Episode 126

Increasing Conversions in the New Normal of eCommerce

Jon MacDonald - The Good
July 1, 2020
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Online shopping has shifted dramatically since the start of the pandemic.  Some experts believe we’ve seen 5+ years of ecommerce growth condensed into just a few months.  Attitudes towards quantities ordered, shipping rates and times, and pricing have ALL shifted from the norm.  I wanted to have Jon MacDonald come back on the show (see his first appearance on the podcast for episode 60 ) to talk about what’s working right now in terms of Conversion Rate Optimization.  We cover some truly fascinating subjects including:

  • How buying in bulk is a new trend - even if your marketing to non-peppers
  • How to structure new shopping options for buying in bulk to make the process easier on shoppers and easier on your fulfillment centers
  • 3 ways to use SMS marketing to before, during and after the shopping experience to surprise and delight customers
  • Where you should start optimizing now including some key data points and quick wins with Google Analytics that you’re likely missing 
  • How to quickly and inexpensively benefit from Heat Maps
  • Why taking care of your highest value customers is more important now than ever before

Mentioned in this episode:

Hotjar

Shop App

Hydrant

Magic Spoon

Klaviyo

Privy

Snow Peak

Jon MacDonald - President and Founder at The Good

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The Good - eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

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The Good - Insights

The Good - Free Landing Page Assessment



Episode Transcript

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, we have a return guest. There are not that many return guests on the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. It's not because we're snooty. We just like to keep things fresh and relevant, talking about what's new and what's next. But it's very appropriate, very timely to have this guest back on.

Brett:

With me today, I'm thrilled to welcome back sir Jon MacDonald from The Good as a CRO expert. He speaks on stages back when that was allowed all over the country, at Google and other places, telling you how to optimize the shopping experience, the web experience for your customers. Eliminating all the bad, leaving only the good left. Yeah. We were just talking before we hit record. I think it was the last in person event probably any of us did was an event at the YouTube L.A. offices. He and I both spoke at that event. Our reps invited us to speak. I talked to YouTube. He talked to CROs. A fantastic event. It was like another lifetime ago though, pre-pandemic. Or pre-pandemic in the U.S. anyway. So anyway, with that Jon, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for coming on. And how's it going?

Jon MacDonald:

Thanks for having me. It's going great.

Brett:

Good, good. Yeah. It's really crazy times to be in eComm. For the most part, things are opening back up. You can actually shop in some parts of the country in physical stores. Here in Missouri, we're I'm located, we've been opened up for quite a while now. But we were just talking about the new normal, whatever that looks like. I heard someone say yesterday that the new abnormal. That may be the way to look at it. How is this going to impact the way we shop?

Brett:

And we were both speaking about how we're just grateful to be in eCommerce because in a lot of ways eCommerce is a beneficiary, all this madness, more people shopping online. So I wanted to today dig into how is online shopping changing, how do we think about CRO differently, where do we start optimizing now, how do we deal with some of the issues that we're facing right now. Like things going out of stock and some of the challenges that come from maybe too much eCommerce growth that we're dealing with. So lots of fun stuff to talk about.

Jon MacDonald:

Great.

Brett:

And excited to dive in. So just as a quick pulse check, how have things been going for you? You guys are likely been very busy for you lately.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, exactly. We're riding the wave as well. CRO has been around a while. And we've been doing this for 11 years. And it's been fun to watch the industry grow over that time. But nothing has propelled it forward like we've had over the past three, four months. And it's just as all revenue and commerce in general has went online, it's really helped brands fall into two camps.

Jon MacDonald:

Brands who are saying, "Okay. Let's take advantage of this opportunity and let's propel ourselves forward with the additional revenue." So they're reinvesting when they get that additional growth that they weren't really expecting. They're now turning that into a growth channel for them.

Jon MacDonald:

And then there's the secondary brands that maybe it's just exacerbating the challenges that they've had. The ROAS, the return on ad spend is really low. And they're not seeing the growth that a lot of their peers are maybe. And they're having a lot of consumer challenges on their website.

Jon MacDonald:

And so, they've been able to recognize that this is an opportunity they need to take advantage of as well. It's not because they have additional revenue. It's because they haven't seen the growth that they know is available to them. And so then they've come back to CRO as a way to help unlock that.

Brett:

Yeah. And just to share my love for CRO and what you guys do specifically, as a traffic guy and as a company owned eCommerce, we're 40 employees strong. But we focus on mainly paid traffic from Google Ads, YouTube Ads, Amazon Ads. We benefit greatly when the web experience is better, when there's someone like you and your team working with a client and making the shopping process easier, making the checkout process easier, increasing those conversion rates. Then we can spend more, grow more, do more on the traffic side. So really, a very complementary skillsets here that we're ..

Jon MacDonald:

I tell brands all the time, it's like adding fuel to a fire. If they're able to get that fire going through spending on ads and driving traffic, you know that you have product market fit, you know that you're able to turn up that dial. But then it's just adding fuel to that. Making it even more effective. Once you get those qualified people to your site, you want to make sure they turn into revenue.

Jon MacDonald:

And we can help, or conversion optimization can help do that at a great rate. And like you said, most traffic generation companies love it because they know they're sending qualified traffic. They're doing their job well. But then the site has holes in this leaky bucket that they're sending great water into and it just flows right through. And so being able to solve that problem is really beneficial.

Brett:

Yeah, totally. And when clients come to us with growth goals, they want to spend X amount on YouTube at scale, and if we can take their cost requisition and through on page optimization decrease that by 10, 15, 20%, it really can open up all kinds of additional traffic to it. So yeah, really excited to be digging in. I think a good place to start for us now is where do we begin to optimize? So maybe split it amongst those two camps we were just describing a minute ago, or maybe not. But where do we begin? If we're looking to optimize right now, where should we start?

Jon MacDonald:

Well, I think as traffic levels have greatly increased online, you need to make sure that you're capturing the data. Every click and movement of people that are interacting on your website. I'm not saying you do this on a individual level. Do it in aggregate so there's no privacy concerns. But having heat maps, click maps, scroll maps, making sure your analytics data is set up correctly so that you're capturing everything that's available to you.

Jon MacDonald:

There's so much rich data that if you aren't taking advantage of that right now, you're missing a huge opportunity to learn and to make data backed decisions. And so right now I think it's more important than ever that brands are really looking at the data that their site can be collecting. And if you're not, you're going to be left behind pretty quickly. But in addition to that-

Brett:

What are some basics you recommend there? As an example, we work with some decent size brands. We're actually working with one that's pretty large and grown like crazy. They did not have Enhanced Ecommerce turned on in Google Analytics. So we helped them get that turned on so we could get more deeper, richer data. But you have a checklist of sorts? I know this is a little bit on the fly. But to make sure we have that data, what are the must have data points that you recommend?

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. Well, you called out a huge one. And we see that issue... We've worked with brands doing 50, 100 million that have not had that turned on. And it's like you paid for Analytics 360 and you don't have that one button turned on that just gives you so much more data. It's interesting.

Jon MacDonald:

I think some brands are so focused on the marketing aspects of it that they're not paying attention to the deep dive of the data that they could. They're really focused on those inbound metrics. I might call some of them vanity metrics more than anything else because they're not really moving the needle that much. They're just looking good on a report that a marketing person might give up the chain.

Jon MacDonald:

But I think in addition to analytics, you should be doing a few things within analytics itself. You should be annotating. So it's real easy to just annotate every email that you send out whenever you start a new campaign or a new sale. Something of that sort. Just annotate it in Google Analytics. That will tell you as you look back year over year, or even a quarter from now.

Jon MacDonald:

You're not going to remember in three months what date you sent that really great email on. And you're going to look back in Analytics and see an uptick in the charts but you're not going to know what caused it. And so having annotations can be really beneficial for seeing trends.

Brett:

Yeah. And that's so huge just to chime in on that. Especially if you have multiple teams working on your business, which most eCommerce companies do. So we say it all the time, we're brought in to analyze, do a traffic audit, Google Ads audit. Things like that. We'll dig into Google Analytics. We're like, "Whoa. What happened here?" And literally it's like 1 out of 80 or something actually have annotations. So nobody does. And so you then you ask the client, "Hey. Well, what happened here?" "I don't remember. Let me go and ask this person." That's where, yeah, that's a simple thing. But it can inform your various teams, you could make better decisions. It's one of those real easy pretty quick wins.

Jon MacDonald:

Agreed. I think that if you're not doing that then you're leaving a lot on the table. Some other things to be thinking about here. I mentioned heat maps, click maps, scroll maps. Just user engagement data. How are people engaging with your site, what content they're interacting with, sometimes more importantly what content they're not interacting with.

Jon MacDonald:

We love a tool called Hotjar. Really inexpensive. Great tool set. Allows you to collect heat maps based on mouse movement and touch maps based on mobile. As well as scroll maps to tell you how far down the page people are scrolling and what content they're missing because it's too far down and maybe you need to reorder some of that.

Jon MacDonald:

You can also do session recordings. So you can see anonymous data of how people are engaging with your site. Whether they're scrolling all the way down to see if they're missing anything then coming back up or what they're looking at on a day-to-day basis. You can even do it across sessions with the same user. So you can see if they did their research and then they came back to the site a second time later. So you can collect some really good data there.

Jon MacDonald:

In addition to that, we collect eye tracking heat maps which adds just a whole nother layer on top of that data. Most heat maps are done based on mouse movement. But eye tracking really gives you a second look at where are people actually looking at on these pages. Usually on desktop, your eye is following your mouse cursor. But more and more, as people are getting used to iPads and iPhones and those type of engagements where they're not used to following a cursor anymore.

Brett:

Yeah. A lot of people are not following along with their finger. You're just looking. And so interesting. What service do you use for the visual heat map?

Jon MacDonald:

For eye tracking.

Brett:

Eye tracking. Yeah, yeah.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. So we have a tool, a proprietary tool that we own that we've built up. And we do it via AI. So we have an algorithm that we purchased a while back that is based into a tool and it allows us to basically upload a URL or website and then collect eye tracking heat maps based on artificial intelligence.

Jon MacDonald:

And so it's a data set based on an algorithm that's based off of real eye tracking studies. And we check that about every six months to make sure that the algorithm is not morphing in a way that's leading us astray. And it's only getting better. I've been shocked.

Jon MacDonald:

And I think AI in terms of what's going to happen with conversion optimization, it's going to be the next wave of conversion optimization because there's so much... right now, it could take months to collect these statistically relevant data to make data backed decisions. But with AI, we're able to get that eye tracking heat map in 10 seconds.

Brett:

Wow, wow.

Jon MacDonald:

It's a completely game changer for us.

Brett:

That's fantastic. So is that something you offer as a standalone service? Or is that something that you do currently as part of package? Or how does that work?

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. So it's something we've kept in for just our clients at this point. That originally started because we really wanted to make sure AI, the algorithms and everything, were going to work really well.

Jon MacDonald:

And then over the last couple of years it's just been a competitive advantage for us more than anything else. So we haven't done that. It's been a discussion, especially over the past couple of months as more and more people are starting to open eCommerce shops but don't have budgets to work with us. And so that's fine. We want to make sure we're helping that.

Jon MacDonald:

Again, our mission is to remove all of those bad online experiences until only the good ones remain. It's going to be really hard to see that mission through at our price point where we do the customized consulting. So being able to bring that down and offer that as a tool at a price point that any brand can afford I think will be something where it's on our short-term roadmap.

Brett:

Yeah. I think it'll be phenomenal. I think it will also be, just as a side note, great prospecting tool. People use that. People see that. They think, "Whoa. This is amazing. I don't want to do any of these changes. Let me hire The Good to help me execute." I want to talk a little bit about traditional heat maps for a second. What are some of the usual takeaways there? And for someone that maybe is not dug into a heat map, so they haven't installed Hotjar before, they've not used it, what should they be looking for? And where are there usually some quick wins once you install a heat map?

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. So what we're really looking for, again, is how people are engaging with the site. And I say this all the time, but it's really hard to read the label from inside the jar. What I mean by this is as an eComm manager, somebody who works on this site, you have a hard time understanding how people are engaging with your site.

Jon MacDonald:

And so what a heat map is going to tell you is real data on whether or not people are clicking on... if you're looking at click heat map. They're actually clicking on something. Or maybe they're doing rage clicking where which I what a call when people are trying to click on something that's not a link. And then they're like, "Why is this not working?" And they just keep clicking.

Brett:

"It should be clickable. I'm just going to keep going for it."

Jon MacDonald:

Right, yeah. Maybe that will magically make it clickable. But it's interesting. We see that all the time. Big one is if you have social proof on your site in terms of a logo from a news publication or something that's pretty big. It's popular for especially beauty brands. A lot of them will list all of these high end magazines that they've been featured in. Things of that sort. Consumers try to click on those logos because they want to go see what was said about them.

Brett:

Right, right.

Jon MacDonald:

And a lot of brands don't have that option. And I wouldn't say ..

Brett:

Some brands put a logo of a popular magazine where they ran a small ad in that magazine. And that's why I don't...

Jon MacDonald:

I think consumers are onto that, right?

Jon MacDonald:

And that's why they're like, "Show me the proof. Can I see the logo?"

Brett:

Show me this article. Let me see how you were featured in Allure magazine, or whatever.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, yeah. It's definitely a trick of the trade that people try to do. And I think consumers are onto that type of stuff. And so they see social proof on a site anymore but they want what backs that up.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Have you seen shifts in behavior since the pandemic? Other than just more shopping online. And I will add a few notes to what we talked about before. We've seen eCommerce has a percentage of total commerce growth from... These are Forester numbers. But from 16% to almost 30% of total commerce going to eCommerce. I've seen some studies showing... Actually, I think it Forester was 25%. But the studies show in the 30s. Likely a lot of that's going to continue. Some of it will go back to physical stores. But any other behavioral shifts or things... Maybe that's the first time eCommerce shoppers on that are doing things differently. Just any other behavioral shifts that you've seen recently.

Jon MacDonald:

Yes. Buying in bulk. We've seen a lot of brands who we've run simple tests. We started noticing this early on when there was lot of panic buying, perhaps. Maybe the prepper community, I don't know. But we started noticing it with a few brands we were working with. Where they were noticing people stock up and fill up their cart with a whole... We worked with one brand that does a type of beef jerky. And it's all natural, healthy beef jerky. None of the additives and anything. And what we noticed was two weeks into the pandemic, everybody was buying six, seven hundred dollars worth of jerky because it's shelf stable for years.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And my guess is a lot of them are probably non-preppers. Just people saying, "I'll just feel better if I got a little bit of a stock."

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, perhaps. And so we leaned into it. We said, "Hey. These people are noticing these orders where they're ordering four of this product and five of that product, and all different sizes. And they're just trying to build their own variety box." And the problem with that was then you have your fulfillment center having to run all over the fulfillment center grabbing one of this, two of that, five of this, and fill it up. So it's really resource intensive to do that.

Brett:

What changes now? And these are going to persist as well. Where you've health and safety regulations now in your pick, pack and ship departments. Whether that's in-house or 3PL or whatever. And so how do you make things easier for the pick packing shippers?

Jon MacDonald:

Exactly, exactly. 100%. I think that that's a key that people need to be paying attention to. But what we did is we leaned into this bulk order and we said, "Okay. Let's put together what we call a pantry box. And just offer different sizes of boxes based on the amount that you could do." So we have a $250 box, a 500 box, a 750, 1,000 box. I think we went up. We just kept adding because people kept buying. I think we ended up with a $2500 box maybe of jerky. That's a lot of jerky. 100 pounds of jerky or something.

Brett:

Never would've happened pre-pandemic, I wouldn't think. Once in a blue moon.

Jon MacDonald:

No. But I think all different types of brands. Your jerky's a pretty obvious one because it's shelf stable. But we found it with a lot of brands where average order values were going way up. And if you're not taking advantage of that, you're really doing yourself a disservice. And now, they've got a whole new product line that does extremely well for them and these pantry boxes. Average order values have just continued to go up because more people were saying, "Oh, well. It's kind of a pain in the butt to have to put $250 of product in my cart and search through everything. I'll just take the best of kit and the pantry box that you think I should try."

Brett:

Awesome. What a good insight. So quantities that people are ordering are going up. So two things to keep in mind there. We touched on it, but just to highlight them again. How do you make the shopping easier, the principle of the value meals at fast food restaurants where part of that working which is people being able to say, "I just want number one. I could look at all these, I could combine things. But just number one. That's all I want."

Jon MacDonald:

The simplicity.

Brett:

Simplicity. Exactly. So making it simple, making it easier for the shopper, but also easier for you to fulfill. So if you can combine those two things, man, those are real wins.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. Increase your margins and your average value and you've got a real exponential growth opportunity.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. Any other shopping trends, behavioral trends that you've seen that have either come directly from the pandemic or maybe they've been happening anyway and you're seeing them now?

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. Less of a concern about free shipping. And maybe that's not the right way to put it. Less of a concern about quick shipping that is free. Let's put it that way. Consumers still want free shipping. It's a value they've been trained. They're not willing to give that up. I think that that still should be an option.

Jon MacDonald:

There's a lot of tools out there right now that can help you take advantage of that. That can do things like where I've noticed this a lot on Google lately where they have the free two-day shipping badges. And it's really only for people who are within a two-day shipping range based on standard shipping.

Jon MacDonald:

So Google knows your location when you're doing the search. And if you're within a zip code perhaps that is within two-day range of that product, then it will put the free two-day shipping badge up there. Great option. But what it is, is consumers still want that free shipping but they're willing to wait for the product.

Jon MacDonald:

I think people are getting more reasonable about that. And that's been a good trend and good shift for most brands. A part of that, I think, was led by Amazon not being able to fulfill everything for two days for three months.

Brett:

We saw this a lot. So we have a lot of clients that sew on Amazon and off Amazon. We've typically been managing their Amazon ads, and then YouTube, and Google and stuff. What we saw with a few clients, once Amazon said, "Hey. We're delaying shipments of all non-essentials," we saw search volume go up on their .com sites for product and two-day shipping. Or even their search query report in Google Ads, people searching for their product and two-day shipping. Like, "Well, I can't get it for three weeks says Amazon. So now I'll go and I don't mind pay a little bit in shipping."

Brett:

I think you're 100% right. People have gotten a little more realistic about, "Hey. I'm just happy to get this product at this moment. And so I'll endure a little bit longer ship time or pay a little bit." I do think we're creatures of habit. We have short memories so likely we'll get back to... I don't think you can take that lesson and say, "Oh, cool. Just charge a lot for shipping and it'll all be fine forever." Probably not. Maybe in some cases. People get used to that free shipping again. But for now, you got a little bit of a ..

Jon MacDonald:

And again, we've still seen this trend continue where you need to have a free shipping option. But it could be a five-day option and people will be okay with that. A two-week option might be a problem. But a five-day option, not a problem. And then allow them to pay the difference to get if they need it overnight or two days.

Brett:

Love that.

Jon MacDonald:

People are okay with that. And I think that's where it's become a little more reasonable.

Brett:

Cool. Any surprise optimizations or changes? I think that the quantity stuff we just talked about was super interesting. But any other wins or optimizations like that that you've seen working recently?

Jon MacDonald:

SMS has really been working well. Text options, we've seen that just skyrocket in the past few months.

Brett:

And where are you seeing the SMS options inserted? So pre-purchase? Or during the checkout process? How's that being used?

Jon MacDonald:

In three different places, actually. We've had a lot of success testing. The first is pre-purchase where instead of signing up for emails, if you really are engaged with a brand, you're going to buy in the short-term, a lot of people will put in their text message. Or get a text message and put it in their cell phone. And there's a lot less spam happening there and they know that it's more regulated right now. And they can just reply "stop" and stop it at any time. So generally that's pretty good.

Jon MacDonald:

We're seeing huge conversion rates on SMS right now, which is great. And then in checkout, we're seeing a ton of people provide their phone number as a way to get shipping updates. Because they can't go anywhere. They're home. They're waiting for that product. They know it's going to be a delayed shipping, perhaps. So they really want to stay up to date on it. So we're seeing that. And I don't know if you saw Shopify did. Brought in their new app.

Brett:

Got the app.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's pretty cool.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, it's great. It's really based around having all your orders in one place and being able to track those. And they used to have something, I think they called it Arrive. And they brought it into shop. So we're seeing a lot of people take advantage of that, which is great. And you build out a richer profile so now you have that text message opportunity when you run a flash sale or you want to just really slice and target your audience of shoppers. You can go to your highest profile, best customers with the best lifetime value, and say, "Here's a special deal just for you," and send them a text. Most people are going to be okay with that as long as you don't abuse it.

Brett:

And I think one thing to chime in on the value of getting text updates on shipping and things like that. And then one of the values of the shop app. And I think Chuck has some pretty big plans for that app. Even on the product discovery side and some other things on the roadmap. But there's just something about... and especially if experience times where shipments are delayed. So in the heat of the lockdowns when everything was being ordered online and things really slowed down, just getting those updates makes a big difference.

Brett:

I think if you make a quick offline comparison of... Think about the times you go into a restaurant and there's a bit of a wait, the table is a bit of a wait, and no one comes by to say anything to you. It feels like an eternity. It feels like you've been forgotten. It just feels awful.

Brett:

Where someone just checks in with you. Just says, "Hey. We've got this coming up. It's going to be just a few more minutes." Just giving you updates, caring for you a little bit, it changes the whole experience. You still maybe got your meal at the same time. You still maybe got your product at the same time. But just that check in removes anxiety and just improves ..

Jon MacDonald:

And there's good opportunity there to build more brand awareness. Let them know about, "You bought this product. Here's something you might like." Or even along those lines of, "You just bought this product. Here is the manual for this technical product that you should really check out. Here's a quick start." Something like that.

Jon MacDonald:

I have a three and a half, four-year-old at home. And we bought him a bike and it came back with... We ordered it. Got an email a couple days later. It said, "Hey. We processed and shipped it. Just want to make sure you know that there's some assembly required. Here's the tools you're going to need and here's the one sheet instructions. And if you have any questions, you can ask us now before the bike arrives."

Jon MacDonald:

And it was awesome. I've never seen anyone do that before and I was shocked. I was like, "Why has nobody done this?" It's so simple. It just makes me feel even more like the brand cares for me, they're looking at for me, and they've made my life more simple. And they know I have a kid at home and I don't have a lot of time to put a bike together. And so it works out really well for everybody.

Brett:

Yeah. And it made that process then once you got the bike, your enjoyment of it was a lot better. Because, A, you knew you were going to have to put some stuff together. B, you knew what to do already. So it just made that arrival time more fun. Because we also had that experience, at least for guys like me because I'm actually not that good at building stuff and putting stuff together. I build companies. Can't build furniture.

Jon MacDonald:

Very different skillset.

Brett:

It's like you get home and you're so excited about it. And you're like, "Oh, crap. I need help." And so then you're almost disappointed because of the work that you have to do. But if you know what you're going to have to do and how to do it, now the whole experience is better. But such a simple thing. And you're right, nobody does that.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, yeah. And so the third in terms of what most of us are seeing, a lot of adoption is post-purchase. And what I mean by that is like subscription products. It's working extremely well to say, "Hey. It's been a month. You're probably out of the product. Do you want a refill?" And one brand that does this really well is Hydrant. I don't know if you're familiar with them, but they are a powder that is basically powdered Gatorade. They probably would hate me for saying that. But you put it in water.

Brett:

Mental picture what that is, right?

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, right.

Brett:

Way better than Gatorade, I'm sure. It says Hydrant.

Jon MacDonald:

It doesn't have any of the coloring or any of the other stuff in it. And I love it. It's super hydrating. It has ingredients in it that help your body absorb the water instead of just passing it through. And so it came out of the Philadelphia 76ers Innovation Lab in the NBA.

Brett:

Nice.

Jon MacDonald:

Which is really cool.

Brett:

No idea that existed, and I'm an NBA guy.

Jon MacDonald:

.. before this. Yeah, yeah. And so really interesting there. I've subscribed to their products. And I get a text message every month that says, "Hey. It's been a month. Are you running low?" And then it's like, "Yes or no?" I just, "Yes." "Would you like us to send you another order of your same order?" "Yes." "Charged your card ending in these four numbers. You're good to go. Will be there in X amount of time." That's all you have to do.

Brett:

Let me try and understand this. So you're already subscribing?

Jon MacDonald:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett:

But it's asking you if you need extra? Just in case.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. So the way that-

Brett:

.. that buffer. Or that extra product.

Jon MacDonald:

Definitely that. But the way that they do it is they send you an email notification about a week before it would ship. And so this text comes about the same time. And you can pause or you can delay. And if you say, "I don't need more right now," it says, "Would you like us to remind you in two weeks?" And so you have these options like that that are really great. And it's still convenient, right?

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think they could work... So give you an example. I'm a fan of Magic Spoon. So it's an ungrain, Keto friendly... I'm not on a Keto diet. But Keto friendly, protein-rich cereal. I love cereal. I could eat cereal all the time. But I mainly quit because I'm getting 40-years-old. I don't want to get fat. Things like that.

Jon MacDonald:

Because the sugar, yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, tons of sugar and stuff. So I subscribed to Magic Spoon. It's fantastic. Now some of my kids like to eat it so I get a four pack and maybe an eight pack that I get once a month. But I sometimes will still run low. I've gone and bought another four pack a couple times. But if they were to text me, if they would check in with me and say, "Hey, are you getting low," I guarantee you I would order more through that. So that's a really smart feature. What tools do you recommend for SMS messaging or do you guys have a proprietary tool for that?

Jon MacDonald:

We don't have a propietary tool. We generally use third party tool sets for that. Klaviyo has some really good stuff built in now with SMS. Privy came up with a great SMS tool. There's several others out there. The industry has just blown up recently. But it's something to definitely check out. Based on your market and automation platform and what you're also doing because you want it to integrate with your CRM. And so that's going to be the big key there. Most of those automation workflows need to be set up through your CRM.

Brett:

Yeah, because when it is set up through CRM now you know something about the customer. You can do a really relevant text message. Because nothing will get an unsubscribe quicker, get that stop message your way than an irrelevant text.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, exactly.

Brett:

That's awesome. Let's talk about how to deal with out of stock products. I think this is mostly getting better for a lot of companies. Factories are back online in China, for sure. Mostly in other parts of the world as well. But still, inventory issues could be the norm for at least a certain percentage of SKUs for a while. What are some recommendations you have for dealing with out of stock products?

Jon MacDonald:

Well, I think we saw this really horrible... I don't know how to better put it. There's no way to sugarcoat it. This really bad trend of people just deleting their product detail pages when the product was out of stock. And I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Why would you... You're ruining your SEO. All this effort you've put in. And then maybe you still have some rogue ads you're running, or if you didn't tell your ads partner."

Jon MacDonald:

There's just so many bad things they can come up this. Not alone just the opportunity to continue to sell by collecting an email address or even a phone number, like we just talked about too. Really just let people know it's back in stock. And I think it's going to be really important to make it feel like a special experience. Sign up to be notified. Join the wait list. But there's ways to do it where it more feels like you're joining a club.

Jon MacDonald:

And I think that's really important; is to make feel special. They're going to be the first to know. We work with a brand called Snow Peak. And they're a Japanese camping brand, really high end luxury equipment. And it's really interesting because we put this up on the site just to be the first to know because they kept selling out of products. They'd do limited runs. They would sell out and then people come to the site and couldn't get the products. They'd be upset.

Jon MacDonald:

So what we did is we used it to help build a case for when they should reorder. And then we said, "You'll be the first to know when it comes back in." Well, it got so popular what kept happening was people were signing up for this, they would sell out the next batch they ordered before they could even put it back up on the site. So now it became a whole thing where if you wanted these products, that was the only way to get it. And consumers started to recognize that.

Brett:

Bringing people to really be on the ball, and be notified, and then take action quickly.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah. Yeah, and it worked out really, really well for them. But I think brands also need to be really clear about when things are coming back in stock. So I've had a horrible experience lately with B&H Photo. I'll just call them out. I was hesitant to do it, but they're a big company. I'll call them out. B&H Photo. Ordered some equipment. I've been doing these podcast interviews three or four a week now. And so I wanted a couple of different cameras set ups and light set ups and stuff. Get some quality up there. Ordered a couple set ups from them. And one of the products has been back ordered for 60 days now.

Brett:

Wow.

Jon MacDonald:

And they keep emailing me, "Hey. It's coming back in stock next week. We'll let you know when it ships." And then, I'm like, "Okay. Great. I'll wait another week. And then I get an email that whenever it's supposed to ship, "Wanted to let you know the product's still out of stock. We don't know when it's coming back yet." And so it just becomes really, really frustrating time and again. This is top of mind because I literally just checked Amazon today. The products are there and they're going to ship in three weeks. And I said, "At least I know Amazon isn't going to mess with me on that."

Brett:

Yep, yep.

Jon MacDonald:

So I canceled my order at B&H and I just ordered it off Amazon. And Amazon's even been giving me specific dates it's going to come in right when I ordered it.

Brett:

Amazon hits those too. Amazon, if anything, they're going to be early. But they've got their logistics down. Or if they give you a date or day range, you're going to get it.

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, and I feel like you get product before a lot of other people because of their volume. But it's just one of those things where if you are not very clear about the expected return date, you're going to have problems. So that's something to think about there. And then it's a good opportunity as well to share related products, of course. So if you like this product and it's out of stock, maybe you like this other product. I think a lot of brands aren't doing that. It's such an easy win. It could be almost anything. Short sleeve shirt over that long sleeve shirt that you were going to buy. Any of that kind of stuff.

Brett:

Maybe it's the upgraded version of the product you're looking at, or the downgraded version. Or, "Hey. Need it fast? Get upgraded this product and here's a discount." We have an automotive client. They sell different automotive accessories. And a lot of what they have is good, better, best with a similar product. And so they were running out of the mid grade, the better that's usually .. So they're running out of stock of that and it's going to be a little while. So they're pushing the best, but with a slight discount. Saying, "Hey. Right now we're giving you a discount on the best."

Brett:

So yeah, I think just shifting the way you present it. And I love the example of the Japanese outdoor product company. Where, "Hey. Be the first to know." And then if you train customers, you totally turn that into a win. We see that with a skincare brand we work with and several others where you can get customers to really .. So we've got a client with a beard product company. And when they launch a new product, they sell out every time. Every single time. They designed it that, or they want that to happen, which is a good thing. And then you train people to be like, "Hey. As soon as I get the notification of the watch, I'm buying so that I get the product."

Jon MacDonald:

Yeah, that's great.

Brett:

Yeah. I want to underscore, we said too about deleting product detail page. Hopefully people listening are not doing that. Remember back in the day we used to do a lot of SEO consulting. We sold that side of our business just because everything else was growing so fast. But I worked with this large dress seller and they would delete. That's what they would do.

Brett:

They would just delete because they would get frustrated clients clicking on a dress that was out of stock. And they didn't realize they were getting a ton of visitors from Google images. They were also images. But that's the way a lot of people shop for dresses. And there's some too where people will find the product in Google images and then end up at your site.

Brett:

So they were seeing this just steady decline in SEO traffic, and we identified it. It's like, "Hey. It's because of these images and these queries. Let's get these images back up. Let's get these product detail pages back up, shift them to a new product." Lots of stuff to consider there as well. That's fantastic. Any other CRO tips that you would give that are just super relevant for right now?

Jon MacDonald:

Man, we've covered a lot, haven't we?

Brett:

We've covered a lot, man. Fantastic, yeah.

Jon MacDonald:

I think that right now it's really I think just focusing on your highest value customers is really going to be key. Don't forget the people who've been loyal to you for years, that have huge customer lifetime values. Make them feel special right now because the worst thing that you could possibly do is take a brand advocate like that at a time like this and ship something to a brand new customer first. And then you end up losing that lifetime customer.

Brett:

Possibly.

Jon MacDonald:

So really make sure that you're focusing on that. We've been preaching that with our clients. And again, that's where the more information you have in your CRM, the better off you can be in those situations.

Brett:

Love that, love that. Jon MacDonald, delivering the goods. Unintended on that. But this has been fantastic. Really appreciate it. Jon, where can people learn more about you and about The Good? And also, you got some resources, man. You guys got some fantastic articles and resources. So how can people learn more?

Jon MacDonald:

Thank you. Yeah, thegood.com. T-H-E G-O-O-D.com is where you can learn more about The Good and sign up for our insights. If you just click on insights in the top navigation, you can sign up to get our weekly email there where you're the first to hear about new articles that we write. It's never a sales pitch. It's just helpful content each month, as you mentioned. And if want to get ahold of me, just email me directly. I try to read every email. It's Jon, J-O-N, @thegood.com.

Brett:

Awesome. I will link to all of that in the show notes as well. So you can check that out at omgcommerce.come and look at the blog section. So you can check it out there. Or you can also Google Jon. You'll find him. J-O-N MacDonald, M-A-C-D-O-N-A-L-D. So check that out. Jon, man, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time. Really, really enjoyed it.

Jon MacDonald:

Thanks for having me. It was a great chat.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. So as always, we'd love to hear from you. As a listener, what would you like to hear more of? What topics, suggestions would you like to hear less of? We'll take that as well. And also, love that review on iTunes. That helps with people find the show, makes me feel good, lets me know that you love the show and love what we're doing. And so we love that iTunes review as well. With that, until next time. Thank you.





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