The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

6 Ecommerce Myths Holding You Back

Episode Summary

Ecom Coach Austin Brawner co-hosts this joint.

Episode Notes

Misinformation is spewed left and right about nearly everything in eCommerce and it’s driving us insane.

In this joint episode, fellow ecom coach and podcast host Austin Brawner joins the show to dispel the top six ecommerce myths we encounter with merchants every day.

If you’ve been a long-time listener of the podcast, you know that Austin is a trusted recurring guest and in this episode, we’re hoping to put a nail in the coffin of six costly eCommerce myths.

Tune in as we set the record straight on Google PageSpeed, website design and copywriting, work ethic and so much more.

Episode Highlights:

Myth #1: You need to diversify your traffic
Myth #2: Google PageSpeed is crucial to getting more sales
Myth #3: You have to be the first to do everything
Myth #4: If a “big” business is doing it, it must be right
Myth #5: Hustle and grind is the key to business success
Myth #6: People don’t read on the internet

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Episode Transcription

Kurt Elster: So, you don’t record 350 or so episodes of a podcast and not make other podcaster friends. So, I was thrilled when Austin Brawner, who’s an eCommerce business coach and hosts The Ecommerce Influence Podcast, that also has 300-something episodes, said that he would love to do a joint episode with me. I said, “Wait, what the heck’s a joint episode?” He said, “Well, we’re gonna record it together as cohosts and then release it simultaneously on both our shows.” I said, “That’s brilliant!” Oh my gosh. Content. I love content. Let’s do it.

And the topic we came up with was the top eCommerce myths that drive us crazy. We said we’ll do five. And then we ended up with six, because there’s just too many to pick from. And the issue is for me, they’re an annoyance. They’re bothersome. They’re frustrating. But for business owners, it often is… They’re limiting beliefs. They’re things that are really holding you back, or at the very least wasting your time and making you pull your hair out.

So, in today’s episode, Austin Brawner and I are gonna break down for you the top six eCommerce myths that are holding you back and making me crazy.

Austin Brawner: All right. We’re live. Kurt, man, good to see you. Excited to have you, just be recording with you, man.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Yeah. No, we’re titans of our industry. I think that goes without saying. No one’s gonna dispute that with me.

Austin Brawner: And we don’t spend enough time talking. You know, we do podcasts every once in a while. We’ll hop on and do some live trainings or that sort of thing, but I always enjoy it, and so it’s exciting today to do a cohosting of a show together, and dive in, and do some debunking, some eCommerce myth debunking.

Kurt Elster: And so, we say we’re cohosting a show. To be clear, we’re gonna simultaneously release this as episodes on each of our respective shows.

Austin Brawner: Exactly. Exactly.

Kurt Elster: Cool.

Austin Brawner: For maximum-

Kurt Elster: Our first crossover episode.

Austin Brawner: For maximum eCommerce myth debunking, we’ll release it at the same time, and it’ll go out there and spread, and hopefully help people who are in the weeds making progress, growing their business, doing things, and the people-

Austin Brawner: Exactly. In the arena. But yeah, so today we’re going to talk about basically six eCommerce myths, because we’re sick of these things being propagated in our space, and we’ve been doing it for a while, and we’ve got a little bit of… I would say some perspective, and so we’re gonna share some of our thoughts on this.

Kurt Elster: Wow, that was understated, because A, these are all things that drive one or both of us crazy, like just drive us nuts.

Soundboard: Oh, geez Rick!

Kurt Elster: And to say like, “Oh, we have some perspective,” we’ve been… I’ve been in eCommerce most of my adult life. I assume you have, as well.

Austin Brawner: Yeah, man. Yeah. It’s been definitely deep in the game at this point, and it’s changed a lot, but what’s been interesting is a lot of the stuff we’re gonna bring up has been kind of like around for a while, right? And it’s surprising because these things haven’t died yet, right? They just keep filtering around, and filtering around, and so hopefully today we can put a nail in the coffin. Make an impact.

Kurt Elster: It’s not gonna happen… I’m not holding out hope, but I’m gonna try anyway.

Austin Brawner: Well, let’s dive in. Let’s dive in.

Kurt Elster: All right. Let’s do it.

Austin Brawner: I’ll start with number one, which is one of the things that drives me the craziest, and myth number one is that to truly grow your business and to scale up, you need to diversify your traffic. The reality, that’s not true. You don’t need to have 10 channels driving traffic to your website to be able to grow. I think you only need two. Two channels to scale. Something that works and something that brings in repeat customers.

Kurt Elster: I like that view. I also… Another way I will phrase that for people is you need two plans: your make money today plan and your make money tomorrow plan. And that’s just a different perspective on that same idea. Or another way to do it might be like, okay, I always like to go… People go, “Hey, how do I grow? How do I scale?” I go, “Well, what works? Do more of that and less of what doesn’t work.”

And so, if you have one channel that you can attribute return on ad spend on and works really well, just keep doubling down on that. See how far it’ll go. But at the same time, I get it. I think the diversifying is not about growing. It’s about defanging it. It’s about taking the risk away. And so, that’s why ideally you do like, “All right, 80% of my budget goes to thing I know works and I just keep doubling down on it. And 20% of my marketing budget goes to I’m going to experiment with other channels.” And I think that’s okay.

But again, that’s also… That’s a variation on the today/tomorrow strategy.

Austin Brawner: And it really depends on where people are in their journey, right? So-

Kurt Elster: Absolutely.

Austin Brawner: Early on, early on, there’s I think a tendency when you’re just getting started to try to see all the things other companies are doing, and you maybe like… I remember talking to someone and they’re like, “Well, we saw subway ads in New York City for Casper. Should we think about running subway ads?” And they were doing like $50,000 a month in sales. I was like, “No. No. Definitely not. Right now, your goal is to find one thing that works and see how far you can take it. Once that’s going, then you can diversify.”

If you look at a lot of the top brands that people know of, whether that’s MVMT Watches, initially it was Facebook ads, or you know, Four Sigmatic, for example, you’ll hear them on podcasts all the time. Away, they grew a lot with affiliates initially, like every travel blogger was just vlogging these Away bags for months and months. And what’s interesting is I feel like so much of the top of the results go to like the top 1%, and that’s why it’s so important for you to be really, really good at one thing.

But I totally agree with you, Kurt. Later on, when you’ve got massive risk tied up and you’re spending 50K a month in Facebook ads, and you’re feeling totally exposed, that’s when it’s time to defang it and diversify.

Kurt Elster: So, myth one, you must diversify your traffic regardless of all else. We’re gonna call that busted.

Soundboard: Law & Order sound.

Austin Brawner: Boom. Boom. All right, Kurt, you’re up for number two. What’s your… I know this one. This one drives me crazy, so-

Kurt Elster: Yeah, I’m opening with the one that makes me insane on a regular basis, and that’s Google Page Speed, that you have to have a high page speed score rating, and that if you can get a perfect score, suddenly it’s like the gates of eCommerce Valhalla open and everything you want to rank for, you’re number one for, and your website loads so quickly people just can’t help but convert.

And the reality is a fast website is nice and a slow website’s not going to help, but it is not like this be all, end all, tear your hair out and rip all the content out of the site for the sake of the page speed gods. The importance of it, wildly overstated. And on top of that, everybody’s got LTE phones. Those things are faster than most people’s broadband connections. It’s nuts.

But I’ve got some Page Speed Score numbers for some websites that I would like to rattle off, and that’s how we’re going to put the nail in the coffin on page speed being this massively important thing.

Austin Brawner: Let’s hear it. Let’s hear it.

Kurt Elster: I question the importance, or I question the accuracy of the tool, especially in relation to Shopify. I really… Given the seven and eight-figure stores I see with like a 15 score in Google Page Speed, I suspect that like there are days where Google Page Speed works by… You know, it downloads your website over dialup and then Sergey Brin describes it over the phone to Larry Page, who gives it an arbitrary score.

But all right, Allbirds,, we would agree that that’s like a really huge, important DTC site, right?

Austin Brawner: Oh, for sure. For sure.

Kurt Elster: All right. Well, their mobile score in Google Page Speed is 12.

Austin Brawner: 12 out of 100.

Kurt Elster: 12 out of 100.

Austin Brawner: Yeah, so as you can tell, Google Page Speed is the most important factor in the growth of your store.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Well, and Amazon, like they’re number one, right? Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla. What do you think their mobile score is? Because they got engineers, they have to have nailed this.

Austin Brawner: Given that Allbirds is 12, I’m gonna say 22.

Kurt Elster: All right, Amazon actually does pretty well. 46.

Austin Brawner: 46.

Kurt Elster: Still, they don’t even get above 50. They’re still in an F.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. Yeah. Where do you typically see people bugging out? Where do they bug out if their score is below?

Kurt Elster: If it’s below 60, because they’re doing academic math on it, where they’re going, “Oh, that’s a failing grade.” And that’s part of the problem with the way it grades. What drives me crazy is that I can measure how fast your store loads. I can quantify it with time, or the size, right? It’s not a difficult thing to quantify. But instead, we have this scoring system that applies a largely arbitrary score that works out to a percentage. So, suddenly it appears to merchants, “Oh my gosh! I got a failing grade. And they can’t help but panic.”

Austin Brawner: Nobody wants failing grades.

Kurt Elster: Of course, it’s going to give them anxiety. No.

Austin Brawner: Nobody wants a failing grade. We’ve been trained for years and years and years not to get the failing grade.

Kurt Elster: And I just… I don’t even get what Google’s getting out of it. I don’t. I think it’s just to distract us all from trying to beat the ranking algorithm. They’re like, “Here’s a shiny toy to fiddle with.”

Austin Brawner: I’ll share one more thing, which is most likely downloading another app to fix your page speed is probably not going to solve it.

Kurt Elster: Well, and sometimes… The scummiest thing I saw was a site, this guy’s so proud. He was in my Facebook group, and I didn’t tell him, I don’t want to tell him. He’s like, “I paid this guy $800 and now my site scores 100 out of 100.” And we looked at the site. What the guy had done was wrap the Shopify store in an iframe. Google Page Speed doesn’t load the content inside of an iframe. So, all it saw was like a two-line HTML document and was like, “Boom. Nailed it. 100 out of 100.”

Austin Brawner: That’s pretty scummy. That’s scummy. So, officially, so just to wrap it up, so to be like actually… Where do you get concerned at all, or do you ever get concerned about page speed?

Kurt Elster: If you’re on your website on your phone and it’s slow and frustrating, or people are complaining about it being slow, all right, that’s a legit problem.

Austin Brawner: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: I will often tie it back to like just what’s the size of this page. If it’s under 5 megs, the chances are it’s really not gonna be a problem. But I think at the end of the day, I phrase it, it’s similar to audio quality on a podcast. Good quality doesn’t hurt, bad quality doesn’t help. It is the same for a website. But whether or not something is good or bad is subjective. I’m on gigabit internet. I can load a 100-meg website and probably not even feel it or notice, right?

If you have an LTE phone in a major city, not gonna feel it. So, it’s when you get to people, it’s like, “All right, I live in a cabin and I have satellite internet.” Okay, that’s where, and it works out to 10 megabit. That’s where you really start picking up the advantage in speed. So, some of it depends on your audience, but…

Austin Brawner: Yeah, if you’re selling generators to people living in cabins, you probably should have a good page speed.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. And at that point it’s like, “Okay, start making this site lo-fi.

Austin Brawner: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: We’re not loading custom fonts anymore. We’re not auto playing videos. You have to start sacrificing some fancy content features.

Austin Brawner: Cool. Busted?

Kurt Elster: Busted.

Soundboard: Law and Order sound.

Austin Brawner: Boom. I like it. All right, number three. Now, this one is one that I am very passionate about, and I’m passionate about it because I see so many people get caught up in this. Myth number three is that you need to be up on all the new stuff in our industry.

Kurt Elster: Get those shiny toys!

Austin Brawner: Just you gotta be in early, and you gotta be doing Clubhouse first, you gotta be-

Kurt Elster: Clubhouse.

Austin Brawner: You gotta be sending Facebook Messenger. You gotta be doing all the messaging, at all times, to everybody, and you gotta be the first.

Kurt Elster: I’ve never seen people so excited about conference calls.

Austin Brawner: Clubhouse?

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Clubhouse.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Kurt Elster: Conference call simulator.

Austin Brawner: The reality is marketing tactics are not the answer. If you’re listening to this, you probably don’t need more marketing tactics. You probably have too many already. And I think this really hits people when they have a very small team, like maybe if you have three people, or five people on your team. If you go to a conference, that can be really dangerous for your business if you come back and have all this stuff you want to implement.

And I told this story before on my podcast, but it’s stuck with me. I met this guy named Carl White a long time ago, like when I was first getting into entrepreneurship at the Traffic and Conversion Summit. And he was doing some workshop. I can’t remember exactly what he was doing. I think they brought him up and stage and he was telling about how he would go there, and he would wait for his one thing, because Traffic and Conversion Summit’s the ultimate shiny object syndrome place. So, he would wait for one thing, and his one thing he was gonna implement, and then he’d go to his hotel room, he’d pack his bag, and he’d go home. That could be day one, that could be day two, it didn’t matter. He was just gonna leave.

And I always thought about that. I think it’s so, so important, because one good campaign executed is all you need to have massive success. I mean, one Facebook ad could drive a million dollars in sales.

Kurt Elster: Focus, focus, focus. In my 10-year business journey, I just keep relearning the importance of focus.

Austin Brawner: Oh, yeah.

Kurt Elster: Because those shiny toys, they creep in on you. And you’re like, “Oh, well, this is cool. Let’s try this. Oh, look. Let’s try that.” And you don’t see it happening until suddenly you go like, “Wait. I’ve gone an inch in every direction and my business has not gone a mile forward.” And that’s when you start taking a hard look at stuff and you axe it. You gotta Marie Kondo it, where you go, “Does this spark joy? If this does not spark joy or cash, it is leaving my house and my business.” Right?

And I have those moments. And I love your Carl White story because what I’ve… After doing too many conferences, I don’t take notes anymore. I make a list of action items and then that’s it. I refuse to take notes because it’s just… It’s garbage. It’s noise, not garbage. So, I’ll take action items, and then through the conference and by the time I get back home, I have whittled it down to like these are the three things I’m gonna do when I get back.

And it sounds like that’s two too many.

Austin Brawner: Probably. Probably, right? I think at the end of the day, executing one thing… I mean, it’s to the same point from the first myth, which is like around diversification. Being in the top 1% of a channel is so valuable and that requires really working hard one thing. We’re doing a 45-day challenge in one of my… My program Intentional Wealth right now, and one of the guys, the thing he’s challenging himself to do is launch a new piece of creative on Facebook every day for 45 days. And he was like-

Kurt Elster: Wow.

Austin Brawner: “If I get two winners out of that, I’m set for a while.” But it’s not trying new things. It’s trying new things, but within the context of what he already knows what to do. So, that’s my rant on the new, up, new stuff. By the way, are you on Clubhouse?

Kurt Elster: I am. And you know what? I showed up on a Clubhouse panel and I’ve only done it one time. I showed up, I told a story. Toby Lutke, Shopify founder, shows up and is like, “I just wanted to say that was really funny.”

Austin Brawner: There you go.

Kurt Elster: So, after ragging on Clubhouse, my one and only Clubhouse experience was very positive.

Austin Brawner: Was positive. Was positive. And your business tripled, right? After that?

Kurt Elster: No. No. I mean, yes. No. Maybe.

Austin Brawner: All right. Myth number three, I think it’s busted.

Soundboard: Law and Order sound.

Austin Brawner: All right, Kurt.

Kurt Elster: Okay. We’ve got… Well, you know what? I want to jump to… You know what? On the new stuff, I think it’s about… That shiny toy syndrome, a lot of it’s about FOMO. You hear about a thing and you know, you don’t know that it’s just like it’s a PR campaign, or that person got it for free, or whatever the heck, and you don’t want to miss out. There’s people making money with a thing. I want to make money with that thing too.

And so, that leads us into our next myth, is that if a big brand, and big brand is subjective, if big brand does it, then it must be good and right. And it just isn’t the case because you have no idea why that big brand has come to the decision to do that thing. It could be like they have some weird obligation from a contract no one read right 10 years ago. Could be like the owner’s dog told him to do it. You really have no idea. And so, to look at a… When we say big brand, it could be like, “Well, Amazon does it.” Yeah, Amazon does a lot of things that… Not all of them are necessarily ethical or moral, either.

Or a lot of entrepreneurs will have like a portfolio of businesses that inspire them. And if any of those businesses that they really like and wish they were more like do a thing, install an app, whatever it is, run a promo, they’re like, “I gotta do that too!” But you don’t know. You don’t have the whole story. You’re not in their shoes. So, I think it’s important to have things that inspire you and take that inspiration, but to just blindly follow conventions set by other people because you like their brand is a little nutty.

Austin Brawner: I totally, totally, totally agree. And we can see the same thing when you look to another industry. And we can pull it back and share how it correlates with eCommerce. I look at finance as something that’s… The finance industry. You go on MSNBC, you see people debating, and they’re like, “This stock is overvalued. You should sell it right now. It’s just totally overvalued.” And you have somebody else who is saying how it’s undervalued, and you should be buying it, and it’s the same with cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s like 58K right now. There’s people saying that it’s overvalued. It’s way too much. And other people that’s gonna say that it’s way undervalued.

The reality is they both could be right depending on their time horizon and their strategy, right? So, somebody who is saying the stock is undervalued, if they’re trying to hold it for 10 years, they might be totally right. And the same person, if they’re saying it’s overvalued, and they’re trying… They’re a day trader. They’re swing trading. They could be right, as well.

And so, we don’t know what game other brands are playing. They could be losing money on the front end to make money on the back end. They could have a plan to drive up revenue, raise money, refill the bank account that they’ve emptied on Facebook ads, so they can build some long-term play, and at the end of the day if you’re here running a business and you have a strategy of trying to be profitable, we don’t know what they’re doing.

Kurt Elster: Right. That’s the crazy part, is some businesses are operating in a mode where they flat out are unprofitable intentionally. And if you’re running a business where you want to be profitable and you think mimicking their approach is a good idea, well, you have two completely opposed end goals, right?

Austin Brawner: Yeah. For sure.

Kurt Elster: To your point about… I like the MSNBC example. You know, like I’ve forced myself to stop watching CNBC and those business shows, because you’re exactly right. It’s that controversy, just talking heads yelling at each other that gets viewers, but like who knows what the heck they’re saying or what their agenda is. And I know I read… I’ve seen an article where if you follow Jim Kramer’s advice, the guy who’s always yelling and he’s doing the sound effects, he’s like, “Oh, buy! Buy! Buy! Sell!” If you followed all of his advice over a year, like every time he said to buy/sell, you’d never make money. It is so hard to time the market. That’s not necessarily related to eCommerce, though.

Austin Brawner: It’s not. I’ll share one more random aside with that, though. In the finance industry now, one of the big newsletter companies, Agora, they have to disclose the track record people writing newsletters. So, this person will say like, “Buy this. Get in. This is the next Apple,” or something like that, and at the bottom it will say, “If you followed Michael and bought all of his stock for the last three years, you’d be down 11%.”

Takes the wind out of it a little bit.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely. All right, so on that note, myth busted.

Soundboard: Law and Order Sound.

Austin Brawner: All right. Next myth. The next myth that we’ll share is… Okay, this is one I care quite a bit about, and that is to grow, the only thing holding me back from growing my business… This is the myth. The only thing holding me back from growing my business is that I just need to work harder, and crush it harder, and-

Kurt Elster: You’re just not hustling and grinding enough, Austin.

Austin Brawner: I’m not. I’m not hustling. I’m not grinding enough.

Kurt Elster: Where’s your Lambo?

Austin Brawner: It’s crashed. I’ve crashed multiple Lambos in this hustling and grinding culture. No, the reality is that the top founders and the people that I’ve worked with and know from the last eight years of doing this, they work hard to protect themselves from burning out. And they understand after a certain point, after you get off the ground, it’s not about not doing enough. It’s about doing the right things. And it’s about managing your time and trying to figure out what’s actually effective.

I know Andrew Youderian, who we both know, who runs eCommerceFuel.

Kurt Elster: eCommerceFuel.

Austin Brawner: He did a poll. He polled like 400 seven-figure store owners. Number one, their number one struggle was time management. And the way I look at it is that if you can master that and you can somehow figure out how to do less and do the right things, you’re going to have… You can have massive success. It’s not about… Elon Musk is not working a thousand or 10,000 times harder than you, or 100,000. Actually, probably like a million times harder than you, right?

Kurt Elster: Yeah. At his level, it would be like a billion times harder than me.

Austin Brawner: He’s not. He’s not. He’s trying to figure out… He’s managing his time and his energy, and he’s trying to stay in the game and not burn out. That’s why he’s got projects that have gone for 30 years, 20 years.

Kurt Elster: Of the stuff we’ve talked about today, this is the one that resonates most with me as like speaking to my business experience. And even in the pre-call, we talked about it. You said, “What’s new with you?” I said, “Well, I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work and I wanted to put that into practice, and so I just dramatically limited my time.”

And I think one way to really internalize that is think about it this way. There are a finite amount of keystrokes left in your fingers. Every time you type, there’s fewer keystrokes left until you die. That is factually correct. And so, how are you going to spend that time? Where are you going to spend your finite keystrokes? And with an online business, obviously it’s all tapa-tapa, type-type and the money comes out, but not all activities are made alike, so you need to start thinking about what’s the return on investment on the activities I’m doing? Can I prioritize the higher-end stuff? Is there stuff I can delegate? Is there stuff I can outsource? Is there stuff I can just get rid of?

Honestly, the further along I get in business, the more things I say no to. One of my favorite emails I send, I have it mapped to a keyboard shortcut. I type semi-colon nope, and it immediately just says, “Hey, thanks for the opportunity, but to protect my time I gotta say no. No reply needed.” Send. That’s the email I send the most. And I have only gotten more productive, more efficient, more profitable, and less anxious as a result.

Austin Brawner: For sure. I mean, how many podcasts have you released?

Kurt Elster: 350 if you don’t include the guest ones. Once you put the guest ones in, now we’re like… I don’t know, over 400 easily.

Austin Brawner: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That’s wild.

Austin Brawner: And to be able to do that, I mean, I’m at 300, as well. To be able to do that, you can’t burn out. You can’t. And the returns on all that stuff, all the marketing, all the stuff you’re putting out, comes in over time. And it comes in all the skills you develop with that, all those things, they don’t happen right away. And so, if you can just figure that out, figure out your pace, I try to think of my pace. I think I run slower than other people, right? Some people are like, “Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Get it all done.” It’s like they’re at a high, high level.

When I’m most effective, I’m slowed down. And when I’m slow, I’m able to make the decisions, like the really good decisions that lead us to much larger growth. Because I’m thinking a little bit more clearly and I’m feeling through my decisions.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely.

Austin Brawner: So, it’s not about working harder. Slow down if that’s your pace and yeah, that’s my myth busted there.

Soundboard: Law and Order sound.

Kurt Elster: The other one that I think… You know, I talked about reading, but I said I read Cal Newport’s book. But how is that possible? Because our next myth says people don’t read. Especially on the internet. No one reads! This one consistently baffles me. Just nobody reads!

Well, if that was the case, why is it that these really long sales pages perform well? And these really longer product descriptions do better? I would love to… I don’t even know how we’d set up like the criteria for this, but I bet the length of your product description correlates to your conversion rate. I really think it does.

Austin Brawner: It’s interesting. That’d be an interesting test. Well, okay, so let’s go diving in a little bit more, because why do people… Why does that myth exist? That myth exists because there’s a lot of garbage that people write on the internet.

Kurt Elster: I think it goes further. A, yeah, there’s a ton. There’s just a ton of total trash that no one’s gonna read. So, number one, people don’t read garbage. Okay. And that could be both the content or how it’s formatted. If it’s hard to read, I’m not gonna read it. Or people reading it less likely. It goes down.

And I think the other end of it is your… If you’re running an eCommerce store, or I have several apps in the Shopify app store, you’ll get questions from people, and it’s easy to go like, “That’s in the FAQ.” And they’ll even type. They’ll reply like, “I checked the FAQ, and I didn’t see my question.” And I know full well it’s in there. So, you don’t hear… You never hear from the people who read it, figured it out, installed the app, bought the product, whatever it was, and moved on with their lives. You don’t hear from them. You only hear from the folks who reach out and go, “I didn’t see my question answered.” And then they ask you the thing that you know is wrapped in a blink tag in the product description.

And so, there’s a bit of I think confirmation bias going on there that reinforces this idea that people don’t read. Now, what I think is true is people skim, so I think you have to… You want longer-form content, but you want to make it skimmable, and so that’s where you do… You gotta break up your paragraphs, use headings, images, bullet points, and if you can make… I think you want like a 500-word description. It’s a little arbitrary, but a 500-word description, and break it up with headings and bullet points. And then, lo and behold, people will read.

And if you haven’t yet tried to optimize product descriptions through copywriting, man, nothing pays out ROI as an optimization quite like copywriting. I mean, there’s all kinds of shiny toys. Man, copywriting, that is the revenue driver in many eCommerce businesses.

Austin Brawner: And just to put the nail in the coffin on this myth, I think when we look at an overall trend on the internet, look at what’s been growing very quickly. Substack, newsletters, people like longform content. I think people are craving good… I think one of the reasons Substack is successful is because there’s quality writers on there, but also, they standardize the formatting kind of like Medium did, so that you can read it, and it’s easier to digest the content than going to some website where it’s all… You know, some $5 an hour VA has formatted it and it’s just not… doesn’t look good.

But I love your point about the bullet points, and writing, and thinking of it like similar to a sales letter, and yeah, even with Facebook ads, a lot of the best ones, it’s storytelling that can be done in video and also in text.

Kurt Elster: I love the concept of storytelling. And if people don’t read, then you can’t tell stories, and if we can’t tell stories, we can’t sell stuff.

Austin Brawner: Exactly. And if we can’t tell stories, life is so much less rich.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely.

Austin Brawner: Right? That’s what we all connect with. That’s what we all connect to.

Kurt Elster: But I get why this myth is so pervasive. It’s because when someone places an order on your website, or in my case, I’ve got several Shopify apps, you get these questions that you know you’ve answered. You know that you’ve made this abundantly clear on your website. And you get this question, it’s like, “I looked everywhere, and I didn’t see it.” And it’s like wrapped in a blink tag somewhere, right?

When you’re on the receiving end of that, but you never hear from the people who are like, “I was looking for an answer. I found it on your website. It was easy. Thank you.” Those people don’t email you, so I think there’s confirmation bias going on here.

Austin Brawner: Oh, I think there’s lots of stuff going on there. With that specific example, you have… There’s also different types of buyers, right? There are people that can buy with very little information. They’re like gut feel buyers. Then there’s people that are gonna scour over your page looking for every answer, the more technical buyers. And then you have morons. Just think about it. I always think about this example. Think about your… How big was your high school, Kurt?

Kurt Elster: Oh, geez. Several thousand people.

Austin Brawner: Okay, several thousand people. Now, think back to high school. There are some people there-

Soundboard: Eww!

Austin Brawner: … that you… I could never understand what was going on in their head. And when you think about the scale of the internet, and the number of people going to your website, when you get crazy, outrageous comments, or people that are like, “I didn’t check. I didn’t see. I read your entire website. I didn’t see anything.” It comes back to the margins and you’re always… Just the scale of the internet, you’re always going to have the YouTube cesspool of comments.

Soundboard Arnold Schwarzenegger: You idiot!

Austin Brawner: And so, bringing it all back, you’re not ever going to please those people. It’s writing quality, good content, and a sales page, and a sales letter, for the type of people that are going to read through your site, and there’s a good chunk of people that will go through and make a purchase. It really does make a huge impact. It’s also like… It’s not just brand. Copy… Pep [inaudible 0:32:20.8]… Pep’s a great guy. It’s in Austin, Texas. He posted on something on Twitter. It was like a year ago. He’s like, “If you had to choose between brand or copy, and you could only have one, a website that was perfectly beautiful with no copy, or a website that looked terrible with copy, what would you choose?”

Kurt Elster: The copy website, all day, every day. I don’t even have to think about it.

Austin Brawner: 100%. Not even a question, right? So, I think there’s an overvaluing of the branding side and undervalue of the copy.

Kurt Elster: Truly. And the websites I’ve seen, the first time I saw a $20 million website, Shopify store doing $20 million a year, it was ugly as sin, bucked convention, and there were a few things that were straight up broken about it. But they had phenomenal product listings. They put in the effort and it paid off. And that was the moment where I went, “Oh, content’s more important than the design, than the branding, isn’t it?” Myth busted.

Soundboard: Law and Order sound.

Austin Brawner: Busted. Busted. Busted. I love it. Kurt, this was fun, and yeah, it’s always a good time to record, and yeah, man. I’m just stoked we were able to do this, so we… Yeah, you should definitely check out Kurt’s podcast.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, I want an outro here. I want you to pitch my audience on you and then you know, I’ll do some hand wavy promotion of myself.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. No, if you’re a listener to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, you would be a big fan of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. We talk a lot about how to grow your business and how to create more freedom in your life at the same time. That’s been kind of my mission and my plan for eCommerce. And working with eCommerce entrepreneurs. It’s a great podcast. Like Kurt, I think I have about 300 episodes. We’ve been doing it in tandem and I hope this… Our goal is this is for our audiences to cross pollinate.

Kurt Elster: Cross pollinate.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. And discover each other. So, Kurt, why should they listen to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast?

Kurt Elster: Because-

Austin Brawner: With a level 99 Shopify wizard like yourself.

Kurt Elster: Well, clearly the answer is because I have a soundboard.

Ezra Firestone Soundboard Clip: Tech Nasty!

Kurt Elster: There’s our friend, Ezra Firestone. And certainly, you mispronounced it. It is pronounced The Unofficial Shopify Podcast! My kids will be like, “How come you yell when you record?” I’m like, “Well, because there’s an airhorn.” They’re like, “What are you talking about?”

All right, anyway, on my show, The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, I have one goal, and it is to champion entrepreneurship. I have a similar mindset to Austin, where I want to create for as many people as are willing to listen financial independence, where you are in control because you’re self-employed. You own your own business. And certainly, it is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it has been a tremendous adventure. I am so grateful to have been able to go on it via podcast, and so what we do a lot of is share people’s journeys and hopefully that can inspire you, and you can learn from it, and then we also do a lot of support and handholding where we do Q&A episodes. I don’t know, it’s edutainment. We have a lot of fun.

Austin Brawner: Absolutely.

Kurt Elster: Just search Unofficial Shopify Podcast wherever you get your shows.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. Check it out. Check out Kurt’s podcast. It’s fantastic. Thank you, Kurt. Super fun. And for everybody listening, see you on the next episode.

Kurt Elster: I gotta get my electric car and get out of here. Bye, Austin!

Austin Brawner: Bye.