Find Out Why

Most unsolved revenue-related problems are really two problems.

The first problem is that something is happening.
The second is that no one knows why that thing is happening.

For example:

There’s a lot of traffic to your product’s home page, but hardly anyone starts a trial or requests a demo.
No one knows why.

People start trials, sign in a few times, invite their teammates to create accounts, but hardly anyone upgrades to a paid plan.
No one knows why.

About 4 months into their subscription, 20% of customers churn.
No one knows why.

And because your team’s backlog is already so deep, investigating the root causes of revenue-related problems becomes a “someday project”

Someday you’ll identify a set of customers to interview.

Someday you’ll run a few surveys on our site.

Someday you’ll sync with another team to see if they can support a user research project.

And when research is a someday project, everything else you work on gets more expensive.

Are you still shipping growth experiments without anything to show for it?

Not knowing why something is happening means you…

…waste ad dollars to drive traffic to pages that don’t address your target prospects’ biggest pain points

…spend your afternoons QAing emails that ignore the real reasons people aren’t engaging with your product

…exert your mental energy coming up with new ways to navigate conversations around why marketing experiments aren’t addressing revenue-related problems without making anyone think you’re scapegoating them

…undergo emotional labor of having to plan experiments and ship copy without having all of the information you need

…spend your working days building a feature, product, or content that is unlikely to ever have an impact on revenue

“Find Out Why” is a fixed scope research engagement to shine a light on your blind spots

During this engagement, I’ll investigate a single revenue-related question. Usually, that means pursuing an answer around different stages of your customers’ lifecycle. For example:

Acquisition: Why do individuals or teams sign up for trials or demos?

Adoption/Activation: Why do individuals or teams upgrade to a paid account at the end of a trial? Why don’t individuals or teams upgrade at the end of a trial?

Retention/Churn: Why do individuals or teams remain customers over time? Why do individuals or teams cancel their accounts?

Here’s how “Find Out Why” works:

We’ll meet 4 times, total, to determine what question you want to investigate and to review your results. Here’s what that looks like:

Step 1: Meet-and Greet Session
We schedule a meet-and-greet Zoom call to determine if we’re a good fit, if our schedules match up, and which question you want to pursue. If we decide to move forward, I’ll confirm your start date and send you an invoice.

Step 2: Kickoff Strategy Session
We have a project kickoff call to discuss the problem and affected user groups in greater detail. I’ll also send you a list of tools and data sources I need access to and you’ll help me get set up to view the raw research you’ve already collected. This session will also involve setting up your account with EnjoyHQ, a qualitative research repository. I’ll pay for your first month using this tool and show you how to use it.

Step 3: Sign Off Session
We have another scheduled session where you will sign off on a list of customers I want to interview to confirm that the folks on the list aren’t presently involved in a contract renegotiation (or if there’s any other reason not to interview them). You also sign off on copy for other research methods we’ll deploy as part of this investigation.

Step 4: Find Out Why (I work independently)
I schedule interviews with individuals on the list I shared with you and coordinate with your team to hit send on emails that we’ll use to supplement our interviews.

Step 5: Stage-Setting Strategy Session
I’ll share the processed and raw data with you, including an answer into why something is happening at your business. More than that, I’ll also tie it to specific recommendations about what to do next. We’ll discuss additional questions to investigate – and whether we should continue researching, begin implementing, or let product fix things.

Your study should take 4 weeks from your project start date to complete. Delays may happen if many customers are unwilling or unable to schedule interviews in a timely fashion, if there’s a holiday or conflict for your audience that we didn’t discuss when we booked your session (i.e. a major conference or holiday that derails schedules on each side), or if someone doesn’t get me the info I need when I ask for it.

Get answers to revenue-related problems your multiple-choice surveys will never give you (without begging the product team for help)

The trouble with many investigations into revenue-related problems is that the investigators jump to quantification methods much too early. Sending out a survey that says “Why did you cancel?” or “Why did you sign up?” is about the easiest thing you can do. But the data you get from launching these surveys prior to having a full understanding of the many reasons people behave the way they do won’t give you answers you can use.

For example: on one client churn investigation, a survey that pre-dated investigative work asked people to choose one of 6 responses as the main reason for why they canceled their account. My study found not 29 unique reasons for churn – more than 4X the answers we thought to ask about.

What’s more, answers are almost never what we think they’ll be. For example:

People responding to questions about why they signed up have said:

“I wanted to see if your product could work for a specific project my team is starting”
“I’ve always wanted to try learning this skill and now something has happened and I finally have a reason to start”
“I love everything you guys make so I thought I would just check it out”

People responding to questions about why they decided to keep using a tool have said:

“The moment I saw that everyone was participating in a way they hadn’t before was the moment I knew we needed this product”
“The support we received during our trial showed your team was much more committed to our success than teams at competing products”
“The pricing plans were changing so I figured I should upgrade now to take advantage of the cheaper plans”

People responding to questions about why they canceled have said:

“I’m scared what people with think of me if I use this product”
“I’m procrastinating too much because of this product”
“The UI is too small and it was too frustrating to use”

“I finished all the lessons, so there was no reason to keep using it”

I promise to give you specific answers to specific questions…

Look, saying “Let’s do research” is ambiguous at best. Same for “Let’s listen to our customers” or “Be more customer-centric”

The truth is that the much-espoused shorthand for what marketers must do to launch more customer-centric experiments is obfuscated by this language. I, too, am guilty of encouraging others to “just do research” when, in fact, saying so is akin to saying, “just do marketing.” Any marketer who has been told the former knows the folly of this directive. And yet, many of us are guilty of this same over-simplification of operational and methodological challenges of running successful research campaigns.

To that end, I promise to sort through these challenges to launch a scalpel-like investigation that gives you qualitative data that answers the questions we set out to answer.

…but I don’t promise 100% certainty.

The answers we find are not the permanent, complete, and absolute truth about your customers. You’re hiring me to answer complex, multi-faceted questions with many possible answers for many possible audiences. Complete certainty doesn’t exist here.

I can also promise you that there will be unanswered questions at the end of the study, but these are questions that come with knowing more about your customers.

Stop thinking: “Someday I’ll get the insight to understand why we don’t get or keep customers.” 

Start thinking: “Now we know precisely what copy to write and what experiments to run.

The outcome of this engagement isn’t exactly “research.” Yes, there will be raw qualitative data you can use for your conversion copywriting projects. But more importantly you get…

…a light shone on your blind spots

…a new expanded list of reasons customers struggle to start or continue using your product that we can turn into web copy and onboarding emails

…exact words customers use to express their feelings and mindset at key point during their lifecycle with your company

…a veritable bounty of qualitative data you can use again and again in your copy (this alone might be worth the fee)

…insight on product changes you might want (or need) to make to reduce churn

….someone who is not you tell the product team what you’ve been dying to say but can’t because of politics (aka: marketing won’t be able to fix revenue-related problems until product fixes a few things first)

Start shipping copy and running experiments you can be proud of.

In many cases, you can hire me to execute copy based on the research we’ve conducted.

If you hire me to find out why people cancel, we may find that people cancel because they didn’t find something in your product that you have – but they didn’t know about it. You can hire me to write onboarding emails to help new customers get started.

But if there’s a problem copy can’t solve and you don’t have the in-house expertise to fix it, I have a list of trusted consultants I recommend to address both product problems and marketing problems.

Show up to your next leadership meeting with answers to everyone’s questions – and be the smartest person in the room.

Far be it from me to rank one type of intelligence over another. But inside a SaaS leadership team, knowing exactly why your customers are signing up, upgrading, or churning is a super power. Being the person who knows the exact words customer use to describe how they feel about your product makes you a secret weapon. Showing up with the data about what’s happening to back up your strategy to fix it makes you the person everyone wants to say “yes” to.

To start, fill out this short, 8-question intake form to begin Step 1, scheduling your “Meet and Greet” call to Find Out Why.

I want to be a secret weapon, I want to find out why