Reese Spykerman is an ecommerce consultant who works closely with ecommerce store owners and entrepreneurs to help them optimize their conversion rates and write customer-centric copywriting. From website reviews to identifying points of friction, she helps ecommerce store owners improve customer journeys and optimize stores for maximum revenue.
As shopping cart abandonment stats continue to change, individuals like Reese can really help businesses understand how to achieve growth. In this interview, we sat down with Spykerman to discuss her work, how she handles different challenges, and ask her for any tips she’d like to share with us.
Q. Hi, Reese! Great to have you with us! Please tell us about yourself first. What do you do? What are your core responsibilities? And how do you help ecommerce store owners?
A. First, thank you so much for having me for this conversation, I’m really looking forward to it. I work with ecommerce entrepreneurs and store owners, as both a copywriter and a website conversion optimization consultant. That’s a mouthful. I used to be a website designer for many years, and my degree is in journalism. So I merge those specialties together along with business strategy to do the business that I have today.
On any given week, you might find me doing a website review, going over points of friction in the usability of a website that make customers bounce right off your site. Or I might be doing analysis of Google Analytics for potential holes in the customer journey and funnel or deep research into a business’s customers, what their desires are, what their frustrations are the things that they say about their products, so that I can then turn that into coffee and words that speak to those customers in a way that makes them feel really seen and want to buy your products because they feel so understood by you.
I also help my private clients and people in my group program, prioritize their business initiatives, because I have found and I’m not sure how many people watching this can relate. Entrepreneurs are often running 100 miles an hour. It’s tough to keep up with them. They’re juggling a ton of things in their business. And because of this, they really do struggle to approach marketing in a step by step structured way that doesn’t have them feeling like they’re hustling all the time.
Q. How long have you been helping ecommerce store owners and what drives your purpose to serve them?
A. I’ve been doing this work in some form or another for at least 16 years. But it was back in 2017, that I shifted my focus almost exclusively to e commerce Store owners. And there’s two big reasons why I do what I do the two things that really drive me. The first is that I found that many business owners have so much on their plate, they don’t have the time or the bandwidth to understand how and why their website needs to change, to make it easier for their customers to buy.
They don’t understand what sorts of things might cause friction, that make people feel confused or hesitant. To go a step further, go deeper look at the product page, check out when you make some of these optimization changes. It’s just such a low hanging fruit sometimes that can recover lost revenue without it being this ongoing thing that you constantly have to pay for, especially if you have decent traffic.
So I think it’s very satisfying to help them increase their revenue in this way, without something that needs an ongoing advertising more chest. And the second reason why I do what I do is because on a personal level, I’m just very passionate about and dedicated to helping show other entrepreneurs that you do not have to hustle and work 80 hour work weeks in your business. Most of us went into business, probably for more freedom, freedom to have time to spend with our family or hobbies we love or our pets or whatever it is.
And sometimes they find they get into business and it’s created a monster for them. So what I love to do is help them simplify and focused on very leveraged activities like email marketing, or the website tweaks I talked about instead of trying to do something like be on 10 social channels at once and constantly in this state of chaos. That’s no good for anybody’s nervous system.
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Q. What services do you provide as an ecommerce strategy coach and how many clients do you currently have? Please tell us a bit about your work, like which capacity do you operate in, your team size, your market, and your USP.
A. Yes, for sure. Well, let’s see. First, there’s copywriting. This includes writing product descriptions, homepage blurbs, emails, and also website conversion optimization, which I will deliver and do via checklists and videos where I do walkthroughs of what I’m seeing on a website, and the problems or issues that it might be presenting for a customer, as well as the opportunities to just tweak it to affect conversion rate. I also offer private consulting and fractional marketing on retainer.
And this is where I will help direct and focus all aspects of a business’s marketing strategy. I work solo with a small team of assistants who helped me more with internal admin things my own marketing and client care, were team of four right now. And I primarily serve two key markets. First is online product business stores that are between half a million to a million dollars in revenues. And then the second market are women in eCommerce who are between maybe about $50,000 to $200,000 a year in revenue.
There are two very different markets. But I enjoy each individually for different reasons. And the categories I focus and have the most specialization in are health and wellness, fashion, beauty and CBD. I think the one thing that probably makes my approach different than other agencies is my deep understanding of a customer’s needs, desires and problems and how you have to speak to those things directly in your positioning, the words you use, even those design choices you’ll make on everything from your website, to your emails to your social graphics.
A lot of businesses and agencies in the ecommerce realm will they’ll emphasize the product the product features before centering or bringing the customer into the story. And my approach is instead to always start with the customer first to state exactly what she needs and wants to hear and then continue to develop a long term relationship with her for ongoing buyer loyalty.
Q. How many customers do you get on a monthly basis? What’s your monthly turnover?
A. Because I am a one woman show, and I really have no desire to expand into a bigger agency. I limit how many clients that I work with at any given time. This is partly because I don’t want to be hustling all the time in my business either. I would rather formulate a deep relationship with a client where I understand their business probably almost as well as they understand themselves, and they can count on me to have their back tactically or tangibly this looks like first I run a group mentorship program for women in ecommerce.
These women tend to be at low six figures or less in revenues. And this program runs for five to six months, and there’s usually around 15 of them in that program at a time. And then in addition to that, I will have around three to five private clients a month for minimum of six month retainer engagements, and on top of that, I’ll do smaller one off copywriting or consulting projects. In any given year, I will work directly with around 35 to 50 clients and businesses.
Q. You are also actively involved in helping women start and run their own businesses. What problems are you solving for them? How do you empower them and what challenges do you normally face?
A. I love this work. This is the work that lights me up. So as I mentioned, one of the primary ways I help women in E commerce in particular is via my group mentorship, and it’s just for women. Many of them come into this program with beautiful products that they’ve made by hand. Many of them are makers or artisans. Or they may have spent years in R&D, bringing a product to market for example, formulating a new skincare product, but marketing remains confusing or overwhelming for them.
And they often tell me, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know how the dots connect, they just want to sell their products. But that path from A to Z is completely a mystery to them. So that my mentorship helps over the course of five months of training. It’s broken down into bite sized pieces, because I don’t want to add to their overwhelm. It really does cover how to truly understand their customers how to speak to those customers, top to bottom website optimization and email marketing, including things like leverage email sequences.
What I’ve actually found they resonate most with even more than the tactical training though is having a plan period, having accountability, knowing each week, that there are things that they need to be doing, that there’s homework and that they are going to be making consistent progress. They know I have their back. They know other women in the program also have their back. They tend to come into this program feeling split in so many different directions.
And they’re unfocused, and then they’ll leave at the end feeling confident about marketing. Many of them have tangibly increased their revenues by 20% or more. The thing that honestly means the most to me, though, is they tell me they have fallen in love with their businesses again. And that’s pretty awesome. And to help with this, to help people with this kind of work and to kick off the launch of my next membership. I have a free masterclass coming up. It’s for anyone who’s a store owner, you you don’t have to just be a woman and it’s going to be March 28 through the 30th it’s called two seconds to the sale is step by step plan to sustainable product sales.
Q. In general, what are the main challenges that ecommerce store owners come to you with? Any specific trends you observe?
A. Yes, definitely. So they’ve touched upon one, which is, they tell me they don’t know what they don’t know. Or they’re an expert on their products and their processes. But when it comes to marketing, they feel clueless and stuck. There’s people marketers dangling these carrots, like if they just pumped 20 grand into ADS, it will spike their traffic and the revenues, but a lot of times, they may have tried that and gotten burned.
Not because ads don’t work. This isn’t me slamming advertising. But because theirs was to start with a lack of a solid foundation and messaging that resonates with customers. Oftentimes, they also don’t understand website optimization. So for example, they don’t understand why it’s an issue to have social media icons in the header of your site. And it’s okay, they probably don’t have time to understand these things. It’s especially and that’s why they hire me, not just because I promised them that it’s going to be magically fixed.
But because I also break down why we’re doing what we’re doing in a way that helps them get clarity, and really helps them understand the value of their products through their customers eyes and customers experience, which is a very different way to go about your marketing and to view your products. Then seeing it through your own eyes and your own experience.
Q. What steps can ecommerce store owners take to ensure that their shopping cart abandonment rates don’t spike?
A. I’m going to tie together both cart abandonment and checkout abandonment because people often conflate the two, if you go and read about this, the advice tends to conflate the two. So I’m going to just keep doing that. There are things that you could do to address both issues at a very granular level. And if you go into your shop analytics at that granular level, you’ll see that there is a defined difference between cart abandonment and checkout abandonment.
But let’s, for the sake of this conversation, combine the two. So when it comes to spikes, avoiding a spike, the one Biggie that I think that would be specifically related to spikes is watch installing a new app or script, especially from a third party, it’s useful to do only one or two of these at a time. And then gauge your abandonment rate over one to two weeks and see if that needle changes in a negative direction. That timeline is really dependent on how much traffic you have coming in. Because the more traffic you have, the more data you have to work with. That will give you a much more accurate rate than if you don’t have very much traffic coming in.
But if you have a lot of traffic, you might be able to narrow that timeframe. Basically, these sorts of apps can sometimes either slow down your site, or may even introduce weird elements into the checkout process that you don’t even know about. And you want that checkout process to be as fast as possible because people won’t wait. The other thing that you can do in this is not so much to avoid a spike. But to help mitigate cart abandonment rate issues is make every next step crystal clear. You don’t want to surprise people. So a really simple example is making your shipping rates clear throughout the site.
Everything from you’ll see it sometimes at the top of the site on the top bar on your product page itself throughout the checkout process. So they aren’t surprised by a rate that they weren’t expecting. But if I had to give you one really big low hanging fruit thing to avoid or if you did this, you would probably see a spike in that abandonment rate it is do not require people to create an account to check out this can have a massive negative impact on cart abandonment rates.
If you want to offer them an option to create an account after they’ve completed the order, in case they want to order it again down the pipe. Great, but you will turn off a lot of first time visitors first time buyers if you require this at checkout. So if you’re doing that now, go ahead and turn that off. don’t require them to create an account and you should especially if you are fielding a lot of traffic, see it over time begin to positively impact that cart abandonment rate.
Q. For you, what’s a manageable abandonment rate?
A. I think that this one is a little bit contextual. It depends on everything from the industry, to the businesses size to even the market. So for example, I tend to see higher conversion rates and lower cart abandon rates in the CBD industry, because in that industry, visitors tend to come to the site with a lot more intention to buy versus accidentally landing on a site or getting there, because they’re just browsing through, they happen to see something that caught their eye.
So that intention does tend to impact in that industry. Overall, with cart abandonment rates, they, um, there’s a difference between mobile and desktop, my experience has been, I think other people in E commerce will tell you this to mobile will almost certainly be higher, I have a few theories on why I think one of them is a lot of times we might be binge watching Netflix, on our phone and just kind of casually browsing adding to our cart, and then something in life happens. And we forget about it. Whereas when people are on their desktop shopping these days, I do think that there is a bit more intention when they go to shop, specifically on the desktop.
But in terms of rate, I like to see a rate that’s below the average. And right now, the average, according to the Boehm Art Institute, is around 69%. I’ve even seen some statistics as high as 81%. So that means pragmatically, that eight out of 10 people who put something in their cart, don’t end up completing the transaction all the way through checkout, if we could nudge that rate into the realm of say, 60%. So if you go from 69 to 60, that’s a pretty decent bump.
Or even if you brought it down 5% over the course of a year, that could be some pretty meaningful revenues. One of my clients has a pretty awesome abandon rate of around 42%. But that is about as good as I have personally seen it. If you could get into that realm of 60% or lower you I think you were doing pretty darn well. If you’re at that average of 70%. Don’t panic.
If you’re above it, then that’s at the point where I would say it would, it’s a good point to really start look and look closely at your entire checkout process from the product page all the way to end checkout.
And really ask are there things here that might be introducing friction or destroying trust? Or making people surprised like shipping fees out of the blue that you didn’t explain to them beforehand?
Q. How important of a role do you think fast hosting plays in shopping cart abandonment?
A. Absolutely, having a fast web host is critical because speed is critical to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Every second counts. Research from Google back about six or seven years ago showed that for every moment over three seconds that it takes a website to load increase, it decreases the conversion rate, it increases the abandoned cart rate. Here’s the thing, it’s probably even less now I think people are increasingly impatient, and they have grown to expect websites to load super fast.
So it’s important that you are hosted with a web host that can do things like handle multiple back end processes concurrently, or efficiently process multiple things going on in a database, because it speed improves the perception of ease. And it maintains the inertia and desire that your customer had when they began the process of putting something into their cart. If throughout the cart and checkout process, your site starts to slow down, that introduces like doubt and friction into that desire instead of them just continuing to roll along that path.
I also want to make a final note that even the fastest host can’t counter it if you have a lot of apps on your site that have to travel outside of your web host to a third party domain to get other data. Because at that point, it’s going off of your site. It’s going off of your web host and it’s going to load from someone else’s host. So for example, if you have a Facebook cookie, and it needs to go and travel to the Facebook domain to load the data that can add to your page load time. So whenever possible, keep as much of your code your apps, your scripts directly on your web host especially if you’re using a fast one like Cloudways.
Q. If there were any tips that you wanted to share with other store owners related to cart abandonment, what would they be?
A. First, don’t take for granted that your customer understands things like your shipping rates, your processes, your return policies, you have to make things so super clear, like a fourth grader could understand it clearer. A lot of times we assume that people just will know these things, but they don’t. We can reassure them when we make these things clear. And your shipping rates, your shipping times what types of payments you accept, all these things can help alleviate cart abandonment.
And while we’re at it, ensuring that your site has digital wallets can help improve trust as well as improve the speed of your checkout. And reduce friction because there’s fewer forms that people have to fill out form fields. People need to trust that your site is secure, and that their financial data won’t be compromised. So wherever you could, especially on the product page and in the checkout process, and information about your site security, if you have things like a security SIP certificate, your encryption, put little logos on there that help reassure people that it is a secure site. And one of the final things that I really like to do is make sure that you have a abandoned cart email sequence in play.
These can be really helpful in recapturing some of those abandoned carts, and so many store owners that I encounter don’t have them set up. It could potentially mean 1000s of dollars of recaptured revenue over the course of a year that don’t require work beyond the initial setup and copywriting of those emails.
Q. Thank you, Reese, for sharing such deep insights with us today. We wish you all the best for your journey ahead!
A. Thank you so much for this interview. I loved having the chance to talk with you and connect with your audience and really appreciate that everything that cloudways And you are doing to specifically support people in ecommerce and in their businesses.
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Shoaib is a passionate digital marketer who believes creativity is everything. His interests lie in content, digital marketing and he loves to help agency and ecommerce business owners in growing and expanding their businesses. In his free time, Shoaib loves to play football or binge-watch some interesting shows on Netflix.