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Ep. 42 - The importance of different and unusual perspectives for a conversion rate optimized online store with Jon MacDonald

From graduating college to meeting the CMO of Coca-Cola in 6 months, Jon MacDonald is an ecommerce powerhouse. He is the founder and president of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that helps brands convert more of their existing website traffic into buyers.

He also regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action. 

 

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • [1:19] Jon’s journey to founding an agency
  • [3:39] Where “The Good” came from
  • [4:06] It’s great if your business is mission-backed
  • [4:19] The ONLY 2 reasons why consumers are in your ecommerce website
  • [5:16] What are the wrong practices you keep seeing in ecommerce sites
  • [7:20] Use heatmaps/clickmaps for your store
  • [9:39] One simple tip to double your conversions
  • [10:39] Use Google Optimize for personalizations
  • [11:38] Jon’s recommendation for new or small store owners when it comes to analytics
  • [12:26] Conversion rate optimization summarized in one word
  • [12:59] “It’s really hard to read the label from inside the jar.” - Jon
  • [13:59] The “drunk mindset” to website design and navigation
  • [15:25] The cheap, easy and effective way for website user testing
  • [16:37] Sponsor: https://www.simplr.ai/honest
  • [17:23] “Don’t ask your friends to review your website.” - Chase
  • [17:47] Jon’s recommended user testing method for larger Shopify stores
  • [20:27] Aesthetic based web design vs Conversion Optimized web design
  • [20:58] Conversion optimization gives customers a positive brand experience
  • [21:55] If your idea wouldn’t apply to a retail store, don’t do it on your website
  • [23:07] Jon’s take on exit intent pop-ups.
  • [23:56] Discounting can sometimes have a negative effect
  • [26:53] Jon’s tips and tricks in preparation for the holidays (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.)
  • [28:19] “Conversion is optimization is like a retirement account.” - Jon
  • [28:47] Some of the “Top 10 CRO tips” articles give CRO a bad name
  • [29:40] Optimization always depend on YOUR specific site’s visitors
  • [30:28] Competitive research from a CRO perspective
  • [31:51] Competitive research from a growth perspective
  • [33:29] There is no golden rulebook for ecommerce success. It’s all about testing.
  • [34:03] Jon’s last tip for ecommerce stores

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    Transcript:

    Jon MacDonald  

    Keep moving forward. Make one decision after the next and a lot of conversion optimization is just how quickly can you make data-backed decisions.

     

    Annette Grant  

    Welcome to Honest Ecommerce where we are dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    I'm your host, Chase Clymer

     

    Annette Grant  

    And I'm your host, Annette Grant.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    And we believe running an online business does not have to be complicated or a guessing game.

     

    Annette Grant  

    If you're struggling to scale your sales, Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us. visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    And let's get on with the show.

     

    Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. My name is Chase Clymer, coming to you today from Columbus, Ohio. And on the other end of the line, we have Jon Macdonald from The Good. John, where are you calling from?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Portland, Oregon but by way of Columbus, actually. I grew up just outside of Columbus.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. I have not been to Portland in forever. When's the last time you came to Columbus?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Wow, great question. Probably, 10 years.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    It will not look the same at all, I guarantee it.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, same with Portland. But I think they're both two rapidly growing cities that are riding that wave right now, which is great.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. So let's take it back then. I'm guessing 10 years ago... What were you doing 10 years ago before you started the agency?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Well, when I graduated college, I went to work with digital marketing firms. And I graduated in 2003. So it was you know, coming right out of the dot-com boom if you will. 

     

    And right about then was when every marketing or ad agency decided they had to get into building websites. And what they all did was they... These New York, Madison Avenue executives who knew nothing about the internet and knew everything about branding. 

     

    But what they'd all did is go hire some kids straight out of college with a computer science degree to run their internet team. And so that's what happened to me, I got recruited to --straight out of college-- to go run a digital marketing side of an ad agency --actually in Cleveland-- and got thrown into the fire. 

     

    I remember being in a meeting with the CMO of Coke when I had been there [for only] 6 months. So 6 months out of college and (I was) trying to bullshit my way out of how to build a website for Coke in a couple of days if you will. And it was a lot of fun. 

     

    But what I realized really quickly was that over the number of years from there, the development was becoming somewhat of a commodity. Just pure development. 

     

    And I had a computer science degree. I love development but it was becoming harder and harder to just do web development. And I started my own agency and what I decided was that we were going to do more of an optimization angle. And that wasn't really a thing at the time. 

     

    Conversion rate optimization wasn't even in (the) industry. There were no toolsets for it really. No A/B testing. (It) was just something that you did. (If you) made a change, (you) let it run for a week and see what happened versus another change. And there's nothing. No way to really measure that other than some analytics.

     

    And really, what came out of that was that we put a really strict focus at The Good on conversion rate optimization, as that became more of an industry. 

     

    And we pivoted away from building websites to really just optimizing them. Making sure that we could help remove all of those bad online experiences until only the good ones remain.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    And that's the name of the agency, which I loved when I read that on the site.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Thank you.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    So, you gave me an amazing experience. I was like, "Oh, that's witty. I like that."

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    (laughs) Yeah, it's definitely great to be mission-backed. And I was in the industry of ad agencies and marketing firms for so long of just building websites that really didn't serve the consumers’ needs. 

     

    If you think about it, a consumer is only at your Ecommerce website for 2 reasons. One is something led them to believe that your website, your product or service can help solve the pain or the need that they have to solve. 

     

    So they need a baseball bat for their kid literally this weekend, and they're doing research because they need it quickly. And so they did some research and your website came up. So, they ended up there. 

     

    And then the 2nd reason that there is to convert, they want to buy that product, assuming that can solve their pain or need as quickly and easily as possible. 

     

    Now, again, we've been optimizing websites for over 10 years, and we've never been found another reason that somebody is on your site. 

     

    And so it really is the focus of helping the consumer understand that if they're in the right place very quickly, and then helping them accomplish those tasks as quickly as possible.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    That's an easy way to think about it. So let me ask you a question. Most of our listeners have an Ecommerce store. So now you've got 10 years (of) experience, what are some of the things that you can't believe you're still seeing wrong with these websites? What are the ones that you notice too often?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Well, I think even a higher level than that is it all starts with data. I am shocked by the number of websites that I encounter on a daily basis that are not making data-backed decisions. They're not tracking every click and movement that people are taking on their site.

     

    Now, I'm saying you should do this in an aggregate fashion, I'm not suggesting you go out and you create an issue of GDPR where you're tracking everybody individually. GDPR is a legal regulation in the European Union, all about how you should not be tracking people individually. 

     

    And generally, what I'm finding is most brands are not really looking at their analytics that are on a regular basis. And they're certainly not looking at where people are dropping off on the site, where they're having problems. They're not understanding what's in the analytics

     

    Everybody has Google Analytics installed. But let's be honest, Google Analytics is really free from Google because it's meant to help you sell more ads. 

     

    It's not meant to help you optimize your site in the way that the issue should be utilized, as far as I'm concerned. How we do that is you just go in and you set up some additional conversion tracking. You really dive beyond the initial dashboard that's there. 

     

    There's a great chart in Google Analytics that will help you. It looks like octopus a little bit in the sense that you start on the left with the entry page, you can click on a line that will show you a path that individuals take through your site and where they drop-off. What page they drop-off, and you can highlight that entire path. 

     

    It is really, really helpful to understand where people are dropping off because that's probably where they're having problems. The other thing is people aren't looking at things like heat maps, click maps or scroll maps. How are people engaging with the site? 

     

    It's super simple. It's easy to do. Go to Hotjar. It is $9 a month, I believe. It's super helpful. You get some great data on how people are engaging with your website. What content are they seeing? What are they not seeing? Where are they clicking? And where are they not clicking? 

     

    I often like to say that the click map shows things like rage clicking. This is where people will click on something 100 times thinking that it should be clickable and they're getting mad that it's not. 

     

    We often see this for things like social proof or logos that you might have up on your site and they're saying, "Oh, I want more information about that." 

     

    And they try to click on it and it doesn't take him anywhere. They get upset. So you can see these pieces of information and how people are engaging with your website very easily, very cheaply. And it blows my mind that more companies aren't looking at this on a regular basis.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    It's funny, you talk about Hotjar. I love that one too. And I actually think there is a freemium model out there just to get your toes wet. You can see X number of recordings a month for free

     

    So even if you don't have the budget for $9 --which I hope you do-- but there's still a way to get it on there and at least start to learn about what customers are doing on your website and what you could be doing to make their journey better.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Right. Just start somewhere. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Right. That's all you gotta do is just start somewhere looking at the data, and then having empathy for the consumer.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    And then you also mentioned (that) Google Analytics is built to sell more ads. That couldn't be truer. And also just people that create an account and just throw that snippet in and do nothing else. 

     

    If you have an Ecommerce store and you haven't flipped a simple switch to turn on Enhanced Ecommerce, you're leaving just so much information on the table.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Oh, that's the first thing we check in our checklist for new clients. And I am shocked at the percentage that doesn’t have that enabled.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah, it's wild. That and then the Facebook Pixel, I would say has almost the same amount if not more data, depending on what kind of argument you're trying to have. People aren't setting it up, especially on Ecom. 

     

    You got to make sure that you're sending all the information back about your products to Facebook. A lot of people don't have that set up the right way either.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, for sure. And you know, we don't do anything with driving traffic here at The Good. We only focus on once somebody is at the site, helping them to convert as quickly and easily but where they came from is actually really important to that. Because they came with intent. 

     

    They came with a purpose. They saw your ad on Facebook or they read someone else's post that was recommending you. And that led them to your site with some type of bias and intent. And if you can understand that and serve up the right content based on where they came from, you will automatically double your conversion rate.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Now, I love matched messaging. You know they're coming in from a partner’s website. It should be your partner's face up there, giving a testimonial about that product that is going to just drive that home. They're like, "Well, now I believe it."

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Right. And there are some easy ways to do that. Google has a great tool called Google Optimize. Now, a lot of people use Google Optimize for A/B testing but you can do what they call Personalizations in there. And it ties in with Google Analytics extremely well, so it knows where people came from. 

     

    And you can decide to show different pieces of information, in the same content block, based on where people came from. And it's free to use. Google actually really wants you to use it. They encourage you to do that because that makes their Search Results more relevant.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    That is so nerdy. And I'm definitely going to play around with that. You actually taught me something today, I did not know that existed.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, it's a great tool. And it's getting up there to have feature parity with stuff like VWO, Visual Website Optimizer, which is a well-known conversion optimization tool for doing A/B or split testing.

     

    In fact, we've been moving most of our customers over to Google Optimize, because the feature parity is there and it's free. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. Some of the other ones are definitely more priced for an enterprise organization. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yes. Yeah, definitely. But this is all part of the democratization of optimization. It's really becoming very inexpensive and much easier to do. 

     

    You just have to put in a little bit of effort to set it up or to actually even pay attention to the data. In a lot of these toolsets, what I always recommend to our clients who are smaller or just starting out is have the data pushed to you. 

     

    Even in Google Analytics, you can set it up to email your report as often as once a day. So you can get that into your inbox, and you don't have to go get it. It just shows up. 

     

    And what I recommend people do is just for the first month is every day, just open that and look for what's different than the day before. You'll start to recognize trends. And those trends are going to really help you understand how people are engaging with your site, which is really going to help you... 

     

    You're going to be more inquisitive about why people are acting this way on your website. And that's going to cause you to try to view it through their lens. Which is again, going back to that point on empathy, really all of this around conversion optimization, if I could summarize it one word, it's just empathy.

     

    It's just having empathy for the consumer. And once you've done that, you'll have a much better understanding perspective of what it's like to use your website. I say this all the time, but it's really hard to read the label from inside the jar. 

     

    We are so close to our websites, as Ecommerce site owners, that we probably had a hand in doing the navigation, setting up the categories, deciding what content to put up there. All of that is the stuff that we decided, so we know it. 

     

    So when we go to our websites, we know how to navigate the site. But a new-to-file customer, who has never been to the site before, has no idea. And you really need to understand what their experiences are like.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    You couldn't be more true there. It's funny. Especially just us, I guess, being on the consultant side of things, how often I go to websites, and I'm just like, "well, who thought about this data architecture?" 

     

    That's a nerdy way of saying "How to get to what you want to get to." It's like, "Who thought of this. This is wild." You gotta keep it as simple as possible. I almost like to say that (laughs) you gotta think sometimes that your customers are drunk. You just don't want to confuse them, you just want to get them there.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    (laughs) Yeah, there's actually a great website. I can't remember the URL right now. But there's a gentleman that you can pay. 

     

    And he'll do a variation of user testing, where he will get drunk and go to your website and record himself using it and talking out loud about what he's thinking. 

     

    And it's "your users are drunk" or something like that. And it's actually hilarious because you try to get it down to the lowest common denominator. Right?

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Mm-hmm.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    And that's the whole point of this. He started as a joke, but some large corporations have paid him to do this. And it actually is pretty entertaining to watch as well.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah, no. It's theuserisdrunk.com. I don't know if he's still doing it, though. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Ah yes. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Oh God, I would love to have just had him do it for our website. It'd be hilarious.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, he has one where his mom will use your website as well... 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah. Uh-huh. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    ...and do the same thing. And it's equally hilarious. She's not very tech-savvy. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    And the video recordings of this are quite entertaining.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah. Well, we can just take it from there. Just go take your mom (to) your website on your tablet or your phone and ask her to purchase a certain product. 

     

    And then shut up and watch what they do. You're going to be so surprised at how difficult navigating your website is, for the first time if you haven't done these tests before.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    That it's actually great. We tell people all the time who want to do user testing but don't have the budget to do it. 

     

    What we tell them is just take your laptop, go to a local mall, and just walk around and tell people "I will give you a $10 Starbucks gift card. --whatever it is. Just some type of incentive-- for five minutes of your time. All I want you to do is use this website while I watch it. And maybe ask you a question or two at the end." 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    And it works extremely well. We have found in user testing --and this has been backed by some of the world's largest user research companies and consultancies-- you only need 5 test subjects to have relevant data. 

     

    Anything over 5, you're likely going to start hearing the same stuff over and over. So, you only need five people to interact with. Now you're going to get told a lot, "No." when you do this at a public place like a mall, but you only need 5. and I bet you can convince 5. 

     

    If you started an Ecom site, you're a go-getter entrepreneur, I bet you can convince 5 people to look at your website in exchange for a gift card of some sort within a couple of hours pretty easily.

     

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    Chase Clymer  

    And I want to just also say, don't ask your friends because they'll be nice or they've been on your website before. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Exactly. (laughs)

     

    Chase Clymer  

    You want some honest information from some honest people. You want the truth, you don't want it sugarcoated. Because if it's weird to navigate, and you have your best friend saying, "Oh, everything's great." 

     

    You don't want that because that's not going to increase your conversions at the end of the day.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, that's exactly why I suggested a random sampling. Now, if you are a little bit bigger, meaning maybe you're doing a million a year or more, you should definitely look into doing some user testing. 

     

    Now, official user testing is where you would have a company --like The Good. We do this for our customers. But there's several of us out there. We can help there.-- you send people to the site who match your ideal customer profile. 

     

    And you're asking them to complete tasks on the site while you record their screen and their audio. And they're going to train --they should already be trained-- about how to speak out loud about what they're thinking as they go through the site. 

     

    Now, what's awesome about this is you can collect hours upon hours of people utilizing your website and you will start to notice trends. You will start to notice that out of the 5 people that you ran that test with, 4 got stuck in the same part. 

     

    And they were sitting there for 30 seconds saying, "I don't know what to do next" or "I'm trying to do X and I can't figure out how to do why." 

     

    And it's really mind-opening gives you so much empathy. We worked for a... (We) helped optimize a site for a large printer manufacturer. And what we found was... We sat down and we showed them the audit that we did on their site. 

     

    And we said, "There's a lot of these problems so, we think you need to change these couple of things on your product detail page." And the VP in the room said, "This is how we've always done it. I really don't think we can change that. We're not going to do it." 

     

    I said, "Do you know it's costing you about half a million dollars a year because you're not changing this? And I really think you need to." 

     

    And they said, "No, it is what it is. Let's just leave it." And I said, "Okay, can we get on the calendar next week? I want to show you something." 

     

    And they're like, "Okay, fine." (We) came back in a week. We had done user testing and we had put together highlight reel --of clips-- of people having the exact issue that we had recommended. 

     

    And what I did was we put down on the corner, a little ticker, that every time someone abandons the cart and got frustrated and left, whatever they had in our cart, we added on to the value. 

     

    And so it was just a running tally of how much money people were leaving on the site because they weren't converting because they're frustrated with this one point. And we played that Video for the VP. And he got halfway through. 

     

    And the VP said "You can stop. Yep, go ahead and just change it, I totally get it now." And that's all it takes. It's that empathy of seeing what people are doing on the site and how they're struggling, even though you know better because you're so close to the site. It makes a huge difference.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    I actually really, really enjoyed that story. And I'm probably going to steal it and use it in other places. But I promised to say that I heard it from you, I swear I will.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    No worries. (laughs)

     

    Chase Clymer  

    But no. So that's the thing. Some people are like, "It's always been done this way." Or "That's how the site's designed." 

     

    That's all well and good, but I'm not in this business to make a good designed site. I'm in this business to help people make more money and I want to make you more money. 

     

    And if you're really pigheaded about like the way your site looks, or the flow needs to be a certain way, why? Just make it easy. 

     

    A lot of people are leaving money on the table, having these weird hoops that you gotta jump through just to get the task done. I just want to buy this product.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    And there are so many companies that put brand over everything. And for us, brand is such a big word. It means so many different things to different people. 

     

    But what I mean by that is they'll put the cool factor, I'll say, right above anything else. And that even means making it easy for people to purchase. 

     

    But my response is always, "Look, the brand is important. It makes your brand who you are, it's how you've been successful to this day. (We're) not looking to change that. 

     

    But what I am looking to do is make sure that your website leaves a positive brand experience for that person. And right now, it's a negative experience because they can't even buy."

     

    Chase Clymer  

     Mm-hmm.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    "They're running into these problems because you're doing something like putting an email pop-up in their way." I'm on a crusade to get rid of email pop-ups, and the reason is they interrupt the consumer flow. 

     

    Now, think about it this way. If you wouldn't do something in your retail store, don't do it on your website. 

     

    So think about this way, I walk into a retail store, the sales associate as soon as I walk in, --I take two steps into the store-- they jump out in front of me with a clipboard and say, "Give me your email address." And they make it really hard for me to get them out of my way. 

     

    It's just like pop-ups. I'm going to have a negative reaction to that. How many pop-ups have you seen where you start scrolling... You just start scrolling down the homepage and immediately pops up and they hide the close button or make it really difficult to find. 

     

    Or maybe, they even negatively shame you, where they say something like "No, I don't like discounts." or "No, I don't want 30% off "or whatever it is. And that just makes you feel horrible. 

     

    That's just a bad brand experience all around. I don't know why you would do that. It's no different. The only differences you can't see the reaction of the person on the other side of the computer. 

     

    So that's okay all of the sudden. When in reality, it's not because that person is having a bad brand experience.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Alright, I want to ask you a follow-up question then. What is your thought on exit intent pop-ups as people are leaving the store?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Well, I think that's a little different. They're already signaling that they're going to desert so they're taking action to do that. And I think it's all about the message at that point. But I don't have a crusade against exit intent. 

     

    It's really only where you're interrupting the flow of what somebody is trying to do on your website. Now, if you can catch their attention as they're trying to leave with that exit intent pop-up. Great. I highly recommend that. 

     

    Maybe you can save them and say, "Oh, I see you're leaving. Why don't you give us another chance of some sort." Now, where I don't recommend you do is a discount. 

     

    I'd never recommend trying to save an order by providing a heavy discount. First of all, discounting is not conversion optimization. Discounting is really just a margin drain. Because you're just taking top-level revenue off the table. 

     

    But I understand sometimes you need to do it. The problem is if you trade a discount for something like an email signup, what's going to happen is you are training a new-to-file customer to always be a discount customer. 

     

    They're always going to expect that they can come back and get that discounted price. And they're just gonna be disappointed when they go to do a second order, and they're not getting that discount. So what's going to happen? 

     

    Well, they're going to reload your site, and they're going to put in a fake email or they're going to put in, use the Google hack where you put the plus sign and then Google/Gmail ignores everything after the plus sign and the first part of the email. 

     

    So you could do like jon+spam@thegood.com. And it would still come to me. And so you're going to see customers doing that, which really only has 2 effects. 

     

    It litters out your email list and it decreases deliverability rate over time because you're going to get so many bounce backs that servers like Gmail and other email providers are not going to treat your emails with the same respect that they're due.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    I can agree there. It definitely is a case-by-case with some businesses on how they want to deal with the margins on their products. 

     

    Yeah. I played around with it though, with some of our clients. The discount thing is just an easier way to win an email subscriber and it goes towards the goal of the company at that point. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Mm-hmm.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    While it could increase or decrease depending on what you want to do with that pop-up, at the end of the day, it is up to the company. 

     

    If they think their lifetime value is worth more than that margin then,  okay, that works for them. But it's definitely, it's individual. It depends on the business.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    I completely agree with that. Really, it's something to be discussed. And it's all in how you offer it and the language around that. What the offer is. That's a great opportunity to offer something like free shipping. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Mm-hmm.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    It doesn't have to be a huge percent-off discount. Or it could be some type of bundle where (you say) "Hey. If you complete a purchase, we'll throw in something else." And get people to try additional products that they may not have tried otherwise. 

     

    So now they're becoming a fan of two products potentially. And that's a great way of marketing your new products or lesser-known products. 

     

    So there's a lot of other things you can do there besides just a plain discount that in the end benefit the consumer, as well. And it might be even more enticing. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. Switching gears a little bit here. By the time this episode comes out, we're going to be a few weeks out from our favorite holiday as Ecommerce consultants, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

     

    What are some tips and tricks you have for people as they lead into that season? 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Well, if you're a few weeks out, you're likely a little behind the ball in terms of being able to optimize for holiday. But that's okay. Here's what I would recommend, setup all that data tracking I mentioned. 

     

    Get that in place so that you will have the highest amount of traffic you're going to have in the year, right around that time frame. So the holiday shopping is going to bring all this traffic just naturally to your site, which is going to give you a lot more data more quickly, in which case, you'll be able to see and learn a lot very quickly. 

     

    So by the time January rolls around, you'll be ready to roll with updates to your site because you'll have some great empathy for the consumer, experience of how people are using your site, you'll know what content they're engaging with (and) what they're not engaging with. 

     

    And depending on your traffic levels, if you have enough traffic, you could even --during the middle of the holiday-- make a few content tweaks based on what you start seeing that first week and have an improved experience. 

     

    But in terms of doing full testing and full optimization, it really is something that takes several months to do properly. And I like to tell people that come in here to work at The Good (or) work with The Good is, "Really, you should be thinking about this as a 6-month process." Because conversion optimization is really like a retirement account. 401k. 

     

    You're looking to put a little bit in each month that's going to grow and compound over time.

     

    So by the time you get to that 6-month mark, you've seen your conversion rate grow and compound month over month, a handful of months in a row, where now you've got enough learned and enough optimizations made that you're going to really start seeing the payoff of that. 

     

    Most people are looking online at these "Top 10 Conversion Optimization Things You Need To Do To Your Site" articles and they really just don't see the results from those and they get burned out by it. 

     

    And the reality is... I personally just feel like those articles give CRO a bad name. Because they're set up (is) unrealistic. 

     

    We just had an article passed around our Slack here at the office. It was said that somebody changed one button color and it resulted in 500,000 additional revenue year over year. 

     

    I was like, "Show me the data on that. That's just dangerous to tell people to change a button color and you get that much more revenue. That's really, really crazy without any data backing it up."

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah. I've seen the exact article you're talking about and I was actually going to bring it up. It's so funny that you had just mentioned it. So my question about that article was, --or maybe it's a statement, I guess-- those articles are going out and people are making those changes to their website. And it's not even a split test at that point. They're just making the change, which is terrible, to put one word behind it? 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yeah, it's dangerous. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah. You don't know how your audience is going to react. Because that data was 1 test out of probably 20 tests. And that was the winner for them. And their audience is 100% different than your audience.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Yep. I couldn't agree more. You really need to optimize for your specific site's visitors. And too many peoples look at best practices and try to deploy those without really understanding where that started, what the benefit is. 

     

    And the second thing I see around that is so many brands who come to us and say, "Hey, you know, our competitors are doing X, Y, and Z. We really need to do that too." 

     

    And I look at them and say, "Well, okay. Maybe, but let's dive in a little bit." A, we can test it. Let's run a split test on that. B, how do you know that you haven’t opted into a split test at that brand? So, they don't even know if it's working for them. They're just testing it out. And C, how do you know that it's actually working for that brand? 

     

    And usually, the response to that is "Well, they're twice our size." or "They've gone really quickly." But you don't know if it's that one thing that made that difference for them. And so I often tell people to quit chasing your tail. Stop looking at competitors. Just take it off the table. 

     

    I don't recommend doing competitive research and never have. You should really focus on your specific site's visitors. That's the gold mine right there. That's where you're going to... 

     

    If you just focus on your own website and making it the best site you can be, and take the energy that you would have spent by looking at all of your competitors, and instead optimize just on your site, you will see much better results. 

     

    And I'm not saying don't be aware of what your competitors are doing out there. But I am saying you shouldn't just look at a competitor's site and say, "Oh, they're doing these 3 or 4 things. We need to do those as well." 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    I kind of agree. Sometimes now. But I guess we're on different sides of it. I'm not fighting on this by any means. But from a CRO perspective, the things you want to do are definitely data-driven or stuff. 

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Mm-hmm.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    But on my side, on the growth side, --maybe, is where we fall on these days-- oftentimes I have clients ask. They're like, "Hey, we've tried everything that you've recommended so far. We're super happy about the results. What else could we try?" 

     

    Jon MacDonald

    Mm-hmm. 

     

    Chase Clymer

    But then it does come down to, it's more of a test, at that point. We're not really just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

     

    It's like, "Well, we noticed some of your competitors have this feature or trying this particular avenue. Let's give that a try, too." 

     

    But it's still data-driven at the end of the day, I guess. You were at X when we started, you're at Y now because of this new thing we're testing. So, I guess I agree.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Mm-hmm. And I agree with where you're coming from on that as well. Part of this is you're going to need to be testing new things. And let's be honest, there's a limited set of things that you can test in the end. 

     

    That may be 1000 things but still there's a number on it at some point. 

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Mm-hmm.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    So, your competitors are going to be doing the same things. And I'm not suggesting that you don't look at those to understand what they're doing. 

     

    But I think it's really dangerous to just wholeheartedly go in and say, "Okay, competitors are doing these 3 or 4 things. We have to do those two and just deploy them without testing it on your own audience."

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's nowhere near what I want to do. And it also goes back to just there's no right way to do this. 

     

    There's no golden rule book to follow when it comes to an Ecommerce store that's going to take you from zero to hero. It's all about just testing stuff and keep moving forward.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    For sure. I couldn't agree with that more. Exactly. Keep moving forward, make one decision after the next and a lot of conversion optimization is just how quickly can you make data-backed decisions.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. Is there anything that we didn't cover today that you want to share with the audience?

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Wow! We covered a lot pretty quickly here didn't we? (laughs)

     

    Chase Clymer  

    We're jumping all around.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Pretty impressed with it. Yeah, I think, all in all, if I could leave everybody with one tip it is just make sure you're starting to collect that data now, especially for holiday. 

     

    And then make sure that you're paying attention to that data on a regular basis, ideally every day. If you can't do it every day, once a week at the very minimum. 

     

    Making sure that you're understanding how people are engaging with your website and where they're having problems and that's going to go a long way to remove all of those bad online experiences.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

     

    Jon MacDonald  

    Hey, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

     

    Chase Clymer  

    We can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing the truth. links and more will be available in the show notes. If you found any actionable advice in this podcast that you'd like to apply to your business, please reach out at electriceye.io/connect.

     

    Annette Grant  

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