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Interview with patrick smith (convertable)

I interviewed Patrick Smith, Convertable founder to find out more. This is the two hundred and first in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Patrick!

How would you describe Convertable in under 50 words?

Convertable is a simple web-based closed loop marketing platform that automatically tracks the source of conversions from the moment a lead is submitted through a contact form all the way through the end of the sales funnel enabling you to truly measure ROI of marketing campaigns.

How did you meet co-founder Chris Hull?

I first met Chris in January 2007. A mutual friend introduced us when he found out that Chris was looking for a web developer for his web design studio. At the time, I specialized in building websites and dabbled in SEO, so I partnered with Chris building the websites that he designed.

Before long, we found that most of our web design clients were asking about how to get traffic to their website now that the new site was built. Since we were hearing the same question over and over, instead of referring them to another firm, we realized there was enough demand for online marketing services that we decided to start a separate search marketing firm in April 2008.

While at Streamline, I spent a lot of time trying to increase the number of leads generated through our clients’ websites by digging through analytics data to identify the best performing sources of traffic and uncover things that could be improved. After pouring through analytics and conversion tracking data, we could see which keywords were generating conversions but there was no way to keep track of which keywords generated conversions that resulted in sales.

What gap in the market did you discover that inspired you to launch Convertable in 2012?

Because traditional conversion tracking and web analytics tools (like Google Analytics) only offer aggregated, anonymous metrics, tracking leads hits a dead end once the form is submitted. And since most forms do not pass along web analytics data within the lead email (or to a CRM), it is impossible to tie the original source to each individual lead to the end of the sales funnel to determine how much revenue was generated by each lead or marketing campaign.

While there are several tools that offer similar features, there are currently no other services in existence that do exactly what Convertable does. The concept came to us when one of our search marketing clients asked us for a way to track their web leads through the end of the sales process. We were unable to find any 3rd-party solutions that did this, so we decided to build it ourselves.

How long did it take to put together the initial version of Convertable?

The initial concept came about in 2010 when I was working on monthly SEO reporting for one of my clients. This particular client is very results-oriented and was excited about the results Streamline has achieved for them, as far as increasing the number of leads through their website. Every so often, they would get a very promising lead and they immediately wanted to know exactly how this prospect found their site. I came up with a process to identify the source by tagging each conversion with a unique identifier, looking it up in Google Analytics, and sending that information back to the client. Oftentimes, the best leads were generated from the SEO or PPC campaigns which made the client appreciate our efforts that much more!

While it was great to be able to have solid evidence our efforts were generating high quality leads, we typically did not ever find out if the lead resulted in a closed sale or how much revenue was generated since we were not tracking the leads throughout the entire sales process. Not to mention the fact the manual process of looking up the UIDs in Google Analytics was quite tedious and thus we realized we should develop a system to do all of this automatically. Initially, we simply wanted the tool built to use only for our own clients and thus we hired a freelance programmer to develop the first barebones version in late 2010. As we received more and more positive feedback from our clients, we realized others may be interested in using Convertable. As a result, we decided to overhaul Convertable and launch it as its own product in late-2012.

Convertable is currently free. What’s your revenue model?

We had literally been working on the concept of Convertable for several years when we decided to open it up to beta users. The beta launch was really just to see what kind of marketing viability there was. Since we launched it, we have had over 700 users create accounts with minimal marketing effort on our part. Even though these are non-paid accounts, we felt there was enough interest in Convertable to continue to develop the product.

Our immediate plan is to continue to work on improving the core functionality and build the user base. In the near future, we will announce paid plans for users who want more features.

What do you feel makes Convertable stand out from competitors such as Wufoo, Google Analytics and Saleforce?

WuFoo – WuFoo is the industry leader in building contact forms. Their plans are affordable to most small businesses as well. However, WuFoo specializes in the building of web forms and thus does not focus on the tracking and updating of leads throughout the sales funnel whereas Convertable offers form building, lead tracking and lead management.

Google Analytics – 82% of websites use Google Analytics for tracking user activity. It is very easy to use while being robust and not to mention free, so it is easy to see why so many websites use it. However, Google Analytics is simply an analytics tool to track activity on websites. So once a lead is submitted through a contact form, the tracking hits a dead end since the Google Analytics data is not passed along with the lead and updated through the end of the sales process, which could take weeks, months or even longer to be finalized. Without the lead management and individual lead tracking components, using only Google Analytics for measuring the performance of online marketing campaigns is not sufficient.

Salesforce – Salesforce is likely the most popular CRM platform in use today. However, we have heard numerous complaints from business owners over the years that Salesforce is unnecessarily complicated to use and too expensive for them to justify using it. Salesforce is also removing the ability to track the sources of web leads, especially for Google AdWords campaigns.

We are not trying to make Convertable into a full blown CRM, marketing automation platform or web analytics software suite. Our goal with Convertable is to keep it simple, easy to use and affordable for our users. That being said, we are working on an API to integrate with other third party services.

Has Convertable got the feedback and growth you expected since launching?

Yes, we have received a lot of very useful and positive feedback. It is great to hear that other people are finding it as useful as we did. We have also gotten great input on improvements and additional features from our users

You recently launched custom thank you pages, any other new features coming up?

We have several ideas for new features we plan on adding sometime down the line, but two features I am especially excited about and are currently being developed are the API and a WordPress plugin. Several of our beta users have requested these features. We expect that these additions will greatly add to the growth we have experienced thus far.

In December you worked with a National sporting goods manufacturer to improve sales and a small 10-minute change resulted in a 30% conversion increase overnight. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

Chris actually wrote a detailed blog post, but the basic idea is that we changed the “Add to Cart” button from blue to red so it was more likely to catch the eye of the user. One simple change can obviously make quite a significant impact.

You have a growing team, are you on the look out for developers at the moment?

We are still building Convertable while we are running our businesses full-time. We would love to add more developers to the fold but we will first need to start generating revenue and/or acquire fundraising to do so.

Where do you see Convertable in 5 years time?

Within the next 6 months, we expect to get the paid plans in place so Convertable will start to generate revenue.

Within 12-18 months, we hope Convertable is producing enough revenue that it’s fully sustainable on its own as a standalone business with a team of full-time developers.

In five year’s time, we would like to be known as an industry leader in the online marketing analytics space.

Can you convince the reader to start using Convertable in under 50 words?

Anyone can track the sources of conversions in Google Analytics. However, if you want to take the next step and identify the sources of the leads which convert into actual sales so you can determine how much revenue is generated by each marketing channel, then check out Convertable!

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