Why We Chose Not to Force Our "Powered By" Link Upon Users


A few months ago, we had a heated discussion among the team. We were asking ourselves if we were ought to make our powered by link mandatory for all users. Since our launch, our users have always been able to hide the link easily. Here's a picture of what I'm talking about exactly in case you're a bit confused:

We had recently started tracking the related metrics on Google Analytics, and we were starting to notice signups coming from that specific link. Following a clever user suggestion, we had also directed the link towards a personalized security page.

Now we all know startups need signups to survive. But the team was divided; no unanimous decision could be found. Did signups justify imposing a link on all our customers' carts? Were we comfortable with the idea? What about our users? We had too many questions, so we decided to wait and collect more data to make a smart decision.

Numbers: collecting the quantitative data first

We waited six months, to be exact. During this period, we averaged ten confirmed signups per month coming from the powered by link. Here's a useful fact for the current analysis: our post-signup conversion rate is usually higher than 25%. In other words, this meant that around four shops went live and started selling with Snipcart every month thanks to that link. As far as metrics and quantitative data go, we had a pretty solid answer: business-wise, the powered by link was paying off.

Thoughts: collecting users' opinions on the matter

After collecting the cold numbers, we went after more qualitative data. We used Typeform to question our active users on the matter. We asked them two straightforward questions:

Do you feel comfortable with the default “Powered by Snipcart” link on the cart?

Would you mind telling us why?

It turned out 79% of our active users respondents felt comfortable with the link. We were glad to notice this positive majority, but we still wanted to hear about the negative minority's thoughts. They cited two arguments mostly:

"It makes the website/business look less professional since it shows we're using a 3rd party solution."

"It messes with the brand image."

On the other hand, those in favor of the powered by link provided us with some pretty nice comments:

"It reinforces the feeling of security for customers."

"It gives you credit for doing all the work!"

"It's relevant and not too intrusive."

And so on.

Decision: respecting our core values

Using Google Analytics (quantitative data) and Typeform (qualitative data), we had two strong arguments in favor of making the link mandatory: it brought us some real customers, and most of our users were willingly using the link. We could have stopped our thought process there. It would have been a reasonable decision, I'm pretty sure. However, as we kept discussing the results, we eventually came up with one simple question:

Is this a decision that would respect our core values?

After a while, we concluded that it wasn't. At Snipcart, we've always prided ourselves in offering a maximum of freedom to developers. Freedom to work with the CMS, language, and frameworks they love and master. Freedom to customize the cart however they wanted with simple or more advanced CSS. Freedom to integrate our cart with basically any system using our APIs and webhooks. Freedom is at the core of our philosophy and product. So we decided not to strip developers and users of this bit of freedom, even if it was a small one. If they don't want to display the link with our name on it, it's their business. We're not going to force them. It's their store, their business, their decision. Not ours.

I know this might seem like a small scale issue compared to everything that's going on with our startup (read this post for a more "critical" tech stack decision). But still, I'm glad we did the exercise: we collected metrics, statements and challenged ourselves. In fact, I think we kind of challenge our own culture in a way. And we made sure to keep it intact.

Do you have any thoughts on the "powered by" link or on this startup story? If so, feel free to share them with us in the comments below. And if you've enjoyed the article, go ahead and share it on Twitter.

About the author

François Lanthier Nadeau
CEO, Snipcart

Francois has worked in SaaS & digital marketing for over 7 years. He’s been published on Indie Hackers, The Startup, freeCodeCamp, Baremetrics, Wishpond, and Growth.org—among others. He’s spoken at 13+ startup and web development conferences in Canada, U.S.A., and Europe. He's been a vocal bootstrapping and Jamstack proponent for years.

Follow him on Twitter.

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