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Ignore Shopping List, Buy All The Things. ( A Y Combinator Website Marketing Tune-up.

by Paul Montreal. Average Reading Time: about 14 minutes. Internet Marketing Makeover.

Today I’m looking at Tomas’s website He’s got a Y Combinator backed company that helps retailers move from paper receipts to digital receipts, which have opportunities to encourage MOAR shopping! Let’s dive in and see what we can learn to help us in our own marketing adventures…

Flex receipts marketing tune-up.

Click for full homepage image.

1. Show and tell, get the basics out of the way.

I talk a lot about how important these opening headlines and sub-headers are. It’s really useful for the reader to understand the context of the conversation that’s going to follow. We have to feel like it’s worth our time investing further in the page.

On first glance I like the copy…

Go Beyond the Sale
Unlock the power of a digital receipt that builds your brand,
engages your customers and transforms your business with
valuable analytic insights.

I think we can improve it, but that’s ok. Even as it is, I have a good idea what this product is, and what it can do for me as a retailer. Even though it sounds a little buzz-wordy, I’m likely to carry on to the next step to learn more.

What I really like in this section are the subtle design elements that add to the story. Just the hint of color and some interesting fonts make it feel like someone cares. This company has a little personality. With tech websites we have to be careful that our logic and uniformity doesn’t come across as cold and boring.

But it’s really the video background that is showing me the context for this product. (The green background in the screenshot is actually a video that shows people paying for their purchases in a retail environment.) That element of “show” as well as “tell” is super important. It just helps the brain relax and comprehend the basics on a deep level. After a few seconds I understand the arena we’re working in here. This is about shopping and receipts, in a retail environment. I have a solid foundation to build upon, so I continue deeper into the pitch with confidence.

Now, most visitors to a website like this aren’t arriving with no clue of what they’re going to find. They’ll be following an ad, or a recommendation, or something. But that ability to quickly confirm or re-confirm that they are in the right place, a place they can understand, is always critical.

Action: You’re doing a good job here. As we dive deeper into the details, you may choose to tweak this copy and the video, but they currently work pretty well. internet marketing makeover

2. Get closer to the money.

Let’s take a closer look at that copy and see if we can’t make it even more exciting for our reader.

Go Beyond the Sale
Unlock the power of a digital receipt that builds your brand,
engages your customers and transforms your business with
valuable analytic insights.

Whenever possible I’d suggest moving away from more abstract and indirect marketing talk, to more direct, money focused language. You can build brands, engage people and look at statistics all day long, but not make a single extra dollar.

But if you’re a retailer, what really gets your interest is selling stuff. Because selling stuff actually puts money in your pocket. So I’d consider talking more directly about how all that indirect stuff (branding, engagement and analytics) leads to the money.

Or I’d be highlighting other things that lead more directly to sales.

I’d probably try talking about up-selling and cross-selling as your primary benefits.

It looks like cross-selling is already part of your product. I see it on your sample receipts image. “People who bought X also bought Y”. That’s super powerful and direct. Using the digital receipt to prompt the next purchase. Or prompting a larger purchase of similar items on their next visit.

Either way, if you can talk more directly about making money, that’s more valuable to a retailer than “brand building” or abstract terms like “engagement”. Yes, I know they are popular phrases (amongst consultants and “experts”), but they are low value compared to “sales” and “money”.

Action: This is about prioritizing. What’s really going to make the most money for my customers? Or solve their most pressing problem? Talk about that first and foremost. It’s fine to go into detail about all the other secondary, more abstract benefits later in the pitch. But as a general rule, if you want to make more money, you have to move closer to where the money actually is.

flexreceipts website marketing

3. Gamification. Make it a positive emotional event.

Gamification of receipts is fascinating. I’ve just observed a couple of different experiments by a major supermarket chain in the UK. This is anecdotal because I don’t have access to the bottom line results of how those test went, but I can speak about them as a marketer and consumer.

They ran two different experiments. Both involving regular paper receipts for grocery shopping.

The first experiment told you how much money you’d just “saved” by shopping at their store, instead of a competing store.

It’s clever and insidious. You walk in and spend $50. But your receipt (in giant letters) tells you that you’ve just SAVED $2.34! Woohoo, I’m the boss. Every time I hand over my money I’m saving like a maniac. Please, take all of my money, so I can save some more.

As a mild brainwashing ploy it’s super effective. But nowhere near as fun as the second experiment they ran…

Based on some unknown formula, the store started awarding random savings vouchers on their receipts.

So when you got your receipt, instead of saying “today you saved $2.34″ it would say “Congratulations $2.34 OFF your next order”.

That’s way more valuable. It almost feels like cash in your hand. I just WON $2.34!!! (after spending $50).

There was also a little randomness thrown in. One day you “win” $1.10, one day it’s $3.12, the next day you get nothing.

But every transaction become a game. How much will I win today?

And with any good game comes that addictive spike of excitement. That momentary emotional high as your ticket is printed out. That emotional high makes shopping twice the fun, and twice as addictive. Only with the stats will you see if it’s twice as profitable.

Action: Don’t just solve an imagined problem in your customer’s life. Create a purely positive emotional experience as well. And be aware that small changes in any kind of “offer” can have vastly different emotional effects. Only testing will help you find what works best for you.

Website teardown.

4. What’s in it for the consumer?

I think gamification could be really important to you, because as it stands, I don’t see a real need for consumers to care about digital receipts. Very few people have a “big pile of paper receipts” problem.

And it appears that the key to this whole process is getting the consumer’s email address at the checkout.

The resistance involved in doing that will be HUGE.

People don’t like giving out their email addresses in the comfort of their own home. And they definitely won’t like doing it while there are people waiting in line, right behind them at a checkout.

You have to really work out “what’s in it for me” from the consumer’s perspective, not just the retailers.

Another type of gamification that I think works really well, are those basic loyalty cards you get at coffee shops and car washes. The ones where you get a stamp each time you make a purchase and when your card is full you get a free coffee.

People love those things. They can see instant and steady progress towards getting something of real value for free, something they regularly choose to purchase. It’s like taking steps around a board game, with no chance of losing.

That’s a far more powerful incentive than giving your email address over to a retailer, so they can spam you. (And that’s what anyone who was ever asked for their email is thinking).

So, I suspect you’re going to need a really direct and strong incentive to get that initial email address and get the consumer on board. And some real reason why a digital receipt is actually more beneficial to the average customer than a paper receipt.

Action: Consider adapting existing ideas to provide a very direct and substantial reward for the consumer to get their initial email address at the till and to actually make digital receipts more valuable to them.

Flex online marketing makeover.

5. Answer all the questions.

Having a great elevator pitch is essential. I love this type of video, “meet Bob, Bob has a problem with…” But it’s always best to work out your pitch fully first, in copy, before investing in the video.

Pitches change. Priorities change. Products develop. Or at least they should, if you’re testing thoroughly. Under those conditions it’s a lot easier to write 10 different versions of your pitch, than it is to create 10 different videos.

Once we’ve really mastered the basic pitch, those videos are great. They introduce the overall concept really well. But don’t forget that you still need to cover all the details.

Bright and breezy is fine to set the tone. But to go deeper and get to an actual sale, you’ll have to face reality, so don’t ignore the negative aspects of the product you’re trying to sell.

The first thing a retailer will do, is think about all the ways this WON’T WORK. We resist change. So we look for reasons not to change. So, you’re better off knowing all the negative questions people are going to ask, and facing them head on.

Some basics, like what are the logistics of this service? If the retailer requires an email address to get your customer on board, who types that email address in? The retailer or the customer? What are they typing that email address into? How many retailers have a POS system that even has a regular keyboard? How does this actually work as a smooth transaction?

Not to mention the sales aspects. How easy will it be to train employees to get people on board? How easy is it to actually get people on board? How disruptive or annoying do people find the process at the till? There will be many questions retailers will have that will make you feel uncomfortable. But you need to have a positive answer to those issues in your pitch. Even if it’s a simple FAQ format where you cover all the common, cynical questions.

Action: Make sure you don’t stop with the elevator pitch. Go deeper, face negative issues and customer cynicism head on. Cover the practical details. This can’t just be a nice idea. Your customer has to imagine it working, under pressure, in their real-world store.

6. Who is your customer?

It doesn’t seem clear to me what type of retailer you’re targeting. Independents? Small chains? National chains? They will all have completely different types of people to evaluate this kind of thing. And they will all appreciate seeing that you understand their unique world and the challenges that implementing this type of product involves.

With any new idea, there’s always a clash between your “imagined world” and their “reality”. Unless your customer believes you really understand his “reality”, he won’t be interested in your “imagined world”. This is about empathy, showing that you understand he’s a hero already and you are here to make him a hero+. To achieve that, you almost always need to speak to him as an individual.

Action: Decide exactly who your customer is going to be. Or at least who you’re going to focus on courting at this stage. And start talking directly to their individual needs. You can always change your pitch, or write multiple pitches. But trying to catch everyone rarely works.

Website marketing teardown.

7. Where is your call to action?

As well as not having enough depth to the sales pitch, it doesn’t have an ending. There is no price, nothing people can actually buy. You don’t lead up to any sort of conclusion.

A marketing website is really just a sales letter. And a sales letter is really just a sales person. And a sales person’s job is to identify what motivates the customer already. And then appeal to that motivation with their product.

But you have to ask for the order.

Or at the very least take people by-the-hand to the next stage, where you can have a one-on-one demonstration, or conversation that will eventually lead to a sale.

Action: Decide what the next step needs to be and make it very clear. Ask your customer to do something very specific. A default contact form on another page just won’t work.

Secret Squirrel Stuff
to view this part of the content. (It is the best bit! Muhahaha).

Marketing teardown.

9. Where is this going in the future?

If you’re trying to sell this product to retailers of any size, they’ll likely have a general idea of where the industry is heading when it comes to payments. And I doubt this is a fast-moving industry. Retailers don’t want to be changing POS systems or procedures every few years. So any kind of change will have to be part of a long-term plan.

I’m no expert in this particular field, but if I were a retailer I’d be asking myself about how long your system is going to be relevant. Especially in relation to the rise of mobile payments.

Apple Pay and the other touch payment systems that are being developed to use your phone as the primary payment device instead of a card.

I’ve never seen any technology be embraced as widely as smart phones have. So I think it’s inevitable that cards will be a distant memory, sooner rather than later. Whether that’s 5 years or 10 years, it’s just around the corner.

So the question is, what happens when payments all become mobile? Won’t digital receipts be built into those proprietary payment systems? Along with the cross-selling and up-selling and analytics tools that are in this product?

Having an answer to that question will be essential, not just in being able to sell in the short term, but also being relevant as a company in the mid term.

Action: You must know how your product fits into the longer term shifts in the market. Especially in an industry that is slow moving and will be very conservative about change.


You’ve made a great start presenting this technology in an approachable and simple manner. I’d just tweak it to get closer to the money. The pitch is missing a middle and an end. Face all the difficult questions a retailer will raise in their mind. Have a much stronger solution to getting the consumer’s initial email and making this product more useful for them. Think about how you can use gamification. Show the people behind this product to increase trust. And make sure the next step, the contact or demonstration, is far more obvious and clear. Then have some kind of roadmap for where you’re going to take this as payments transition to mobile.

That’s all I have. I want to thank Tomas for sharing his work and helping everyone learn from the process, I really respect what he’s doing. Until next time, stay the course, see it through, make your mark!


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Website not giving you the results you expected? How about some non-judgemental feedback from a fresh set of eyes? Apply for an online marketing tune-up with Paul Montreal

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