Today, I’d like to share a case-study from one of my products (CloudFire) illustrating how we formulated and then refined our UVP. CloudFire was a photo and video sharing service. One of the customer segments we were targeting was parents with young kids at the time.
Some Background Context
Prior to CloudFire, I had already launched a file sharing application called BoxCloud that simplified the process of sharing large files using a proprietary peer-to-web (p2web) framework we had built.
BoxCloud’s unique value proposition was that it allowed the sharer to share a file/folder directly from their computer without any uploading. Recipients accessed the shared file/folder directly from their browser without the need to install any additional software.
BoxCloud was primarily targeted at business users and was in use by graphic designers, attorneys, accountants, and other small business owners.
I was interested in exploring other uses of the p2web framework especially around media sharing (photos, videos, and music) which is how CloudFire came about.
We ran a bunch of problem interviews that validated parents as a potential customer segment and by this point we had a demo ready for our solution interviews. We prioritized Unique Value Proposition testing because we knew the photo and video sharing market was already crowded. We had something different but needed to test if that difference would matter.
Given the current list of existing alternatives, we decided to use speed as the differentiator and “no uploading” as the “key” words to position around.
We created a basic landing page focusing primarily on elements that would appear above the fold. In this case, these were the headline, sub-headline, and supporting graphic.
Iteration 1: Benefit hook
￼The feedback we received was that this didn’t look “different enough” from existing services. Most moms felt their service was fast-enough until we brought to attention that we had used the word instantly – which meant we helped them share hundreds of photos/videos in “zero time”.
We learned that the word “instant”, like countless other marketing terms, carried no weight with prospects and was ignored. I even did a Google search afterwards and found the following ad which drove this point home:
Even though we had a carefully orchestrated 2-min demo video link on the site, none of the parents we interviewed ever bothered to click the link. When a headline doesn’t connect with visitors, they typically don’t stick around, but leave. We confirmed this with other usability tests we ran later on UserTesting.com (which is an online usability testing service).
Iteration 2: Word hook
Next, we knew that words matter so we made the targeted customer segment (Busy Parents) prominent in the headline and added a “No uploading required” splash burst to the screenshot in the hopes of getting attention.
￼The splash burst definitely caught attention and we got two types of reactions – both bad.
When a technical person encountered the “no uploading required” splash burst, they challenged that claim. We would then spend 5 minutes explaining how the product worked using a p2web model to achieve instant sharing without uploading.
When a non-technical person encountered the “no uploading required” splash burst, they would get confused and ask how the product works. We’d have to spend 5 minutes again giving a less technical explanation.
The reason both reactions were bad is that you don’t have 5 minutes on a landing page. When people don’t trust you, they leave. So even though we could have added a how it works page or graphic on the landing page, chances are people wouldn’t stick around long enough.
Iteration 3: Emotional hook
Rather than trying to present a particular benefit or explain how the product works, we took a more aspirational track – one that used an image to connect with the target customer and communicated a finished story benefit.
￼This version worked. The first reaction we got from moms was: “That’s my life”.
That connection made them more receptive to read the left-hand side of the page which made the “finished story” promise: “Get back to the more important things in your life. Faster.”.
That piqued their interest enough to want to learn more – which is exactly what you want out of your UVP headline.
UVP: “A single, clear compelling message that states why you are different and worth
Qualitative vs Quantitative learning
Interestingly this experiment in landing pages also serves as a great example showing how qualitative learning can trump quantitative learning in the early stages of a product. While we were interviewing moms, I also started an A/B split-test using Google Website Optimizer driving traffic using facebook ads, Google Adwords, and StumbleUpon.
CloudFire was the product I used to rigorously test Lean Startup techniques and here I was pitting qualitative interviewing which seemed like more effort against quantitative metrics which was much easier to conduct.
Through the interviews we were able to conclusively declare Iteration 3 as the winner within a week after just 10 interviews. We not only knew which version worked but importantly we knew why. All the insights above came directly from the parents we interviewed.
The quantitative A/B split test, on the other hand, was still inconclusive after the third week. We eventually decided to cut the testing short because 100% of the moms we interviewed told us they had found their existing solution through a referral. They hadn’t gone actively searching for a photo/video sharing solution which made us further question the validity of testing these pages via ads. Who were these people clicking through the ads?
Until next time…
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