As Founder & CEO of The Good, Jon MacDonald is a master at conversion rate optimization.
In this podcast episode, we applied Jon’s hard-won CRO knowledge to ButcherBox - the subject of our very first Why I Bought This podcast interview.
Here’s what happened:
Here, we’ll walk through Jon’s overarching philosophy when it comes to conversion rate optimization. Then, we’ll do a deep dive into Jon’s ButcherBox teardown. What is ButcherBox doing well? What could they tweak and test in the quest for higher conversion?
We recognize that ButcherBox is a successful brand with a band of loyal followers. But as customer research specialists know, harnessing the voice of the customer is always worth it. The results can be pure magic.
Image via The Good
For the last decade, Jon has devoted his career to the art of converting visitors into buyers. His approach involves a careful balance of quantitative and qualitative data.
His company The Good leverages a combination of user testing, user interviews, AB testing, data analytics, and conversations with customer service teams to make smart decisions that impact revenue.
The Good often employs a unique method of user research that Jon calls “remote unmoderated.” Essentially, this means asking users to complete a specific website task and watching them do it. The users are trained to speak out loud what they are thinking as they interact with the website - no leading questions allowed.
Similar to well-done customer interviews, the goal here is to record authentic user experiences. “I think that's really important,” Jon said. “To get people using a website, ask them to complete a very specific task, and then get out of their way.”
The system works: in the last 10+ years, Jon has worked with brands like Nike, Xerox, Adobe, and The Economist.
The important point here is that the insight provided by qualitative data is critical.
Jon says that insights like those gained through our original ButcherBox interview with Ryann are essential to deeper brand awareness. Sometimes, brands are too close to their own product to see what’s right in front of them.
“As a brand you're too close to everything, right?” Jon said. “And so you know where all of your products are on your website, you know how to navigate your website, you know how the categories are arranged, you know the details. But as somebody who's coming to the site for the first time, it's very difficult for them to have that knowledge. And it's also very difficult for a brand to understand what a new to file visitor or customer is thinking. So when we talk about all this quantitative data, what we're talking about is getting in the head of that ideal customer.”
The more you can channel the mindset of your ideal customer, the better positioned you are to continually ensure that your message and product aligns with your customers’ needs.
Customer pain points drive the evolution of business, and Jon says that websites should pay attention and act accordingly.
Once a visitor makes it to your website, you have an extremely limited timeframe to convince them they landed in a worthwhile place. In fact, a user’s first impression of a website is made within the first 50 milliseconds. While much of this impression comes from visual appearance, the content is critical too.
“A consumer is coming to your website for two reasons, and only two reasons. They want to understand if your product or service can help solve their pain or their need, and so they're doing research. And second is, after they've determined that you can help them, they want to convert as quickly and easily as possible. And that's it, those two things, right! Brands so often get in their own way by trying to push all this other content out there,” Jon said. “What are the points where people are getting stuck because the brand is just putting up a barrier that is unnecessary?”
According to Jon, visitors are either in research mode or purchase mode, and the faster you can convince them to convert, the better it is for everyone involved.
For the purposes of our discussion with Jon, we focused on the ButcherBox home page.
The sole goal of a landing page is to convert visitors. This means eliminating all distractions and getting right to the point. According to HubSpot, this means “removing navigation, competing links, and alternate options so you capture your visitor’s undivided attention. And complete attention means you can guide your visitor where you’d like them to go.”
In Jon’s opinion, this is where ButcherBox succeeds. “I think they do a really good job in their navigation...they keep the navigation simple. It's really only 4 or 5 items, which is the max we typically recommend.”
Successful landing pages also have a clear Call To Action.
ButcherBox also succeeds in this regard. “They have Choose Your Plan, which is a great way to dive in and learn more,” Jon said. “You’re saying I can choose a plan, so it's not a one size fits all, which is probably good. And you're giving them a way to take that next step further down the funnel right up front.”
In addition to a clean page with a clear CTA, strong landing pages also do things like:
With the context of Jon’s philosophy and landing page best practices now in place, let’s take a look at Jon’s suggestions for improving the ButcherBox website.
According to Copyblogger, your headline powers your entire website message. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
And while many people go gaga for discounts, Jon cautions that they can be a risky lead-in.
“Leading with a discount or an offer is generally not the best move for brands. When we test this, it's one of the first things that we always want to test. So for in this instance, as I mentioned, ButcherBox is saying free bacon for life right upfront,” Jon said. “I'm like whoa, okay, so what's the benefit of Butcher Box other than free bacon? When I see a discount or an offer upfront, what I'm hearing is - our product is not worth what we charge for it.”
In other words, discounts can imply the product isn’t worth the price, leaving visitors wondering if there’s real value to be had.
Discounts also don’t address customer pain points or needs - which means in leading with a discount headline, you’re delaying the real message.
Despite the clear CTA in the ButcherBox navigation, “free bacon doesn't really necessarily make me want to do that yet, right?” Jon says. “I'm going to ignore that call to action because instead I'm going to continue seeing if they can solve my pain or need.”
Let’s go a bit deeper on the importance of addressing user needs.
The enemy of website conversions is bounce rate. And visitors are much more likely to bounce away from a site when it’s not immediately clear what pain points the product solves.
According to Neil Patel, the average website bounce rate is 40.5%. This means that nearly half of visitors leave a website after viewing only one page: their page of entry.
For ButcherBox, doubling-down on pain points solutions on the homepage means highlighting that they offer organic meat, conveniently packaged, in flexible/customizable boxes.
“I mentioned that's the first thing people are doing - what pain are they solving?” Jon said. “You really want to hit on that immediately so people know they're in the right place and leave that scent trail that says, ‘Okay, you're solving the pain I'm looking to solve. I want to learn more about this.’ Then they can dive deeper, right? But if you don't catch them upfront with that solving the pain, people are going to bounce.”
In our customer interview, Ryann came back again and again to the reasons she loved ButcherBox. She loved it because it was a solution to all of her problems: organic yet affordable, packaged in a way that meant she didn’t have to play the butcher role, and customized to her family’s exact needs.
Says Jon of the ButcherBox homepage, “they're playing up some of the health aspect here, but I think they're also missing an opportunity to say that this is an addition to your lifestyle, to get you more convenience and also flexibility.”
While Ryann quickly converted to a paying customer due to an existing obsession with meal delivery services, not every visitor will convert so easily.
Landing pages that are solution-oriented will increase their likelihood of speaking persuasively to their target audience.
While we could have led with this one, it should go without saying that visitors should immediately understand what your product or service is.
Despite the perfect no-brainer name “ButcherBox,” Jon said there is still room for improvement in this regard. He argued that it should be made immediately clear that ButcherBox:
1) Is not a full meal service; and
2) Includes a customized quantity of organic meat & seafood.
“There's nothing on here that tells me they're not a full meal delivery service,” Jon said. “As you scroll down this homepage, you know, you see how it works, it says they source it, great. You choose your box to meet your needs, which all of these box deliveries allow. Then it says that they deliver, of course, that's what they're doing, and then you enjoy. But it doesn't say anything about what's included necessarily in the box.”
As Shopify outlines in their blog post on product descriptions, the elementary purpose of product descriptions are “to supply customers with important information about the features and benefits of the product so they’re compelled to buy.”
Key features of ButcherBox include benefits like...organic meat. But as Jon describes, finding the word “organic” on the current homepage is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
“I had to scroll almost all the way down to the bottom of the page to see that keyword of organic, which I think is a bit of an issue,” Jon said. “You know, things like wild caught seafood, I didn't know they sold seafood until I scrolled down here and I saw all of a sudden it says seafood.”
The importance of ensuring that relevant product information is front-and-center cannot be understated.
ButcherBox is successful because it’s unique from other meal services. But that’s not clear from the home page.
Jon said that visitors should be informed up front that ButcherBox is a convenient meat supplement that can shape their culinary adventures.
“I think what they should be leading with is more of a why should you be thinking about Butcher Box over your other options,” Jon said. “They really should say something along the lines of, know, test the convenience aspect, that it supplements your meals, how are they different from other meal boxes.”
In our customer interview, Ryann was converted to ButcherBox because high-quality meat was the base for a fool-proof family meal. It allowed her to put her own spin on meals by choosing the exact preparation, and came without the ecological waste of extra packaging.
“They could just say compared to your average meal delivery box and then have a picture of a blue box and people, most people would probably get it cause they've been marketed to by Blue Apron, right?” Jon said. “So really focusing on what is making them unique, what is their brand aspect that is solving that pain.”
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