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Intercom's 6 strategies to convert customers on their website

Sumit Hegde
October 18, 2019

Breaking down the strategies that Intercom uses to solidify their positioning, personalise their messaging and convert customers on their website.

In this post, we’ll cover:

We get it. Intercom is huge.

They've got over $80 million in annual recurring revenue.

They have 100,000+ active monthly customers. Their website traffic grows like WILD watermelons, every month.

Intercom changed how support worked. It made business personal. It made strides in customer messaging and automation.

But our focus for today isn't the IMPACT of Intercom so much as HOW they show this value in their messaging.

Today we'll be looking at what the whole deal with their website and marketing is—how do they get so much traffic to their website? What did they do to solidify their positioning? How do they convert visitors? What does the fox say?

I don't need to convince you to read this article, right?

I've heard that if you don't do it, Shia LaBoeuf personally haunts you.

Here's what this article will be talking about:

(Click to skip to the section)

  1. Identifying what your customers want: Intercom's strategy to figure out the right messaging
  2. The Jobs to be Done Approach: Why you're the best product in the market and picking out your competitors
  3. Intercom's audience segmentation: How to make different audiences convert at scale
  4. Use-case personalisation: Why different use-cases need different pushes and prices
  5. Paid Ad Landing Pages vs Normal Landing Pages: How to make different levels of product awareness work for you
  1. Steal your competitor's traffic: Why landing pages with your competitor's name could be your lottery ticket

Identifying what your customers want

Intercom's strategy to figure out the right messaging

The year was 2011. A lot of important things were happening all at once. Twilight's Breaking Dawn. The Royal Wedding. The Occupy Wall Street Movement.

But especially...Intercom's launch.

And Intercom's co-founder Des Traynor had the most amazing, mind blowing, crazy strategy in mind to acquire customers.

Emailing prospects by hand. One by one. Yep.

He could have used automation. He could have taken a different route.

But nothing beats knowing your customers first-hand.

To really understand what each of your customers needs, you need to get to the root of their problems.

By talking to your customers.

You don't even have to talk to every single customer you have. You just need to find your best customers, and understand them.

The ones who love your product and have used it consistently. The good reviewers.

They will tell you who your product is best for, and why.

When you do thorough customer research, you understand why your product appeals to your audience. You tighten up your messaging. You learn what to say to make them convert.

In the words of the mythical creature Des Traynor:

There is no big secret to identifying what your customers need.

The secret is YOU ASK THEM. You talk to them, and you find out.

When you understand these common confusions, you address them—in your marketing, in your emails, on your website. You make sure all objections are answered, and all use cases covered.

And when you speak to them personally, you figure out what works for the segment they belong to. You find common patterns among your audiences, you segment them and you show the segments what helps them most.

As Des says—

This was on a very hands-on level.

Every email was personalised, specifically written for the reader.

But when you take this same technique and scale it, you get messaging that applies to a whole section of your audience equally.

The Jobs to be Done Approach in marketing

Showing why you're the best product in the market

Intercom used this framework to position their software and nail their marketing.

What is the job that Intercom is doing in its customers' lives? What are people 'hiring' your software to do?

Intercom answers this in three, sliced segments. Lead Generation. Customer Support. Customer engagement.

Intercom vows to do nothing more, nothing less than these three jobs that customers hire it for, and this is what makes it such a great tool.

Your customers are using your product to perform a particular job, to solve a very specific problem.

Look at it this way: Why do people buy pencils? If you REALLY put your mind to it, a pencil can be used quite creatively.

I mean...

Your pencil could have a hundred different uses: but which is the ONE use people buy your pencil for?

Do they buy it to write? To sketch? To twirl their hair around? To use as chopsticks? To drum a table with?

What is your product best adapted for?

Perhaps your pencil is the perfect length and material for scooping noodles and you don't even know!

Your task is to decide:

Which of these many jobs is your product best at? What is the job your best customers hire you for?

The JOB that Intercom really does is making customer communication easier, faster and more human.

Before Intercom, there were support forms. They were emails. There was the boring ticket system. (I'd rather watch 3 Adam Sandler movies back to back than talk to someone through the ticketing system).

Intercom made communication a way for businesses to build relationships with their customers.

It helped qualify leads, engage and support customers in a dynamic, fresh way.

The job Intercom does is help you talk to your customers. It solves the problem of bad, slow, inefficient and robotic customer communication.

You need to frame the job your software really does in terms of a problem-solution, but not by assuming what your product does.

You have to talk to your best customers and figure out why people hire your software.

For example:

Problem: Your customers have high churn. It's difficult for them to understand why people abandon them. The current product they use doesn't visually represent the data on churn.

Solution: Your product will help them understand why people churn through easily-understood graphs and charts, and thus reduce it.

What are other products that do the same job?

If I asked you to name Intercom's competitors, you'd probably list out other customer chat apps. Drift. LiveChat. Tidio.

But the truth is—email would do the job Intercom does. Video calling platforms could do it. In-person meetings would do it.

Your competitors are not just other products that do the same job in the same way you do it. Your competitors are also other products that might do the same job, but differently.

To really make customers convert, you need to show how your product is better than their current way of doing the job, whether that way is Drift or a salesperson.

Intercom is better at lead-generation than your salespeople because it's smarter, faster and reduces the time and effort your team spends on easily automated tasks:

Intercom is better than email support because teamwork is easy and support is super accessible:

Intercom also makes its case against Drift and other competitors, but we'll get to that in a bit!

What's the but in 'I want to do this job but...'?

Remember the last time you went 'I want to go on that Bali trip, but I also want to save funds to invest in my business'?

Or when you thought 'I'd love to buy a worktable but I don't really have space for it right now?'

A time you didn't buy the product because of a secondary objection that popped up?

What if your customers are not buying your product because of a legitimate side effect of the job your software does?

Maybe they really want to buy your team chat application to make intra-team communication smooth, but they're worried the chats will seep into their out-of-office hours. cough cough Slack cough

Or perhaps, they want to manage projects better and make their goals more transparent, but don't want to have endless lists with arbitrary deadlines.

You need to answer this BUT on your website.

For example, Intercom's Answerbot which gives out automated answers is an amazing tool.

But customers might think: I want automated answers, but I want to still be in control of what it replies to my customers, and make sure it gives the right answers.

So Intercom says you can train and monitor it:

Or customers might think 'Hey, I'd love for customized bots to greet my website visitors and collect information from customers, but I do NOT want to deal with code.'So Intercom says:

Answer that BUT!

Watch out for the BUTT!

How to make different audiences convert at scale

Intercom's audience segmentation

There are going to be different kinds of people who will love your product—for different reasons.

Let's imagine you have a form-builder tool.

You could sell this product to all kinds of companies and audiences, but every person has a different motivation:

  • SaaS companies use it to collect data on their customers, and grow their MRR. They might love that your form-builder allows multiple types of fields and questions.
  • College students who use your forms for projects and assignments might love the low cost.
  • Corporations who use it to measure employee metrics might love the visual summaries of all the data.

Your job is to help your users collect data, but how do you connect the right benefit to the right kind of customer?

By making smart, specific landing pages for different audiences.
(Check out how slack uses this same technique to convert loads of visitors)

Intercom works for all kinds of businesses, no matter the size. But one size does not fit all. So what does Intercom do?

Create landing pages with specific messaging that tackle each particular audience's needs, anxieties and desires.

The above-the-fold section for Intercom's Early Stage Startups landing page talks about growth and illustrates 'building':

The biggest concern for early stage startups guessed

Intercom offers new startups a special discount to get them to convert, knowing that within a year, all their data will be fully integrated and the users will develop an attachment to the product, at which point they are not going to leave.

It's like a roommate you get used to. You're not going to leave just because they've started vaping??

For mid-sized businesses, Intercom has a different message. It's all about the next big thing, the upcoming goal and the illustration shows a wide sky of potential:

Notice the change in the CTA?

The offer completely changes when we're talking to two different types of audiences, and that is what your website should be doing too!

At the mid-stage, businesses are focussing on expanding, retaining and acquiring more customers and making sure their growth does not STOP.

And that's what Intercom's landing page focusses on.

With 'Intercom for Enterprise', Intercom goes for the 'make personal conversations, but at scale' angle—you know it makes sense!

The big question here is:

What different kinds and sizes of businesses benefit from my software the most?

Your audience can probably be split into different segments, depending on the size of the business and the kind of business they do. Use it to craft messaging that hits home for them, specifically.

Use-case personalisation

Why different use-cases need different pushes and prices

You thought this was just about 'WHO' was using your product?

Think again, cowboys, because it's also about 'HOW' they're using it.

Remember, the job stays the same. For form-builders, it'll be collecting and displaying data.

But what is the end-result of all this collected data?

What outcome are we heading towards?

These are the mini-jobs within the main job.

And these are the questions your use-case landing pages answer for your different audiences.

Let's go back to the form-builder—the reason your marketing team creates forms is not the same reason your customer success team makes forms.

The function of your product differs for different people. You need to tell visitors how your product can help them do THEIR specific job better.

Intercom's landing page for customer support focusses on how you can provide faster and better support, with the almost the same features.

It shows the benefits of using the software on customer happiness and problem-resolution:

But marketers don't care about happier customers. They don't care about customer issues and fast response times so much.

They care about increasing the revenue by bringing in more customers. They care about features that help them close prospects.

So why treat them the same?

Intercom shows this section of their audience the outcomes they want:

Everything on the page is designed for that specific use case, including customer stories, like these for lead generation:

But that's not all.

They go one step further and split their pricing page based on the use-case.

You don't want to sell people features that they will never use, and charge tonnes for it.

This way people can get the features they really need without compromising on quality—they get a product that really does what it says it does, and pay only for what they want.

Ever had someone reject you or break up with you because 'you were too good for them'? It happens to software too!

We've all rejected products because they were 'too complex' and 'had too many features we didn't need'.

This could also be stopping your visitors from converting. Just split your software into digestible parts!

Paid Ad Landing Pages vs Normal Landing Pages:

How to make different levels of product awareness work for you

Okay, first of all, Intercom RARELY sends cold advertisement traffic to a 'BUY NOW' button.

It sends them to their super valuable content. I know because I've clicked on one too many E-book download buttons. It's good stuff, okay!

Intercom built original, super-value stuffed, branded content over 6 years that brings them most of their traffic.

But even when they do send traffic to their website, these landing pages are a bit different from the regular ones.

Pour exemple, this advertisement sends traffic...

To this landing page:

  1. No overt CTA asking people to take a big action.
  1. The headline and the subheadline explain what the product is, rather than hard-sell the outcome.
  2. All the benefits of Intercom's bots are listed in one single screen—so that the audience can quickly get acquainted with all that the software brings to the table.
  3. The last section explains why Intercom's bots are better than others in the market.

In short, this is a completely zero razzmatazz, no bullshit landing page that goes 'This is who I am'.

It's an introduction to the conversational bots, not a sales page.

When you bring cold traffic to your website, offer a free valuable resource or create a landing page that allows them to understand your software, rather than selling it to them upfront.

Steal your competitor's traffic:

Why landing pages with your competitor's name could be your lottery ticket

People annoyingly googling your competitors, and never finding you?

Build a landing page talking about how you're like, sooo much better! Your customers are wayyy happier and more successful, so show 'em!

Intercom built a landing page for Drift to show why it's better:
(Check out Drift's Intercom page here)

It's totally professh.

Making a You vs Competitor landing page means people googling Competitor will see you and make a more informed decision...after knowing your product is better. 🤷🏾‍♂️

Intercom talks about all the features that people weigh when making a decision.

People think about how great the automation is, how it'll impact their conversions and what the customers will think about it, when choosing a messaging platform.

And these are the exact areas Intercom focusses on on this landing page.

Add customer testimonials, especially ones who have shifted from your competitor to your product, complete with statistics, and you've created another source of traffic.

So that's that!

Intercom's various strategies have worked for them, but you need to test them out on your audience and modify them to see what works best for you!

These strategies have helped Intercom grow into the giant it is now, and will definitely help your growth!

Here's a quick recap of all the cool takeaways from this article:

  1. Talk to your best customers! Email them, interview them, do surveys and find out why they buy your product. Use this data for your messaging!
  2. Ask yourself: Which job is your product best at? What is the job your best customers hire you for? What problem do we solve? And stick to it in your messaging!
  3. Talk about other products that do the same job: competitors who do the job in the same way and in different ways. Tell your visitors why you do the job better than them.
  4. Answer the 'but' in 'I want to complete this job (that your product does)..but'. Answer your visitors' biggest objections on your website.
  5. Segment the kinds of businesses that use your product based on industry and size, create separate landing pages for them talking about their specific needs and desires.
  6. Segregate the different uses of your product—the mini-jobs it performs. And create special landing pages tackling those use-cases.
  7. Split your pricing based on the features different use-cases require. Don't make people buy features they will never use.
  8. Send your cold traffic to free, valuable resources that will help them get acquainted with what your software does.
  9. Create separate landing pages for cold, warm and hot traffic—and cater to their needs by either explaining your product, selling your product or allowing a purchase directly.
  10. Make a landing page that talks about your competitors and why you're a better choice for your audience.
  11. The fox says: Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!

Okay, you can send me hate mail for this.
Where? Here:

Want to learn more about how to understand your audience and create messaging that they will love? Course you do. Nerd.

My free email course will be a delightful dessert to this article, check it out here!

Thoughts? Questions? Feedback?
Connect with me on Twitter @sumit_designs

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