The Billion Dollar Funnel Tear Down with Jim Huffman

This week on Digital Conversations, Billy is joined by Jim Huffman CEO of GrowthHit. Jim does 3 funnel tear downs and teaches best practices for formatting landing pages and marketing funnels.

Guest: Jim Huffman, CEO of GrowthHit, a growth marketing consultancy specializing in CRO. Author of the Amazon best seller, The Growth Marketer’s Playbook, a book that pushed Seth Godin off the #1 spot for 72 hours. Grown two startups from idea to $10M in sales. Spent over $4M on Facebook ads. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. International speaker that’s lead growth workshops at Fortune 500 brands including FedEx, Hot Wheels, Intuit, Sephora, OREO and more. Connect with him on LinkedIn!


Billy: Alright, everyone, welcome to digital conversations. I am your host, Billy Bateman, thanks for joining us today. I hope everyone is having a great day, wherever you may be. And today I am joined by Jim Huffman. Jim, thanks for joining me. 

Jim: Awesome Billy pumped to be here. 

Billy: Yeah, this is gonna be really fun, we’re gonna do something a little different today. We’re going to go and do some funnel tear downs. But before we get into that, first tell everyone just a little bit about yourself and about GrowthHit? 

Jim: Yeah, for sure. So I’m Jim Hoffman, I’m the CEO of GrowthHit. We’re a growth marketing agency. We’ve been around a little over four years, and where we kind of play is functioning as that outsourced head of growth. So we like to come in we work with startups, just around of funding, or it could be a more established company. And really, the name of the game is trying to run on site experiments, do conversion rate optimization, to get ROI to prove unit economics and go to that next level. So it’s simply put, it’s standing up funnel and trying to scale them to kind of hit business goals. But yeah, we’ve worked with over 100 companies to generate 250 million bucks in sales. And we’ve run a lot test, we failed a lot. But we’ve had some successes. So that’s kind of the spiel. 

Billy: Awesome, man. So let’s back up just a little bit. Tell us how you got into this and how you got started. Yeah, I actually started my career in finance and investment banking. I was the person working on spreadsheets late in the evening, and I was doing m&a deals. What was so cool was being in these meetings, where people were about to sell their company. I’m in the room with lawyers with MBAs. But the person that blew me away was the entrepreneur on that other side of the table. I want to be working for that guy, or girl, I want to like be the one helping grow these companies. And so shoot, that was like 10 years ago. 

Jim: That’s when I kind of left finance and got into, I guess, you could say, startups, because as you’re looking to go for early stage growth companies is very much digital. So I was in Dallas at the time, I moved to New York and worked with one. That’s why I started learning a little bit of everything, like email marketing, SEO, paid advertising. From that, I was able to be a part of two pretty high growth companies, and got connected with some venture capital firms.  

That led to me doing one off consulting with companies that were like, Hey, we’re trying to figure out how to grow. I was teaching digital marketing at this place called General Assembly. It’s like marketing classes for professionals, and all that kind of snowballed into, maybe I should figure out to do this consulting thing full time or not. I decided to go all in. And that’s when I started GrowthHit. And so yeah, that that’s a little bit of how I accidentally fell into this agency world. 

Billy: Cool. Well, I love to hear the story of how you got into it. So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to go through three funnel that you’ve selected, you guys have actually done a tear down, and people can find these on your website. Where do they where do they go to find them? 

Jim: Yeah, so we have a content website called funnel tear Not .com, unfortunately, not available. And essentially, we were doing this for our clients where we were like, okay, who are your competitors, okay, it’s these guys done. Let’s reverse engineer what they’re doing. So we go through their entire funnel, we look at their ads, we looked at their emails, and we basically presented because we’re like, okay, here’s what they’re doing, how do we want to innovate on that or do something different? So we essentially decided to publish all that. 

Billy: Cool, awesome. So I’m gonna, for those of you that are just listening, we’re gonna have this posted on the website, so you can go watch. But we’ll start with the first one. I think we’re gonna start with Zoom. And let’s go through that. 

Jim: Perfect. Yes, Zooms pretty obvious as far as like, okay, that’s a clear success story. But I think what we need to understand is, there was already a lot of video marketing or like video collaboration tools. You’re having to compete with Google’s video tool that’s built into their calendar. So it’s kind of obvious that they’re the successor because the quality is so good, but their onboarding is fantastic. And how they get you to use the product in a frictionless way is kind of spectacular.  

So we’ll just kind of go through this. You’ve got your table stakes landing page. This one was kind of geared towards virtual events, because I think you pulled this one right as COVID was happening and people were looking for events. But in one kind of aside, anybody that’s in a SaaS tool space, your best acquisition tactic is giving your product away for free. And Zoom did this extremely well. So even there, CTA is pretty nice sign up, it’s free, okay, boom, you’re clicking that. 

They’ve got the social proof all the benefits of it. The quality’s there. And so they’re reinforcing that with social proof. But that’s no surprise. They have video testimonials, which is great. But what’s nice is, as they’re pushing you, you can do the request a demo you can buy now. But really, the primary action is getting you to do that free trial. It’s just asking for your email address. It’s not to too much information, because it’s like, what is the time to you learning about Zoom to getting you to use their product. And so I think we all have seen this right.  

There 40 minute limit free version. What’s nice is you’re using the free version, they have the countdown clock until it expires. It’s kind of funny, a lot of people during COVID, it’s like, okay, we could do this call, but it’s gonna end real quick, because we only have the free version. If you had the paid version, you were a rock star. And this is not for business purposes, this is like for purposes that families would use. I think it’s worth calling out how amazing that is, and how that became a normal thing to know about the 40 minute limit, because it’s not 30 minutes, it’s not 45, they really hit that sweet spot. So I think that’s worth applauding. 

They have, let’s call it Product Marketing, they have in app Product Marketing, with this 40 minute limit, because it’s trying to get you to go from free to paid with upgrading. It’s also worth looking at their checkout page. You go to the checkout page. Okay, it’s time to kind of upgrade. What’s really nice is it’s gonna be a subscription model, are really good at pushing you to the annual one over the monthly because obviously, that’s a better LTV. You can’t see it for people listening. But like the three steps to check out, which is which is really nice.  

But here’s the most impressive thing, if you’re buying this for business purposes, a lot of times the person that’s using it, it’s not the person that’s paying for it. So look what they have, at the very bottom, they have this share card feature. So it’s extremely easy for you just to copy the link, send it to their manager, whoever has that credit card to quickly get you your Zoom account. Again, you could do like an enterprise level or whatever. But they’re making it so simple. So you’re not having to like have someone login and create account and do all that stuff. So I think like, all this combined is is there’s a lot to learn from it. Obviously they’ve got really nice upsells for webinars and for zoom rooms and all that good stuff. It’s pretty impressive what they built. 

Billy: Yeah, no, it is. Now, I want to circle back to something you said right, as you were starting this, which is for a SaaS, the best way is to give your product away in some in some form or fashion. So what do you think? Do you think the free trial or like a freemium version is better? 

Jim: Yeah, that’s a good question. With freemium, the thing you need to understand is, Do you have enough to get them to use it? And then whatever is past that paywall? Is it something that you’re holding hostage that is actually going to get them to activate? Because in the case of zoom, it’s time and I I’d be really interested to see how they thought through that. An outsider’s glance, the 40 minutes, a pretty nice sweet spot, because if it would have been like an hour, 30 minutes, I don’t think anybody be upgrading. Right. So that’s for the freemium version. For the trial. One thing to know, app queues did this study on free trials? A lot of people, if you have a free trial, they won’t even like look at sales pages, they’ll just jump in and do the learning and discovery there. 

I would be very aware, do you have a great onboarding in that trial to educate them on why they should once the trial is up 7, 14, 30 days, they’re going to upgrade? Also, what is that magic moment? And in the product, you show saving time money or wowing them with quality? Is that tied to the length of that trial? Because we run this experiment quite a bit with companies where How long is that trial? We’ve seen what hurts us where it’s too long. Other times, we’re not giving people enough time. It totally depends on your product, your price point, and how hard it is to integrate it with your tools. But the main point is if you have a product, use that as an acquisition or marketing tool and give it to them free whether it’s freemium or as a free trial. 

Billy: Cool. So before we move on, on the free trial link, that’s an interesting debate. Like we’ve had it here at ChatFunnels, like how long should the free trial be? Um, what have you seen? We’re the 14 day free trial right now seems to be working all right for us. But what are the trends that you’ve seen as you’ve looked at a lot of these? 

Jim: Yeah, I think the first question is, what’s involved in a free trial? And I mean that, but if they use the tool, do you have to integrate it with like two to three other tools? Will it require other people? If so, it’s gonna be hard for them to really experience it in a short time horizon. The other thing to factor in with your product, when is there that wow factor, where they’re like, Okay, this is amazing. This saves me X amount of time, this is gonna save me money, or Wow, this is so much more enjoyable than my other experience.  

And so like with that magic moment, how long does it take for them to get there? And then also, you know, do you have your email drip sequence aligned with that free trial? So yeah, based on some of those variables, I play with that, but honestly I think somewhat aggressive on being shorter. As long as you’re able to prove that people are going to experience why the product is great. From the second someone hears about something. The time after that their love for it will kind of wane a little bit. I think momentum is very important. 

Billy: Cool. I agree. I agree. All right let’s hop into the next one. 

Jim: Okay, so So obviously, that was a SaaS product. To kind of switch it up. I want to look at Curology. So Curology is a direct to consumer product that does personalized skincare. They’ve raised $40 million. They were testing their funnel quite a bit. They just settled on this one. It’s been amazing, how it’s become a conversion machine. They’re doing I think, the hardest thing in D to C, they’re going for subscription. They do this by starting with a free trial and then getting you to opt into a subscription. Harry’s with razors did this really well. The other thing that they’re doing is their quiz type of onboarding, which I was I’ve been skeptical on that but honestly, we’ve been testing that lately.  

And another D to C brand, Third Love that does women’s undergarments their funnel is super impressive with it. So let’s kind of get into what they’re doing. Their landing page, they’re doing the most important thing that you need to do on the landing page, and it’s with your headline, it should not talk about your product or service, it should use a very special word which is you. It should be a benefit focus headline. So with this, it’s a custom bottle for your acne, your blackheads and no one else, the words actually rotate. 

The second thing their image aligns with the benefit focus headline playing to the problem solution with before and afters. It’s a little infomercial but before and after photos work very well. And then their CTA, it’s unique and specific to that next step. It’s see if you’re eligible, almost playing up to scarcity. So you’re jumping into the funnel. And then right away, look what happens, you essentially go into a quiz style onboarding, they remove the header, they remove the navigation, all you can do is fill out the question or bounce.  

I think you call it an attention ratio, where it’s like how many CTAs you have on a page, and less is better as far as what you’re trying to get them to do. So they get your zip code to see if they can ship to you. And then once they’re approved, they can ship Look how early in the journey, they’re doing two things, they’re showing you the price, it’s free, just pay $5 shipping, and then they’re capturing your email address. That way, if you drop off, they can retarget you with on. And also it’s at their advantage. 

It’s free, and you’re just paying shipping. So show the price early. So you start getting into the funnel. And you start answering questions. And the thing that I like is the language they’re using, again, it’s second person, let’s customize your formula. Because you’re about to answer all these annoying questions. They want you to reinforcing the benefit of what you’re going to get from this, you’re going to get this custom skincare product. And then they have the progress bar so you can see how far you’re going. 

 But what I really like is what the questions they’re not text based. They’re visual. So you kind of fly through this on desktop and mobile, which is really nice. You’re answering these questions, you’re going through it you’ve invested this time. And now here’s the kind of magic moment. Boom, congratulations, you get your one month free trial, but to claim it, enter in your payment information.  

That free trial in two months is going to turn into 30 bucks a month and because you pay in two month increments that’s actually $60 So you went from learning about the product you know getting one for free all the sudden you’re kind of on the hook for 60 bucks. Now. I don’t want to applaud trickery. I don’t want to applaud misdirection. They are very transparent in this. But from a psychology standpoint, you’ve already invested time, it’s like this sunk costs you don’t want to give up. And that’s why they put this at the very end. 

That’s why this funnel has gotten to 40 million bucks in funding, but it’s also worth calling out. For this product to work well, it’s a subscription model. It’s about retention. They need to educate you on how to use the product. You’re happy with it, and you have a strong LTV, lifetime value. They’re training you right here, hey, upload photos of your skin. We can see if the products actually working, because we’re going to connect you with the dermatologist.  

They’re essentially forcing UGC and that’s why a lot of their ads have before and afters. Because people skin’s getting better. They’re asking if they can use in the ads, and they are. They get you to take selfies. But here’s the cool part. They like, okay, here’s your treatment plan, they’re actually getting you to opt in to SMS to actually connect you with a dermatologist. If anyone’s ever gone to a dermatologist, setting up an appointments annoying, you got to go to place. They’re essentially giving you a doctor on call through your phone. And so that part’s super impressive in my mind, but again, a lot of people are kind of innovating on top of this but but this one’s been a been a conversion machine. 

Billy: This is I have never heard of these guys. This is crazy. I love how as we went through this, like it was customized or your custom plan on every page as you’re going through this. And they do use like a little bit of trickery. But as you look at this, for those of you that are just listening, if you look at it, if you read, it’s there, but it is kind of just a little miss direction. It’s easier to swallow the $29 a month than the than the 60 bucks all in? 

Jim: Right? Yeah. Totally, totally. That’s why they put at the very end, crap. I’ve already invested all this time. 

Billy: Yeah, I love how they’re, they’re getting the user generated content to get those testimonials. Just like, it’s easy, you know, they’re making it easy for the customers to give them that content. Which is amazing. 

Billy: For sure. And they’re, we’re actually adding it in, but there, they get your age. And so all of their retargeting content is age specific. So if you’re a teenager, it has to do with acne, if you’re a parent or older, it has to do with aging skin. So really customizing the experience for the person’s pretty powerful. 

Jim: This is great. 

Billy: Should we go to the final one go to Superhuman? 

Jim: Yeah, this is one that I actually I tried to get into. I mean, I know, they haven’t been around that long, but it feels like maybe a year ago or so I tried to get in. And by the time they finally got back to me, I’d kind of lost interest. 

Billy: You know what, that’s so funny because I was kind of the same way. And then I was on like a slack committee and someone had an extra invite, which we’ll get to in a second. I was like, Okay, I guess I’ll do it. But I’ll be honest, it is because a lot of people that I kind of respect we’re on it. Yeah, definitely. Like fell into the social proof. I’m like, if they’re doing I’ve got to try it. When you know what they’re doing to you, but it still works. It’s I don’t know if that’s impressive or annoying. 

Billy: It works though. You got to respect it. 

Jim: Totally. So I think it’s worth calling out like, Superhuman. It’s a very aspirational name, but it’s literally like a gmail plugin. It’s like a Chrome extension. It is not exciting, but they’re trying to be I might be hyping it up too much, but like the Tesla of email, and what they’re doing well is they’re going after an easy target, which is your inbox because everyone hates that no one’s at Inbox Zero. It’s an easy thing to hate on. I love it when you have a big problem that you can villainize and just go all in on it. They’re going at it with speed. And so they’re like the fastest email experience ever made. 

 Like that’s quite grand. But I will say everything they hit you with is about speed. Just want to call out emails quite boring and lame, but they’re putting this aspirational, cool factor to it. The other thing that they did is that we’ll get to is the personas they are going after our venture capitalists. It’s agency owners, it’s people that are just flying through emails. With people, they’re trying to build up this cache, so you can’t just sign up for it. 

So notice their call to action, right? It’s request access. So like okay, what does that even mean? And so they literally won’t let you use the product. You have to request access and to even use it you have to have someone give you an invite. And it’s like, how do you even get these invites, and again, I got mine through a slack community. There is some exclusivity to it. And one thing I’ll hit on is they actually, similar to hotmail at the bottom of your email, if you use Superhuman, it says, sent by Superhuman, and you can take that out, but I’ve kept it in almost as a social experiment. It’s insane how many people will email me back like you use Superhuman? What do you think of it, and I’m just like, that’s insane, the mystique they’ve built around a Gmail, Chrome extension. 

Billy: It’s just email. 

Jim: It is really just an email. We’ve got to be nerds, if we’re getting excited about about email. The call to action, very prevalent, they’ve got the sticky navigation at the top. So they’re hitting you hard with the premium product with how impressive it is. They’ve got social proof, they got big time people on it. And again, they’re hitting up Crunch Base, first round capital, a well known venture capital firm, so they know the persona that they’re hitting on. And so once we get past all the social proof. It’s similar to like apple or Tesla, when I roll out a product showing like the, the close up shots is literally how the kind of brand feel goes with it. But it’s pretty good. 

As you get into it, you actually cannot use a product, you get into their onboarding sequence. And the reason is, they want to train you to open their emails, and it does not come from the brand, it comes from their CEO and their CEO, if you go to his Twitter, he is the best customer service CEO I’ve seen in a while. And so notice this email, like great, so happy you signed up, you’re on the list, but sorry, how you skip the line is by referring somebody.  

So taking a step back, if we look at the top launch strategies to date, they’ve been built on the back of a referral mechanism, whether it’s Robin Hood with refer people to get early access. PayPal refer people to get money, it’s a credit referral mechanism. And that’s what they’re doing here. And so again, I was trying to get referrals, I didn’t know anybody, I wasn’t gonna do it. But then I saw it in the community. You can’t hear about pricing until email, so they don’t have it on their page. And again, this is 30 bucks per month for an email Chrome extension, which I think is like insane. And I pay it by the way. 

Billy: I was gonna ask, What are you paying? 

Jim: I pay it and I actually love the product. And so that’s what I bought. But it’s also worth calling out, they don’t have a pricing page. So this is a big debate, if you’re a SaaS company, because one rule of thumb is give them the pricing, let people have it up front. If you go to a lot of CRM agencies, but they won’t give it to you have to work to find it.  

And I think it’s because it’s so expensive. If people saw that data initially bounce, it’s a big point of friction. And so what they’re doing is, so once you can get your invite before. This is what’s kind of groundbreaking, we’ll say groundbreaking for SaaS, this is a $30 SaaS tool, before you can even use the product or do a free trial, which goes against what it’s like for Zoom, they force you to fill out a question and schedule a demo. 

Before you can even do a free trial, you have to schedule a demo, which a lot of people were debating is that scalable? Is that worth it? But here’s what’s interesting, when they ask you these questions, they’re such nerdy email questions, like do you have multiple email accounts tied into one with your Gmail? Do you use your business and your professional? What tool are you using? How many hours a day? Are you on it? What types of emails do you send? Do you have a premade email draft that we can look at? Like they nerd out on it so much, you’re like this has got to be good.  

So in my 30 minute onboarding call, she essentially did a screen share where she walked everything and set it up for me. Because the other issue with Superhuman, it’s only as good as the rules that you set up to get that like lightning fast speed. And so she literally did that for me in 30 minutes. And when I followed up with questions, she also like helped me do that, because they know it’s like a free trial. 

It’s only as good as getting to that magic moment. And I think they realized that people would set this up on their own because it’s kind of a pain. But if they hold your hand, you’re going to get to that magic moment. One thing to call out, we’re actually adding it to this tear down their email onboarding sequence is probably the best one I’ve seen for a SaaS company. It’s not visual emails, it’s text based emails that’s coming from the CEO and every email only highlights one thing and it’s a gif of showing some feature they have and how it makes your inbox faster. But it’s quite impressive. 

Billy: Cool. I love it, man. I love it. This has been this has been great. The Superhuman I wasn’t cool enough to have anyone invite me, but they used to you could request access, and they still have it here. But it took forever. By the time I, somebody got back to me, I want to say it was 60 to 90 days, we’d actually moved off of Gmail and outlook. So it was like, well, the ship has sailed. But it is crazy that people are paying 30 bucks for an extension. But to go back to your pricing point, like they don’t give you that pricing up front. Because 30 bucks is a lot for email when you can get it for free.  

Yeah. And the principle? Yeah, I agree with you customers, were there definitely the premium or companies whether the premium option, rarely have the pricing on the website. Man, it is, the psychology of it is interesting, because you would just walk away. We had a client who definitely had zero pricing on the site, you had to talk to somebody to get any pricing. And then the sales guys, we were using a bot to qualify them. And we did a pretty good job. But no matter what they would get people who got through. And they’re like, yeah, at the end of one call, it’s like, the price is way too much. But when they close customers. They make a lot of money. 

Jim: Yeah, exactly. And I wonder how many of those customers would have bounced if they saw the price up front that they’re able to convert? Because they could show the quality or know the value? Right? 

Billy: That’s, that’s always the question, man. 

Jim: Yeah, no, 100%. It’s a really interesting kind of case, study and test. Because one thing from a CRO perspective, with any site, you can honestly boil down every objection or point of friction into like three to seven categories. And so if it is around price and value, then you need to compete with that upfront, make them know the quality. What they’re getting out of it. So when they come to look at price, they’ve already been conditioned to know like the value they’re getting from it. 

Billy: Yeah, I love it. So before we break, we’ve been through these three funnel, you’ve actually written a book on how do we convert and grow businesses from your website? What are your top three tips for anyone that’s really looking to optimize and grow their business? What would would be the advice you’d give them? 

Jim: Yeah, I think the first thing is do you actually know what you’re going for? Like, what is your goal is it to get them to do a free trial, get them to do a demo, get them to buy on the spot, get them on a call, like, be very focused on what your goal is for your landing page. And not even just like your end goal? Because obviously, the end goal is money. But what is that first conversion you want them to do on the site? And are like, if you went through your entire like, funnel? Is that crystal clear?  

Because a lot of times, it’s not, it’s not obvious. The other thing is, what is the leading indicator to get people to do that action, because it’s so sometimes we just like, we go for the juggler way too quick. We’re like, hey, buy my thing right now. It’s like, okay, let’s pump the brakes. Let’s not proposed on the first date. 

Sometimes it’s let’s get them with a piece of content, go for the go for the concrete, we need to position as a thought leader, hey, we need to get to get to watch a video of us doing a keynote. We need to get them to look at a case study. Like what is that leading indicator, you could optimize for Intel that shows your differentiation, your unique value, Prop, whatever that is, because that can buy you time that can get them excited enough to hopefully do the thing you want, which is a demo or a trial. So those are kind of two things. 

 One, do you know what you actually want them to do? The second, what does that mean? leading indicator? And then the third one, it’s kind of obvious, but it’s like, Who are you sending to this page? And does it does the persona that you’re going after? Are you speaking to them directly with your language? Because if we talk about funnel and CRM, if you boil it down, its words, its copy, its sales language. 

So take it back to the basics of like a book like influence, persuasion, pre suasion. Who are you talking to? Do you know understand their motivations? Their intents? Do you understand the landscape? And are you speaking to them in their language? Because I would take a well written site over a beautifully designed site 10 out of 10 times. The more you know your persona, the better you’re going to be writing that copy. I know that’s kind of like a basic answer, but it’s the more I get into it, the more true it is. 

Billy: It’s fundamental everything you’re saying but it’s easy to forget as well. Well, so, before we let you go tell us just a little bit about your book I’ve read probably about half of it, I love it. But for those of you that don’t know about it, let everyone know. 

Jim: Yeah, for sure. After teaching for like four years at a general assembly, teaching digital marketing and working with tech stars, VC startup and mentoring, quite a few founders and startups, I was able to get some reps in on like, okay, what’s the difference between companies that hit this level of growth? And the ones that don’t? What are the common pain points that people had? And I literally had like 500 slides of content. I’m like, I don’t want this to just die on my Google Drive. Let me do something with it. So I essentially packaged it up into this book. And it’s essentially, honestly, things I wish I would have known when taking an idea and trying to turn it into an actual business, and how do you grow it online? 

So it’s everything from are even ready to grow? How to validate that you have something when starting out? How do you grow, whether you have $0? Or you have a big budget? How do you prove your unit economics? And kind of how to run a growth team? I definitely kind of got it from a lot of trial and error. And I also like, put together some templates and stuff that we use to run a growth team that we included in there. So hopefully, it’s helpful for people that are trying to to grow a business on their own. 

Billy: I recommend it. So before I let you go, if people want to reach out and continue the conversation, Jim, how do they contact you? 

Jim: Yeah, they can hit me up. My emails is I’m on Twitter at Jim W Huffman and I post some stuff about funnel and the occasional occasional baby photo, so I’m around. 

Billy: Okay, man, thank you. This has been awesome. And we’ll chat later.