For the longest time, our home page was simply a website entry field, where you could run your website for a free site analysis in about 30 seconds. This was highly effective in terms of driving traffic, and generating over 1,500 free reports per day. The idea was that a free report would show the user they needed help, and they could call us to fix it, right? Wrong. We found through lots of analysis and testing, that an overwhelming percentage of these visitors we never going to buy our services. I won’t go into the details why, but the model was broken.
So we changed our model.
Now, the website focus is on our results for our customers. I personally spent my Christmas vacation last year pouring over about 50 different Internet marketing websites. You know what I found? None of them talked about actual customer results, and very few listed their pricing.
So what did we do? The opposite of everyone else.
We posted actual customer results, and testimonials and lay out what really differentiates us from the pack. We continued to publish pricing, but with a new “twist”. You can now order a full Internet marketing plan with several “pieces” and checkout once. This is a big improvement over the previous way of signing up customers, which required them to signup for every product individually. And when the majority of your customers are buying more than one thing, it becomes cumbersome to get started with us. So we removed that hurdle.
We also added some free eBooks, and you can order a free Internet marketing assessment as well. You’ll still be able to run the free analyzer too. (We haven’t re-branded that, but we’ll be refreshing that in the coming weeks.) Finally, we added a referral program, which you can see if you go to pearanalytics.com/treat.
Using lots of custom post types in WordPress, I can easily change any slider, testimonial, staff picture or bio or even plan within minutes. I can even change the text rotation in the first hero banner in about 2 seconds.
But the cool part was the Chargify integration. Previously, if you wanted an SEO plan, a PPC plan, some retargeting and some call tracking, you would need to sign up 4 times on 4 different hosted pages at Chargify. Using the Chargify API and Chargify Direct code base, we were able to integrate our plans and pricing, and even coupon codes into the WordPress install. Just add to your plan what you want, and check out once. In the theme options, I just have to indicate the Site ID and the Chargify API key, and we can start taking credit card payments in minutes.
What are SOPA and PIPA?
If you’re online today, you’ve heard about SOPA and PIPA. Today there is no Wikipedia, Fark, or Reddit, as these sites work to raise awareness of these two terribly written pieces of legislation. We are not going to delve into the technicalities, since that has been done quite effectively elsewhere (like on the EFF, Reddit’s Blog, or a great infographic, courtesy of Google).
Rather, I would like to briefly discuss just a little bit about how Pear started, how we grew to become the company that we are today, and how that likely would not have been possible had these bills been voted into law. This is personal to us; Pear is made up of people active on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, and a myriad of other sites. Our whole business model revolves around a free and open Internet. Functioning under the guidelines introduced in SOPA and PIPA would do great damage to our business model, and would have essentially prevented us from reaching the point that we find ourselves at presently.
Various portions of PIPA and SOPA would negatively affect nearly any business with an online presence. For example, SOPA would require that we actively monitor every outbound link on our site, as well as our clients’ sites, to ensure that they are not linking to sites with copyrighted materials. As a small company, we simply do not have the extra staff to create the monitoring ‘department’ that we would probably need. The alternative would be to create a new service, where we could be hired on to actively monitor client sites. Sure, we might be able to make some additional income from such a service, but–being familiar with start-ups in general–creating an additional layer of compliance issues would stifle innovation and small business.
As written in SOPA, search engines would be required to actively monitor potentially infringing sites. This means taking resources away from improving search algorithms and shifting them to filter search results. A large part of our strategy involves improving the content of our clients’ sites. As such, we rely on the continually improving effectiveness of major search engines. Taking resources from their improvement efforts means that poorer results will show up in search, and our efforts would provide less effective results.
SOPA and PIPA would severely hamper the sort of entrepreneurship that was required to get Pear off the ground in the first place. If we had started Pear with SOPA in action, we would have had to invest in legal counsel to ensure we had protections in place to respond to any claims made under the umbrella of SOPA or PIPA. Under SOPA and PIPA, Pear and essentially any other company with an online presence could be placed in a position where a mere accusation would require considerable resources to counter, outside of due process. When accusations mean presumed guilt or increased costs, you create a truly non-viable business environment. Unethical competitors could make claims and start a process that would cause business to grind to a halt.
Search has become a standard means of gathering information. It has become an incredibly useful tool to check facts, to verify quotes, to gather statistics. Search is not just a tool for business, even though much of our business is built on top of search. By hampering continual development and improvement of search, we are really doing harm to individuals world-wide. SOPA and PIPA could even go further than just hampering development, though. They could break much of what we already have. The free flow of information is a necessary ingredient in a free society, and when we start to infringe on that, we are truly heading down a dark path.
So what can YOU do? While there are plenty of online petitions, these tend to be less effective than handwritten letters and phone calls. So take the time and call your representative. Use this service from AmericanCensorship.org to call your representative. Visit the United States House of Representatives to find the congressman that represents YOU in the House. Find your senator. Call. Write. Take action, while you still can.