Printify is the technology platform that's made it possible for millions of people around the world to become entrepreneurs by selling high-quality customized merchandise online. The way Krists Tauriņš, product marketing manager and Appcues power user, puts it:
“We help online merchants make more money with less effort.”
That’s quite the value prop! And the growth team at Printify needed a solution for rapidly testing growth experiments and identifying top sellers for their sales team. With self-serve onboarding still under development—like many fast-growing startups—their product marketing team wore a lot of hats. At Printify, product marketing is nested under the growth team—and they do everything from launching new features, improving overall feature adoption, increasing activation, telling customer stories, and more.
Krists, our onboarding hero of the hour, focuses on user activation. He was tasked with implementing Flows to increase engagement early in the customer journey.
“We felt like there was a lack of tooling for us. We wanted to reach people (from a marketing perspective) when they are in the product—teach them about the Printify platform in the perfect context. And we just didn’t have the tooling opportunity to do that effectively,” Krists says. “An in-app communication tool is something that we needed to implement.”
Activation “aha” moment
Improving activation is easier said than done. We know how much time and energy teams spend trying to find a single activation moment, or combination of moments. But having the right tool for the job makes any task easier—and with Heap and Appcues at the ready, the Printify team had the complete set of tools they needed to dive into their data.
Folks from Growth, Research, Product Marketing, and Data joined forces to uncover what key actions merchants made in the product correlated with them being successful long-term users. It wasn’t long until they made their first data-driven discovery: members that connected a store within a specific timeframe were more successful over the long run.
That means that connecting a Etsy, Shopify, Wix, Bigcommerce, Squarespace, Wordpress, PrestaShop, or eBay store to Printify (where merchants sell designed and created products) drives further success through additional traffic and sales.
Armed with this insight, Krists diligently watched recordings in Fullstory to learn what users did right after they signed up. After watching what felt like hundreds of sessions, he noticed some patterns. He found stumbling blocks—bottlenecks where people got stuck—and laid out his findings in a spreadsheet. He wanted to remove those stumbling blocks and bottlenecks in a few hours (not a few weeks) so he began ideating solutions.
“Appcues is great. You can build and iterate an MVP quickly. For example, I saw a page that was creating a bottleneck where people were dropping off because they just lacked context or education overall,” Krists says.
The un-bottleneck’d page Krists mentions above was the last major step in Printify’s onboarding process, connecting a store. Krists and his team had been so focused on getting folks through everything up until this point, that they didn’t realize this friction was the source of a major hangup for users. With the help of a small but mighty tooltip, a friendly beacon now greets users who haven’t connected their store.
If you spend 5 minutes talking to anyone on the Printify team, it’s clear that Printify runs on data. It’s in their DNA. That deep data culture is reflected in how they use Appcues, too. That’s why every Appcues experience is shown to a control group before going live—to ensure it has the desired impact. (Krists and team weren’t gonna relinquish publishing experience control without the right data to back it up… they would never!)
“Based on [my analysis], I developed 4 separate Flows focused specifically on connecting a store. The Flows were contextually placed to target merchants when it made the most sense in their journey, aka when connecting their store was relevant. So these Flows weren’t guiding merchants through the whole onboarding experience of how you should set up a product, etc. It was focused on one specific thing–connecting their first store—as this was a crucial step in the ’setup moment’ that we wanted to test and improve.”
Turns out, Krists was right! 🥳 Starting their Flow with a subtle-but-friendly tooltip that offered up more information—vs. interrupting a user—resulted in a 10% uplift in Flow conversion as users clicked from tooltip to modal. Printify took advantage of that glorious modal real estate by embedding a video and following up with a CTA to take the action (Connect Etsy store). You, too, can cook this up! This is a perfect recipe for in-app messaging success:
- Call to Action
Starting their Flow with a subtle-but-friendly tooltip resulted in a 10% uplift in Flow conversion.
Validating success with Heap
Store connections increased, and even first purchases from stores increased. Merchants were now able to reach Printify’s ultimate goal faster—selling goods using Printify.
Sounds too good to be true (spoiler: it is true, this is a success story after all)? How did Krists really know? Other than seeing store connections increase after publishing, how was it possible to tell that the Flows had anything to do with the success?
“We did a 50/50 split - 50% of new signups saw the Flows (treatment) and 50% didn't (control). We also created a separate user property that we sent to Heap which we used to identify if a specific user saw the Appcues experimental flow or not. In Heap, this allowed us to group our users and compare the treatment and control groups against each other. Whichever key metric I picked, the treatment group performed better than the control,” Krists says.
Improving cross-selling opportunities with research
Printify faces a challenge felt by many software companies: they aren’t selling physical products. They’re not selling to merchants who make specific items, like homemade candles, subversive cross stitches, or knit sweaters; they’re selling tools for creators to fulfill their dreams as merchants across multiple stores and products. Many of us in software should be able to relate: we aren’t selling physical items—we’re selling a better way of working (with data to back it up).
In this cross-sell/research double-threat, Krists used data from a brand new recommendation engine to populate the top products personalized to that person’s activity and shop. To both validate research and the cross-sell potential, Krists came up with a two-step Flow of simple genius.Every good Flow starts with something that draws your attention (without being annoying). In this case, the Printify copywriting team sprinkled on magical, motivating copy to drive their message home, starting with an intriguing question:
After that, the Printify team followed up with a satisfaction survey, plus an opportunity to leave a comment that gets funneled directly to the product team. This Flow empowered Krists, Marketing, and Data teams to use Appcues to quickly validate and soft launch ideas in weeks, rather than months.
To track interaction, performance, and follow their user journey in Heap, Krists adds utm parameters right into his Flow links. Now, he’s able to shine a light on every step of the journey and where someone might get stuck. He compared it to an email version of this same campaign:
“Appcues Flows performed way better than email. They help test features we might want to eventually productize.”
This Flow was brand new at the time of our discussion, so this whole project is in the soft launch phase. Good news, though, early indicators show the new products recommended in these Flows are already being created and published in Printify merchant stores.
Nice one, Krists! 🥳
Validating ideas in just days
Krists saw another opportunity during the trial and onboarding phase to learn from users—naturally (as all onboarding heroes do) he jumped on it.
Throughout his work in the trial, he saw users behave in two ways:
- Set up immediately with very little friction
- Struggled to choose products or select a store
He created a targeted microsurvey with brilliant copy (a nice compliment to advanced users!) to learn more about his most successful user cohort. Then, he used his findings to engage the not-so-successful users.
Krists aimed to reach people who came in and got their store set up immediately. Email was out of the question—it’s too slow. He needed to reach those users while they were in their groove—or flow, if you will. (Pardon the pun.) He also didn’t have time to wait around for the results (start-up life, amirite?). Email surveys can take weeks to gather data—and that’s on top of however long it took to get the necessary design resources and assets.
“If we didn’t have Appcues, I would have to suffer with email. It would have taken me a week just to get the data,” Krists says. “I launched the Flow within a day of having the idea, and in 2 or 3 days I had enough data to make a decision regarding next steps.”
He noticed that quite a few people who were quickly moving through Printify’s onboarding were coming through paid channels, which seemed odd.
“They haven't done previous research, right? They might have noticed our ad for the first time without any additional context,” Krists says. “Well, it turned out that they had. They already had a specific idea quickly after signing up. We want to understand their research approach and influences before the moment of signup.”
“I was surprised,” Krists says. “The engagement was much higher than I expected. I think if you catch people at the right moment, they are willing to share their feedback.”
This Flow is also an example of the power of microcopy. The first request on the survey catches your attention and gives a wee compliment before asking for your time. In Kris’ words: “The hypothesis was, ‘Well, if you tell me I’m doing great at something, I want to provide additional feedback. Why wouldn’t I? I’m so good at it!’”
Team wide adoption
Once word gets out that you’re using a tool like Appcues successfully, watch out. Other teams will want to start reaching customers as easily—and usage grows like wildfire.
“Opening the opportunity to use the power of Appcues to other squads made me a bit cautious as we don't want the product experience to become one huge mess of tooltips and modals. We started implementing a launch process/checklist for all squads to make sure our users are not overFlown.”
“Growth was more using it for rapid experimentation for identifying top sellers or people who want to order in bulk, so testing different approaches. We (Product Marketing) adopted the tool a little bit later, and now other marketing and sales squads have started adopting (Appcues) as well.”
One example from another team at Printify is a webinar promotional Flow. This Flow provided quick learnings and improved communications across other Flows.
The team learned that modal performed well on desktop computers, but on mobile it didn’t perform as well. Krists and team didn’t want to sacrifice the text and imagery, so they opted to target these Flows to desktop with continued performance increases and reduction in overall Flow fatigue (too many Flows shown).
Krists and the Printify team are always experimenting, learning, and coming up with great ideas. Lately, Krists has been researching and working on uniting Appcues Flows along with email communications so the entire journey has consistent messaging, timing, and context.
His next project? Creating specific Flows targeted to URL parameters launched from emails to continue the context from the email into the conversation you’re having in the product. Genius.
It can be overwhelming starting a personalization journey. Krists and the team have learned that focus is the key to unlocking increases in metrics. As they move through the quarter, they plan to pick short, scalable experiments that can drive one specific metric. He explained a bit more for us:
“We created an Appcues experience a couple of months back that guided new signups through the whole onboarding steps and helped with previously identified barriers/questions,” Krists says. “Modals, tooltips—a couple of weeks from start to implementation, multiple team members involved: aaaand nothing. Crickets. Absolutely no changes in our key onboarding metrics,” he says.
“Now, when we have identified a specific metric like the Setup moment and focus on that only, we start noticing a positive impact. ”
Krists explains their philosophy:
“Don’t spend 2-3 weeks building out tons of Flows and emails. Launch something smaller quickly and try to understand what is a great leading indicator. Is it impactful? If it’s something promising, then devote more resources to it, and do your best to reach statistical significance before implementing something for all users.”
“It sounds simple, and everyone is saying that—but when you actually try to replicate that in real life, it’s often messy,” Krists says.
So true. We love the realness, Krists.