Shawna Fenell Interview: May 2008

***5/19/08 Show - Increasing Conversion Rates w/ Rob Snell***

from http://www.powerhourradioshow.com/5-19-08.html

Rob Snell, author of Yahoo Business for Dummies, provides real life tips and information on increasing conversion rats for Yahoo Store. Tips include how to find your conversion rate, how to track your conversion rates, and using the new Checkout Manager. Rob discusses how to increase conversion rates by building confidence, providing contact information, and trust symbols. Rob Snell gives away a free copy of Chapter 21 of his book which discusses in more detail how to increase your conversion rates. Send an email to info@powerhourradioshow.com to get your copy today!

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTION

[musical interlude]

Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour with your host Shawna Fennell.

Shawna: Thank you so much for joining me today. I have to tell you, I am like a little kid in a candy store. I have had a huge smile on my face all day long.

One of the very first websites I came across for education, when I opened up my first store way back when, had Rob Snell giving advice on search engines and conversion rates. I signed up for help on his website and received a series of emails. I was immediately hooked on Rob.

And by the way, you can still get these emails if you go to Ystore.com. I highly recommend you do so.

You have heard the phrase “hooked on Phonics worked for me.” Well, it was hooked on Rob worked for me. Rob was and still is my Yahoo Store idol. I am honored to have him here today with us. He is the author of “Starting a Yahoo Business for Dummies”. If you have been to one of my speeches or you have been to one of our books, this is the book I pass out like candy. This is the book to have next to you computer while you are working on your Yahoo store. Whether you have had a store for one week or ten years, you will learn something new from his book.

So today, I get to ask Rob a ton of questions. My first one starts with can you tell people exactly who you are, besides my idol, and what you do?

Rob Snell: Wow. I don’t know if I can live up to that introduction.

Shawna: You can. I know it!

Rob Snell: All right. My name is Rob Snell. (www.robsnell.com) I am from Starkville Mississippi. I have been a retailer all of my life. My Yahoo! Store experience; back in 1997 we launched our first online store. I have been online since 1990 on CompuServe learning marketing ideas from different retailers.

Shawna: Oh, way, way, way back!

Rob Snell: Yeah. Back when you could actually read the letters as they downloaded scrolling across the screen.

Shawna: Yeah.

Rob Snell: We had a situation in our family business where my mom’s offline business, her bricks and mortar store, had Petsmart coming in across the street and she said “Get me online.” I said “I don’t know anything about getting online.” She is like “Well, just get me online. I know that is the secret to our problems.” I was like “All right. All right.”

So I built us a website and we got a bunch of traffic. We were getting so many catalogue requests my dad was like “Shut the website off or put our products online. We can’t afford to send all these catalogues out.”

Long story short, we found Via Web, which is now Yahoo! Store, and I have been selling stuff online and helping folks sell stuff online ever since.

Shawna: You know it is interesting that the same problem you had then is the same problem a lot of stores are having now.

Rob Snell: Right.

Shawna: And the reason to get online. My next question for you, because I know you are the man when it comes to conversion rates and I tell everybody this, why is conversion rate so important?

Rob Snell: Well, the thing is conversion rate is the percentage of folks who visit your online store and actually buy something. That percentage of folks nationally runs between two and three percent depending on which survey you are looking at.

On Yahoo! Stores I have seen it all over the place. Some Yahoo! Stores have a high conversion rate. Some Yahoo! Stores have a low conversion rate. But by monitoring that number and doing small itty bitty improvements to your store to make shopping easier, you can increase that number and it is the largest multiplier. I mean, if you get a bump in your conversion rate it does awesome things to your sales.

I have just been obsessed over my store’s conversion rates ever since we have started using the Yahoo! Store platform because the traffic is so easy.

Shawna: Yes. I love that about the Yahoo! Store.

Rob Snell: Yeah, it is like the metrics that are built in. I mean, they are still using the stuff from 1997 in the store manager, but what I call a conversion rate Yahoo! calls “orders per customer”. I have actually got a store manager window open right now on my desktop. If folks want to play along at home they can actually just go into the graphs and click on “orders per customer” and set a date range and kind of see what their conversion rate is.

Shawna: That is wonderful to kind of explain that because that is one of those questions that we get all the time: What do I track and how do I find out what my conversion rate is. So if we could explain that in more detail that would be excellent.

Rob Snell: Yeah, absolutely. The basic metrics, or statistics, or stats that you get in a Yahoo! Store are a good starting place for most retailers. In our family business (www.gundogsupply.com), my brother runs the operations and customer service side of the company. I am responsible for everything through getting people to the site and clicking the “place order” button. Once they place that order it is then his responsibility. I know how busy he is shipping out hundreds of boxes a day, talking to people on the phone, dealing with employees, and dealing with suppliers. Most retailers have got so much on their plate that they don’t really have a lot of time to dig into all these numbers.

I am in a pretty good situation where I can actually go off into my office and lock the door and just dig into these numbers for two or three days at a time sometimes. I just don’t think a lot of retailers have the luxury to do that. So there are some things that you can do as a retailer, just some key performance indicators or KPI’s, that you can just watch on a regular basis. You don’t even have to be digging into your stats. You can get an intern or an assistant or somebody on a daily basis to log into your Yahoo! Store and pull these numbers for you.

Shawna: And it is so important!

Rob Snell: It is a big deal. Like right now, I am looking at one of our stores. I am looking at the “orders per customer”. I can see a dip in November right before Christmas. What happens is that when you get a lot more traffic coming in you get a lot more unqualified traffic.

So let’s just say you have a Christmas bump. Your conversion rate is actually going to go down a little bit during Christmas because you are actually going to have a lot of tire kickers and a lot of folks…I mean there are so many more people shopping on the Internet.

Shawna: Excellent point. Most people think that it is just going to go up during Christmas.

Rob Snell: Exactly. There are all kinds of other numbers that you can look at on a regular basis. If you are in a situation like we are in several of our different Yahoo! Stores where the pricing is limited by the manufacturer; the minimum advertised price is set by the manufacturers. You really can’t lower your prices, so there are so many other things that can affect conversion rate, like how much junk traffic you have coming across your site or are you doing a free shipping promotion?

For example, we did a free shipping promotion for like five days and we actually doubled our conversion rate on the site, but we got so many itty bitty orders. Our average sale dropped to a third of what it had been before because we had so many $10 and $20 orders where we had the shipping process $6 before and now it is free. So a lot of folks are ordering a $5 whistle or a $10 book to take advantage of that free shipping.

So doubling your conversion rate is not the key to doubling your profits. And for folks who do have variables where like they are changing their pricing or can do different shipping options-that kind of thing, there are other numbers you want to watch, like “Revenue per Visitor”. Yahoo! calls that “Revenue per Customer”.

But if you have a pretty stable amount of traffic…We have been online since 1997, so from an SEO standpoint our traffic is pretty solid. And from a PPC standpoint, I am pretty happy with my bids. So I am not seeing huge fluctuations in the amount of customers or visitors coming to the store. But that is something that folks need to take a look at as far as “Revenue per Customer”.

Shawna: Absolutely. Now, the other thing is that they need to work on tracking. Are there specific issues for tracking and how it works within the new checkout?

Rob Snell: Well yeah. I am real excited about the new checkout by the way. Katrina hit the week that I launched a Beta on the new checkout. So that tells you how long ago that was when Yahoo! started rolling this thing out. There are so many cool things in the new checkout. And now, Yahoo! is making us jump over to this new checkout.

Most of my stores are on the new Version 3 checkout. But they have made tracking so much easier now because they actually give us access to some of the variables. I am not a propeller head; I don’t understand all that highfalutin tech stuff.

Shawna: [laughs]

Rob Snell: But I have friends who are. And they tell me the fact that these variable exist is real easy for you to work with a third party affiliate program. It used to be you had to use Commission Junction if you wanted to be a Yahoo! Store. The minimums were like five grand or whatever. I mean, it was a lot of money to even just get your little toe in there.

The same thing with revenue tracking. I actually use two other services besides Yahoo! for tracking on most of my stores. Index Tools, which just got bought out my Yahoo!, is the first one. I also use Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/). The reason I use two different sources is because I like to reconcile the difference between the two. The way these tracking systems work, you are going to have different numbers on your Yahoo Store for the same day when you compare it to your Index Tools number and when you compare it to your Google Analytics numbers.

Shawna: Yeah, and that is one thing that they teach us when we go to these big SCS conferences. People want to know “Well why isn’t’ it an exact science? Why does one site say one thing and one site say another thing?” So a very important lesson to learn is you will get different results. So I like the fact that you are talking about using two different services.

And I have to mention of course when we are talking Google Analytics-Monitus (http://www.monitus.com/).

Rob Snell: Yes. And Michael Whittaker (http://monitus.blogs.com/) of monetus.net has got it figured out. He is one of the smart guys that I call when something is on fire and I don’t understand something. Yeah, I know. He is awesome. He has got a little tool that will actually allow Google Analytics Revenue Tracking to actually work with Yahoo! Store. You know how like on the Yahoo! Store you are on your domain and then you hit “add to cart” and it takes you off of your domain over onto Yahoo! Secure servers. So a lot of the first party cookie, and I don’t even understand what all that stuff means, but a lot of the services for tracking have to have first party cookies, which means that you really need to be on the same domain. He has figured out a way to do that that takes care of business and it is pretty cheap for what he is doing.

Shawna: Absolutely. We had him on two weeks ago and just the information that he gave was just so amazing, so helpful for the Yahoo Store owners. We are telling people that you have got to get that connector because you can really understand what is going on.

Rob Snell: He has got some other cool tools like the Keyword Monkey (http://www.monitus.net/content/blogcategory/32/84/) and stuff that are baked into his system when you are using his tool. There are just all kinds of information that you can get that you just wouldn’t normally get out of the normal Yahoo! Store stats.

And then there is Google Analytics. It is awesome. It is so easy to use and you can see all these numbers that you just can’t see inside the Yahoo! Store. I am just crossing my fingers with Yahoo! buying Index Tools; hopefully Yahoo is going to roll out better analytics for stores. A little bird that keeps me in the loop every once in a while keeps telling me something is going to happen. So cross your fingers.

Shawna: I am excited about it. Well we are going to take a quick break here pretty soon. It is just so much information to share with the Yahoo! Store owners and I am very excited to have you here and I really appreciate it.

Rob Snell: Oh you are most welcome. I appreciate you having me.

Shawna: Oh I love it. We will come back and talk about more things about increasing those conversion rates. I think we may have a little bit more here so I wanted to ask you a quick question.

Rob Snell: Sure.

Shawna: With the Monitus tools and the Keyword Monkey…I will probably have to save this here, but something to think about: How can we increase conversion rates and things that we can do at the Yahoo Stores. We will cover that when we get back.

Rob Snell: Awesome.

Shawna: We are here with Rob Snell, of course my Yahoo Store idol. This is Shawna Fennell on WS Radio-the worldwide leader in Internet talk.

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Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour (http://www.thepowerhour.com/) with your host Shawna Fennell.

Shawna: Welcome back. We are still talking with Rob Snell and remember this is the man when it comes to understanding your conversion rates. So before the break we were talking about a question I wanted to ask you. What are some things that the Yahoo! Store owners can do on the store pages to increase those conversion rates?

Rob Snell: That is a really good question and it is something I am very passionate about. On an example site that I will use, one of my client sites, I won’t tell you who it is so that I can talk actually about there real numbers.

For every 100 folks that visit the site, only four people add something to the cart, only four of those six make it to the checkout, and they end up getting about 3.1 orders per 100 people. So that is a 3.1 percent conversion rate, which is actually pretty good.

This is a multi-million dollar Yahoo Store that has been around for, let’s just say, more than five years.

Shawna: OK.

Rob Snell: If you just concentrate on making the shopping cart and the checkout more conversion friendly, you are missing out on 94% of the folks who visit your website.

One of the big things that I finally got through my thick skull in regards to conversion rates is you want to move folks who just visit from one bucket to another. I divide visitors on my website into these five or six different buckets. The first bucket would be folks who visit your website on one page and then hit the back button. Those are the folks who bounce of your website. You want to move them into the second bucket, which would be folks who visit your website and actually browse around more than one page. So those are the folks that are actually visitors on your website. Then you want to get those folks who are visitors on your website to actually go to a product page. The third bucket is all the folks who visit a product page. Then the buckets get a lot smaller. It goes down to folks who actually start a cart, and then to the folks who start a cart and go to the checkout. And then there are folks who actually complete a checkout and place an order.

So one of the easiest ways that you can increase your conversion rate is to move somebody who is in the first bucket into the second bucket or somebody who is in the second bucket to the third bucket. So working on your store is so important because like I said, 94% of the folks who are visiting this site never even make it to the shopping cart.

Shawna: Right.

Rob Snell: So let’s talk about stuff on the store. And actually, if folks have my book (http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Business-Dummies-Personal-Finance/dp/0764588737/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) they can jump to Chapter 21 in my book because man, I spent more time on this chapter than any other chapter in the entire book. And a lot of the stuff in my Dummies book, because Yahoo keeps rolling out all these new features, a lot of the stuff, I would say about 40% of the actual technical things, on Yahoo Store have been fixed or upgraded. But the conversion stuff I think still really applies.

One of the most important things you can do on a website is to have a professional looking well designed easy to use website. It is so subjective, but I think it is easy to tell. When you are looking at a website you can tell if somebody’s 12 year old nephew knocked it out in their basement or if they actually had somebody who has some design skill implement a store design.

Shawna: Absolutely.

Rob Snell: That is extremely important. Once you have a good looking store, then I want to have all the different ways that folks can contact people. Having the contact information, how to reach the retailer, is paramount to success.

I live out here in the sticks which is miles from the boonies. OK?

Shawna: [laughs]

Rob Snell: I live in Starkville Mississippi. It is two and a half hours to a Target, OK?

Shawna: Oh my gosh! [laughs]

Rob Snell: I know. I mean, once a month we go into town for provisions and come back out here. So I order a lot of stuff online. What I want to know when I am on somebody’s site are the same things that every customer wants to know. “Who are you? Who is this person I am about to give my credit card and personal information to?”

It is so much easier just to go to Amazon (www.amazon.com) and order it than it is to take a chance on a smaller retailer. But because I believe in small business e-commerce, I always try to go to the smaller stores first when I am looking to buy stuff.

One of the ways we found to increase our conversion rates…If you go to one of our stores, Gundogsupply.com, and click on the info button, you can see all the different ways that we have on our store for folks to contact us. We have got email. We have got fax. We have got snail mail. We have got all of our telephone numbers. We have our physical address if you want to come by and see us. We have all of our contact information.

The main reason is I think that gives folks confidence if there is a problem. “I know where these folks are. I can hop in my truck and come see them and talk to them if there is a problem.” So having a lot of contact information is extremely important.

The other thing is the 800 number. I have found that stores that have an 800 number, and by that I mean an 8-0-0 number, not at 877 or an 866 or an 888 number, it looks like you have been established a lot longer when you have an 800 number. Plaster that thing all over your site. I like to have it in the upper right hand corner of all my stores, inside the shopping cart, and on every single checkout page. It is not that folks are actually going to call you as much; it is that they like to know that they can call you.

Shawna: There are a lot of services out there that hold those 800 numbers and allow you to get those through their service.

Rob Snell: Right. I guess other people have used it in the past but they are not using it now. It is harder to get those real easy to remember 800 numbers, but I think having a good 800 number on your site is so important to establish credibility.

The other thing I want to do when I am on a website is I want to read the story of the people who are behind the website. I have no confidence in a Yahoo! Store when I come across it and it looks like they have a product feed from one of the drop ship databases and a generic looking header and they have 50,000 different products. It is very obvious to me what they are doing is they are just copying the database, uploading it to a store, and hitting the publish button.

Shawna: Right.

Rob Snell: Folks want to shop with people that they know and trust. So tell people your story. On our site we probably don’t do as good a job as we should of telling people how we got started. But we actually go in and we have pictures of my staff. We actually got a 20% increase in our sales when we made my brother our spokes model on our site and put his picture up there.

Shawna: Wow!

Rob Snell: I know. It is crazy. Back when my dad was alive he was so self conscious. He did not want to position himself as an expert even though he was an expert. When my brother took over as president of the company about five years ago, we made the decision that he is an expert, he has all this information, and let’s position him as the expert that he is.

It was like turning on a switch. If you look at my graph coming across the conversion rate at what it was before, there is a rise in the graph that corresponds with us taking an editorial position on the products that we sell.

Shawna: That is phenomenal!

Rob Snell: Yeah, it is crazy. I go around telling everybody this because there are so many places where when I go shopping for something I want an expert to tell me what I should buy. I was looking at guitar tuners the other day and I was having to read all this information and compare “is it for an electric guitar? Is it for an acoustic guitar?” And all the products I was looking at weren’t the same and they didn’t have the same types of features and it was really hard to explain stuff.

We have got our dog tracking colors buyer’s guide which walks folks through and ask them questions. It helps them whittle down the choices of what they want to make. I was on Amazon buying this guitar tuner and I just had to take the retailer’s word that this was a good product. It was only like a $30 product, but the higher the price of the items that you sell, the more information you need to provide. So that is another way to establish trust-to have more information on your products and just be the products expert in your field.

Shawna: You know, that is excellent advice. When I was looking for something I could stick in my pocket and take with me to do video blogging, I of course come across a website that talks about the flip video and how wonderful it is and how easy it is, and it sticks in your pocket and it does all these great videos. I went out and bought it because somebody said how excellent it was and they got personal about it. So you are absolutely right.

Rob Snell: Exactly- “This will solve your problem.” That is what folks are looking for. I don’t think folks are dumb. I think folks are busy. A lot of people are like “You don’t need to spoon feed people.” I kind of like to take the attitude that you need to recommend, in your opinion, of what you tell your friend to buy of all the different things that you sell that would be the best in that class for solving that particular problem. You can still provide all the information on all the other products. Some folks are just going to want to make up their own minds. But a lot of times folks want to know what to buy.

One of the advantages, I think, to being on the Internet is I say “It is good to be small.” On the Internet you can look like a big company even when you are an itty bitty company. But I think there are actual advantages to knowing that when you shop on our store it is like our different families’ house payments are dependent on you getting good customer service. So there are three families who have a vested interest in making sure that you get what you get, and you are happy, and you come back, and you love us, and you keep shopping with us.

Well tell that story and I think that is such an important deal, because a lot of folks want to look like they are a huge company. Look at the dot com crashes. I mean, the big boys, those are the ones who failed and didn’t’ ship orders and all kinds of stuff.

Shawna: That makes an excellent point because there are so many people that want to start up a Yahoo store and they want to be the next Amazon and the next Wal-Mart. It is like “OK. They have already got that cornered.”

Rob Snell: Right.

Shawna: [laughs]

Rob Snell: Yeah, you have to pick your niche and not try to be everything to everybody. I got back from E-Metrics (http://www.emetrics.org/) a couple weeks ago out in San Francisco, which is an awesome conference if anybody is interested in numbers. It was a lot of math people and really smart folks. One of the biggest takeaways I got is that you can look at your analytics but it doesn’t really tell you exactly what your customers are thinking.

There is a product called 4Q (http://4q.iperceptions.com/) by Avinash (http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/). He is the Google guru of analytics. He is partnered with this company and you can put these surveys for free on your site. I just started doing it on Gun Dog. I have already started to get some really good information back on what our customers are thinking. A lot of the things that we are trying to do, they are actually telling us we are doing a good job at doing that. Besides getting sales, sometimes it is good to get feedback like that. So that is something I would definitely recommend folks doing to see what the satisfaction level is of somebody shopping on your store.

Shawn: Oh, that is excellent advice for people.

Rob Snell: Yeah, and it is cool. It is like four or five questions. It gives them a chance to actually type in an open answer in the comments field if they actually want to give you more specific data about why they were happy or why they weren’t happy. We have only had it on the site for 48 hours and I have already learned some ideas about how to make the site better for those folks.

Shawna: And talking about standing out from a niche, I mean, how often do we really feel like Wal-Mart is listening to our words?

Rob Snell: Exactly.

Shawna: Well we are going to come back after the break and talk a little bit more about increasing those conversion rates, like using trust symbols.

This is Shawna Fennell on wsradio.com. Stay with us. We are the worldwide leader in Internet talk.

[musical interlude]

Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo store Power Hour with your host, Shawna Fennell

Shawna Fanell: Welcome back. We are here with Rob Snell. It is my Yahoo store Idol; has been for many years. He is the author of “Yahoo Business for Dummies”, although I hate saying that “dummies” because nobody out there is.

But it is the book and you have got to have it. Especially go right to chapter 21 and grab yourself some more information on what we are talking about, which is how to increase those conversion rates.

So let’s talk a little bit about trust symbols.

Rob Snell: Well, yeah. Shawna, one of the things you can do on your site for folks don’t know you and they meet you for the first time or they come across your website for the first time is have trust symbols on your site. And by trust symbols I mean things like icons from reputable companies that you also do business with.

A good example would be you have a Yahoo! store. Well, Yahoo! is a known brand on the Internet. A Yahoo! Store icon that says “Hey, this website is a Yahoo! store”; that is one of the first trust symbols every single Yahoo! store should have on their site.

Shawna: You know, and that is one of the things when people say “Why should I use a Yahoo! Store?” it is like “Hello, everybody has heard of Yahoo!.”

Rob Snell: Absolutely.

Shawna: So why not use that towards your advantage?

Rob Snell: And you are paying for it so you might as well use it. And they provide some badges that you can use on your site. I have made my own. I will probably get in trouble for doing that. [laughs]

Shawna: We won’t tell anybody. [laughs]

Rob Snell: Exactly. Keep that between you and me.

Shawna: All right! [laughs]

Rob Snell: But also like credit card logos; we had a slightly less than a one percent increase in our conversion rate by just having the credit card logos in one of our store’s checkouts. That is not going to double my conversion rate, but it was actually a measurable increase after thousands of transactions. So trust symbols actually work.

And by that, I also mean like your shipping methods; like a UPS logo, or a USPS logo, or FedEx. Or like a Better Business Bureau symbol-that kind of thing. That basically shows folks that you are a real company and you are affiliated with other places that they trust. It is kind of like your badge that says this is who I am and you can trust me.

Shawna: Absolutely. And you know, a lot of the stuff that they are talking about with the new marketing is that more…I hate to say senior people, but older generation are shopping online and they are scared to give out their credit card information.

Rob Snell: Absolutely.

Shawna: So by giving those logos that they are used to seeing, because a lot of them are not used to seeing Hacker Safe.

Rob Snell: Right. We have done really well on some of our sites by having the Hacker Safe logo. It is expensive. It is like $1,800 I believe a year. But the amount of increase that we got, the ROI was like 50 to one on one of our projects. We saw a seven percent increase in conversions where new shoppers saw the Hacker Safe seal on the Yahoo! store.

The funny thing is my dad used to call this eye wash; stuff that makes you look good but doesn’t really matter. He is like “I am not paying $1,800 for eye wash!” I understand where he is coming from. But Hacker safe runs the test on your website like they do for everybody else. Between you, me and the fence post, Hacker Safe can’t advertise this but they are the company that actually does the testing on Yahoo! Store’s servers. They have a contract with Yahoo! to make sure that their servers are secure. That is public information but Hacker Safe can’t actually go around and have a big flag that says that. But I learned that and I like to pass that on. They are a really good company to have.

The other thing is that when you are a Hacker Safe retailer I believe that you get a link back from their directory. So it is always good to get some traffic from that too.

Shawna: Absolutely. We love those link backs. I love the Hacker Safe logo. I agree with you, but I also love the fact that you are also talking about those other logos too that people who maybe don’t shop online all the time, who may not be familiar with that logo, they have seen Better Business Bureau. They have seen the UPS logo. So I love that you mention that.

Rob Snell: Right. Paypal (www.paypal.com) is another good one if you accept Paypal as a payment method. And you should if you don’t because that will increase your sales. Put the Paypal icon on your site. I am sitting here looking at one of my product pages not seeing a Paypal icon. Oh, there it is. OK. Good.

Shawna: [laughs]

Rob Snell: I need to take my own advice, you know?

Shawna: That’s all right!

Rob Snell: The thing is you can do different things on different types of pages on your site. We were talking about the home page and the checkout, but actually, on the product page I have learned this the hard way. The manufacturer of a product usually has a logo that they spend millions of dollars advertising across the United States. Take advantage of that with their permission. You want to make sure you are an authorized retailer or whatever, but put the manufacturer’s logo on your product page.

I have a story to tell. On one of my sites it is a site where we sell softball bats and baseball bats (www.softball-bats.org); one of my revenue share sites. I got obsessed with load speed. I wanted my pages to load so fast I was like “Well what little icons are on here that I can get off? Anything to make my page load faster” Well, there were all these baseball bat manufacturer’s logos at the top of the page. I was like “Well man, I can just take those off the product page because they don’t need to see these 12 different bat logos.” I did that and 12 hours later I got a phone call from my retailer freaking out because sales had dropped by 50%.

Shawna: Wow!

Rob Snell: I know! And it was like on the product page! I felt like an idiot after doing it. Who knows how many thousands of dollars in sales we didn’t get that day, but I learned a very valuable lesson. Manufacturer logos are trust symbols.

So take advantage of that. You are advertising their brand. If you sell Easton baseball bats put an Easton logo on that baseball bat page.

Shawna: Now you got to a good area I want to talk about. Let’s talk about how do you improve your conversion rates on your product pages?

Rob Snell: Yahoo! Store has come a long way from their original templates. We are probably on like the third version of RTML now.

Shawna: Thank God.

Rob Snell: Yeah, I know.

[laughter]

Rob Snell: But now they have finally got it to where this last version of the store, if somebody has a generic store, they are actually pretty much OK. There are all kinds of things that you need to add, but they have taken all the things that all the different RTML developers have done over the years and folded most of the good ones into just a basic template.

If you want to really boost your store up there are some things that you can do that Yahoo! Store is not doing. One of those for me is having a big honking red “add to cart” button. Everybody in the warehouse used to make fun of me because I had an “add to cart” button that was smaller than my pinkie fingernail. I was like “Well I wonder what happens if I make that bigger.” So I kept making it bigger and bigger and bigger. And finally it is as big as half my thumb right now. Everyone in the warehouse was laughing at me going “Look at that huge honking red button”. But our conversion rate kept going up. And then I stopped making it larger as soon as our conversion rate topped out. So I was doing some testing and I learned for my site, for this specific site, this “add to cart” button is what it needs to be. So that is one example of what you can do on the product page.

Another example is to actually show that you have the item in stock. Yahoo! has the availability field. What I usually put in there is I like to say it is a normally stocked item or “in stock and ready to ship” or “usually ships same business day.” I think that is very important on the product pages.

Another thing is I think it was like a third of the products on the internet…This was like a Yahoo! survey from a million years ago. But they talked about only a third of the products on the Yahoo! Store platform actually had sale pricing. It is so important to show the list price and actually what you are selling it for because most people on the Internet are selling things less than the MSRP. You want to show what full retail would be, what you are paying at my store, and then I like to show either the percentage and/or the dollar savings depending on what type of store it is.

Shawna: It is that whole mental thing. People want to think that they are saving money.

Rob Snell: Yeah! And they are because they are shopping online. They are not having to use gasoline. A lot of folks have free shipping. Most of the folks that I know online are discounting at least 10% off. So it really helps the conversion rate by what I call pimping out your product page.

Shawna: [laughs] Yes, and I have seen the pimping pictures.

Rob Snell: Oh man. I will never live that down. I was telling my brother at lunch today, I was going “I cannot believe…They woke me up from a nap and I got stuck on this panel called “Pimp Your Website.” It was on Yahoo! Stores. That was awesome. I had more fun because of that after that than I have had in a long time. So now I am the Yahoo! Store pimp.

Shawna: Oh yeah! Pimp Daddy! [laughs]

Rob Snell: Awesome.

Shawna: Now one of the things I have heard a lot about is doing free gifts with purchase. What do you think of those?

Rob Snell: Absolutely. If you have something where you can provide a small incentive, something that has a pretty high value to the customer but doesn’t cost you a whole bunch…Like on one of my revenue share sites we got about a 20% increase around Christmas offering a free gift with purchase. It was close to a 20% bounce once we started doing it.

Shawna: Wow!

Rob Snell: I know! And it cost us a dollar for this gift on the retail price because my dude is buying them on closeout. The retail value if you went and bought one of these things would be like 10 or 12 bucks. With import companies you can find all kinds of cool little things you can do. Like just a little bonus item when folks get to the shopping cart. It is like “Hey, if you order today you get a free whatever.”

Shawna: Now, one of the things I hear you talking about- “We tested this. We tested that. We tested this.” What are some best practices for our smaller Yahoo! stores that want to start testing and finding out “OK, does this work or does this not work?”

Rob Snell: Well the first thing is tracking. I mean, there are people whose full time job is to do nothing but test offers on websites. I remember I was eating lunch with somebody from Victoria’s Secret, which sounds better than it is.

Shawna: [laughs] I had a vision.

Rob Snell: Yeah. I got to find out Victoria’s Secret other secret, which is they have an hour for a home page special to prove itself in sales because that real estate is so valuable, if that whatever, thong or whatever doesn’t convert like it should, they yank it off and put another thong on there or something else.

Shawna: Wow!

Rob Snell: I know retailers who have the same exact home page specials, and I am one of them, for ten years. What I recommend folks do is you want to test your home page specials. Tracking is the first step. Once you get good tracking in, that is the first step.

The second step is actually being able to use a third party tool like Google Website Optimizer (https://www.google.com/analytics/siteopt/splash?hl=en). It is free and boy it makes my head hurt. It is very difficult to test things in there. But let me back up two steps, OK?

Shawna: OK.

Rob Snell: Rotate your specials out on the home page. You can actually manually keep up with this if you want to. As a general rule of thumb, I can double the sales on an item if I stick them on my home page. That right there is why my home page specials really haven’t changed much on a regular basis.

Shawna: Wow.

Rob Snell: Yeah, it is pretty cool.

Shawna: Well, we are going to come back and talk more about how to use ad words to do different landing pages and all kinds of other great stuff. You are just providing wonderful information here.

This is Shawna Fanell on WSradio.com - worldwide leader in Internet talk.

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Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour with your host Shawna Fanell.

Shawna: Welcome back. I started this interview so excited and now I have to tell you I am so bummed out because I have like three more pages of questions to ask you and I can’t believe that already 45 minutes has gone by, because didn’t we just start this like a minute ago?

Rob Snell: I know. We can do it again.

Shawna: OK good! I am holding you to that.

Rob Snell: Awesome.

Shawna: I am going to be seeing you in about two weeks here for Internet Retailer so I will be twisting that arm, you know?

Rob Snell: Absolutely. No, I love talking about this stuff. You know that. Once you get me talking it is kind of hard to get me to shut up.

Shawna: Hey, that is what I love though. It is wonderful. All right. So we were talking about how you can test things out for yourself. What about using Google Adwords (adwords.google.com/) to try out different landing pages?

Rob Snell: Oh, that is awesome. I call it redneck landing page testing.

Shawna: [laughs] I love your phrases!

Rob Snell: It is like even a redneck can do it! If a redneck can do it you can do it, all right?

Shawna: I love your phrases!

Rob Snell: Oh, man. OK. I will give you a real world example, all right? We sell a bark collar. I hear all these people talking like “Well, if you sell apparel you want the model to be wearing the clothes instead of just showing the clothes on a hanger.” They say “It doubles conversion rate.” I was like “We don’t sell clothes really. We sell dog collars.” So what could I use for a model? I guess I will get the dog and I will have two different versions of landing pages. Landing page A has got a picture of just the product shot. Landing page B is going to have a picture of the dog wearing the product.

Shawna: OK.

Rob Snell: Inside Google Adwords you can have multiple ads for the same keyword. If you click the rotate button it will automatically rotate different version of your ad and it will allow you to use split testing that way.

So the landing page for A would be like barkcollara.html and the landing page for B would be like dogcollarb.html. At the end of the day you could see which version of the page sold more product. From that you could decide “OK. Well from here on out I want to make sure that I have got dog shots all over my website.”

It worked. It is like we saw a huge lift in increase in sales on the picture on the product shot where we would show the dog wearing the product.

Shawna: So now you have them coming in and posing?

Rob Snell: Absolutely.

Shawna: [laughs]

Rob Snell: My brother has got me with the camera out in the dang woods and in the swamp and in the field and I have got chiggers all over me. Oh man. There are places I thought I would never go to take pictures that are authentic.

You know, everybody uses the same manufacturer images on their website. He wanted something a little bit different so I got him to go in with me on this fancy camera. He woke me up at six o’clock in the morning on a Saturday. He had me out in Louisville, Mississippi in a swamp. Oh man. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Shawna: [laughs] Now see, you also have to share those pictures of you in the swamp. Talk about getting personal with your customers!

Rob Snell: Yeah, absolutely! We are actually in the field. He is an enthusiast. He is a hunter. He trains dogs. He has 13 dogs. He is serious about this and that allows him to bond with his customers. His customers go “Hey, he is one of us. Let’s get it from this guy” instead of some guy who is just doing a database feed from a drop shipper who is a competitor of ours.

Shawna: Well I love the way that you bring up the redneck way of doing it.

Rob Snell: Yeah!

Shawna: I do get a lot of questions about Google Website Optimizer and how they are trying to use it with the Yahoo Store. This is such an easier way to do it. I believe that another thing, it is like you have to uncheck…What is it?

Rob Snell: Yeah, you don’t want Google to optimize your ad. I don’t know if it is on the campaign setting or if it is on the actual ad group setting, but there is a box. The words rotate. You want the radio button; click next to rotate and it rotates your ads evenly.

Shawna: Right. We have got to make sure we mention that part. All right. A lot of the customers with the Yahoo store got an email this week about migrating to the new checkout.

Rob Snell: I know. I called technical support the day after the email it. The average wait time was more than 30 minutes.

Shawna: Ooof!

Rob Snell: I know. Everybody is calling Yahoo!, pulling their hair out, and freaking out over this. It is not that big of a deal. It is really easy for folks to do. There is a ton of information online about it. There are some things we can just touch on that will get folks educated about what to do and what not to do.

Shawna: Perfect. Help me.

Rob Snell: All right. Yahoo! has got over 100 pages of documentation in their help files.

Shawna: So different than 10 years ago, huh?

Rob Snell: Yeah. They actually have help files. One of my buddies is one of the writers for these. They have done such a good job, whereas like you said, ten years ago they didn’t have time or whatever. We just kind of had to figure stuff out on our own.

Shawna: Oh no. We had Istvan and you.

Rob Snell: Well yeah. There are some people who put information out there. I am glad you brought up Istvan’s name. Istvan of ytimes.com or ytimes.info has a book called “Yahoo Store Checkout Customization”. I have known Istvan for a while. We have done seminars together. He is a good buddy of mine. He is out in Hawaii. He has written the book on customizing your Yahoo store checkout. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of it. I have not finished it yet but it is cheap. I was like “Dude, you need to be selling this for like two or three hundred bucks, you know?”

Shawna: Ahh!

Rob Snell: I know. It is like $20. It is a bargain. If you have a Yahoo! store you need to buy this book. I don’t get a commission or anything for saying that.

Shawna: Well, we are going to put links on our website to all of these great tools and to your website and even to his book. I am sure you have heard I give out his book too when I am giving the speeches.

Rob Snell: Very good.

Shawna: It is like your book and his book go hand in hand.

Rob Snell: Awesome. Well, I will do something. The Dummies folks let me give away free chapters. If folks email you and you send there names to me I will send them a free PDF of the conversion chapter.

Shawna: Perfect.

Rob Snell: We did a promotion with the Dummies folks and with Yahoo store; I guess about a year ago when we did that. I still have permission to do that, so I will be happy to send that conversion chapter to anybody who forwards their name to me.

Shawna: I love it. I hate to say it- we only have a little bit more time together. Cover some more.

Rob Snell: Chapter 14 in my Dummies book is a really good overview of the checkout process. The main difference between the new checkout and the old checkout is that the old checkout used to be that you actually had to customize the shopping cart on the store editor side of the fence and then you had to customize the shipping info and the billing info pages on the store manager side of the fence. Well now they have gotten everything in this nice little wizard, in this one checkout manager, and it is pretty easy. It is something where you don’t have to have custom programming skills to actually implement the thing, but you might need some help and there are a lot of developers who are really good at this who can help folks.

Shawna: Absolutely. One of the things that I really like about it is that you don’t even have to publish it and you can do a whole bunch of testing and place test orders and verify that everything is working the way that you want it to be working.

Rob Snell: Exactly. And it is not like the old way where you press a button and you just get to preview it and kind of get somewhat of an idea. You go to the checkout manager and press a button and it puts a cookie on your machine so your computer actually gets a different shopping experience than your customers and you actually get to test your shopping cart settings before you roll them out and let everybody see them.

Shawna: Now do you have specific advice as far as conversion rates for the checkout order flow?

Rob Snell: Yeah. The main thing, the first thing is don’t use their review page. I hate the review page. For me the biggest advantage of using the new checkout is that you can uncheck the button and not have the review page. Once a customer has given the retailer the shipping information and the billing information and hits “place order”, I call it the “are you really, really sure you want to give me money or do you want to change your mind?”

I swear! We have seen two to three percent of the folks who actually are ready to give us money back out once they hit that review page. I don’t know if it is an error or people are having second thoughts, but I don’t…You know.

Shawna: A lot of times people get to that page and think that they are done.

Rob Snell: Yes, there you go.

Shawna: Then they call up and say “Well why didn’t I get my order?”

Rob Snell: Exactly. So undo that. I think the default is not to have a review but I can’t remember. You will know what I am talking about when you go into order flow. You don’t want a review page.

The other thing is if you have lower priced items, nowadays you can actually have a one page checkout. You can have it to when somebody adds something to the shopping cart it is secure and on that page they can put in their shipping info and credit card info and “Boom” and hit the “place order” button. So it is a one page checkout.

The funny thing is if you have something that people want, they will jump through flaming hoops to get through your checkout if your checkout is just horrible. If you have something that people don’t want, even if you have the best checkout in the world, they are still not going to buy from you. So it is really important that you are doing a good job, selling a good product, and providing good customer service.

Shawna: We have about 30 seconds left. Give me your best tip for the new cart.

Rob Snell: My best tip is to make sure that you put “we will not spam you” by the email address and mean it. People hate spam. Don’t spam.

Shawna: I love it. I absolutely love it. All right. If you want a copy of the chapter that talks about conversion rates, you email us and we will get it over to you. Of course if you want the book go to Amazon.com. We will have on that as well. And don’t forget, you can catch us live here Monday 3 PM-4PM Pacific Time, 6-7 PM Eastern, or catch the archives at wsradio.com.

Thank you Rob for being here. I appreciate it so much.

Rob Snell: Thank you so much. Any time.

Shawna: This is Shawna Fennell on WS Radio-Worldwide leader in Internet Talk.

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