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Seeing zero user engagement after signup. How do I find out why?

Dear Founderdating community,

I am building a community-based site for learning English targeting advanced learners at http://morpheem.com . The site offers a new text every day where you can look up words, accumulate vocabulary and discuss with other users. It's still rather rudimentary as it only launched two weeks ago.

My idea was to try to proceed in an agile fashion based on early user feedback, but my current problem is basically that there is very little of that. I'm primarily getting users through advertising. Users then hit a landing describing the service somewhat vaguely, have to register using social login and then wind up on the text of the day.

At this point I notice the large majority of users IMMEDIATELY leaving the site without doing a single click on anything (I have extensive click tracking on the site). This surprises me since I thought the real barrier would be to get signups, but that is not the case.

It's also highly frustrating because a complete lack of engagement makes it impossible for me to use user behavior to drive further development. I thought it might be because of a lack of guidance / structure so I added a small tutorial with which, however, users are not engaging at all (most are not even closing it, just leaving it open).

I'm getting decent click-through on my ads and about 15% of visitors (which makes 10-20 per day at the current, extremely low, ad budget) then sign up on the site, so that far the funnel is working.

I've tried e-mailing 25 users displaying this behavior with a very short e-mail in simple English asking them to give feedback by simply clicking on a number of pre-defined reasons why they did like the site (confusing / too hard / not interesting...), but only two of them even opened the mail and only one clicked on a link ("confusing").

I have two questions:

1) Does this behavior seem normal or could it be stemming from targeting English learners, meaning that maybe I'm just vastly overestimating their level of English or reaching the wrong people? (On the other hand: they read the landing page in English and sign up)

2) Any ideas on how to break out of it and get some user feedback? Should I abandon the whole idea of using anonymous user behavior to guide development and get a real-life focus group of users instead?

Thanks for any help!

25 Replies

Roger Smith
3
0
Roger Smith Entrepreneur
Chief Technology Officer at RealtyClub Investment Advisors
I just signed up for your site and although I don't have a solution to your problem here is some feedback:

1) are the users who are signing up for your site the same ones that would actually use it? Meaning when I sign up, the home page makes it sound great, but since the stories are in English they don't help me a whole lot. What is the language of your signups?
2) Maybe the idea/concept sounds great, but in practice people don't want to learn English in this manner?
3) If #2 is not true and they do want to learn English in this way, maybe the stories don't capture their attention?
Hao Zeng
0
0
Hao Zeng Entrepreneur
I am an Engineer at Anyperk
Hi Andreas, I remembered back a few years ago when I was in college freshman year and I just came to US from China. One history lesson I was taking have 10 books that I had to read and I would love to have a service like yours, and It would save me so much time looking for words in the dictionary one by one. My suggestion is to see if you can find the right group of users in college, preferably users from other countries. Best of luck, Hao
Tom Maiaroto
3
0
Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
Ads are going to work like that. I've seen it a few times. Ads can bring you a lot of traffic, but most of it isn't really quality traffic let alone converting users. So yes, that is normal.

I'm not an expert in the case of your product and the language barrier certainly could be an issue...But I'd start with multiple landing pages that included different language and different copy.

Try your ads again specifically for these landing pages and measure the difference. You don't need fancy services like Optimizely, etc. In fact those can be a nightmare if you have a team of developers (or just any single contract developer) who will one day wonder how the heck something got on the page while they can't see it in a file somewhere =) ...Though you could use a service if you find them helpful.

Anyway, just make a few simple landing pages and track with Google Analytics. Simple as that. Measure.

It should make a difference if you try enough variations. It should answer your questions about whether or not the language on the page matters, etc.

Also try social media.

As for #2: Don't abandon your anonymous data. That's super important still. You should do user studies though, but do it live under your control. Never use an online service because they come with a lot of bias. User testing is a great idea and a great tool, but trying to turn it into a SaaS is an epic fail. It simply does not translate well.

What ends up happening is you get people who act like they are dumb (and they probably are) and exaggerate. Overly so.

Bring people in if you can or get them to share their screen and record everything. Offer gift certificates and free service, etc.

Who knows, you might walk away with a good relationship with an actual user and get them to engage their friends because they had such a wonderful experience and really liked you. Bonus.
Ian Maddox
0
0
Ian Maddox Entrepreneur
Machine Learning Architect at MetricStory
Your tagline, "Better at English, one text a day" is the first thing users see. The syntax isn't correct, so it discredits the site. For folks not bothered by that, they may conclude their English is too good/bad for this product to be effective.

Also, reconsider your ad targeting. You may be hitting the wrong interest groups and demographics.
Andreas Ehrencrona
0
0
Andreas Ehrencrona Entrepreneur
Founder at Morpheem.com
Thanks a lot for all the quick feedback! Great to hear from other people in the same situation.

Roger: I'm targeting people learning English who are already at an upper intermediate level; it's not for English-speakers learning any other language, though it could be extended to this later. Users are to a large part in Russia, Ukraine and India, though there is a big spread.

Roger and Ian: while there are all sorts of valid doubts about the basic concept of the site, I am in fact seeing really high signup rates on the landing page, so I don't see any reason to change the advertising or the landing page at the moment; they work as intended. The problem is that once people have signed up, they immediately abandon the site without even exploring it (they for example don't click on a single popup, which I would expect to be the first thing to do to see what functionality they offer).

Tom: A/B testing is tricky in this case, since it's not the ads I have a problem with, it's what people do once they are signed up. If the problem is a major mismatch in the message of the landing page and the functionality (or look and feel) of the site, I could of course build several different kinds of messages and see whether there is a difference in engagement; but since it's so extremely low at the moment, there will be a lot of noise. I also doubt that is the main problem.

Testing with a focus group would indeed be a way forwards and I agree 100% with you that it's not something to be outsourced; we'd need to do it in-house.

Thanks everyone for the insights so far!

Robert Clegg
2
0
Robert Clegg Entrepreneur • Advisor
Game Based Learning Expert
Offer free content first. Use those first moments for engagement. Funnel by content not advertisement. Let people experience the product first, then sign up.

Then you can start to see where and why people are not engaging with your content. In the game world it's called "free to play". Get people to start playing/using your content first, then get them to upgrade.

Here, just put off the sign up phase. Then you'll start to have data on your learning audience.


Manuj Aggarwal
0
0
Manuj Aggarwal Entrepreneur • Advisor
Technology Leader | Advisor | CTO (HIRING Mobile Engineers!!)
hmm don't you think it is a chicken and egg situation? you are targetting non-English speaking people and trying to entice them with a few english sentences on the home page? how about adding a message in different languages? some graphics? something people can latch on to without knowing english?
Robert Clegg
0
0
Robert Clegg Entrepreneur • Advisor
Game Based Learning Expert
If you go with a free content first approach, you can create "simple", "medium", "hard' content. Make sure you make content OUTSIDE what you are focused on. That way when people click it, you know at least they are responding to something. You may find there is more demand for other content. Or that your ad messaging is attracting a "simpler" audience.

Make the first page a puzzle or something fun. People want to show off or show what they know. Then funnel them to your zone of content.
Andreas Ehrencrona
0
0
Andreas Ehrencrona Entrepreneur
Founder at Morpheem.com
Thanks for all the feedback. I must, however, again clarify that my problem is not getting enough signups; I'm seeing lots of signups based on the landing page. This shows to me that the users have a decent level of English.

The problem is that once they HAVE signed up, they disappear immediately without a single interaction with the page, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do to understand that behavior.
Todd Marks
0
0
Todd Marks Advisor
CEO and Founder @ Mindgrub
The biggest consumer of English Learning is China. They don't have Facebook or Google+ to create an account. So as soon as they see that, its bye bye time. I wouldn't make creating an account mandatory. Have some contact walls to get to more advanced content once they are already engaged.
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