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Episode 35: Designing Your Store for Conversions w/ Wolfpoint Agency CEO Jonathan Murphy

Driving traffic to a bad website is a waste of money. We chat with Wolfpoint Agency CEO Jon Murphy about making your shop's conversion rate as high as possible.

Episode Transcript — Designing Your Store for Conversions w/ Wolfpoint Agency CEO Jonathan Murphy

00:02 Announcer: You're listening to the Spend $10K A Day Podcast, brought to you by the performance marketing experts at MuteSix. This is your source for cutting edge insight into the world of online advertising, from the team with more Facebook case studies in 2016 than any other agency on the planet. Here are your hosts: Steve Weiss and Stewart Anderson.

00:26 Stewart Anderson: Welcome back to the Spend $10K A Day Podcast, I am your host, Stewart Anderson. Today just going solo, Steve Weiss will be back soon for one of our future episodes. We are pleased to be joined by the head of the Wolfpoint Agency in New York, a leading Shopify Plus agency, dedicated creating great websites for Shopify Plus stores, John Murphy, thank you for joining us.

00:50 John Murphy: Thanks for having me, really appreciate you having me on the show. 

00:53 SA: Absolutely. So obviously, what we do on the Facebook Ad side is super valuable for driving traffic, but we wanna make sure that the traffic that we drive is converting well and a big part of, obviously, having high converting traffic is having a high converting website. So John, obviously, there's a lot of things that go into it: Good design, a well-designed check-out flow. Talk to us a little bit about what you're seeing out in the market right now that's really working, some of the trends you're seeing in e-commerce store design that you really like and then, maybe some of the things that you think are either getting stale or aren't working too well.

01:26 JM: Yeah, we work hand in hand with a lot of pay-per-click agencies like Mutesix, and it's kind of an in tandem practice between making sure the website's doing its job when you're working so hard to get that paid traffic over. We see a lot of things that come into play when it comes to conversion rate optimization, and it's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all kind of solution there. I'm gonna go through some best practices that we've seen and we've come across in our vast experience on the subject, but a lot of it is me tweaking it to the specific industries, the specific business, what kind of product you're offering, what kind of pricing and in particular, obviously, the website design comes into a big play there.

02:14 JM: So, I've seen kind of three big components, and the way I like to break it down is: One, the overall website design, the second really being kind of the automated messaging that comes following, so kind of the post-purchase flow or anything that comes into the messaging trigger chart, where your automated messages are going out once people interact in different ways to the website. And beyond that, kind of continue in monitoring the new traffic coming in, the trends that we're seeing in e-commerce in general, as well as constantly refreshing the site for the new traffic coming in. I'm happy to dive into any of these different subjects here, so if you wanna give me a good place to start, I'm happy to roll with it. 

02:57 SA: Yeah, absolutely. I think we'll start with the first point you said. We'll focus on the overall website design. Obviously, the first step I'm assuming in that is analyzing what's going on with the current site and planning from there. You talked to me a little bit about... What are some of the things that if a store owner is considering a redesign, what should they be looking at? What are the specific metrics? How should they be analyzing? What to change or what to keep? What should they be looking at?

03:25 JM: Sure, and I think one place that a lot of people overlook when it's coming in is the capability and the ability to really know how your costumers interact in the site by using heat mapping technology. A lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of site owners will just rely on their Google Analytics, which is absolutely fine and even advanced page traffic analytics, but actually seeing and this is, I'm referring to the screen records that most of these heat mapping softwares use, actually seeing how someone interacts clicking on specific sections.

04:02 JM: People are really, really weird, and we've never found a consistent formula for every single user on the internet. So it really pays off to watch customers flowing through the critical conversion driving pages of a website in screen records, and what we like to do is an initial analysis, where we wanna see at least 1,000 visitors going through the home page, collections page or category page, the product page, and then through to check-out.

04:34 JM: And as part of the home page viewing that we wanna see, one of the critical things really is how they use the navigation and if there's any kinda low hanging fruit, where people are getting caught up or having a problem finding the different items that they're looking for, so we really like to do that initial analysis. I think it's really critical. Some people just wanna dive in and just start making changes, but as much as best practices can guide you, your unique customers and your unique products really make an impact on it. So without seeing that viable customer data, you're kinda just firing blindly in the dark.

05:12 SA: Yeah, no, I completely agree. Obviously, you've probably done a lot of these analyses. What're some of the common threads you might see, what issues are usually sticking out on a lot of these stores you analyze? 

05:25 JM: Yeah, I categorize this first one really as one of the key entrepreneurial problems that I see. Again, it kind of differs by industry, sometimes this does actually pay off, but more often than not, I see entrepreneurs and site owners trying to jam a lot of content-based pages right in the main navigation, so they're taking up a lot of key real estate for things like, the about us, who we are, what our story is, those kind of pages, and then when we actually dive into the analytics and how people are interacting with the site, they get absolutely minimal traffic, like less than a percent of the people coming in are actually clicking on and even if they are clicking on, they're bouncing right off those pages.

06:10 JM: So oftentimes, one of the lowest hanging fruit and that's really the direction we go with conversion rate optimization, we wanna tackle the easy problems first and then we get more nuance. But oftentimes, people are giving away half their main navigation bar on these content pages no one's really clicking on anyway. Again, it's pretty industry specific. If you've only got one or two products and it's a really interesting journey on how to get get there, it may be something that people are looking for, but with big product sites and sites that are selling a lot, it's really all about minimizing the amount of clicks, from when they enter the site to actually when they get to a purchasing decision.

06:48 SA: Yeah, I was actually just having a conversation with somebody yesterday about this. I think one of my pet peeves that I see a lot of Shopify store owners doing especially is they'll have, as you said, several content-based pages taking up that valuable real estate in the nav, they'll have about us, contact us, our story. All these things that are of, you could say I guess, disputable value, especially like a contact us form, throw that in the footer or something like that. And to make room for that, they've actually taken what should be built out across the menu nav and put it in a drop down. So they have shop and then a drop down with categories, it's like you want as much information or as many accessible options that are actual product-focused up in that main navigation without having to click into a drop-down menu. You wanna really use that valuable real estate for stuff that you're selling. So this is something I could not agree more with you on, it's a huge issue I think that plagues a lotta sites. 

07:47 JM: Yeah, and it happens a lot, and I guess where we see this happening the most is when companies and websites will have really grassroots upbringing, where they just had a meaningful impact when they were running their kick starter campaign or really growing from the ground up when they were a single product site, but then they grew into having dozens or hundreds or thousands of products, and they just never removed it. So, we usually get a lot of kinda gasps and shocked reactions when we deliver our analysis and it's like 0.0225% of your traffic is actually clicking on any of these, whereas everyone's having trouble navigating your main bulk shop drop-down and having to click five or six times before they actually find the product that they want. So I'm glad you're seeing the same thing on your end, because you can't really fault the entrepreneur for it, but once they see data it's kinda hard to argue. 

08:45 SA: Yeah, I completely agree. The way I usually explain the concept to people is, I think the "About Us" or "Our Story" is usually where there's the most dispute. It's an ego thing, if you're an entrepreneur, you want people to know the story of how your business got started, it's very important to you. But what you have to understand is it might not be super important to somebody else and unless the story of how the business got started or how the product got built, unless that's an essential part of the sales process, the buyer's journey, you really don't need to give it featured real estate. It just needs to be available somewhere on the site where if somebody's deeply, deeply interested in that, they could find it somewhere. Doesn't necessarily have to be in that main nav.

09:31 JM: Yeah, exactly, and I think it's part of a bigger pervasive problem where content is very important and copy is very important throughout the site, especially for search engine rankings and indexing pages, but people oftentimes try to throw too much content, too much copy at people right off the bat. Like cluttering up their homepage or cluttering up their collections page, I know it used to be critical to the search engine. Rankings of collections page, but it isn't so much anymore. So what we've found is that, exactly what you said, the people that really wanna know that kind of stuff are willing to look around the site a little bit more, it doesn't necessarily have to be front and center, one of those first few options they have to click on.

10:15 SA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean navigation is... When I do a lot of the CRO work and on site experience work, when I consult or run experiments, I actually focus a lot on the navigation. So one of the things I think is pretty interesting that I see more and more sites trying to do is things like mega menus. I'm seeing them more and more. What are your thoughts on that from a user experience standpoint? I admittedly don't have as much data on success or comparison to a traditional menu, but what are you seeing in that space?

10:45 JM: Yeah, we're seeing a big trend towards mega menus in general. I think it's critical to make sure you're the right kinda business that has it. I mean if you are in the territory of having a few hundred or a few thousand or tens of thousands of products, it's definitely becoming a necessity. There's really no other way to effectively show that many products or allow people to kind of... The typical mantra is you want people to be three clicks away from their purchasing decision from when they land on the site. So, if you don't have a navigation that kinda supports that with that many products, you really need to make a shift, and that's what we're... Beyond kind of people take their main nav real estate with unimportant pages or unclicked pages, navigation issues are probably the biggest thing that we... The lowest hanging fruit that we change as kinda first and foremost.

11:41 JM: Takes a little bit of restructuring on the collections and sub-collections side of things usually, but it's well worth it. Getting people to the pages they need, quicker getting them to the products, because what we've found is a lot of times the days of just browsing people's sites are over with, most people are comparison shopping where they have a good idea of what they want unless you're a real lifestyle business that has this huge brand following. So letting people get to the product that they want quicker and cutting down those kind of barriers to entry to getting through content pages and stuff like that, those are the quickest easiest things you can do to up that conversion rate.

12:21 SA: Yeah. I'd really like to get a great sound bite in there about making sure that wherever somebody is on your site, they are always at most three clicks away from being able to make a purchasing decision. That's, for our listeners, that's a huge takeaway to take from this interview, it's a great, great soundbite. My question though is obviously for certain sites, that's very, very doable. Very easy if you have one product or only like a limited catalogue of products you're focused on, maybe you're a single product e-commerce company that had come off of this kickstarter. What do you do if you're a large catalogue e-commerce company, if you're selling dozens, hundreds maybe even thousands of products, what are the things that you can do, maybe it's good search, good sorting and filtering, what are the most effective things people can do to create a good optimized experience for that type of business?

13:14 JM: Yeah, there are a few things, and I think a lot of it starts from that mega menu, and one of the best trends that I've seen is, words on a page only kinda go so far. So what we've seen a lot of people doing is actually tagging the main collections and sub-collections pages within their mega menu with the hottest selling item in that collections. So when they hover over that specific link... Let's just take a HomeGoods store where they typically see hundreds if not thousands of different products, when they're hovering over bedding, it shows, a picture pops up of the most popular product in that bedding category. It takes some tagging on the back end, but it's reinforcing people's mindset that they're, "Okay, I'm on the right sub-collections. This is kind of what I'm looking for." So then that means they're landing on the page, they can find the sub-category, not just the category that they wanna get to really quickly, really easily, that's really just the first click from when they're entering the homepage. 

14:15 JM: Then they're on the collections page, then they have the option to filter things out effectively, which is another big thing we retool on a lot of websites is... Amazon drove the trend of people really being used to especially on large product websites that they can chop out all that excess fat, all those products that they know don't apply to them, especially surrounding pricing rules. If someone's got a pretty hard fast budget for $200-$300, let 'em just chop out that stuff that's above there. And then it's gonna limit their product selection, then the next click really is right on the product listing page, and they're there to add it to the cart or depending on how you have it set up. 

14:58 SA: That sounds great. I love that. Love that 'cause that's something I honestly, and I'm a big believer in things like search, but learning more about properly doing tags, sorting, filtering, it's huge. It's something I probably need to get better at myself as a CRO person. I wanna switch gears a little bit and talk about a huge, huge topic these days. Obviously, mobile has been... I think every year it's like, "This is the year mobile takes over," and it seems like you hear the same things and mobile really is taking over. There's a few different schools of thought on how to approach mobile from a user experience standpoint, from a design standpoint. What does your agency believe is the best way to approach the mobile user experience? Is it responsive design? Is it mobile first? Talk to me a little bit about what is best practices for you guys when developing a store experience for the mobile browser. 

15:51 JM: Yeah, I think what a lot of companies come in and they have this mindset of, "I've got this really complex desktop based design, and I'm really trying to get every little ingrained detail over to my mobile experience," but they're losing what really drives people's traffic patterns and purchasing decisions. Mobile, which is almost at every turn, every case that we've come across, it's simplicity. It's simplicity in the navigation, it's simplicity in being able to effectively search that homepage without having to scroll endlessly through your featured collection sections, and those kind of things. I've noticed really that the mobile first approach is effective for a lot of specific larger product set companies. Oftentimes, we just can't take that same desktop design and translate it over and expect it to be that effective, and I think you brought up a good point. I hear that every year, mobile's taking over, mobile took over. 

16:55 JM: It's there. It's usually 50%-60% of everyone's traffic through what we've seen. We actually have some clients where its 90 plus percent of their traffic already so that, a lot of times, and I'm sure this is your field of expertise, but it depends on the paid traffic they're driving. If they're doing a lot of Facebook mobile advertising, then it's safe to assume they're gonna be driving the majority of traffic there. It's really that kind of ease of use. We were divided on the school of thought of mobile first versus just responsive because in my industry, you're juggling people's upfront cost to do the build versus what they can do, but if the budget allows, you're doing a custom design, then we're always creating new mobile comps that are specific and having people change out imagery. 'Cause you just can't expect the same look that's gonna work on a 15 to 26-inch display to function the same way on a tiny phone screen, and especially with all the different screen sizes out now you just have to, you have to make some sacrifices and you really have to cut out a lot of fat.

18:04 SA: Absolutely, I think we have some very unique kind of insights and approaches that we use for advertising... Doing paid traffic to mobile devices. The user behavior of a mobile visitor and a desktop visitor are very different. And if you know how to and, more importantly, when to drive traffic to these people based on your existing analytics data. Similar to the way that you look at how a site is performing and you're looking at certain areas and how it converts and what the user behavior is around that. We did the same thing actually when we looked at shopper behavior on mobile devices versus desktop devices. When we were measuring our traffic, let's say for a campaign, what we see for a lot of businesses and mobile is converting more. You're seeing more people check out on mobile but still you're seeing a lot of browsing activity on mobile. Especially throughout the day, people on their phones at work, maybe they take a quick break and they shop, and you're seeing a lot of purchase activity during lunch hours or after work hours on a desktop or sometimes a tablet but mostly on a desktop.

19:08 SA: And so we actually, for certain campaigns where we're literally running things at heavy scale and we need even more efficiency than we're already getting, we actually day part ads, so that we're actually showing more mobile traffic during the day to get that cheaper traffic where people are browsing, and then we'll prioritize desktop traffic maybe later in the day. Or we even just do day parting based on the volume of when people are checking out, we won't even necessarily bother too much with devices and things like that. It can get pretty sophisticated, but you have to be like... It takes a lot of... There's a lot of moving parts there obviously, but you can take that same approach as well when you're thinking about designing. Obviously if you wanna be super thorough you can do this, but if you think, "Hey, I wanna build the mobile experience a lot around somebody who's gonna be browsing." And then making sure that the checkout process, I mean make it good on mobile, but make sure that checkout process is air tight on desktop.

20:02 SA: That's something that we've taken from a performance driven standpoint where, we've been trying to build our own stores, building our own checkout funnels. It's probably beyond what most people need to worry about, it's something that... It's one of those things that you really only need to be looking at when you're doing significant scale, but still it's along the lines of all the things that you've been saying today. Which is really think about design not from what you think "looks good" because good is subjective. Plan your design around something that fits your brand, but most importantly fits your user experience. That's what you gotta, I think... That's what we focus on from an ad standpoint. I think that sounds like what you guys focus on as well from a store design standpoint. 

20:46 JM: Yeah, exactly. Every two stores are always gonna function differently just because of the different customers. So that's why not only when we're re-designing from the ground up and we're taking that initial analysis, we really, really encourage people to continue on with CRO after the fact. Just because it's e-commerce, one, the trends are always changing, two, the technology is always changing, especially with platforms like Shopify. They're releasing Shopify Pay soon, which we're all really excited about, where it's gonna let people save their credit card information in, between Shopify stores. And there were released a little while back of Apple Pay, which especially on mobile allows pretty much instant check out capabilities, which has really flipped the script and allowed a lot more possibilities as far as that quick checkout. But it's really important to keep monitoring how people are interacting with the site.

21:44 JM: And when we're working with companies like MuteSix, we're driving different buckets of traffic. It's always important to work in tandem and stay on top of it, because you may have reached a bit of a ceiling with a certain customer group and now you're poking around trying to find new avenues to pull customers to the website. So it's important that from a web design perspective, you know that new traffic that's gonna be coming in. They may have different buying patterns, they may need different catering to their needs. So it's really a never ending battle of just constantly changing the site and improving the site and there's always more work to be done. I know website owners don't wanna hear that, they wanna think that, "Okay, it's perfect. It's gonna be perfect forever, now I can stop spending money on it." But to be quite honest, the game never stops really, of keeping up with trends and keeping up with new people coming to the website.

22:42 JM: It's just something you gotta keep working at and A B testing, looking at... What we like to take the approach every single month is that we're gonna look at your data there, we're gonna compile a new list of changes, however minute they might be. And then we're gonna implement them, we're gonna A B test their effectiveness. If they're not showing positive effects on CRO, we're gonna roll them back, if they are, we're gonna push forward with them. And then it's seeing what's working best and really diving in on that. So, you scratch the surface, something works, you keep pushing with it.

23:14 SA: Yeah, completely agree. Okay, so we have a few minutes left, I wanna give you a chance to, any final thoughts, if you had any parting wisdom for our listeners, they're trying to improve the conversion rates on their stores. What is your final message to them on what they should be doing right now? Something they should be focused on, something they should be looking out for?

23:34 JM: Sure. And then, I'm gonna open a bit of a Pandora's box here, because it can be a deep dive on a subject. But two things I see that are really, really overlooked are the automated messaging on people's sites. They really let things like order confirmation page, confirmation emails, your order has shipped, they really don't utilize those enough and I think a lot of people's mindsets on conversion rate optimization is all about getting that customer to convert for the first time. But people so much overlook the fact that it costs significantly less to get a current customer to actually re-purchase than it does to get a new customer coming in to purchase for the first time.

24:17 JM: So I encourage people, every touch point that you have, no matter how mundane or regular it seems, to try to get in a goal, kind of either promotional aspects, referral programs, loyalty programs, anything that it takes to really get people to re-purchase. I could go on and on about this, but just if I can give you one message to take away from that is, don't just think that the process stops once they make their first purchase. It's actually opening up a whole new door for cheaper re-purchases. And I think it's one of the biggest things that we see when we're coming into a new business that people have neglected and really haven't put any effort towards.

24:57 SA: Awesome. I love that. Couldn't agree more. We do a lot of advertising for retention and existing customers, so I love the points there. John, I also wanna give you a chance to plug Wolfpoint a little bit. We're really appreciative of you joining us today and we'd love to give you a chance to talk a little bit about your agency.

25:16 JM: Great. Great. Yeah, I appreciate it. So yeah, we're Wolfpoint Agency. You can find us at wolfpointagency.com or searching us on the Shops By Experts listing. We really do focus on Shopify and Shopify Plus as our primary avenue there. We don't really just stop at the website design, as you can probably figure out from the segment here. We really like to continue on, continually optimize our clients' websites for conversion. We do automated messaging, email design, that kind of stuff. So just continuing on that funnel, continuing on that lifestyle purchase cycle that doesn't end at that first purchase. So we're here to help you with strategy, web design, and marketing going forward. So I really appreciate you having me on here and letting me say my piece.

26:05 SA: Oh, of course. Of course. We loved having you. And again, this is John Murphy. He's the CEO of the Wolfpoint agency. You can find them at wolfpointagency.com. John, thank you so much for being here. And to our loyal listeners, we appreciate you tuning in for another episode of the Spend $10K A Day Podcast. We will be back again soon with more great Facebook ads and e-commerce content. Thanks for joining us.

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