an interview with Kurt Elster.
Your store's product display pages (PDPs) are your gateway to more sales. What makes a good product page stand out from the crowd? What can you do to optimize your product page for sales? If you're limited on time, where should you focus your efforts?
This week on the podcast, we're discussing how you can turn your product pages into highly-converting sales machines. We'll talk through what you should absolutely include on your PDP and what major conversion-breaking red flags to avoid. We finish by chatting with Kurt Elster, co-host of the Unofficial Shopify Podcast and co-founder of Shopify Plus consultancy Ethercycle, to get Kurt's take on what makes a product page great.
One of the most highly regarded independent consultants in his industry, Kurt Elster is a Senior Ecommerce Consultant who helps Shopify merchants like Jay Leno’s Garage uncover hidden profits in their websites through his ecommerce agency Ethercycle. With one million downloads, Kurt is best known for hosting The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. You can learn more and subscribe to Kurt’s free newsletter at https://kurtelster.com/
Octane AI enables fast-growing D2C brands to increase revenue and collect data from the marketing channels your customers use.
Clocked in a time clock for Shopify.
With Clockedin your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet, or mobile.
- [02:00] Why the PDP is Kelly's favorite page to optimize
- [04:00] Teardown of Stargirl Face Mask from Blume
- [12:21] Teardown of Schwinn IC4
- [17:55] Introduction to Kurt Elster
- [18:05] The Mystery of the Camo Blazer
- [21:00] What even is a PDP?
- [23:40] #1 red flag seen on PDPs
- [25:50] Amazon product listing format
- [28:08] Why you shouldn't use product tabs on your product page
- [33:01] Good examples of product descriptions
- [36:48] Recommending additional products
- [40:14] The trust bar
- [44:37] Product reviews
- [46:01] Why you should publish negative reviews
- [50:13] Accelerated checkout
- [52:32] Shopify store shoutouts
- [54:35] Where to find Kurt on the internet
- Stargirl Face Mist Teardown
- Schwinn IC4 Teardown
- Baymard Institute
- The Brain Audit by Sean D'Souza
- Adam’s Polishes
- Outdoor Voices
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
- Tactical Baby Gear
- Shopify Product Reviews
- Pit Viper Sunglasses
- Kurt on Twitter
- Kurt’s Newsletter
This week on Commerce Tea, we're talking about Kelly's favorite page to optimize, the product page. We'll do a quick tear down of the product page each of us just bought from, meaning you'll get some insight into our buying habits and the way we look at other products. Then we chat with Kurt Elster, Shopify Plus partner and cofounder of Ethercycle, on his take about his favorite and least favorite features on a product page. Let's dig in.
Welcome to Commerce Tea, podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.
And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.
Hey, Kelly, how can merchants get more out of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns?
I recommend Octane AI, the leading Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.
How does it work?
Using their built-in flows, conversational ads and retargeting campaigns, you can easily unlock messenger and SMS as new revenue channels. The platform has ready to go integrations with top apps such as Klaviyo, Privy, Recharge, and Justuno.
What kinds of returns can I expect?
Merchants using Octane AI report 80 to 95% open rates, a seven X increase in click-through rates and even a seven to 20% increase in revenue.
This sounds great. Where can I learn more?
You can start a 14-day free trial by requesting a demo at octaneai.com or by visiting the Shopify App Store and searching for Octane AI.
How are you doing this morning?
I am great. How are you?
I'm doing awesome today as I try to do every day. And I'm really excited we're talking about product pages. I know they're your favorite.
I am really excited to be talking about product pages.
That's great. Okay. So why is the product description page is your favorite page?
It is my favorite page because I think the two most visited pages on your website are going to be your homepage and then just all of the product pages, just in general. Let's say I am sharing a link to this bike that I just bought with Rhian, and that's the page that we're going to be tearing down together. And I'm not going to link her to the homepage of the website and be like find this product yourself. I'm just going to take her right to the product page.
And I think it's really, really important to optimize your product page because new customers should learn every single thing they need to know about your brand just from visiting that one page. So they should know who you are, what you sell, and any kind of trust building factors that are required in order for me to make this purchasing decision. And you'll see, Rhian and I have two very different product pages we're comparing and I think it's going to be a really good conversation around that. So, does that answer your question?
It does answer my question. I also want to add why I love product description pages.
Why is that?
And it's from an SEO perspective shocker. And that's because most organic searches land on a product page, not on a homepage. And I think there's a misconception when you're optimizing your store that you should be going homepage and then through the collections and products, but in my opinion, I mean, yes, of course, your homepage should be optimized. But the reality is, most people land on a product page through Google search, not on your homepage.
So I am a huge fan of product description pages especially when they're done well. They're always super, I get pumped. I'm always like, "Oh, look at this cool storage is just found, look at this great product description." Let me show everybody.
I think it's also worth noting that the pages that we're about to tear down, we're looking at their desktop sites. I see, as an agency owner, we tend to run our businesses from our computer, but our customers are browsing their website on their phone. So, we're going to be looking at the desktop pages because we're currently recording this podcast. I guess we could pull up the pages on our phones.
We could, we could.
Let's do it.
We'll do both.
We'll do both.
So, let's just jump right in. I am going to pull up the page that you purchased from. So, what did you last purchased?
I last purchased from a company called Blume, B-L-U-M-E, and I purchased a lot of things. But what I'm choosing to look at right now is the Stargirl Face Mist. So this brand is targeting Gen Z. I bought this skincare for my daughter and I did so because Salima from SAMARRA bags said, "Hey, Blume." And I was like, "What is this?" And now I'm here $200 later having bought up on just skin care for them. So, I am really impressed with their product description page. There's a lot of copy here.
There's a lot of copy here, yeah.
Frankly, if I could change one thing, so first of all, so when you go to this page, you're going to see face mist and then there's a lot of creative copy, I love that. My feedback would possibly be the add to cart button should go directly underneath the title. Kelly, what are your thoughts on that?
I completely. I always recommend putting the add to cart form above any of the product description unless you have like three bullet points that you're just quickly getting some information out there. Your customer shouldn't have to scroll too far to actually add an item to the cart. And I can see on my phone, which I'm using an iPhone 11 Pro, I have to scroll a little bit in order to actually see that add to cart form.
And one thing I want to point out is I just had a hunch for the price on this product. It turns out it is like the next line right after the final sentence of the product description. That needs to be bigger, that needs to be much more obvious.
Absolutely! One positive thing that I really do like, I totally agree regarding the price, I didn't notice that and that's a good call out, is when you do scroll down to look at the product description page in further detail, the add to cart becomes a sticky button up on top of the page.
Both on desktop and mobile.
Yeah, yeah, which is that's great. That's a great mirror.
Exactly. That means that your customers are always going to be able to see that add to cart button and it's definitely going to help your conversions.
I would recommend everyone check this out because this is a really great example. For those of you that have heard me speak at SEO at length, and some of you have, I talked a lot about content, how to use it to rank this, the writing on this page is how you can disrupt the market like skincare and get found when looking for skincare and go up against your huge, huge brands like Dermalogica, et cetera. So, I will call that out, the copywriting on this page is beautiful. It's also aesthetically very pleasing.
It is. I really liked this breakdown session of the section on the page. I think this is a good example of a customized product page where it's not just like, here's the one paragraph of product information, the add to cart form, and then maybe some related products. They take it a step further and add some additional information about the products and this is something, if you're selling apparel, if you're selling anything that's being ingestible or being put on your skin, you need this extra information.
Yes, I love it. I also love that it's like spray it as often as you want and the frequency, the limit does not exist, which I'm sure my daughter will test that and she will too find that limit does not exist. Yeah, I'm really impressed. This also goes to show how important strong assets are on a page.
Absolutely. And then same thing, you keep on scrolling down how it's done. You have steps to know exactly how you should use a product. Again, if you're doing anything that requires any kind of educational component, your customer should not have to hunt for that information. It should be front and center and this is a perfect way to show off that information.
I also love that they really surface what's inside the product and also what it's free of. So, it highlights not only are these the cool things inside the product that makes the product the product, but also it doesn't have gluten, it doesn't have sulfates, it doesn't have parabens, it doesn't have any of that stuff. So it reduces that time when you have to email if you have some kind of allergy you saying, "Excuse me, does this product have X in it?" Well, you've already removed that. So now you've reduced your customer support debt because you've addressed it up front. So, overall, I really enjoy this page. They also have at the at the end, they've got reviews. And I love that they don't have a five-star review, frankly.
This is one of the most important things for merchants to remember, when you get any sort of negative review, provided that it has some kind of legitimacy to it, publish that review. People are actually more trusting of a product. This one has 137 reviews at the time of recording here with a 4.7-star rating. They're more likely to trust this one over a product that has a five-star rating, but the same number of reviews. Because then you start to wonder, are these people who actually purchase the product, are they just like planting these reviews, are their friends just reviewing it? You don't have that information.
Right, right. I love it. And that's the T in trustworthiness, right?
Super kind of cool.
One of the things that I think I would add to the page, like at the very bottom of the page, they have a related product or related products. But I noticed the section above the product reviews, there's this plays well with section. I have expected these to link to other products or provide like a bundling opportunity being like, "Oh, it plays well with all these other products that we offer, why don't you buy them?"
Right. Right. I do have a question, which isn't to you. But it's interesting that they have Glossier and Kiehl's on here as well and Laneige, because these are three different brands that are not their core brand. And that's an interesting thought process when it comes to skincare and it's realistic.
I like it. You know why I like it? Everyone loves Glossier for example. To associate your own products alongside Glossier is a really great connection to make with somebody who's new to your brand but they see the products alongside a brand that they already know and love.
That's a really great point, I love that. I love that. And it also kind of hits the skincare gamut because Kiehl's tends to be more of an elder millennial Gen X product. So it's also saying, "Hey, this isn't just a Gen Z product, you could also use this product if you're already using products such as Kiehl's.
It can stand up next to it. And that's really important too. So it almost hits two different markets at the same time that it's hitting a third.
I love it. I think this is a really solid product page.
I do too. I do too. So, what was the last thing you bought?
So the last thing I bought was an indoor spin bike. I have a road bike that I've been using a trainer on but my husband and I have to constantly switch off the bike that's attached to the trainer because we only have one but we both ride three times a week. And so I finally decided to buy a spin bike and I did not want to go the Peloton route because they're expensive. They're really expensive.
Whereas, I could use, what I ended up getting was a Schwinn IC4 indoor cycling bike. And I can just use the Peloton app on an iPad alongside it. So, that is what I bought and that's what we're going to be tearing down next.
Okay. So, I love already when I'm looking at this product right away, you can see the price and you can also see how many reviews there are as well as the star reviews. Now, this is more upmarket. So, I don't know if the same rule about adding an add to cart right up there applies, what do you think?
So this is kind of what I was talking about if you have a few bullet points to feature. I think in this case, it's probably fine. They're a little lengthy. Those first two are a little lengthy. But also knowing your audience, especially one being a high price point product to you're going up against somebody like Peloton, you have to put your product in the best light possible. So, I think it's fine. Again, it's just like a quick overview of the product. One thing I do like is that they do offer the upsell options directly on their ad in home assembly, add a Schwinn protection plan.
I like that as well. I wonder if they're still doing at in home assemblies?
Okay. Interesting. Okay.
So, one of the things that I know is an issue on this page, because I just had to purchase the bike, and PS, I purchased the bike from Best Buy's website because of COVID they have a significant delay on actually receiving the item which you don't find out about until you add the item to the cart. And by significant delay, I mean at 60 business days. I would not receive the bike until the end of September.
My husband has been trying to buy an electric set of drums, like electric drum kit, for the past two months. And every time he adds to cart and he gets all pumped, again, it's like that, as a 60, 90-day out. And it's been really kind of perpetually disappointing. And he's like, "I don't know why they don't surface that out the gates." Because it's not that I still won't buy the product. It's the fact that I'd like to have my expectations managed heading into the purchase of that product. Plus, it also shows scarcity and value.
Yeah, it does. And you're being honest with the customers upfront. Because let's be honest, I'm going to abandon my cart now that I see that I'm not going to receive it for three months. Had I maybe never added it to the cart in the first place because I saw that it's going to take three months, sure, that's absolutely possible. But this is negatively impacting their conversion rate, because you're going to see an add to cart rate and then a significant drop off when they reach checkout.
Yes. I can't even imagine what the conversion rate looks like. I'm going to assume it's not great.
So, scrolling down on the page, also one of the things that I did want to point out is they do have really solid product photography. And they also have a video which I think is important for any kind of high price point product to make sure you have all the information available. If you scroll down on the page, they go into more detail about the product features which I think is absolutely important. Interestingly enough, it's set up differently on mobile than it is on desktop.
Yes, it is.
Which makes it easier to read. So, definitely, a good move there. Scrolling down, lots of product features. To me, this has a lot of bullet points and I'm just not going to read the copy.
Okay. So, at the bottom where it says choose the path that's right for you, on mobile, because of the way it's stacked and even on desktop, I was expecting it to be more than just a one to one comparison. I was expecting it to have IC4 Peloton, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Like something else.
Yeah. I just tried to...
Scroll over on it?
Yeah. I tried to scroll over on my phone and it was like, "Oh, it doesn't scroll." And then I just went back to desktop and said, "Oh, there's only two, that's why it doesn't scroll," but-
Yeah. I think that's the wrong caption or the wrong heading to use because it's literally comparing the IC4 to the Peloton which is the research that I did as well. But I do like that they have this comparison just because, again, that is a significant different price point.
Very significant, very significant. This is a really neat product to kind of wish I would have found prior to me acquiring a Peloton. But, there you go, there you go.
One last thing I do want to point out, which I think is great for adding to any product page, frequently asked questions right on that product display page. What are the most frequently asked questions for this specific product? Display those right there. Okay, and then they have added another question, visit our IC4 indoor cycling bike FAQ so you can continue to look at the additional questions if you have any.
Yeah, this is neat, and that's where things get really technical. So they've taken that off of the primary product page and put it somewhere else but kept it still under the domain.
Absolutely. So, we will link to both of these product pages in the show notes so you can take a look at them yourself. And on that note, I think we should go ahead and introduce Kurt and talk about product pages with him.
This week on the podcast, we have Kurt Elster, Shopify partner since 2011. He's best known for hosting the unofficial Shopify podcast. Also, he has some awesome clients through his consultancy, Ethercycle. Hi there, Kurt. How are you doing?
I'm good but I think I'm best known for this stupid camo jacket.
That is true. And I've known Kurt for many a year now. And as he wore to our partner conference, the first year he wore a camo jacket and then the next year-
It's a camo blazer.
A camo blazer.
It's garish. It's that like woodland camo. It's like woodland camo if an eight-year-old drew it.
Yeah. I mean, you can see it across the road. You're like, "Oh, there's Kurt."
Yeah. It's like Crayola colors but in a camo pattern.
It's the opposite of what usually happens when you wear camo.
Yeah. But the second year, five people wore camo blazers, which was really confusing to my brain because I'd like walk up to them and be like-
That was the third year.
... you're the wrong person.
The third year they wore camo blazers. Well, I have a couple people with camo blazers because they were on trend. And this one poor German partner had a really nice one that was tailored. He just wanted to look cool. And his jacket was nicer than mine and so many people gave him shit about it that he came up to me, he's like, "You're the guy whose jacket I apparently ripped off." And I was like, "I'm so sorry."
We were eating lunch at Unite and there are other people just coming and I'd be like, "Do you see that guy over there wearing a camo jacket?"
I love that though. Hey, once you've got something-
On that third year, the Shopify partner team bought a bunch of cheap camo blazers and four of them put on camo blazers and ambush me but the lead up to that was they're like, "Did you see all these guys with camo blazers?" They kept saying that to me, so I thought there were tons of people with camo blazers but I only saw a couple. And then suddenly I look up at this commotion and there's four or five people in identical camo blazers and then we're like, "Yeah, I just want to thank you." It's cool.
This is Kurt Elster, trendsetter, Shopify partner, extraordinaire.
So, there are a lot of things that we could talk about since you've been in the Shopify space for so long. But what I would really like to talk about today is product pages. Because I know you and I spent a lot of time in building out these websites, building out these stores. We spent a lot of time on the homepage and the product detail page. And I feel like a lot of clients tend to look at their homepage and forget about the product detail page unless they're guided in that direction.
I'll make one exception. I love people who start on Amazon and then go, "Hey, I want to own the experience. I want to own the channel. I want to own the brand." And they move to Shopify. Amazon sellers know the importance of a good product detail page better than anybody else. And so, when you work with a brand that sells on Amazon first and then direct to consumer via their own websites second, they often are the ones who nail the product detail page. At what point did the correct nomenclature become product detail page or PDP? What did that happen?
I feel like it happened two-ish years ago, because I remember, I had a client who kept on referring to it as the PDP. And I'm like, "What in the world are you talking about?" And-
Oh, yeah, me too.
I've never heard that.
It was merchants who decided that they're going to call it a PDP and not the partner who's actually working on the PDP and it just kind of stuck.
The other thing that I always think is strange is all things are tabs. If it's a tab like a tab description, that's a tab. Is it a page? That's a tab. Blog post, tab. Menu items, tabs. Everything becomes tab?
Yup. So it makes it really difficult to understand what you're talking about when-
I know. Well, we're just being picky. I figured it out. I know what it's talking about. Call it whatever you want.
I won't judge you.
I won't judge you either. One thing I wanted to point out about it, I always tell them, what do you call them? I call them product description pages. What do you call them?
Product detail page, PDP.
Okay. So, for SEO, I always call them product descriptions because, you both know, I go on and on and on about how if you don't have a robust product description page, then you're not going to get found on Google. So, I'm clearly using the incorrect nomenclature and y'all are using the correct nomenclature.
There is no correct nomenclature, that's the thing. Some people just call it a product page.
That's what's interesting about eCommerce. It's not been around that long. We're all basically winging it.
We can't spend this entire episode arguing over the correct spelling of eCommerce. Do you hyphenate it? Do you capitalize the C? Is it all one word? Do you like capitalize a random M? Who knows?
I think, all right, if you're going to go with the camel case, it's lowercase e, capital C, no dash, no space. But if you want to do with all lowercase, then you do e dash commerce.
I like doing no dash so it's just eCommerce.
Yes. And my phone yells at me saying I'm misspelling it, but I make the rules so I'm sticking with it.
There's so many options. There's so many options. So, Kurt.
You see and you do many a tear down.
Oh, I love it.
I know you do. I too love a good tear down. And what is the number one red flag that, I'm like leading with a super negative. I'm like, let's talk about the bad set. What is the number one red-
[crosstalk 00:23:35] keep screwing up.
Name names, take notes. But what is the number one red flag you see on this PDP?
On the product description page. All right. So, there's two things that drive me crazy-
And I was talking description page, okay.
You just go on with it. I mean, I know we said, you could say it whatever you want, but you're saying it wrong.
Yeah, well, that's okay-
You could say however you want but you're also wrong.
So that's why I acronymized it so that way I couldn't get it wrong again.
All right. So the red flag with the PDP on your PDP tab. There's this idea that no one reads and then people decide that the solution to no one reading is to put nothing on the page. This is problematic because on this product detail page, this replaces the in store experience. I can't pick up your product, I cannot see the packaging, I can't ask a customer service rep. I can't try it on. I can't feel. You have to replace all of the experiential handling that occurs with your product via your product description.
So you want it to be long, and it's not like you're paying by the pixel, this thing could be gigantic and it would not cost you anything more than a regular page. And on top of that, like all touch devices and trackpads means scrolling on a page is not only abundantly easy, it's completely natural. And by virtue of them getting to your product detail page, they know how to scroll. So I think the solution was people go, people don't read on the internet. they don't read boring shit. They don't read garbage. They don't read a giant wall of text.
But if you've got a really compelling description, and you format it really nicely, and you've got a nice layout and you break it up, guess what, they're going to skim through it first by scrolling. And then if they're going to be making a decision, do I want to learn more about this? Is this the thing I'm looking for? What is my question here? And when they find it, they're going to read them like, oh, well, maybe they start reading a little more, a little more. And pretty soon you just spent $400 on a router and didn't tell your wife about it, right? That's-
Totally not [crosstalk 00:25:36].
That's like a deeply personal moment.
Totally not what happened last night. I got an Eero Pro after we did an overview. It's a nice mesh router in my quest for perfect WiFi. Anyway, so if you look at an Amazon product listing, they do a lot of clever things. The top description is split, which by the way you could do in Shopify, most themes support this. If you literally just stick an HTML comment that says split into the description, it'll know like this is the top half, this is the bottom half, we'll change the layout. So, like on Amazon, if you notice what the description does, the top of the description by the product form bullet points, right? And then like below it, then you get like the wider, longer form description.
So, already if you go with that, you're better off. Or you go buy the product for like associate, I want title price, product form, bulleted description so like five bullet points. If it's more than five points, you break my brain. And then put in that split comment and then put your longer form paragraph text in there ideally broken up with banner images, heading, bolding key or headings, bolding key phrases. And now that you know all that, go back and look at an Amazon listing that's got 3000 reviews, whatever it is. That's the format they follow because it freaking works. Then there's no reason you can't do exactly the same thing in your Shopify store.
So I think more that like there's the basics of the layout, fine, and you get some really fancy layouts, but don't obsess over the design, focus first on the content. Because what we felt like the number one conversion rate optimization tactic we have is copywriting. Copy makes or breaks you, right? The web is 90% typography. Get it right and, for God's sake, make it easy to read. I know subtle, sophisticated, but when you come at me with dark gray text on a light gray background and 12-point font, no one's going to take the time to figure out how to read that. They're just going to bounce and go to a site that has legible text.
I will step off my soapbox now.
No. I'm going to put you right back on your soapbox. You're going to love this next topic. So, speaking of having a wall of text, not being great to read, splitting it up. Let's say I am selling clothing and I want to include a section on caring for my clothing, whatever it might be. A lot of people love using product tabs for this information.
Tell me why you do not like using tabs on the product page?
Okay. So, number one, the reason I don't like the tab descriptions is you're fundamentally hiding the content. If you're hiding it, my feeling is why is it even on the page? If you feel it's so unimportant that it should hide behind a tab, my God, why did you even bother? The only exception I'll make to this if it's like things you are legally obligated to include, fine, you could put it in a tab. So let's say, you're in California, they have the Right to Know Act. One of my clients, Jay Leno's Garage, sells auto detailing supplies out of California. So, Right to Know Act, they have to put in all the ingredients.
All right, fine, we put that in a tab. And all right, that's the one consolation to a tab I will make. So Baymard Institute, which does usability studies, at least a third of your customers, according to them, are going to miss the content entirely that's in the tabs. So that's problem one, yours hiding the stuff, why bother? So instead of the tabs, if you absolutely have to collapse this content, and sometimes it makes sense, it's certainly something I'd like to split test, use an accordion menu. An accordion menu is they are much more likely to open those when compared to a tab description.
But ideal, I don't want it at all because you're just hiding stuff. And, again, that love of tab description, they're a pain to manage, they're a pain to implement, but the core love comes from that, I think that false belief that people don't read on the internet. Well, it's like if you really believe that, then why is that stuff even there?
Well, absolutely, and also it has SEO implications, right? Well, as does the entire product description like you mentioned. You're like talking about CRO, and how copywriting is core to CRO, and copywriting is also in turn a core to SEO. And people just don't think about it like that. And they're like, "Well, let me do all this other stuff." And you're like, "If you write really great content, it will convert and you will get found." But if you don't do those things, then I don't know what to tell you. Because we keep talking about, you and I, every time we have a microphone, we're talking about one of those things and folks just don't always listen.
I get the copywriting is hard.
It is totally hard. It sucks.
Everyone just heard like, "Oh, I have homework." I have a master's in business. I studied business and I took more marketing classes than I could count. I still could not write copy to save my life. And it wasn't until not that long ago, I sat in a Starbucks and I read pre-pandemic. Thank you. I read The Brain Audit by Sean D'Souza. It took me like 30 minutes This is the tiniest, most straightforward, simple book, but it lays out, here's a copywriting strategy. And his copywriting strategy lends itself well to sales letters.
If you read my agency website or my Shopify profile, there's this big letter in there for me, it's just me following the brain audit formula. And that same formula works equally well for product descriptions. The other thing that works really well... So early on, if you don't know what you're doing, and you've not sold anything, you don't have anyone to talk to, you don't have reviews, follow that formula. Use The Brain Audit by Sean D'Souza or check out Copyhackers has some great guides. There's like the copy hackers guide to copywriting formulas, you'll get everything you need from there.
But once you have reviews and you have feedback from customers, start updating all that stuff with voice of customer. Survey your customers. Go through your customer support. Go through your reviews. Figure out how people talk about your product, how they see themselves, how it benefits them, and what their objections are, and put all that back into your content.
When I do a UX audit with the intent of conversion re-optimization for Shopify store, step one is not run heat maps, step one is not split test. It's do a customer survey. I want to be able to put together a customer profile and fully understand that customer before I ever start looking at the website, because that'll really inform the like the lens with which I view it, I want to see it as that customer.
It's always so interesting doing those customer surveys as well because a lot of times you think you know who your customer is. And you end up launching this product launching, whatever it is that you're selling. And suddenly you're realizing that while you were initially thinking that 20 to 24-year-old men were the ones who are interested in buying this product. No, it is women in their 40s who are loving it.
Yes. What you think you know about your customer and why they buy your product, unless you have asked them and you have asked many of them, it's a best guess.
So, Kurt, question for you, because like we mentioned before, you do many a tear down. Can you give us some good examples of product descriptions? Ones that make you say, "Wow," and that other folks should model when they're developing their content strategy.
Sure. So I think I'll rattle off a few. A site we built, Adams Polishes, they do a really good job especially if you want a good layout look. I like them a lot because they'll do like a banner image with a description, and an embedded video with how to use it, and a longer form description and they do use accordion menus but we made them like so big and obvious and we've heatmap that we know people use those. So I like that one depending on the product you look at, like quick detailer is a good example.
I like Pit Vipers for just insane brand voice and user experience. I mean that thing is wild. And what I saw recently I liked a lot was H.V.M.N. It's a nutrition company. I assumed it was pronounced human. I was talking to a woman who worked there, she pronounced it as H.V.M.N. That one's good and Outdoor Voices has always done well especially like the brands that produce a lot of content will generally often have better product descriptions and copywriting.
One of my favorites, and I talk about it all the time, is Jeni's ice creams. Reading their descriptions for their ice cream really makes you want to buy their ice cream like best eaten under a blanket fort with a flashlight and goes on and on but it's fun.
Remember, Peterman catalog and J. Peterman from Seinfeld?
So, what a lot of people don't realize is that's a real company and catalog and it was fiction a lot like the man was fictionalized for the show. But J Peterman is a real catalog. And what was interesting about it, my mom used to get it. It did not actually have photographs of the products, it had illustrations, and then it had a really long and clearly insane and made up story that went with it. And that's what inspired this like the absurd stories that J. Peterman would tell on Seinfeld was these product descriptions.
Well, years ago, their website mirrored that experience entirely. So think about that. People were buying products that were not cheap, you spent a few hundred dollars, and they had never actually seen them. That was just based on the description. That's the power of 10. And the descriptions were largely made up. I feel like that's the power of telling a really good story with a product description is seven or eight figure brand.
That's really impressive. And I think it also carries over to the [inaudible 00:35:37] right for your images as well. I think it was Ilana Davis, on your podcast?
Who said, describe the product like you're describing it to somebody on the phone. Who can't do it.
I've used that so many times now. So as we talked about it. Yeah, all the time.
Because it's so easy to overthink what should go in an alt tag. You're either like unintentionally or intentionally keyword stuffing it or you're putting in a bunch of just completely irrelevant info. And, no, once she said that, it was like one of those mindset shift moments where I knew and I was like, "Oh, all right, well, I'm never going to think about all tags is the same again."
And it was, yeah. She was like, all right, let's say somebody wants to buy a purse, you're in the store, you're looking at the purse, like I could imagine as I call my wife up, "Hey, do you want me to buy this or this?" And, "Well, describe it to me." "Okay, well, it's about this big, a round, and it's black and it's got a gold hardware." "Ah, okay." When you think about that way, tremendous SEO benefit and of course accessibility benefit.
For sure. So we've talked about the product description, why we hate product tags. We've talked about your alt tags for images. Let's talk about recommending additional products on the PDP as well.
There are a lot of things and directions we can take this. You have the recommended product section that's just related products. There's complete the set. There's previously viewed products. What's your take when you're planning out a PDP? What do you like to see on that section of the page?
I have come around on previously viewed but I think it's something that works well on a cart page. Otherwise, I wouldn't necessarily use them unless maybe it's some odd niche some edge case thing, like you sell literal nuts and bolts for hardware, body jewelry. Anyway, all right, that aside. The one I've had, yeah, all right. I have ADD, stop it Rick. Did you respect me? Oh, geez, Rick. For cross selling on the product page itself, what I'd love the most and if I've had the most luck with is frequently bought together.
So like right under the product form, you have a widget, says frequently bought together. Ideally, you do some custom styling. I know CSS is scary. You load custom styling to make it match the site and then you sell it as a bundle as part of a larger set. And the idea there is you're not just trying to sell more, you're not saying, "Consume more consumer." You're saying, "Hey, you could buy this one product or you could buy this set, and it will, in theory, add more intrinsic value to your experience."
So a really good example of this one is tacticalbabygear.com. That's an entirely custom theme built. It uses the frequently bought together app, described exactly the way I said it. And their products are they're core product like a bag or a backpack and then accessories that go with it and so it makes sense to sell as a bundle. And so we have this frequently bought together app that does it. That's actually a really good example of a PDP page in general, where they've got video and they have illustrations and they have badges and icons and they do a really good job.
I love seeing that as well especially when it's like a one click button to add those other items to the cart. Don't make your customers have to go through and select each of the additional item. Make it so it is a quick thing to just button add to cart.
Think about the psychology behind that. Each time is a purchase decision. So if I'm on the homepage, I'm going, "Am I interested enough to browse?" Like just visiting the homepage, that's like walking past the storefront. Going to a collection or product, aha, all right, that's like going into the store, right? And that's what we want. Those people are significantly more likely to buy.
But then once I'm on the product page, every time I click add to cart, that's a purchase decision. Do I want this? Should I add this to my cart? When you separate them out? Let's say it's like three items I want them to buy, that's three separate purchase decisions, unless I do the frequently bought together, and then it's really just one purchase decision with a much higher average order value. I think that's why those work well.
I think you're right. Yeah, that makes complete sense based on my bachelor's degree in psychology, [inaudible 00:39:57]. I need to make use of it somehow. So, let's also talk about just additional things that people may not think of adding to their product page. For example, information about shipping and returns.
Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. So one of the things we often do on a product page is we had a thing that I lovingly call the trust bar. And it's either a series of badges or like a bar that goes across, and it'll be like free shipping, free returns, 365 days satisfaction guarantee. Those are like just the base questions that people are going to ask and each one identifies and mitigates or risk, right? So if I buy an item, do I have to pay for shipping? I would like literally everyone on the planet would much rather pay $40 and get free shipping than pay 35 and pay $5 shipping, that is just a human thing.
Because paying for the shipping feels like you didn't get any value out of it. So you advertise that on the page, free shipping. Or you could even do a progress bar, you're $10 away from free shipping. But then what happens if I get my item and I don't like it? What if this doesn't fit? What if it doesn't look right? What if I hate it? What if it bit me? All right, free returns, oh my gosh, you're going to pay for the shipping label for me to send this crap back to you? I love you. You completely mitigate that risk, right? And that's what you want to do with those trust bars and free shipping and free returns and a satisfaction guarantee.
And I like satisfaction guarantee because it's kind of vague, right, so you want to define it. But satisfaction guarantee is really it's like on your terms what that means. And for a lot of merchants, I saw a really good one for a woman in Oklahoma who makes concealed carry bra holsters for women, obviously for women, so you keep your gun as part of your bra. And she does a 365-day satisfaction guarantee if the item is in its original condition. That was the catch to it, right. It's like, all right, I held on to this for 10 months, and it still looks brand new when it was directly against my skin.
Obviously, it's like the mattress companies. You don't need a year to figure out if you like or dislike this product, but it demonstrates a commitment. It demonstrates confidence in your product. Like if you are unwilling to actively sell your product via a great product description and you're unwilling to offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee in return, well, then do you really believe in your product? If you believe in it, then it's your duty to try and sell it and have confidence that people will be happy with it?
One thing about the trust bar that I really love is it's also, again, a ranking factor for Google, right?
Yeah. It's the T in trustworthiness of the ranking factor. So, it's just something to keep in mind that not only does it help you convert and get that client, it also helps you get found on Google, which I'm a big believer that CRO and SEO are best buddies. And I think SEO is best buddies with all facets of sales online, but that's sometimes a controversial opinion because it's a mindset shift from what folks think SEO is versus the fact that SEO kind of is everywhere. So, I just wanted to add that. So, let's talk for a second about reviews.
Speaking of trust.
Speaking of trust and authority which is the A, authoritativeness, I can't even say, is the A in EAT.
Okay, before we move forward, explain eat.
Yeah, you can't just drop that in the dojo and leave.
Okay, okay. So, Google has been talking about this for a while. Whenever Google says something, I tend to pay attention because they don't give out much information about their algorithm for free. So eat his expertise, authoritativeness and trust, trustworthiness. And those are three of the key ranking factors or signals that they're using in terms of content and what's on page for ranking as of right now.
Say them one more time.
Expertise, authoritativeness. I can't say the second one very well.
Authoritativeness. It's a tough, yeah, it's an odd word.
Yeah, there's two Ts, very close together. And then the third is trustworthiness.
Okay. Maybe I just wanted you to say that second word again.
Yeah, because I can't. It's just going to be a repeat of me trying to say that.
It's just messing with you, Rhian.
Just quietly over there like ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.
So, with reviews, trustworthiness, authority.
If you don't have reviews like what the heck is going on here? That is such a red flag. You got to have the reviews. For reviews app, there's the free Shopify product reviews app. It has a fatal flaw though. It doesn't actually send an email soliciting a review. Yotpo used to be the gold standard, it's really pricey. So the two reviews apps I recommend use and enjoy are Judge.me and Stamped. And then my personal preference is Stamped, just probably because I'm more familiar with it.
I like those apps a lot. For your reviews, oh my gosh, you need reviews, get reviews, get reviews, get reviews, like that's user generated content. It's voice of customer content that you can mind to improve your product descriptions, ads and headlines. It's all important objection busting, social proof on the page. So, yes, absolutely. Make sure you have reviews on that page. Don't hide them behind the tab. I hate you when you do this. Just put them on the page.
I don't see any tabs on Amazon's descriptions. That should tell you something. And then make sure you've got the review stars installed by the product title so like up near the price and the product title on the product page and also in the collection grid. I think that really helps people. Don't just go through and remove all your negative reviews, it becomes immediately suspicious.
That's actually a really good thing to talk about because all of these reviews apps allow you to curate the reviews and decide who you want to, whose review you want to publish, you can respond to reviews. So what do you recommend to merchants who are just getting started with reviews who don't know if they want to be publishing these negative reviews?
I love that reviews apps let you reply to reviews. So when someone leaves a one-star review, maybe it's BS and you can remove it. But maybe it's a legitimate complaint, maybe it's a customer who had some customer support issue that didn't get resolved. In which case, you could turn that into an opportunity to demonstrate the brand where you replay to it be like, "So sorry to hear you have that experience. Went we found your order and we refunded you." And then you could have that publicly in the product description. How cool is that?
Rhian is an app developer. Kelly is soon to be an app developer. I've got a few Shopify apps. If you talk to anyone who does Shopify apps, those one-star reviews, those people who have negative experiences, those are the best opportunities to get five-star reviews. I mean we talked to [Jay Myerold 00:47:08] about this. It's huge. And they said it was, "Oh, because I love negative reviews, you learn something and those are opportunities for five-star reviews." And that's what they-
And even if you can't turn around a one-star review, I also think the way you handle your response to the one-star review, it shows a lot about your brand. It's just you're responsive, it shows that this is the way you deal with challenges when they arise and I think that's a trust building factor as well even if they never changed the review from one to a five. It's, well, you saw that either the person behind the product or the person behind the app or whatever has the right. They're doing the right things and they actually care. They had the right mindset, yeah.
Hug your haters. That's the answer here.
Hug your haters.
Hug your haters.
So what's the best way to ask for review?
Well, I think the thing to experiment with is the timing. Honestly, I've never done anything fancier than just email the customer and ask for their review. One way I've seen other people do it to improve it is to phrase it as a question in the subject line of the email. If you can get them to open it, they'll write the review. If you want, you could try to incentivize it like, "Hey, write a review and we'll give you a coupon for 10% off or something." But, honestly, like people are, are willing to share their experience when they have a good experience. And if you've been able to build that relationship, that brand relationship with them.
So if it's just like I ordered my product, I got a confirmation and then two weeks later, get a review email, less likely, but if it's like I ordered my product, and I got my order confirmation and then two days later, I got an email that's like, "Hey, your product is on the way and here's some common info you need about it. This is a good time also to preempt people. You could be like, Oh, and if you don't like it, here's how you initiate the return. That way you help avoid those one-star reviews and help them have a better experience.
And tomorrow, we'll send you a getting started guide. So they send him a few emails before they've even got the product. It helps build that trust, build that relationship. And then, once they've had the product for a little while, you send them the review email. The thing to experiment with is how many days you wait, is like, I think 7, 14 or 21, try split testing those and seeing which does best.
And it really depends on your product as well, what you're selling, because some of them have a more immediate gain and immediate consumption, whatever it might be. So you can request the review a little bit earlier. But if I am buying a couch on Shopify, I want some time to experience using this couch before I am immediately asked for a review.
[inaudible 00:49:56] couch when I said that, so that's why-
And you just got to think through, yeah, like there's some common sense involved there, I'm sure like, all right, if I'm selling St. John's Wort, nutritional supplement, I should wait 30 days, if I'm selling sparkling CBD water, I could probably just do seven or 10 days.
Exactly. So, one final point that I would like to discuss for the product page is accelerated checkout. So those checkout buttons that allow you to immediately go to checkout from a product page, are you for or against them? Or are there certain verticals that you think that really can take advantage of accelerated checkout? What's your take?
I absolutely love accelerated checkout. I don't know why anyone wouldn't enable it. I don't know why there's pushback. But picture this, which is better, spending seven to 10 seconds to purchase a product or up to 60 seconds to purchase a product? Take your time and think through it. Obviously, the dramatically shorter one is better because the shorter it is, it's faster, it's easier. I'm also not going to second guess myself et cetera. I much more likely to complete that checkout process. And I love the ease of Apple Pay. Oh my gosh, it is-
It's terribly fast, like I would say terribly fast because I ended up buying things so quickly that I didn't even give myself some time to think about it.
I'm very suspicious of the Apple Pay button now because of that idea, because it's too easy, I'm like, no, no, don't do it.
I am great spending money on Apple Pay.
I think one of the things that keeps people, like they don't want to actually use accelerated checkout is that they fear that it's going to kill their average order value that is preventing people from wanting to buy additional items because they're checking one item out and then that's it.
Yes, so that is the push back on it. Which I disagree with because in practice, I have yet to see this happen. I've yet to see the accelerated payment methods, do anything but overall increase revenue.
And really not having impact on average order value because they make impulse purchasing so easy.
Yeah. And these are the types of people who are never really going to be shopping around in the store to begin with to add additional items to their cart. You are already capturing their purchase really, really easily.
So, Kurt, we could talk all day about all sorts of things but unfortunately we only have so much time, otherwise, we would be sitting here all day just talking about all the things. So, we like to wrap up every episode with shouting out our favorite Shopify store of the week, month, year, whatever. So...
What is yours?
Where is it going to go?
What is yours?
I'm going to go with Pit Viper Sunglasses.
Which is the most absurd, outrageous in your face sight selling $60 sunglasses. I bought a pair. I'm thinking about buying another pair but they're like their brand voice has gone so extreme that you can't help but admire it like it immediately polarizes people. You laid on that site, you either go, "Yes, this is for me," or, "Oh no, this is awful." And there's like there's advantage to that them. You separate the wheat from the chaff. Yeah, that's polarizing, yes.
I'm here for the puns.
Quality, dead joke.
Kelly, what's your favorite story of the week?
My favorite story of the week is called Jiggy. They're puzzles that are like art. And their whole thing is puzzles worth framing. So, you do this puzzle, and it looks like a proper painting or a print that you would buy so you can frame it. And I think the puzzles they have on there are beautiful. And I think they're well worth checking out. So that's jiggypuzzles.com.
My wife loves puzzles-
I love puzzles.
Yes. Rhian, what's yours?
My story of the week is Kinfield. It's a direct to consumer product that's meant for the great outdoors or your backyard depending on what situation you're in right now. For me, that means my backyard. And that product set is there's moisturizers, there's bug repellent, stuff like that. And it's really beautifully designed, easy to navigate. I love the color theory that they use on their store. And I just recommend everyone checking it out. It brought me a lot of joy this week when I discovered it.
Awesome! Kurt, where can we find you on the internet?
Oh my gosh, I'm active on Twitter @kurtinc or Google me. Google Kurt Elster at my website, sign up for my newsletter. And those emails all come from my actual email address. So if you reply to that with a thoughtful question, I will send you a thoughtful answer.
I love that. Kurt, thank you so much for joining us. I really enjoyed this conversation. And, again, we could sit here and talk all day. So, we'll likely have you back on the show again to maybe dig into the cart next time.
I would love to. You two are great.
Thank you. Have a good day today.
Thanks for tuning in. And thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday so grab your mug and join us. See you next week.
Clocked in is a time clock for Shopify. With clocked in, your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet or mobile. Check it out at clockedin.io or in the Shopify App Store.