BigCommerceEcomCrew PodcastEcommerce

Episode 3: Tools and Techniques to Improve Conversions

In today’s episode we’ll be talking about how to modify your conversion for your e-commerce store for your checkout page and cart page to increase your checkout rate.

These are methods we’ve used that have worked on our websites, have been documented, and are essentially fool-proof. We’ll also be uncovering the most common problems made on e-commerce sites, and telling you how to fix them. Here are some other topics we go over:

  • Why conversions are great and why you should focus on them
  • Why you should reconsider how you’re using PayPal at checkout
  • Why it’s important to test your payment methods
  • How to baby-proof your checkout to get your conversions up
  • How to eliminate distractions on your website

If you’ve ever wondered how your customers interact with your website, we’ll be talking about the different kinds of software and tools you can use to gain information that will help you improve your traffic. We also go in depth on each method we’ve used to gain much higher percentage of both traffic and conversions. Some other things you’ll be learning today include:

  • How to reassure your customers that your checkout page is safe
  • How to do a split test with our favorite tool
  • How to use up-sales to boost revenue
  • How to capture users so they don’t leave your site quite so soon  
  • How to analyze your traffic data to improve your website’s experience

Links and software discussed:

In the next few weeks we’ll be starting a brand-new segment where you could win a free one hour analysis of your website (that we usually charge hundreds of dollars for as consultants). What we´ll do is look through a bunch of requests, pick an interesting website, talk about it on the podcast, interview the person and give them our expert analysis. Besides that we will be sure to promote it as well in an effort to increase the person’s e-com conversions and business in the weeks to come. This is a great opportunity, so if you want to be considered, head over to and fill out our contact form.

Make sure to check back next Tuesday for another great episode, where we’ll be bringing back our segment “Websites to Evaluate and Buy.” You can also stay tuned through our blog posts.

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes and sign up for our newsletter at if you haven’t already. Enjoy the show!

Full Podcast Audio Transcription

Mike: Hi, this is Mike Jackness with Ecom Crew, along with my cohost, Grant Yuan. We have a pretty cool topic to talk about this week. We’re going to be talking about how to modify your conversion for your Ecommerce store for your checkout page and cart page to increase your checkout by up to 30%. We’ll be talking about actionable items that we actually did ourselves on our own websites. We actually have some blog posts on It’s a two-part series about the conversion things that we’ve done. We’ll be talking about that on this week’s episode. Stay tuned for more information.
Intro: Welcome to the Ecom Crew podcast with your hosts, Mike Jackness and Grant Yuan. Here you will learn the lessons, tips, and tricks that these Ecommerce pros have learned over their years running and growing their very own seven-figure Ecommerce businesses. Each week, we dig into the ins and out of Ecommerce, the truth about affiliate marketing, how to build your own brand and sell on Amazon, and how we’ve stumbled and then quickly rose to success. The world of Ecommerce is changing rapidly, and here you’ll find the trusted resources you need to take your business to the next level. All right, enough of the fluff. Let’s get over to your hosts, Mike Jackness and Grant Yuan.
Grant: Hey everybody. Grant here from Ecom Crew and today, like Mike said, we’ve got a really wonderful topic and that’s going to be conversions. And why are conversions great? Because everybody can improve your conversions. It’s not a mystical science. There’s a lot of data out there and its’ readily available for everybody.

So it’s one of the tools in your toolbox that you’ll be able to really use to get more money, which is what everybody wants at the end of the day. Really quick reason on why focus on conversions, well, other than the reason that it makes money, is that it’s actually pretty easy. And you can always be improving your conversion of course, but the reality is if you are operating at let’s say the industry average of 2% conversion rate, if you can improve your conversion by just 1%, you’ve got 50% more sales.
The other way that you increase to 50% more sales is to improve your traffic by 50% and that’s not easy. If you’re doing PPC, you’re going to paying a whole lot more and you’re not really going to be getting that much more out of it unless you’ve got, you know, really good ratios on your return on ad spend, and if you’re trying to get traffic organically, that’s a difficult thing too. So conversion is a great way that you can improve your bottom-line revenue, top-line revenue, and make yourself happy.
Mike: Agreed, and I mean without repeating exactly what you said because I think it’s incredibly important, you know, it’s so much easier to increase your conversions and there’s always so much you can do. I mean eventually, you’ll squeeze out everything that you can and that’s, you know, a great problem to have but if you are able to increase your conversions like Grant said by 50%, which is kind of where we ended up now that we fine-tuned everything, it just makes everything so much easier when you’re doing PPC, when you’re doing any type of marketing.

It just reduces your cost by a huge amount and lets you bid on keywords and do things that you might not have otherwise been able to do in the past, you know, raising bids, et cetera, just getting those conversions up. So I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s incredibly important and, you know, a lot of podcasts or blog posts you read just give you fluff on things that don’t really actually make a difference. And we’re going to talk specifically, item by item, of things that we did that worked on our website which we’ve documented.

I’ll give you a little bit of a spoiler alert. You know, in the first 15 days of September, our sales are actually up 67.5% on just based squarely on the things that we did on our conversion rate modifications here by taking, you know, the stock BigCommerce checkout and modifying it. So we’ll get into that. I guess the first thing Grant should probably talk about is just the tools that we use to actually identify the problem. Do you want to kind of get into that real quick?
Grant: Yeah, absolutely. So the main tool that you’re going to always want to be using is going to be some kind of analytics platform, and the standard is really Google Analytics. There is platforms out there that are pretty popular but everyone pretty much knows Google Analytics and it ties in very well to AdWords, Google Shopping.

Just about everybody supports Analytics, so that’s what we use. And in terms of other conversion software, you start getting into different platforms for A/B testing. You can use Optimizely, you can use Visual Website Optimizer, or Crazy Egg. That’s not so much A/B testing as that is heatmap and user clicking. And then for kind of the ultimate in seeing what your customers are doing, you have Inspectlet and you have Hotjar and there’s quite a few others out there, and what those do is that it actually gives you a complete picture, like a video playback of how your customers are using your website.

So if you’ve ever really wondered like, you know, “How is somebody actually clicking through my website?” it’s like you’re sitting there looking over their shoulder and seeing exactly how they do it. And you’d be very, very surprised at how people use your website versus how you think people use your website. And it’s always a pretty big shock and I think Mike can tell you guys a little bit about that too.
Mike: Yeah. I think that you hit the nail on the head, Grant. So an incredibly important topic there, or point, I mean, you know, we testing the living crap out of our own website, you know, and I thought that it looked great and it seemed pretty obvious to me how to checkout and, you know, how to use the website.

I mean of course I buy a lot of stuff online and I’m used to Ecommerce and if something doesn’t go quite right, I’m probably going to be able to figure it out intuitively. But the average person isn’t in that group and after we installed Inspectlet and started watching videos, it was never more clear than that. And I think that that’s why it’s super important. I mean you could assemble, you know, a test group of like 100 people or 1,000 people, get them in a room, try to have them checkout, watch over their shoulder.

Or in our case, it was $79.99 a month for Inspectlet based on our traffic. We were able to install that and the next day, I had videos of people trying to checkout on our website and, you know, as soon as I watched the few first videos, I was like, “Oh my God.”
You know, I just couldn’t believe the way that people were interacting with the checkout and I just wanted to like put my fist through the screen and like strangle somebody kind of thing. I was just, you know, fighting mad because, you know, when you have somebody at your site and they have their wallet open and they’re trying to give you money and they can’t figure out how to do it, there’s probably nothing more frustrating as an Ecommerce store owner than that, and that’s exactly what we uncovered with Inspectlet.
Just a couple real quick tips. What I basically did – Inspectlet has a great search feature and what I did was anyone who hit the cart page, so I just set, you know, there’s not an exact match, but you can set, you know, it has “Includes” basically and so anything that included “cart,” any visitor that included “cart,” I watched every single one of those videos, watched them on the cart paged and now watched them on the checkout page.

And the biggest issue, and it’s kind of an inherent BigCommerce checkout issue, is the way that the screen’s split from the left- and right-hand side where it says like, “I’m a new user,” versus, “I’m a returning user.” And by default, BigCommerce has “Register an Account” versus “Checkout as A Guest” as the default and the focus is set to the right-hand side, which is “I’m a returning user” and then email field where people see the cursor blinking in there because the focus is set there.

That’s a technical term for basically where the cursor is, where your focus on your screen or your mouse is. And, you know, people would start typing in their email address and hit Continue and end up in this like vicious circle of “I can’t checkout,” and just flip out.
Grant: Yeah, it’s really crazy when you’re using technology all the time, and you guys are, I’m sure, a lot like me and Mike. You know, you’ve probably got like one of the most latest and coolest phones, your laptop is probably a powerbook or, you know, you’ve got a dual monitor set up because, you know, you’ve got to have one side doing customer support or checking your email and the other one’s browsing.

But for the most part, everyone else is, you know, on like a Windows tablet or just a plain old laptop running Windows XP that’s 10 years old or something like that running Internet Explorer anywhere from six to nine and they just are not the typical person that you are going to think of when they’re checking out on your website. They’re going to look at a field that says “email” and they’re going to type in email and then they’re going to run into problems. And again, a lot of people can checkout fine. And that’s the thing.
When you’re trying to think about how to squeeze out that extra conversion, you’re really looking to dig and turn over every stone possible, and most people look at that giant stone in front of you where you’re like, “Oh, well, it’s very obvious. You read the instructions right here and that’s how you checkout.” But, you know, every year there’s people that get killed because their car jack fell on their head and, you know, like that should tell you something: people don’t read instructions.

People don’t, you know – even when they’re trying to checkout, people don’t do the right thing. You know, if you’ve ever worked in retail or if you worked in a store, you know, there could be a giant sign on the cashier or at the register that says, “We do not accept checks.” How many people pull out a checkbook? Lots. And there could be a sign, “We don’t take Amex.” How many people are like, “Do you guys take Amex?” It’s like, “Do you see the sign?”
So it’s not really something that you’re trying to blame the person but you’ve got to make it idiot-proof. You’ve got to think it like you’re baby-proofing your checkout. You’ve got to make sure that as, you know, challenged as somebody might be to try to make it through, you’ve got to help them, and that’s how you get your conversion up.
Mike: Yeah and, you know, one of the things that we discovered as a part of this process, it’s a great segue into – you know, it’s one thing if you’re sitting there telling them exactly what the problem is. It’s even worse when your error handling’s broken and, you know, give them – our thing was coming up when there was an error saying “Undefined.” So it’s like, you know, smack your head against the wall even harder.

As it turns out, the script that the Norton SSL certificate uses was conflicting with BigCommerce’s error handling. And again, it was something that we never noticed because we were testing the stuff out and it worked fine for us, but it’s something you need to, like I said, test, test again, and test even more, make sure that even you dumb it down to the lowest common denominator and, you know, there’s a lot of people out there that just don’t get technology, as Grant was saying.
I mean especially with a product like Ice Wraps, where like our average demographic is, you know, people that are using, you know, AOL email addresses kind of demographics and they’re, you know, 60, 70 years old. I mean we get a lot of phone calls from people that just can’t checkout online. They’re like, “I don’t know how to use the online,” you know. But there’s, you know, the people that are just a couple years younger than that that think that they have it or they think that they’re more savvy but they’re really not and it’s incredibly important to just give them as little information as possible at a time and have them click Next as few times as possible.

It’s something that I really wish that BigCommerce would, you know, get on like a one-page checkout. But at least they do break it up into nuggets where it is a little bit easier to comprehend for that other generation. So error handling was the next thing that we really tightened up and really was a huge part of fixing some of our problems. So, Grant, do you want to maybe kind of jump into the next thing that we looked at?
Grant: Yeah, so, like Mike said, error handling and fixing some general steps in the checkout are pretty big. One of the things that I did with Cutting Board is that on the actual checkout itself – and I just want to, you know, put it out there: We’re not trying to pick on BigCommerce or anything, it’s just that, you know, we’ve got two BigCommerce websites. I’ve got one website on Shopify too.
You know, everyone has kind of their little issues but we’re trying to help BigCommerce by figuring out these issues here too and, you know, a lot of you guys might be either on one of the two so we’re going to talk a little bit about both. But on BigCommerce at least, when you get to the step (step four I think it is) for the payment provider, it’ll say on the right side of the screen your order total and your grand total, and then on the left side, it’ll say, you know, what kind of payment do you want to use? And then on the right side, it goes back to the button.
I, you know, can’t even begin to imagine like why that is. That’s like if you’ve ever gone to like a self-checkout and sometimes, you know, you’re punching something in on one side and you’re doing the self-checkout and it goes, “Okay, go over here to go pay.” And you go over here to go pay, then it goes, “Now, you know, walk behind the machine to get your receipt.”

Like that’s pretty much what it’s making you do and you’ll see in self-checkout, a lot of the poorly designed ones, you’ve got a lot of people standing there going, “Uh, how do I pay?” And so that’s kind of the problem here. You’ve got, you know, left, right, left. And like I said, most people are going to get it, but most people’s like 80%. Maybe 90%. But if 10% are not checking out, that’s a huge amount. You know, you’re leaving 10% on the table. Are you willing to take a 10% margin hit? Most likely not. Why should you take a 10% conversion hit? Same thing. At the end of the day, it’s money in your pocket.
So what we did, at least on Cutting Board, is that I fixed it so that you’ve got the selection for the kind of payment that you want highlighted on the left side, whereas before it was kind of blended in and, you know, you couldn’t really see it that well. Now, you can’t miss it and there’s a big button right underneath that saying, you know, Proceed to Payment or Continue.

And so now, you really just – we’re focusing the person’s attention that says, “Okay, here’s a confirmation of your order. You can look at that if you want to, but really we’re just having you continue on what you’re doing.” So the continuation is that all the buttons are on the left side as they should be and it keeps going down until they finally get to the payment.
So on, you know, a lot of the work that we did on conversions was pretty early one because we had done that a while ago, but we have gotten like an increase in the conversion. Now quite as drastic as Mike. A lot of the things that were done on there were already kind of working pretty well but it’s been I’d say about a 5% conversion increase rate.

You know, that’s not statistically significant yet, but we’ve done a few other upsells that have actually done really well and that’s something I’ll talk about later. So, you know, throw it back to you, Mike, and maybe let you take it from here.
Mike: Sure. Yeah, I’m going to kind of build on what you were talking about and use what you were just talking about as a segue here and continue on with the payment stuff that you were just talking about. And yeah, that brings me to the necessary evil of PayPal. You know, PayPal – our site gets like 25% PayPal payments so it’s pretty high but it also causes a lot of problems with the checkout. The integration, at least with BigCommerce isn’t perfectly tight, as tight as I wish it would be or could be.

You know, we actually turned PayPal off at one point just because, you know, my theory was that if someone has a credit card, they’re going to use it and they probably have their credit card attached to PayPal anyway, and while PayPal’s convenient, they probably would just pay with a credit card anyway. And, you know, our conversion rate didn’t really go down that much when we took PayPal off for the week or two that it was off but, you know, it’s something I wanted to turn back on because so many people do seem to want to utilize it.
But basically, the problem, at least that we uncovered, is that when someone checks out with PayPal, they’re taken offsite, you know, from whatever site you’re at – let’s say – and they end up on a PayPal URL to sign in and, you know, click a few things to continue, choose a shipping address or whatever. And then they click Pay Now and that takes them back to

Well, there’s a couple different problems there. I mean first of all, PayPal doesn’t populate the phone number during this process. So, because their error handling was broken, the people that did click Continue or Pay Now, when they got back to Ice Wraps, were getting this error and most of them never figured out that they just needed to type in their phone number and they’d be good to go.
You know, another huge group of people would come back to our site and think they were done. You know, they thought they were done checking out and, you know, they would drop off at that point and we would get these phones call of like, you know, three days later after they thought that they placed an order like, you know, “I thought I placed an order a couple days ago,” and we’d look up their name and there was nothing in there and they’d be frustrated and upset because they actually thought they placed an order.

So, you know, there’s some inherent issues with PayPal and I highly rEcommend, you know, using something like Inspectlet again, as I mentioned. And even more importantly, what I did is I actually ran through about 10 transactions with PayPal with my own personal account just testing the crap out of it once we kind of uncovered these issues and we’ve tightened it up quite a bit, so at least our PayPal portion’s, you know, at least tightened up on that and, you know, it just kind of, like I said, Grant, builds on what you were just talking about with payments. So yeah, I mean I think that’s important for you to test your payment outs yourself. I mean run through with a credit card, et cetera, make sure everything’s going good with that and with PayPal.
Grant: Yeah and one of the things we did on Cutting Board was we actually did a hybrid of what Mike was talking about. Like knowing that – to walk backward a little bit just to give you guys an idea of the BigCommerce integration with PayPal: there’s two points during your checkout funnel which you can jump into the PayPal funnel instead. One is on the cart page, you can say Checkout with PayPal or Proceed to Checkout.

The other one, past the cart page, is on the actual checkout page and then when you get to your payment provider, you can choose credit card or PayPal. So the issue is that when you’re choosing PayPal at the very beginning during the cart section, it’ll take you to PayPal and it won’t complete the checkout. It’ll bring you back to the checkout page where then you have to actually checkout again. So it’s really like two checkouts which blows to mind for just your regular person, let alone, again, the person that has the car drop on their head because they didn’t read the instructions on how to put the jack up.
So that’s like a major, major issue. So what we did on Cutting Board is we simply said, “Okay. We’re just going to take it out. You have to go into the checkout funnel.” And we put a big PayPal button underneath it and hey, at some point, you will have PayPal but not right now. So you go into the checkout funnel and then, once you get to the payment provider, at that point, you can get PayPal and then, you know, you can finish checking out on PayPal and by the time you come back to the website you’re done.

So it’s a very fluid, standard checkout process and my understanding – because on the BigCommerce forums, this is actually kind of a little bit of a known issue. It’s been mentioned by quite a few different store owners but I actually think it’s based on how PayPal does their API as opposed to kind of the way that BigCommerce is trying to integrate. So I think it’s kind of an issue of decided where to begin your PayPal option during the funnel and, in my opinion, it’s better to not have it in the beginning and risk possibly alienating, you know, the maybe sub-1% of people that go, “Oh, you know, I can’t immediately checkout with PayPal.

I’m never going to click, you know, Checkout Here.” Most likely, that’s not going to happen. You’re probably going to lose far more than 1% on the standard PayPal checkout process though. So all in all, you’re getting a better conversion rate by doing it that way.
Mike: Yeah. So I think it’s probably a good time to stop picking on PayPal before they come hit us over the head with that jack. So let’s talk about something else here. To seguing off of PayPal and onto a couple other things that we did to improve our site, the first thing I want to talk about is distractions and eliminating as many of those as possible.

So one of the things Grant and I both have done now and Ice Wraps and Cutting Board has been to completely crop out the menu. So there’s no more Home and different categories like wood boards or shoulder ice wraps or things of that nature; everything’s just dumbed down. So up on my checkout page on it’s the Ice Wraps logo followed by – to the right of that would be the Norton Security seal. And the reason that’s there – you know, when people are on the checkout page, they’re nervous about their information being secure and their credit card number be secure and such, so having that there is just a signal to them to, “Hey, guy. It’s okay. Your information’s safe with us.”
And I think the thing that we have to the right of that is our Yotpo review. We have 1,500+ reviews on Yotpo, which is a review software, again, to try to establish more trust, and we have 4.5 stars with that. And then to the right of that we have “Need help? Call us now.” We have our telephone number and we say, you know, support hours are 7: 00AM to 4: 00PM. And, you know, having that there, my feeling is that if someone’s on our checkout page and they have a question and they’re having problems, I don’t want to make it difficult for them to call us.

You know, this is the type of customer that we’re more than happy to take that phone call because there’s probably a 95% chance that we’re going to convert them. So when we reduce all those distractions and also clean up the footer a little bit and really just dumb down the page to make it hard to escape from here and not have anything else to look at except for, “Hey, give me your email address, give me your address, and give me your credit card information.” Do you have any more thoughts on that, Grant?
Grant: Nope. I think that’s perfectly well put and the default setting on the checkout page for BigCommerce is to include all that stuff in there. So yeah, I mean this is really take a funnel and plunging them into it and not letting them come out. And, you know, you could have a thought process where you say, “Well, you know, what if they want to buy more items or what if, you know, I’m making them feel like, you know, they’re being forced to checkout?” and I’m saying, “Well, what if they don’t check out?”

That is the biggest “what if” that you should be worried about and at this point, your website has been doing the soft sale the whole time; now you’re going for the hard sale. You’re saying, “Hey, time to checkout. This is what you wanted, now we’re going to, you know, get you through this.” So yeah, that’s not the time to piddle around.
Mike: Exactly. So one other thing I want to mention and we king of hit this off the top of after we were looking at Inspectlet and people were ended up in this – you know, typing in their email address in the wrong spot where they were supposed to be signing, I just want to hit real quickly on how we actually fixed that problem, which was that basically, you know, anybody that is on BigCommerce will know this right off the top but how, you know, on the left-hand side it says “I’m a new customer,” on the right-hand side it says “Account login.” I know Shopify’s laid out differently along with other carts, but I encourage you to look at this particular part of your process.

So what we did was we encapsulated these two sections in a box and divided the screen left and right. You know, that way your eyes focus on these two different boxes and they’re two distinct, different things. Then we shaded the box on the left to be like a light blue which is kind of our color scheme. Another important thing that we did was we made the default radial button on Checkout as A Guest versus Register an Account. This way, you know, there’s not an extra click for a user and they’re able to get right into the checkout as a guest, which is what 80% or 90% of people trying to checkout want to do. Most people do not want to create an account.
And then finally, what we did is we relabeled the buttons on the checkout page from Continue and Continue to Continue and Sign In. You know, this way people understand Sign In. You know, they understand that as being something where I’m logging into an existing account and that alone I think probably solved like 90% of our problems with that.

You know, when I watch Inspectlet videos now, we never see anyone typing into that right-hand box into the email address thinking that they’re going to hit Continue next and something is going to happen without them logging in. So just tidying that up made a huge, huge difference on our checkout.
Grant: Yeah, and you really just have to be able to see for yourself and that’s what we’re really going to come down to is that in the world of conversions, there’s going to be a lot of – I almost want to call it folklore in a way because somebody will say, “You know what? Red buttons that increase our conversion by like 5%. You know, once we switched over to a Serif font instead of a San Serif, you know, our website increased by X amount.” And the truth of the matter is that it’s very dependent on the kind of goods that you’re selling, the kind of website you have, and the look and feel.

Some things will work on your site that won’t work on other people’s; some things will work on our site that won’t work on yours. So at the end of the day, even though we have, you know, some really good results and we think these are some very universal concepts because these are really like a UI matter, which, in terms of user interface as opposed to user experience, we think these are, you know, very standard good things to do, but at the end of the day you’re really got to install your own tracking software like Inspectlet or Hotjar or, you know, Mouseflow or any one of the ones out there and just take a look and see what’s going on and you’ll realize pretty quick enough that people are not using your site the way that you think they are.
Mike: Yeah, it’ll be eye-opening for sure. So I want to talk about one last thing that I didn’t mention under the distractions thing which is the country list. You know, my default BigCommerce shows, you know, French New Guinea and, you know, Cyprus and crazy countries that most people don’t even know where they are on a map. Certainly, you’re not going to get customers from those countries and in our case, I mean we only ship to the United States and Canada.

So for me, it was just like, “Why are we showing people this huge list, making them scroll all the way down to U to find the United States?” So one thing I highly encourage you to do is pick the country where you get the most amount of business (for most people listening to this podcast, it’s probably the United States) and make that the default country. Like make the United States a part of your checkout where people don’t have to click anything to make them checkout from the United States.
And again, I mentioned we also have people that shop from Canada. That’s in the list as well. Our list is the United States and Canada now. We’re pared it down to just that. We might ship to the United Kingdom and other countries in the future but we’ve just kept it to this mostly because of customs and duties that become a problem and we just don’t want to deal with that for right now but that’s probably a topic for a whole other whole show. But certainly, there’s nobody out there that’s shipping to every country in the world, so I highly recommend paring down your country list to the ones that are pertinent to you.
Grant: Yup, and funny enough, I actually on had United States on there up until about a few weeks ago, but now that I’m finally like starting to integrate a little bit more international shipping, the funny thing is I actually got like a shipment from Taiwan and then also from Canada in there within the last week. So you’d be surprised how many international people are checking out your website, especially for our friends across the pond, for the Brits, and then ever for the Aussies and South Africans. I actually get a decent amount of people asking me if I ship international and I always tell them I do, but it’s going to cost them a bit more.
Mike: Yeah, and international shipping’s expensive and people pay all this money for international shipping and then they get upset when they have to pay duties and customs on top of that, which, you know, again, is probably a topic for another whole show because I mean we can talk about this for quite a while and it’s quite an interesting topic.
So moving on, just, you know, the next thing I kind of wanted to talk about is coupons and incentives and other ways to kind of capture users and get them to not leave your site. So one of the other things that I did – I don’t think that Grant’s using this software, but I ended up with a product called [inaudible 29: 27] and it integrates really well with BigCommerce and that’s one of the main reasons I used it. But I set up two different offers.

I have a 5% offer and a 10% offer. And the 5% offer shows to every visitor as soon as they come to the site. I think there are some other qualifications. They have to be on a page for more than a few seconds so it doesn’t quite annoy them, and I think on the second page, it loads right away. But basically it’s a “give me your email address and I’ll email you a coupon” offer for 5% off your purchase today. And quite a few people are taking advantage of that and, you know, quite a few people are giving us their email address, ultimately never checking out but at least they’re on our email list now, so that has a lot of value to us. And for the ones that do end up using that and checking out with it, you know, we got a customer that we might not have otherwise gotten.
And, you know, the thing that’s really interesting is only a fraction of people are actually using these coupons. So, you know, you want to make them kind of discrete. The people that are interesting in getting the discounts will go out of their way to take advantage of them and the people that just don’t care will give you more money, which is awesome. And then the other thing that I did for the 10% coupon, it’s an exit-intent coupon.

So it only pops up if someone’s on the cart page or the checkout page at that exact moment and they try to leave the site. So when they try to leave the site from either one of those two pages, something pops up and it just says, “Please don’t go. You know, save 10% off today plus free shipping. You know, use this coupon: COMEBACK10.” And there’s no email address, you know, hook or anything, it’s just like here it is. And the thing is like these are people – you know, we know they’re on the cart page, we know that they’re on the checkout page, we know that they’re highly interested in buying from us, and we know they’re getting ready to leave.
I mean the exit-intent software is actually really intelligent and, you know, they’re scrolling their mouse up at a high velocity to the top of the page about to click the X or the Back and the reality is is that person’s getting ready to leave forever and never come back. So at a last-ditch effort, you know, we’re more than happy to give them a 10% off coupon and it’s working quite well.

And as I mentioned, you know, earlier at the top, I mean we’ve had a 67.5% increase in increasing sales so far this month and I think that this is one of the things that’s driven more additional business for us than anything. And I know Grant has a couple of differ offers that he does on cutting board as well so I want to kind of turn over to him and let him talk about those.
Grant: Yeah, and we actually got our chops figuring out on promotions from back in the treadmill day and people just love coupons. And they love sales and this might sound a little bit strange or a little bit off but, you know, a lot of time if you just run a sale – and just say you’re running a sale and even if you’ve got the same exact pricing, I actually think that helps your conversions a lot.

I mean it’s almost like you walk into a store and you see balloons everywhere and they say, “Great prices, you know, today only,” and that kind of gets you in the mood to say, “Oh, wow, you know, like they’ve got a great sale going on today. I better buy something before the sale’s over.” The difference between a brick and mortar and an online business is that brick and mortar, it’s very hard to compare pricing.

Well, you know, I’d say with a caveat that with the internet now, you know, you can look up anything on Amazon but a lot of people – you know, you go see a t-shirt, it says it’s on sale, it’s $7. That sounds about right, you know. How much should a t-shirt cost? Well, you know, it’s on sale. I guess it’s good.
So you’re going to get some people that are going to be price sensitive, price shopping, comparison shopping, all that, and those guys, you know, it’s not going to work for them. And if you’re one of those people, it’s not going to work for you. I know me and Mike both kind of are. You know, I think most business owners, you know, try to save money when they can but there’s a lot of people that pretty much just go and say, “Okay. That looks like a good buy.”

And when you look at the analytics for your website – and again, this is one of the top reasons that you need to be using something like Google Analytics – you can look at how many people are going to your site and buy on day one, essentially on the first visit., and how many people actually that buy on the second visit, how many people buy on the third. And what it really comes down to is that most of the people are going to buy on their first visit for most websites. And you need to figure out, you know, how that applies to your website.

If you’re a very large ticket item, they might take a little bit longer to buy. You know, they might be researching for two or three days, but with Cutting Board, it’s upward of 75% of our purchases are within the first visit, and then what you add up like second, third, and fourth, that’s where you get the other percentages. And really, I mean it almost completely goes to zero after like the third visit. People don’t need that long to figure out that they want to checkout.
So there’s always a lot of discussion about abandoned carts and, you know, getting an email saying, “Hey, you know, please come back. Really, please.” But the problem is the data does not bode well for people that need to come back the second time. If you imagine a brick and mortar method, let’s say you walk into BestBuy and you’re looking at a camera. You go in there, you look at it and you’re like, “You know, this is the one I wanted but I’m not going to get it,” and you walk out and you drive home.

Now, what’s the chance of you actually going back and getting hat camera? There’s a theory that if you really wanted that camera, you might get it but for the most of you, you might just say, “Ah, you know, I don’t want to go back there. I spent so much effort.” And if there’s anything that we’ve learned, people are lazy and they’re not going to want to go back to the same website. You know, they’ve already been to your website. Why would they want to go to it again? They figured out the first time they didn’t want to buy from you.
So with that exit-intent, you’re doing a lot of good for yourself because you’re really stopping them right as they’re hitting the edge of that funnel wall and going, “Wait, wait, wait. You know, hang on. This is just for you so get it now.” And on Cutting Board we haven’t used that yet but it’s something that we definitely are going to be playing around with. It’s been a very big list of things that we’ve been wanting to do and I’m really glad that Mike played around with it because we’ve always been really, really interested in seeing how that works.
Mike: Cool, and did you maybe want to talk about some of the coupon offers you’ve been offering? I know you’ve been cycling through with like a banner towards top of the page with carious different offers. Can you talk maybe about, you know, what’s been working and what hasn’t with those?
Grant: Yeah. Absolutely. And one of the things that we did on Cutting Board is I actually used Optimizely to A/B split test coupon offers and it’s really interesting because you can actually tell how much coupons are affecting your conversion rate, which is always very neat because, as an owner, you want to say, “Well, you know, is it worth it to use a coupon? Because if I give people 5% off and I’m, you know, cutting my margins by, you know, quite more than 5% or my profit margin anyways if I give a 5% off coupon, I better increase my conversion by X amount to be making the same amount of money.

Because if I give a 10% coupon and my conversions don’t go up, I’m just losing 10%. So that’s no good either.” So what we did is use Optimizely and I did a split test and I said, “Okay. We’re going to run it for 30 days and we’re going to see how many people are actually using the coupon for $5 and then how many people are using it for $10 off the order.” And the results – and I’m kind of pulling this off the top of my head because I ran it a while ago, but it was very significant. It was something like 20% more checkouts with a $5 coupon and it was only like 22% or 23% more checkouts with the $10 coupon.
And when you think about it, like if you can increase your conversion for us by 20% more checkouts, then is it worth it to give everyone $5 off? And I’m like, “Well, it is.” If you’re increasing it by 23%, is it worth it to give everybody $10? And at that point, it’s like, “Well, you know, I’m still doing better, but I would not want to leave that much money on the table.” I would think that, you know, at some point there’s a diminishing return. At 20% off, you know, it’ll probably go up to like 25% but now I’m just really cutting into my margin pretty deep to try to do that.

So to me, a very fine area is $5 or 5% off because my average order is about $100 per item. And for a different kind of retailer, such as Mike, who’s got a light item that doesn’t have to worry about, you know, 20% shipping cost or ever 25% shipping cost, you know, 10% might actually be the magic number to get to that greatest area under the curve kind of calculation.
So what I really recommend for everybody, and again, this is very dependent on your kind of product: run a split test and the way that you do it on Optimizely, you know, there’s a lot of different platforms out there but you can essentially just set up a test and then you go and create like three different versions of it and in Optimizely at least in the back end, you can kind of load up your website and you can do a modification of it on the fly and what it will do is that, out of every 100 people that go to your website, you know, it’ll split it into buckets.

So if you have two tests, just like a very A and B test, test A it’ll show them the regular version of the website, test B it’ll show it with the coupon code. So it’s very neat. Essentially it’ll split your traffic 50/50 and you will get a really neat result out of it. And for the math guys out there and statistics guys, it’ll actually give you a confidence interval, which means, you know, what are the chances that this is just noise and what are the chances that this is actually, you know, a legitimate finding. And for me, my confidence interval was somewhere around 80% and that’s a pretty high confidence level.
The unfortunate part is is that if you have a very small amount of traffic, it’s hard to develop a high degree of confidence because you need a large sample size to distribution, or population size rather, in order to really tell. Just for example, if you had ten people in a room and you asked everybody, “What’s your favorite color?” if seven of them say red, you can’t really make the assumption that everybody on earth, 70% of them like red.

You know, you’ve only got ten people in the room, you can only really speak to those seven people. But you can make a fairly, you know, good guess that red is a pretty darn popular color. So the more traffic you get, the better you can get at tweaking your conversions. So it’s a little bit of a catch-22 but, you know, sometimes you play a little bit fast, sometimes you play a little bit loose and with the conversion, you know, a lot of it will end up being a little bit of your gut at the end of the day.
Mike: Yup. Yup, good stuff. Good stuff. So one last thing before we sign off on this episode. We want to talk about upsells a little bit. It’s kind of a related topic, certainly isn’t exactly conversions, but it is a way to boost revenue versus conversions on your site. I’ll talk real quick about some of the things that we’ve done with Ice Wraps.

Actually, on Ice Wraps, it’s pretty simple. What we basically did is anybody that adds a particular ice wrap that we sell on our site that offers inserts, which is probably about somewhere about 50% of the SKUs on our site, we’ve mapped out exactly what additional insert pack that we sell on the site fits that pack. So for instance, if someone buys an active wrap knee pack or ice wrap, as soon as they add that to their cart, a pop-up comes up that we had custom-coded and it says, “Hey, Mr. Customer. Did you know that you can buy an extra set of inserts for your active wrap knee pack? If so, you know, here is the SKU that you need.

Do you want to add this to your cart right now? It’s an additional, you know, $17.99” And we’ve basically taken out the pain point of, you know, finding those additional inserts or people might not ever realize it. Lots of people – even though it says it right on the page that it comes with one set of inserts, you can buy extras, we still have people in live chat and/or call us and ask us that very question. So it goes to Grant’s point from earlier that people just don’t read.
But it has increase our sales quite a bit. You know, I noticed that when we added that feature that, you know, as we’re shipping things out, we’re getting a lot more extra gelled insert packs that we’re selling, which are, you know, high margin for us. And the great thing about it is it doesn’t increase our shipping cost in almost every situation.

You know, we can ship those packs, because they’re small, right in the same box that we would’ve shipped out the original ice wrap in. So that’s the one thing that we’ve done for upsells. I mean our opportunities are a little bit less than Grant but, you know, Grant, if you want to kind of take over and talk about all the different things that you’ve done of Cutting Board to offer some upsells.
Grant: Yeah, so the average order amount or average order that we had when we first started Cutting Board, we were doing a very popular sale for a teak board and that one was priced right around like $80. So our average order was right around like $70ish, $72, $73, and I looked at like the average ticket for the last I think 60 days or so just recently and it was somewhere up in the high $80s, low $90s even, which is pretty amazing in my opinion because I mean that’s increased it by a good 15% or so.

And what we’ve done with Cutting Boards is that we’ve sold cutting board oil and it’s become actually one of – a really, really big item. I think we upsell at least around 50% to 60% of the time. I haven’t pulled those numbers recently. And it’s a little bit unfortunate. It’s hard to get those tools. BigCommerce doesn’t really have any kind of metrics regarding the total amount of like kits I think that are [inaudible 44: 23] report.
But one of the things that we started off doing at the very beginning is that – it was very sad. It was just, you know, here’s your cutting board and then within the description it says, you know, “We really, really recommend oil because it’ll help, you know, keep your board from drying it, it’ll stop it from warping, and really everyone that has a cutting board should use cutting board oil.” I mean, you know, we’re not even just trying to upsell it; we’re really trying to prevent somebody from having a broken cutting board at the end of the day. It’s kind of like selling oil for your car. You just need it.
So not a lot of people bought oil. I would say it was around 20% or so. Just a very low amount. Didn’t really ship all that much oil. And so the thing that we did after that was we said, “Okay, we’re going to make an option set and we’re going to attach that option set directly to every last cutting board that we have. And that option set’s going to say, “Okay, select your oil.’” Or it was a dropdown like, “Do you want cutting board oil?” and then we had, you know, a 12-ounce bottle and a 16-ounce bottle and then we had the pricing, you know, $9 or, you know, $11.
That increased it a lot. That got it up to somewhere around like 30%, 40% or something like that. It was around like 35%, around a third. Kind of played with that a little bit and then eventually changed it even more. Again, this is kind of a lot of split testing or time testing, rather. We didn’t use multiple variations but it was kind of a time test like, “Okay, well this is doing this. Let’s try this the next time around.”
So taking a cue from like a very famous study by The Economist – I’m going to get a little bit off-topic here but bear with me because this is like a really great story about The Economist but – when they made a subscription to The Economist, they had two pricing models. It might’ve been three. But they had an online only and then they had an online with print and essentially, they priced them both together at the same exact price. And there might’ve been a third one. I forget exactly but when you look at the two and you go, “Well, you know, if the online version of The Economist is $100 and the online plus the print version is $100, I mean I’m going to get the online and the print obviously. Like why would I do that?”
So a lot of people go, “Well, you know, why would The Economist do that kind of setup? I mean why not charge lower for the online?” And at the end of the day, what The Economist was doing was essentially shifting the paradigm from saying, “Okay, we have the cheap version, the middle version, and then kind of the premium version. We have the expected version, which is like print and online,” and it’s like you get online free with it.
It’s almost like a free add-on. Whereas before, if you had a cheaper option, if you had the online only, a lot of people would opt for the online only. So instead of making people go, “Well, you know, I don’t want to pay $20 more for the print version. Ah, you know, I can live with the online only,” now you have people going, “Well, oh. I get the online for free. That’s awesome.” And they’re paying more. So they’ve essentially shifted the whole paradigm from, you know, “Man, they’re trying to upsell me,” to, “Wow, this is a great free item that I’m getting. That’s awesome.” And I’ve always kind of taken that approach when I’ve tried to do an upsell.
So on the new upsell, what I’ve done over here is that we’re using three options at this point. One of them is just the oil and the other is an oil and conditioner set, and that one you save like $3, and then you get the 3-pack oil with conditioner set, you save like $8. So you’re saving more the move your buy so it’s really incentivizing people to save more. And the other thing that we’ve done too, I’ve changed it away from a dropdown.
Before, you know, you actually had to go – it was a very passive sale. You had to go click on the dropdown and say, “Hey, you know, do I want oil? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. What options are here? I can easily click off it and it’s not a big deal.” Now it’s a radial button. There’s actually four buttons and it says, “Select your board oil.” And that was has actually been A/B tested. There’s been number of different variations on wording, from “Select your board oil” to “Food grade mineral oil” to like “Do you want board oil?” to another one was just something like “Board oil,” like “Maintain your cutting board.” I think that was it. And “Select your board oil” seemed to do the best and there was actually a pretty big difference.
When I actually was doing a very hard sell like, you know, “Maintain your cutting board with oil” or “Pick your oil,” something like that, it was actually a pretty low conversion rate. I think people just said no to that. They said, “I don’t really want you shoving board oil in my face. I can go get it at a store. That’s fine.” So “Select your board oil,” I think that one works because it’s an expectation. It’s the, “Well, you’re buying a cutting board. Of course you’re going to buy oil, right?” And for a lot of people that might not know otherwise, “Do I want oil?” they’re going to say, “I guess I do.” So we’ve made the expectation and that’s kind of how it ties into The Economist because with The Economist, the expectation is that you’re going to get the print and the online is kind of added on. So here the expectation is that, well, it’s expected that you get the board oil. So now, instead of just having a 50% conversion rate of people getting a 12-ounce bottle of oil for $9, now the number one thing that we’re selling is the oil and conditioner set, which is $15 more. So you add the fact that the average order is going up by $15 for the people that get the board oil, and now we actually have the premium set too, which is a 3-pack with a kit and that’s like $32. We actually sell about 10% of the conversions on the really premium set too.
So all in all, you know, conversions are up, average order is up, and it’s worked out really, really well and this is directly on the product page itself. It’s not a pop-up or anything. So we’re in kind of a unique situation of being able to do this because not everyone will be able to have an upsell that works so well. If you sell socks, for example – actually, I can really get creative with socks, you know, like buy a second pair and get the next one free or something like that, but you can always do some kind of upsell. I guess that’s what I’m saying. But oil’s a very, very easy upsell so I’m pretty lucky.
And a really quick mention too is about cutting board feet. We actually had this kind of interesting idea of testing cutting board feet by giving them away for free. We just buy like a giant box of feet. Nobody actually sells cutting board feet, at least not in a small set, so we decided, “Well, I’m just going to buy a huge box of these feet and just give them away.” I mean they’re about like a nickel apiece.

The large ones are about like a quarter apiece so even still it’s like a dollar for a set. No big deal. And then it was kind of an implied value like, “Hey, you know, you’re going to have to pay $6 to even get this anywhere else because you’re going to have to buy like 12 of these at a time but we’re going to give them to you for free.” And that seemed to help conversion a little bit but at the same time, we found – it was about 80% to 90% of people were ordering feet and I decided, you know, I was just going to charge like a dollar for them and just see how much that dropped the order rate. And it plummeted. It went down to something like 20% instead of 90%.
So I realized a lot of people were just wanting a freebee and they weren’t even interested in the feet; they just wanted it because it was free. And the conversion rates didn’t really change that much either. So I left it around a dollar just as almost a – we’re not really making money off it, we’re not really losing money.

It’s just kind of a nice add-on for somebody just if they want it and it really helps solidify the fact that, you know, we’re selling cutting boards, we’re the only people that sell feet, we know what we’re doing. And I would say that take away from that for any product out there would be simply that if you’ve got a very niche product, like Mike does or I do, and you can have some way of selling something that really says, “Hey, you know, you’re the expert in it and nobody else is going to be able to offer you this kind of like unique upsell,” then that’s something that really will help make you a lot more trustworthy in the eyes of your customer. So I’ve kind of rambled on a little bit. Poor Mike over here’s listening to me so I’ll hand it back over to him.
Mike: No worries. There’s a bit more than one occasion where you’ve had to listen to me ramble on so we’re still nowhere near even. But unfortunately for everybody else out there, we are pretty much running out of time for this week, so I just want to mention three real quick things before I go, before we both go I should say. First is next week we’re going to be bringing back our segment of website to evaluate and buy, Ecommerce sites. We have a pretty interesting one lined up. We’ll be talking about that towards the end of the show.
The other thing I just wanted to do real quick is mention a new segment in the next couple weeks we’re going to be starting which is basically going to be a free one-hour analysis of your website and basically what we’ll do is, you know, look through a bunch of different requests that come in, pick a website that we think fits something that would be interesting to talk about on the podcast, and what we’ll do is we’ll actually talk about it on the podcast, interview the person that’s on the website and we’ll do all this for free, give our expert analysis on this.

And this is something that – we have a consulting service. We typically charge hundreds of dollars for this but we think it will be cool content and something neat for our listeners to hear as well so whoever we pick each week will get a free one-hour analysis, we’ll put you on the podcast, talk about your website and promote and help you hopefully increase your conversions in your business. So I think that’ll be cool and we’ll start doing that in the next few weeks. If you want to have your website considered for this free analysis, just pop over to EcomCrew and fill out our contact form and we’ll put you in the hopper.
Finally, one thing I just want to mention is reviews. If you guys are enjoying the podcast, if you can take a minute and hop over to iTunes and leave us a review. You know, it’s kind of funny. Before we started doing our own podcast, you know, I had listened to a lot of other podcasts over the last several years and I heard, you know, basically every podcaster, you know, ask for reviews from their listeners and I always thought it was kind of annoying and now I’m being hypocritical. But now that we run our own podcast, I now realize how important it is for people to leave reviews.

You know, and for right now, we’ll read the reviews as a part of the podcast as we get them. I mean as of this recording, we don’t have any reviews yet but that’s because we haven’t actually launched so we’re going to be launching with the first several episodes at once, but yeah, hopefully people will leave reviews, give us honest comments and we are thick-skinned and we listen to what people have to say out there. you know, some people say they like constructive criticism and, you know, don’t really mean it or get offended or don’t listen to it, et cetera, but Grant and I are both definitely people that really listen to what people have to say out there.
It’s definitely evident in all the things that we do and, you know, I can give you an example of that, which is that, you know, people were complaining about the amount of gel in one of our ice packs, you know, just from comments on Amazon and on our site and we recalled all of them, you know, back from Amazon and, you know, put them up on eBay at a fire sell price and mentioned that they have less gel and ordered new packs with more gel.
You know, you can either listen to people or you can ignore them. So we definitely would love to hear your comments. You know, I can definitely see how it would be fuel for wanting us to do more and more of these podcasts and keep the content going.
So with that, I’m going to sign off and on behalf of Grant and myself, thanks for listening to this episode of the Ecom Crew podcast and we’ll see you guys next week.
Outro: If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Head over to and sign up for the Ecom Crew newsletter to get regular updates on what’s working in Ecommerce today, and get the latest from our blog. If you haven’t already, we’d really appreciate an honest review in iTunes. These reviews help us make sure we’re delivering exactly the content you need to be successful. And make sure you subscribe to the show for more tips to move you up in the business ladder and into success. We’ll see you next week.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

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