Jon MacDonald ButcherBox conversion teardown

Turning your hard-earned website, visitors and subscribers and loyal customers is likely high on your list of marketing priorities, especially if you're investing in paid advertising. But what's the most effective way to start improving conversion on your website? In this episode, I'm joined by John McDonald for a special part two of the Why I Bought This series on ButcherBox. John is a CRO expert with more than a decade of experience, helping top brands from Nike to Red Bull improve their website conversion rates. John is auditing ButcherBox's existing website and applying some of the learnings from my interview in the first Why I Bought This episode with a ButcherBox customer to propose research back to ideas for conversion experiments.

Meet The Guest

👤 Name: Jon Macdonald

💪 What They Do: Jon is CEO and founder of The Good

🌐 Jon on the web: LinkedIn | TwitterWebsite

About The Show

Atomic Media is a Procket original series telling the stories of how content marketers are rethinking the ways they’re telling stories that mean something AND move the needle – without burning out.

Hosted by Stuart Balcombe, scripted and repurposed by the team at Procket.


A short summary of the most actionable takeaways and best advice of the episode.

00:36 - Jon’s approach to conversion rate optimization

A mix of quantitative and qualitative does the trick. 

“we help brands to convert more of their existing website traffic from visitors into buyers. Now, how we do that is through, both qualitative and quantitative data. So, we do, you know, of course, user testing and user interviews. Which is why I'm very interested in your podcast and how I came across this. And we also do things like AB testing in addition to analytics and all of that other types of data that's out there. So, you know, we work with brands like Nike, Xerox, Adobe, The Economist, etc.”

02:14 - Get inside your customer’s head

As a brand, you are often too close to see what’s right in front of you. 

“As a brand you're too close to everything, right? 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.” 

04:18 - Talk to customer service teams 

Employees who talk with customers day in & day out should be your first stop. 

“we'll talk to customer service teams because, while it's great to talk to consumers and do those one-off interviews where you can go deeper. The nice thing about customer service is that they have been talking to hundreds of customers. And so they see the aggregate. What are the big piles of issues that people have? It's not just the one-off niches.”

07:30 - Focus on the sticking points

Customer pain points drive the evolution of business. Websites should pay attention and act accordingly. 

“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...What are the points where people are getting stuck because the brand is just putting up a barrier that is unnecessary?” 

12:47 - Be wary of offering discounts up front 

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.” 

18:23 - Don’t delay the real message

Lead with how you solve pain points, instead. 

“free bacon doesn't really necessarily make me want to do that yet, right? 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...I mentioned that's the first thing people are doing - what pain are they solving? 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.”

21:30 - Clearly describe your service 

Despite the perfect no-brainer name “ButcherBox,” Jon said there is still room for improvement.. 

“There's nothing on here that tells me they're not a full meal delivery service. 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.” 

13:57 - Differentiate from the competition

ButcherBox is successful because it’s unique from other meal services. But Jon says that’s not clear from the home page. 

“I think what they should be leading with is more of a why should you be thinking about Butcher Box over your other options. 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...So really focusing on what is making them unique.”

19:04 - Keep the navigation menu simple

Aim for a maximum of 4-5 navigation items. 

“I think they do a really good job in their navigation, right. I think Butcher Box, most people get, the name is perfect because it kind of tells you what the product is to some degree...they keep the navigation simple. It's really only 4 or 5 items, which is the max we typically recommend. How it Works, and then it goes into sourcing, which is really interesting because you  talked to Rianne a lot about hearing these Netflix documentaries and where does this meat come from, and what's added. So the source really does matter in terms of the health aspect of it and the quality. So that's great that they're really pushing on that.”

30:00 - Make a hypothesis, then test it

When you hear something repeatedly from customers, that is your cue to take action. 

“based on Ryann's conversation with you, I was coming up, you know, I wrote down several hypotheses around things that could be changed. And then I look at those and I say, okay, are we hearing this across more than just one interview? If so, that's a really good indicator that it should be something we test...you go in and look at the data. Are a lot of people dropping off at that point in the process? If they are, then now you know, you have that 1, 2 punch of a place where if you solve that problem, at that point, you're going to have a big impact, right? And so, I do think that it's important to start with the interviews, start with talking to people because that's where you're really going to understand what people are thinking and why they're taking the actions.” 

33:42 - Don’t start quantitative unless you have lots of traffic

Until that happens, focus on qualitative data. 

“when it comes down to testing you really want to have enough traffic, you need to have enough people visiting your site to do quantitative data. Now, this is the beauty of qualitative as well, right? Where, you could just interview 5 people and get some great ideas of where to start and just make those changes on your site. If you don't have enough traffic to test with, stick to qualitative, don't dive into testing at all.”

34:47 - Track every change you make

If you don’t, you’ll quickly forget when & why you last changed something. 

“when you make that change, now go in and add an event in analytics that's an annotation on that date and say, this is the messaging we changed. Because what's going to happen is 3 months from now you're going to forget what date you did stuff and exactly what you changed. So without that log, having that in analytics is perfect because then, down the line you hire somebody like The Good, we're going to be able to go back and look and see what you already did.” 

36:49 - Pay for an expert analytics touch

Analytics are meaningless unless they have been set up correctly. 

“make sure you have analytics set up correctly, pay somebody a few hundred dollars to just come in and audit your analytics setup. It's really, you know, there's a whole bunch of people out there that can help you do that for fairly inexpensive. And Google has a great certification process. The second thing is heat maps, and click maps, and scroll maps. This is engagement data of how people are actually engaging with your pages. Where are they clicking? And how often, where, how far down the page are they scrolling?...Because then, if you start tracking that, as you start making some of those changes, you can start seeing if you're influencing the behaviors in the way that you want.”

38:49 - There are no bad tests

Get out there and start experimenting. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

“There's no losing tests. You'll learn something from every test. A winning test is okay, we predicted that this test is going to change this metric at this volume. And that's why we call it a winner, because really we won in our hypothesis, in what we were guessing on. But I think that there's some really impactful data that gets missed and left behind. And that's usually where we start.”

About The Show

Atomic Media is an original series telling the stories of how content marketers are rethinking the ways they’re telling stories that mean something AND move the needle – without burning out.

Hosted by Stuart Balcombe, scripted and repurposed by the team at Procket.