How Unbounce is helping SMBs compete against Walmart and Amazon

A close look at the company’s Conversion Intelligence™ Platform, a secret weapon for SMB marketers to convert more and level-up business growth.

Nearly two years ago, Unbounce, the digital marketing platform, launched Smart Traffic, an artificial intelligence-powered landing page tool. “Unbounce unleashes a conversion genie for small businesses,” read the press materials. The product reportedly increased conversion rates by an average of 30% over traditional A/B testing, giving small businesses better results in less time.

The goal with Smart Traffic was to put expensive AI technology traditionally designed for large businesses into the hands of small enterprises. “We want SMBs to be able to compete against big business, regardless of their budget or headcount,” is how Unbounce co-founder Carl Schmidt once described their goals with the product. Speaking to Vancouver Tech Journal earlier this year, chief strategy officer Tamara Grominsky explained the problem the company was trying to solve and its larger vision like this: “The world is not built to support small businesses… They don't have the luxury of spending their whole day just thinking about landing pages and conversion rates… Our conversion intelligence strategy, really, at its core, is about empowering small business marketers to combine their own marketing know-how with machine learning tech to achieve results that just would not be possible on their own.”

Smart Traffic was just the first in a set of products the decade-old, 250-person company released in the build-up to today, the official launch of its Conversion Intelligence™ Platform, a set of solutions that expand the company’s offerings beyond landing pages and designed to meet the needs of small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

As online competition intensifies and consumer expectations continue to evolve, Unbounce’s latest product innovation is a crucial part of the company’s plans to help SMBs optimize their marketing, explained Grominsky in an interview with Vancouver Tech Journal.

“We find that a lot of the technology that is out there is prohibitively expensive for small businesses,” Grominsky said. “And because small businesses, in general, don't have large advertising budgets, it means that they're not getting the same amount of traffic that larger businesses are.” This is where the conversion data Unbounce is able to supply comes into play. For example, if a small bakery business is only getting 100, 200 or 1000 visitors a month to their website, they won’t have enough data to identify unique trends and patterns for conversions (e.g. sign-ups or purchases). “But if you are a business getting 10,000 visitors a day, you're going to be learning exponentially,” explained Grominsky, “and so what we're saying is, ‘Hey, we have 1000s of small business marketers using our product. What if we aggregated all of their data and we identified trends that they would never be able to see on their own?’ It's almost like that idea of the network effect, right? When everyone comes together, we can create greater things together than anyone could on their own.”

This type of thinking, as in the idea that “the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts” is, in a sense, baked into this newly announced platform, which has three core components that when combined can have a dramatic impact.

There’s the aforementioned Smart Traffic, a self-driving optimization tool for SMBs that connects visitors with their best-fit landing pages to increase conversions; there’s Smart Builder, an AI-powered landing page builder that allows marketers to create on-brand pages designed to convert based on a marketer’s specific industry and campaign goals; and launched today, Smart Copy, a new AI copywriting tool that uses GPT-3 to generate human-like copy within seconds and in six different languages for ads, emails, landing pages, blog posts, TikTok videos, pitches and 40 more copy creation needs.

“Since opening our doors more than 10 years ago as an innovator in landing page software, Unbounce has existed to help small businesses grow smarter by making access to essential digital marketing tools easy,” said Grominsky. Together, the new suite of tools is meant to enable small business marketers to pair their own creative know-how with machine learning and understand where to best spend their time for optimal impact.

The classic definition of a “platform” in the tech world is when the economic value of whoever uses it exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Unbounce has put in the work, including making a key acquisition, to ensure that it achieves this ideal and its 70,000 customers (up 300% since the beginning of the year) reap the benefits.

In May, the company acquired Snazzy, which has become its Smart Copy product. As part of the acquisition, Unbounce secured access to GPT-3, the tool developed by OpenAI that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. But the company also secured access to GPT-3 directly by shooting a video and tweeting at OpenAI chief technology officer Greg Brockman to expedite their application for access—which they received.

Unbounce’s research and development team had previously been working with GPT-2 (an earlier version of the AI tool) on copywriting for businesses and were developing many of their own learnings. But they were struck with how accessible and smart GPT-3 was. “We knew we needed to get our hands on it,” Grominsky shared.

While Smart Copy launched today, the company’s copywriting tech has been accessible through Smart Builder since July where they included a feature called Copy Insights. It allows users to write headlines and then understand what headlines would perform better than others before you hit publish. “So we're kind of combining our solutions and providing people with this level of confidence before they even hit publish on their landing page which they were never able to do before,” Grominsky proudly points out.

When asked about the potential for AI tech to inadvertently remove the character and personality from small business branding and marketing, Grominsky did not hesitate in her response: “We have a really specific philosophy on this that I believe is different from how other people are approaching products,” she shared.

“We are focused on augmentation and not just automation. And I think, in a world where we're just trying to automate the work of the SMB, and we're letting the machines do almost everything, then that's where I think everything does start to feel quite vanilla and generic. But what conversion intelligence is all about is this belief that actually, when you combine a small business and a marketer with a machine, that's when you're able to get the best results possible.” You’re going to get better results than if you just use the machine on its own, she believes. “Because we know that you need to bring this human element,” she continues, “like raw creativity—what we call marketing IQ to the equation, and that's what makes it feel human. That's what makes it feel special. That's what makes it feel like that SMB. So we hope to be able to amplify the SMB, rather than wash it out.”