Subly’s SaaS Funnel Teardown: Behind The Scenes Of the Wildly Successful Captioning Tool 

October 8, 2020

There’s this notion that some founders have.

It goes like this:

Build it… and they will come.

And basically, what this idea claims is, if you build your product (software or other) and it’s good enough, customers will magically do everything in their power to find you, use your product, and pay for it month after month.

There’s even a movie with that storyline…

Field of Dreams poster1

And it may make for a good story…

But is that really true?

Do successful SaaS companies rely on just the power of a great product?

Or is a great product only the beginning?

We’re going to find out.

Today, we’re going behind the scenes of the wildly successful captioning SaaS tool; Subly.

I’m tearing down 1) a few of Holly’s LinkedIn posts, 2) Subly’s website and 3) current onboarding sequence and emails.

Basically, I’ll be walking in the footsteps of a potential customer from first point of contact to final destination.

I’ll address the good and the bad.

And then I’ll share what can be optimized for higher conversions.

If you’re an early stage SaaS founder, this information can help you improve your own messaging and increase conversions across your entire sales funnel.

Let’s dig in…


The birds-eye view

SaaS under consideration: Subly

Price point: $10/month (recently launched as at time of teardown)

SaaS Model: Freemium

What does it do: Well. you’ll soon find out, won’t you?

What kind of software product is Subly?

According to Subly’s LinkedIn profile:

“Spend more time creating content, less time editing. Video transcription and subtitling using speech-to-text technology.”

So Subly transcribes the audio in your video to text. And then the software hardcodes the text onto your video. This way, people watching your video don’t have to unmute you to absorb your content. They can just read the text right off the video.

And there’s research to prove that videos with subtitles get more views than videos without.

That’s the idea.

But then, if you follow Holly’s journey – Holly is the CEO of Subly – you find her growth remarkable.


Subly’s Remarkable Growth 

I first heard about Holly 8 months ago.

Subly had just been launched and only a few users had signed up to use the tool.


Today, 8 months later, Subly has grown from scratch to 15,000 users.

And counting.

That is more than 15,000 people finding Subly.

More than 15,000 people deciding that Subly is worth their time and consideration.

And 15,000 people giving away their emails to try the software product.

Think about it:

What would 15,000 new users do for you?

And if you could convert 1%… 2%… or even 10% of these users into paying users, what would that additional revenue look like for you?

Interesting, right?

But what’s responsible for Subly’s remarkable growth?

Was the product itself so good that people just happened to find themselves on her site?

I think not!

And Holly certainly doesn’t think so.

She lays it out in simple terms here:


Key takeaways:

  • Before Holly launched Subly, she grew a large community that wanted Subly
  • She mentions speaking to people and asking questions everyday
  • Built Subly around her community and what they wanted
  • The community loves Subly so much, they help to promote it
  • “Whenever we launch something, we build a lot of buzz around it” <— product doesn’t magically get seen; you have to let the world know it’s coming
  • Thinks about who they’re targeting and how they’re going to get to those users
  • Takes months and involves both marketing and product teams
  • Produces a lot of content everyday to promote Subly and showcase the value of the tool

Make no mistake!

Subly is a great product.

Before Subly, you needed professional transcribers to transcribe your videos and hardcode them to your video.

If the professional was good, you’d have to wait days to receive your transcription because he would be bogged down with work from lots of other clients.

On top of the time-consuming factor, quality traditional transcriptions start at $1/audio minute.

Multiply that by 10, 20, or 100 hours and it quickly adds up!

Subly handles the transcriptions in a fraction of the time.

And at a fraction of the cost of a traditional transcriber.

So yes, the product itself is good.

It solves a pressing problem.

But if nothing else was done to let the world know about such a great product, then 15,000 people signing up in less than 8 months would only happen in Holly’s dreams.


The Journey Begins: On LinkedIn

The first time I was introduced to Subly was on LinkedIn, where I saw one of her posts:


The good thing with LinkedIn is, unlike Facebook, people are looking to do business, not make friends.

They’re called “connections” for a reason.

At first, I paid no attention. Her post was just one of many LinkedIn statuses I saw that day.

And that’s normal.

But with time, that changed!

You see…

Holly wasn’t just posting once in a while on LinkedIn.

She was consistent.


And that eventually won me over.

Of course, her content must’ve been good enough to finally grab my attention. But it was the consistency that paid off for me.

I’m not the only one who needs more than one touchpoint to make a decision. Customers in general need to “see” you more than once to make a decision.

No one (that I know of) sees something new for the first time and immediately decides to buy into it.

And I’m not referring to clothes.

What about the content itself?

Take a look at this post…

And this post…

Let’s break them down.

First off, a good LinkedIn post is:

  1. Personal. And usually comes from a personal profile. Company profiles have their place, but generating buzz and engagement are best left to personal profiles.
  2. Tells a story. Stories are great on LinkedIn. Done well – and consistently – story-based content can build your authority and position your company as the go-to [insert your niche here] for what you’re selling.
  3. Has a clear CTA (Call To Action).

It’s not surprising Holly has good engagement on her LinkedIn statuses.

Her posts are good.

She hits lots of emotional buttons.

And that’s always a good thing when building an audience that loves your product.

Her posts are personal.

You can feel the human element.

They don’t sound robotic and definitely don’t come off as though she’s only selling people on Subly.

Instead of pitching on every post, she addresses the painstaking process of subtitling and then positions her product as the solution to your problem.

You can’t help but eventually want to try her product.

And you can tell she really believes in her tool because Holly uses Subly on every video.

On the story side of things…

Her posts share her startup journey.

And that makes for a good story.

Although I think she could be more specific and hit on more emotional buttons, she still does a good job.

Many people on LinkedIn are either looking to work for a great company, or busting their ass on their startup.

By sharing her startup journey, she attracts both audiences.

And at the end of each post, her CTA is as clear as day.

She doesn’t try to hide the fact that she’s promoting her product.

And neither should you.

If you have a great product, it’s in your best interest as well as the interest of your target market to offer it to the world.

You don’t help anyone by keeping your product to yourself or shy away from promoting it.

Holly’s doing a good job on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Score – 89.5%

Let’s move on…

Once I became interested in Subly, I clicked the link in the company profile and was led to Subly’s website.

Note: It was only when I became interested in Subly that I actually visited their company profile.

Even then, I could easily have clicked the link in any of Holly’s posts.

Goes to show that company profiles are still important. You can’t expect them to generate lots of business. That’s best left to your personal profile. However, you still need one up.

On to Subly’s website…

The Subly Website: The Next Step in The Funnel

I have a problem with most websites.

When you think about it, a website is meant to sell visitors on something, right?

And when I say “sell”, it could mean selling products on an e-commerce site.

For SaaS, you’re usually selling visitors on signing up for a free trial, a demo, or both.

But what I see with most SaaS websites is the lack of a clear goal or CTA. You can’t tell what you’re meant to do because the goal of the button keeps changing as you scroll down the page. And each button leads to a different outcome.

You’ll see the option to sign up for a demo, a free trial, and a video on the same page. And sometimes, they offer a contact option.

That’s four options to choose from.

For the love of God!


Now tell me, as a visitor, what are the chances you’d actually be compelled to pick one?

The reality is, most visitors landing on a page for the first time don’t know what to do. It’s your job to guide them. If you make it hard for people to choose what to do, you’ll get them choosing nothing. They’ll leave your site.

So before we even tear the Subly website apart, note that if you’re losing conversions, one thing to consider is the goal.

Think about what you want visitors to do when they land on your page.

And then make it your goal to make them do exactly that.


A few things will happen when you decide on a single goal for your website or landing page:

  1. Assuming you really know your audience, your copy will convert better.
  2. Your messaging will be clear and straight to the point. Visitors won’t have to guess at what you do or how you can help them.
  3. Visitors will stay longer on your site and chances are high they’ll stick around longer and look at other cool stuff on your site.


Let’s begin with Subly’s Homepage.


Subly: Homepage Teardown

The Hero

Subly’s hero copy is good.

It tells you exactly what Subly does. You can’t leave the hero section still wondering what Holly’s tool does because it’s very clear.

And that’s not all.

She goes a step further to show Subly in action with a before and after screenshot of a video.

In the first image, you see a video without subtitles.

And in the second, she shows you the same video with subtitles.

So you land on the page for the first time and see a before and after image of a video with and without subtitles respectively.

And just before that, you saw the hero copy say:

“Subtitle videos automagically in seconds”

Nothing can be clearer than this.

Holly literally shows you her tool in action.

This is a good demonstration of showing, not just telling.

The headline works, but could definitely be better. It tries to be a bit clever, but that might hurt the effectiveness of the copy.

Do video creators go about their day wondering how they can “automagically” subtitle their content?

I think not.

The subhead is okay, but it could do with punchier and livelier copy.

She speaks to her audience on a regular basis so she could sift through her conversations with users and look for repetitive communication patterns of people describing what it feels like to use Subly.

What did life look like before Subly?

And how did it change after Subly?

That would make for a great subhead that’s audience-focused.

The CTA is good.

For most people landing on the page, “FREE” would trigger a positive risk-free nudge to sign up.

To improve, I’d make it more about what they can expect when they click the button.

I’d A/B test different variations of the CTA to determine the highest converting option.


Beyond The Subly Hero

The next section of the homepage shows you a screenshot of a LinkedIn video post with subtitles…

Once again, we see Holly demonstrating her tool in action.

She gets an A+ for that.

And there’s an indication here of the type of people she’s attracting to her tool; social media content creators.

It’s subtle, but very powerful.

She then tries to sell you on why you should use subtitles.

I honestly believe anyone landing on her website (especially if they’re from LinkedIn) would already know the value of subtitles.

But this is a nice addition.

To make this section better, I’d work on the statistics.

First time I read them, I wondered: “How do you know 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound?”

Do you have proof?

And how can you tell videos with subtitles are 80% more likely to be watched in full?

Are you just trying to sell us your tool?

My point is, if you’re making any claims online, make sure to back it up. Otherwise it looks like you pulled it out of your a***.

Sorry Holly!

Then there’s the copy itself.

You need to understand that users are selfish.

They need to know what’s in it for them, or they’ll wonder if they should spend more time on your page.

  1. What does it mean to a user if his videos are not watched? Would he have spent all his time putting something out only to be ignored?
  2. And how will a user benefit from getting his videos watched? Is it the new leads, clients or exposure the video generates?

Those answers are all great selling points for Subly.

But I must add, Holly’s doing a good job of maintaining the single goal of getting users to sign up for a free trial.

You can tell by the clarity of her messaging on the homepage.

And her CTA buttons all lead to the same goal. 👏🏼

Bravo, Holly! 

For any other SaaS founders reading this, I hope you can see how much easier it is to craft the right message when you have a single goal.


Now… How it Works

Let’s look at the How it Works section.

The choice of words here indicate that using Subly would not require a steep learning curve.

There are only 4 steps.

And each step is so simple, even a 5th grader could follow.

This is powerful!

The benefit of saving more time is also highlighted by how little explanation is needed.

Good job!
[By this time, I’m beginning to realize something interesting:

We’ve already established that a good product does not automatically get you customers.

Subly’s growth is proof of that.

You still have to go out, find customers and get them to see the value of your software product.

However, I’m beginning to realize that if you have a great product, that actually puts you ahead of your competition.

And because you have the advantage of a great product, selling becomes easier. (<— “easier” is relative)]

How I’d improve:

This section needs an entire page of its own because by the time I arrived at “how it works”, I didn’t feel like the homepage had adequately sold me on the tool.

This is not horrible by any stretch because most of the pre-selling is done on LinkedIn, where Holly frequently builds connections, regularly publishes content and engages with potential users.

If How it Works was a different page on its own…

  1. Her homepage would have an even better chance of selling (<— more on this)
  2. She could get people to fully see her tool in action. And that would be a marketing asset of its own.

Holly did a good job of letting visitors see her tool in action right from the beginning of the homepage.

But it looks like that is lost along the way.


Social Proof

In the next section of the homepage…

Aha! She finally brings in social proof.

Social proof is such a powerful persuasion device.

The internet is a scary place to do business. Understandably, people will naturally be skeptical of any new product. That’s why social proof is so important… to relieve visitors of skepticism.

As I read testimonial after testimonial, I couldn’t help but wonder:

“Why didn’t Holly place social proof closer to the top of the page?”

Getting others to talk about you is so much more powerful than talking about yourself.

Make no mistake…

Letting people know what Subly does is important.

Addressing the importance of subtitling is important.

Showing people how Subly works is important.

But I bet people landing on this page already have an idea of what Subly does or how it works.

And if that’s the case, getting visitors at that stage of awareness to sign up should be relatively easier.

Next is…



Just as “How it Works” could do with a dedicated page…

The Features section also deserves a dedicated page.

Thing is, if a homepage is persuasive enough and visitors feel like they need the product

… then they’ll almost always visit the features page.

That is, after the pricing page of course. People just love knowing what it’d cost them.

The copy in the features section is fun, clear, and easy to read.

It hits on the ease of use.

And I’d like to point out the no BS approach in the last feature:

“Go nuts! It’s free while we build a better understanding of our users.”

First off, the message is clear.

There’s no hiding why it’s free.

This also tells me that Subly invests heavily in customer data and feedback.

It tells users that their feedback is valuable.

And that’s a good thing.

In short, I’d suggest improving the copy in the features to show how they benefit users. I’d also make this a dedicated page. As to whether to keep this section in the homepage, I’d A/B test.


Customer love

This section is more social proof…

As I finally arrive at this section, I think to myself:

“So… why is this also not closer to the top?”

Social proof is so powerful, it can sometimes sell a product by itself.

This does not mean you can just list all your product testimonials on the page. You need to use social proof that sells people on your product.

I notice Subly’s homepage is generous with social proof and that’s good.

Closer to the bottom of the page, Subly introduces credibility markers…

All these awards and media are great!

Not only do they help sell people on Subly, but they help to differentiate Subly from its competitors.

If visitors are looking at other subtitling tools, these could build the trust factor and move people to choose Subly.

I only have the same issue here as I did with her use of social proof.

They could do a better persuasion job at the top of the page.


Final Section: The Gentle Nudge We All Need

The final section is very good…

You know that feeling when you listen to a good talk and you hear interesting stories and insightful facts throughout the talk? And then at the end of the talk, the speaker ends with a powerful close?

That’s what Subly just did with this close.

This section sells the product even further:

“Stop losing viewers, subtitle your videos today!”

It’s clear.

It tells you exactly what to do.

If you’re a content creator, and you’re worried about the number of views you’re getting on your videos, this is the natural next step to move in the right direction.

And that is, to upload your video into Subly and subtitle your video.

Then it closes it off with “As featured in startupdaily”.

Powerful stuff.


Subly Homepage Teardown Summary:

Subly’s homepage is good.

If my assumption (that the majority of Subly visitors are from LinkedIn) is right…

Then a large percentage would already know what Subly does.

They won’t need a lot to be sold on signing up because a lot of pre-selling would already be done before they ever hit the homepage.

However, if Subly’s looking to generate traffic through Google or Facebook, then a dedicated landing page for each traffic source would be the best option.

These folks would need more wooing to decide.

In general, Subly’s homepage is generous with social proof, shows the product in action and has clear, straight-to-the-point copy.

You can tell she has one driving goal for the page. And that’s the offer of a free trial. And you can see the copy and CTA revolve around that goal.

Very good, Subly!

Things to work on:

  1. Place social proof and credibility markers closer to the top of the page. Or place them strategically across the page based on visitor behavior. Use a tool like hot jar to study how people interact with your page.
  2. Test to determine if it’s better to eliminate How it Works and Features… or not. If you decide to leave features on the page, use only 3 key features that sell people on the product and show how these features help to make life easier for users.
  3. Find out: At what point in their lives did users decide to sign up for Subly? And why? Then work your messaging around user journey.

I’d conduct a copy diagnosis to find out what’s actually broken.

Then I’ll conduct VOC research to identify starting stage of awareness and sift through customer data to study patterns in customer needs, desires and pains.

I’ll then create a messaging hierarchy on which the copy will be built.

Homepage score – 83%

After visiting the homepage, I took a look at…


Subly’s Pricing page: Where visitors go to die

The About page is the second most visited page on most websites.

But SaaS is different.

After checking out a homepage, the next step is almost always pricing.

Pricing is so important, people sometimes search Google just to check the price of a SaaS product.

If pricing is this important, how can we use our pricing pages to sell more visitors on signing up?

Let’s see…

Uhm… Subly?

What went wrong?

The subhead does an okay job of stating the benefit of using Subly.

But I can’t say the same for the main headline.

Assuming the homepage has done a good job of selling first-time visitors, the main headline isn’t that bad.

But think about this…

What are the chances a first time visitor would actually read the entire homepage?

And what about those who came here without seeing the homepage?

Would they be particularly excited to “pick” a plan?

I don’t think so!

Some questions to consider:

  1. At what point are visitors landing on the pricing page?
  2. Are visitors landing here because they want to compare Subly with other tools?
  3.  Or are they landing on this page because they’re ready to pay? (<— not likely, but hey)

I understand that Subly is currently free so you can go… for now.

But listen…

Most people are comparing your tool to other things.

It’s natural human tendency.

A visitor could be comparing Subly to a traditional professional transcriber.

Or maybe, visitors want to see if you’re as valuable as [insert your competitor here].

Whatever the case is, visitors will compare you to something.

Of course, a poor headline won’t stop most visitors from actually checking the pricing.

Right under the headline…

There are 1… 2… 3… 4 options to choose from.


Research shows that the more options you give people, the harder it is to decide.

Can you reduce the number of options while selling visitors more on what you want them to pick?

It’s important to note that as at this point, Subly wasn’t trying to get people to pay for a plan.

So there’s that.

Moving on…

Subly highlights the plan they want you to pick.

That’s a good example of guiding visitors as against leaving them to figure things out on their own. It’s your site. It’s your job.

When it comes to the copy under each plan, I see features.

That’s fine. Features can sell when visitors know the features they’re looking for.

But if visitors are looking to solve a problem…

All they care about is a solution.

So let people see the tool in their lives.

Instead of just listing features, show how each feature can make a prospect’s life that much better.

If you want to see some great conversions, I’d compare Subly to traditional subtitling.

Traditional subtitling is time-consuming.

And it costs way higher than Subly.

Price alone, 1 hour of transcription, for instance, would cost at least $1/audio minute.

100 minutes = $100.

For Subly, 100 mins = $10.

It’s clear to see which is cheaper, especially if you show the math on the pricing page.

A good comparison also uses design to show the before and after experience.

This way, visitors can see where they are… and where they’ll be.

This next section is fine:


But if people are going to contact you when they need more features and minutes, then do you really need to display 4 pricing plans?

Note: A website is a sales tool. Every piece should directly (or indirectly) move visitors to the sale. That means every message on the page should earn its place. A message shouldn’t make its way on the page just because you want it to be there.

The next section of the pricing page is…


How many people would like to become an evangelist?

Is the pricing page selling people on becoming an evangelist?

If so, then that testimonial does a great job!

If not, you can use testimonials that would move people closer to actually paying for Subly.

An important point to consider when it comes to pricing pages, or any other webpages for that matter, is…

“What do I want people to do on this page?”

If Subly is selling visitors on the pro plan, then conversations need to be had with pro plan users.

What do they say the pro plan feels like?

How is the pro plan better than the free plan to them?

What caused them to pay for Subly? Why didn’t they stay on the free plan?

What words do paying users use to describe Subly, and the plans?

And as I mentioned with the homepage, social proof should be placed closer to the top of the page.

There’s a comparison section next…

I really don’t think many people would come down here to look at every single thing they’re getting per plan…

Unless they’re going to pay for it.

I love the CTAs.

Here too, you can tell what she wants you to do on the page based on the CTA. And keeping visitors updated on when the pro plan will be available is good too.

Should this entire section be taken out?

I’d say test it out and see.

Moving on…

I enjoyed reading through the FAQs:

One thing I like about Holly is the personal touch.

She understands that humans use software tools. Not robots.

And her responses portray that personal touch.

For that first question, for instance, Subly puts the ball in your court.

She helps you to see that by paying for her tool, you help her add even more features.

And the FAQs here are good.

Good job!

At the bottom of the page…

This is great social proof that could work great closer to the top of the page.

In fact, I’d go ahead and test making this section the main pricing page headline. It works to sell the product.

No one wants to be the first person paying for a tool.

No one wants to be a guinea pig.

But if 15,000 people before me have signed up? Then I most definitely would like to see what those 15,000 users are experiencing.

The “Check out our plans” CTA leads back to the pricing breakdown section of the page.

That’s fine, but…

It would be great if the CTA led to a comparison page that put Subly against either 1) traditional transcribers, 2) other transcription AI or 3) both.


In summary:

Subly’s pricing page is okay.

It lists what you get for each plan.

And as with the homepage, you get copy that is clear and straight to the point.

What I’d work on is including a comparison of Subly and professional transcribers. Let visitors see the costs involved in each choice. Do and show the math on the page.

Pricing page score – 65%

After viewing the homepage and pricing page, I finally visited…


Subly’s About Page: I Fell In Love… but it wasn’t the copy

Most SaaS companies don’t pay enough attention to their About page.

I mean, yes, people don’t visit a SaaS’ About page like they do in other industries…

But it’s still a critical piece in the sales cycle.

And for SaaS, where AI feels distant, it helps to include as many human elements as possible.

An About page is one example.

Subly’s About page is 🔥.

I loved the use of personal images. There’s a picture of what I’m assuming is her team.

And that’s good!

If I haven’t made this clear enough by now, then I must say it again:

Subly feels personal; human. You feel like Holly (and her team, of course) understands that you’re human. You know it’s AI. But you can feel that human element. And I love that about Subly!

Let’s tear it apart.

There was no “Homepage” on Subly’s homepage.

But there’s an “About Subly” on top of the headline.

I clicked “About” to get here.

I know I’ve been taken to an About page.

So why state it again?

The main headline is enough.

Ah well!!

Speaking of the headline, I think it’s clever.

The about story begins with Subly’s mission statement. Then it states how Subly is working at achieving it.

The mission statement is clear and powerful.

But I feel like this would be the right place to use stories.

First off, the about page should showcase Subly’s value proposition.

What value does Subly uniquely offer that other transcription/subtitling SaaS don’t?

That needs to go on the About page.

The About also needs to weave Holly’s story as well as the stories of team members into how that translates into helping content creators achieve their goals.

The next section showcases the Subly team:

There’s a picture, a name, a role and social media links for each team member.

This section is good.

It gives visitors the impression that you’re more than just a tool for subtitling.

Visitors feel they can hold someone accountable.

And that keeps their mind at peace.

Thing is, there’s this idea that SaaS companies are owned by people who intend to grow them so they can sell them for lots of money.

That happens a lot.

So people are right to make that assumption.

So by showcasing Subly’s team members and their roles, people can put a face to the company.

Remember, Holly has her face on the homepage as well.

I’m not sure if it’s Holly’s intention to add that we’re-people-behind-the-tool factor, but it works.

I love this section.

But with all the other pages, my question remains:

“What is the goal for this page?”

Is Subly looking to sell visitors on signing up here? Or is the goal to tell people about Subly?

The pictures are good!

They help website visitors form a mental bond with the Subly team.

But the About page can also be used to sell.

Subly’s impressive growth, along with how each member of the team is directly responsible for users, can be distilled into an emotional story that sells.

In summary:

Subly’s About page is very good.

You clearly see the team behind the tool.

The fact that many of the pictures are real-life images of the team smiling shows you the team at Subly are happy to serve you.

And that puts you at ease.

I’d improve the About page by rewriting and designing the page to radiate the kind of emotions that were expressed in the pictures.

Particularly, I’d share each team member’s story and what that means for Subly users.

Let users experience FOMO from the About page.

About page score – 87%

After pre-selling me on LinkedIn and persuading me on their website, I signed up for a free trial.


Subly’s Onboarding Sequence

And this is where I have the biggest problem.

But first, let’s take a look at onboarding sequences in general.

The role of an onboarding sequence is to guide people from:

Stage A):

A place where they’re a brand new user (who isn’t paying anything yet)


Stage B):

A place where they love your product so much that they pay for it.

Think of onboarding like a journey.

At the start of the journey, you have a product.

You know your product is amazing!

Paying users know it too.

It’s why they keep paying for it and send more users your way.

But new users aren’t the same.

They’ve heard about you.

They think you can help.

They’d like to find out.

So they sign up.

Onboarding is the journey these free trial users must take to become happy, paying users.

The landing page or website isn’t meant to sell visitors on paying for a software product.

It’s meant to sell visitors on signing up to try the product.

And Subly did a good job on the website.

Now getting people to pay? That’s the job of the onboarding sequence.

For free trial users to become paying users, you need to guide them each step of the way.

You need an email for when they first sign up.

You need emails to get users to use your tool.

You need emails for when users don’t use your tool.

And when they use your tool, you need emails to celebrate their wins.

You need educational emails too.

Truth is, so many emails are needed to effectively onboard new users.

I haven’t even listed all the emails you’ll need.

But the fact is, the number of emails you’ll need (and when they’d need to be triggered) are all based on your users and the journey they need to take to realize the value of your tool in their lives.

But when it comes to Subly’s onboarding sequence…

Let’s just say it was virtually nonexistent.

When I signed up, I received two emails.

Email #1: Double opt-in

Email #2: Welcome Email

There was a third email that came more than a week after I signed up.

But that felt more like a blast email than part of an onboarding sequence.

Let’s look at the emails individually…


Email #1:


This is the first email you receive when you sign up for a free trial.

You’re asked to verify your email before you can use the tool.

This is good for several reasons.

For one, it’s a good way to ensure only serious people sign up.

No one would go back into their emails and click “verify” unless they’re serious about checking out your tool.

On the other hand, it’s not fool-proof.

People have multiple emails these days so anyone can still gain access to your tool.

When it comes to the email itself, it’s good.

It’s simple.

It’s straightforward.

It tells you what you’re just about to get… if only you hit the “verify” button.

The beauty of this email is, Subly could’ve simply used the default double opt-in email. But they’ve personalized even this small piece of content.

Good job!


Email #2:

First off, I love Subly’s use of emojis.

Emojis can help increase open rates.

The psychology behind emojis is with how it lets your emails stand out in the inbox.

In this day of information overload, many emails go unnoticed.

This is what my Gmail looks like…

Yours is probably not as bad (hopefully) but with so many emails hitting inboxes, standing out is your best bet at getting email subscribers to open, read your emails, and click whatever link you have in there.

And emojis are a good way to do just that.

Of course, if everyone else is using emojis to stand out, then yours won’t stand out either.

It’s a balance, really.

Of course…

Whatever you do, your audience always comes first.

If you’re writing to a more mature audience, your brand may come off as childish.

But generally speaking, emojis are good.

Other things I like about Subly’s Welcome Email:

  1. The Email was delivered within minutes of signup.
  2. The “From” name is actually Holly’s. It’s not a generic name like “team” or “support”.
  3. The subject line says “Welcome from Subly CEO” so there’s no deceit here.
  4. The email is from the CEO herself. Once again, Holly injects that human touch into her communication.
  5. As if the copy wasn’t welcoming enough (which it was) she includes a video. Damn!!

A few things to note…

The email is good.

It’s personal.

The welcome is good. It could be more upbeat. She could really express the gratitude aspect of this email. But this is still good.

Remember, the welcome email is easily the most important email a user will receive.

You see…

The goal of a welcome email is to give people what they asked for.

In this case, people signed up to try Subly.

And Holly did just that!

She included a link to upload a video.

But then, right in the email, there’s a gif to watch a video from her.

Which is fine.

This actually makes it personal.

But there are so many things she’s asking me to do.

And this is just the first email.

For example, she asks me to include #madewithsubly when posting on social media.

That’s a different ask on its own.

Chill out, Holly!

We just met 😊

One step at a time!

Here’s how I’d improve for higher conversions:

  • I’ll rewrite the current email as two different emails; a welcome email and a personal email from the CEO
  • I’ll make the welcome email more upbeat, with a group picture of the whole team welcoming users to the Subly community
  • The new welcome email will have one goal; to welcome users. I’ll include any login information users will need and then let them know what to expect going forward
  • The CEO email will be as personal as Holly’s current welcome email. The video will be a huge part of this email. And in this email, I’ll encourage users to contact Holly if they need anything. This way, there’s no disconnect from the warm personal welcome


The welcome video is really good!!

It’s personal.

And the message attached is solid.

In fact, the copy is so crisp, I’d substitute the current welcome email copy with the copy on the welcome video page.

My question for the bottom of the page, where I’m asked to “take a look at our Subly Blog” is:

“Holly, is that what you really want me to do?”

If that’s the case, that’s fine.

But the point of onboarding is to get users to actually use the tool.

Users will only see the value of a tool and be inclined to pay for it… if they use the tool and keep coming back to it.

And Subly isn’t such a difficult tool that it’d need me to read a post before I can use it.

Moving on…


Email #3:

So this email arrived 8 days after I signed up.

And I’ll talk about the silence and more in the final verdict.

For now, let’s just look at the email.

First off, this email assumes quite a lot of things.

It assumes that you know what Subly Pro is.

For a regular user who 1) signed up 8 days ago, 2) has not followed Subly’s journey and 3) has received no email communication from Subly up until now, this is out of place.

At the back of their minds, they’re probably wondering:

“What on mother’s green earth is a Subly Pro?”

“Is it an Apple upgrade?”

The email works if users are already in the later stages of awareness.

If users already know what Subly Pro is, and have been expecting it, then this works.

But if users have not yet tried Subly, why would they want to upgrade?

You catch my drift?

And you know what?

I understand.

Maybe right now, Subly needs more paying customers.

That’s good, but users need to understand the value of the tool before they pay for it.

No one uses a tool they don’t think they need.

At least not for long.

Onboarding Sequence Score – 30%


Final Verdict

Subly is doing a great job!

The founder, Holly, has a very good idea on how to sell.

The content she puts out there makes you feel like she understands you.

And when it comes to the tool…

Holly didn’t build Subly and assume that users will come.

She built her tool based on feedback from her community.

Subly’s growth is living proof that “build it and they will come” is a fallacy.

Wishful thinking.

Subly is a great product on its own.

That should’ve been enough.

But the truth is, none of the over 15,000+ users would’ve found Subly, let alone signed up, if all Holly did was build it and hope they’d come.

When it comes to the digital marketing front…

Subly’s funnel is good enough.

Holly’s LinkedIn.

The Subly website.

The onboarding emails.

I don’t have the numbers, so no assumptions here.

But I won’t be surprised if these different pieces are already working to convert visitors to free trial users.

After all, 15,000 users signed up for a free trial in 8 months.

If Holly (or perhaps you’re a SaaS founder who) would like to take conversions to the next level, there are tons of suggestions in this teardown at each step of the funnel.

But here are a few:


For the Subly Website…

The messaging could definitely be improved.

No one goes around wondering if they can “automagically” subtitle their videos.

People have burning concerns.

“How long is my video transcription going to take?”

“How does Subly compare to my current solution, be it another AI or a human transcriber?”

A lot of time goes into transcribing videos and making captions.

Those are headaches and users are looking for a painkiller.

No matter what your SaaS is about…

Hitting on customer concerns and handling objections on the website could improve conversions.

Of course, it’s important to determine the starting stage of awareness of visitors.

Are visitors primarily people who have never heard of Subly?

Or are these people who don’t even realize they have a problem?

Each stage of awareness needs to be dealt with differently.

The pricing page also needs to show how Subly compares to 1) other AI, 2( human transcribers, or 3) both.

Your software product also has competitors.

Compare these competitors to your tool so visitors can easily decide to choose you.

Do the math for visitors.


For Subly’s onboarding sequence…

There’s a lot to be done.

LinkedIn is a great place to generate leads and create buzz for your software product.

But ultimately, you don’t own LinkedIn.

And you could lose the follower base you’ve worked so hard to build.

Your email list is different.

You own that space.

So time spent building a relationship over email is time spent building something that could almost never be taken from you.

And email marketing is worth it.

According to HubSpot, email has a 3,800% ROI.

Spend time figuring out the Aha! moment for users and then let your emails guide users towards reaching that moment.

That’s when paying for your tool (and in this case, Subly Pro) becomes as easy as respiration.

Subly funnel score –

Remember: The goal is not to build an amazing product and hope for customers to arrive at your doorstep.

You need to find users.

And guide them each step of the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this journey with you.

And I hope you’re able to adapt many of the principles here to your SaaS funnel.

What was your biggest lesson in this teardown?