all they need to do is ask the district for funding!
So why is money such a hinderance? I suspect that "all they need to do" is the problematic phrase.
Paying money takes effort. To pay for an account, a teacher needs to get other people involved. It's a lot of work, which poses a real barrier to getting started. Every barrier reduces the number of people who will use the service massively.
Before this week, I had read about "sales funnels" and "removing friction from the customer journey" and other business jargon, but it all felt too impersonal to matter. Now I get it. Here's the message:
If you want people to do something, make it easy. Then make it easier. Then easier again. Here's how:
- Make it free
- Make it fast
- Make it obvious
The recent spike in traffic has taught me that there are massive gains to be made by simply removing barriers to entry. Breaking down walls, even little ones, makes your service much more valuable to potential users.
This is exciting news! It means that improving conversion is simple. Every time there's a button, instruction, or input, ask yourself:
- Is this action 100% necessary?
- Can it happen later?
Does the user really have to make a password, or can they sign in using their favorite social platform like Github, Google, or Twitter? Do they really have to sign in at all? (The answer might be no: Wikipedia lowered the barrier to entry by allowing anyone to edit pages, even without an account.)
Do they really have to pay? If yes, do they have to pay now?
Removing barriers is a simple way to massively improve the user experience, and it doesn't take a genius to ask the question "Is this step necessary?"
Cover photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash