This week we dive deep into conversion paths with Matt Erley, VP of Growth at Havenly.

August 23, 2018

Can you tell us a little about your company and role?
I’m the VP of Growth at Havenly, responsible for customer acquisition/conversion, brand, and growth product. Havenly is a 4 year old company, based in Denver, changing the way people design spaces in their home and shop online for furniture/decor. Our online room packages start at just $79 and we are now the largest interior design business in the nation by volume, having completed over 100,000 projects to date.

 

What are you working on at the moment?
My biggest priority right now is exploring and implementing tactics to nurture and convert customers in a purchase decision that is very high consideration. Online interior design is still in it’s early days, comparable to where the D2C mattress companies were 4-5 years ago. Our average number of days to purchase a design package is in the 2-3 week range from when someone first lands on our homepage. We see users come back 8+ times before they decide to make a purchase. Due to this high consideration purchase decision, my team is hyper focused on mid and low funnel tactics to communicate trust, value, social proof, etc., before driving a purchase.

 

So what have you learned so far?
Gone are the days of rapid growth based on paid acquisition channel arbitrage. No one is winning due to a silver bullet strategy in FB, IG, Pinterest, etc. That doesn’t mean we’ve retreated completely from these channels, but the goal of my team is to find arbitrage opportunities AFTER we have landed prospective customers on our site. We are spending a much larger portion of our time investing in conversion via things like welcome stream, landing page testing, reviews, before/after content, and focused style-specific retargeting. If our typical customer takes 2-3 weeks to make a purchase decision, we better give them a lot to see, do, explore, and consider during that period of time.

 

Can you tell us more about the strategy behind this?
We wanted to first understand the pre-conversion paths leading to the highest conversion rates. What pages do they hit? How many times do they return? Where are they coming from? Where are we falling short? We worked with our head of data science on an “unsupervised” approach to identifying archetypes of customers (meaning we analyzed our data to find clusters of users doing similar things pre-conversion and then looked to emulate the behavior of the highest converting groups). Based on that information, we can focus on leading new users through similar high-conversion paths.

 

What results have you seen?
We are more confident in our conversion path. We have a much better strategy to pair ToF traffic with contextual landing pages and then focus on redirecting that traffic back to specific pages on Havenly’s site throughout the next number of days, weeks, months. We have a long way to go, be we are getting better at treating all inbound traffic differently. All of this data is also informing our email welcome series, paid ads, and on-site content. Because we have a more informed idea of what a user needs to convert, we can exploit that throughout the experience. So far we like the momentum we are seeing with conversion improvements across all paid and organic traffic.

 

What are the main obstacles you’ve encountered so far and how are you overcoming them?
When you’re building a new category (or reframing an old one – as we are with interior design), conversion is difficult. Period. It’s a grind. We have to wake up every morning ready to tinker, challenge our assumptions, and do a lot of testing. Havenly is in a difficult and yet exciting position to convince the masses that they should trust an interior designer to make their home more beautiful/delightful to live in, and to pull out their credit card to make that happen. Simply tweaking a FB campaign, spinning up a new landing page, or spending every hour of every day trying to decrease CAC by a few percentage point isn’t going to be our success story. We are laser focused every day on investing in our new users, to nurture them, understand their needs, and point them in the direction of a great interior design solution.

 

What is the end goal here?
We want to convince people that interior design is something they should consider. Show the value. Replace the stigma and baggage of interior design as something that is expensive, time consuming, cumbersome, etc., and show them a new version. Focusing on the mid and low funnel is where we can win at this.

 

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I think I spent too much time in the past looking for the next silver bullet or “growth hack”. Those might exist for certain companies at certain points in time, but I think the best approach is a committed strategy across your entire growth engine and ecosystem. We need to keep investing in long-term growth (which is difficult as a startup). Brian Balfour at Reforge has said it best that user acquisition isn’t a strategy, it’s just a linear channel into your product/service. The best way to win is to focus on what happens next… referral, SEO loops, product virality, etc. These are the best places to make big strides.

This week we dive deep into conversion paths with Matt Erley, VP of Growth at Havenly.

August 23, 2018

Can you tell us a little about your company and role?
I’m the VP of Growth at Havenly, responsible for customer acquisition/conversion, brand, and growth product. Havenly is a 4 year old company, based in Denver, changing the way people design spaces in their home and shop online for furniture/decor. Our online room packages start at just $79 and we are now the largest interior design business in the nation by volume, having completed over 100,000 projects to date.

 

What are you working on at the moment?
My biggest priority right now is exploring and implementing tactics to nurture and convert customers in a purchase decision that is very high consideration. Online interior design is still in it’s early days, comparable to where the D2C mattress companies were 4-5 years ago. Our average number of days to purchase a design package is in the 2-3 week range from when someone first lands on our homepage. We see users come back 8+ times before they decide to make a purchase. Due to this high consideration purchase decision, my team is hyper focused on mid and low funnel tactics to communicate trust, value, social proof, etc., before driving a purchase.

 

So what have you learned so far?
Gone are the days of rapid growth based on paid acquisition channel arbitrage. No one is winning due to a silver bullet strategy in FB, IG, Pinterest, etc. That doesn’t mean we’ve retreated completely from these channels, but the goal of my team is to find arbitrage opportunities AFTER we have landed prospective customers on our site. We are spending a much larger portion of our time investing in conversion via things like welcome stream, landing page testing, reviews, before/after content, and focused style-specific retargeting. If our typical customer takes 2-3 weeks to make a purchase decision, we better give them a lot to see, do, explore, and consider during that period of time.

 

Can you tell us more about the strategy behind this?
We wanted to first understand the pre-conversion paths leading to the highest conversion rates. What pages do they hit? How many times do they return? Where are they coming from? Where are we falling short? We worked with our head of data science on an “unsupervised” approach to identifying archetypes of customers (meaning we analyzed our data to find clusters of users doing similar things pre-conversion and then looked to emulate the behavior of the highest converting groups). Based on that information, we can focus on leading new users through similar high-conversion paths.

 

What results have you seen?
We are more confident in our conversion path. We have a much better strategy to pair ToF traffic with contextual landing pages and then focus on redirecting that traffic back to specific pages on Havenly’s site throughout the next number of days, weeks, months. We have a long way to go, be we are getting better at treating all inbound traffic differently. All of this data is also informing our email welcome series, paid ads, and on-site content. Because we have a more informed idea of what a user needs to convert, we can exploit that throughout the experience. So far we like the momentum we are seeing with conversion improvements across all paid and organic traffic.

 

What are the main obstacles you’ve encountered so far and how are you overcoming them?
When you’re building a new category (or reframing an old one – as we are with interior design), conversion is difficult. Period. It’s a grind. We have to wake up every morning ready to tinker, challenge our assumptions, and do a lot of testing. Havenly is in a difficult and yet exciting position to convince the masses that they should trust an interior designer to make their home more beautiful/delightful to live in, and to pull out their credit card to make that happen. Simply tweaking a FB campaign, spinning up a new landing page, or spending every hour of every day trying to decrease CAC by a few percentage point isn’t going to be our success story. We are laser focused every day on investing in our new users, to nurture them, understand their needs, and point them in the direction of a great interior design solution.

 

What is the end goal here?
We want to convince people that interior design is something they should consider. Show the value. Replace the stigma and baggage of interior design as something that is expensive, time consuming, cumbersome, etc., and show them a new version. Focusing on the mid and low funnel is where we can win at this.

 

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I think I spent too much time in the past looking for the next silver bullet or “growth hack”. Those might exist for certain companies at certain points in time, but I think the best approach is a committed strategy across your entire growth engine and ecosystem. We need to keep investing in long-term growth (which is difficult as a startup). Brian Balfour at Reforge has said it best that user acquisition isn’t a strategy, it’s just a linear channel into your product/service. The best way to win is to focus on what happens next… referral, SEO loops, product virality, etc. These are the best places to make big strides.