Listener Q&A on Q4 prep. Paul gets salty.
This episode is available as a video interview on YouTube: youtu.be/S3-9NZ1OLV8
In this listener Q&A episode aimed at optimizing for Q4, we discuss:
And we close with a breakdown of when Shopify Plus makes sense.
The Unofficial Shopify Podcast
Paul Reda: Hey, does your wife know you’re gay?
Kurt Elster: Julie!
Paul Reda: Don’t call her.
Kurt Elster: Julie! Paul had a question for you.
Paul Reda: Do you know Kurt’s gay?
Julie Elster: So I’ve heard.
Kurt Elster: All right, tell him the story.
Paul Reda: All right, we’re done with you.
Julie Elster: Okay.
Paul Reda: Good farewell. Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was talking to me.
Kurt Elster: That’s true.
Paul Reda: I do enjoy musicals.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. What’s your favorite musical?
Paul Reda: And I like feelings. Guys and Dolls.
Kurt Elster: Oh, okay.
Paul Reda: And I also love Bells Are Ringing.
Kurt Elster: But you’re also really into sports.
Paul Reda: Yeah, but gay dudes can be into sports.
Kurt Elster: That’s true.
Paul Reda: I think the problem is is I-
Kurt Elster: But straight dudes cannot be into musicals.
Paul Reda: Yes, that’s true. I have feelings.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Straight guys don’t have those.
Paul Reda: And I’m not sexually attracted to men.
Kurt Elster: Oh!
Paul Reda: That’s the main chink in the armor there.
Kurt Elster: Well, I think it’s more about masculinity.
Paul Reda: All right, so anyway, last week I kicked a guy out of our Facebook group who was being a real dickhole to people. He was posting a lot of dumbass shit. You know, you have a whole thing that you make people agree to when they join the group.
Kurt Elster: But it boils down to literally, the first rule is don’t be a dingus.
Paul Reda: The rule is if Paul or Kurt think you’re an asshole, you’re banned. That’s it.
Kurt Elster: It’s just like, “Be nice.” That’s all I want.
Paul Reda: I’ve been involved in moderating online spaces for like 20 years now, and that’s really the only way to do it. It’s like you have to rule with an iron fist and be like, “Get out.”
Kurt Elster: Well, and there’s a theory I subscribe to called squeaky stair theory, and you can look it up on Wikipedia. Squeaky stair theory. Oftentimes you’ll have someone in a social group who is a difficult pain, and everyone in the group just learns to work around it. They learn to step over the squeaky stair rather than confront it, deal with it, fix it.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: So, once I learned that, in our community, if we have any kind of problem, if it’s clear, you’re out. That’s the end of it if it violates the rules. And if it’s minor, like all right, we’ll warn you, or Paul and I will be watching. And so, this gentleman was on watch.
Paul Reda: Well, and I was just… I privately was like, “Oh, this guy’s an asshole. I could talk to him about it or I could just kick him out.” Hey, already did.
Kurt Elster: But anyway, Paul kicks him out, and then what happens?
Paul Reda: And so then, he tries to rejoin the group. I thought I blocked him, but I didn’t. And he left this diatribe against us where he called us pussy woke liberals.
Kurt Elster: Literally. That’s a quote, which is a badge of honor. Thank you.
Paul Reda: It’s apparently fucking cancel culture bullshit that we’re just like, “I don’t want you in my private group. Get out.”
Kurt Elster: Like toxic people get out.
Paul Reda: So, but he wrapped that up with, “Does your wife know you’re gay?” And I’m like-
Kurt Elster: That was just… That’s hilarious.
Paul Reda: I was like, “Yeah, we’re 12 again. That’s real good.”
Kurt Elster: This was an adult man.
Paul Reda: He was an adult man. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Anyway, be nice to people on the internet.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Anyway. If we don’t like you, we’re kicking you out. FYI.
Kurt Elster: This rarely happens.
Paul Reda: If you don’t like that rule, leave.
Kurt Elster: It’s rarely, rarely been an issue. So, the… What was I gonna say? Oh, so did you like my arcade cabinet?
Paul Reda: The arcade cabinet is good. I’m fine with it. I don’t like that 4x3 games are being projected in 16x9.
Kurt Elster: I’m sure that’s a… That’s the Dreamcast emulator. They don’t all do that. But I’m sure there’s a config for it.
Paul Reda: Okay, that’s good. And it’s just like we’ve invented better ways to play games than standing up at an arcade cabinet.
Kurt Elster: Well, I got barstools coming.
Paul Reda: Like, I think if you get like a Switch, or a handheld thing that has all those games emulated on it, that’s the way to go.
Kurt Elster: That’s not the same. This is an experience.
Paul Reda: I have a Nintendo DS, a DS Lite that I… I think it’s a DS Lite, that I rooted and installed a ton of emulators on, and that’s the only way to go. Also, there’s too many things, like you got Atari 7800 games on there. Come on.
Kurt Elster: I wanted all the games. All of them.
Paul Reda: Oh yeah? You playing a lot of Atari 7800? That’s not classic Atari, that’s Atari attempting to compete with Nintendo with NES.
Kurt Elster: Okay. No, I don’t.
Paul Reda: Yeah, you don’t.
Kurt Elster: I’m putting a link in the show notes to this game cabinet. I bought it off Etsy. It’s so cool. We just consciously decided that this year’s vacation budget would be reallocated to stupid purchases, and that’s how somebody ended up with an arcade cabinet and a Tesla.
Paul Reda: My Maltese Falcon came, speaking of stupid purchases, and it’s sick!
Kurt Elster: I believe I’ll need a link to that, as well.
Paul Reda: Yeah, I forgot to-
Kurt Elster: For your screen accurate…
Paul Reda: I forgot to take a photo of it.
Kurt Elster: Maltese Falcon.
Paul Reda: He also sells a perfect Rocketeer helmet. And I’m like, “Oh, I want that too!”
Kurt Elster: I love Rocketeer.
Paul Reda: Rocketeer’s so good.
Kurt Elster: You know, as a kid I didn’t like it. I re-watched it this year, I really enjoyed it.
Paul Reda: I re-watched it like two weeks ago on Disney Plus and I was like, “I love this movie.”
Kurt Elster: So, anyway, this is a podcast about eCommerce I’m told, and we are going to discuss today… Wait, hold on. I’m doing this intro wrong.
You’re listening to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I’m your host, Kurt Elster, and on today’s episode we’re going to discuss preparing for Q4, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So, in the Facebook group, fairly often I’ll ask, I’ll do a call for questions, and I’ll say, “Hey, what questions? What’s on your mind? Let me know.” And so, I did this, and naturally a lot of the questions, there was an undercurrent of getting ready for Black Friday. And so, that’s the theme that we have gone with loosely today.
Paul Reda: Yeah, and I mean by the time people hear this, it will be September, so they’re not… It’s not a crazy question to ask.
Kurt Elster: No, it’s right around the corner. 100% you need to be thinking about it now, and especially this year, where I’m not sure if you watch the news, but things are weird. Things are a little weird.
Paul Reda: Is stuff hap… I don’t know. This has been pretty calm for me. Is anything going on?
Kurt Elster: You know what? Just don’t check the news. You’ll be better off for it.
Paul Reda: I’ve just been hanging out in my basement watching streaming stuff.
Kurt Elster: Playing VR?
Paul Reda: There’s no commercials or news on that, so I thought that everything was just cool.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. No, not so hot. But someone asked a question that I hear a lot, and I’ve heard it for years.
Paul Reda: Anyway, you all have names. I’m sorry. It was my fault. I copied down all of the questions and I forgot to copy your names down.
Kurt Elster: All right, so a wonderful individual asks, “Have you ever considered building your own store? If yes, what would you sell? If not, why?”
Paul Reda: That’s scary to me, because I’ve never been involved in the manufacturing of anything before, and I’ve heard all the horror stories and all the stuff you gotta do in order to get something manufactured, and like so much manufacturing is taking place in China now, so you gotta worry about importing, and all this other stuff. This question was asked by Martin Palsovic. I hope I’m saying it right. He asked this one.
And we do sell digital goods, and I love our selling of digital goods, because it’s so easy, because like we manufacture it ourselves. It can be copied infinitely and every marginal purchase after the first one, the profit margin is 100%.
Kurt Elster: 99%.
Paul Reda: Is 99% or whatever.
Kurt Elster: That’s the glory of info products.
Paul Reda: Yeah, so I’m kind of like, “Yeah, digital goods is the way to go, man.” Manufacturing something, why would I do that?
Kurt Elster: Well, and doing like print on demand gives you access to… gives you a similar advantage. But you know, minus the insane profit margin. You’re not making… Doing print on demand, you’re not making much money. It requires tremendous scale. No, so the answer is yeah, absolutely considered building our own store. We’ve almost built our own store a few times. We have sold info products in the past. Late last year or at the beginning of this year, we finally retired our eCommerce Bootcamp that was very popular, but I just… I didn’t feel comfortable selling it anymore, because I’m like I want to go back and update it, and we had a video series, and we’ll bring our holiday email guide back. I update it for every year. That one we sell as an info product.
So, I view that as eCommerce. But if I were to do an eCommerce store, the issue is I have spent 10 years building a successful lifestyle business now that successfully supports my lifestyle, right? So, I don’t have… I don’t necessarily have the hunger and drive that it takes to build an eCommerce store from scratch and build a brand from scratch. It’s really, really difficult. So, were I to take on an eCommerce store, like build it myself kind of thing, it would have to be in partnership with someone and like someone I’ve worked with and have faith in, like if Drew Sanocki, he’s been on the show, CEO of AutoAnything… Hey Drew, if you’re listening. If he said, “Hey, Kurt. We’re gonna build this new brand and we’re gonna man it, we’ve got the customer support team and you’re gonna be the eCom manager and you get part ownership of it.” Okay, that, then I would say yes. If someone like that approached it in that manner.
Paul Reda: Yeah. The main thing we want is we want someone who is smart at the stuff we’re not smart at.
Kurt Elster: Yeah!
Paul Reda: Like we acknowledge that there’s stuff we’re not smart at, and so-
Kurt Elster: I’ve never developed a physical good. I’ve never developed a product. I don’t know inventory. I don’t know fulfillment.
Paul Reda: So, yeah. I mean-
Kurt Elster: Those are critical skills.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Just being like, “Well, I’m just gonna start an online store, because we’re good at setting up online stores.” It’s like, okay, well, but all the stuff that comes before the online store, we don’t know anything about that.
Kurt Elster: It’s true.
Paul Reda: I mean, it’s like we have a client, Joe Bigane, who’s like… And Joe’s a great guy, but he’s got his finger in a lot of pies. He’s like he runs Chicago Brick Oven, which sells these really cool brick pizza ovens you can put in your backyard. Now, he’s got a cabinetmaking business that he started. Now he’s got-
Kurt Elster: A pet food business.
Paul Reda: A pet food business. Now he’s got this different business that he’s spinning up that’s an offshoot of the cabinet business that we’re working with him on. And it’s like, “I could never do that.” I got one thing, it’s working really well for me, I’m just gonna keep working on that one thing.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. I like the focus. I do. And we used to have like all these little side projects. About two years ago, I sold them all, and I at no point have regretted it.
Paul Reda: No, not at all.
Kurt Elster: So, I like having… Because we are successful in what we do, and we’re so invested in it. You know, I really, I want the focus to remain there, but I wouldn’t just blanket say no to the right opportunity, but it would have to involve someone who could make up for the things we lack. Now, if you’re like, “Well, I don’t know any of that stuff and I’m starting an eCommerce store.” There is a huge advantage to not knowing what you don’t know. Like when we started this business 11 years ago, it was to build an eCommerce platform. Had I known how difficult that would be, I never would have done it, right? And of course, we don’t own an eCommerce platform now. It didn’t work. But we pivoted and it worked out.
So, kind of a long winded answer to that.
Paul Reda: And that little part makes me think of last week’s episode with Quinton and his soap business, and like Quinton and his wife, they didn’t know anything either. Like they coached themselves up.
Kurt Elster: They literally said, “I don’t know this.” She said, “I don’t know how to make soap, but I want to learn.” And he said, “I don’t know digital marketing, but I want to learn.”
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: And then they did it, and now it’s this tremendously successful seven-figure business.
Paul Reda: I mean, yeah, that… If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode-
Kurt Elster: Quinton Lewis, Herb’N Eden.
Paul Reda: Quinton Lewis at Herb’N Eden. It was just a top tier episode, like those guys are absolutely killing it. It’s just a great, great story.
Kurt Elster: I will put it in the-
Paul Reda: It is full of value bombs, too, because he’s like, “I do this. I do this. I do this.” He’s completely open-
Kurt Elster: Yeah. He’s like, “Here’s the strategy. Go.”
Paul Reda: We have a lot of people; we have a lot of guests on this site that sometimes they get a little cagey when we’re asking-
Kurt Elster: A little hand wavy.
Paul Reda: Yeah, about like revenue numbers, or how exactly you’re doing this or how you’re doing that. Like Quinton does not care. He will tell you everything, which is really cool, and we believe in that, as well.
Kurt Elster: With that out of the way, and I’m sure someone will ask again in a few months, let’s do some… We got some general questions about getting ready for Black Friday. We’re gonna talk about speed. Oh my gosh, we’re gonna talk about email. And we’re gonna talk about some questions for premium brands. So, our first one, here’s an easy one. Cart page versus slide out or popup cart. So, we got like… There’s cart drawer, mobile cart, mini cart, and cart page. Should we define what those are?
Paul Reda: Okay, so a cart page I would help is self explanatory.
Kurt Elster: Self-evident.
Paul Reda: A slide out cart is where maybe 25% of the screen slides out from the right.
Kurt Elster: He’s talking about a cart drawer.
Paul Reda: That’s a cart drawer. Sorry.
Kurt Elster: Where it slides out. Okay.
Paul Reda: Yeah, that’s that. And then a modal cart is what, just a popup in the middle of the page that’s the cart?
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Paul Reda: And then a modal cart is-
Kurt Elster: Well, then there’s also a mini cart.
Paul Reda: A mini cart-
Kurt Elster: Which is what Turbo does.
Paul Reda: … is where it’s a little guy that comes out from the cart icon on the top-
Kurt Elster: A widget.
Paul Reda: It’s a little square widget. I can only… You think about this from the actual store perspective. I’m only able to think about it from my perspective-
Kurt Elster: Which is implementing it.
Paul Reda: Which is implementing it, and changing it, and supporting it, and all that other stuff. And personally, I hate supporting all of those. The frickin’ modal cart in Turbo, it’s so annoying, and the whole Turbo header, I can give you a whole podcast about the Turbo header and the things that are going on in there. But I’m not gonna do that.
And so, in my mind I’m like, “Yeah, cart page.” Why would you not do a cart page? It’s a page. Separate thing. Very easy. Static. Love it. Don’t change that, please.
Kurt Elster: Well, and so with a theme like Turbo where it gives you… It’s like, “Hey, here’s three different options for what happens when you click add to cart.” It’s easy to test and see and compare it week to week. Just not entirely scientific, but it’ll give you a decent idea. And when we have done this, I have consistently found that cart… If you’re going for pure conversion rate, cart page will perform the best. And my theory on this is it essentially acts as a landing page, especially if you don’t have like a whole bunch of other stuff on the cart page.
It makes it a cleaner experience. They click add to cart, they go to the cart page as opposed to they click add to cart and then they have to choose go to cart, so there’s also one step removed. And so, my preference is cart pages. I like them. For pure aesthetics, cart drawer is pretty great.
Paul Reda: Yeah, I agree. Because let’s just start off by saying like modal window right out.
Kurt Elster: That’s out. Yeah, we’re not doing that anymore.
Paul Reda: That’s up in your face. That’s annoying. Get that out of here.
Kurt Elster: The mini cart’s kind of clever, because it doesn’t… It’s kind of a blend of everything.
Paul Reda: Well, because I think the other aspect of this is, that’s like an offshoot, that is in my mind very important, is how do you tell the user, “Yeah, you made an action and I did just add that thing to your cart.”
Kurt Elster: It needs to be so clear that you clicked, and something happened.
Paul Reda: And so, like-
Kurt Elster: And I think that’s where people get screwed up.
Paul Reda: I think that’s the true problem, because if you do a cart page, will you kick them to the cart page? But some people don’t want to kick them to the cart page, in which case it’s like, “Well, if you have a page, but you’re not kicking them to it, then it’s like well, do we make a message appear? How do we do that?”
Kurt Elster: Oh, and then the worst is when they do that is like you click add to cart, and then just the label on the button changes, says added, and then changes back. It’s easy to miss and then you end up clicking it multiple times, you go to the cart, “Oh, now there’s like five items.”
Paul Reda: Yeah. And I think that’s where the drawer’s superior, because at least the drawer pops out.
Kurt Elster: It is visually obvious.
Paul Reda: The drawer is not taking them off the page, but it’s a visually obvious thing that’s popping them out. And then the mini cart, if you’re running the mini cart but you don’t have the sticky header turned on, then they click add to cart, but they’re scrolled down on the page, the mini cart pops out but it’s popping out off screen, so they get-
Kurt Elster: It’s off canvas.
Paul Reda: … no indication whatsoever that anything happened.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so actually this is a good discussion. The importance of the cart, number one, is is it abundantly obvious if I’m drunk and have an eye closed and no glasses on, is it abundantly obvious that an action has occurred when I click add to cart? Number one.
Paul Reda: Yeah. That’s more important than what kind of cart it is, I think.
Kurt Elster: Yes, like if you have solved for that, life gets much easier. Then the other thing I think is weird is when a cart drawer, whatever these… When any of the carts that aren’t the cart page, you open them and then they say, “Go to cart,” as opposed to, “Go to checkout.” Just like why are we adding that extra cart step in there? But easy thing to test, my preference is cart page, but whatever you choose, just make sure it’s got that confirmation in there.
Paul Reda: Dillon Glenn asking us about carts. Thank you.
Kurt Elster: And then our next question, any specific things you’re doing different for Black Friday this year?
Paul Reda: I don’t think so.
Kurt Elster: So, the word on the street, the smart money, I heard this from several people including a consultant at Oracle, which as soon as you just say consultant at Oracle, makes like whatever you’re about to say seem true.
Paul Reda: I know someone that works at Oracle.
Kurt Elster: Oh yeah?
Paul Reda: He’s not a consultant, though. He works there.
Kurt Elster: Ah.
Paul Reda: He’s like a senior… She is, I’m sorry. She is like a senior coding lady.
Kurt Elster: Wow. So, the smart money is on starting earlier than you’d think, because we may have inventory and production delays, so if you can’t get the stuff in stock and shipped in time, you’ve got a problem. And with shipping already at its peak now, like all carriers are operating at Black Friday 2019 levels of package movement at the moment.
Paul Reda: Is that confirmed? That’s like a thing that we know?
Kurt Elster: You know, I guess it’s not. I really thought that was true, but I’m like-
Paul Reda: Sorry, I just blew up your spot.
Kurt Elster: No, it’s good. Research it. Well, all right, we could… I think we can agree that they are operating-
Paul Reda: Oh, I mean people are not leaving their houses. I’m sure in store sales are down and because in store sales are down, online sales and thus shipping are way up.
Kurt Elster: The other thing I think’s gonna happen… Well, so like if shipping is a bottleneck, all right, you gotta start. That’s another reason to start early. And then I think the final piece there is people are spending more money online in general. They’re home, bored, shopping. They have finite gift budgets. You want to be there early for when it is time to do the gift shopping. So, I still think it’s weird for people to gift shop before Halloween. Some people do, will shop as early as mid-October, but not many. And so, I think the answer is November 1st, you do a dry run of your Black Friday cyber week sale for your VIP customers on week one of November.
And then on week two, expand it to a broader audience. Week three, tease the whole thing to the general list. And then week four, all right, now you’re running your sale again. So, really I think you run your Black Friday sale three times in November, but you’re doing it through email segmentation.
Paul Reda: I think you start earlier because maybe you want to tell your gift buying ideas to my wife, because she’s been buying a lot of stuff for my as yet unborn nephew that is not going be born until November.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Paul Reda: So, if we’re buying stuff for a baby that doesn’t exist yet in August, maybe people are buying stuff even in October.
Kurt Elster: It’s a little anecdotal, but we do white elephant for Christmas and that’s always fun. My wife and I have already picked out and purchased our white elephant contributions. They’re in the basement.
Paul Reda: See?
Kurt Elster: All right, so maybe.
Paul Reda: And I just-
Kurt Elster: And Julie’s like, “You know what? We’re gonna go HAM on Halloween decorations this year.” I had a $250 Amazon gift card. I gave it to her. Spent the whole thing on Halloween decorations. They’re already here. She ordered them a week ago. They’re here.
Paul Reda: And what have we been talking about for the last few weeks? We’ve bought a lot of dumb shit the last few weeks that we didn’t need.
Kurt Elster: Oh, yes.
Paul Reda: So, it’s like I think people are sitting at home just buying shit.
Kurt Elster: Yes.
Paul Reda: And at least they can justify like, “Oh, well this is a Christmas present for Aunt Mable.”
Kurt Elster: Ah, okay, so if you’re doing retail therapy, gift giving is a convenient excuse, and if you’re like me and your love language is gifts, again, convenient excuse. So, I think the answer is start… The short answer is the thing you’re doing differently is you’re gonna start way earlier this year. I think everybody is. And you’ve got a lot of retail stores just aren’t open on Thanksgiving, like it’s just not gonna be the same… The cash is gonna shift online and I think it’s gonna run earlier rather than later.
We had two or three questions about page speed, including… This is the one I want to read. They said, “I want to hear about Gymshark. I watched a vlog from their CEO about how they’re worth $2.45 billion and I remember seeing some page score from them and it was lowish.” Oh. Yes. The billion-dollar valuation darling Gymshark, which is a great brand. They’ve been around a while. They’re one of the first Plus customers. And they do outrageous levels of success. I’m gonna run them through Google PageSpeed and we’re gonna see what they get.
Paul Reda: Is the person asking this question fucking with me?
Kurt Elster: Are they personally messing with you?
Paul Reda: I think they’re fucking with me.
Kurt Elster: Why? Why do you think that?
Paul Reda: What does Gymshark do to be worth $2.4 billion?
Kurt Elster: They sell stuff online? I remember seeing a thing where they had published their financials and they had an astonishing amount of cash on hand. Oh! Oh! I am so excited about this PageSpeed score. August 17th, 2020, there is an article in Forbes. How Gymshark Became a $1.3 Billion Brand, And What We Can Learn.
Paul Reda: By having SoftBank and various private equity firms pump them full of cash and then say, “See, they’re worth $2 billion now.”
Kurt Elster: No! I remember seeing this online, where they had shared their financials and they really… It was a very solvent business. And they started early in eCommerce.
Paul Reda: I don’t trust anything that’s like, A, buzzwords, and then B, not public financials. Like their entire financial state is just based on how much money other… SoftBank gave them.
Kurt Elster: All right, they don’t have a SoftBank investment. I think this… I really, I’m quite convinced that this one’s legit. Anyway, so we can agree that it’s a big, successful brand. Gymshark’s PageSpeed score, a Shopify Plus darling, a beautiful website, what is it? Take a guess.
Paul Reda: Let’s go with… I think they’re trying, they got a lot of widgets on there, so I’m gonna go with like 18.
Kurt Elster: Okay. Is that desktop or mobile?
Paul Reda: We’re just going with the mobile store score, because that’s always the worst one Google gives you.
Kurt Elster: Six.
Paul Reda: Six?
Kurt Elster: As in three plus three is what? That’s their PageSpeed score. Six.
Paul Reda: I think if they could get that up to at least 50, they’d be worth $100 billion. That’s what I’ve been told.
Kurt Elster: And that’s the problem with PageSpeed score, is it’s like, “Here is a quantifiable metric that…” It is essentially presented to you as if you can get a perfect score, it solves all your problems. Suddenly, your conversion rate will go up, and your revenue will go up, and your search engine ranking position will go up. And I don’t know if any of that’s true, but I do know that a store with a PageSpeed score of six has a obscene amount of cash on hand and is extremely successful by all measures.
Paul Reda: And so, and this is coming up a lot again because Shopify added that tool onto-
Kurt Elster: The performance tool is part of the analytics dashboard, but it’s Lighthouse.
Paul Reda: It’s literally the PageSpeed score.
Kurt Elster: It’s literally your… Lighthouse is the term for the open source version of PageSpeed. Google’s like, “Hey, you could build this into the store.” And they do a little better job in that it does your most traffic collection page, your most traffic product page, and your homepage, and then it averages the score, I believe. So, it’s a little more relevant.
Paul Reda: That’s just extra steps, though. It’s not like changing the score in any way. The scoring methodology.
Kurt Elster: The methodology does not change. And so, I really and truly believe PageSpeed is not a good way to measure the speed of a store.
Paul Reda: I’m honestly done with it. I’m done with store speed to begin with. It’s like if you’re-
Kurt Elster: Why? Tell me why.
Paul Reda: Because it’s sort of like if… Is it, or less than eight seconds a page, I’ve stopped caring. I don’t care anymore. It’s like a medical test where it’s like I don’t know what… I can’t think of an equivalent medical test about that, where it’s just like, “Well, here’s the number, and if you’re over this number we gotta look at it, but if you’re under this number, it’s not worth worrying about.” Like just stop caring about it at all.
Kurt Elster: I assume cholesterol. Your weight. Well, to a point.
Paul Reda: Well, you could be under weight.
Kurt Elster: There’s a very wide range in there.
Paul Reda: But it’s like, and your score can’t be too fast. Yeah, because it’s just these people are like, “Well, my PageSpeed score is this, so can I get it? Can I shave an extra half second off?” It’s like stop caring. Stop caring about this. There’s other bigger problems in your business than that, where you could get better money. If you put together better email sequences, that’ll get you 10 times as much money as lowering your PageSpeed score by a second. So, stop fricking worrying about it. It’s like get the beam out of your eye before you worry about the splinter in your PageSpeed score.
Kurt Elster: Right. And I think what makes way more sense if we’re looking at page speed is the actual load time, and it makes it tough to compare, because you could use different tools for this. I like Pingdom Tools. Gymshark loads in 2.15 seconds on their homepage and their page size is 3.7 megs.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Perfect. They should-
Kurt Elster: As a metric, I think if your homepage is less than 5 megs, you’re fine. I think if your homepage loads in two and a half seconds or less, cold load, you’re completely fine. And that’s a fast… 2.15 seconds on a cold load on the homepage-
Paul Reda: You’re not fine. You’re very good to great.
Kurt Elster: Yes. And yet this page, this site gets six on a PageSpeed score.
Paul Reda: I was working on a store for us this week. It hasn’t launched yet. It had a fresh theme install on it. It was a brand new, newborn baby of a store. No one had seen it. It is not public. It hasn’t been poked with. There is nothing that has been changed on it. And its PageSpeed score was like 26. And Shopify was like, “Oh, this is lower than average for your scores.” I’ve yet to see… It’s weird on this Shopify score, I’ve yet to see a score that’s higher than average. It’s like it’s on Lake Wobegon, where everyone’s above average. Every store is below average in PageSpeed score. I don’t know how that manages to happen.
Kurt Elster: What was the name of that NPR show? Something prairie?
Paul Reda: Yeah. Prairie Home Companion.
Kurt Elster: Prairie Home Companion. I’ve listened to dozens of episodes of that and I’ll tell you, I still don’t get it. I kept listening to it, trying to figure it out, and I’m like, “What is going on here?” I just was absolutely baffled by Prairie Home Companion. And then my landlord heard me listening to it. She’s like, “You like Prairie Home Companion?” She gave me like a dozen CDs. She’s like, “I got the full anthology.” Oh boy. I invested a lot of time in Prairie Home Companion just to figure out that I don’t understand it and I have to live with that.
Paul Reda: And Garrison Keillor turned out to be a little touchy.
Kurt Elster: Oh, yeah. So, PageSpeed score is not a valid tool. According to me. Subjectively. Just use the actual load time and if the site’s smaller than five megs or quicker than… and loads in less than three seconds, you’re probably fine. I think ultimately it’s like sound quality on this podcast. A good… A fast site doesn’t hurt. A slow site doesn’t help. But I don’t think it is the be all, end all, wildly important thing that it’s been made out to be. Just don’t overprioritize it.
Paul Reda: Yeah. I think this podcast has above average sound quality, but it-
Kurt Elster: I hope so. I spent so much on this crap.
Paul Reda: I know, but I think any percentage that we increase it anymore, to be like, “Oh, no, it’s gotta be an utterly perfect, pro-level radio show,” it’s like it’s not worth the time. You got better things to do.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. You very quickly get to diminishing returns. And so, like spending all this time on trying to mess with your PageSpeed score when really the content on the site, the offer, your ads, your email, there are so many other efforts that are worth worrying about. It’s just what’s so insidious about it is it gives you a damn grade.
Paul Reda: Well, I’m just so mad. I am so mad, and not to beat a dead horse, but it’s like I’m so mad that Shopify is putting this on everyone’s pages and in front of everyone’s face.
Kurt Elster: It’s torturing them.
Paul Reda: Like, we had enough-
Kurt Elster: You’re torturing merchants!
Paul Reda: We had enough people worrying about this before, and now you’re shoving it in their faces, it’s like an official Shopify tool from Shopify, and Shopify-
Kurt Elster: Telling you your site’s slow.
Paul Reda: They’re actively telling you, they’re like, “Your site’s below average. It’s worth than all the other stores.” Like what the fuck? Of course, all the store owners are gonna freak out. And you’re telling them according to a shit criteria, like this is not actively helping people in any way whatsoever.
Kurt Elster: I don’t disagree with that.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, and from our end, that’s what’s so frustrating about it, is just day after day, people like genuinely worried about it. And I have to talk them off the ledge.
Paul Reda: And it’s like a joke, too. Like I know it’s a joke in the Facebook group, like everyone always tags me whenever this comes up and I want to put in this like Scanners head exploding .gif. It’s like it’s still… Every week, new people come in and are like, “Hey, guys. I’m worried about this.” And whenever people mention that they’re worried about it in the story, I’m always like, “Wait a minute, are they fucking with us? Because they know that… They know how much we hate this, so are they just doing this to get a rise?” Or do they legitimately not know? Are they new people that don’t know.
Kurt Elster: No, it’s because everyone is now discovering this. Everyone got to discover on the same day that their store is slow.
Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s just a bad idea.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. All right, moving on to email, someone asks, “Best practices on Klaviyo email flow going into Black Friday.” This is a good question. On your email flows, I really probably wouldn’t change anything beyond on browse abandonment and abandoned cart, I would increase the… or I would decrease the duration, the delay between emails. Like I want all of that to fire a lot faster so that you get it quick, and that way that abandoned cart flow kicks into gear. And then of course you want to review to make sure that your abandoned cart, browse abandonment, welcome series don’t have offers that are contrary or competing to the actual Black Friday offers, or maybe like you get in a situation where you dangerously stacked coupons into zero profitability.
So, like just review that, but fundamentally I don’t think you’re changing the flows for Black Friday. Instead, I really think like all the magic is around your broadcast emails. It’s around the one, two, or three emails a day you’re gonna send between November and Christmas. Well, and New Year’s. I mean, we really go out there. So, I think that’s where the effort is. Not the email flows themselves. Other than speed them up a little bit.
And I gotta… That reminds me, I gotta update our holiday email guide. We sell that thing every year and I’ve got like a… I put a content calendar in there. I got examples of subject lines. And I’ve added a little more to it every year, so it’s pretty good now. I’m proud of it. But I gotta update that with recommendations specific to the horror show that is 2020 and some of these other ideas. And I don’t think I mentioned in there like, “Hey, you should shorten the duration on your flows.” I gotta add that tip, too.
Paul Reda: Yeah, it’s really… It’s a one stop, easy guide if you’re like, “I don’t know where to start.” It’s great, because it has a calendar for you to work along with and potential ideas to let you spin off onto your own.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, it just makes it… None of it is groundbreaking, but having everything in like, “Here’s one convenient spot,” makes life easier. All right. I’m done selling that to you guys. Someone else had asked, “Just listening to your episode on pushing send,” which is an email about email flows. And it says, “And you said 18 to 20 emails in a welcome series. Oh my gosh. Maybe a rough breakdown of what sort of emails should go into those emails would be awesome.”
Paul Reda: I can’t think of anything I can tell you about myself that would take 18 emails.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so when I say 18 to 20 emails in a welcome series, that’s misleading. I think really what you’re doing is like five emails and then what’s called a shadow newsletter, where you go back… Let’s say you’ve been operating two years. You’ve sent out a lot of newsletters or you’ve got a lot of blog posts. You essentially go back through your content library, be that social posts, blog posts, or past newsletters, pick the best of, like the 15 best of if you can find that many, and then you schedule them to go out every week after that welcome series ends. It’s called a shadow newsletter. So, you’ve got it to the recipient, this looks like a fresh newsletter, but it really isn’t. And the advantage there is now when someone gets on that welcome flow, you’ve got your initial welcome series, and then you’ve got weeks of email, of building a relationship of staying top of mind, or months if you do enough of them. And then at the end of that, you could do another, like try again with a discount offer that expires.
But all right, so for the first half it’d be like, “Hey, thanks for joining our list. In my next email, I’m gonna tell you how we got started. I’m so glad you’re here.” And the next email you do your story, like, “All right, this is how we got started.” And if you’re struggling with that, a framework like Brand Story is really good. I’m gonna put that in the show notes. Brand Story is really good framework for that.
And then, all right, day after that you could do social proof, like, “Hey, wanted to share some of these stories, or quotes, or reviews from customers.” And you just do pull quotes from reviews, or emails you’ve gotten, and put those in there. And that’s your social proof email. And the next one, “Hey, here’s some common questions we get about this product.” And that’s essentially like your FAQ as a welcome email. All right, so now that’s email four.
Email five, “Hey, if you wanted to buy it, it’s on sale. Here’s a coupon code. Lasts for 48 hours. Go!” Next day, “Hey, just wanted to remind you if you haven’t bought something, here’s… You’ve got this coupon code and it expires tonight. Oh my gosh.” Then, all right, if you want to get really aggressive, you could do another email right before, like two hours before it expires. And make sure this is a real… To make this work, it needs to be a dynamic, one-time-use email, and Klaviyo will do that for you, and that way it actually does expire. Like you don’t want false scarcity, false urgency here.
Paul Reda: And this is why we can’t sell an actual store, a store with actual stuff, because I would just be like, “Here’s the thing. Buy it or don’t.”
Kurt Elster: You know, that could work. Just a plain text email. “Here’s the thing. Buy it or don’t. Bye.” Send.
Paul Reda: Bye. Send.
Kurt Elster: And then, all right, and if any point, if they buy, you automatically take them out of this welcome series. So, after that, “Hey, saw you didn’t make the purchase. That’s okay. Do you mind if we put you on our newsletter? And if not, here’s the link to unsubscribe.” And you give them the unsubscribe link right in the email and I promise you, this email will probably have the lowest unsubscribe rate of anything you send. And if they don’t unsubscribe, great, then that’s like… The following week, that’s when that shadow newsletter starts. And then hopefully that just… It keeps you top of mind. Maybe in every email at the bottom you do like, “PS, here’s a link. If you’re ready to buy, here’s a link.”
And you always ask like, “Hey, if you have any questions, hit reply.” It’s just an opportunity. At that point, it turns into relationship building or just staying top of mind, because you really don’t know where they were in that purchase journey.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: That’s what I meant when I said 18 to 20. Or, I mean if you can come up with that much content, go for it, but I really think it’s-
Paul Reda: If you have like a crazy product that has an intense manufacturing sequence, then maybe you could stretch that out over 18 to 20. It’s like where do you source the materials? Like now we’re in this stage of the manufacturing.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. There’s something about it that is very technical or bespoke to your unique selling proposition, like here’s how we do sustainable manufacturing. There’s a gentleman out there who converts old milk into fabric and sells t-shirts out of it. That, all right, now we can do a longer welcome series on this. So, like if there’s other parts of your brand that you think are important, that are part of that brand story, ah. Okay, we can share those as individual welcome series emails.
All right. We’ve got two left and then we’re wrapping it up. Let’s see what we got here. Someone asked for, “What’s your favorite type of incentive for higher end brands that don’t normally do a lot of discounts?” So, I hear this a lot, like let’s say you’re a premium brand. If you’re Rolex, you’re not like, “10% off sale!” Right? Bentley, “Oh! Get $50 off!” It’s not gonna work. It’s weird for a premium brand, it erodes brand value, it chunks into your profit margin, so what do you do? How do you get away from that?
Paul Reda: I don’t think $50 off a Bentley’s a very good deal.
Kurt Elster: No! Bentley’s coupons are terrible.
Paul Reda: I don’t even know where to put in my coupon code on the Bentley website.
Kurt Elster: Maybe you just like key it into the side of the car.
Paul Reda: All right, I just-
Kurt Elster: And then when they’re done beating you.
Paul Reda: I just had something that popped into my head on this. Tell me if I’m right or I’m wrong. You do like a membership club.
Kurt Elster: For what?
Paul Reda: For your product. You’re fancy, so you can’t just have like 20% off, but you have like the insider’s club, and they get like early access to new releases, and like-
Kurt Elster: And they get like a permanent 5% off?
Paul Reda: Yeah, or something like that.
Kurt Elster: I like that.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: That’s good. That’s very clever.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Paul Reda: It’s like you have an exclusive brand, what if you made it even more exclusive?
Kurt Elster: Right. That’s really good. That one’s good.
Paul Reda: It’s like people desperately want to get into Studio 54, but then there’s like the super cool areas of Studio 54 where you had to be even cooler to get in.
Kurt Elster: Oh, man. I’m never getting in there.
Paul Reda: To do the cocaine with Mick Jagger.
Kurt Elster: Whoa! I think… So, I was gonna go with free gift with purchase.
Paul Reda: Oh. Pssh!
Kurt Elster: I know, you blew me out of the water.
Paul Reda: No, free gift with purchase, yeah, like you get a Ferrari keychain with your Ferrari?
Kurt Elster: Yes.
Paul Reda: That was a joke.
Kurt Elster: No. Well, when I think of free gift with purchase, no one does it better than Hoonigan. They always do exclusives, like they… Last year around Black Friday, they’re like, “It’s Cyber Week!” And they’re like every order today gets a free lapel pin. And it was like one of the brand cars, and they didn’t tell you which car was gonna be which day, and it changed every day, so you just had to always watch and check it, so the open rates went up. And then if you wanted that pin, that just became an easy excuse to place an order. That’s the magic of free gift with purchase, but it’s gotta be… To really make free gift with purchase work, it needs to be an exclusive that you can’t get otherwise. And even like the lapel pins, yeah, they had to make those, but that wasn’t expensive. The way this started, whenever one of their sponsored athletes wins a race, that Sunday and Monday, you get a gold sticker that… It’s just a gold Hoonigan sticker, like the kind I cut on my own vinyl plotter, with purchase. And that’s the only way you can ever get the gold sticker. It kills it every time.
So, I like that. The free gift with purchase, so long as it’s an exclusive product, and you gotta add it, auto add it to cart, so then it’s like a theme customization to do it, and then to discount it, you ideally use Shopify scripts, and that all just-
Paul Reda: Which is only with Shopify Plus.
Kurt Elster: That’s right.
Paul Reda: Tell us, give us a thorough breakdown of Shopify Plus, Kurt.
Kurt Elster: Wait, one more incentive.
Paul Reda: Asks someone in the group.
Kurt Elster: One more incentive. You could also do free upgraded shipping.
Paul Reda: Yeah, but that’s… I would almost be like… Oh, I guess free upgraded shipping, because you’re a premium brand, you’re not charging for shipping in the first place.
Kurt Elster: Probably not.
Paul Reda: No.
Kurt Elster: Or it’s like a really low threshold. All right, so you’re doing that, so it’s like, “Okay, then get overnight or two-day.” You FedEx two-day.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: And then that’s just a coupon code or Shopify shipping script.
Paul Reda: Sounds like something that’s available to everyone in the insider’s club.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Oh, yeah. That’s another one. Oh, your insider’s club idea is so good. So yeah, the answer is just listen to Paul and sell a membership. That’s very clever.
All right, so our final question today, someone had asked for… I believe it was Heather Warren Burton was the one who asked this?
Paul Reda: I don’t know. I don’t have it open.
Kurt Elster: She had said, “I’d like to hear a thorough breakdown of Shopify Plus. A detailed discussion of the features that are unique to Plus would be very helpful. Also, how do you get the best pricing, since I understand that merchants get different entry pricing into Plus.” All right, so that last part’s not true.
Paul Reda: Okay.
Kurt Elster: Early on, like when Plus was first starting, there was probably some negotiation on price. Now it is just it is always a fixed $2,000. That’s it. So, it’s $2,000 a month, all in, and it lowers your Shopify Payments transaction fee, so I did… When I did the math on it, I believe it was like if you did $800,000 a month, that was around where breakeven was gonna happen based on the processing savings, but I could also be wildly wrong on that.
Paul Reda: Yeah. That’s one of the things I was gonna ask you, is like well, what are the two, payment processing differences, and can we figure out when the breakeven monthly revenue is?
Kurt Elster: I believe it’s-
Paul Reda: Where you end up saving money.
Kurt Elster: … 800K a month.
Paul Reda: Okay, that’s a bit pricey.
Kurt Elster: So, the things you get with it, priority support, so you’ve got… You have separate email, phone, live chat for your Shopify Plus store when you request support. So, the idea is you get faster support. You have a merchant success manager that you could shoot them an email and get expert advice that… It’s the kind of stuff that I get like, “Hey, what’s the best app for X? Hey, how do you do this? Who’s good at this?” And they will make recommendations, referrals, they can audit your store and give you some advice, so the merchant success manager can be kind of a cool add on.
Paul Reda: You get to modify your checkout.
Kurt Elster: Oh yeah! I always forget that one.
Paul Reda: Yeah, there’s checkout.liquid, which is where-
Kurt Elster: That’s checkout template.
Paul Reda: It’s after the cart, there’s the checkout template, and you can edit the checkout template if you’re on Shopify Plus.
Kurt Elster: Yes.
Paul Reda: And so, the things for me are… and then you also get access to Shopify Scripts-
Kurt Elster: Oh, that’s my favorite.
Paul Reda: Which we’ve talked about a lot in your store, which allows you to do various types of discounting, various of type of things, adding free gift with purchase to the cart and all that other sort of stuff. So, while $800,000 might be the breakeven purely in terms of transaction fees, I think that checkout modification and Shopify Scripts support can earn you $2,000 a month pretty easily.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Absolutely.
Paul Reda: I think like if you’re doing 50 grand a month, you could definitely find an extra 2 grand in that 50 grand-
Kurt Elster: Oh, easily.
Paul Reda: With Scripts and checkout editing.
Kurt Elster: So, when we talk about Shopify Scripts, it’s a system that lets you do advanced discounting without coupon codes. It lets you hide and remove or rename payment gateways based on conditions in the cart or the customer, or their address, so like let’s say you sell CBD and you’ve got… You offer PayPal, but PayPal will not let you do CBD. Ah, if the person has a CBD item in their cart, your Shopify Payment script can automatically hide the gateways that don’t allow CBD processing. And then when they get to shipping, a Shopify Shipping script can see that, “Oh, there’s an item tagged CBD in the cart,” and it’ll automatically prevent… It will remove all the shipping options if they’ve selected an address that doesn’t work for CBD.
Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s not allowed.
Kurt Elster: It’s illegal to ship to CBD. There’s several states where you can’t ship CBD.
Paul Reda: Yeah. And I mean we have a… We’ve done a thing a lot where there’s a… What’s the prop in California, 37?
Kurt Elster: Prop 65?
Paul Reda: Prop 65 in California, which is this thing that warns you that products have been linked to causing cancer or birth defects. The problem with that is literally everything in the world has been connected to-
Kurt Elster: Including every Starbucks in California and Disneyland.
Paul Reda: Including Starbucks and Disneyland have also been connected to cancer.
Kurt Elster: When you walk around Disneyland, there’s signs.
Paul Reda: And so, the problem of course is that everyone is constantly being warned about it, so then nobody is being warned about it, because they’re like, “Well, I see that 50 times a day. What are you gonna do?”
Kurt Elster: They had the best intentions.
Paul Reda: But if you sell things in California, you have to… If you sell certain items in California, you have to give this prop warning, and it’s… There’s rules, and when you have to tell people, and there’s online rules. And so, we’ve done a thing a couple times where if they select a shipping address in California, we then pop up all the Prop 65 warnings, so we are legally okay.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Yeah. Well, and that’s… and you wouldn’t be able to do that unless you had access to checkout.liquid.
Paul Reda: Unless you had access to checkout. Yeah. With Plus.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, that is a cool trick. But yeah, my favorite by far is Shopify Scripts, and just for doing advanced discounting. Like, “Hey, buy three bottles of X, get one bottle free.” And it just… No coupon code. That’s the magic. A coupon code is an extra form field, it’s an extra step. It’s breakage.
Paul Reda: And then it’s people assuming that they’re gonna get that, and they don’t fill out the form field, and then they get charged and then they’re like, “What the hell? How come you charged me?”
Kurt Elster: So, it’s extra customer support.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: So, we know in conversion rate optimization, fewer form fields will lead to better conversion rates. Getting rid of the coupon code does this. And what’s cool, it figures out the discount and shows it on the cart page before they even hit the checkout, so you can do quantity breaks with it. You can do wholesale. You can do buy one, get one. And it doesn’t have the limitations that automatic discounts get.
So, especially going to Black Friday, I’m all in on Shopify Scripts.
Paul Reda: Yeah. I think Shopify Scripts could make you… The stuff you could do with Shopify Scripts over-
Kurt Elster: Makes you the cash.
Paul Reda: Over the next 90 days will pay for Shopify Plus for all of next year. Without a doubt.
Kurt Elster: There’s also shipping, or there’s an automation feature that’s really cool for Black Friday. So, like let’s say on Black Friday you’ve got… When your sale starts, you gotta mark the items down and you gotta… Maybe you have to publish some items, and you have to switch themes to the one that’s got… That says like, “Black Friday sale starts now!” And somebody’s gotta get up at midnight and swap it out unless you’ve got Launchpad, Shopify Plus exclusive app that you can schedule the sale and it’ll swap the theme back and forth, it’ll publish and unpublish products, it could discount products. It’s really cool.
And when it’s running, it gives you, like you can see how the sale is performing in Launchpad. I like that one a lot. And then of course there’s also Shopify Flow, which lets you do a lot of bespoke, weird automation, like when an… You can set it up so like an item goes out of stock and it just unpublishes the product. Oh, it’s back in stock. Republishes. It can do some neat stuff like that.
Paul Reda: But you could put an email address thing on there so that people that want it can fill it out.
Kurt Elster: That was just an example!
Paul Reda: Then you get their emails.
Kurt Elster: I like fiddley automation and stupid marketing automation tricks.
Paul Reda: Yeah, I was in your car. I know how much you love fiddley automation.
Kurt Elster: That’s basically… That essentially describes a Tesla. Fiddley automation. Hope it doesn’t crash. Like literally, the software. Not the car.
Paul Reda: Both. First the software, then the car.
Kurt Elster: Oh, and if you crash that thing, you’re not getting repaired. It’s not happening. That’s just totaled. You’re done. Oh well. So, anything else, Mr. Reda?
Paul Reda: I’m good. Let’s try to setup the VR headset for your jerk child.
Kurt Elster: My 11-year-old has been hounding me to hook his VR headset up to their computer. Their computer is a hand-me-down from Paul here, and I told him the problem we’re having and he’s like, “Oh, all right. Well, here’s why you’re an idiot.” You idiot! “And let’s go fix that for him.” So, my 11-year-old is like salivating.
Paul Reda: Hovering outside the door.
Kurt Elster: Hovering. Desperate to get us to go make this work for him. And I don’t got anything going on, so let’s go.
Paul Reda: Yeah. I don’t have anything. I’m not doing anything.
Kurt Elster: Let’s go check that out. See you guys.
Paul Reda: Bye-bye.