The team from Online Divorcer join us for an interview to share how they started and grew their online business.
Their business is providing the correct forms needed in each state in order to file for an uncontested divorce. They charge a flat fee for the package and offer unlimited customer support.
To be honest, I'm a little less interested in the product, and much more interested in how they have grown the business! One of the fascinating things they have done is using heatmaps to monitor how real visitors use the site.
They have made many changes to their website based on what they saw in these heatmaps. This has made a big difference to time-on-page and to their overall conversions. They have plenty of helpful tips on how to grow and improve your online business!
Online Divorcer has reached the milestone of 17k unique monthly visitors with about 40% of total traffic being generated from blog posts. This is how the change in SEO strategy (aimed at hiring legal experts) has helped Online Divorcer increase sales by 20-30% per month.
- Hello! Who are you? Could you introduce your background?
- Why did you decide to build OnlineDivorcer?
- What challenges did/do you face?
- What has worked to grow your business?
- What is a business mistake you made?
- What tools do you use for your website?
- What is your business growth strategy?
- What keeps you going when things are tough?
- Advice for online businesses just starting out?
Hello! Who are you? Could you introduce your background?
We are an OnlineDivorcer team and we’re running an online divorce business. What we’re selling is essentially a self-help tool that couples can use to fill out divorce paperwork if they are ending their marriage amicably.
OnlineDivorcer.com is a project that every team member has contributed to immensely at every stage of the development, so each person has also pitched in to answer questions for this interview.
Online Divorcer constantly employs between 15 and 20 employees although the website itself is in its early stage compared to other sites in the niche. We constantly work on developing our document preparation software and it now can serve 1k+ customers per day.
We believe that teamwork and dedication are two things that help businesses rise and stay afloat, so we put a lot of work into maintaining both.
Why did you decide to build OnlineDivorcer?
This is kind of personal for quite a few of us.
When I say we’re a team, we're also friends – we’ve known each other for years and we meet outside work frequently. It was a BBQ night and we unexpectedly switched to family talk – a lot of us are children of divorces, and everyone started recalling the times.
Obviously, each experience was different. What we could all agree on is that it took an emotional toll on everyone, and some of it was due to money.
It wasn’t just parents fighting over money, but rather they were stressing over the thousands of dollars they had to spend on lawyers. Some ended up out of their life savings – there were even those who backed away from a divorce because they couldn’t afford it.
This felt ridiculous. Instead of leaving this thought out there, we spent the night researching the divorce alternatives – lawyers couldn’t be the only option!
We first figured out that it is possible to represent yourself in court. After some more research, we discovered that as long as you find the right forms and present your case well enough, you can significantly minimize the cost of divorce.
Of course, there were risks out there and they could only be mitigated if we gained enough understanding of all the processes that divorce entails.
We started with the minimum of knowledge a person could possibly have, and after a few months of research, we helped our friend to divorce for just a court fee. This is when we knew we could do the same for thousands of families and help them to save on lawyers.
What challenges did/do you face?
When we started 12 years ago (under another name), there wasn’t a lot of competition. Businesses like ours were just getting started.
We realized early on that it would be hard for people to trust an online service for something as serious as a divorce. Therefore, we wanted to be 100% sure that we were doing everything right so that the results could speak for themselves.
We started off with California, our home state, and engaged our lawyer friend in the project for consultations. Once we figured out the process in CA, we moved to researching other states and launching more websites.
A few things we learned at this point were:
- You can represent yourself in court without a lawyer without much risk only in uncontested cases. So, we focused solely on uncontested divorce, where spouses reached an agreement on asset division, custody, alimony, and other important things.
- Divorce forms are hard to find. At least those that would actually be up-to-date and court-approved. Therefore, our main goal was to get correct forms for each state and make sure that they met the local standards.
- Some forms are mandatory – others are case-specific. Children, property, alimony requests, and other aspects changed the final “package” of documents that a person would need to file. It implied that our system had to clearly determine whether certain clients require additional paperwork and fill it out for them.
- Legal terminology is confusing. We had to bombard our lawyer with hundreds of questions to understand what is asked of us in forms, and we wanted to make sure our clients didn't have to do the same. This meant that our questions to people had to be simple and not need additional explanation.
- Having no idea what to do with the forms they get, people would not see a point in ordering with us. Court processes are often simplified in uncontested cases and this played to our advantage as we could give people actual guidelines to initiate and finalize their divorce.
Based on this, we had created a simplified questionnaire with detailed hints and a clear automatic system that:
- Checks if people qualify for an uncontested divorce
- Determines which documents are required based on questionnaire answers
- Fills out the necessary paperwork
Of course, not everything is completely automatic. We still have teams of people who check for legal updates and make sure that the forms and filing instructions we provide remain updated. Moreover, our customer support team works around the clock so any person who has questions regarding our services can call us during the night if need be.
Although we don’t give any legal advice, we minimize the effort and money our clients have to put into getting a divorce. They, in turn, share their experiences with friends, colleagues, and family, which helps build trust.
People are more likely to trust a business when someone they know recommends it. Once we started getting our first customers, the next ones came through refferals.
What has worked to grow your business?
Apart from a lot of research – a good SEO strategy.
What we have on our website is mostly a YMYL – Your Money or Your Life content. This means that everything you see, from our blog to our main pages are blocks of information that can significantly impact our reader’s health, happiness, and finances.
Google necessitates websites like ours to include content written by experts, and that is what we deliver. There are attorneys and Juris Doctors on our team with enough expertise to write on divorce-related topics and provide our readers with helpful tips.
Our content is created by real experts and we include the author's bios.
Therefore, we can sleep well knowing that visitors who end up on our website get what they came there for and that the information won’t harm them.
Another benefit is that when you provide people with useful content they tend to share it. That is how we gain links organically resulting in an increase in traffic.
We use Google Analytics to see how well our content writing and other strategies play out in terms of traffic increase and link building. Although we receive plenty of data from GA, we also have a Hotjar account to learn more about our visitors and how they act on our site.
Thanks to the heatmaps on Hotjar we were able to see that:
- Our visitors clicked on unclickable items (step-by-step instructions, for example). They got frustrated and left because of it, so we made the items clickable.
- The main button on our page was not easily seen by visitors. We have made it stand out simply by changing the color and our conversion rates improved.
- On mobile, the Start Now button was below the fold. We have removed relatively unimportant information from the main page, and the button just popped. There is no need to tell you what it did to our conversion rates!
Eventually, we went from this:
This showed us that sometimes minor changes can make a major difference, even if they seem insignificant at first glance.
What is a business mistake you made?
We were slow to get into the world of social media as our key demographic when we started was not engaged in it as much as it is now.
Do we understand that it was a bad call? We do now.
If you want people to see your online business, your online presence has to match your ambitions. You need to be where your potential customers might see you, and it is crucial that you get there right away.
As the age of our customers has started to vary more, we realized that it was time to explore Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Pinterest to reach as many people as we possibly can.
We opened business accounts, posted regularly, and started a few marketing campaigns to promote not only our services but also our blog. This has helped us attract a relatively younger audience than the one we focused on before.
What tools do you use for your website?
Here is a breakdown of those we absolutely love:
Simple, informative, and free. We started using it from the get-go, and have implemented many changes based on the data Moreover, we use info on the age, gender, and devices of our visitors to better target our social media campaigns.
Has both free and paid versions. It helps us to gain a better understanding of not just how, but why users interact with the website the way they do. We often review heatmaps and watch recordings of our visitors to identify issues, bugs, and inconveniences they face. We do this especially after making changes to the website.
A free chat that has everything we need. Triggers, shortcuts, knowledge base, agent alerts, widget customization, and plenty of other features that we would definitely not expect to come for free. Our team has used around 6 other chats since we started, and Tawk.to has been our top 1 for a few years now.
Emails, calls, and messages all in the same place. We love having an all-in-one system where we can conveniently look through and analyze interactions with our clients. It is easy to build upon and we are able to customize it to meet the needs of our team and customers.
What is your business growth strategy?
We have own team with SEO specialists and link builders who have worked on our website from the very beginning.
While a lot of companies choose to outsource such services, and do so successfully, we wanted such experts to be at the table when big decisions were made.
In order to contribute properly, they needed enough time to fully immerse themselves in the niche, and this is best done by an in-house team, in our opinion.
Together, we worked on choosing the best strategies for our project, some of which were:
- Using keywords to help customers find relevant content – not just overload texts with them
- Running ads regularly to attract more leads – both in Google and on social media
- Creating quality content that is written by experts and is worth reposting to grow our links organically
- Getting recognition from other trusted divorce-related resources for link-building purposes
These decisions have helped us survive a lot of Google algorithm updates without significant setbacks.
Even when seemingly random penalties were applied, it was easier to recover with an SEO team right by our side taking the lead to resolve any issues.
What keeps you going when things are tough?
Our team and customers.
No one is immune from making mistakes, and no matter how much work and research you put into something, there will likely be a moment when you realize you were doing something wrong.
When you hit such seemingly low points, you need to:
- admit your mistake
- do the appropriate damage control
- and work out how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future
Pretending that an issue doesn’t exist or is “not as bad as it looks” won't help.
Giving yourself a reality check every once in a while doesn’t hurt, and we regularly gather feedback from our customers and employees to see where we can be doing better.
Of course, we also ask about the things that we are doing well. It not only lifts us up but also gives us a better understanding of the types of practices we need to keep up.
Advice for online businesses just starting out?
- Have a clear understanding of the need that you are trying to address
Many people get into B2C businesses without really knowing what potential customers want and/or need. This means that they cannot improve their product or service in a way that would make them stand out. When you know what you’re selling and why your customers need it, the sky is the limit.
- Do what you love (if possible) and love what you do (whenever you can)
This is not so much about love but rather about dedication to your project. Still, we think it’s easier to do things you care about and are genuinely interested in. Not all of the processes you will have to go through when building your business will be enjoyable. Some of them you will be able to outsource – others you will just have to endure.
- Work with people who have a shared vision.
This is, of course, if you need a team to run a business. It doesn’t mean that all of you should think the same or agree on everything. The more opinions, the better. However, it is important that every person works towards making your business more customer-oriented, profitable, and overall, successful.
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