Joris Bryon, founder of the Dexter Agency, is passionate about helping eCommerce business owners grow methodically using almost “scientific” methods.
In the first episode with Joris, we talked about a potential untapped goldmine for eCommerce businesses: converting more of your current traffic to boost profits instead of buying additional traffic, which gets very expensive – especially these days.
In today’s conversation, we focus on how exactly to do that by creating and executing a conversion optimization plan that encompasses the overall user experience, checkout process, landing pages, marketing campaigns, and more.
Tune in to find out…
- Top conversion killers to watch out for
- The right way to test (most people get it wrong)
- What you should never let your web developer be in charge of
- The best ways to collect key data from real users
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst.
Today we’re going to talk about conversion rate optimization. Here to speak with me about the topic is Joris Bryon who is the co-founder of Dexter Agency, a remote team of conversion optimization specialists. Dexter serves high-revenue eCommerce stores and helps them generate continuous growth. Joris is also the author of Kill Your Conversion Killers, an extensive guide to eCommerce conversion optimization.
Today we’re continuing our conversation about conversion rate optimization. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the first episode on conversion optimization, make sure to check it out. I’m happy to welcome back Joris Bryon, who is the co-founder of Dexter Agency, a remote team of conversion optimization specialists. Dexter serves high revenue eCommerce stores and helps them generate continuous growth. Joris is also the author of Kill Your Conversion Killers, an extensive guide to eCommerce conversion optimization. Joris, welcome back.
Joris Bryon: Hi Steffen. Great to be back.
Steffen Horst: Well, last time, we talked about what conversion optimization is. And you actually mentioned that you don’t use the word conversion optimization because it kind of is a little bit misleading. You like the term more continuous revenue optimization. We talked about why it is important to eCommerce businesses, what conversion goals can be improved, and more. Today we’re going to talk about how to build and test and optimization plan, how to improve user experience, optimize your funnel and more. Let’s dive into it. Joris, if you had an eCommerce store, and you’re looking into how to get more out of your current media investment in the form of optimizing how your site works, increasing your conversion rate as one point, where would you start?
Joris Bryon: Depends on how much traffic I have on on the eCommerce. But let’s say we have a decent amount of traffic, all right? So I think I’d start with Google Analytics. Because basically, the question you try to answer first is where am I losing money? Or where do I have problems on my site? So that’s where Google Analytics comes in. And Google Analytics is a great tool, but it’s really great to answer the question. One of the other questions is why, but that’s harder to answer.
Anyway, so I would start with Google Analytics, and one of the first things I probably check is sites peed. Now, site speed is one of those, yeah, I’d say hidden conversion killers, but it’s not so hidden. I think a lot of sites lose a lot of money because their site is too slow. And so check the site speed, but don’t check it overall, look at speed per page type. So look at how your product pages in general, how fast they are or how slow they are, your category pages, of course, you can look at the individual pages as well. But typically you’ll find stuff on a page template level that you can fix.
And then it applies immediately to all your category pages on all your product pages and that’s a lot more interesting, of course. So look at your site speed. And then one of the other things I would look at is your funnel, your checkout funnel, so look at where people drop off, where they drop off, let’s not call it massively, but maybe a bit too much. It’s normal that people drop off at some point in the checkout world. Some people show properties, but look at where exactly, it seems a little bit too high. And that if you can improve those dropout rates, then usually you’re going to see a pretty quick impact on your revenue. So that’s another place I would start, and then an Analytics, I would also look at landing pages and see which ones have a very high bounce rate.
And again, you could do that at a template level, like all your product pages, or all your category pages. But you could also do that on an individual page level. And of course, the bounce rate is just one metric. You can also look at your conversion rate, but the bounce rate could be due to a number of factors. It could be because your page is loading too slowly, could also be because there’s a mismatch with your campaigns which may help you find problems with your campaigns that you can optimize and save some money over there. But if you can optimize those high-traffic landing pages, with a high bounce rate, that’s typically also one of the good places to start. I mean, we can talk for hours about Google Analytics. But those are probably the first ones I would check in Google Analytics.
When I have an idea of where those problems are, then it’s time for the why question. And the why question, you will need some other research methods. Now, interesting things are click maps and scroll maps. That’s always interesting. You could look, of course, you can go to your site yourself as well. Use a couple of criteria when you do that. Look at clarity, for instance. So look at anything that it might be unclear because clarity usually is one of the biggest conversion killers If something is not clear to your visitor, they are just not able to convert. One of the typical examples I think is when you want to book a holiday villa, for instance, and you only see two pictures, it’s not clear to you how for instance, the bathroom looks like. You’re not going to cook because you don’t it’s not clear to You so clarity can be pictures, it could also be content. So look at your site and evaluate clarity, evaluate friction. So how many things might cause frustration and create friction basically?
Also, look at things like relevance. How relevant is this information here on this particular page? A distraction is not a big conversion code, look at are there any distracting elements that can be removed or don’t really add to, add value to the page. So that’s another thing. So that’s more looking for the why. So it’s you going over the site. It’s not perfect, but it definitely is better than not doing anything. And you could look at forms and typically in check out you can have some problems. Forms usually are full of, let me turn it around. So let’s say forms, usually are made by developers, not by marketeers. I think forms should be the main priority of marketers.
Or if I would run an eCommerce, I would not leave it over to a developer, because they think very, well, let’s make this form. And they don’t think like, don’t always think like a customer and or like a marketer. So forms are essential. An essential step in your checkout. And you have to make sure that it works correctly, that you don’t ask too much information that everything is really clear that error messages are clear because people are so close to that transaction, that anything that happens will make them drop off. And I like to say like, default, the default behavior of I think you have to get up, Steffen. Anyway, the default behavior of people usually is not to take action. So anything, any reason that you give them not to take action, they will be happy about it.
They will just yeah, so they will just drop off. And if you do that in the checkout in the form, then yeah, then that’s going to be problems. So definitely look at your forms in our forum analysis tools out there that you can use. And one other thing that I certainly would do is do user testing and really try to understand how people are struggling on my side. You could do a bunch more stuff, you could look at your live chat if you have a live chat. And that’s also one of the things that I would definitely set up. It’s really so that I have direct contact and really understand what kind of questions people have, what kind of beaches people run into problems.
So that is because every question people ask you, you can use that. You can use it to add some extra content to your site. To make stuff clearer, to add information that they actually lead to conversions. So that’s where I would start is really looking at Google Analytics and then a lot of more qualitative research methods to understand why people are dropping off or not going to on the pages that are discovered in Google Analytics.
Steffen: So in the first episode, you also mentioned user testing. Obviously, when you don’t have enough data available, it’s not a break. So basically, you can still do conversion testing. Do you have some good ideas or some good suggestions on where people can find, or where eCommerce store owners can find people that go through that user experience? Are there specific sources online? Where people can get these people?
Joris: Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah, we typically use platforms that have, yeah, just a bunch of regular people who try to make an extra buck by doing those user tests. And so what you do is you sign up for an account at, for instance, usertesting.com is probably the biggest one out there. Now if you sign up for an account there, you pay per tester that you want to recruit. So and it goes very, very fast. So you just add a couple of assignments.
So you say, for instance, look for this particular problem, the product on my site and then you give them five, six assignments usually, and then they have to do it. They have to do it, they do it and they get a screen most of them doing it and they have to comment out loud and see what they think where they run into what they think of your site. And that is usually very valuable information. So you sign up for a usertesting.com account. There are others out there as well but I think that’s Yeah, that’s a good place to start.
Steffen: Your book is called Kill Your Conversion Killers. And at the end of the last episode, we talked about that, you know, there is not really a plan, like a fixed plan that you can just use and then you will be happy because all the problems are solved. But are there specific conversion killers you saw again and again? And if so, what are those?
Joris: Yeah, although it’s not always like 100%. I mean, basically, you should test everything we talked about last time, but I believe it was a currency symbol on the product page and category pages where it worked for one client and it was a loser for the other clients. And it didn’t move the needle for another client. So but one of the things I typically see is on the homepage is a lack of a value proposition. And that’s one of the things that when we test this as well, adding your value proposition, it almost always wins. Not always, I believe we had the last ones or so. But then you keep going because you should test another value proposition because usually, it works in the end. And what it means is that when people land on your sites that they in five seconds, they should understand why they should stay on your site and what your site is all about.
And I’m still amazed till today is that like 90% of the sites, there is no value proposition. You land on the site sometimes very randomly you, it might be that you Google actively for something and but it could also be that you click on someone’s link somewhere and then you land on the site and you don’t really know what it is they do or what they sell. And what really pisses me off then is then within five seconds, I get a pop up saying, hey, do you want 10% off and I’m like, I don’t even know what you sell. And so yeah, make it very clear when people land on your homepage, what it is that you do and why they should buy from you and not your competitor. And that’s one typical conversion killer on a category page, on a homepage rather. On a category page, for instance. One of the things I see happen a lot is on mobile because they make the site responsive, they’re like, Oh, we don’t have much space. So we need to remove some elements.
Now, what they sometimes do is remove the filter options and sorting options on a category page. That doesn’t really make sense because people on mobile, have a totally different mindset than on desktop. On the desktop, removing the filters and sorting options. I’m not saying it’s going to work better. It’s not, but it’s going to work better than removing it on mobile because on mobile people are very task-oriented. So they want to accomplish the task. They want to find the product they want to buy as quickly as possible. And what does removing your filters and sorting options do? It makes them, it makes it harder for them, so they cannot accomplish the task that they came to the site for in the first place. So that’s one of the things that I see often is like, Oh, we don’t have enough space and they optimize it for the screen, but they don’t optimize it for the user behavior and that’s the typical one on a category page, for instance. What else? Yeah, I mean, those are typical ones. And then there’s, I’m very hesitant to say like, you should always do this kind of stuff. But I think if those two are real typical ones, yeah.
Steffen: We started off this conversation today by talking about where people should start their kind of journey at work when it comes to conversion optimization. You mentioned you know, going to Google Analytics, look at site speed, look at landing pages, which pages have high bounce rate, do user testing so that you get real feedback on how people navigate your site, whether they identify or hit some hurdles that prevent them from moving on. Now that you collected all that information, how do you go about building and testing and optimization plan?
How Do You Build A CRO Plan?
Joris: Yeah, right. That’s a good question. So if you have done the research, right you’ll discover probably like 100 or maybe even 200 things that you’re like, hmm, this may be a problem. You’re not always going to be 100% sure, because that’s where testing comes in is to make sure that that you Yeah, that you’re sure. But so there’s gonna be stuff that you can just execute, you can just implement it. And because it’s so obvious like site speed. That’s not something you have to test, right? You just, yeah, you just do it, you fix it, you make your site faster. But then there’s going to be a bunch of stuff where you’re not sure and you think it’s problem, but maybe there are different solutions also to that problem.
So you’ll have to test out which is, if it is a problem in the first place, and then which solution works best for you. So that’s it. So the way I would recommend doing it is to make like one big spreadsheet and if you’re not a spreadsheet type of person, I can highly recommend Effective Experiments which is a tool specifically made for conversion optimization, where you can put in all your test IDs, and it really helps you to keep it in good flow. And it’s a project management tool specifically for business. And but you can start off in a spreadsheet, where you have all those ideas. Now, what you do next is you score those ideas. We give them a first rough score of one to five usually, so that’s good. You could fine-tune that with models out there, we have the Dexter score that we use.
You could build your own model, there’s an OXI score as well. So there are different methods to look at it. But basically, what you’re trying to do is try to prioritize which test you’re going to do first. Because if you have 100 best ideas, you’re not going to be able to set them all up at once. So you want to set the ones up that have the highest impact first. Yeah, and then the next step is building the tests actually and analyzing them.
Steffen: It’s a little bit like picking the low hanging fruits first, right? You want to, you will be able to identify issues with your site that are glaring. And that might not take that much testing to solve. So start there, before you go to the more complicated where you might have to have several iterations of a test to identify the ideal situation.
Joris: Yeah, right. And there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration. And one of them is development time for instance. We see all the time development teams are, of course, we test for clients. So we solve that problem. But when you do it in house, you’re probably going to have a lot of projects for your developers already and then having some AB test in there as well. That might be tricky. So sometimes you want to factor that in when you calculate a priority score and say like, oh, okay, this test needs only one hour of development. So we’re going to move that up and the priority list because we can set it up quickly and we can get started and create momentum. But sometimes it’s also very political.
That could be one of the factors to take into account as well when you score your test IDs. If the idea comes from CEO, you’re probably not going to want to say to him, Yeah, we’re going to test that and according to our planning, it’s going to be tested in May 2023. That’s not going to work of course. So it’s political, you want to move that one up because the idea came from the CEO, so he is probably passionate about it. So you want to set that up rather yesterday than today so then you give it a higher score. So it really depends on what factors are at play in your company as well. But add a couple of criteria that are important to you as a company and then look at stuff like okay, how short are we based on the research? So is it just a random idea that we came across an expert to review? But actually, we didn’t really see it in Google Analytics on that page, we didn’t really see it and click maps, we didn’t really see it in user testing, well, then they still might be a problem, but it’s, less likely. So try to, you know, give some weights to different factors to determine a final priority score.
Steffen: When people think about conversion optimization, they probably think about more moving an image from left to right on the page, changing an image, change the color of a, you know, of a button, changing color button. Beyond that, what have you guys tested? And ow can conversion optimization, or as you call it, continuous revenue optimization, be done to increase revenue?
Joris: So, yeah, I mean, the smaller stuff. It does work sometimes with the net, to be honest, we’ve never tested a button color. And it may surprise you because that’s a typical test that a lot of people know CRO from. But I well, button colors are pretty easy. And even more when I see a blog post somewhere about, we tested this button color, then I’m like, Oh, this is a very bad source. So if you see that somewhere, don’t trust the blog. They don’t know anything about conversion optimization. Button colors are very simple. It’s, if your predominant color on your side is red, for instance, then a red button will not stand out enough and it’s going to be a green button.
The other way around to your site is predominantly green, your green button is not going to stand out so it’s not going to work as well just choose a contrasting color and you’re done. You don’t have to test that. And that’s the typical question is red or green, which one works best. So don’t follow just blindly those blog posts that you read and say, oh, read were best there. And then you implemented it doesn’t work for you. But anyway, that’s about button colors. There’s so many tests that we’ve run. And sometimes it is in smaller things. Because let’s be honest, when the kind of clients that are ready for or customers or well, or companies that are ready for AB testing, they’ve already come to a point where they, well, they’ve done certain things, right. So it’s not bad data besides that it’s not following any prototypes whatsoever. And then they have to look at incremental increases from the sometimes small stuff. I think like checkouts usually if it’s, that’s a good point to start. I noticed people that think like, oh, one-page Checkout? That’s the best way to go. Because it’s just one page. It makes it easier.
Well, that’s not always the case. I would definitely recommend that unless drop-offs are pretty low, I would definitely recommend testing and one-page checkout against multiple pages check out because sometimes that works better because you break the process up into smaller bits. And it doesn’t feel so overwhelming to users. So that’s one of the most surprising things for some people. Sometimes it’s in really discovering stuff from the research. We’ve tested a couple of times, whenever we see eCart patrons, whenever we see there’s a lot of clicks on the product image in the cart, that means something. Why are people clicking in the cart on that image? What do they expect to happen? Now typically, when an eCommerce when you click on that, it will take you back to the product page. Now they were already in a cart. You don’t want to take them back, you want to move them forward to the checkout. So what, when we see a lot of clicks on an image like that with a quick map, we, one of the test ideas we usually run is to have an image gallery that you have on the product page as well. You have that then on the cart, because the hypothesis behind it is, OK. So they’re clicking on it, probably because they want to be reassured that they are buying the right product.
Because sometimes products look very much alike and it’s a tiny picture they see on the cart page. So, and we’ve had some very significant winners there with that kind of test, but it starts from trying to understand the user and what they are doing and why they are doing it. And also one of the surprising tests that run is making the footer small in carts because in a footer typically has like a bunch of links and you can sign up for the newsletter and there’s a bunch of logos and you can click through to Facebook and whatnot. Then by removing all that clutter in a footer on a cart, which you think is irrelevant, yeah, still worked in a couple of cases. So those are not the typical things that you read about in blog posts. But It usually starts from trying to understand what your visitor is trying to achieve.
Steffen: Increasing revenue, as we mentioned today, and then in last week’s episode, can be achieved by several activities. And even without spending an additional dollar. How would you go about, and I know you know, we’re talking about now might not work for everyone, but in general, how would you go about to increase the average order value for an eCommerce store?
Increasing The Avg. Order Value
Joris: Yeah, that’s a good one. It depends of course on what you’re trying to sell, but there are different ways that you can try to increase the average order value. One of the things that you try, and I recommend testing it, is having if you offer free shipping, offer free shipping on, as of a threshold that is 20% higher than your current average order value. That might lower your conversion rate a little bit. But the uplift in your average order value may make up for that. But again, you have to test it. So that’s one of the things. You could bundle products in a logical bundle, something that really makes sense to your customer. And if you present that bundle that might have an impact on them. It might be like oh, okay, this makes sense. And they buy more than they were coming for. And typically, of course, upsells and cross-sells, and I know those terms are often used interchangeably, but trying to upsell means trying to sell them a more expensive version of the product they were gonna buy.
A cross-sell is selling them something different than what they are buying. So that there’s a different aspect to it. And upsell, for instance, if they’re watching too, while they’re looking at the product page and for certain computer and a computer cost $800. Well, the products that you show under it like the similar items or recommended items, that kind of section, show computers that are only more expensive than the computer they’re looking at because they might buy a more expensive version. So that’s one tactic that you can test. And when it comes to cross-selling, maybe one important note I want to make about that is that a lot of people make the mistake of trying to cross-sell the wrong products. And what I mean by the wrong products is mainly about the wrong pricing.
And the way to remember what you should be doing is thinking of you buy your shirt, don’t cross-sell a suit, cross-sell a tie because if people are spending $50 on a shirt they’re not all of a sudden gonna sell and buy a suit of $300 on top of it. But a tie of $20, yes, you have a chance of selling that. So try to sell something extra, that is a lower value of the item that they’re trying to purchase. Yeah, those are just a couple of product ideas of increasing average order value. By the way about that link, for instance, you have to advertise it as well, of course. So make that really clear, for instance, on a category page, or on a homepage or in your newsletters, that kind of stuff. So those are ways to do it. Another way that you can increase your average order value is with a bounce back email campaign. So basically, people they buy an item and then you send them an email like hey, if you order today, we can, this cheaper item, so a cross-sell item, if you buy that today as well, then we can ship it all at the same time and you add some time to it, so that works. You could even on the thank you page, you could try to cross-sell and all right, because at that time you already, they already bought something.
And there’s an interesting psychological phenomenon when people are buying something they are, you know what they called buyers in heat. So they are very likely to buy again from you at that particular point. So, I think, cross-sell on the thank you page, that could be interesting as well. And there’s a tool like Carthook that you can use, as well with Shopify, where you can actually have this kind of cross-sell sequence after people actually purchase something from you. So that’s a really good way as well to increase your average order value.
Steffen: Interesting. So for me, CRO seems to be something like SEO when it comes to how long should you do it. You know, you’re not going to do an SEO project. You do the audit and then you say, okay, I fixed all the problems. I can put that away and not have to worry about it. You actually have to continuously work on your website to drive additional organic traffic. For CRO, am I right that this is similar? So you need to continuously work on elements of your website and on your purchasing process to continuously move forward and push the needle?
Taking It Slow
Joris: Yeah, absolutely. It’s totally the same as SEO. And I know a lot of people think like, oh, let’s do SEO this month, and then we’re done. That’s not how it works. It’s about testing. And from every test, you learn, and it’s a cycle actually. So if you do run tests, then you will learn from the test results, even if it loses, at least you know that your hypothesis was not right. So and you learn something and that will lead to other test ideas that may be a winner as well. We’ve, yeah, we’ve been testing for more than four years now. And sometimes We’re still discovering winners and still a lot of winners as well. And the idea is that as long as you make more money with AP testing, than it’s costing you, just keep going because it’s making you money. So why would you stop? And things change, right? So some of the functionalities change over time, but also customers change, your products may change. So this, yeah, it’s not because you make some changes today that you’re going to have it still has the best version of your site in two years’ time.
Steffen: So since you need traffic conversions to run conversion optimization, how important is it for the person or the company that does the conversion optimization to work together with the media buying company, or individual at an eCommerce company?
Joris: Yeah, I think it’s when you’re running a business, it’s really important to understand the traffic as well. Where’s traffic coming from? And so that you can understand possible peaks of traffic maybe around Christmas, what kind of campaigns you’re running. And so what kind of promotions are running because they can all have an impact on your AB test. And when you evaluate your Ab test, you have to understand what happened on the traffic side as well. So yeah, you have to, you just have to talk and not work just in your silo. You have to understand all of that.
Steffen: And then probably one of the final questions I have for you is, so we talked about in the first episode about tools and you mentioned convert and some other tools to run AB tests. But are there other tools that you say are important to have, for example, a heat map? So we know that that kind of shows you how people move across the site and what elements they looking at, what elements into acting but more so. Are there any other tools that you would recommend an eCommerce company should use in order to identify hurdles or areas that can be improved?
Joris: Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of tools and we’ve, I think we’ve got a blog post about 70 eCommerce conversion optimization tools. I mean, there’s a bunch of them, but basically, a handful of tools is enough. So Google Analytics, you already have that and if you don’t, yeah, you should get started today with Google Analytics. So that’s one. Hotjar, I definitely recommend Hotjar because it’s so cheap to get started with it. Yeah, just install Hotjar.
Another tool that we use a lot is Formisio for form analysis. You can actually do that with Hotjar as well. Although I find it’s not as good as a specialized tool like Formisio. And I think, yeah, they just, in some kind of transition to a new product. Formisano is two, what was it called Ah, can’t remember the name. Anyway, to transition to a new name, probably at some point, you might get redirected if you Google for Formisio and find it another name there. But anyway doesn’t matter. So those are important tools. So Analytics, Hotjar, Formisio. What else? One of those user testing platforms, that’s an essential tool that you will need as well. So like user testing, for instance. And then the nice to have that is for us, really essential but that’s because we test a lot is Effective Experiments.
That really helps you keep an overview of all the tests that you have. And it’s a great collaboration to know what stage every test is at and where the research ideas come from. And we, now, for instance, we can look at all of the best we ever run, which is over 1000 now and we, I can say like, hey, show me all the tests that one on the product page is where the hypothesis came from click maps. And I get a list of all those ideas, which is, that’s awesome. That’s why one of the reasons why we use a tool like that. But that’s when you are getting really serious about AB testing. I would definitely recommend adding Effective Experiments to your stack. There’s a bunch of more tools out there, but just start out small.
You don’t have to spend too much money on tools just yet. And of course convert this what we recommend for AB testing could be another tool as well, you could start for free with Google Optimize. But yeah, don’t spend too much money on tools yet. I would say spend some money on education first or on hiring great talent or the right agency, because tools in itself and I know we’re all digital marketers, and we all get hung up on tools because we think tools will essentially, yeah, save our lives. But it’s people working with the tools that make the difference. But tools in itself don’t do anything. So I, instead of just having a huge stack of tools, set some money apart for, yeah, for some education. Some training, maybe on conversion optimization, if you want to do it in-house or find a good Freelancer or agency to work with, or an in house person
Steffen: Okay. Joris, thank you for joining me on the Performance Delivered Podcast and sharing your knowledge on conversion rate optimization. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation here. If people want to find out more about you and Dexter Agency, how can they get in touch?
Joris: Yeah, so you can learn more about us on our website, dexter.agency. If you want to get started with learning more about conversion optimization, I think my book Kill Your Conversion Killers is a really good start because it’s hands-on. It’s a shameless plug of my book here. But anyway, I think it’s a pretty hands-on explanation of how you can actually do this yourself. That’s why I’ve written it. And just go to dexter.agency/book. And you can find me on LinkedIn. Just look for Joris Bryon, and yeah there’s one other guy called like that but yeah, there’s only one working for Dexter Agency.
Steffen: Thanks everyone for listening. If you liked the Performance Delivered Podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.