PUBCON 2009: How I Doubled My Conversion Rate - Presentation Transcript

Ecommerce Optimization: "How we more than doubled our conversion rate"


My name is Rob Snell. I am from Starkville, Mississippi and I have been selling online since 1997.

Today I want to talk about our family business. Just to kind of give you an idea of where we fit in the food chain, we work on about 100 different projects. Our stores that we own will do around $12 or $13 million this year. For some folks, that is a lot. For some folks, that is nothing at all. But that just kind of gives you an idea where we are coming from.

What I am going to talk about today specifically is how we more than doubled our conversion rate on our family business, Gun Dog Supply, over the past four or five years.

This is a little bit about me. I wrote a book, "Starting a Yahoo Business for Dummies," which is basically Yahoo Store for Dummies. It came out four or five years ago. It is available online. There is still some pretty decent information in there.

If you want these slides or more information on what I am presenting today, if you go to, my website, and click on the "Read this first", I have got tons of links to tons of free content. I love to give this stuff away. I love to share information-

Yahoo! Store

I have been on the Yahoo! Store platform since before it was Yahoo! Store. It was way before Paul came around. In 1996, we started looking for a way to get online. In 1997, we opened up a ViaWeb store. And then in 1998, you guys bought ViaWeb. So we have been on the platform a long time. And I have poked around. I have looked at other solutions.

And I have kind of dabbled in other things, but I always come back to Yahoo! Store because, for me, it has been the highest converting online store builder that I have run across.


Today specifically, though, I am not going to talk about all kinds of different things. I am really going to focus on what we did on our website Gun Dog Supply.

Now, Gun Dog Supply is our Yahoo! Store, like I said, that we started in 1997. We basically took my parent's business online. They started in 1972 selling training supplies for hunting dogs. And we were in the situation where we had to get online because we had Petsmart moving in across the street from us, and we took a 50% sales hit with our offline sales in our brick and mortar stores. So mom said, "Get us online."

Who You Are

One of the ways I think that differentiates us from other retailers who sell exactly the same products that we sell and our company is who we are. We are not just another retailer. If you can optimize who you are, your experience, the things that you know, these are things that a competitor cannot go to your site and view source and see how you are doing things. It is very difficult for competitors to copy you when you are doing things that are just intrinsic to your DNA.


Now like I said, we have been doing this since 1972. I am a second generation dog supply sales guy, believe it or not. On our site, we put pictures of our family members using the product. This is my brother in the upper left-hand corner there, Steve. Our tagline- "We train our dogs with the products that we sell." We are not just a place that is selling dog supplies.

We are actually selling solutions to people's problems.

Like I said, we have been doing this since 1972. Here is a picture of Steve with my dad back probably in the ‘70s. We started off as a catalogue company back in the ‘70s, and then morphed into a bricks and mortar store. And like I said, then Petsmart came across the street, and that is when mom said to get us online.

The other thing is Steve has 13 dogs. He is just like his customers.

He is not just some guy who found some keywords online and said, "Hey, here is a high revenue per visitor. I want to sell these things through a dropship company."

We actually have dogs. He uses the products that we sell in the field.

Here are some pictures from a recent trip we made to Texas. Steve is actually living the dream. He does research and development about six months out of the year. That is what he tells his wife-research and development. He has got his dogs. He is in Texas. He is out there hunting.

He is having a good old time; "research and development". And man, our research and development budget keeps going up and up. I don't understand it!

How You Do Business

How you do business is another asset that you have that you take for granted that is different from how your competitors do business. This is an asset that you can leverage.

One of the things we do, we are very customer service oriented. These are things I take for granted.

Like I said, I grew up in this business. I assume that when a customer needs something, you take care of them. I used to be working on a project at two o'clock in the morning or something in high school and the phone would ring, and I would take a catalogue order over the telephone so my parents wouldn't wake up. I mean we are really into taking care of our customers, and this pays off, but you have got to give yourself credit for it.

One of the things my dad didn't do is he didn't toot his own horn. He assumed everybody was like this and he didn't want to come off as being an expert or telling everybody how great he is.

Well, when somebody comes to your website for the first time, they are not going to know how great you are or what a good job you do, so you need to toot your own horn. You need to be self-promotional.

On our site, we push people to order by telephone. Paul caught me. We were doing a test, and on that screenshot, we were trying a smaller 800 number. And yes, it did not convert as well as a big 800 number. I like big, big, big things. Big, big 800 numbers, big, big "add to cart" buttons. So I am busted. I have to go fix that.

These are three of the little informational bugs that are pushing some of our customer service issues, and Paul talked about the order by phone. One thing that I said last year really kind of got me in trouble with folks. And I apologize to the dropshippers; you are real retailers. I said that you weren't.

But one thing that differentiates a retailer that actually has the product is that they have more control for customer service reasons. They can look on the shelf and see, "Hey, I have got that widget in stock. I can ship it today." It can go out today. Whereas, if you are drop shipping, you are at the mercy of your supplier for doing that.

But most of the things that we ship out, 99% of the orders that come in, ship the same day we get the order. And a lot of my clients are like that, too. These are old school guys. They understand that you have got to get that damn box out the door today. People want their stuff. And folks are blown away by just being competent. I mean, just by a retailer being competent and actually shipping the order, and people get stuff in two or three days, they are blown away and they tell their friends. Now this really helps.

The other thing is free shipping. We have free shipping on orders over $125 and free shipping on certain products. That is one of the most powerful promotional tools that you can use on your website. We have to do it because our competitors do it. All of our competitors have the same map pricing that we do. All of our competitors have basically the same offers that we do. But if you don't push free shipping, people aren't going to know. You want to push that on your site.

One of the things our competitors does that drives me nuts is they will give you free shipping, but if you decide you don't want it and you ship the thing back, they are going to charge you the amount that it would have cost for you to get the box in the first place, which I think is kind of skanky.

I recommend having a "Why shop with your company" page. I set this up about three months ago. It is now one of our most popular pages. In this, I just outlined with bulletin points what makes us different from our competitors. This is one of the most important things you can do for conversions.

What you know

Another aspect that you have that your competitors don't have is what you know. I have some former employees of mine go off and try to do what we are doing. And the funny thing is they may sound like us and they may look like us, but they don't have 20-30 years worth of experience in the field using these products, and it shows. Once you talk to somebody for five or 10 minutes, they are going to figure out that you know what you are talking about. And I want you to leverage this product knowledge that you have to the Internet.

1 change instantly increased our conversion rate 20%

We made one change on our website that instantly increased our conversion rate across the site 20%. And it wasn't changing one little button, and it wasn't changing our logo or anything.

About six years ago when my dad passed away, we went about six months and our sales plateaued. The two had absolutely nothing to do with each other. What had happened was that all of our competitors had basically gotten online.

In '96, '97, we started looking to get online. We were one of the first dog supply retailers for hunting dog folks that got online. And by 2003, everybody showed up to the party. I mean we had 50-60 people who had the exact same product descriptions we had, the exact same pictures that we had, and that is where our loss of growth came from.

And so, my dad, like I said, he did not want to come across as being an expert, even though he was. He knew more about dog training supplies than anybody I have ever met. And we made this one change. We made the decision to make Steve the spokesmodel, my brother, for the site, put his face on there, and take a position.

Conversion Rate Conversions go up

This is our conversion rate over about a 12 year period, and you can see here at the beginning, conversions, they kind of jump up a little bit on the left side of the graph. That is when we had virtually no traffic. And when you have a little bit of traffic, it is really easy to get a decent conversion rate.

Well, I went to Web Master World and I learned a whole bunch about SEO. And man, I started driving some serious traffic. You will see that in just a minute on one of my other graphs.

And so my conversion rate went down a little bit as I got tons and tons…I am talking thousands more visitors per day to the site, some of which was relevant traffic, some of which was not. But about two-thirds of the way through the graph, you can see our traffic had pretty much stabilized as far as growth, but our conversion rate went up.

And this is like probably four or five years ago. You can see how our conversion rate, this is a rolling average here, has more than doubled. And it wasn't just changing one thing. It was making these local changes to the website.

That was, we told folks what to buy.

Tell folks what to buy

You probably offer hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of products. When somebody is looking to buy what you sell, they don't want to wade through all this crap. Tell them what to buy. Tell them what is going to fix their problem. And that is what my dad had a problem with, taking a position. He didn't want to offend a manufacturer. Well, my brother is not afraid to offend the manufacturers. He will tell you, this product rocks, this product sucks. And it works.

Recommend products that solve your customer's problems

"Tired of losing your dog? STEVE SAYS: Buy this tracking collar!"

When you call him on the phone and you have a problem, he is going to recommend the one specific product that you need that is going to fix your problem. If you are tired of losing your birddog when you go hunting, he is going to say, "You need to buy this specific dog tracking collar." And you need to leverage this type of conversation that you have with customers to your website.

Express your opinions

Express your opinions. I talked about this a little bit. We sell hundreds and hundreds of different types of dog training collars, dog tracking collars, and regular collars. This is the only electronic training collar that Steve will use, a new collar that just came out. He says it on the website.

Man, the manufacturers who are making the product he used to use and recommend, they are freaking out. And I am not saying his endorsement is going to change the industry, but it changed our sales. The product he used to use, the sales went down. The product he uses now, the sales went up. And I am going to talk a lot more about that in a minute.

Share product knowledge

All right. Share product knowledge. This is awesome. Once we figured out if we say, "Hey, your dog is barking. You need to buy this." "Hey, if you don't want to lose your dog, you need to buy that." "Hey, if your dog is running into the street and he is 100 yards away and you need to stop him, you need to get this."

Write Buyer's Guides

We started writing these buyer's guides and telling folks what to buy. And we noticed in our analytics that folks entering our website on a buyer's guide page had a 50% higher conversion rate than folks entering on a typical category or section page.

And I was looking the other day; entries on product pages are terrible, because by that time, folks have already made up their minds what they are going to buy and they are just price shopping you. You want to get them to come in on those pages where you actually have a chance to help them get what they actually need.

Content drives more traffic

Opinions provided since 2003

All right. Creating all this content is awesome for traffic. Google loves this. We have been providing opinions in terms of buyer's guides, reviews, beefed up product pages since 2003. And this is a traffic graph here. And you can see that we are just getting more and more traffic because of this.

How do you do that?

-create compelling content

-record everything


So how do you do this? Well, I am going to give you some specific examples of how to create compelling content. When Steve does that in the field, I am following him with a camera, with a movie camera, or with a digital recorder. I am creating content right now.

I am going to give this to my transcriber tonight when I get back to the room. He is going to go to the FTP location that I set up. He is going to take the MP3 file.

He is going to download it and he is going to type it up. He is going to send it to me in a Word document. I am going to go, "I can't believe I said that in front of 200 people! Holy cow!" I am going to turn that into content. I am going to put that on my blog. I am going to take it and actually edit it down into some really good editorial content. But the secret is always be creating content. And once you kind of have a corporate culture for doing this, it is really easy to do.

Here is an example of us out in the field about a year ago. These pictures were actually taken by the third generation in our family who is getting into dog supplies, Sam, while we were actually on a photo shoot. I didn't know he was doing this. And the funny thing is, about a third of his photos actually trumped mine, and Steve ended up using his pics instead of mine, so I think I am on the way out.

Record everything. If we are riding in the truck going somewhere and I have got a video recorder, an audio recorder, or my phone, I am asking Steve what I call stupid questions. "How do you train a dog how to sit?" Well he just says, "Blah, blah, blah, blah." I don't even listen to him. I am just recording what he has to say.

And I send it to my good buddy in Alabama which I found on Mechanical Turk, which is an Amazon service which is a way to get people in other lands to type up your audio files for you. I am paying $1.50 a minute, though, because this guy will turn stuff around in about 1 ½ hours, 2 hours for me. I mean he is serious about getting this stuff to me. I thought he was off like in Shri Lanka or somewhere. It turns out he is about 30 miles away over the border in Alabama.

Anytime you are in the field, anytime you are using the product, anytime you are talking to customers, record this content. If you keep having the same conversations over the phone with folks, put that stuff on your website.

And here is an example of when I went out to Texas taking pictures with Steve.

"Steal" Manufacturer Content

One of the most important things you can do is liberate. The manufacturers do a great job of creating all this awesome material, but they do a terrible job of getting it up on the web.

And it is easier to get forgiveness than permission. I am not a lawyer. I was an art major, so you might want to talk to your lawyer before you steal anything.

Owner's manuals liberate content in PDFs

Content in PDFs. Garmin is awesome. They put just tons, and tons, and tons, and tons, and tons of information inside these PDF files, most of which aren't online. If you are the first place that gets this PDF online on your domain, Google thinks you wrote it. You get credit for it.

Transcribe DVDs &


DVD's and video that comes with the product through the website has tons of information. You can transcribe this, turn it into text, put it on your lower level web pages and get some good results with that.

Box copy-repurpose product packaging

We also repurpose product packaging. People spend a lot of money; manufacturers spend a lot of money developing these point of purchase materials and these boxes for typical offline stores. Well there is a lot of content that is on the box or in this display that you can't get anywhere else. And when you are retailer, when you actually get the product, sometimes you get this stuff. So get somebody to type all this information up and stick it on your website.

But don't be lazy (like the competition)

-Write unique product descriptions

Don't be lazy. I want you to use what the manufacturer gives you, but don't be lazy like your competitors. I want you to write unique product descriptions. And you will hear me say that in every single session that I ever speak in. I reuse this slide. I have been reusing it for five years.

You need to write unique product descriptions. Here is why.

The manufacturer gives you a great product description. I take the first sentence of it and go search on Google to see how many people are using that. So I search for, "Tired of searching for your hunting dog in tall grass or dense cover?" There are 1,770 lazy retailers. They suck!

Do a search for that particular product's name brand, Garmin Astro. We rock, right after the manufacturer. Now you are not going to beat the manufacturer for their brand name and for their product name, or, sometimes you can. But if you write your own content, you are going to get more links. People are going to see that, "Oh. He is different from all these other sites."

Write Buyer's Guides

Write buyer's guides. I am actually going to show you some stuff that is not quite ready for primetime.

We haven't deployed it yet. But this is where I am going, and this really helped us come up with a way, as a company, to approach new product lines.

We have a three step approach when writing a buyer's guide. We basically come up with a "Steve's Picks", and then we explain the content, and then we come up with some sort of widowing tool, whether it is hard-coded in the page or it is actually some sort of widget or something like that, that actually walks folks through like we do on the telephone.

Steve's Picks. What he will do is he will take 5-7 different scenarios which apply to most of the customers, and he will actually pick a product. He will say, "You need to pick this." And we spent tons and tons of time on this chart in trying to figure out which products actually apply to most situations.

The thing is that figuring out what the categories are, the features that people need to know about, that is one of the hardest things. Because when I come to a new product line that I don't know anything about as a consumer, I don't know what I don't know. Do I need the kind that has got Bluetooth? Do I need the kind that has infrared? What do I need to know before I buy a wireless keyboard?

Explain Concepts

Explain concepts. I talked about that just a second ago. You basically want to tell folks what the features, what the concepts behind that are. Why do you need to know about range? If you are just training your little dog in the back yard, you probably need a 100 yard range. But if you are training a big running birddog, you are going to need a multi-mile range.

"Help me choose…"

"Help me choose…" If somebody doesn't believe you and they say, "OK Steve. I am going to do exactly what you tell me to do," and they have kind of gone through these concepts, we actually walk them through different scenarios where they kind of self select, and we put them into buckets to where we take them to the product that they want.

In this example, we say, "Do you want to train your dog or do you want to stop your dog from doing something that is a problem? And if barking is the problem, you don't even need a training collar! You need a bark collar."

And in this, he gives three examples of what he uses. He takes a position, he states his opinion, he gives information, he says, "This is our best seller" and sends folks there, that is the one he used to use, and the he also says, "Hey, we sell other brands, too. If you don't want to buy just what I am selling, go look at every single thing that we sell."

Write killer product reviews

All right. So now I have talked all about this creating content, and being who you are, and leveraging that to the website, and how you do business, and you are like, "Oh my gosh! I am out here in the thick stuff! How am I supposed to do this? I have tens of thousands of products, or I have hundreds of categories that I am supposed to optimize for. How do I go about creating this content?"

In this picture, what Steve doesn't know is there is a rattlesnake about 10 yards in front of him he is about to jump.

I want you to write one killer product review. All right? Pimp one single product. My brother trains dogs, right? Well, I finally got my brother trained to write content.

I am at PUBCON and he is actually at the office when a new product comes out last year, and he actually stops and writes this buyer's guide. I am going to use this example here.

This is the SV-1825. He actually went in and wrote a buyer's guide that was the companion piece to the product page. And in this buyer's guide, he went through all the steps that I talked about before.

He talks about who he is, he tells people what to buy, he says, "I have been using collars for the last 11 years. I have been looking at 50 or 60 new systems, but this is what I am using now." He says, "This is what I am doing." He has an opinion. He says that he thinks this is going to change the industry because this new manufacturer is going to make old manufacturers actually step up and do something. He shows what he knows. This is product knowledge. He actually walks around with the product and he says, "You can use it one handed. You can change levels.

You can use it as a multi-dog system."

And like I said, folks don't know what they don't know. You need to tell them, "These are things you need to consider when you are buying these types of products. And he says, "These are the four things I look at when I am trying to sell an e-collar." And he has explained the product and the features.

All of this is in one single product review. This is not a buyer's guide. This is one product review. He goes into the different options to where if you have an exception, like, "If you have six dogs, you might want to do this.

If you have a deaf dog, you might want to do that."-in this one product review.

And then he gives you more and more information if you want it. And it is kind of like a newspaper article. I remember in high school being taught how to write newspaper articles. And you want it to where folks can read the paragraph and get the whole story. But if they want to read more, then in the second paragraph, OK, they get a little bit more of the information, but they can stop there and they are fine.

And our product pages and our product reviews are like that, which we have links back to the products as well as "add to cart" buttons all over the place in these things.

Here is an example of what we call "mo pics", which are more pictures of the product where he has actually got a ruler and he shows you how big the thing is. I got the "add to cart" button on all these additional photos. This shows you what information you get with the product. This shows you all the accessories that come with it.

Be Real

You just need to be real. So many folks are just taking a data feed and they are uploading it to these online shopping carts, and they are wondering why their conversion rates are low.

If you actually act as a real person and care about your customers, and tell them how you do business, you are going to get much higher conversion rates than your competitors.

And that is me. Thanks.

Session 1 Question & Answer

Question: I am wanting to hear what you guys think of a lot of the shopping comparison agents. I know there is a ton out there. There are a lot that vary from ones that are all based on pay-per-click, ones that combine the categories and stuff like that. And then there are some free ones, like Google has their Froogle product. I found a good one that I like, too, called I am not sure if you guys are familiar with that or not. I wonder if you guys have any tips on how to get into these things like that for newer people, what kind of success you have, and things along those lines.

Rob: These are extremely expensive places to sell stuff. And you notice they are cost-per-click. I am going to pick on Yahoo a little bit. Yahoo jacked their rates in the fourth quarter, like newspapers do when it is like the football anniversary issue or Michael Jackson dies, or whatever. I mean people charge what they can get.

As a small business retailer, I don’t have the resources to manage every single product in each one of these CSE’s, and so a lot of times we will rely on feeds and set like a really low cost-per-click. But we get virtually no traffic from them.

Google is really important and they have changed the way they work. You need to find somebody who knows something about that to make sure that your products are included in this free Google product. And we are just kind of getting our little toe into that.

But overall, it is just so expensive.

Man 1: I would probably echo that. I think it is incredibly costly for new merchants starting out, because typically, all they know at that point is, “This could be a good source of traffic for me.” I would not encourage anybody to start until they know what their conversion rate is. Have they fully optimized that conversion rate before they turned this on? Because you don’t want to pay for traffic to come to your site only to be turned away by your less than 1% conversion rate. So you are going to want to know your conversion rate and know what your profit margin is. And at that point, you can choose to make an investment.

I think they are wise for certain people. There are some management tools that are out there. Single Feed is one that comes to mind. Brian Smith writes a great blog called I would recommend going to that site and reading up on it.

It is incredibly powerful when you have enough data and you have analytics in place, and you can decide which products you should be listing and which products you would never want to list. Low margin things-never list. High margin things-well, only if it is truly not competitive.

In terms of what Yahoo does, we automatically submit to Google Base. We actually let The Find come and pick up our merchant’s product feed as well. So if you can hook up with a shopping cart provider that does some of that automatically, you are one step ahead of the game. But the best results come from when you optimize that feed yourself.

Woman 1: Froogle, because it is free and it is going to boost your rankings overall, is definitely a must. I mean it is free as far as the listings, but aggregating all of your information and everything and making sure to get it in there is the tricky part. But it is well worth it.

But as far as all of the other pay per click shopping engines, it is a point of frustration for myself and probably a lot of other etailers, because they do raise their rates. They did the same thing to me at Halloween time. Because I am in the Halloween category, they raise the rates right when I can even try to make any money on it. And then at that point, they bid against me on all the regular pay per click engines. So it is like a double whammy-you get nailed twice for it and the conversions are just not there.

Question: I am just curious. This is about e-commerce optimization. I haven’t heard anything about AB testing or multi-variant. Do you do that?

Rob: Yeah, absolutely. I have just gotten bigger lift on our site working on the buyer’s guides and really specific product reviews. I have done Google Website Optimizer. We did a free trial with…I don’t want to say who it was, but it is $5,000 a month, and decided not to. I just did another non-Google website optimizer test and implemented their results and nothing happened.

One thing I want to add onto that is that when you are doing an AB test, if you are doing an AB test where the control is the way it is now, and the B is the variant, make a little bitty copy and send 10% of your traffic to a copy of the control, and that gives you a great idea of how much the test is causing drag on your shopping cart. We saw a 10% decrease in conversions of folks who were waiting for this JavaScript to render the test.

And I mean I have tried different cart buttons and it is really frustrating, because I go to all these panels and I know these guys know what they are talking about. But I think most of the time in optimization, what I am learning is that my “add to cart” button that I have been using for 5 years really works, and different elements like that really work for us.

Woman 1: For me, it has been hard to do AB testing because I am such a huge seasonal business. About 70% of our business for the year is done in two months. So if I am testing something, I have to react in like days; I have days to react on it. So it is very tricky for me, but I do test a lot of different things just like everybody suggests. Things like little tedious color changes, word changes, different things that cause me from sleeping at night. And I try to do everything, but it is particularly a challenge for me because of the seasonality of the business. Like, something that worked for me in October is not going to work in November anymore. It is definitely a challenge, but something that I still try so hard to pay attention to and make builds for next year.

Man 1: As an e-commerce solution provider, I am actually a big analytics nut. I think that is kind of the next wave-making that understandable to merchants.

AB testing is tough in the segment for the majority of our merchants. They don’t have the amount of traffic to generate tests over a short period of time. I was working with a company that tested with Rob, because their promise was they could actually optimize with much less traffic. And it looked like it was going to be really well suited for the type of traffic levels that are clickable for a Yahoo! Store merchant or a smaller e-commerce player below 50 million.

The results are kind of still out on that, but we would love to investigate it. We just added Yahoo Web Analytics. So we know the data is there. Website optimization is the next frontier. And automating that optimization is ultimately where I think the market is going to head.

Rob: Let me add one thing to that. We tried something with our cart on Gun Dog. We went from a three step checkout where we had a cart that was separate, and then a shipping info page, and then a billing page with a click to order button. We switched to a one page checkout and our conversion rate, dropped carts, stayed exactly the same to two decimal places.

In these four or five different ways we have tried to do multi-variant testing, I have seen like 5-8% improvements in these models. I mean little bitty things like that. Adding the words “best seller” to your top 100 best sellers, that will increase your conversion rate on those products more than any other test I have ever run on my site in the past four years.

I used to be a consultant and developer. I have pretty much retired. I still have a few clients. It is like I will go into a store and they will have something like a little bitty “add to cart” button. It is like their parking break is on in their Ferrari. I look like a genius by just coming in and taking this one thing, fixing these one or two headshot problems that they have, and they go, “Oh my gosh!”

So I just think if you implement all the best practices that you know of, at that point, you can start experimenting with offers. I don’t think changing one button is going to be the difference in the world on a big store with 2,000 products and 10,000 pages and millions of visitors a year. We weren’t seeing that as far as our testing.

Question: I am also in a niche market like the two etailers on the stage. I have been in business a long time. I love creating unique content. I am very familiar with my subject. I am passionate about it. I am not just selling something to sell. And I agree `100%. It has always been great up until maybe the last 12 months, what I am seeing. And it has got to be frustrating you, and I am wondering what your response is now.

Amazon is Amazon, but they have got to be selling the same products that you are selling now. And even this morning, Zappos is talking. They are going to own…they are getting out…

So what are you doing? You are educating your consumer. But so many people are more familiar with the Internet now. They are opening up another tab in IE, and they are doing the best price search, and you are losing that customer, even though you have educated them. You have basically sold them the product, but you are losing them on the price.

Rob: It is the same thing that his happening in brick and mortar stores. People go into a guitar store, hold the guitar, play it, say, “Hey, I like it,” and then go order it from Musician’s Friend. It is driving small Mom ‘n Pop’s out of business there.

I think you need to do value adds. I didn’t have enough room in my presentation to go into some of the other content that we have created. But nowadays, you can buy a Macintosh and you can have a video production facility on your desktop. And one of the things that we have not finished implementing yet is creating this content in such a way to where we can package it with what we sell. Because about 10 years ago we realized, these manufacturers keep doing this kind of stuff to us, and they are going to sell the products to anybody is going to sell it…people sell for cost plus a dollar. What do you have that someone else can’t go get cheaper somewhere else? And that is you and what you know.

So create an additional “How to use a dog tracking collar DVD” and stick it in the box. You manufacture your own products. Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from those competitors, you have to do that.

The other thing is go on Amazon. Put your products on Amazon in different ways and direct folks to your website. I know you can’t technically do that, but if your Amazon username is your domain name and you can link to your content…

And I am not saying violate anybody’s terms of service, but if they go, “There is a lot more content over here,” you actually can migrate some folks over. And people will be loyal if your prices are somewhat competitive.

Woman 1: What we recently started doing with Amazon, it is called Amazon Product Ads and it is our whole catalogue on Amazon, and it looks like they are buying from Amazon, but it comes right back to our website. It automatically sends people to the Yahoo! Store. So they can look at Amazon all they want; they are still ending up on my site.

Rob: And Amazon is going to charge you 13%, 14%, which is…I don’t get that net!

Woman: No, it is 13 cents per click.

Rob: Really?

Man 1: Now, be careful with Amazon Product Ads because we have heard reports of duplicate content issues from developers that have implemented it.

Rob: And do a remix version. Do I light version of your content. Keep your Holy Grail content. Like my dog training buyer’s guide, my dog tracking collar buyer’s guide-that is not going anywhere else but on my main domain. But in your feed, you can control what fields get added to a feed. Don’t put all your content on somebody else’s site, because they might have a domain with higher PR and higher trust than you.

Question: How big a role does email play in terms of getting this content out?

Rob: On some of other our projects, we actually do a lot better with email. There is a lady sitting in the front row who knows email a lot better than I do. Her graphs look like a comb. You can tell when she sends emails out because it is “Shoop, shoop, shoop, shoop.”

But we had 500 orders last month from one email that we sent out with one of our clients. So it really depends on what you are selling. A lot of the products we sell don’t have a lot of repeats.

Woman 1: [inaudible-crosstalk]

Pubcon 2009: Ecommerce Optimization Reviewed by Rob Snell on 2009-12-01

. What I am going to talk about today specifically is how we more than doubled our conversion rate on our family business, Gun Dog Supply, over the past four or five years.

Now, Gun Dog Supply is our Yahoo! Store, like I said, that we started in 1997. We basically took my parent's business online. They started in 1972 selling training supplies for hunting dogs. And we were in the situation where we had to get online because we had Petsmart moving in across the street from us, and we took a 50% sales hit with our offline sales in our brick and mortar stores. So mom said, "Get us online."

Rating: 4.5