Noom's marketing is nothing short of genius.
They've taken the mastery over motivation and psychological triggers that's made their product one of the most effective on the market, and applied it to their growth model.
This detailed case study will teach you exactly HOW Noom have grown, and outline the key lessons every marketing and business owner needs to know to excel in the modern digital world.
What is it?
Noom’s a health and wellness app. Noom uses mobile technology to help people lose weight / get fit through behavioural change.
When was Noom founded?
Noom was founded in July 2008 by Artem Petakov, a former Google Engineer, and Saeju Jeong, a serial entrepreneur. Whilst the company was launched in 2008, the Noom app was launched in 2016.
What is Noom’s revenue?
We don’t yet have the numbers for 2020. However, Noom has seen explosive growth over the last ~4 years of their life (stats from Forbes).
To date, Noom has secured 8 rounds of funding from 7 lead investors. Total funding amount now stands at $117.3 million US.
Here’s how the funding rounds break down.
We’ve now got a good idea of the money Noom has secured through funding.
But let’s get into the fun stuff and see how Noom are making sales?
We’ll kick this off with a look at how Noom markets itself.
Noom’s Positioning and Messaging
Noom’s positioning and messaging.
One of the most impressive things about Noom is its ability to appeal to a broad range of users and still own a very clear space in the market.
Here’s what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
Noom vs the competitors
Many established weight loss brands carved out their space in the market by focusing exclusively on certain demographic subtypes.
Think back to the major brands in the 90’s and you’ll probably come up with names like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig - both of which were heavily focused towards women.
When Nutrisystem came along, they specifically had to add “for men” to their branding to go after a male target market. Their TV ads often featured former NFL players talking about how much weight they lost by using “Nutrisystem for Men”.
In the last 10 years, meal subscription services like Blue Apron have gone mainstream. They’re not weight loss services, but they’ve chipped away at both Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem’s respective market share because they ship out pre-portioned meals.
They probably also taste a hell of a lot better. .
In addition to targeting, all of these brands developed their own hook. Something to help them stand apart from the competition.
In direct response copywriting, we’d call it a unique mechanism (UM).
A unique mechanism is the system, process, or method that enables a product to deliver the promised results.
It’s generally used in more mature markets with more knowledgeable customers. Basically, where a simple big promise isn’t going to inspire or differentiate, a unique mechanism adds credibility and believability to the offer.
You’ll have heard millions of these over your lifetime. All you’ve gotta do is switch on QVC or look for an infomercial and wait until you hear something like “Thanks to [PRODUCTS] unique [MECHANISM]”
The unique mechanism both helps you stand out from the crowd and makes the promise you make seem realistic and achievable.
Here’s how they break down for the big weight loss brands in the 90’s.
You’ll notice there is some overlap, especially between Blue Apron and Nutrisystem.
However, when you combine the slightly different approaches and mechanisms, you end up with something unique for a specific market segment.
Noom could have continued this approach and devised a slightly different approach to the same old promises. However, they attacked the market from a different angle.
Instead of going for pre-made meals by mail or a generic promise of being “holistic”, Noom is after the “habit” part of weight loss. There’s no physical product - it’s 100% informational and habitual coaching via the app.
That makes Noom a direct competitor to Weight Watchers, which also doesn’t bother serving up pre-made meals.
Weight Watchers made a name for themselves by building their mechanism around in-person support groups in every major city in the US and beyond.
In that sense, Weight Watchers is much more about the psychological side of weight loss. It’s part coaching, part support group, part resource of recipes. Just like Noom.
However, personally I think that Noom’s mechanism is a little stronger. Mainly because it’s helping people to help themselves rather than relying on external support and motivation.
In addition to a stronger mechanism, Noom has gone straight to mainstream targeting.
Weight Watcher’s built its brand by focusing almost exclusively on women.
Usually, this is a smart marketing tactic. Tighter targeting gives a more streamlined feedback loop and, as a result, helps you iterate, improve, and scale faster.
Thing is, their prior actions almost excluded men. Which is why they now have to run marketing like this success story, titled “Not Just for Women”.
I’m all for keeping your initial offering focused on a specific segment. But only if you have a plan on how you could scale out later down the line.
When it comes to gender targeting there are some hidden issues you could run afoul of. Once you make a strong gender-first brand, it’s a tough place to climb down from.
Noom, on the other hand, doesn’t have to do this because it’s a much newer brand and never committed strongly to one gender over the other.
Instead, Noom can assume its users are both men and women and that they face the same basic psychological hangups when it comes to weight loss and habit change.
This might be difficult for a lot of brands. However, because Noom’s mechanism is so unique and would honestly help both men and women, they can easily get away with it
Below is a comparison of the targeting and mechanism for 90s Weight Watchers and modern Noom.
I’ve often heard it said that good marketing should pick a fight with the current champion brands.
Noom’s position in the market allows them to easily pick fights they can win.
Check their marketing and you’ll see two core messages versus the competition in today’s market:
Message #1) Noom vs the meal replacement brands
These are brands like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, which send you meals by mail.
Noom’s response is pretty simple. Here’s one ad that shows up when you search for either Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig:
It’s essentially a two-fold argument.
- Why are you paying for overpriced meals?
- Why are you buying frozen meals?
Let’s break this down a little more.
Argument #1) The competition is overpriced.
Which isn’t really a stretch.
In just a few minutes of Googling you can get a sense for the massive expense these services require.
Nutrisystem’s tier 1 offering will run you $257 per month. Their top level package can be as high as $709.
Jenny Craig ranges between $389 to $701 per month.
And Blue Apron has odd pricing where you can opt-in for between 2 servings per week for $19.98 plus shipping, up to 4 servings per week for ~$36. However, if we imagine you need 2 servings per person per day, then you’re looking at $20 / day per person which comes out to $600 / month.
I could be misreading Blue Apron’s pricing, because their pricing page is awful. It gives no indication of how many meals you need from them and is - I assume purposefully - confusing.
Which to me is another thumbs down for the brand.
Argument #2) The competition is serving you frozen meals.
The implication is that frozen = bad.
That might not always be the case, but it’s a basic argument that is going to click with most people.
For example, when you go to a nice restaurant, you’d probably be disappointed if they serve you some frozen dish that was zapped in a microwave for 4 minutes.
“Frozen” feels lazy and low-quality. And almost everyone believes frozen tastes disappointing.
Which is doubly disappointing when you look at the prices.
And to slightly stretch the example - we all know that one reason people don’t stick to diets is because they taste gross.
So, do you really want to spend the next 6 months wolfing down sad, expensive, frozen food?
Combine price + quality together and you have a powerful reason to skip the pre-packaged meals and learn to build the habits yourself.
If someone is trying to lose weight with the meal replacement brands, they’re probably paying hundreds of dollars/month for disappointing food and a less-than-perfect experience.
For this person, Noom’s ad will hit all of the key pain points.
It’s the perfect targeting and message to help them stand out from the competitors. Noom is hitting the notes so well that they’ll likely steal users away from the meal replacement brands without much effort.
Message #2) Noom vs the habit tracker apps
This one’s a little looser. Weight loss apps cover everything from programs like Weight Watchers to fitness trackers like FitBit and meal trackers like MyFitnessPal.
Here’s the most common Noom ad that shows up when you search for these types of companies:
This is a simple, powerful argument. Like the ad vs the meal replacement brands, this ad follows a two-step model:
- Get lasting weight loss.
- Hit your goals in 16 weeks.
Let’s dig into this a little more.
Argument #1) Get lasting weight loss
“Lasting weight loss” is a major concern for 99.99% of people who want to lose weight.
The overwhelming majority of people looking for a solution like this want it permanently - and yet, they know that long term weight loss is highly elusive.
Many people who are on weight loss journeys have likely been trying to lose weight for a long time. They’ve probably tried multiple diets, workouts, and other solutions.
Sometimes, they’ll see success while on the diet but then they’ll gain weight once the diet is over.
Others will often follow all the advice and see little success (after all, that’s why they’re still here).
Noom picking up on this and leading with it as one of their key promises is a very smart play.
It’s going to immediately appeal to every single person who has dieted or followed some weight loss program in the past to get less than desired results.
Argument #2) Hit your goals in 16 weeks.
Simple little promise, right?
Actually, this is probably the single strongest line in all of Noom’s messaging because it highlights a specific timeframe to meet your goal.
Pretty much all of the messaging sent out by Noom’s “tracker app” competitors fails to include this type of promise.
Weight Watchers mentions a per week goal of 0.5 - 2 lbs lost, but it never really commits to a set program. It’s up to the reader to think about their weight loss goal and divide it by 0.5 - 2 lbs/week to come up with a general idea of how long their goal will take.
The other apps, like FitBit, just reference a lifestyle change where their tools make it easy to track your eating. That’s great, but it doesn’t give a prospective user a clear idea of how long their weight loss will take.
What Noom has done here is take a simple promise from the meal prep brands (which often talk about time-specific programs) and use it to position themselves against the tracker/habit apps (which usually stay open-ended).
This is really powerful stuff when you think about it. Noom’s taken their two big competitor types and played them off each other without having to reinvent the wheel.
This makes Noom’s messaging feel authentic and logical - after all, these are messages we’re all used to seeing.
Noom’s ads also tend to follow the same 1-2 punch structure:
General Benefit - Specific Promise
Example 1 (above): Best Weight Loss Program - No Overpriced, Frozen Meals
Example 2 (above): Lasting Weight Loss - Hit Your Goals in 16 Weeks.
Noom has carved out a very, very strong position in the market without having to resort to coming up with a totally new concept. They’ve just taken the best of both the meal prep and habit trackers and combined them.
Or rather, they’ve combined the weaknesses of both and positioned themselves as the better solution.
Result: a powerful message that’ll resonate with a huge user base because it indirectly attacks the shortcomings of other offers.
Reverse Engineering Noom’s ideal customer profile
Now that we’ve covered Noom’s positioning + messaging, we can reverse engineer their ideal customer profile pretty easily.
Noom features men and women pretty evenly across its content, ads, and basic on-site and social visuals.
Noom is clearly aimed at adults who want some help getting rid of their extra weight for good. This is not an app you’d get for a child.
If we were to get a little more specific, Noom is aimed at young to middle aged adults, but it still keeps the door open to slightly older men and women. It’s a relatively wide range for such a popular health tool.
However, I don’t think it’s an issue for them. Weight loss is a common problem, and because Noom is focusing on the mechanism of behaviour change, they can easily tailor that to any specific cohort within the “lose weight” segment.
Motivation: “Get fit” and “Lose weight”.
These are the first two choices you get when you start answering Noom’s intake survey. You can choose one or both options.
Later in the process, you’ll be given plenty of support in both directions if you so choose. It’s comprehensive and they’ll adapt to your weight loss and fitness goals.
(so far this is feeling pretty general, right?)
I want to take a second to step back and point out how broad Noom’s audience feels so far. We’ve gotten almost zero specialization….so how come it’s such a powerful brand.
I think Noom’s differentiation plays off of ONE key element that’s absolutely fundamental in the weight loss space:
As mentioned above, most people who are trying to lose weight have been marketed to endlessly.
They’ve tried different products, they’ve been sold different services, and it’s probably all been pretty disappointing.
These days, waves of trendy new brands pop up every few months promising to solve your health and fitness issues. 2020 was all about the home gym. The 2010s were all about meals by mail and boutique gyms.
It gets pretty hard to believe that a new workout routine is going to solve a problem a person has had for 10+ years. Same goes with a new diet - especially when you’ve been through a dozen and just yo-yoed back to square one.
Noom does a fantastic job embracing this suspicion on the part of the potential user.
This is Noom’s X-factor.
Noom expects you to distrust the wild promises and one-dimensional solutions.
Noom expects you to come to the table feeling:
- Lied to.
- Treated like “just another number”.
- Largely distrusting health and fitness pros.
- Feeling like you’re incapable of change, somehow.
- Wanting the change badly, but feeling unsupported and alone.
These deep-seated feelings are shared by Noom’s users, regardless of gender, age, profession, or even basic motivation. (When’s the last time you saw a brand able to specialize without targeting a specific demographic group??)
By starting with past experiences first, Noom is going after.
“Adult men and women who want to lose weight permanently, and have tried different diets, exercises, and supplements without long term success. They feel frustrated and alone. They know that they probably KNOW the standalone diet + exercise information, but haven’t been able to put the pieces together themselves in a healthy, sustainable manner.”
When you look at it like this, you can see why Noom has maintained massive broad-based appeal while still maintaining a very strong, unique voice in the market.
Noom’s Pricing Strategy
Noom’s pricing strategy
Noom boasts a total of 45M+ downloads, but we can’t be sure how many of them are active right now. What we can do is reverse engineer a little insight from their pricing though.
Here’s how they describe their pricing on their support site.
Noom works on a subscription model. And, unsurprisingly, you can get larger discounts depending on how long you sign up for.
There’s a good lesson here on pricing and how to scale fee and value.
Generally, I tend to advise a basic framework for tiered pricing which looks something like the below.
In short, you run your base level offer as the minimum value that gets the user a result, and you charge the minimum you need to turn a profit.
The next tier up should offer ~2X the value, but be only ~1.5X the fee.
Again, these are loose values and are dependent on you having a very scalable service like SaaS offers.
If you’re offering hours for pay, this kind of system wouldn’t work.
Generally, SaaS operates on a 3-tier system.
The high-tier should be AT LEAST 2X the value and 1.5X the price of the mid-tier.
Sometimes you’ll want to offer your power users a huge increase in value and price.
But at the very least it should hold true to doubling the value and 1.5Xing the fee.
This also helps you take advantage of price anchoring. Which is a fancy way of using positioning of prices to make the tier you want people to purchase seem both more reasonable and higher value to the user.
While these are approximate values, it looks like they hold true here.
With Noom’s offer, the value always scales proportionately.
As you’re basically paying for access to information and education, you effectively double the base offer’s value with every single increase.
2 months access is, by definition, double the value of 1 months access. 3 months is 3X the value and so on.
However, pricing takes a bit of an odd route here.
The “pre-discount” price of Noom goes from $59 to $150 in tier 1 to 2. Which is a weird jump.
I’d hazard a guess that Noom has never charged $150 for 2 months access and it’s there simply as a price anchor to make the discount, which is around 1.5x tier 1’s price, seem like a better deal.
From there the increases in price reduce until they are simply a $10 / month increase.
Which, with a software tool that likely can turn a profit on those sorts of scaled prices, makes complete sense.
You follow the 2X value and 1.5X pricing until you’re guaranteed to hit your revenue and profit per user target, then simply tack on increases that cover costs and keep the user funnelling money your way for as long as possible.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the 5 months for $149 is their most popular plan.
Complete conjecture on my part.
But it’s a nice round number ($150ish), is a reasonable timeline for getting results, and is where the monthly fee to service provided ratio kind of hits peak value.
It also helps that, after having gone through their sales sequence a few times, the two plans I was recommended took 4-5 months to hit my goal.
I imagine they’ve run all manner of tests and figured out 4-5 months of payment is their sweet spot and when people tend to churn.
They’ve used an attractive price and value for that length of time and have built their sales sequence to reinforce the need for 4-5 months.
However, another key element that’s worth a look int heir pricing is their trial offer.
As a new Noom customer, you can get a 2 week trial of your plan on a “pay what you want” scale.
After completing their sales sequence questionnaire you get served this page.
I love this kind of pricing strategy.
They almost guilt the person into paying more than they would if served a traditional tiered pricing offer.
It’s a very similar approach to SaaS’s favourite 3 tier pricing. Low, mid, and high.
Where the low tier is there to make mid seem like it’s packed with value, and the high tier’s only job is to offer a price anchor making mid-tier seem like an absolute bargain.
What they’ve done here is pile on the guilt though.
It’s not just a “pay what you want”, but a “pay what you want - but think of our poor staff who are helping you. At least help them stay fed and sheltered”.
They mention the oddly specific price of £14.41 (as I’m in the UK I got this in £ Sterling) as the minimum they need to pay their staff for helping you out.
People love to help other people, and loathe paying brands huge amounts of cash.
And the specificity of the amount makes you think it’s genuine rather than a simple cash grab.
It also anchors the highest price and ties it to a logical value - not some arbitrary number. They basically use the tiered pricing system we talked about briefly earlier on to make other prices feel more reasonable.
This is a smart way of getting people to pay - at the very least - more than the £1 intro fee.
Which will go a long way in mitigating the costs of acquisition they’re likely paying.
We’ve actually got a full breakdown of the pricing pages at the end of this month’s edition.
Speaking of, let’s take a quick look at Noom’s acquisition strategies.
Noom’s Acquisition and Ad Spend
Noom’s acquisition and ad spend
One of the things Noom is doing really well is influencer and affiliate marketing.
In researching this piece I had to wade through a tonne of affiliate promotion articles masquerading as reviews.
When looking up “Noom pricing”, I decided to check all of the page one results and see if they had affiliate links.
The below results outlined in red either had…
- An affiliate link that led directly to the Noom sign-up home page
- A link to a “best weight loss apps” style piece on their site which included affiliate links
Google Page 1 results for “Noom pricing”, a bottom-of-funnel term.
Out of 11 results, Noom owns or pays for 9 of them.
7 out of 10 of the organic search results were “review” pieces that either directly included an affiliate link or linked to a roundup page on their domain which had the affiliate link.
2 of the remainder were reviews which didn’t include affiliate links.
Only 1 of the page 1 results is from Noom, and it’s actually from their support site.
They’re dominating page 1 of the Google SERPs for a bottom of funnel search term without having to invest time and effort into their own content marketing.
They’ve simply offered a small affiliate commission to people who could more easily rank on page 1.
If you get one or two of these promo pieces on page 1, the other site owners are going to publish something as well in an effort to get a slice of the traffic.
It’s a great way to seed interest through an influencer’s existing reach.
How much are they paying these affiliates?
Let’s take a look.
A little digging tells me their affiliate program is run through Impact.com.
After checking out the program, they offer a $10 commission if your referral signs up to the “pay what you want” trial.
Not a huge amount by affiliate commission standards.
However, not a bad deal either for affiliates. As we’ve already mentioned, Noom has wide appeal.
So while the individual payouts might be low, there’s a lot of potential customers these affiliates could refer. They’d make their money on the quantity side of things.
It’s also a no brainer for Noom.
Paying a single $10 per acquisition is nothing if the LTV of the customer you’re attracting is in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
If we assume that Noom sells most people on the $150 plan and only get a single transaction, they’re making $140 from each referred customer.
In short, this kind of affiliate marketing is going to be a highly effective acquisition medium for Noom. But it’s only gonna be as successful as their sales process (more on that later).
I think using affiliates and influencers in this way is one of the smartest strategies a brand like Noom could have implemented for a number of reasons.
Reason #1 Noom leverages affiliate and influencer marketing - Cut through the noise
The competitiveness of the weight loss and health and wellness niches is incredible.
It’s crazy how difficult it is to rank and generate interest in what is a super-saturated market.
Trying to break into that market and grow an audience can be done, but it’s hard work to see results and maintain.
By leveraging existing audiences and brands who can quickly land content on page 1, they can see a drastic upswing in their traffic and reach in a relatively short period of time.
However, there’s another reason I like this approach.
And it’s - again - to do with trust.
Reason #2 Noom leverages affiliate and influencer marketing - Trust
The bottom of funnel terms these affiliate promo pieces are ranking for are pretty much the final step a user will take before making a purchase.
They’re looking specifically to allay fears around value, pricing, and to ensure results can be achieved.
To have a piece published by Noom saying “we’re the fucking best at this weight loss game” isn’t going to do anything to remove those fears.
Noom - obviously - has a vested interest in you purchasing.
But USA Today is viewed as an impartial judge of the service. If these third-party reviewers say it’s good, then it must be. They have nothing to gain by saying Noom is good or bad.
Brands looking to build quick credibility could achieve a lot by cutting a deal with relevant influencers and helping them produce that bottom of funnel content.
As a quick aside, the below image is from the page advertising our content strategy service.
If I were looking to implement this myself, I would focus on people / brands already ranking for the terms within the last 2 segments (3 at a push) of the funnel.
I’d approach them and then ask if they want to cut a deal to include us for a commission.
Nothing fancy. Here’s the steps I’d use here.
Speaking of ad spend, let’s take a look at how Noom is running ads.
Noom’s social ads
Looking into social platforms it looks like Noom is heavily investing in Facebook (and thus probably Instagram) ads, but not putting anything on Twitter.
At the time of writing this, they were running 940 ads worldwide on the Facebook networks. I also checked for ads ran during December 2020 and the result was 890.
So there’s a lot of money going in there.
It doesn’t take an ad genius to see what they’re doing on FB ads either.
A quick glance will tell you that they’re running a tonne of tests. And to me, it looks like they’re running something similar to the old 3x3 tests.
That’s 3 different ad creatives, and 3 different sets of copy. Combined that gives you 9 ads to run for each ad set.
Then, when they stumble on a winner they roll it out the winning creative with different ad copy, or winning ad copy with different creative.
A good way to find initial traction and improve with each iteration.
They’re testing video and image creative of both illustrations, static (almost stock) images, and using real people images and videos.
What I also think is quite interesting is how they’re obviously targeting different pain points. Probably retargeting people who drop on their site from specific referrers to appeal to their most pressing pain point.
Here’s one about Noom’s stress reduction program.
If they see a lot of traffic referred from something like “reducestresstoday.com”, or people who looked specifically at Noom content around stress, retargeting them with these more specific ads will likely get better engagement.
And here’s one aimed at people who, I think, used to be in shape but have let themselves go a bit.
Reading through even a handful of these ads and you can see the primary angles Noom is taking.
- How cost-effective Noom is (this is a frequent mention)
- How it’s “backed by science” and thus, obviously, super trustworthy and effective
- How Noom’s programs are easy to follow and will “change your life”
Having these three basic angles makes writing the ad copy easy. You basically think of the best ways to communicate that idea to the specific audience.
You can see how they’ve made those subtle changes in the above examples.
I also like how consistent they’ve been with the actual ad copy.
Personally, I like longer ad copy.
However, all of the Noom ads are super short form and don’t require the reader to click the “see more” link that shows up on long ad copy.
I’m sure that they have the data and experiments that show them this is what works best for them.
A lot of their short-form copy follows the below template.
What it is - what it costs - the benefit it brings.
“A stress reduction program with Noom costs about the same as a new pair of shoes. Don't you think that's worth the life-changing results?”
I like this simple formula.
It leads with what the program does because that’s gonna hook the attention of - in the above example - people who suffer from stress.
It then explains how this isn’t a high fee, and that for that very reasonable sum you can change your life.
Everything you need in a short, sharp format.
A lot of the other ads use the same elements but in a different order. Maybe leading with the benefit.
But generally, they include all 3 elements above.
The only major difference is the story-led social proof ads which you can see in the firefighter example above.
Noom’s search ads
We’ve already taken a look at the copy and template Noom uses in their search ads.
Rather than reiterate that, let’s take a look at how they’re targeting ads.
They obviously abide by the belief that business is war, and all is fair in love and war. Because they’re currently paying for the #1 spot for the search “weight watchers”. Nothing like stealing your competitor’s traffic.
They’re also targeting a lot of keywords that encompass the entire customer journey.
If you dig into the stats a little they’re bidding on…
- Competitor’s brand keywords (like weight watchers)
- Their own brand keywords (Noom)
- A lot of mid-funnel keywords like “how to lose weight”
- And some seed keywords like “lose weight”
I’ve had some experience with Google ads but am by no means an expert.
I am surprised however that they’re bidding on such broad terms like “weight loss”. Mainly because that’s gonna trigger ads for all manner of searches.
Even the complete top of funnel, low conversion-intent searches like “what is the best way to start a weight loss journey”.
Unless they’re using a lot of negative keywords and using something like single keyword ad groups to really double down and focus on long-tail variants, I can’t see how this is profitable.
There’s just too large a search volume with too low a conversion intent for some of these keywords.
I guess it’s a play to be recognised as THE brand for weight loss.
It just feels like a weird play to me.
Search ads are great for targeting BoFu searches as you can almost immediately see the return.
If you’re targeting ToFu searches it becomes harder to track the conversions from that ad spend as people move across devices, channels, etc before converting.
Still, they obviously seem to have hit on something here as their ad spend and paid traffic increased drastically in 2020.
What does this mean in terms of ROI though?
We can’t be sure without seeing their back end and knowing full CVR.
But, if we assume that they manage to get people on the $14 plan (I’m assuming it’s the same number in USD), and their CPC is $1.96 (from the Weight Watchers keyword above), then they’d need to convert one out of every 7 paid visitors to the site from that search term alone to break even on the initial payment.
That’s a conversion of around 14%, which is ambitious.
From everything I’ve seen here I’m certain they’re acquiring new customers at a loss.
They're probably still in the red after the user's first payment. However, the lifetime value (LTV) makes up for it and results in a significant profit per user, on average. This is similar to many SaaS and ecommerce brands, regardless of niche.
And finally, they’re also running a lot of display advertising ads.
Noom’s display ads
With a brief look, it appears as though they are being very selective on who shows their ads. And it looks like they zeroed in on effective ads some time ago.
Some of the ads have been running since 2019 and are still going.
Guess ad fatigue doesn’t affect their display campaigns too much.
When it comes to creative and copy, they take a similar approach to everything else with one key difference.
A lot of the ads abide by the rules and angles we’ve already outlined.
Lead with a benefit, explain the key promise and/or mechanism.
Like this one.
You also have the gamified element being pushed. They mention the quiz which, for most of us, is a fun way to waste a few minutes.
Apart from the quiz, the copy formula is pretty much the same.
But they also run a lot of display ads with this copy variant.
Again, we can’t know for certain, but I think there’s something to be learned from this.
Because they mention Noom in this way I’d bet these are retargeting ads.
People who already know what Noom is will see this and it’ll make sense. If this is served to a cold audience, they’re gonna say “WTF is a Noom?”.
Again, they’ve maintained the messaging they had in other ads.
We broke this down in the messaging and positioning sections.
Basically, they’re calling out diet alternatives as a lesser solution while highlighting that Noom is a better way to hit their goals.
Nothing fancy, but with display ads you’re battling for attention. So big text, arresting images, and a clear demonstration of value are needed.
OK, so that’s a look at how Noom is generating traffic to their site. Now let’s take a look at how they’re converting that traffic to first time users.
Noom’s ad landing page
All of Noom’s ads appear to link to the same landing page. One that’s basically a clone of their primary home page.
However, the ads link to a specific version (likely multiple specific versions for testing and tracking) where Noom have removed any and all distractions that aren’t the primary CTA.
Noom’s minimalist home page pushes the reader to start the evaluation.
That’s the entirety of the page.
And that’s a very smart choice.
It stops people clicking on “About Us” or some other distraction that’s gonna pull them away from signing up.
It abides by the “one page, one purpose” rule of giving the user one action to take with one persuasive message to push that action.
And there are zero other actions on the page to take.
It reduces the decision for the user down to a yes/no action.
Do I want to lose weight / get fit for good?
I’m often a fan of sales pages having a little more meat to them than this.
However, I think for this service it works.
Especially when you consider the sales sequence that masquerades as a questionnaire and immediately leads on from this page is, in effect, a long-form sales letter.
Let’s examine that.
Noom’s Sales Sequence
Noom’s sales sequence
We chose to focus on the sales sequence for Noom because, well, it’s genius.
In a time where we’re all being told to make the conversion path as simple, easy, and short as possible Noom has bucked the trend.
In fact, after taking screenshots of every page throughout this sales sequence, I ended up with 69 images.
In total it was 67 different pages with 66 actions to go from the sales page to the payment page.
Here’s our analysis of their sales sequence.
When you take a high-level view of the Noom sales sequence, it initially looks super complex. But when you break it down it’s incredibly streamlined and well thought out.
Rather than asking just a handful of relevant questions in the order that makes most logical sense, it’s reminiscent of a long-form direct response sales page.
Specifically, one that follows the good ol’ PAS formula (Problem, Agitation, Solution).
In fact, when you break it down you can see a lot of key direct response elements within the sequence.
- You have a unique mechanism that makes the result of losing weight seem easier / more achievable (psychology driven diet plan)
- You run people through the basic stages of…
- Identifying that you know and understand them
- Agitate their pain
- Present the solution and the benefits it can provide
- Segue into payment
Here’s a closer look at single elements from each stage.
Stage 1 - Demographic info and showing you understand them.
Great use of social proof to show them Noom knows, understands, and has experience with people like them.
Stage 2 - Agitate the pain.
They’ve been smart here. It’s not as blatant as some of the DR sales letters you’ll find on ClickBank. Instead, they allude to the user’s failures with other measures subtly hinting that noom is different.
It's a great way to remind them that the other methods haven’t worked for them.
With Noom’s frequent reminders of how effective their service is, there’s a natural connection made between “going to the gym doesn’t work”, and “maybe a psychological approach to weight loss will work this time”.
Stage 3 - Introduce the solution
Again, they’ve done this very subtly.
Rather than the “slap you in the face” solution introductions you might be used to.
Many brands introduce their solutions like magic wands. "....then I discovered X and it's totally changed my life!!"
Noom takes a completely different approach and introduces their solution gently, by asking questions.
These questions accomplish a few things:
- They remind the user of Noom's unique mechanism (psych-based solutions).
- They establish a 2-way communication channel that makes the user feel "heard".
- They help the user choose next steps, which makes the process feel both logical and personalized.
Finally, we segue into the payment pages. Which we’ll do a full breakdown of later.
Keeping motivation high
One of the other brilliant additions Noom have included in this sequence are short sharp breaks between questions.
While they might seem useless at first, they’re great at keeping the user’s attention and motivation high.
From home page to payment completion there are a total of 67 steps.
Which means the user needs to take 66 actions to go from A-Z.
Which is a lot.
And, honestly, if you mentioned that to most UX and onboarding folk, they’d tell you it’s crazy.
However, Noom has cleverly implemented some small motivators to keep the person clicking and moving through the sequence.
On the surface level, you can see that they use very simple Q and As.
All questions are simple and to the point with multiple choice answers. To log an answer, you simply click, and you’re automatically taken to the next question.
It’s easy and almost gamified.
However, the really interesting addition is the cadence with which questions are asked.
Every so often there is a motivational statement disguised as a question.
Simple things to help keep the user engaged, feel like they’re making progress, and urge them to continue.
They take different forms including…
- Motivator #1 - Stats and social proof about the effectiveness of Noom
- Motivator #2 - A frequently updated readout of when they can expect to hit their target weight based on their answers.
- Motivator #3 - Reassurances that their failure up to this point isn’t their fault and that Noom can help.
- Motivator #4 - Reminders that Noom makes this easy
- Motivator #5 - Even the “loading screen” when Noom is compiling results offer encouragement.
- Motivator #6 - Social proof to build your trust
What I find most interesting here though is the cadence they’ve chosen for this.
Generally speaking, the user will answer between 2 and 3 questions before being hit with a “motivational” page.
There are 2 instances of the user having to answer 5 questions.
But otherwise, they go a relatively short amount of time before they’re reminded why they’re doing this.
It’s like they’ve watched a real-life personal trainer offering encouragement every 30-seconds and built it into the sales sequence.
Here’s how the overall spread of questions to tailor the offer and motivational statements breaks down.
If we get more detailed in the motivational sections and break them down into…
- Social proof
- Removing self-blame
- General motivation
- Statistics related to weight loss
- Re-adjustment of goal timeline
It looks something like the below.
A heavy slant towards motivational statements to keep people engaged in the process and the removal of self-blame.
Messages of “it’s not your fault” can help people overcome their own feelings of guilt. And to have someone else confirm what they’ve long hoped builds trust.
Which of course makes the sale easier.
Breaking down the home page
The home page for Noom is wonderfully simple.
- Clear value prop
- Simple actions to take
- Clean design with zero distractions
Only thing I think I would want to change is lower the opacity of the background image to make text easier to read.
They’ve also hit the three key components of what I believe make a high-converting value prop. They explain the how, what, and why of using Noom.
This is harder than it seems in the weight loss world.
When it comes down to it, there is only one way of losing weight.
That’s to be at a caloric deficit.
Generally, weight loss approaches fall into one of two camps.
- Consume fewer calories than you burn
- Burn more calories than you consumer
Or, more simply.
- Eat less
- Exercise more
Thing is, there’s no real hook to these. Which makes them disappear in the sea of other weight loss offers.
You need a unique mechanism to help you stand out from the crowd.
- P90X had “muscle confusion”
- The Atkins Diet had the idea to eat more protein, thus reducing carb intake
Noom’s mechanism - or their hook - is a psychological approach to weight loss.
Here’s how it looks and breaks down using my How, What, Why method.
Noom basically covers the how, what, and why in the headline and hero section. What’s great here is how their hook also boosts the effect of each one.
- HOW is this going to help me? - Permanent health benefits
- WHAT is this? - Psychological approach to weight loss
- WHY should I care? - Scientifically proven and trustworthy
That’s the basics of it.
However, the psychological aspect has also been weaved into these elements to give them more punch and really highlight the benefit of the mechanism.
They’re not promising you’ll just get fit or lose weight.
They’re promising you’ll get fit for good.
This is thanks to the behavioural change that’s gonna come from the psychological approach.
It’s not immediately evident on this page, but when you go through the sales sequence this is a message they hammer home several times with messages like…
“We’re gonna change your relationship with food”.
Noom isn’t promising simple weight loss. They’re promising a better, more healthy life by removing unhealthy habits.
It’s a behavioural change program masquerading as a weight loss system.
Which is smart, cause there are far more people looking to lose weight than change their habits/behaviours.
Noom’s Pricing Page
Noom has done an excellent job with the pricing page as well.
Technically it’s split over three pages.
The first is where you can decide how much to pay for the plan Noom are creating for you.
They do some smart things with this page to pay what they’ve positioned as their “break even” price.
Despite the obvious of leading with social proof to allay fears, they then get into building a better sense of camaraderie with the user.
They immediately mention how money shouldn’t stop them from getting the plan they want.
And so, to ensure they get the help they need, Noom are going to offer them the price at a heavily discounted rate.
Gives the impression of “we’re not trying to make money, we’re simply trying to help you”.
Which, of course, puts you in their debt and at risk of falling prey to the good ol’ reciprocity element of marketing.
Basically, you offer something to me and I’m going to feel like I’m in your debt. I’ll want to reciprocate in time to both clear the perceived debt and help out the person who’s helped me.
They then double down on this by explaining how much they need to put the plan together.
But they’re smarter than saying something like “it costs about £15 to keep Noom running”.
Because, really, I don’t care about Noom. And a nicely rounded number would make me think that’s the minimum they need to turn a profit.
They instead include a reference to their employees, as in the actual people.
Cause it’s easy to say no to giving money to a brand, but to not want to pay a person who’s helping you out (and who’s just offered you a discount) is much harder.
Add to that the weirdly specific number £14.41, and it seems like a genuine play at ensuring the right people get properly compensated for their work in helping you.
That human face with the reciprocity bait before it are a powerful combo.
Especially when getting their commitment to am price is a simple button click.
On the next page they turn things up a notch or five.
On this page they basically get you to confirm everything you’ve done up to this point.
- Goal reminders - They include some reminders which are very smartly framed as the transformational benefits you’re going for. For example, I popped in that maybe I don’t just want to lose weight, but I might also want to run a 5k.
- Personalisation reminder - They make it apparent this isn’t a “one-size fits all” type approach. But a plan based on the specific answers offered in the sales sequence.
- Progression reminder - They’ve included the lovely little graphs that outline your gains (losses?) and the expected timeline to remind you of where you could be if you purchase.
- Urgency element - They’ve added a tight deadline of 15 minutes before they remove the plan they’ve created for me. Makes me feel like I need to take action now.
- Savings reminder - We’ve already had them explain that £14.41 is the minimum they need to cover their costs, but you can get it for less. They spend time on this page to reiterate the savings you could make by taking action now.
- Social proof - Cause it never hurts to mention every major, trustworthy publication that’s featured you.
If I don’t sign up in that time, all that hard work of getting my psychological profile done will be for nothing.
If I was at all worried about what I was losing, they’re kind enough to remind me immediately below.
They explain, very specifically, that it’s a personalised plan.
More interesting to me though is the inclusion of my “progress graph”.
The thing that shows how much weight I could expect to lose, and the timeline of that loss.
I love these little graphs as they not only add very realistic timelines and goals making the whole thing seem achievable, but they also show achievement growth across a short timeline.
It’s a very smart thing to include this here.
Including it here forces me to ask the question “Do I want to throw away my chance to lose 2 kilos this month?”
Which for people who finish the whole process is a resounding no.
The pricing breakdown itself is heavily focused on how much you’re saving.
They double down here on the £14.14 they outlined on the previous page. The concept that, right now, they’re here to help and only want to charge you the amount it takes to keep their staff fed.
And finally, some social proof.
The final page opens up once you click continue.
It’s a pretty standard payment page.
What I like are the inclusion of elements to obliterate any last-minute objections.
With things like this, people are going to be concerned about 3 things.
- Does it really work?
- Is it gonna cost a lot more than they say?
- What if I don’t like it?
They’ve tackled all of these objections with…
- Social proof of reviews from major mobile app stores.
- A break down of the pricing and future payment plans
- Mention that there is no contract and this is a “cancel anytime” deal
The perfect amount of objection busting at this stage.
Noom’s use of the “yes ladder” for payment
However, there’s also something else that this page does extremely well.
Speak to most CRO folk and they’ll tell you that reducing the number of steps a user has to take is key to increasing conversions.
And, generally, that holds true.
It’s why we’ve all been advised to shorten form fields to the bare minimum. This removes friction and makes the conversion as simple as possible.
Here’s the thing though.
To process payment you’ve gotta collect a lot of info.
If, after the questionnaire is finished, you hit the user with a huge page of 12+ form fields and a tonne of information, it’s gonna scare a lot of people away.
It simply looks like too much effort.
But, by splitting the page across 3 different pages you can mitigate this.
In general, Noom have focused on 3 different goals with each page.
Page 1 - Choose your price (heavy use of psychological principles to get them to commit to a higher price)
Page 2 - Confirmation and reiteration of urgency and benefits (timeline for goal achievements & savings)
Page 3 - Payment
It might look pretty basic, but it’s actually pretty smart.
By splitting the process over 3 pages, they’re doing a couple of things.
- They’re getting better data on where the user is abandoning so they can better figure out what it is that’s turning them off.
- They’re giving themselves more room to persuade the user on each page and at each step
- It’s a smart use of yet another psychological principle outlined in Cialdini’s book, Influence (Commitment and Consistency)
Let’s start with the obvious and lead up to Commitment and Consistency.
Goal 1 - Better data
This is simple.
Each page has a different goal and this provides different information.
Looking at where the user exits you can start hypothesising reasons why they abandoned the sequence and come up with potential fixes for experimentation.
For example, if they abandon on page 2, maybe you’re not doing enough to explain the benefits of signing up. So you might want to try…
- Leading with the small graph to reinforce the future pacing of gains
- Lead with the savings
Or maybe you might want to test removing page 2 from the sequence entirely.
Goal 2 - Persuasion
The goal of the whole process is to encourage the person to sign up.
Could you imagine including all of the below on a single page:
- The entire spiel on page one about the minimum they need to pay their staff
- You choosing your price
- Reinforcing the benefits and gains
- Outlining the price savings
- Asking for actual payment details all on one page
That’s way too much for a single page.
By splitting it into specific sections they can take more time to explain why you should do this.
They give you more reasons to click the continue button which, when done enough times, leads to goal 3.
Goal 3 - Commitment and Consistency
Commitment and consistency comes down to a practice known commonly as the “Yes Ladder”.
Basically, when selling something, you lead with a few trivial questions that are almost guaranteed to get the lead to say yes.
Each question becomes a little less trivial.
However, the way our brains are wired means that with each yes, we’re more likely to comply with the next ask.
So, you start out trivial and get the yes. Which makes getting the next, less trivial, yes easier. And so on.
Before long you can hit them with the big question where you have enough “yes momentum” to get them to commit.
Noom have done this throughout the sequence.
Each button click is, in effect, a “yes” that they want to learn more and get the plan.
When it comes to the pricing options, they’ve basically forced the user to say yes on everything but the final payment page.
Let’s break down the pages
Page 1 - Choose your own price
This isn’t a binary Yes / No decision.
There are only yes’s on this page.
The phrasing of the lead makes the user think Noom is doing them a favour which primes them for reciprocity.
But then they take it up a notch by getting them to commit with a yes.
That yes is either for…
- Ensuring Noom’s staff who work on these programs - at the very least - get paid a fair amount for their work
- Getting an absolute deal and a bargain
In essence, the questions boil down to…
Do you want our staff to get paid fairly for their work…
… Do you want to get a deal?
There isn’t a no option here (unless you count closing the tab which kicks off their re-engagement emails).
So with that first “yes” in the bag, they move on to the next, less trivial yes.
Page 2 - Reiterating the benefits
This is the first stage where the yes becomes less trivial in that there’s an implied no.
Throughout the page they’ve highlighted what you stand to gain by signing up.
- Your primary weight loss goal
- When you can expect to see progress and how much progress you can expect
- How much you stand to save IF you act now
- The secondary goal (run a 5k)
- Social proof
The simple continue button is, basically, a question of…
“You still want all of these amazing benefits, right?”
Which, because they’re also reminding you of how little you’ll pay and how much you’ll save, is a no brainer yes.
Page 3 - Payment
At this stage they’ve got 2 yes’s out of you.
They’ve also planted the seed that, your small transaction today will help them keep their staff paid, fed, and housed.
Of course there are the usual last-minute objection busting elements like guarantees etc.
But the important work is done before this page.
They’ve got you to commit to 60+ micro conversion yes’s through the sequence.
Then they’ve got 2 more important yes’s out of you specifically around payment.
You’re invested at this stage,saying yes to this final stage is a no brainer.
Especially as you’re saying yes to a price that you yourself have selected.
It’s a super smart way to organise their pricing, and I would bet that it converts much higher than a simple one page process which has had all of the information dumped there.
Future pacing is a concept where you basically get the reader / customer to imagine themselves enjoying the fruits of your offer sometime in the future.
Throughout the 60+ page process, Noom does a great job of explaining the results you can expect and the timeline to achieve them.
Every so often, it’ll calculate your goals and give you a timeline of when you could achieve them by if you sign up.
As you answer more questions, they reevaluate and give you an update.
When I was doing it, the timeline shrunk with each new update. I’m curious if this is by design to encourage them to fill out more details, or if it’s a genuine reduction.
It may not seem like much, but we’ve all known someone who has started a diet or exercise plan with the specific intent of getting ready for their upcoming vacation.
As some folks here in the UK like to say, “No carbs before Marbs” (for Marbella, Spain - a common beach destination for Brits).
Most people aren’t losing weight simply because it’s a new way they want to live.
Most are doing it with a specific timeline in mind.
The addition of these graphs speaks to those people. However, I love that the losses are really achievable and healthy.
As in, they’re not saying “oh yeah, you could lose 15kg by month 2”.
If they did that, it wouldn’t only be irresponsible, but also unbelievable.
There are three of these updates throughout the process, each time you get a more “accurate” readout.
And then they give you the latest update on your payment page to remind you of just how in shape you could be in a few months.
For people planning that big vacation, this is a great way to future pace the benefits and get them on board 100%.
If they know that, with your help, they could be their ideal weight by their June getaway they’re gonna jump at the chance.
Out of all the pages in the sequence this was, to me, the most interesting and effective.
It’s a great way of setting expectations and getting people excited.
It’s even more powerful when you compare these visualized timelines to what Noom’s competitors are doing (or not doing).
Most online macro calculators run through a basic data collection sequence where they ask for your current weight and your goal weight - like Noom does.
It’s gamified, sure. And thus probably gets a tonne of engagement.
But, here’s the key difference - these calculators ask the reader to enter their target date, like this:
Doesn’t feel valuable, does it?
All it’s doing is dividing your weight loss goal by the number of weeks you’ve set, and coming up with a line like…
“In order to lose 16 lbs in 2 months, you’ve got to lose 2 lbs per week.”
This puts the onus squarely on the reader. It’s up to you to select a realistic target weight AND a realistic goal.
If you screw that up, the whole plan is totally meaningless.
On the other hand, Noom “owns” the planning stage by coming up with a realistic progression plan to reach the user’s goal.
This little shift immediately feels valuable compared to what most other services are doing.
If you went to a personal trainer, it’s reasonable to expect them to ask for your goals and general timeline. But then you’d also expect the trainer to adapt and adjust the goals and create a clear plan to get there.
Noom is the only brand that really adds a guiding voice to this process.
(It’s also worth noting that Noom’s closest competitor, Weight Watchers, never even adds a timeline or asks for a goal date. Here’s what you get after completing their assessment:
Weight Watchers’ assessment ends with no clear goal reminders and no timeline.
Takeaways and lessons learned
While not the full list of lessons you’ll probably get from this, these are the key takeaways I’ve picked up here. And that I’ll be attempting to embody in my own businesses moving forward.
Before we get into it, let’s look at Noom’s entire growth model.
Now onto the key lessons.
Create once, use everywhere.
Stop wasting time re-inventing the wheel.
Run initial experiments to find something that works, and re-use it shamelessly across all channels, mediums, and messaging.
Noom reuses the same messaging and templates across multiple assets and channels.
This creates a cohesive feel across all of their copy, content, and design. It even continues through the actual user experience post-purchase.
This approach to content is a win-win because it saves time, creates a strong brand presence, and helps your ideal users associate you as a leading name in your field. It also helps potential partners find you quickly, understand exactly who you serve, and identify opportunities to work together.
In Noom’s case, their cohesive branding and messaging has helped the brand become the go-to option for people looking for psychology-based weight loss.
It’s partly very smart, effective positioning and partly omnipresent marketing.
Make a small improvement to established brands’ offers
Established brands lack the agility to quickly answer growing consumer needs.
A small brand’s agility can help them easily stand out by doing what the established brands can’t, don’t, or won’t.
The most effective way for a smaller brand to capture market space is often to make a small tweak to what the big brands are doing. This could be as simple as a small change to:
- Make it quicker.
- Make it better.
- Find a new angle.
Noom added a couple of minor improvements to their closest rival, Weight Watchers’, offer.
While just doing one of the above can differentiate a brand sufficiently, Noom actually does all three.
- Their 16-week program is more defined and offers faster results than most weight loss services.
- Noom’s UX is (by far) the best in the weight loss field. People are more likely to commit to the program and get results because of how easy and usable the app is.
- Noom’s sales sequence improves on existing offers because it includes realistic timelines while other services just look at goals (more on this in #3).
And lastly, Noom’s done a great job with their “angle” - psychology-based lifestyle change for weight loss. It’s easy to understand, believe, and buy into. Plus, it feels much more modern than the services that have been around for 30+ years and still focus on groups and recipes.
3. Give the user a plan, not just goals.
Make the implementation of your offer idiot proof.
Rather than simply handing over information and giving vague, high-level goals, walk the consumer through actions by the hand.
If a user has come to you for help, it’s not because they don’t know WHAT they want. They know what they want, but they’re looking for help with HOW to achieve it.
Many brands in different industries focus on goals. New goals, altered goals, extra goals - that’s OK, but this doesn’t address the deep pain points a user has.
If you can go one step further and actually give your users a roadmap, you’ll be way ahead of most competitors.
Noom does this with detailed future-pacing of results and benefits. By simply attaching a simple map between “now” and the future goal achievement, Noom creates a much more valuable, confidence-boosting answer than other weight loss apps.
4. Ease > Speed.
90% of marketing advice is about speed.
→ Ship now!
→ Increase site speed!
→ Reduce user actions and friction!
But speed can rob you of substantive information and action. You need quality and quantity to grow.
Noom is proof that you can get the quality by ignoring speed of process and focusing on ease of process. It’s not a particularly long experience - but the point is, the emphasis is on UX and small, relevant value snippets.
Their 65+ step sales sequence is a masterclass in making the process easy, maintaining user motivation, and still hitting all the key points you’d expect in a long-form sales letter.
5. Build a Yes Ladder.
It’s really hard to get cold traffic to make a huge commitment to a monthly fee.
A simple yes ladder that increases the “threat” of questions as the user becomes more invested is a great way of turning cold leads into paying customers.
By building out a more extended series of questions, a brand can gently lead the user through a natural progression of questions.
Like a regular conversation, people need to build up levels of trust before they’ll feel comfortable sharing information.
If you rush through an ultra short series of questions, you’ll struggle to get answers to deep questions. You’ll get some basic info but never really develop rapport with the user.
Noom’s series is like a friendly conversation that puts the user at ease while also building a sense of value. Because of this answering 60+ questions doesn’t feel like the slog it should.
Yes ladders can appear simple, but they’re carefully designed and can be incredibly effective. And Noom’s “ladder” is one of the best out there!
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