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HelloMD tripled conversion rate with proactive onboarding

In the early days of a startup it’s all about the top of the funnel and getting traffic to your website. But what if those visitors aren’t converting to customers?

What follows is a guest post from Mark Hadfield, founder and CEO of, a tele-health service for medical marijuana patients, that uses Intercom to guide customers through the each step of the process. Here’s how proactive onboarding has moved the needle for HelloMD.

Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in 23 states across the US, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the industry and in most cities it’s quite inconvenient to obtain. First, you need to obtain a medical marijuana card from your doctor. However most doctors are still not comfortable prescribing an alternative medication, so if that fails, you have to go to a dedicated marijuana clinic, which is often located in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood.

But there is an emerging treatment modality, offered by companies like HelloMD, that lets you register for and complete your entire doctor’s consultation, and receive your recommendation, online. To be clear, we’re not here to help people get stoned. There are plenty of resources out there that will help people get stoned. Our target demographic is mainstream America, people with legitimate conditions that could use cannabis to alleviate them, whether it’s stress, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, migraines, etc. A lot of our customers are the elderly or infirm who want alternative methods of treatment.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Everyone’s getting cards now right?

Why Are Visitors Bouncing?

When we launched, we noticed lots of visitors to our site, and lots of people bouncing off. Our conversion rate was only around 7%, and worse, we did not really understand what our visitors were thinking before they departed.

When we implemented Intercom, we quickly realized they had unanswered questions and concerns. Personal ones like “Is my information private?” and “Is this a legal service? Are you guys even a legitimate business?” That’s when we realized the problem wasn’t in our user experience, it was people’s anxieties about using our service.

What we really needed was a way to combine the comforting handholding of a real-life doctor’s visit with the efficacy of the web. We tried communication tools like Mailchimp, Olark, etc, and recently replaced them all with Intercom.

We use Intercom’s in-app messenger 100% of the time. It’s literally integrated at every step of a customer’s lifecycle, from the moment a person visits our website to the point they receive a card.

Pro-active onboarding with in-app automessages

Our onboarding process is fairly lengthy. You have to complete a full medical questionnaire and upload your driver’s license before scheduling a video call with our doctors. It’s difficult enough getting people to complete registration forms, but as you can imagine, people have lots of concerns when using a service like ours. “Is my information private? Am I going to end up on some state database? Will the feds come after me?”

Intercom’s messenger – with a friendly face – makes it easy for someone to reach out. We’ve created in-app automessages that pop up at every step of the registration process, explaining why we need that information.

The two-way chat gives registrants the opportunity to ask questions and alleviate their anxieties.

By proactively messaging customers with a friendly face as they hit a stage in the process and offering them the opportunity to ask question, we more than tripled our conversation rate. On a daily basis we converse with around 75 – 150  people and 25% of them go on to become paying customers.

Beyond real-time communications

We also use Intercom to send targeted emails to customers. We used Intercom’s A/B testing feature to experiment with different styles, and almost invariably the plain-text email works best. This forces us to focus on the content of the message.

Here’s an example:

The benefit to doing this in Intercom is that we already have previous conversations stored in each user’s account. This informs future messages. We wouldn’t, for instance, send the email above to a customer who’s already chatted with us about our referral program. We can tag these users who’ve already learned about the referral program and make sure we don’t include them in our list of recipients.

Concise, targeted interactions are key

If you step back and look at how companies do mass messaging, most have it wrong. They send untargeted, irrelevant messages which never get read. Intercom lets us interact with this audience with concise, targeted interactions that come from a real person at a time when the customer actually wants to receive that message.