Guest: Alex Arevalo, Co-Founder at Gold Tree Equity
A.K.: Hello Alex, please tell us a bit about your background and how you got into eCommerce SEO and A/B testing?
A.A.: Sure, so I started off working in product management. I started out at NetSuite, an ERP service company, but it introduced me to Snap Inc., which asked me to join their team as a product manager. I worked there for a few years working within the revenue team supporting the Snap Ad Network.
I was introduced to how large-scale tech companies' look at growth and how they tackle their users' problems. Eventually, I left for a company called Dronebase, where I led the growth initiatives that included A.B. testing, SEO, and customer growth features. Dronebase was originally never thinking or applying any of these practices, and it was a successful series B startup at the time.
I realized that these practices were gaining these companies increases in conversion, traffic, and eventually revenue and that a lot of companies from small to large weren't applying these practices. I think it's critical for companies always to be experimenting and growing in all channels, so I ventured off to share those services through Gold Tree Consulting.
A.K.: Who were your first A/B testing clients, and what results did you achieve for them?
A.A.: So one of our first clients was Turning Point Brands (Nu-X, Nutra, Zig Zag). We went in with a data-first mindset and reviewed all their analytics to identify user trends and behaviors. Typically when we engage with a client, their analytics are very basic. Through this audit, we were able to identify high conversion paths and recommended additional analytics to be implemented to track user behavior better moving forward.
We ended up implementing an A.B. test that increased conversion by 15%. This led to an increase in revenue by 28%. Over the last six months, we have increased the average conversion across the site from around 1.2% to 3.5%. Here is an example of a product page performance before an after A/B test:
A.K.: When and how did you realize that product pages content is important for eCommerce? Did you try other ways to drive conversions? Did they generate any results before your content efforts paid off? Why or why not?
I don't think it was a realization moment. It was more that I knew how important it is to emphasize high-quality content for everything on your site. People expect just to throw their product on their site and advertise it to drive conversions and revenue. Users instinctively want to know more about your product, your company, and your mission. If they don't, Google wants to know, and that's when we come in.
For example, you have 100 people coming into your product page, and you convert 10 of them. There are two ways you can tackle this:
- Increase the 10 to 20 (on page A.B. testing)
- Increase the number of people coming into that page (SEO).
Increasing quality content on-page can lead to an increase in conversions, and we test that. We will have your product page content A.B. tested to see if it changes your conversion rate and traffic volume. We don't leave anything to assumptions. To answer the question, I would say we test our content additions on product pages to make sure we generate the results in the immediate term (conversion on the page) and then watch those results develop over time (total traffic to page).
A.K.: Can product pages alone increase conversions with enhanced content without A/B testing? How can results be improved if A/B testing is added to the mix?
A.A.: The short answer is yes. The long answer is to do both. SEO is a longer-term effort, meaning you may not see conversion/traffic spike up immediately after improving a page's content. A.B. testing allows you to track immediate differences in the short term, and then after that initial test, you can track conversion and traffic changes with analytics tools.
If you want to really understand how your pages are performing, A.B. testing is a great way to get that information and learn other things as well. For example, we added in additional product content for one of our clients. We learned that not only did it increase time on page and conversions, but it also led to a higher average order value. This was due to the fact that users navigated lower down the page to read the content and eventually saw the "related products" section that led to larger cart checkouts. Here is an example of a product which didn't sell at all before we added content to the page:
You learn and discover more than you expect with A.B. testing, and it's an excellent way to understand your user's behavior.
A.K.: Who are your biggest customers now, and what are your achievements with them?
One of the largest clients is Pantaya streaming service which was owned by Lionsgate and recently was purchased for $185 million by Hemisphere Media Group. They asked us to work on their A.B. testing, but it quickly evolved to providing guidance and help with their analytics.
They value data and understanding how it impacts their application and their A.B. testing roadmap. The best example I can give is that we could identify a significant drop-off in the data even after providing billing information. The billing information should be the final hurdle for conversion, and we changed the buy flow to remove the additional step. It led to a 6% increase in conversions and a decrease of 10% for churn. It might seem straightforward to remove steps in the buy flow to increase conversion, but data is what drove this major decision to remove a step that was thought to be "critical" and make them rethink how they made the acquisition.
A.K.: Which tactics generated the most results for these clients?
A.A.: The tactics that apply to all clients is "look at your data". A.B. testing isn't about shooting in the dark and hoping you hit the bullseye. It's about methodically plotting a roadmap based on user data, giving high chances to increase your conversion and traffic flow. For SEO, it's just as important to look at the data to understand where you can be optimizing your pages for keywords and queries.
A.K.: What did you learn about eCommerce SEO from this experience?
A.A.: I've definitely learned that investing the time into your product pages goes far beyond just on-page conversion. If you have a product and are passionate about what you are selling to people - write about it! In the end, you are benefiting your end-user and your business by creating more of a presence for your products.
A.K.: Do you think eCommerce SEO is different from other niches? Why or why not?
A.A. I think it is different because it can be highly targeted and connected to the products you are selling on your site. If you are focusing on leads, you are trying to provide helpful information to users. If you are selling products or subscriptions, you can write content directly related to your product, potentially boosting the strength of your search presence for not only queries that relate to you but to your product's brand name. It just presents more opportunities.
A.K.: What is the No 1 step that a digital marketing agency should take when onboarding an eCommerce SEO client?
A.A.: I sound like a broken record but get into the data and present that information to the client. Good SEO and A.B. testing practices stem from understanding your data. You need to make sure your client understands their data as well. At Gold Tree, we provide free data audits to potential clients to show the value of understanding their users and the potential of increasing their analytics infrastructure.
A.K.: Do you have any secret tips you could share with digital marketing agencies that work with eCommerce clients on how to show quick results from SEO?
A.A.: There is no short secret to SEO. Creating the perfect user experience along with solving the searcher's intent should be your primary focus.
There is no short secret to SEO. Creating the perfect user experience along with solving the searcher's intent should be your primary focus.
A.K. How is this approach to selling SEO different from other industries? (example: SaaS, local businesses)
A.A.: SEO is a service. It's a practice. It's also something where you don't see immediate results, unlike buying a SaaS product or A.B. testing. It's a real investment but provides a long-lasting reward that can have some of the highest impacts out of all services.