209. Your secret homepage 💤

Look beyond your website, and you might just find 2x the traffic and new users

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Hi there 👋

(A special welcome to all the new subscribers this week. It’s great to have you here!)

This week’s newsletter content — see below — was inspired by some of the data I’ve been discovering at Polly. It reminds me a lot of the data I’ve seen at Buffer and other spots. The data speaks to the power and potential of “secret homepages,” and it’s indicative of an even larger strategic shift happening across tech as well: The Platform Play. I’ll save that for a future newsletter, but feel free to message me in the meantime if you want more info. tl;dr — the Platform Play is working!

Wishing you a great week ahead,

P.S. Want a Clubhouse invite? I have a couple extras to spare. Shoot me a reply!

Secret homepages: Where 50% of your traffic and users may be hiding

Over the years, I have spent many, many months on website redesign projects, agonizing over every pixel and fiddling with every phrase. I’ve optimized, I’ve experimented, I’ve A/B tested. The homepage has taken residence in my brain and is paying off a mortgage.

I’m hooked on homepages.

And yet …

At Polly, traffic to our Slack and Teams directory listings is 2x what we get to our website homepage and equal to 1/4 of our overall site traffic.

At Buffer, 50% of new-user acquisition came from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. We’re talking 10s of thousands of new users each quarter.

We spend months on website work: testing, tweaking, redesigning.

We spend minutes on app store listings.

(Or maybe I should speak for myself: I spend months vs. minutes.)

These “secret” homepages are a hugely significant part of the customer journey, but it’s so, so easy to forget they exist. To make the shift of perspective, you have to do a couple things differently:

  1. Truly understand the customer journey. There are some useful customer journey mapping exercises that can help reveal all the different ways your customers find you. Also, you could just ask your customers directly (attribution surveys and interviews).

  2. Put data behind the journey paths. There’s a difference between simply knowing you have an app store listing versus knowing you have an app store listing that brings in 50k traffic each month. When you can quantify the impact, you’re more likely to pay attention and prioritize.

Note: Don’t forget the unquantifiable aspects of these secret homepages, too. Your brand is a collection of every interaction someone has with you online, including your secret homepages.

Your journey mapping might lead you to discover any number of different homepages. For instance, do any of these ring true?

  • ☑️ iOS App Store and Google Play Store

  • ☑️ Slack app directory

  • ☑️ Shopify app directory

  • ☑️ Instagram profile

  • ☑️ Browser extension marketplace

  • ☑️ G2 Crowd, Capterra, TrustRadius

This “secret homepage” idea is really just an extension of a Product-Led Growth principle. To drive better distribution, put your product where users live. For instance, here is what things looked like for us at Buffer (not all PLG companies lean as far into freemium and away from sales as Buffer does):

There are reasons why we pay more attention to our obvious homepage rather than our secret homepages. Your website is an owned channel. You have complete control over the look and feel, and you can test literally anything you want on your pages. An app store listing is a mix of owned and earned, it’s limited in scope of design, it’s difficult to experiment with. It’s “someone else’s” website.

So you’ve got to change all that.

Lean into the owned + earned mix of a secret homepage.

Many of these homepages have the most beautiful of marketing content: social proof! 😍 Embrace the earned media on your pages: reviews, comments, feedback, etc. Run campaigns to encourage more reviews and engagement with your page. Highlight and reward your champions.

Be forward-thinking in the scope of design.

Just as you would take inspiration from other website comps, you can take inspiration from the way that others use their secret homepage real estate. Creativity thrives within constraint. And what can be more constraining than a third-party CMS?

Case in point: iOS App Store images are basic, right? Not so much anymore:

Experiment creatively.

You run A/B tests all the time on your homepage. But you can also A/B test on your secret homepage. It won’t be as scientific, but you should feel empowered to learn what works and what doesn’t on these pages and to be disciplined about your levers.

For instance, here are some sample hypotheses:

  • If we add video to our assets, then we’ll see an increase in installs due to the higher engagement of video content

  • If we boost the review score, then we’ll see a higher amount of traffic and more visibility in search due to our understanding of ranking factors

Share the ownership.

Investing in the relationship with your secret homepage provider can be instrumental in getting the most from this resource. Often times this may look like a business development role, but it can happen with any partner marketer, channel marketer, or growth marketer as well.

Within this relationship, it’s important to learn:

  • What are my traffic numbers to the page? What is the CTR / install rate?

  • What are the factors that lead to more visibility within the ecosystem?

  • What are new features we could be taking advantage of?

  • What is coming down the pipe?

If you want to see a brand who does a secret homepage really well, check out Postscript. Their secret homepage is their Shopify app store listing.

✅ Incredibly strong focus on positive customer reviews.

✅ Clear description, headline, and pricing

✅ Design is on point — eye-catching, colorful images with real people and product screenshots. Plus, the all-important video 👍

✅ And they probably spend more than a minute optimizing this listing and experimenting on how to make it even better.

How about you?

Got a secret homepage that’s a surprisingly large portion of your traffic or acquisition? We’re investing in this at Polly today, and I’d love to pick up any tips you’ve learned about how to make the most of your other landing spots. Feel free to send me a note with any ideas!

About this newsletter …

Each week, I share playbooks, case studies, stories, and links from inside the startup marketing world. If you enjoy what’s in this newsletter, you can share some love by hitting the heart button at the top or bottom.💙

About Kevan

I’m a marketing exec who specializes in startup marketing and brand-building. I currently lead the marketing team at Polly (we’re hiring!). I previously built brands at Buffer and Vox.

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