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The name of this show is Drive and Convert for a reason. At its core, online business is about driving traffic to your site and then converting that traffic into customers using an outstanding product, engaging copy, and intuitive design. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about the relationship between SEO and CRO, including how business owners should be thinking about balancing their efforts between attracting websites visitors and converting those visitors into buyers. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: The "Chicken or The Egg" challenge for SEO and CRO How active CRO tests might impact SEO efforts (& vice versa) What are the risks of running these campaigns in parallel? What most people are really worried about when they ask this question If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
Most marketers are used to digging around in Google Analytics to review their website traffic from organic search, social media, and email marketing, but far fewer dedicate time to analyze their referral traffic – often to their own detriment. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about referral traffic as one of the most commonly misunderstood traffic sources and highlight why failing to dig deeper into the quality and sources of your website referrals could mean leaving money on the table. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: What referral traffic is and how it is categorized in your website analytics Common issues with tracking referral traffic and how to fix them What referral traffic data can tell you about your marketing efforts How analyzing referral traffic can uncover ripe opportunities for growth If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
Traditional conversion rate optimization is built around achieving statistically significant results through a combination of research and testing. It can be expensive and time-consuming, but it also carries a >90% confidence level. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about the merits and challenges of another optimization approach known as Rapid Testing. It requires less time, traffic, and resources, but also provides less confidence in the efficacy of the results. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: What separates Rapid Testing from traditional CRO methods Which businesses are a good fit for Rapid Testing The benefits and challenges of implementing a Rapid Testing program What kind of results are typical of a successful Rapid Testing program If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
It's not uncommon to hear the phrase "work/life balance" thrown around in a business setting. It's usually brought up by well-meaning managers who want to make sure their team is protecting the time and the space to be successful outside of the office as well. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about how work/life balance doesn't always translate to a true 50/50 split. Instead, it usually requires investing heavily in one area of life (Ex: Career) for a period of time, and then slowing down to focus more time and energy elsewhere (Ex: Family) to get back toward a more "balanced" position. Similarly, a brand's allocation of resources across multiple traffic generation channels can (and should) ebb and flow over time. For example, if you continue to hammer on paid search long enough, you'll eventually run headfirst into diminishing returns. The world's most successful brands acknowledge this, and take a more balanced approach to driving leads to their site – and Ryan's here to help us understand how they do it. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: Why balancing your traffic generation efforts is important The different types of channels you should consider investing in What a healthy allocation looks like for most brands How to know when you're over/underinvested in a specific channel If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
Fill a room with 100 ecommerce managers and ask them where they are investing their time, energy, and resources to try and hit their growth goals. Chances are, most of them will check the box for Paid Ads, Influencer Marketing, or SEO...but far fewer will have a strategy for conversion rate optimization. In this episode, Ryan and Jon review the most common reasons why ecommerce brands don't invest in CRO, and why that might be holding them back from reaching their potential. If you're directing most of your spend toward acquisition and ignoring conversion or retention, you may want to listen in to get an outside perspective from two industry experts. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: Why most brands fail to invest in CRO What information gaps or misconceptions hold them back What a reasonable testing and optimization budget looks like Why more traffic doesn't always equal more revenue Realistic expectations around cost, timing, and impact for a CRO program If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
The 2021 holiday season is here, but recent events have made it so that paid acquisition can no longer be considered the "easy button" when it comes to attracting potential buyers to your store. As a result, many brand owners are scrambling to figure out how to generate site traffic effectively and affordably. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about the macro trends that are going to influence consumer behavior and what savvy brand owners should do to make the most out of their holiday campaigns. If you're worried about supply chain issues, record-breaking ad prices, or increased competition from big retailers, then you should listen to this. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: What economic trends are influencing consumer behavior How to stay competitive as ad prices increase How to separate yourself from big box retailers like Amazon and Walmart Which strategies are going to drive qualified traffic to your site this year If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
With the explosion of direct-to-consumer online retailers, things have been heating up in the ecommerce industry. The differentiators of yesterday have become table stakes for modern brands – those that want to defend their position or gain market share will need to level up from foundational practices to advanced tactics. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about Jon's second book, Opting In To Optimization and review some of the key concepts that are covered inside. The book condenses more than a decade of experience optimizing sites for some of the world's most recognizable brands into a tight, actionable playbook you can read in a week. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: How to build a culture of optimization inside your brand How to better undersand your customer's needs and challenges How to use psychology and research-driven design to convert more visitors into buyers How to protect your profit margin while chasing ambitious growth goals How to convert run-of-the-mill customers into raving fans If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
Believe or not, the 2021 holiday season is right around the corner, and it's shaping up to be another big year for ecommerce brands. Hopefully your preparation is well underway, but there is still time to take steps that will help you make the most of the extra attention and higher purchase intent. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about what brands should be doing NOW to set themselves up for a successful holiday campaign. You'll have a playbook for locking down everything from traffic generation to conversion optimization and post-purchase support. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: What you should be doing NOW to make the most of BFCM How to come up with a compelling offer Why holiday shoppers are different from your usual customers Why personalization might not skyrocket your sales, but segmentation could How to use cross-sells, upsells, and post purchase offers to maximize AOV If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
For many brands, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a lot like eating right and exercising regularly. You know that you SHOULD be doing it. You know that it has lots of benefits over the long term. But it's still difficult to find the time to make it happen on a regular basis. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about when brands should start taking SEO seriously, as well as what they should be doing to make the most out of their efforts and what they can expect to get as a return on their investment. Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: Why most brands (understandably) start with paid search instead of SEO When (and why) brands should start giving more attention to SEO How do stand up a high-performing SEO practice the right way How to find an external service provider you can trust Why SEO is a smart investment for your business If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
Many brands default to discounting as the "easy button" for juicing their online sales, but doing this too often can put you on a price-cutting hamster wheel that is increasingly difficult to get off of. In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about the psychology behind discounts, why they are so attractive to consumers, and how you can achieve similar results with alternative strategies that don't undermine the value of your products or position you as a "bargain brand." Listen to the full episode if you want to learn: Why discounts are so compelling for consumers The downsides of habitual discounting for your brand When discounts are the correct pricing strategy to use Alternatives to discounting that work just as well How to assess and improve your current pricing strategy If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We're @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.
There's currently lots of frustrations in the E-commerce world around ad performance. What we all expected to happen in 2021 is not happening. Cost per click is up, sales have dipped, and the data is telling us that there is a lack of volume of sales –– but is this just poor advertising channel performance? Or is this pandemic hangover as more folks rush back to retail? Today, Ryan and Jon unpack these questions.
Clients at The Good are interested in how firms like Logical Position are still getting results for their clients –– and why optimization is more important than ever to make the most out of the traffic they’re already getting. The challenge I’ve seen, and I’d like to address today, is that I haven't seen anybody really talking about optimization when it comes to iOS15 updates. And that's what Jon and Ryan focus on today.
Today we're tackling the hot topic of Facebook and how Apple's ios 14 update has affected its performance. Based on analytics, it appears like the data might be going in a negative direction, and many people are jumping ship to other platforms. But should you? Today Ryan tackles the question of whether you should be re-directing Facebook traffic to other platforms.
Direct-to-consumer is all the rage right now...and for good reason. Removing wholesalers, retailers, dealers, and marketplaces generally reduces costs and provides a better purchasing experience. BUT, the strongest brands find a way to balance a DTC model with other external sales channels. When considering this option, many brand owners are justifiably concerned about introducing channel conflicts to their business. So, today we're going to talk about channel conflict and how to manage it effectively as a fast-growing ecommerce brand. Read the blog: https://thegood.com/insights/overcoming-channel-conflict/
With that advent of smart shopping campaigns, it has become ridiculously easy to start spending money on Google shopping ads and to see some return. But one area that's become overlooked is text ads. Ryan explains why you shouldn't be sleeping on text ads if you want to push your brand further.
Digital marketing can start the fire, but CRO adds fuel to the fire. Yet, it seems every business has this bank of excuses on why CRO can't happen now, or why it doesn't make sense. Today Jon overcomes these objections and explains why CRO can be of such a high value to your business.
There's no end to new platforms popping up and claiming to be the next great source of traffic to your business. First there was Yahoo. Then Google. Then Facebook. Then Twitter. Then Instagram. Then TikTok. Then… well, the list goes on and it will forever be growing too. So, how do you decide which one to test and how to gauge the success or failure of these new exciting ways to spend your marketing dollars to generate business? Luckily Ryan is here is to break it all down for us. TRANSCRIPT: Jon MacDonald : Hey Ryan, welcome to another episode of Drive and Convert. Today we're going to talk about shiny new traffic sources. Right. There's no end to the new platforms popping up and they're always claiming to be the next great source of traffic for your business. So, we're going way back first though is with Yahoo, then Google then Facebook then Twitter then Instagram now everyone's on TikTok. I mean I'm not but everybody is supposedly. Definitely feeling old these days based on these stats. Ryan Garrow: Yeah. Me neither. Jon MacDonald : But look, the list goes on and on. And I'm sure I've left a lot off of that list over the history and it will forever be growing too, right? So, what I'd love to get schooled on today from you is how do you decide which one to test? And how do you gauge the success or failure of each of these new and exciting shiny objects to spend your marketing dollars on to generate revenue? It's a lot, right? But look, with so many social networks and traffic sources popping up seemingly every week, how do you know if it's a good place to spend money? Ryan Garrow: The real answer is, always it depends. But that's always the answer we give everybody no matter what we're talking about in the digital marketing world. It's my least favorite answer but it has to be the one you give every time and with context. And when you're looking at all of these wonderful platforms and companies that you can spend money on the ads, I think the first step is to really understand what the platform is. Who's on it? What are they trying to do? What's their goal of being on that platform? Because we all really understand Google and that was always a pretty easy one. Like I'm on Google to find something either information or a product that's why I'm there. And it makes a lot of sense logically saying, "I get it, if I am selling that product or I provide an answer to that I want to show when they're searching for that." There's a lot of intent there. If you're selling houses you might not necessarily want to spend a lot of time on TikTok, generally. TikTok is skewing. It's getting older, I think, as young people blow platforms open like in Facebook and Instagram did and then older people take them over because I think they're being cool by getting on them. Jon MacDonald : I saw a stat today about Facebook that something like 70% of people over 60 are on Facebook, which is the highest user percentage base. It's crazy. Ryan Garrow: Oh, [crosstalk 00:02:57]. Jon MacDonald : We used to tell our customers you want to convert older folks and high income, you would advertise on Microsoft Bing. Because they're using Internet Explorer out of the box and not changing the default search engine, right? So- Ryan Garrow: Correct. Jon MacDonald : ... But now it's definitely Facebook too. Like it's crazy. Ryan Garrow: What's sad, well I'm not going to say sad, but you have to advertise through Facebook to really target Instagram. You have to use that Facebook ads platform like Joyful Dirt, which hopefully I'll be able to bring this back later to talk about one of my issues with the Joyful Dirt brand. But Joyful Dirt doesn't have anything going on on Facebook really. Instagram because we're targeting millennial plant moms generally, I mean obviously anybody can buy the product, but we get very little and to no interaction on Facebook and it doesn't work when we market on there. But at least you're understanding that, right? If you are selling arthritis cream you want to be on Facebook. And we've got a company that sells arthritis cream and does really well on Facebook. So understanding who's on it, where it's going, and then also just how they're interacting. If it's short-form video like TikTok, then if you're not prepared to make short-form video you're probably not going to be tremendously successful in that space. Do you have a personality? Like if you're just a brand throwing ads up randomly on TikTok with no face to the brand, I can't imagine it's going to do well. And I think in early on you've got these platforms that you have to really get into the platform, I think, and understand how you're interacting. And so if I was going to spend my money on TikTok step one is I would go join TikTok. Like I'm not there, I don't want to be there but that would be understand who's there. And in theory until you get in there you won't even know that, you have to get in there and start watching TikTok. You know I was never a Snapchat person either, I just wait for Instagram to copy their stuff and then I'll see if I like it. But again, understanding where the ads are being put there can really help you figure out does this conceptually make sense for my brand? Jon MacDonald : So I'm hearing from you if I could summarize two things, one is know who your target audience is and where they're at and what platform and then that's a good place. And then B is test it, right? You really don't have a choice you just need to test it. Throw some money at it and see what sticks if you think you have a good understanding of your consumers being on those channels. Ryan Garrow: Yeah. Like once you can advertise in there and decide that this is based on who's on it, who my demographic is or target market is go spend some money. And it could be that you're trying to open up a new audience, so it's you're testing it for that. Like if you want to sell to teenage kids TikTok may be a great place to start pushing into. Jon MacDonald : That's great. Okay. Ryan Garrow: I mean it's gradually older, but. Jon MacDonald : Yeah. So how do you test the traffic then? Ryan Garrow: Well, once you're on the platform and you've seen what it looks like, my lens that I look through is I want a light money on FIRE budget. And I have to be comfortable with it just not working, because we don't know. It's a new traffic source for you, it's a younger platform often, because we're talking about the shiny new ones that haven't matured like a... If you're not advertising on Google and Facebook I probably don't recommend that you start looking at the shiny new ones yet. Jon MacDonald : Right. Yeah, start with the basics. Ryan Garrow: Yeah, start with the basics. And then, okay great. It makes sense to do this so you need to have a budget in mind that if it goes horribly wrong and you lose it all and you get no results, it's not going to sink your business. If you're doing a hundred thousand a month in revenue you're not going to go onto a brand new channel for the first month probably and spend $50,000. It just doesn't line up, doesn't make sense unless there's some crazy reason that you believe in your core that that's there. Jon MacDonald : Maybe you like lighting money on fire. Ryan Garrow: True. Maybe you do. And I've got a great thing I can sell you, I'm sure, somewhere that's going to run 50,000 bucks. And so have that budget first. Jon MacDonald : Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ryan Garrow: Then you need to make sure that you can track the traffic. Just by going off on advertising there you have to be able to tag the ads to make sure that when they go to your website or wherever your call to action is, Google Analytics can see that traffic coming in and then tell you if they took the right action after they came to the site. And that's not always the easiest. If you have a profile, let's pick on Snapchat, and you're driving traffic from Snapchat already, does your ad set allow you to do UTM parameters in the URL when you're sending traffic over? Because you want to be able to differentiate organic traffic from that platform and the ad stuff or the traffic from that. Even a lot of companies don't even do that with Instagram and Facebook still. And just look at the different, is it coming from the organic Instagram interactions? Or is it actually coming from an ad that I placed? So be able to track it, and then watch it carefully as it's coming through. Either your marketing team or you as the business owner probably has a good gauge of traffic as it's coming from a new source pretty quickly. And so that's where that light money on fire you have to have some patience to let it do some of the stuff. If there's an algorithm that's helping run your ads for you. Facebook's does some great algorithms in their space, Pinterest has some going. You have to give it enough to do something as far as the budget's concerned. Going out with $5 is probably not going to give you a good test and you also have to give it some time. It's just that data collection to really see it churn and see, is it improving after seven days? Or is it staying the same? Or is it getting much worse? Because maybe you have to make some changes. Jon MacDonald : Now that's a great segue to my next question which is, how do you have the right expectations, right? So you're saying give it a week or so at least, but what are the right expectations I should be having? Obviously if I'm setting the money on fire is what you're suggesting here, my expectations are pretty low, right? Ryan Garrow: Yeah. Jon MacDonald : Maybe I'll stay warm. But other than that, I think it's interesting. I should expect to learn probably, right? Ryan Garrow: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jon MacDonald : What else should I be expecting here? How do I set those right expectations? Ryan Garrow: Generally, and again I can't give the specifics for every potential business listening to this, but generally newer platforms are not going to generate profitable sales initially. And so what you're often looking for is new users, new sources of traffic, people that you're not reaching in other platforms. Because if you're already reaching everybody on Google and Facebook, why would you go try to target those same people if you're already capturing them at a rate or at a cost that makes sense? So you're trying to move generally up the funnel, and when you move up funnel or find a different source of traffic don't expect it out of the gate to be profitable. It can happen and nothing is impossible lightning can strike, and you can be profitable out of the gate. And if that happens continue dumping money on it and figuring out what's causing it to work and try to analyze why and how this happened. And so, have low expectations for it. You're trying to see trend lines going in the direction you need marketing budget to get to. And so if the first week it's you spent, I'm going to just use random numbers, if you spent a thousand dollars in the first week and it drove $200 in sales on your site, great. Week two, did that $2,000 generate more revenue than the previous week? Are we starting to see a trend line in the same direction? Or did that extra thousand dollars a week to generate $50 in sales? What is that conversion rate of the traffic? Be paying attention, do you have to go to the homepage on that? I mean, where are you driving? What's the call out that you have within the ad that you're running? Jon MacDonald : So what we're looking at here, Ryan, in reality is not even trying to break even, but you're paying to acquire a new customer that then you're looking for the lifetime value, right? And that's really where you're paying to acquire that new contact, that new customer. And then at that point you can continue to sell to them and continue to market to them and that's where you're going to make your money. Ryan Garrow: Yes. I mean often in these, right? It's the expectation is not out of the gate head profit. And if you have that I think your chances of success are higher. Your chances of having the patience necessary, you see a platform out. I think often I talk to business owners or marketing teams that all marketing needs to drive a profit, and if it's not driving profit why are we doing it? And I think that's very shortsighted of a lot of business owners and marketing teams and saying, "Look..." Billboards for the last hundred years have not had direct attribution to what's going on or the sales that are coming, but people still did it. And there was still value there that people knew about or saw. And so sometimes on these new platforms it may be a branding play. But can you start seeing the impact? Or if you're in the data enough? I have a really good feeling in the businesses I'm involved in when something is working. I might not see the data yet but I can say, "Ooh, this is definitely moving the needle for the brand. I don't necessarily know yet how or why, but I'm going to continue doing it." And then the opposite is true sometimes as well like, "This is just not working." And the marketing team may be like, "Well, how do you know?" I'm like, "I don't see the data telling me that yet, but my gut's telling me that." So I'll let me be. If the marketing team has faith I'll let them continue on for a little bit and say, "Okay, I'm going to trust your instincts on this and go against mine, but let's see what happens." You can't always run a business, I don't think, on gut you have to have data. And with a new platform that you have no experience in you have nothing to base your gut on to get the data. Jon MacDonald : Yeah, you have a gut feeling. Announcer: You're listening to Drive and Convert, a podcast focused on e-commerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald Founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with e-commerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers. And Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, the digital marketing agency offering pay-per-click management, search engine optimization, and website design services to brands of all sizes. If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing it with a friend or colleague. Thank you. Jon MacDonald : Well let me ask you this then, what have you seen work? Looking at these expectations, when has it worked out well for you? Ryan Garrow: Well, new platforms like Instagram. I think the Instagram rollout and execution, thankfully it was coming from Facebook that already had a very solid marketing program built out at the time that they started doing ads on Instagram. And they did it at a small level saying, "Hey, we're going to let some people into the beta. We're going to start it here." But at the initially Instagram was not a driver of valuable traffic for marketing initially. I mean, we had some clients that started on Instagram initially and quickly and it was bad. It was pure branding, there was not people on Instagram that were used to seeing ads. So, I think you have to be aware of where you are on that adoption and on the maturity of a platform as well. Because it took Instagram a while to get people to understand that I'm going to see ads and they're going to be targeted to me and I'm going to take action on them. Innately at the beginning of the platform it was I'm scrolling through a feed, I'm laughing, I'm seeing my friends, and seeing pictures rather than words on Facebook. I mean initially I thought Instagram is stupid. I like reading and nobody's going to like that pictures and then I'm like, "Well, I'm..." Now I don't even get on Facebook and I'm on Instagram because I like images. Jon MacDonald : You and the rest of the world as it turns out, right? Ryan Garrow: Exactly. Jon MacDonald : Look, I buy a lot of stuff that I find in discover via advertising on Instagram. It's just the reality is I hear about products on Instagram and I end up... I mean I just bought one last night that popped up, it was the weirdest thing. It was a hose reel. And I was like- Ryan Garrow: Our lives are so exciting. Jon MacDonald : ... I know. But I'm like, "You know what? I just spent all weekend with one of those crank hose wheels that's without wheels on it and it's really cumbersome to move. And it's just a huge issue and I can never get the hose long enough. And here it's one that attaches to the wall and bolts in and then it pivots and you can pull on the hose and it auto retracts and it's a 90 foot hose. And I'm like, "This is awesome." Like it was a hundred dollars, a hundred and change, and I was like, "That is going to make my life so much better. For that a hundred dollars I am not going to have to mess around with this hoses ever again. I mean, I'm sold." Ryan Garrow: Oh, yeah. Jon MacDonald : And it was like a 10-second ad of this guy working this hose that's attached to the side of his house and I was like, "That needs to be me." Right? And if I saw a text ad I would have never bought that, never clicked on it. But I saw the video of the guy using it and I'm like, "Yeah, I just had that problem the other day." Now how I knew I had that problem that's a whole nother episode maybe. But I will say- Ryan Garrow: It's listening. Jon MacDonald : ... I know. I will say I was complaining about it quite a bit. But not on Facebook and not on Instagram, so I don't know. But look, I think that it can work well, right? What about what have you seen not work though? Right? You've tried a lot of these things, you've tested a lot how do you know when a test is going poorly? Ryan Garrow: Obviously being in the marketing world I want to know and see and experience a lot of things on my own, so I know what the platform is doing. And so the last one I tested personally was Pinterest last year, because Pinterest fits all the buckets for me. For Joyful Dirt there's plant people all over Pinterest. There's some big influencers there, there's a lot of interaction on plant pictures, there's a lot of interest on Pinterest for when to plant certain parts of my garden, what kind of light do I need for this plant? So all of it lined up I'm like, "Okay. Well, if my target market is women between the ages of 25 and 45, my wife is in that demographic and she loves Pinterest." I go to Pinterest for meals so I was like, "Okay, this is just logically checking all of the boxes for me." And by being an early adopter in a platform I know there can be some pretty significant advantages if you understand the algorithm early enough you can really step on the gas and your competition may never catch up. So I was pretty excited about Pinterest. Jon MacDonald : Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ryan Garrow: Called Pinterest up, I got a rep I was like, "Okay, I've got my budget. And for me at the size of Joyful Dirt last year my light money on FIRE budget was about $3,000." And then Pinterest was like, "Yeah, you got to go at 5,000." I was like, "No, I'm going to give you 3,000 and you can tell me based on your knowledge of the platform, your Pinterest. And so, you want me to be successful because I can spend more money with you, and I will spend a hundred thousand dollars a month with you if it's working and not a problem." Jon MacDonald : Right. Ryan Garrow: And they're like, "Okay." So I was like, "How long do you think we should run?" Like, "Well, we like to see a couple hundred dollars a day for 14 days." I'm like, "If you say so." I was like, "Why?". And then we went back and forth and I was like, "Look, I'm going to know pretty quickly if it's working. I see data, we're going to tag ads. I'm confident that if it's working I'm going to know quick. But I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and you help me and we'll design." So we went back and forth. 22 days in we had spent $2,700, tested different ads, we'd done some things, we'd seen a lot of impressions, we had a hundred dollars in sales. And I'm like, "This platform is not working for me. I am not seeing the traffic coming to the site that is engaging well with our content on the site." The images were getting clicked, I mean it's just I could tell that their platform... And this was November of 2020. And so people were on Pinterest, it was holiday season, it was impulse purchase can be... I mean we're only $15 so that's not a difficult impulse purchase for our target market. So my expectations were high and the reality was bad. I still believe Pinterest has a huge potential for a lot of brands. I personally just think it doesn't have the maturity as an ad platform yet. It's got the eyeballs, it's got the people but as people are searching and scrolling Pinterest they're not yet thinking the same way that they are on Instagram. So I don't know how that changes, I don't know how Instagram got us to think that but for whatever reason like you I will click and buy things on Instagram that I think are cool. And that it's easy. Jon MacDonald : Well I think it's different, Instagram you're open to discovering new things because you're just scrolling through a feed. Pinterest, do you have the search intent, right? In the sense that you're setting up, you're looking for inspiration around something specific. And I don't know that people are going to be on Pinterest looking for inspiration around fertilizer. Right? Ryan Garrow: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jon MacDonald : And I think that might be the difference. Yes, they're related in terms of like, "Hey, I want to know what house plant I should get for this. Oh, the fertilizer that might work well." I could see that perhaps, but I don't think people go there with the buying intent, to buy off of there, right? They're more like, "Hey, I'm putting together a new living room decor and I'm going to pull some Pins and one of them is going to be the plant that I want to use." Right? Ryan Garrow: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jon MacDonald : And so I think it's a different mode. And that's where I've heard from folks it doesn't work as well for advertising, but that's interesting. I mean, what I love about talking to about all this stuff is you have the real world examples, right? You've done it, and so for your own brands and for thousands of clients so it helps. So let me ask you this then, generally somebody comes to you at Logical position and they say, "You know I'm looking to get into this shiny new platform or source of traffic." How do you advise them? What do you tell them right upfront? I mean, you've given a lot of good advice already today, but I'm coming to you and I say, "Hey, there's a new platform I really want to do something with it. What do you think I should do?" Ryan Garrow: Yeah. 99% of the time? I will say, "No! Do not do that!" And it's not because the platform might not be good for them, it's often they haven't maxed out what they could or should be doing on Google and Facebook SEO. I look at most marketing like most people in a funnel. And so when there is search intent on Google they are trying to find that product to purchase and you're not in front of them. Why would you go off and try to convince somebody that's never heard of you, may not even be considering that product that you sell to come to your site and buy something? It doesn't make any sense. So for most of these shiny new platforms it's larger brands that are going to pave the way. They have the budget to go light on fire and spend a million dollars figuring it out. And the platform will mature and generally they go downstream. Like the first advertisers on Facebook and Instagram, which is our most recent memories of successful platforms, were large brands. They went on there, we want a brand, we want to be in front of people, the Coca-Colas, the AT&Ts of the world they did it. The platform matured and went downstream and allowed smaller advertisers to take advantage of all that algorithm, that learning that happened early on, and generally make it work for them. Most business owners at Logical Position that are bringing up Pinterest, for example, because it's still is a very buzzy platform now. Recently I IPOed last year, I bought some of that because I do believe in the platform. Business owners are always trying to find where can I get some new source of traffic that my competitors don't have so I don't have to compete on Google? Because Google maybe is not as profitable as it was five years ago for my brand. So oh, all I need to do is go spend my 5,000 on Pinterest and that's going to get me the cheap traffic because there's less competition. No, probably not. And most business owners have bad goals, and you and I talk to lots of business owners all day every day. And- Jon MacDonald : We have a great episode about that, setting bad goals. Ryan Garrow: ... Yeah. You have bad goals. And so, spend down at the bottom of the funnel until you have maxed out and you are breaking even on new customers. At least get to that point. And you're like, "Okay. From the search intent, let's move up a level and say the audience of my target market on Facebook and Instagram I need to max that out and make sure that I'm capturing all the people in the algorithm that has more history. And we can validate that it works well for a lot of other brands, there's proof there, take care of that piece." And then, "Hey, have you actually worked on raising your organic rankings on Google and Bing and Yahoo where people have the search intent that you could shoot or could be getting a higher percentage of that traffic at the bottom of the funnel?" For most brands, they should be doing some of that before they go try something way at the top of the funnel, trying to drive Pinterest traffic or TikTok or Snapchat. So most people don't even need to be looking at these, but they do. And so my message today is stop. Don't go waste your money. I didn't even follow my own advice at Joyful Dirt. And that is I'm not perfect, I will make mistakes but my job is to learn quickly and pivot. I also wanted to a degree understand Pinterest myself so I can be advising people that it's not there yet for most of you. Jon MacDonald : Great. Well, this has been really informative and really helpful. So I've learned a lot. If there's a whole new shiny object out there for driving traffic, you generally recommend letting others figure it out a little bit before you jump in. At least figure it out yourself if you were going to test it out and jump in, but always be testing it, right? Start with a small amount and then figure out from there. Set the right expectations. You're going to light money on fire and that's okay. You're going to try to otherwise go for the branding and get that new-to-file customer that you're looking for the lifetime value not just that initial sale, and then go from there. And generally unless you're a large brand, you might want to just avoid those shiny new platforms and figure it out a little bit. There's always going to be room there a little bit in, doesn't have to be as mature as Google, right? Ryan Garrow: Yeah. Jon MacDonald : So, this has been informative. I appreciate it as always getting schooled by Professor Garrow over here. And I look forward to learning more next time. Thanks for your time. Ryan Garrow: Yeah. Thank you, Jon. Announcer: Thanks for listening to Drive and Convert with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. To keep up to date with new episodes, you can subscribe at driveandconvert.com
Product descriptions may seem straightforward, but if done right they can significantly improve conversion rates. Today Jon explains why product descriptions are one of the most effective changes you can change to your website and how to write great product descriptions that will convert. The article Jon mentioned on how to write production descriptions that sell: https://thegood.com/insights/product-descriptions/ TRANSCRIPT: Announcer: You're listening to Drive and Convert, a podcast about helping online brands to build a better eCommerce growth engine, with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. Ryan: Jon, you recently wrote an article that kind of put my head in a spin around product description. Jon: Sometimes that's too easy. Ryan: I know. Spinning my brain's not necessarily the most difficult thing to do if you're in the space, but you wrote an article about product descriptions and how they can significantly improve conversion rates. And that surprises me because I personally ignore those all the time and I focus on other aspects of marketing and driving traffic as per usual. But that for me, is kind of like a side, just put it in there. As long as it's in there and then we can manipulate it going into Google shopping, where it's going to have an impact on your traffic. Just get something in there, period. Obviously I was wrong on this in my opinion. And I'm probably not alone in that. I'm excited today, Jon's going to school us on product descriptions and what you should be doing as an eCommerce business to leverage that to improve conversion rates. Jon, kick us off, explain at a high level, of all the things you could be focusing on on your site, why product descriptions in your mind, are one of the top things you can be doing to improve conversion rates? Jon: Yeah well, I think you basically just said it best in your tee up here where a lot of people just don't pay attention to this. And I think it's really, really forgotten. And that's a challenge in that as you're optimizing websites, it's one of the first places we go because most people forget about it. But look, we've learned over a decade of running AB tests on hundreds of product detail pages that optimizing your product descriptions is just one of the highest return, lowest investment improvements that an eCommerce manager can make. And look, they're key part of your potential customer's decision making process. I think the stat that my team here at The Good always says is that 87% of consumers rate product content extremely or very important to deciding to buy. Ryan: Wow. Jon: 87%. Ryan: Way higher than I would've thought. Jon: Right. Well, that's exactly the problem is most people don't think about this. And so if you're not optimizing product descriptions, you're certainly leaving money on the table. That's why you should focus on this. Ryan: If we're going to improve it, if we just assume that for example, my product descriptions are just terrible because I didn't focus on them, what are the areas I need to be looking at as I'm staring at my product description? And where do I start? I guess would be the best question. Jon: Well, I think there's four main areas that everyone should be focusing on and we can chat about today, but we can break these down. But the first is the real job of a product description. Most people think the real job of the product description is something that it's not. And we'll dive into that a little bit. The second is that it's an effective product description template needs to be used, so we can talk about what goes into those and what items you need to check the box to really make it great. And then how to write one that converts. It's not just having the content, you need to also be thinking about how you're writing that content. And then we can really talk about frequently asked questions around the product descriptions that I get, because I get a lot of questions about it. Once we start optimizing, people start thinking about it, a lot more questions come up than you might imagine. Partly, that's why we're doing the show today, it makes your head spin a little bit. That means there's a lot of questions there and you're not alone in that really. Maybe we can just break those four down and discuss each pretty briefly. Ryan: Yeah, I'm excited for it. What's the real job of a description of a product? In my mind, it's to describe the product. It's a blue t-shirt, congratulations. Jon: Yeah, right, exactly. If you just said blue t-shirt, how many sales do you think you're going to get? Let's just poke a hole in the idea that the job of the eCommerce product description is just to describe the product. I think that that's not right. Given the name, it makes sense that most folks think this, but product descriptions aren't there to just describe what's on your eCommerce site. They're also there to qualify. Do they help your visitors quickly assess, is this for someone like me? Do they persuade? Is it a compelling description? Is it customer centered on the reasons they should be considering that product? And then it's also there to surface. And what I mean by that is to help people find the product. This is the third one on purpose because a lot of people will stuff keywords throughout in terms of search engine optimization in optimizing the product description, but look, SEO keywords and search terms, and if you use those in a natural way, you'll get the page to show up and you want it to show up in search engine or even Amazon results if you're talking about optimizing your product descriptions on Amazon, which should also be done. Here's really one way to really think about this, product descriptions are a bit like your 24/7 in store retail associate for your online store. We often talk about if you wouldn't do something in a retail store, don't do it on your website. Let's take that analogy a step further and say, "How would associate talk about the product?" If you walked into a store and said, "Hey, I'm looking for a t-shirt," what questions are they going to ask to help you find the right one in that store? As a virtual retail associate, the product description can have that same kind of impact. And if it does its job well, it's going to draw visitors to your goods and then increase the conversions on those. And if it's done poorly, it's just going to frustrate visitors and push them away and hurt sales. It's very, very similar. Ryan: I like that. I think a lot of people, at least in what I think through is I don't think about qualifying. I'm like, you got to my page, you click on my products from Google shopping, you saw the price, just go buy it. And then if I'm in the jar looking at the label in the wrong way, from that perspective and I step out, I realize, okay, well I know conversion rates on shopping traffic is generally lower than category page traffic and so I'm like, oh well, possibly because my category is doing a better job describing a product or qualifying that person coming in and I'm just leaving that there rather than pulling it through and looking at qualifying them. Jon: Yeah. You're not alone on that. A lot of brands look at a category page as an opportunity to convert. I look at a category page as an opportunity to help somebody to the next step in the funnel, which is get them to that product detail page. And that's where you can really convert and sell and make sure people are getting the right product for them. Ryan: Okay, I concur. Tell us then okay, once I decide that it's more than just describing a product, what's a template look like that's going to help me through creating this product description that is going to be more than just describing my product? Jon: I love when I can change minds. And I'm glad we're helping do that today. All right. Ryan: We are. Jon: Again, here. Ryan: I'm taking notes. Jon: There are a handful of bullet points of things that you want to ensure are included. First of all, you need a descriptive headline. Use a product title that's going to hook your audience. Bonus points if you can connect with them emotionally. We don't want blue t-shirt, we want the t-shirt that makes your dad bod look hot. Ryan: I'm getting those ads on Instagram, by the way. I'm like, no, this is terrible. Jon: Ryan's looking good today in his shirt, by the way. All right. Benefits focused paragraphs. Use a descriptive paragraph to explain why, and I mean exactly why the customer benefits from the product. Too many people talk about features and that's it, they're just bullet point features and then don't talk about the benefits. You know how I led with the t-shirt that's going to make your dad bod look hot? That's what we want to be talking about here. What's the benefit? Not that it's a blue t-shirt. Yeah, that might be in there, but what's the benefit of wearing that t-shirt? The other thing we want to have in here is a key benefits list. Follow that description with a bulleted list of product features and benefits and this is where you can get into those details that if somebody is just skimming, they're going to look at that list. You're really what you're doing here is you're providing the benefits in a paragraph, maybe even telling a little bit of a story could be really helpful there. Don't make it too long. But then if somebody really wants, just give me the details. I already know I want a blue t-shirt, I just am deciding between two or three different ones and they want to know the specs and the features, that's where they're going to go is the bullet list. Don't bury those in the paragraph. The paragraph should be, hey, here's the benefits to you. If you want to know the features and the details, look at the bullet list that comes next. And then the fourth thing is, add some additional motivations. Really what we're trying to do here is just minimize those remaining purchase hurdles. Will it fit? Do others like it? Do things like credibility, social proof, you can bake in product reviews or even urgency. And of course, make sure you have a clear call to action. So many brands, we talk to have four buttons to add to cart and it's like, oh, you can use quad pay, after pay. You could use Amazon checkout. You could use both. And it's like, just give them one button and then push that to the next step. Get them to commit and then ask them how you want to pay. Ryan: Because my brain goes in funny directions when you say urgency, can you explain what that means from you, your perspective? Because it's probably not the little popup thing on Shopify that says, "Hey Bob in New York just bought this and Suzie in Florida just bought. Jon: You know me well. Ryan: Because I guarantee you don't like that one because I don't like that one. Jon: Yeah, nobody likes that. Ryan: And I don't have as many dislikes as you. Jon: I call that one of those wildfire apps and I call it wildfire because they just spread without anyone knowing how it started or why it's spreading. Ryan: Yeah, my competitor's probably doing it so I did it, and that's the worst way. Jon: And you don't see those apps as much anymore, a couple years ago, it was really popular and then everyone installed it and they realized this isn't doing anything. And also half of the companies using it are aligned about who's purchasing what, they all had Bob from Waco, Texas and it was kind of like you see Bob from Waco, Texas. Ryan: That guy shops on every site and I've been on. Jon: Exactly. And you're kind of like, that's the default it gives you. Here's the other thing. I really think what you need to be thinking about here in urgency is stock levels. And I'm not talking about lying. I'm saying, okay, only a few left. And what I mean by few? Well, I have two or three and you'd better buy it right away or it's going to go out of stock. There's some great tools, especially if you're on platforms like Shopify that are great apps that will do dynamic badging around quantity left so it can pull your quantities and do a dynamic image overlay on your product images. It will put a badge up in the corner that says, "Two left, one left," whatever. That's what I'm talking about with urgency. Or something like, hey free shipping. You're doing an offer, not a discount. When I talk about urgency, I'm not talking discounts as you know quite well. There could be some offers. It could be, right now it's a buy one, get a free gift. There's a whole litany of offers you can do that are not discounting and so I think when I'm talking about urgency, I'm talking about those type of items. Ryan: And so generally if you're a brand that has just tons of inventory, you have to focus more on getting creative and incentivizing without discounting to get that purchase from the product page. Jon: Right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Create urgency if it's necessary. The other thing we see perform really well in terms of urgency is if it's out of stock to sign up to get notified when it's in stock. We have a client we've worked with for years, that is a really well known Japanese outdoor brand, outdoor camping high end. And what we have done for them over the years is help refine their out of stock notifications. They have some products that never are in stock because as soon as they send out that out of stock notification, they burn through their stock again. And I'm not talking that they only get five or 10 in, no, they get thousands. But the thing about it is, is that consumers have all signed up for this list and they want these products. We say, "Hey, you want this product? Sign up to be notified." And then we send out on an email and that email goes out, "Back in stock, click here to buy it," adds it right to the cart and they're able to purchase. And then before it even ever hits the site and it changes the product detail pages show how much stock is left, it's gone within hours. Ryan: Geez. Yeah, I'm going to test pre-sale. I'm going to say, "Hey, this new blend from Joyful Dirt's coming out, we're going to start advertising it and pre-sell it on social so we can start demand, figuring what demand looks like, what our production runs need to look like." Jon: That's a great idea. Ryan: And hopefully there's a lot there, but if not, they were like, "Yeah, we're only going to produce a few hundred. We'll be fine." Okay, so what else do we need to be considering what's average eCom business owner not going to be thinking about that you know that they don't even know to ask? What don't I know that I should know. Jon: Well, I think there's some simple questions that need to be answered. Let's look at this as maybe I don't know, questions that somebody doing a natural deodorant product might have. You need to think about this, who's the customer? That's always the first one, who's the potential customer? When you're starting to write this, you need to be thinking about that first. Let's say here, it would be men and women who are fed up with chemical packed deodorants. Just being a normal deodorant and saying, "Hey, people who don't like to stink," that's not going to be good enough. What's your differentiating point? The second is, what problems does it solve? This is where you can get into it helps keep them stink free. The potential customer is not the problem, it's what pain are you solving for them that is a little bit deeper than the surface level? And then the problem it solves is really the high level okay, people buy deodorant for this main reason. But the differentiating point is what's going to define that potential customer. Then you get into what desires does it fulfill? For this theater and it would be something like feeling healthier, more responsible towards their bodies and the planet, maybe just feeling less dirty and smelly. They could be that generic. And maybe they've been fertilizing their garden all day with a Joyful Dirt and now they don't want to come back into the house and smell. And then you need to be thinking about what objections people have. And this is where it's like, hey, why are you using a natural deodorant? Or maybe other natural deodorants just don't seem to work or they lie about the ingredients. Those are all types of things you should really be thinking about there. The next question you really want to ask yourself is why you? Why your brand? Compared to the other guys, why does this deodorant actually work? And then last of all, definitely not least, but you really want to think about what words your consumers are using so you can mirror what they're looking for there. And this is great, this is where user research can really come in, just interviewing consumers, doing some user testing, for instance so when they talk about what words they use, things like natural, fresh, perhaps scent or confident, and those are words that you can bake into your product description. They're going to write it for you. And if you go and you answer all of these questions in an outline, kind of like I just did where I answered each question a little bit about deodorant, you'll have most of your product description written and then you can move on from there. Announcer: You're listening to Drive and Convert, the podcast focused on eCommerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with eCommerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers, and Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, a digital marketing agency offering pay per click management, search engine optimization and website design services to brands of all sizes. If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing it with a friend or colleague. Thank you. Ryan: I know though, pictures are worth more than words and so do you consider the images on the side of a product description as part of the description? Or is that different entirely? And that's a whole nother conversation around the images? Or do you use them together? Jon: I think it's a whole nother conversation, quite honestly. Although people say a picture's worth a thousand words, I think that's true. And that's why pictures, we should do a whole nother episode on that because I do think it matters. And I think that there's a lot of things out there that you could be doing. I think on model, off model, 360, in use, size comparison. You really got to be thinking about all the different types of images that you could be doing. And a lot of brands will focus on the words, because a lot of consumers will go to the words and with one good photo you can still get them to convert. But after that, you really need to dive in and start thinking about all the other photos that you could do. And that's a ripe opportunity for optimization as well for sure. Ryan: Got it. You've done a lot of obviously user testing and listen to a lot of people go through the process of buying, are there certain types of people that are only going to pay attention to image and some that only pay attention to the words and that's just is a personality or a person? Or is it everybody's taking all that information in together? Jon: I think that as humans we're visual, but there are some people who will, if you have a video, they're just going to watch the video and they're going to skim. This is really huge on B2B websites where you want to bake in video because what's going to happen, meaningful video, Telling you about the product and walking you through it, et cetera, because consumers are going to just scroll until they find video and then watch that video while they're doing something else like on a bus or in traffic or eating lunch. I just did that. I was evaluating some software for our business, for The Good, over lunch and I was eating lunch, watching product videos. I didn't want to read about it. I just wanted to sit there and watch the video. I just put it on one and a half speed and then go. And I think that's a lot of people will do that. And I think in terms of images, it's similar. A lot of people will get that content from the images, but they're not going to get all the features and benefits that way. They're really not. People still need the bullet point list to see all of the features. People who are going to be watching the video, looking at the images, that's where they're going to start and if you don't get it right there, they're not even going to go on to read the bullet list. It is important for a segment of the audience for sure. Ryan: I think of product descriptions kind of like I think of one on my website and I think of the one on the Amazon and I probably put more time into the Amazon one, but I have more volume on Amazon right now. And so, but Amazon has multiple areas for information. You get the top there's image and then a short description and then you go down and you have A plus content and the expanded descriptions. And now that I think about it, a lot of websites have that same type of feel built out around them. Are you seeing a lot of focus needing to be on the short snippet, kind of at the top, more than at the bottom? Because sometimes the descriptions I see, especially on B2B, all the spec tab that is really long and drawn out, you can tell people are just dumping information from an SEO perspective sometimes in there. Is there one area that's more important in all of that? Jon: Yes. I think in the concept of the description, this is what those towards the top of the page. Often you'll have images on the left and then all the product description content on the right. As you scroll down, you can take those bullet points we talked about earlier with the benefits and the specific features and that bullet list and break that down throughout the page. That's typically what I would recommend. Have the bullet point and if people want to dive into each one of those, so say you're talking about the deodorant as we talked about earlier and you want to look at the ingredients list. Well, you can say all natural ingredients as a bullet point. And then at the bottom you could start saying all natural ingredients and then you break out what those ingredients are and talk about the benefits of each and how it's truly all natural and it doesn't include, what is the big one? Aluminum or something that people don't like? I don't know. But I think, it's something like that where you would use the rest of the page to truly break it down. And that's where you can also inject some brand. And it's also where you should be injecting supporting content like blog articles. To me, too many brands put the blog on the homepage, so they have like this lineup of blog posts that nobody cares about on their homepage. The blog post is top of the funnel. It's great for getting people to your site. It's great for SEO for instance. But then if they're on product detail page and you send them back up the funnel, you need to make sure that it's done in a supporting fashion so that you're not just sending them right back to the top of the funnel for no good reason. What I mean by that is maybe you have a blog article all about those ingredients or a specific ingredient that you're using and you want to talk about why it's more superior and you need a 1,000 or 1,500 words. Well, that's not good for your product detail page, but it would be good to link to that and say, "Hey, want to learn more about this? Read this blog post about it." That's also going to help your SEO and Google find all of that content together. Ryan: Yeah, I think exactly zero times have I ever gone from a homepage trying to research a brand for a product and gone to the blog and be like, hmm, let me read some blogs. Jon: No, not going to happen. Ryan: Never happen. And I'm like, no, I'm here to buy a product or research the product, not read about how the product worked on X, Y, Z in these conditions. Jon: Yeah, but when you're on a product detail page and doing your research and you're far enough down that step, it might be relevant to some degree to know that it's there. Ryan: Awesome. No, obviously Jon you've broken down and torn apart a lot of product pages over your life. What are some of the questions that you've had clients ask you as they've gone through the process and tried to implement a lot of what you've talked about, even with your template? And are there any funny ones or when it makes sense that other people are probably going to be asking after they start doing this? Jon: Yeah. Yeah, you're right, I've probably broken down hundreds of thousands of these at this point. I don't know that might be exaggerating, but it is kind of like what's that movie with the kid where he's like, "I see dead people." That's me. I can't go down the internet and shop without seeing messed up product detail pages everywhere. It's just unfortunate side effect of my job. But I will say, I do love when we have a positive effect on those. And so I'm always happy to answer questions, but yeah, I do get some off the wall ones. I think the biggest one I get all the time is, can't I just copy my description from a competitor? It's working for them so why not? I hear that all the time. But I'm shocked I even have to answer this. But yeah, the short answer is no, you can't lift product descriptions from your competitors. Look, beyond the SEO challenges of that, meaning that it's going to be a challenge where Google sees the same as that content across two sites and then you're playing a really hard to win game because Google is going to pick one of them or when they do that, it's likely not going to be you because it knows that content has been on the other site longer and so that's what it considers the original source. Ryan: Now what about product descriptions from the supplier or the manufacturer? Especially if you've got a site with a 100,000 products on it. Jon: Well, you might want to evaluate why you have a site with a 100,000 products. Ryan: True. There's a lot of them out there. Jon: Yeah. I wonder how many of those are just dropped shipping, not doing that great. And that's why they're not doing that great. If you really want to be successful at something like that, you need to customize the heck out of it. And so you really do need to sit down and do this for all the products so it's not just the manufacturer description. Now you can base it on that manufacturer description, but don't copy and paste that because everyone else who's drop shipping that product is doing the same thing. Or on top of that, you're not really adding any additional value and I can promise you, most of those subscriptions are D level work. They're not even a passing grade in most cases. I think copying is a moral issue for me in addition to the SEO issue so it's two strikes you're out rule, really. Using the manufacturer, I think is the SEO role and ineffective. It's just a non-starter. Ryan: And I think that if you are in the eCommerce world and you are assuming something, you're going to lose. You never assume that this is working for a competitor because they're doing it and you think they're bigger than you. And you assume that somebody knows what they're doing. Obviously I have a wine and beer read business and you drink wine, if you read wine descriptions, those are generally written by somebody sitting at a desk at a winery that's coming up with weird terms. One of my friends owns a winery and I'm like, "Well, how'd you come up with your descriptions?" "Oh my wife and I started drinking wine and decided, let's start putting these things in there." You can't assume that, if it works it's on accident many times. Jon: I have a good friend who runs an agency that does nothing but branding and labels for wine and spirits brands and that is the number one challenge that they get from brands, their customers that they work with, is that those vineyards will send over the descriptions and they're like, this isn't going to fly, we got to help you optimize this. It's a challenge. It's not unique. They're like, you might as well just label it alcohol, alcohol from grapes. And that's always the joke. My friend is always just like, "You sent me this description. I'm just going to change it and say alcohol from grapes." Ryan: We're planting wine grapes right now. And I told my wife, it's like, "We're going to make some wine with it." She's like, "You think it's going to be good?" I'm like, "Probably not, but we're just going to call it Ryan's Yeast Juice. It's going to be great. It's going to sound like crap." Jon: When you gift me a bottle, I'll know. Ryan: Yeah, Ryan's Yeast Juice. That's actually why, I add grape juice with some yeast in it that sat in the bottle for too long, became alcoholic. Jon: Can't wait, can't wait. Ryan: I can't wait for my marketing to go, all the marketing energy I have, Ryan's Yeast Juice. I should probably trademark before it gets out. Jon: Yeah. Made with Ryan's fertilizer. How's that? Ryan: Yeah. Jon: Joyful Dirt line. Well yeah, I think the other question that I get a lot here is how long product descriptions should be. And I think it's not a one size fits all. It's long enough to be helpful, short enough to be digestible and depends on the product. A few quick sentences could work for your products or you may need to write 1,500 words, but I think it's something where you really need to understand your audience. Are they here quick? Are they deciding between a couple of things and want a feature list? Or should you put more effort into the story? Also, there's the brand aspect. There's a lot of brands who have a lot of fun with their product descriptions. And then there's a lot of brands who are just dry. That's just kind of their brand and you go from there. Ryan: Okay. Over the past, let's just keep it recent, three years, who would you say of companies you've at least seen their site, you don't have to work with them, probably did the best with their product descriptions? Jon: Yeah. Are you familiar with Chubbies? Ryan: I'm not. Jon: Ooh, okay. Chubbies is a men's, mostly men's clothing brand and they do some hilarious descriptions. They started out, I believe selling swim trunks. Ryan: Oh yeah. Yeah, now I remember. Jon: And it's now a bunch of other stuff, but they've always done some good work. I haven't looked at the site in a while, but they were pretty good one from back in the day. And I think, generally there's brands like OLIPOP and a few others like that who are new and are doing a really, really good job with it. I don't know if you've heard of OLIPOP. It's kind of like a new flavored seltzer brand. They do a really, really good job with it. I also think that there's a couple out there around more around eyeglasses, Felix Gray, things of that sort, that do a really, really good job. And I think that their biggest competitor is Warby Parker. And I think Warby Parker does a good job, but Felix Gray has really made their calling card being better content on the page. Ryan: Got it. Jon: The other one that I really like is Cards Against Humanity. I don't know if you've ever been to their site. Ryan: I love that game. It's the most inappropriate fairly game we've played with my in-laws. Jon: Okay, I was going to say, yeah, that could be awkward at best. Ryan: Oh it for sure is. Jon: They have a teenager version I've played with my cousins and I will tell you, that got awkward real quick too. But they have add on packs and all this other stuff and they do a great job with branding. And they have a couple of sentences, they'll say, "Hey, this is just," they'll be very quick. This is all about these topics. It's 300, but they'll inject some brand. They'll say, "All new absurd box contains 300 mind bending cards that came to us after taking peyote and wandering in the desert." And it's kind of like, that's funny and I know what I'm going to get is just weird random stuff. And then it's, they did in the bullet points. 300 brand new cards to mix into your game. This one's pretty weird. They're going to be weird, I get it. It's an expansion. It requires the main game. Now I'm like, okay, I get it. It's expansion pack. And you have nothing to lose, but your chains, I don't know what that even means, but that's what they're telling you. I think, it's on brand because it's super random. And I think that last bullet point is all meant to just demonstrate the randomness that you're going to get out of this pack. And then if you go down the page, they have a lot more info about and some samples and stuff, but that kind of gives you a good example there. Ryan: Thank you. That's awesome. Any parting words or places people need to be focusing and getting started on? Jon: Yeah, I think look, it's there's a simple formula that you can follow and too many brands don't even try to follow the formula. And if you go to The Good's website and on our insights or articles page, or just go to thegood.com/insights/product-descriptions, we have a really great article that breaks all of this down and more. Gives you ton of examples and it's a great way for you to just take the template we've got on there and start using that and applying it to your product descriptions and Ryan, it sounds like you may have some work to do, but it will get you a higher conversion. Ryan: I think I might. But thanks for the time, Jon. I appreciate it and educating me as always on how to make my site work better. Jon: All right. Well, I'm looking forward to seeing the results on that. Thanks for chatting today. Announcer: Thanks for listening to Drive and Convert, with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. To keep up to date with new episodes, you can subscribe at driveandconvert.com
Traffic sources can come from a number of places, but for most companies the largest source is Google. And things can get confusing when it comes to organic traffic versus paid ads.There are a number of things that can affect organic traffic and paid traffic in Google, and it can get confusing quickly. Today Ryan clears things up and tells you what does and doesn't work in Google, and focuses on what you can do with on-site SEO to improve your organic rankings. The site mentioned for checking your organic rankings: www.semrush.com TRANSCRIPT: Announcer: You're listening to Drive and Convert, a podcast about helping online brands to build a better e-commerce growth engine with Jon McDonald and Ryan Garrow. Jon: Hey Ryan. So traffic to a website comes from many different channels and avenues, as we all know. And for most companies though, that largest source is always Google, the infamous Google traffic source. Now, from previous conversations with you, I know that Google shopping, spend and traffic can have a really positive impact on organic traffic in Google. Which always has blown my mind when I've heard that, because I heard from you recently too, that there are several types of search engine optimization that can have an impact on paid search. Not just on on-page. So this really confused me, because I thought Google kept everything separate. You can't spend money to grow rankings within Google. You can buy your spot with an ad, maybe do some stuff around shopping to get surface there. But I wasn't aware that those two really correlated with organic. So I'm looking forward to hearing about how search engine optimization can help your paid search. And I guess more simply, what are you talking about? Can you fill me in on this? Ryan: Yeah. So I don't want to confuse people kind of with the title or how we're putting this out there, but you can't spend money on paid search to have Google increase your rankings. That's been a myth disproved multiple times over, and Google has been very, I think, above board in how that works. But we do know that spending more on shopping, where people discover your product more, they will come back and buy through organic and direct, and those channels will start producing more revenue. But what people I think overlook are the fact that there are two types of SEO that people need to be aware of. And you should always as a business owner be investing or planning to invest in both SEO and paid search. I don't think one is greater than the other necessarily long-term, but you need to have both. And the type of SEO that people talk about or think about when they say SEO is what we've been doing generally for 20 years, building our rankings in authority with back links that are of high quality, putting content out on the internet that Google recognizes as valuable and they will give you more authority. You spend now on SEO with that's either your time or money, hiring people to do that. And then four to six months you see the results in increased traffic. That's generally what people think about with SEO. What they tend to overlook is the SEO that gets results actually within two weeks of you doing it. And that's the on-site SEO work. And so there's things you can do on your site to improve it that when Google re-indexes that you will move up in rankings. And this type of SEO will help organic traffic, but also have an oversized impact on paid search. And so because it dabbles both of those buckets I like to focus on that SEO before I even go to the SEO that people normally think about. And so on-site SEO at its simplest form is improving your category pages for Google. Jon: Okay. So you're talking content, better imagery, things of that sort? Ryan: Yeah. The content, the tags, the titles, things on that site that Google indexes and sees have a lot of benefits around your website and traffic generally. And so, if you do a search for your product, and so if you sell Nike shoes and that's the broad search that has lots of traffic, you will notice on Google most of the organic results are for categories of Nike shoes. It's not one specific Nike shoe like a shopping ad would be. Because Google, based on that search, knows that you don't know which specific model you're looking for or if you're looking for men's or women's. You're looking for Nike shoes. And so often the high volume terms are going to be category pages that Google is going to be indexing and sending traffic to until people get more and more specific with their searches. And that's how people generally move down a funnel, is I gradually do my research... Forgot, okay. Now I know I need to be searching for men's Nike shoes. Then I see that page. I'm like, "Oh, I need to be searching for men's Jordan Nike shoes." And then I'm like, "I really want to search for Jordan 4 men's shoes." And then that's when I'm getting to more and more specific and even adding color onto that, and people will do that through a search funnel. But the biggest advantage is saying, "All right, I have this category page and I need to have a description on that page about what's on that page that Google can see." And it doesn't necessarily matter for searchers because if I'm searching for Nike shoes and I'm on a page of Nike shoes, I can see they're Nike, I can see they're shoes. I don't need to read that text to see it. And so putting that on there though will have an outsized impact on quick increase in rankings. And so I like to start this by telling people to go to SEMrush, or some site like that to be able to see what is Google doing with your organic site, how are you average ranking on there? There's some wonderful reports on SEMrush. It's the one I use because it's probably simple enough that we to dive into very, very quick. I don't get super deep on a lot of my analysis. I get high-level and figure out some strategy and then move off of that. But SEMrush has some great things they've done from an organic perspective. They scraped these results pages, and they know generally where you're ranking. Obviously you rank in different parts of the country differently, and search intent and my previous search history is going to impact my organic results. But generally we know that hey, you're ranking here on this keyword. And SEMrush also brings in the average volume of searches a month. And so to start to see where your site could have a quick impact on this, you go to SEMrush, click on your organic rankings, sort it by volume. And you'll start seeing where your site is ranking. So if you're ranking on number 70 for a term with 10,000 searches, you're still getting zero traffic because you're stuck somewhere on page seven. But it'll also show you which page is ranking there. And when you see that you're like, "Oh, this page is ranking for that. And I'm seeing the term 'Nike shoes' goes to my Nike shoe page. That's great." You can click it actually in SEMrush and pull it up. Very simple. And you can see there's nothing on that page other than my title that says, "Nike shoes," in text that the search engine can scrape and understand. And so you take those category pages and you write that paragraph of text. You maybe make sure that your title is short and appropriate for that search. You make sure the H tags on the site are appropriate for that, and it's not including random other characters or doesn't have your brand first. It doesn't have sizes first maybe, if you're looking at shoes. That information on your site will raise the ranking within two weeks. And it really depends on your competitors on what they've done or what they're doing. But within two weeks, you can assume that you're going to have more value to Google. They're going to raise you up there. And that's by no means a bad thing when you're getting quick results on SEO. Jon: Yeah. So if you're looking at all of this and I'm hearing from you that okay, do onsite for sure. But how does this affect paid search? I understand that you can't buy your listings. You can buy optimization of these pages, which is search engine optimization, and that could help you. But how is this going to affect your paid search? To me, it doesn't feel like it would. So that's what was kind of shocking. So yeah. Tell me more about that. Ryan: For Google ads, if you're running text ads there's something that Google has called the Google quality score. That basically gives you three components. It says if you do well here, we're going to let you pay less than your competitors for the same search. So there's always a value having a higher quality score. It's one to 10 and there's three components. There's the expected click through rate. That's always relative to your competitors. And so somebody may come to me and think, "Well, I have a 7% click through rate. That's great. Right?" And I'm like, "No. There's no way of knowing that." It's based on your competitors and what are they getting. If Google knows that compared to your competitors you're getting a 7% click through rate on the same search term and they're getting a 10% click through rate, guess who Google wants coming up higher? Jon: Right. Just because it's more relevant to the searcher, and that's what they're understanding. And that's going to drive more money for Google in the end because more people will click on it. Ryan: Exactly. Jon: Okay. Yep. Ryan: Google makes decisions for themselves. They have shareholders, they need to make money, and that's fine. It's their platform. So the higher click-through rate is good. And then the ad relevance, so they're saying, "All right, does your ad have instances of the keyword that was searched in it?" We generally, horrible broad stroke, shoot for about three times in the ad, and the rest of the text in the ad doesn't have an oversized impact on the actual click rate. It's just you have it for Google, you're playing the game to get ranked higher. And then the other piece is the landing page and the quality of that landing page based on the search query. So Google can't see the actual image itself and decide is this image what they searched for. They can see the tags you put on the image, but the actual physical image AI is not actually determining is that actually what they searched for. And so that piece of content you're putting on your category or in Shopify, the collection page is telling Google what's on that page. And if you have that keyword in that content, Google is going to think this is a more relevant page to what they're searching and give you a benefit by lowering your cost per click through the increase of quality score. And it's a very easy thing to tie together and see the changes because quality score is reset every time somebody searches and every time your ad shows. And so if you make a change on the site to that description, today, and you see that I have a quality score of seven and you can break down the quality score components using columns in Google ads. And if you haven't done that before, you can get to all your keywords in the list in Google ads, that you're showing a text ad for, go to columns and ad quality score, and you can see, "All right, what's my click expect to click through rate, what's my ad relevance. And what's my landing page quality?" Jon: Okay. Ryan: And it'll tell you. You can either get below average, average above average. There's only three pieces to it. If you've got a lot of keywords, I like to push it down into an Excel pivot table. So I download it, put pivots on it- Jon: You love your pivot tables. Ryan: I love pivot tables. If you're running Google ads and you don't use pivot tables, you're wasting a lot of time. We still use Excel a lot in Google ads, but that can find really quick your below average landing page quality scores. And you can focus on those first, saying, "Okay, for whatever reason, this landing page, I'm getting dinged." And it's the largest component. It has about six of your 10 points associated with it. So moving from below average to above average can give you a significant boost and you're probably getting zero or very little traffic if you have a below average landing page score, Announcer: You're listening to Drive and Convert, the podcast focused on e-commerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with e-commerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers, and Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, a digital marketing agency offering pay-per-click management, search engine optimization and website design services to brands of all sizes. If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple podcasts and sharing it with a friend or colleague. Thank you. Jon: Optimizing your site increases your quality score, which then helps you get more visitors and makes your ads more effective because it's going to be ranked higher in that list. So if you're on the search results page and there's three items, the one that comes first has the higher quality score. It's not just how much you bid, or is it how much you bid and the quality score? What other factors might come in there? Ryan: It's both. Jon: Okay. Ryan: Yeah. Google keeps a little bit of a black box in play. But they say it's the ad rank, which generally we know is the bid and the quality score going into play. And so the highest on the list is not always bidding the most. You could actually pay less per click and being ranked higher, generally. I guess it's not always the case, but generally the higher up you are in rank on that first page of Google, the more you're the more clicks you're going to get. The higher your click-through rate. And you obviously want more of the traffic if you're bidding on the keyword. And so improving the site experience for a Google perspective, and we're not talking about... Unfortunately sometimes for Google is not always best for the user. But you got to get the traffic to be able to determine if it's good for the user. So get the traffic from Google by increasing what Google thinks of the site. And often it's a pretty simple implementation to get this text on there. It's not tremendously complicated. I don't think you need to have a master's degree in onsite SEO to be able to do this. I've done it on a lot of my own sites and it's just having something there is better than nothing. And using general logic is saying, "Okay, I'm writing this for the search engines, not necessarily the user. So I want to make sure I have the right density." It's got to read in normal English because people are still going to see it, even if they're not reading it. But just get it on the site. And most small sites that don't have this are going to be on Shopify, just from a numbers perspective. We know they have over a million people using it. And so on Shopify this is the Collections page. And when you're putting that description in on your collections, in fact, I was just talking to a company that I'm helping advise in this area, and the business owner had all the descriptions already put on there, but they weren't showing on their Shopify site. Well that's interesting. And so we've dug into it and it's the theme. The Shopify theme she's using doesn't pull those descriptions in by default. And so some themes do it and some don't. So if you put it in there and your theme doesn't have that when you go to the collection page, you need to get a developer to force that theme to show it. And if you have a choice, put it below the product results on that category or collection page. If you don't have a choice, just get it on there. It's going to be fine. I haven't seen a meaningful increase or decrease yet on putting that continent in there on conversion rate. Jon: I was going to say, is there a... Thinking about my conversion rate hat, of course, as always, is there a better consumer experience when you think about that? Is having that content higher on the page, lower on the page near the products, things of that sort. Does that seem to matter? Ryan: I haven't seen it, but obviously I haven't done as much broad research on that. That's probably something in your bucket of skillset to look at that. And all right, on these Shopify sites where it defaults to above the fold or above the product results, do we see a change one way or the other when we move it below? My gut tells me I want to see the products first and most of the time when I go to a site, I'm not reading a bunch of texts when I'm searching for a product. I want to go right to the products and see which product makes sense based on the images I'm seeing and the titles of those products. But there probably needs to be some testing for most sites around that. But I would say if you don't have it there above or below, you're probably not getting very much traffic on it from a paid perspective. So you just need to get it, even if it's above the products, because now you don't even have- Jon: Done is better than perfect. Ryan: Yes. That's most of my method of business based on my business partners. We're just going to do it and we're going to make choices as we go, because if we're not moving forward, we're not going to make any decisions at all. Jon: And this is slightly unrelated, but I would say that a lot of our success at The Good has been purely because we just keep making decisions. And we know we're going to make bad ones along the way, but we're doing the best we can. You just keep moving forward, just keep taking those steps. And that, really, I think has been a competitive advantage. Or at least over just business in general, it's really helped us. And I think that's, that's a challenge I see. We talk a lot about all of these different optimizations you can do, and just getting it done, taking that step is 99% better than a lot of your competition. Ryan: For sure. Jon: A lot of them just aren't even taking the steps that we're talking about. So even if you don't take all of them, just take one. Like go to SEMrush today and look at these organic results and have a list of these opportunities and then fix them. And you're going to be 99% ahead, being armed with that data and having a good understanding of what to do next. And even if you're not running ads, because then when do run ads, you'll be well ahead of the game. Ryan: Yeah, exactly. I think it's always better to take two steps forward and one step back than it is to try to plan the best step perfectly the first time out. I know I'm going to make mistakes in business. That's fine. I don't care. As long as it's not a crippling business killing decision, I'm willing to make all of those. Jon: Which 99 out of a hundred couldn't be. They're small enough decisions that you just got to do it. And if you go to SEMrush and you follow their instructions or the recommendations, is there a chance that that kills your business? Unlikely. It's very unlikely. So what do you have to lose? You just got to put the time in and do it. Ryan: Exactly. And that's for most business owners, it's going to come down to a time-money thing. If you've got more time than money, which smaller businesses generally do, you're going to do some of this work yourself and figured out the hard way. If you've got a little more money than that, you're going to hire an agency to go do some of that work for you. And that's what I advise a lot of businesses to start. I was like, "Look, if you've not done this before, and you're really worried about making a bad mistake, hire an agency to do very small amounts." So you can see the model that they're using. And I even tell them, Logical Position for a thousand bucks, we will put six category pages together for you and do the work from the titles, descriptions, all that stuff. And you can then see, "Oh, that's actually not that complicated I see it where you put it in there, I see how it got on there. I see the keywords you used. Great. I can go build out the next 15 of these to help those all increase and then by that time, I might have enough money to pay for more paid search because I'm seeing organic traffic increase." Jon: This is why I tell people all the time when I send them to Logical Position, it pays to work with a partner that is large enough that they have an SEO focused team and a paid team because these things work together so well. And they need to be talking to each other. You can't just go off and do these SEO things and then not have your paid team aware of it. Because as we found out today, that's going to affect your quality score. And so not only could you get some increase in organic rankings pretty quickly by doing some basic SEO stuff, if you're not doing that, but then you can also do some off-site stuff that builds for a longer term. You were saying about four to six months, roughly. And then on top of that, you can be affecting your quality score. So what I've learned today is, okay, you still can't pay Google to list higher organically. Okay, that's a bummer, but I get it. I assumed that was the case. And so second, what I've learned is I need to get a better quality score if I'm ever going to run ads, because you need to make sure that quality score is high because I'm not going to pay a thousand bucks a click. But if I have a better quality score, I might pay a little less than that. Ryan: Some of your settings, you may get close. Jon: Let's just bury that one and keep it buried. Jon likes to waste money with his spend. But that's what I get for not talking to my friends before doing that. So look, I think there's a lot of great things here around things that every business of any size could be doing to really get more out of their paid media spend. Ryan: And just business in general, best practices, laying a solid foundation to build on for a brand. I think it's an easily overlooked one for a lot of brands that can have house sized impact for that time. I mean, writing a description might take you five minutes if you're the business owner and that five minutes could produce massive dividends on both SEO and paid search. Jon: On that, we'll leave it. It sounds like folks have some tasks to do that are pretty simple. Just need to put the time in to make it happen. Or if they don't have the time to give you a call and have your team at Logical Position make it happen for them. Ryan: Yeah. I'm looking forward to it. Let me know how I can help. Jon: All right, thank you there, Ryan. Appreciate it. Ryan: Thanks John. Announcer: Thanks for listening to Drive and Convert with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow. To keep up to date with new episodes, you can subscribe at driveandconvert.com.
In the Ecommerce world, it's almost always about the data. But what works well for large organizations may not work well for small ones and vice versa. A lot of that has to do with how much data you have, and large organizations tend to have more. So where should different size organizations starts as far as collecting data and making use of it? And why do we even need data in the Ecommerce world?
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