Your product starts on the first visit, not the first login.

Paul Boudet
Antler
Published in
4 min readApr 15, 2021

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Say you’re planning to buy a brand new car and you find two car dealerships nearby.

You drive past the first one and see this:

Looking good Kurt!

You keep driving and then see the other one:

Brussels BMW store

Which one are you likely to visit?

First impression matters

Marketing hasn’t changed in the last decades: consumers still choose bespoke over generic, relevance over irrelevance, positive over negative emotions.

And they do it really fast! It takes about 0.05 seconds for someone to form an opinion about your product.

The other day, I was looking for a sales CRM —something free, simple, easy and pleasant to use. A quick Google search led to me this one:

InfoFlo homepage

My first impression from their website:

  • Looks complex (from their screenshot)
  • The tagline is quite generic, doesn’t resonate with me.
  • Free only for 30 days (and likely ask for CC details ahead)
  • No idea who these brands are behind the logos (low social proof)
  • Cluttered top navigation, it’s overwhelming.

Next, I found HubSpot:

HubSpot homepage
  • The platform looks easy, visually appealing and mobile-friendly.
  • I heard about it from colleagues = social proof ✔️
  • The tagline hits the right spot: I find most CRMs too complex.
  • Clean top navigation —no cognitive overload!

I’m sure InfoFlo is a powerful and reliable CRM — but it’s being ‘sold’ poorly to me within a few seconds. The result: I’ll never get to use it.

You Never Get A Second Chance to Make a First Impression

Your website is your product

Product-led-growth companies understand this.

To get network effects and virality, their products need to sell themselves (no sales rep, no demos, no emails) and their websites are part of that product journey.

Calendly is a great example. I discovered it after I received a Calendly link to book a time with someone. Feeling curious, I visited Calendly.com to learn more. Five minutes later, I was hooked and had my own Calendly account!

Experiencing products like Calendly start from the moment people get exposed to it — and visiting the website is often the second if not the first interaction in that product experience.

This brings me to my point: your product starts on the first website visit, not when people actually log in and use it.

The Meetric case study

We didn’t always follow this belief with Meetric. Our initial website didn’t reflect our product and barely presented it properly.

Old Meetric website

The results:

  • 8% conversion rate (=signup to use Meetric after visiting the homepage).
  • 72% bounce rate on the homepage (=no further interaction).

A few months later, and with no budget, we rebuilt our website through Webflow to better reflect our product: a visual and minimalistic experience.

New Meetric website

Also, we wanted to:

  • get people excited by showing a few seconds of the product in action.
  • avoid sales jargon and instead focus on real-life scenarios.
  • answer common questions (pricing, access, security, etc.).
  • provide an easy way for people to contact us.
  • show our personality: friendly, open and fun.

The new website performed instantly better:

  • 15% conversion rate (vs 8%).
  • 10% bounce rate on the homepage (vs 72%).

And there’s still so much to do!

PS: A big thank you to the startups who have inspired us, check them out, they showcase their products extremely well:

Amie.so
Around.co
Mixpanel.com

Closing thoughts

Your website is often the first window into your product — and so should reflect it.

Not doing so bears a huge cost — thousands of visitors getting the wrong idea or the wrong impression of your product, leaving too early.

Some of these visitors might be your next largest customer, biggest advocate or future investor.

It’s a great feeling when you promote something that looks good, feels good and is useful to people, so why not do it!

Until then, say hi on Twitter!

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Paul Boudet
Antler

Former VC-backed founder now looking for his next thing. Founded meetric.app (closed), urban-hideout.com (sold).