More Free Content: Top 10 Landing Page Reviews

Mequoda unlocks archived landing page reviews

We are happy to announce the release of more free content.  Yes, now everyone will have access to content formerly part of the members only Mequoda Library.

One of the most popular topics searched at Mequoda.com is “Landing Page Templates”.  In particular, our landing page reviews have become timeless guidelines for creating successful landing pages.  Over the last five years, the Mequoda Research team has reviewed over 40 sales letter landing pages using the 12 essential elements set out in the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

Each element is individually graded, then tallied for an overall score.  What are the essential elements of an effective sales letter landing page?

  1. Headline (Strategic Intent)
  2. Story and Content
  3. Content Webification
  4. Email Capture (Relationship Building)
  5. User Testimonials
  6. Links to Order Flow
  7. Labeling and Language
  8. Readability & Content Density
  9. Content Freshness & Urgency
  10. Load Time
  11. Aesthetics
  12. Order Options

Here are some best practice examples as graded by our Research Team.  We have included screenshots and links to the actual webpages for most of them.  Since products change with time, some products may no longer be available.

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Top 10 Sales Letter Landing Page Reviews:

  1. DanKennedy.com Free Gift Landing Page Review dated April 14, 2006 – grade A
  2. AwaiOnline.com Copywriting Course Landing Page Review dated February 2, 2006 – grade A
  3. eZineQueen.com Landing Page Review dated April 23, 2006 – grade A
  4. PagePersonalizer.com Landing Page Review dated March 8, 2006 – grade A
  5. SqueezePageGenerator.com Landing Page Reveiw dated January 25, 2006 – grade A
  6. Internet Marketing Center Landing Page Review dated March 8, 2006 – grade A
  7. RealtorMarketingTips.com Landing Page Review dated November 3, 2005 – grade B
  8. America’s Test Kitchen Landing Page Review dated August 24, 2006 – grade B
  9. SitStayFetch.net Landing Page Review dated December 29, 2005 – grade B
  10. Whole Dog Journal Landing Page Review dated June 30, 2005 – grade B

One More Example

As an example, you can download our Million Dollar Landing Page Templates report for free by visiting our own Rapid Conversion Landing Page, compliments of Mequoda Daily. Tell us what you think, please post comments below.

Studies and Reviews: Landing Page Reviews

FREE White Paper: Learn how to optimize every page on your site by downloading our FREE 12 Master Landing Page Templates white paper. For even more on landing pages, download our FREE Landing Page Handbook and our Rapid Conversion Landing Page Optimization that Sell white paper.

Harvard Health Letter Sales Letter Landing Page Review

Harvard has opted not to use a traditional landing page to sell the Harvard Health Letter.

Instead, the main sales page for the Harvard Health Letter is a minimal transaction page with the barest of copy and graphics, and is devoid of the selling effort one would normally expect when promoting a paid subscription publication online.

Knowing the smart marketers at Harvard, we have to believe that this is a deliberate choice. As we recall, they don’t use this “bare minimum” approach in print promotions: their paper direct mail that we’ve seen consists of strong, long-copy sales letters that sell the publication and its benefits, and sell it hard. Why then would they opt for this “bare bones” approach online? This review really addresses a broader, more important question: are online and offline copy fundamentally the same or fundamentally different?

  • When Internet marketing was in its infancy, many so-called Web gurus pushed the belief that the primary virtue required in online copywriting was brevity: if it’s short, it’s good
  • Using short copy online contrasts with the practice that direct marketers have of using long copy to sell publications
  • Direct marketers embrace long copy. Not because they like it but because, through tested experience, they know it works best for certain products and offers, such as newsletters and health care, and Harvard’s product is both
  • Primary analysis of the Harvard Health Letter page is that the short, minimalist presentation is inadequate to do the selling job
  • The page should be tested against a standard, longer-copy landing page following direct response fundamentals and the established Mequoda principles

Introduction

In this review we will look at the main sales page for the Harvard Health Letter, which appears to be a simple transaction page.

There is also a catalog-type site that gives brief descriptions of each of Harvard’s health newsletters. You can click on any newsletter to go to a brief landing/transaction page specific to that publication.

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You will notice that Harvard has opted not to use a traditional landing page for the Harvard Health Letter. I define a “traditional landing page” as a sales letter adapted for online marketing and posted as a webpage or stand-alone site (microsite) for a single product, following the Mequoda guidelines for landing page construction.

Instead, they have used a minimal transaction page with the barest of copy and graphics, devoid of the selling effort one would normally expect when promoting a paid subscription publication online, especially in a product category as competitive as health care information.

Knowing the smart marketers at Harvard, we have to believe that this is a deliberate choice: they must feel that this approach is better suited to either the Web or their audience, or both.

As we recall, they don’t use this “bare minimum” approach in print promotions: their paper direct mail that we’ve seen consists of strong, long-copy sales letters that sell the publication and its benefits, and sell it hard.

Why then would they not post a version of their direct mail controls on the website and instead opt for this “bare bones” approach? Does Harvard truly believe that a consumer acts differently online than offline? Or is the current online page for Harvard Health Letter an oversight—or perhaps a placeholder—until a stronger conversion promotion can be devised?

This review of the Harvard Health Letter landing page, therefore, really addresses a broader, more fundamental question: are online and offline copy fundamentally the same or fundamentally different?

When Internet marketing was in its infancy, many so-called Web gurus—usually from the usability, content or technical side—pushed the belief that the primary virtue required in online copywriting was brevity: if it’s short, it’s good. Period.

An email, these pundits insisted, should be one or two paragraphs max. A webpage should be at most one screen—the shorter, the better.

This contrasts with the practice that direct marketers have of using long copy to sell publications, as well as a variety of other products and services ranging from software and insurance to gifts and nutritional supplements.

Direct marketers embrace long copy not because they like it (though many of us do), but because, through tested experience, we know it works best for certain products and offers. Primary among the products known to work best with long copy are both newsletters and health care, and Harvard’s product is both.

Therefore, my primary analysis of the Harvard Health Letter page is that the short, minimalist presentation is inadequate to do the selling job and should be tested against a standard, longer-copy landing page following direct response fundamentals and the established Mequoda principles. As you can see below, the Harvard landing page fulfills neither very well.

HarvardHealthLetter.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

The banner at the top of the landing page lists the publisher as Harvard Health Publications, with the name Harvard Medical School directly underneath. Obviously, the trump card of this newsletter is the Harvard connection, and the Harvard crest is appropriately displayed next to the publisher’s name.

Underneath is a brief, simple transaction page, lacking any sort of a headline, save for the name of the publication.

This seems to me to be an error. A publication’s name alone seldom provokes sufficient interest or provides motivation to subscribe. Harvard could have added interest to the heading of this page with any of a number of standard headline techniques, such as putting an offer in the headline (e.g., “FREE sample issue!”) or incorporating a benefit or promise (e.g., “When doctors at Harvard Medical School get sick, this is what they do…”).

2. Story and Content – D

There is no story and content, just a one-paragraph boilerplate description of the newsletter. And this description sounds generic, and does nothing to differentiate the publication from its competitors.

A much more interesting and compelling argument could have been made along these lines: Harvard Medical School is the leading edge of medicine, and a subscription to this newsletter brings you the latest developments and breakthroughs direct from this leading edge, before your doctor even knows about them.

The copy could also be made more intriguing with bullets that tease the fascinating health breakthroughs in the pages of the newsletter. This is the prevalent technique in writing copy to sell health newsletters. Here are two examples from a recent promotion for Boardroom’s Bottom Line Health: “How to tell if your body is filled with nasty toxins. Simple test you can do at home using a glass of water” and “The finger and thumb trick that relieves headaches in 90 seconds.”

3. Content Webification – C

The content is somewhat well adapted to the Web, though not perfectly. For instance, you can click on a thumbnail cover of the newsletter to read the first page. But, at least on my PC, the enlarged version that pops up in a window is still not big enough to read easily.

The landing page has a couple of links to the order form. These consist of the words “SUBSCRIBE NOW” underlined and in all caps. These links could have been highlighted with bursts, arrows or another graphic devices to make them pop out more. The order form is clean and simple: a basic shopping cart.

4. Email Capture – C

When I clicked onto the catalog page, I was immediately served a pop-up window, blocking my view of the page—not a tactic I’d recommend.

The pop-up offered a free subscription to Harvard’s e-newsletter Health Beat. Harvard is smart enough to know that you should attempt to capture the email address of every visitor to your site, and that offering a free e-newsletter is an effective way to do that.

Why work so hard to get that email address? Because if your visitor leaves without ordering, you can serve him a series of follow-up emails via autoresponder attempting to convert him to a trial subscription. And, you’ve added another valuable name to your house e-list. Without his email address, you have lost the opportunity for follow up, significantly reducing your conversion rate.

A better strategy than a pop-up, however, is to use a pop-under which appears only after you attempt to click away from the site without purchasing one of the paid subscription newsletters. But Harvard opted for the pop up instead of the less obtrusive, and annoying, pop under.

5. User Testimonials – C

I didn’t see any subscriber testimonials here. Nor does the copy say how long the newsletter has been published, how many subscribers it has or the name of the editor.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

The various links throughout the landing page encourage you to click to order. Clicking brings you to an order page.

The newsletter price is listed as $28. There are no creative tactics used to minimize price resistance. There’s no readily visible money-back guarantee. They don’t offer valuable reports as premiums; nor is there an offer of installment payments, i.e., “three easy monthly payments of $9.37 each.”

Copy doesn’t bother to state the price “creatively” to make it less daunting, such as noting that a subscription is less than eight cents a day for a full year of service. It doesn’t talk about return on investment or money savings—for instance, the fact that avoiding just one costly prescription can pay back the entire subscription fee.

Traditional health newsletter publishers like Agora and Phillips promote their publications with hard offers (payment up front); institutional health newsletter publishers like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins seem to use mainly soft offers (bill me). Harvard, although an institutional publisher, uses the same hard offer as Agora and other traditional publishers.

During the order process, you are asked whether you also want to purchase a special report on memory loss for an additional $12. It’s difficult enough to sell health newsletter subscriptions, why complicate it with a second step and a second product offer? Instead, Harvard should offer this or other reports on major health topics—heart health, cancer, arthritis, memory—as free bonus gifts to increase the landing page’s conversion rate.

Also, promotions selling consumer letters traditionally require a strong money-back guarantee, which should be made prominent on both the landing page and transaction page.

If there is a money-back guarantee, Harvard is keeping it quiet and well concealed—it certainly does not pop out at you on any screen. It should be highlighted in a box with a border on the landing page, and in copy on the shopping cart.

7. Labeling and Language – C

The design of the landing page is odd. The top half is weak boilerplate copy promoting the newsletter, and underneath is an excerpt of an article from the newsletter. But it doesn’t specifically say “article excerpt,” nor is it given some other meaningful label, e.g., “Health News from Harvard Medical School.”

8. Readability and Content Density – C

The typeface and layout are familiar, common, and easy to read. The page is made readable with the use of subheads, links and bullets in the right-hand column. However, those bullets are for other reports, newsletters and books, which may cause visitors to wander off to those pages and never get around to subscribing to the newsletter.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

By featuring text from a recent article on the landing page, the content is kept fairly fresh and updated.

Unfortunately, the boilerplate paragraph of sales copy for the newsletter itself doesn’t convey a sense of freshness, excitement, timeliness or discovery. This could be solved either by listing the titles of recent articles, or continually updating a list of Boardroom-style bullets based on recent content.

10. Load Time – B

This is a reasonably fast-loading page. When tested using the Web Page Analyzer, the page downloaded in 22.7 seconds over a 56 Kb connection.

11. Aesthetics – C

On the plus side, this is a competently designed, short-copy landing page. The text is clean and easy to read, and presents all copy and graphic elements clearly.

On the negative side, the page is dull and static. Not much thought seems to have gone into attracting the user’s attention with graphics, color, or visuals.

12. Order Options – B

The primary order option is to click on a link and go to the order page where you can subscribe online using your credit card. The shopping cart is a sequence of screens with multiple steps, which is standard practice on sites like Amazon that sell multiple products. But it’s unnecessary when selling a single product like a newsletter.

The entire transaction for the one product could be reduced to one screen. Doing so might increase conversion rates, since experience shows a percentage of shoppers abandon the transaction each time you make them jump to a new screen to continue.

Conclusion

The lack of compelling, benefit-oriented selling copy and bold Web design on this landing page has me wondering whether Harvard has already tested this plain Jane, rather ho-hum effort against something much stronger, and found that the plainer, more conservative, laid-back promotion shown here worked best—a result that would surprise me, but is not impossible.

If they haven’t, I would urge Harvard to hire a top copywriter and Web designer (they know plenty) to create a much stronger, more engaging, longer and more detailed landing page and test against this control. We’d be more than pleased to report the results of such a test in these pages.

SciaticPainTreatment.com Landing Page Review

When you compete in a very crowded marketplace, you need a believable product, numerous testimonials, a risk-free proposition and an ironclad guarantee

Note from the Managing Editor: This is the first of our new “mini” landing page series. We’ve excerpted what we thought were the most critical of the 12 Landing Page Guidelines and we’ll be periodically publishing these in the Daily. If you have a landing page or a website you’d like us to consider for review, please email Kim@Mequoda.com

In Psychology 101 we all learned the basic principles of attraction and avoidance. Pleasure and pain. Reward and punishment.

Boiled down, I think of it this way: You either want something you don’t have, or you have something you don’t want.

If you suffer with back pain, you have something you really don’t want, and you’re not alone.

Thousands, if not millions of people must be plagued by some kind of back pain, because every month, more than 150,000 English-speaking people search the Internet for information about “back pain” and discover that there are more than 97 million indexed web pages that contain that keyword phrase. Some Google AdWords advertisers spend up to $1.50 per click for that keyword phrase in order to drive web surfers to their websites.

The publishers of LoseTheBackPain.com and SciaticPainTreatment.com know they have a lot of competition for their self-diagnosis and self-treatment system, but they seem up to the task.

Let’s take a look at SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm and see how it measures up against the seven most important criteria of the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

Headline (Strategic Intent)

The headline engages the target user with a compelling user benefit.

I’m a big advocate of using multiple headlines and subheads above the fold of a sales letter landing page. That’s because, unlike a print sales letter that the reader can easily scan from top to bottom, an online letter only reveals a few inches of copy on a single computer screen.

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Unless the reader takes the additional step of scrolling down the online pages, all she sees is the headline(s) and a paragraph or two of copy.

If the copywriter doesn’t immediately capture the reader’s attention with the headline and subheads, it’s too late. The game is over; the reader has clicked away to something else.

SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm immediately shouts out three arresting messages. The first is in the top banner graphic: “Lose The Back Pain”.

Then the headline and subhead:

Headline

That’s a rhetorical question that enables the reader to identify herself and answer “yes.”

Plus, a strong benefit statement and proposition that also manages to convey the product guarantee—all in one 22-word subheadline. Not bad!

If you suffer from back pain or love someone who does, you’ll read more. If not, you’ll immediately eliminate yourself as a candidate for this sales message and move on.

Yup, the headline(s) works for me.

Story & Content

This sales letter tries to put forth a story, but not in the typical narrative way. Instead, it asks the user to watch a video headlined, “9 Epidurals Didn’t Ease His Pain, But The Lose the Back Pain System Did!”

Another good headline. It moved me to want to see the video. Unfortunately, the day I visited SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm, the video was not working. Bummer. Not a confidence builder.

The rest of the copy on this page is entirely devoted to describing the component parts of the system (videos, audio CDs, reference manual and personal support) and overcoming buyer skepticism with a generous, reverse-the-risk guarantee.

People who are in real pain are highly motivated buyers. Web surfers looking for relief from their suffering will buy nearly anything. They want desperately to be convinced by the sales pitch.

This sales letter, while not exactly stellar, works as well as most.

Email Capture (Relationship Building)

The SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm sales letter landing page makes no effort to capture the user’s email address. That’s the job of LoseTheBackPain.com, its companion website.

Once the user gets to the SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm sales letter landing page, it’s probably because he was referred there from an email message that the publishers have sent him.

User Testimonials

This sales letter landing page is very effective at using testimonials, both text and audio. The user testimonials are credible, feature compelling results and benefits, and are integrated into the sales letter flow.

User Testimonial

Most users are clearly identified, although in some instances, last names are not provided. Real names (first and last), plus real cities and states equate to real people. Real back pain sufferers who attest to the merits of your product have real credibility. And the more specific their testimony, the more credible it is.

“Worked great for me,” is not nearly as credible as “I suffered for years with low back pain and nothing I tried seemed to help, including chiropractic and two surgeries. Then I tried this system and within two weeks, I qualified for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team!”

Links to Order Flow

This landing page includes at least five OFIEs (order forms in editorial) throughout, although the order button is colored red—not a best practice! Inasmuch as red is internationally identified with “danger” and “stop,” it’s really a wonder that so many marketers still make this thoughtless mistake.

Links to Order Flow

Readability & Content Density

The typefaces (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and Tahoma) are online favorites—familiar, comforting and easy to read. The layout is uncluttered and easy to follow.

Aesthetics

The look and feel of this page support and reinforce the brand. However, I disapprove of the background color used in one section of the testimonials. Green is generally associated with leisure. Almost any shade of blue (or white) would be more appropriate to inspire consumer confidence.

Conclusion:

A strong, reverse-the-risk guarantee and sufficient pain are enough reasons to rationalize the purchase decision

SciaticPainTreatment.com/freetrial.htm makes a strong, compelling offer and backs it up with a virtually risk-free guarantee.

Desperate back pain sufferers will find sufficient reasons to buy the system offered at http://www.sciaticpaintreatment.com/freetrial.htm.

One member of the Mequoda family did. We hope it helps her find relief from her back pain woes.

America’s Test Kitchen Landing Page Review

Mequoda recently did an Internet Hub Case Study on America’s Test Kitchen. A brief recap: the company takes the 2.9 million viewers from their TV show, America’s Test Kitchen, and pushes them to www.AmericasTestKitchen.com, a Mequoda Internet Hub, where viewers can get recipes featured on the show for free.

To get the recipes, you must register on the site by entering your email address. This Internet marketing strategy creates a huge database of qualified names. America’s Test Kitchen promotes their paid products, includingCook’s Illustrated magazine, to these names. In this landing page review, I’ll be commenting on the two pages used to monetize site visitors: the homepage and the registration page at www.AmericasTestKitchen.com/login.asp.

  • The homepage has a dual purpose: a) offer viewers content related to the TV show and b) get them to register.
  • The homepage does a good job of positioning the website, offering the visitor value, and highlighting valuable content.
  • Every time you force the reader to click to another page, some of them abandon the transaction. In this instance, the two could be combined, eliminating dual pages and preventing drop off.
  • Since the show runs on public television, it probably aims at a somewhat upscale audience, so the clean, clear site design is appropriate.
  • America’s Test Kitchen and its landing page strategy is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The site components, while all competent to good, work extremely well as a whole.

AmericasTestKitchen.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The homepage has a dual purpose: a) offer viewers content related to the TV show and b) get them to register.

The banner at the top of the page has a masthead with a photo of the TV show’s on-camera personalities.

In the main text, there are several hyperlinks designed to capture the visitor’s email address, which we will comment on a bit later in this review.

The homepage headline is of the “welcome” variety: “Welcome to Public Television’s Most Popular Cooking Show, Brought to You by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.”

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I rate this headline a B because it’s sensible, straightforward and clear. You understand where you are, and are introduced to the central, paid content offer, the magazine.

But “Welcome” is never the strongest option, and I might rework along these lines: “Get Mouth-Watering Recipes, Tips and a FREE Sample Issue of Cook’s Illustrated from the Stars of Public Television’s Most Popular Cooking Show!”

2. Story and Content – B

The homepage is written and designed in tabloid style, meaning there are multiple content sections.

It does a good job of positioning the website, offering the visitor value, and highlighting valuable content.

What’s slightly confusing is the multiple click options. One is “click here to join now” and below that is “Free Trial Issue.”

They go to two different landing pages, yet both are basically the same offer: register to gain access to password-protected Web content and request a free sample issue of the magazine. It would therefore seem more sensible to use one link and landing page.

3. Content Webification – B

The content is fairly well adapted to the Web. Numerous areas of content—recipes, equipment, episode guide, shopping, publications—are each given separate pages with well-labeled hyperlinks to reach them.

There are also numerous click buttons within the top banner linking to products, services and information of interest. For instance, one button takes you “Behind the Scenes” of the TV show.

4. Email Capture – C

When you are on the website, there are numerous free offers where you are given content in exchange for your email address. However, if you leave without taking any of these offers, you are not served a pop-under that makes a final offer (e.g., “Don’t leave yet … you can still claim your FREE SAMPLE ISSUE”). According to our Mequoda guidelines, that’s a flaw.

5. User Testimonials – B

There are no user testimonials. Perhaps they are not as important here as with most other websites, because so many visitors (but certainly not all) are familiar with the show. Therefore, the TV show supplies the credibility.

However, many visitors attracted by organic search may not be viewers of the show, but merely looking for cooking information. The tie-in with the show adds credibility for them, too. But testimonials, especially for the magazine, which is probably less familiar to visitors, would also help.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

When you click on “Click here to join,” you go to a very short landing page that says “Not Registered Yet? Register Today. It’s Free.” The page has a short paragraph and five short bullets.

When you click on “Register” below the bullets, you go to a second, longer landing page to get your free access to Web content, free trial issue of the cooking magazine and a free bonus gift.

Every time you force the reader to click to another page, some of them abandon the transaction. In this instance, the first short landing page is completely unnecessary. The two could be combined, eliminating dual pages and preventing drop off.

When you click on “FREE Trial Issue,” you go to yet another landing page with a picture of the magazine and the headline “FREE Trial Issue.” This page sells the magazine, but says nothing about the free content you can access as a registered user.

Yet if you accept the free trial, I assume you are also registered as a site user. If not you should be. Why, then, have a separate landing page for these offers? The offer should be, for every link, the site access, free magazine and free bonus—and one combined landing page could cover all three.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The buttons on the website are clearly labeled in common online language the user understands: home, bookstore, bulletin board, recipes. Everything is straightforward and accessible.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The site elements are sensibly laid out: a banner at the top of the homepage, with a menu of click buttons underneath. Click on those buttons and you go to various major sections.

The layout under the banner has a column at left and the main text at right—a common layout for webpages.

The main text is divided into sections. The first section is an introduction to the site and promotes the free registration to capture the visitor’s email address.

Below the introductory section are a series of short sections, each with its own headline, highlighting new offers and content.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – B

As just mentioned, the main section of the website has, under the introductory text, short blurbs on content and offer. Many of them are clearly current offers, news and new content, e.g., an offer to register for a sweepstakes and a sneak preview of the new season of the TV show.

10. Load Time – F

To measure how quickly a website downloads on various Internet connections, we turn to our online tool at WebSiteOptimization.com.

The America’s Test Kitchen URL www.americastestkitchen.com scored a pitiful 139.03, which at first lead me to believe the system was not operating correctly the day I tested it. That’s because on my broadband connection, it downloads in an instant.

But after checking it again a week or so later, we found the same load time.

11. Aesthetics – B

The layout, design and typography are very standard and conventional, which is what makes them work so well.

Since the show runs on public television, it probably aims at a somewhat upscale audience, so the clean, clear site design is appropriate.

If the show was aimed at more of a middle America audience, say tabloid readers or soap opera watchers, I might make the fact that the site is connected to the TV show even more prominent—perhaps with the familiar white letters in red box “as seen on TV” logo used to promote infomercial merchandise in print ads and retail outlets.

12. Order Options – B

As mentioned, there are multiple offers, options, links and pages, all seemingly with the same intent: capture the visitor’s email address in exchange for access to site content and a free magazine.

While one can argue that these offers and landing pages are redundant and could be unified, they are well written and well designed, and seem to be working well for the site owner.

Conclusion – B

Despite the fact that, when ranked against our Mequoda criteria, the site scored a B in most areas with one C, I rate it overall a B.

How is this possible? Through the time-tested concept of “synergy.”

America’s Test Kitchen is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

The site components, while all competent to good, work extremely well as a whole.

For visitors who watch the TV show, the site provides an online extension of their favorite cooking show, extending the viewing experience and offering rich content. Whenever you watch a cooking show, for instance, you want the recipes, and you can get them on this site.

For visitors who do not watch the TV show, they are served a content-rich cooking site, backed by the credibility of television.

Either scenario is a win-win scenario.

And despite my minor complaint about multiple unclear paths to registration and email address capture, I would guess that the site works pretty well, captures boatloads of email addresses and achieves a high conversion to paid subscribers of the magazine.

And results are always more important than perfection.

The Investment U Course Landing Page Review

We were first introduced to InvestmentU.com when we interviewed John Phillips, who heads up search marketing for the website. He and his team have done a very impressive job of bringing visitors to the InvestmentU.com site with a combination of organic and paid search. In this review, we look at the landing page that InvestmentU.com uses to convert these visitors to customers for its lead product, The Investment U Course.

It doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it delivers a wallop that makes the visitor want to enroll right now. And that’s exactly what the InvestmentU.com folks want you to do, of course.

– The headline engages the target user, not with the product, but with the product’s author, and gives him instant credibility as an authority in a field of 5,000 other professional traders
– The story on this landing page has a compelling, believable lead and continues for 2,600 words, using short, easy-to-read paragraphs and punchy, up-tempo sub-heads
– The Investment U Course landing page offers a free email newsletter in exchange for the visitor’s email address/permission
– The sales letter landing page copy is interspersed with seven glowing recommendations, each clearly identified and credentialed as an authority
– Agora has a well deserved reputation for quality information products and top-drawer copywriters, so we’re not surprised Investment U’s landing page works as well as it does

InvestmentU’s Course Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

I like the bold promise offered by this headline: “Inside: 141 Secrets… What It Takes to Become an Extraordinary Investor…”

Everyone wants to know the “secrets”—the special, confidential, insider information that presumably only the professionals know.

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A headline that promises secrets is always intriguing. This one is actually used as a “kicker” above a larger headline that doubles as an endorsement. It reads:

“Dr. Steve Sjuggerud: The Best Investment Analyst I Know…”

Then it continues with:

“I’ve interviewed over 5,000 professional traders. And the one who can help you build a fortune through investing—better than any of them—is Dr. Steve Sjuggerud”—Dr. Van Tharp, President, International Institute of Trading Mastery

I don’t know Dr. Tharp, but he has an impressive title, so I’m hooked on reading further. If a headline is an advertisement for an advertisement, this one works well to get me into the body copy.

The headline engages the target user, not with the product but with the product’s author, and gives him instant credibility as an authority in a field of 5,000 other professional traders. At least, according to Dr. Tharp.

2. Story & Content – A

The sales letter that follows the headline tells the story, not beginning with Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, but with Dr. Tharp. We learn that Dr. Tharp wanted to determine exactly what it takes to become an extraordinary investor… so he started by asking two simple questions.

Now tell me you can quit here and not read further to find out what those two questions are! You can’t. And neither could I!

What is it that the best investors do that separates them from the other 99 percent of us?
And, what’s the quickest way to get from ground zero to living off your investments… and never have to “work” again?
Still reading? I was! The story has a compelling, believable lead and continues for 2,600 words, using short, easy-to-read paragraphs and punchy, up-tempo subheads, each of which reveals another “secret,” followed by bulleted items that describe The Investment U Course content.

For example, Secret #4: The 1-2-3 Stock Market Model:

How to determine when we’re in a “green light market”—i.e. when stocks have guaranteed double-digit returns… Page 65
The three simple factors that will save you from a similar stock crash to the 2000 dot.bomb calamity that destroyed portfolios nationwide… Page 66
How you can time movements in the Fed funds rate to avoid a year’s worth of 1 percent stock returns… Page 69
With copy like that unfolding with every new paragraph, I read straight through the entire letter with interest that never waned. Subheads such as “How Dr. Sjuggerud Can Help You Make Millions” urged me along, too.

3. Content Webification – B

The Investment U Course landing page makes good use of interactive technology. The page includes a site search function, and a link to a “Get a Stock Quote” function. Additionally, there are hypertext links to a couple of archived editions of The Investment U eLetter.

Regrettably, these links don’t open in a new page but take the user away from the landing page. That’s a major design engineering flaw and could be corrected easily with a couple of strokes of HTML.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – A

The landing page offers a free email newsletter in exchange for the visitor’s email address/permission. The link appears alongside the sales letter copy in the right navigation panel, as well as in a call-out box within the letter itself.

If the sales letter doesn’t entice the reader to enroll right away, she is certainly likely to sign up for the free email newsletter.

5. User Testimonials – A

The sales letter copy is interspersed with seven glowing recommendations. Each is clearly identified by name and credentialed as an authority. Better still, the quotes have a ring of authenticity and real candor. Very believable. Well done!

6. Links to Order Flow – A

The Investment U Course landing page includes a well-designed button at its conclusion.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The sales letter uses clear language and good grammar. There is no professional jargon or intimidating “investment-speak” that might dissuade the user.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

The predominant typeface is Times New Roman, a serif face that is familiar, comforting and easy to read online when displayed in the right size. The layout is uncluttered and easy to follow. The landing page makes adequate use of white space. A printer-friendly option is also included.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

The content and references appear to be accurate and up to date. There is one reference to a 1982 study by Dr. Tharp. The sales letter also references “the 2000 dot.bomb calamity that destroyed portfolios nationwide.” But these are not major detractors. I predict this sales letter will work well for years to come.

10. Load Time – B

The landing page loads fast enough, owing to a dearth of unnecessary graphics. It scores a very respectable 21.80 seconds with a 56K connection, as measured by the webpage analyzer.

11. Aesthetics – B

The landing page is conventional and not flashy. The graphic design is comforting and trustworthy for the target user. The colors of white, blue and burgundy seem appropriate to the user’s mental model.

12. Order Options – C

The sales letter is followed by a conventional online order flow.

Everything on the order page is clear and easy to complete. It includes a promotion code for a $20 instant discount.

Adding to the page’s credibility is a VeriSign secure site certificate. Included is this satisfaction guarantee: “If you are not satisfied with the Investment U Course, simply return it to us within 30 days for a full refund.”

But while a toll-free phone number is displayed, phone orders are not specifically encouraged. Additionally, there is no “bill me” option or printable order form for faxing orders. Given all of the other things that this site does so well, these are glaring omissions.

Conclusion

InvestmentU.com launched in 2001 as the free educational investment newsletter arm of The Oxford Club. The site is the Agora Publishing Company’s members-only network of investors and entrepreneurs.

Agora has a well-deserved reputation for quality information products and is famous for employing top-drawer copywriters for its direct mail and Internet marketing sales campaigns, so I am not surprised that The Investment U Course landing page works as well as it does.

RocketFrench.com Landing Page Review

When Don Nicholas asked me to review the landing page for the Rocket French home-study foreign language course, I took on the assignment with mixed feelings because of a personal fact he didn’t know about me.

The fact is that I am virtually incapable of learning a foreign language.

It’s true. I studied Spanish in high school, Hebrew in Hebrew School and German in college. And I can’t speak or read any one of them.

In particular, I was so bad at Hebrew—although I had an A average in elementary school—that my teacher asked my mother whether I was retarded. When I showed him my sixth grade report card, with As in every subject, he was absolutely stunned.

Fortunately for me, I have no desire to learn foreign languages. For better or worse, it’s just something that never stimulated my interest—and because I don’t travel overseas for business or pleasure, not knowing a foreign language hasn’t held me back in life—at least not much.

But if I did want to learn French, would the landing page for the French Rocket convince me to buy their course? Let’s take a look.

  • Understand why the headline, while not brilliant, shocking or compelling, still works – page 7
  • Learn how Bob Bly would re-do the lead if it were his and how he’d improve the product’s branding with one simple change – page 8
  • Discover three split tests Bly would’ve done to the graphic image and why – page 10
  • Find out why this landing page’s use of email capture mechanisms are weak – page 11
  • Discover the techniques this landing page could be using to increase the author’s credibility – page 16

RocketFrench.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The headline—”Who Else Wants to Speak French Confidently and Fluently in the Shortest Possible Time”—is a formula: the “who else” formula.

But people use formulas for a reason, and the reason is that they work. The headline, while not brilliant, shocking or hypnotically compelling, is relevant and attention-getting to those interested in learning French.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

The subhead tells the visitor both to read the landing page as well as register for the free ecourse, which is offered in an embedded registration form within the body of the landing page—an increasingly popular method of capturing visitor email addresses.

The strategic intent is clearly to a) get the visitor to read the long copy and b) capture his email address. The headline/subhead combination achieves both goals with admirable brevity.

2. Story and Content – B

The lead starts off by discussing, both in a bullet list under the headline as well as another bullet list under the salutation, the reasons one would like to speak French, and by extension, the benefits of speaking French.

That makes sense, but if I come to this site through search or an online ad, doesn’t that mean I already want to speak French, and am deciding a) whether to take the next step and commit to studying French and b) which course to take?

And isn’t the sale really made on point b—convincing the reader that yours is the program he should take?

If so, I would focus the lead more on the frustration of taking courses that don’t work—most of us took foreign language in school, and most of us can’t speak the language we studied—and how the “Rocket French” approach to learning is different and superior.

Also, if you’re going to call it “Rocket French,” I would think the word “Rocket” has specific meaning—e.g., your language skills will take off like a rocket—and tie the name into the system description in the copy.

The lead starts off by discussing, both in a bullet list under the headline as well as another bullet list under the salutation, the reasons one would like to speak French, and by extension, the benefits of speaking French.

3. Content Webification – B

The content is well adapted to the Web in general and to the landing page format in particular.

I don’t like the cartoon image of the woman, and I would split test three different images: a) a photo of the program’s creator, b) a photo of the product and c) a photo of a young, attractive couple sitting in a café in Paris speaking French to the waitress.

I don’t like the cartoon image of the woman.

4. Email Capture – B

The email capture method used here is the “email capture sidebar.” This is the form built into the main landing page as a sidebar, with the headline “Sign up to get my FREE 6-Day French Course!”

This sidebar offers a free e-course in exchange for your email address. You can continue reading the main landing page whether you fill in this form or not.

The weakness of the email capture sidebar strategy is that, unlike a squeeze page, the user is not required to give you his email address to read your full long-copy landing page.

This sidebar offers a free e-course in exchange for your email address.

5. User Testimonials – A

There’s a ton of testimonials on this site. The sheer number is an effective sales tool: you skim the page and think, “If so many people love the course, it MUST be good.” The actual content of the testimonials almost becomes secondary to their volume.

The Rocket French people could improve upon what they have by adding video testimonials, a technique that is rapidly becoming a “best practice” for Internet marketing.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

About once every screen or so, there is a horizontal table with one row and three columns. The left column goes to a sign-up page for the free e-course; the middle and right link to the order page for the product. As you get toward the end of the landing page, the copy asks for the order directly several times, each with a “buy now” button prominently featured.

About once every screen or so, there is a horizontal table with one row and three columns.

7. Labeling and Language – A

No surprises here: everything is completely standard and familiar.

The landing page begins as a standard sales letter, but about halfway into it, switches into a tutorial with three sections (game one, game two, game three) showing how the system works, with screen shots illustrating the functionality of the software.

8. Readability and Content Design – A

The copy is extremely long, but it works, because it’s entertaining, relevant and readable from start to finish. It never stalls, flounders or gets boring.

The letter is signed by Marie-Claire Riviere, who seems to be either the creator or publisher of the course. If I were writing this landing page, I would have done more to build her credibility.

For starters, I’d show her photo on page one of the landing page. In addition, I’d detail the experience, credentials and expertise that qualify her to create and market this course with confidence. Is she French? Did she live in Paris for a year? Was she a translator for the UN?

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – B

I’m not sure that content freshness is a requisite for a landing page selling a course in French. After all, unlike some subjects—computer programming, homeland security, investment advice—the French language doesn’t change that much or that often, as far as I know.

As for a sense of urgency, there is a special discount offer on the program with a specific expiration date. But you don’t discover this until you are well into the copy. I would replace the current pre-head on the first screen (“Learn to Speak French with Rocket French”) with “Special 83% discount offer … expires midnight, July 13, 2006” (or whatever the expiration date is).

The headline promises to teach you French in “the shortest possible time.” Another way to add a sense of urgency would be to make the time element more specific, perhaps tied in with the guarantee, e.g., “Speak French Confidently and Fluently in 60 Days Guaranteed—or Your Money Back!”

10. Load Time – F

On the Webpage Analyzer, the site took 124.13 seconds to download at 56 kbps, and 3.49 seconds on a T1 connection.

I have a cable modem connection and when I put the URL www.rocketfrench.com in my Explorer browser, it downloaded in a snap. Still, 124 seconds is way too slow for a 56K.

11. Aesthetics – B

The site has a simple, clean, easy-to-read layout. Judicious use of standard design tools—heads, subheads, boxes and bullets—allows you to read straight through or pick up key points on a quick scan.

12. Order Options – B

The order page is simple and easy to follow. A bullet list on the order page summarizes all the elements included with your purchase. It also clearly shows the list price of the downloadable version and the discount you are getting when you order now.

The order page is simple and easy to follow.

Conclusion

My gut instinct, having not actually spoken with the Rocket French people, is that this landing page probably generates a solid conversion rate and healthy sales for their downloadable Rocket French course.

The biggest strength is the clarity of presentation, the straightforward, hype-free tone of the copy and the strong emphasis on benefits.

The biggest flaws are the lack of a unique selling proposition in the headline and lead and failure to establish the qualifications and credentials of the course creator or publisher.

My advice to the Rocket French company… I also think there might be a missed opportunity in not starting with where the reader already might be in her search for French mastery: frustrated by failure in high school, college, and other programs.

If you can quickly and easily convince the visitor that your course can succeed where others fail, and make a convincing case why this is so, then your sales of foreign language courses might take off like a rocket.

Rose-Growing-Secrets.com Landing Page Review

Landing Page Scorecard: Rose-Growing-Secrets.com

Internet Explorer, the pundits tell us, accounts for up to 95 percent of all Web browser traffic. So why should we care about that small minority of surfers who prefer alternative browsers such as Netscape Communicator, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari?

And why waste time with those non-conformist non-Windows users who are stuck with the Mac version of IE?

Answer: Because you care. Or ought to care.

For the same reason you use a spellchecker, or ought to.

Because being sloppy about details is a sign of arrogance and laziness.

Because it drastically reduces your credibility if your site appears to be amateurish or unreadable.

Most users view webpages in the 800 x 600 format. But the 640 x 480 and 1024 x 768 screen resolutions are also popular. You want your webpages to be viewable in each.

  • BrowserCam.com creates screen captures of your webpages loaded in any browser, and on any operating system, so you can see if your webpages look good—and work right—on any platform.
  • You can see your site with or without Flash. Check for consistency across pages. See that redirects and pop-ups are all working properly. Check to see that your dynamically generated pages are behaving.
  • The designers of Rose Growing Secrets ought to use BrowserCam.com, because in my IE Web browser, and my Mozilla Firefox browser, this sales letter landing page is nearly impossible to read.
  • It should be using a table width that is about 75 percent of the current page. That’s its first of numerous mistakes.
  • Let’s see how the Rose Growing Secrets landing page measures up on the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

Rose-Growing-Secrets.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

Assuming the visitor gets past the browser problem I’m experiencing while viewing this page, and wants to see what’s being offered here, she may be intrigued by the headline “Frustrated Rose Gardener Disovers (sic) The Amazing Secrets To Growing Beautiful Aromatic Roses”.

That’s right. The word “discovers” is misspelled in the headline. Unfortunately, things don’t get much better from there.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

2. Story & Content – B

The story and story teller seem credible, although the tale is bit disjointed and not well told. Just when I was about to nod off, I discovered this subheadline: Revealed: The Four-Legged Animal Who Is Your Biggest Ally In Transforming Your Roses For The Better

That got my attention. But unfortunately, the critter is not identified. You need to buy the $27.97 book to find out. Bummer.

3. Content Webification – C

This landing page makes absolutely no innovative use of interactive technology. It’s having a hard enough time getting straight text to work.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – F

I would guess you could start quite a popular email newsletter around the topic of growing roses.  Yahoo! Groups has several such groups, each with more than 1,000 members.

Capturing the names of site visitors should be a top priority for Rose Growing Secrets. But the publisher of this site offers no free email newsletter or any other downloadable freebie.

5. User Testimonials – C

Four user testimonials are integrated into the sales letter flow, but the customers are not identified by name.

I’m happy that “Mary K, Florida” has grown the best roses ever, but I’m not convinced that she’s a real person and not simply the invention of a zealous (albeit amateurish) copywriter.

Four user testimonials are integrated into the sales letter flow, but the customers are not identified by name.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

The landing page does not include a well-designed button and relies on only two hypertext links. Dismal.

The landing page does not include a well-designed button and relies on only two hypertext links. Dismal.

7. Labeling and Language – D

In addition to the misspelled headline gaff, the copywriter uses the word rosarian. I looked it up, just to be certain. A rosarian, as you guessed, is a person with expertise or a special interest in the cultivation of roses.

I was unfamiliar with the word, which makes me suspect that other literate people are unfamiliar with it, too. If you think of yourself as a rosarian, you probably don’t need the book offered here.

8. Readability & Content Density – D

OK, so my browser renders this landing page too large to read easily. But if we get beyond that nearly fatal flaw, the typeface is familiar, comforting and easy to read online. But that’s a big if. A familiar typeface doesn’t make up for mediocre copy.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

The sales letter urges the user to buy today and threatens that at the end of the month, the price is going to increase to $37.97. Otherwise, there is no date stamp or other sign of content freshness.

10. Load Time – A

Download time was 6.90 seconds at 56K as measured by the website optimization tool.

11. Aesthetics – D

Nobody is going to give this site a beauty prize. It’s mediocre at best.

With a subject like roses, you’d think the graphics would take your breath away. Rosarians are people who admire beauty. The site ought to be more consistent with target user mental models.

The red border is inappropriate for this niche market; it’s not rose red. The bulletin copy points should have a line space between them. The testimonials are set off in amateurish text boxes against a yellow/ochre background. Ugh!

All in all, this page is no garden of delights.

Nobody is going to give this site a beauty prize. It’s mediocre at best.

12. Order Options – C

ClickBank is used to enable payment via credit card or PayPal. There are no phone order or fax options offered.

Conclusion

If their experience is anything like mine, and they can’t view this landing page without a lot of effort, most visitors to this site are going to click away without reading the offer or ordering the product.

But even if the page were more legible, the design is still substandard and the copywriting is lame and unconvincing.

“No rose without a thorn. But many a thorn without a rose.”
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788 – 1860

MakepeaceTotalPackage.com Landing Page Review

Clayton Makepeace is a legend in the direct response advertising business. He has the respect of both his clients and peers—the hallmark of a real professional.

He has a huge portfolio of winning direct mail packages, commands top dollar for his work and in April of 2006 conducted a $5,000-per-seat, how-to seminar for aspiring copywriters. I can’t imagine anyone not putting his name on their top-10 list.

At MakepeaceTotalPackage.com Mr. Makepeace displays his considerable skill with one objective: to get other copywriters to sign up for his free email newsletter.

Let’s see how the Copywriting and Marketing Secrets Revealed landing page measures up on the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

  • There was a time, not too long ago, when it was relatively easy to capture an email address in exchange for a free report or newsletter. But things are changing.
  • As Web surfers become more sophisticated and weary of dealing with a mailbox full of unwanted, time-consuming, low-value messages and online newsletters, it is getting harder to capture the names of prospects.
  • Your offer—even for a truly valuable free report or email newsletter—must be persuasive.
  • Good, persuasive copywriting is essential to online sales. Mr. Makepeace knows this as well as anyone, and demonstrates it in this landing page.

MakepeaceTotalPackage.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

Effective headlines are Mr. Makepeace’s forte.

“Get The Makepeace Magic: My Proven Secrets For Producing Bigger Winners, More Often – FREE!” states his free offer clearly and powerfully.

I especially like his use of the word “magic.” It adds mystery, along with the other magical word, “secrets.”

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

2. Story & Content – A

The sales letter tells a story about Mr. Makepeace’s “obsession with producing bigger winners more often.” He recites some of the many achievements of his 33 years in the business.

This is no time to be modest. When you have a proven track record for success, you are expected to state it loudly and clearly. Mr. Makepeace does.

3. Content Webification – C

This landing page makes no use of multi-media technology or interactive technology. It’s a straight text letter with a couple of photos.

The writer knows this medium best. This is an online sales letter but, without significant changes, it could just as easily be a printed letter.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – A

The landing page offers a free downloadable report, as well as a regular, weekly email newsletter in exchange for an email address.

“Sign-up Now… you have nothing to lose, because THE TOTAL PACKAGE and your copy of Beat the Blank Page Blues… are yours absolutely FREE!”

It’s difficult to resist free information that promises help with your job, hobby or similar passion.

At first blush, this appears to be a tightly focused niche—copywriters and aspiring marketers. But when you consider the entire universe of entrepreneurs who want to make money online, there are lots of prospects.

What’s the value of a name and an email address? It depends on the upsell offer and the conversion ratio, of course.

Shortly after I signed up for the free report and online newsletter, I received the first upsell from Mr. Makepeace—for a $25 online seminar.

The upsell after that was for the $5,000 convention and how-to seminar that featured more copywriting secrets from Mr. Makepeace and inspiration from business motivational speaker Harvey Mackay.

The landing page offers a free downloadable report, as well as a regular, weekly email newsletter in exchange for an email address.

5. User Testimonials – B

The testimonials are credible. Half affirm the value of the free Makepeace report and email newsletter. The other half attest to the veracity of Mr. Makepeace. Only about half of the users are completely identified.

The testimonials are integrated into the sales letter flow and reflect the target users and their heroes.

The testimonials are credible.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Inasmuch as the offer is for a free report and email newsletter, the order flow does not need to collect credit card information and details. That simplifies things.

This landing page includes two, well-designed order forms within the editorial. There are at least five, well-placed buttons scattered throughout the sales letter that enable the motivated reader to jump to the order form instantly.

There are at least five, well-placed buttons scattered throughout the sales letter.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Mr. Makepeace uses “power words” to create excitement and urgency. I like his folksy, down-to-earth style.

“Nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts copywriting,” he calls it. It’s peppered with metaphors like “Headline Tinker-Toys” and similes such as “easy ways to make your body copy sing like Maria Callas on Opening Night.”

8. Readability & Content Density – B

The sans serif typeface is familiar, and the layout is uncluttered and easy to follow, with good use of white space.

Mr. Makepeace makes especially effective use of copy bullets. Bullets may be formulaic, but they are nevertheless effective—easy to scan.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – C

The sales letter includes no date stamp or reply-by date. It simply creates urgency by offering valuable information to a niche market of nascent professional advertising copywriters.

10. Load Time – C

Download time was 34.97 seconds at 56K as measured by the website optimization tool.

The total size of this page is 174,459 bytes, and the total size of its images is 40,509 bytes—quite large. This issue could be addressed with image optimization software, which would speed up the image downloads.

11. Aesthetics – B

The graphic design is generally consistent with the target user mental model. I would not have used green and yellow, and recommend sticking with only the black type and blue border.

The designer has chosen to use dark red sub-headlines that are centered vs. flush left. Presumably, Mr. Makepeace has tested these design elements.

In general, I recommend against using the color red for typography, but if you must, at least make it very dark and closer to maroon, as this shade is.

12. Order Options – A

This sales letter does not include any phone or fax order options, nor should it. This is, after all, an offer for a free online newsletter. If the user can’t signup for it online, he shouldn’t subscribe.

Conclusion

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was relatively easy to capture an email address in exchange for a free report or newsletter. But things are changing.

As Web surfers become more sophisticated and weary of dealing with a mailbox full of unwanted, time-consuming, low-value messages and online newsletters, it is getting harder to capture the names of prospects.

Your offer—even for a truly valuable free report or email newsletter—must be persuasive.

Good, persuasive copywriting is essential to online sales. Mr. Makepeace knows this as well as anyone, and demonstrates it at Copywriting and Marketing Secrets Revealed—The Total Package.

ThePowerofPositiveHabits.com Landing Page Review

Does the Burgeoning Self-Help Market Niche Respond Better to a Hard-Hitting Letter with a Bold, Brassy Design or to Dignified Persuasion and a More Elegant Graphic Treatment?

In our NicheADay.com Landing Page Review we examined an information product designed for opportunity-seekers. That’s a large and ever-changing market niche comprised of would-be business owners.

These are people who are dissatisfied with their jobs, or have recently become unemployed, and suddenly decide to go into business for themselves. They may suddenly embrace the “American Dream” of being self-employed and start what they hope will become a profitable business. They even call themselves entrepreneurs. One of my mentors, Michael Gerber, calls that “having an entrepreneurial seizure.”

There are new entrants into the opportunity-seekers niche every week, while others abandon the dream, leave the niche and move on to alternative employment. But the desire to improve one’s life, whether through self-employment or through some other self-help activity, is always a powerful force that creates a large and hungry market niche.

In his book SHAM—How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, journalist Steve Salerno offers an exposé on how “experts” dispense advice on everything from mental health to relationships to diet to personal finance to business strategy. Americans spend upward of $8 billion every year on self-help programs and products, Mr. Salerno says.

  • Perhaps you think self-help gurus such as Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Tony Robbins and John Gray are a godsend to troubled Americans.
  • Alternatively, you may believe, as Mr. Salerno does, that many motivational speakers and their how-to books and other quick fixes often eradicate personal responsibility and do more harm than good.
  • Either way, there is no denying that the self-help actualization movement represents a huge—$8 billion annually!!— market for information products.
  • One entrant in the self-help actualization movement market niche is The Power of Positive Habits, an eBook by author Dan Robey.
  • Let’s how see its online sales letter rates on the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard.

ThePowerofPositiveHabits.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

There are actually four headlines at work here (or one headline and three subheads) each of them shouting a promise.

  • “Make 2006 your Best Year Ever!”

  • “Order Today and get the Apple IPod AudioBook version FREE plus over $1,200 dollars in other amazing bonuses!”

  • “In just a Few Minutes you can Learn How to Re-Program your Mind and Body and Reach your Goals Automatically… Guaranteed!”

  • “Research Author reveals a Scientific Secret that will Show You How To Re-Program Your Mind and Body to Achieve More Success Automatically, Lose Weight Automatically, Improve Your Health Automatically, have Unlimited Energy and Motivation every day and much more!”

Each of these engages the reader with a benefit and urges her to read further. (Everything is “automatic.”)

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

2. Story & Content – B

The sales letter tells a story that will be credible to those who want to be convinced and incredible to those who are skeptical. Doesn’t every sales letter do this —convince those who are ready to buy to do so, or convince those who are not ready to buy not to do so?

The important factor here is the story itself, and this letter (“Dear Success Seeker”) has one. The writer, Mr. Robey, identifies himself in the first paragraph and quickly moves the motivated user along the path to a buying decision. If you believe it will help you, you’ll choose to buy it.

Or as Miss Jean Brodie said, “For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”

The writer, Mr. Robey, identifies himself in the first paragraph and quickly moves the motivated user along the path to a buying decision.

3. Content Webification – F

There is no attempt to use multi-media technology here. While the sales letter has excellent testimonials (see #5 below), they are text only. Audio and video clips could be used, but they are not.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – A

A “floater” offers a free “Positive Habits E-course and Weekly Newsletter (Value $59.00),” promising the user will learn how to 1) achieve more success automatically, 2) lose weight automatically, 3) improve your health automatically, 4) have more energy automatically, 5) be more motivated automatically and more. Everything is automatic if you just learn how to “program your mind and body.”

Interestingly, the free e-course and weekly newsletter is offered only in the floater. If the user closes the floater, there is not way to sign up elsewhere. This is a missed opportunity—two missed opportunities, actually.

A sign-up box could be included in the online sales letter. Additionally, the floater could be made to reappear if the user abandons the order flow process. Enabling the user to close it once and for all is a costly mistake.

Interestingly, the free e-course and weekly newsletter is offeredonly in the floater.

5. User Testimonials – A

Two other well-known, self-help gurus, Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and Brian Tracy, author of Create Your Own Future, provide high-powered endorsements of The Power of Positive Habits.

Promises that the program will “transform your life” and help you “develop the lifelong habits for great success” from these two publishing giants must be very credible with the self-help actualization movement target users.

John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, also weighs in with praise for the product.

In the self-help actualization movement market segment, it doesn’t get a whole lot better.

John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, also weighs in with praise for the product.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

The sales letter landing page includes a blue, underlined link and a couple of well-designed order buttons. Payment is via the familiar ClickBank system.

7. Labeling and Language – B

To create excitement and urgency, the sales letter uses “power words” that describe 33 downloadable bonuses.

This is known as the ginsu knife technique of creating additional value. The name is derived from the TV infomercials featuring legendary product developers such as Ron Popeil.

We’ve all heard the sales pitch… But wait, there’s more! You get the carving knife, you get the paring knife, you get the six steak knives… etc.

The idea is to add on so many extra valuable bonuses that the user eventually gives up all resistance, thinking to himself “Look at all they’re offering here. I’d be crazy not to buy this now… .”

Some users will see this as an example of offering outstanding value for the money, of delivering more than expected for a very reasonable price.

Other users will see this as an eclectic collection of disparate downloadable information products that have been cobbled together with little or no congruence. For them, the disparity and incongruence will have a negative effect on the purchase decision.

8. Readability & Content Density – C

We have come to expect from websites like this an overuse of boldface typography, red headlines, yellow highlighted text passages, centered vs. flush left headlines, exclamation points, italics, etc.

Why is this? Is it because so many of these sites look this way that everyone copies the same design style? Or is there convincing evidence somewhere (which I have not seen) that this boraxed (graphic designer slang for “cheap and tasteless”) treatment works best at creating sales?

I admit, I don’t know. But I find it hard to believe that such a design enhances readability, credibility or response. Only split testing would tell us for certain.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – C

This sales letter includes no date stamp and no reply-by date in the call to action. The content appears to be stagnant. Only the reference to 2006 makes the page seem at all current.

10. Load Time – F

Download time was 116.72 seconds at 56K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

The graphic images for all those bonuses slows the download time to a crawl.

While waiting, I got in touch with my inner child. It was restless and cranky!

11. Aesthetics – C

See #8 above. Do sales letter landing pages like this one work well because they are designed this way or in spite of the graphic design? Do we simply expect them to be designed this way because we’ve grown accustomed to tasteless, frenetic graphics for products that make big promises? Or do designers copy this format because it has proven to work well?

The target user’s mental model (expectations) are the issue here. Aesthetics is all subjective until you can measure results. I don’t respond well to pages that look like this one. Perhaps other users do.

I don’t respond well to pages that look like this one. Perhaps other users do.

12. Order Options – C

ClickBank enables payment via credit card or PayPal, but there are no phone order or fax options offered here. More missed opportunities.

Conclusion

There are some smart and some not-so-smart techniques at work in this online sales letter.

Smart is characterizing the product and bonuses as MP3 audio format files that the user can enjoy on an Apple iPod. That makes them seem very chic. It’s a lot more hip than merely calling them audio downloads.

Smart is this sales point: “With this format, we’ve made it very easy for you to have it immediately. You can start changing your life in a matter of minutes!”

Not-so-smart is providing a link to the affiliate program at the end of the sales letter. That’s an unnecessary distraction.

If you’re going to offer an affiliate program, offer it only to customers—those who have actually bought your product. And offer it to them only after they have proven themselves to be happy with it. Satisfied customers make the best sales affiliates.

Make that one of your powerful positive habits.

EzineQueen.com’s Online Success Blueprint Workshop Landing Page Review

If You Want a Landing Page that Excites the Senses and Hits all the Hot Buttons with Ample Proof, Then This is the One to Mirror.

We are back now with another offer from her highness, Alexandria Brown, “The Ezine Queen.” After seeing this site I have decided that I might want to be a loyal subject. “The Queen” has brought you into her kingdom by earlier selling you her ezine course. This is good. This is how you get folks into your funnel. NOW, Ali is joining other Internet Marketers (with one main difference that I shall discuss later) and upselling them to a hands-on business marketing seminar.

Now by the time I got to this landing page, there was the cute Post-It note to inform people that it’s sold out.

The Queen informs you—using scarcity—that you can go on the cancellation list. Of course, everyone wants what they can’t have and now we have the technique of scarcity working here.

  • This is a classic headline that works. It targets its audience, delivers a strong benefit and throws in dashes of greed.
  • This landing page was for a limited time offer of a seminar. Regardless, Ali was smart enough to have a drop-down box that offered her newsletter. Good work!
  • Exceptionally strong graphics, powerful audio testimonials, PLUS convincing copy along with photos proves once again that these people exist.
  • Good use of colors (especially red) that keeps you riveted to the page(s) and offer. Nothing is boring here. Copywriter and graphic designer worked well together on this site—obviously, seeing that the seminar is sold out.
  • Good use of testimonials and benefits… with lots of proof galore (the Queen’s earnings). Ali is a marketer that “walks her talk.”

EzineQueen.com’s Online Success Blueprint Workshop Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline – A

Attention Coaches, Consultants, Authors, Speakers, and Other Solo-preneurs: **

“Give Me Just 3 Days… and I’ll Give You My Entire Step-by-Step Plan for Turning Your Current Business Into an Online Money Machine That Can Generate You an EXTRA $10K – $20K a Month, Every Month… While Giving You MORE Time and Freedom in Your Life!”

It’s No Accident… I’ve Done It, and You Can Too. I’m Spilling ALL My Secrets, Step by Step, at My Spring 2006 Online Success Blueprint Workshop™.

March 16-18, 2006, in Los Angeles, California

But HURRY… I Can Only Accept 50 Registrations Total!

This is a classic headline that works. It targets its audience: coaches, consultants, speakers and other solo-preneurs—basically anyone who can market a specific product or business service. She delivers a strong benefit, throws in dashes of greed ($10K-$20K) and tells you that she can only except 50 people. Not only that, but she is going to spill her guts on how she does it—in just three days.

This is a classic headline that works.

2. Story and Content – A

What I liked about this landing page is that Alexandria Brown has branded herself into the hearts and minds of her customers. Most Internet marketers seem to be males. Again, Alexandria stands out because she is intelligent, articulate, attractive and successful. You come upon the site, you click on the personal message and you hear Ali’s soothing voice telling you how this seminar is going to change your business life.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

She hits the right buttons from the get-go (although, to this day I don’t really know what a get-go is). It’s important to note that Ali’s USP is that this seminar is NOT another Internet marketing seminar where everyone is just selling the same product to each other… which is other Internet marketers. No, this is for the professional who wants to explode their business online so that they can make huge profits offline. Alexandria’s goal is NOT to make you into another Internet marketer. Instead she’s going to show you, step-by-step, how to explode your offline business—online.

3. Content Webification – A

Very easy to surf, with all the right bells and whistles. Audio, graphics and copy work synergistically well together.

4. Email Capture – A

This site was for a limited time offer of a seminar. Regardless, Ali was smart enough to have a drop-down box that offered her newsletter. Good work!

Ali was smart enough to have a drop-down box that offered her newsletter.

5. User Testimonials – A

Exceptionally strong graphics, powerful audio testimonials, PLUS convincing copy along with photos proves once again that these people exist. Each testimonial is very compelling within itself—and helps sell Alexandria.

6. Links to Order Flow – F

None. Ali has created a great offer that goes right up to the call to action, but no “click here now” buttons that will get the prospect to order right now.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Easy to understand and fun to read. It accomplishes it’s goal. Ali makes you feel she is talking to you one-on-one from her audio note to you and throughout the copy.

8. Readability and Content Density – A

When presenting an offer online you have to make it user friendly. Just like creating the perfect meal, you want the right amount of ingredients so the sum will be greater than the parts. That’s what you have here. Convincing copy and effective use of graphics that gets you excited about signing up for the seminar that will (drum roll) change your life. It’s all done in an easy-to-understand manner.

Convincing copy and effective use of graphics that gets you excited about signing up for the seminar.

9. Content Freshness – C

This part of the scorecard is sometimes tough to evaluate only because it’s a point-of-purchase landing site. The offer is only for a specific time period. There is no fresh content, but there is the strong sense of urgency that every offer must have.

There is no fresh content, but there is the strong sense of urgency that every offer must have.

10. Load Time – A

Under 15 seconds which meets Mequoda’s guidelines.

11. Aesthetics – A

Good use of colors (especially red) that keeps you riveted to the page(s) and offer. Nothing is boring here. Copywriter and graphic designer worked well together on this site—obviously, seeing that the seminar is sold out.

12. Order Options – C

Now, I gave it a C because there are no ordering options. But understand, the seminar was finished at this point—so there was no need to have any ordering options. There is a contact address, email and toll-free number. If there was a fallout, then the prospect could contact Ali or Liz to be put on a list.

Conclusion

This landing page delivers a strong offer. If you want a site that excites the senses and hits all the hot buttons with ample proof, then this is the one to mirror. Good use of testimonials and benefits… with lots of proof galore (the Queen’s earnings). Ali is a marketer that “walks her talk.”

PerryMarshall.com’s The Definitive Guide to Google Adwords Landing Page Review

With a few judicious tweaks to this sales letter landing page, he might sell even more.

Perry Marshall is something of a Renaissance man—engineer, advertising copywriter, technical writer, marketer and philosopher.

Among Internet marketers, he has ascended to the rank of high priest of Google AdWords. As one of the world’s leading specialists on buying search engine traffic, he has published a very popular how-to book, conducted high-ticket seminars and is a much-sought-after personal coach.

Prior to his consulting career, he helped grow a Chicago tech company from $200,000 to $4 million in sales in four years, then sell it to a public company for $18 million.

Mr. Marshall has an engineering degree and is co-author of a book for control engineers on the essentials of Ethernet and TCP/IP. Additionally, he has worked as a stereo audio speaker designer, industrial sales manager and marketing consultant.

Mr. Marshall’s book, The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords, is marketed from a sales letter landing page on his website.

Here’s how it measures up on the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

  • This is an example of how to use two headlines, each of which addresses a different prospective customer. Both are effective because they are clear, easy to read and engage the target user with the promise of a compelling benefit.
  • Even when visitors skim and scan an online sales letter, they unconsciously expect a certain order or structure. It’s part of the mental model we bring to the online experience—grammar, logic, rhetoric. This letter doesn’t conform.
  • There are more than three dozen glowing validations of Mr. Marshall’s work republished on this page. It’s a very convincing display and, in this reviewer’s opinion, the strongest feature of this sales letter.
  • Eventually we learn that there are actually three versions of Mr. Marshall’s AdWords toolkit. I wouldn’t introduce that notion until the user had decided to buy and had clicked to order. Per Fred Gleeck, “the confused mind always says ‘no’.”
  • There is no toll-free number for phone orders and no printable order form for fax orders. These represent missed opportunities, especially for corporate sales.

PerryMarshall.com’s The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

This is an example of how to use two headlines, each of which addresses a different prospective customer.

How to Double the Customers on your Website in 30 minutes or Less, with Google AdWords… And Beat the Learning Curve, FAST takes direct aim at the AdWords novice.

Already Advertising on Google? Get 70% or More Visitors, for Less Money than You’re Paying Right Now targets the AdWords veteran.

Both are effective because they are clear, easy to read and engage the target user with the promise of a compelling benefit. Less obviously, but equally important, the first headline assures the reader that she can do this. The 30 minutes or less and beat the learning curve phrases take direct aim at our fears that AdWords mastery might require too much time or brainpower.

This is an example of how to use two headlines, each of which addresses a different prospective customer.

2. Story and Content – B

Mr. Marshall goes against convention by not making this a “Dear Friend” letter with a signature and several post script messages. He doesn’t introduce himself as the writer until more than 325 words into the text, but the letter appears on PerryMarshall.com, so it can be assumed that we know.

The letter begins with three bulleted points about his book, followed by some general background information that sets the stage.

“Pay Per Click marketing is a miracle of the modern world. In fact, I believe history will show it to be the most important development in advertising this decade. Never before has it been possible…”

Part of storytelling is to capture interest, get rapport with the reader and enable her to “buy into” or agree with your original premise. In salesmanship, it’s called “getting a minor close.”

First you get a minor agreement, then you move the reader along to additional minor closing points, gradually getting agreement until you actually close the sale.

Mr. Marshall might have led with the background info, then plugged the bullets in further down, making them easier to read by separating each with a line space.

Even when visitors skim and scan an online sales letter, they unconsciously expect a certain order or structure. It’s part of the mental model we bring to the online experience—grammar, logic, rhetoric. This letter doesn’t conform.

3. Content Webification – B

This is a straight text sales letter with OK copy and simple graphics.

Technology should never diminish the advertising message. The letter is for the sale of a book, after all, so perhaps multi-media technology is less effective if the target audience prefers to get information through reading rather than listening or watching.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – B

This landing page goes right for the sale without offering a free downloadable report in exchange for an email address and permission to contact the user.

It’s an upsell landing page. Visitors arrive here from www.perrymarshall.com/google, where, if they provide an email address and sign up for Mr. Marshall’s no-cost, five-day Google AdWords email mini-course, they are automatically directed to www.perrymarshall.com/adwords.

However, inasmuch as not every visitor will arrive here from the name squeeze page, Mr. Marshall might consider using an effective pop-under to capture the prospect’s email, as a fall back to an abandoned order flow.

5. User Testimonials – A

You can tell a lot about an Internet marketer by the company he keeps. This sales letter is accompanied by numerous testimonials, and some are other well-known and reputable Internet marketing professionals. Of course, testimonials can be a two-edged sword. These days, no one is seeking product endorsements from O.J.

More relevant, if you think some online marketer it a scoundrel and a snake oil salesman, you won’t be disposed to do business with his friends.

There are more than three dozen glowing validations of Mr. Marshall’s work republished on this page. Many are from marketers and copywriters with solid-gold credentials and reputations. It’s a very convincing display and, in my opinion, the strongest feature of this sales letter.

There are more than three dozen glowing validations of Mr. Marshall’s work republished on this page.

6. Links to Order Flow – D

This landing page includes three hypertext links to the data capture page. There ought to be more of them interspersed throughout the sales letter.

Additionally, their design and text are inconsistent. Plus, they’re hard to find. I’d design a very clear order button and display it at least half a dozen times in the editorial.

When the customer is ready to order, don’t put obstacles in his way.

This landing page includes three hypertext links to the data capture page. There ought to be more of them interspersed throughout the sales letter.

7. Labeling and Language – B

This sales letter uses clear language and good grammar.

I recommend one significant change. The initial offer is for a book, but eventually we learn that there are actually three versions of Mr. Marshall’s AdWords toolkit. I wouldn’t introduce that notion until the user had decided to buy and had clicked to order.

Why confuse the issue at this stage in the process? That asks the user to consider one-too-many ideas while she is still undecided whether to buy at all. Per Fred Gleeck, “the confused mind always says ‘no’.”

I’d sell the basic book and reveal its price on this page, then go for the upsell and offer deluxe versions of the “toolkit” on subsequent pages of the order flow.

Plus, I’d delete the link to the affiliate program. It’s another unnecessary distraction that interrupts the buyer’s smooth transition through the order process.

8. Readability and Content Density – B

The layout, typeface, background color and white space are all acceptable. There is a judicious but imprecise use of color, boldface, italics, etc. In general, the appearance of the letter is comforting, uncluttered, easy-to-follow, etc., but could be improved.

The column of testimonials that appears to the right of the sales letter should be separated from it with a very thin vertical rule.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

“Don’t put this off! You can double your Web traffic in 30 minutes. You can slash your marketing cost, and have more control than ever before.”

That’s the extent of the urgency expressed in this letter. There are no reply-by dates, date stamps or other features that indicate the timeliness of the offer.

The letter makes a very strong case for its “simple, no-hassle, three-part, money-back guarantee.” Within 30 days for any reason; within 90 days if you don’t cut the cost per click of your existing campaigns by an absolute minimum of 25 percent. And within 90 days if you’re not able to test new ideas at lower cost, find new markets and discover new customers by using this toolkit.

The letter makes a very strong case for its “simple, no-hassle, three-part, money-back guarantee.”

10. Load Time – B

Download time was 21.46 seconds at 56K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

11. Aesthetics – B

The graphic design is comforting and trustworthy for the target user. The paragraphs are indented and the sub-headlines are centered, which is a tad out of the ordinary and not my favorite design convention.

For reasons that I can’t fully understand, this page—especially the bullets—looks slightly better when viewed with the Mozilla Firefox browser than the Internet Explorer Web browser.

It’s always a good idea to review your webpages in several browsers to determine how others will view them.

12. Order Options – C

The user can buy The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords and pay online with a credit card or a PayPal account.

However, there is no toll-free number for phone orders and no printable order form for fax orders. These represent missed opportunities, especially for corporate sales.

Conclusion

No matter what you pay per click to drive visitors to your website, your letter must close the sale or the entire exercise is of little value. I’m certain Mr. Marshall drives a lot of traffic to www.perrymarshall.com/adwords and sells a lot of toolkits to happy customers.

With a few judicious tweaks to this sales letter landing page, he might sell even more.

Five Landing Page Optimization Tips from an Ezine Queen Landing Page Review

In business it’s location, location, location. And of course online, it’s your list, list, list. Back when there was no Internet, the only way to communicate with your prospects or loyal customers was to contact them through mail, fax or phone.

Today, anyone with an online presence that has an in-demand product or service can set up an ezine list of thirsty customers. Another way to grab market share is to grow rich within your niche.

And that’s what the very telegenic “Ezine Queen,” Alexandria K. Brown, has done. The beauty of the ezine is that it’s probably one of the most cost-effective marketing tools ever created. Just think: with the click of your mouse you can contact your customer in nano seconds with valuable information or a viable offer. And because they have opted in, you know you have an interested party as a subscriber.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

But how do you accomplish putting together an ezine when there’s so much competition? How do you navigate around the nuances of this particular type of marketing? Well Alexandria’s Boost Business With Your Own Ezine site shows you how to do that—and more, while at the same time “squeezing the name of the prospect” by giving them a FREE report.

In a landing page review of the Ezine Queen’s Boost Business With Your Own Ezine landing page  Peter J. Fogel outlines five landing page optimization tips Ali uses on her site.

  1. There’s no sense of urgency in the headline, but curiosity gets the job done.
  2. The copy presents a strong argument to keep reading all the way to the last drop.
  3. Impressive array of testimonials, with photos of folks who vouch not only for Ali, but on the reliability of her program and how it changed their business.
  4. Yes, Ali has strategically placed the links to order buttons throughout the piece under the testimonials, BUT she did not make them stand out.
  5. This is an effective landing page. Ali impressively uses audio and some visuals to move the prospect to take action.

EzineQueen.com’s Boost Business With Your Own Ezine Landing Page Review

Ali K. Brown’s Landing Page Shows You How To Boost Business with Your Own Ezine—and More

In business it’s location, location, location. And of course online, it’s your list, list, list. Back in the covered-wagon days of marketing when there was no Internet, the only way to communicate with your prospects or loyal customers was to contact them through mail, fax, phone or carrier pigeon.

Today, anyone with an online presence that has an in-demand product or service, (and if they know how to position themselves) can set up an ezine list of thirsty customers. Another way to grab market share is to grow rich within your niche.

And that’s what the very telegenic “Ezine Queen” herself, Alexandria K. Brown, has done. In consulting work I tell all my clients—regardless of the industry they’re in—to always get an ezine up and running with an effective name squeeze page attached.

The beauty of the ezine is that it’s probably one of the most cost effective marketing tools ever created. Just think: with the click of your mouse you can contact your customer in nano seconds with valuable information or a viable offer. And because they have opted in, you know you have an interested party as a subscriber.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

But how do you accomplish putting together a profit center, an ezine, when there’s so much competition? How do you navigate around the nuances of this particular type of marketing? Well Alexandria’s Boost Business With Your Own Ezine landing page shows you how to do that—and more, while at the same time “squeezing the name of the prospect” by giving them a FREE report.

  • There’s no sense of urgency in the headline, but curiosity gets the job done.
  • This copy presents a strong argument to keep reading all way to the last drop.
  • Impressive array of testimonials, with photos of folks who vouch not only for Ali, but on the reliability of her program and how it changed their business.
  • Yes, Ali has strategically placed the links to order buttons throughout the piece under the testimonials, BUT she did not make them stand out.
  • This is an effective landing page. Ali impressively uses audio and some visuals to move the prospect to take action.

EzineQueen’s Boost Business With Your Own Ezine Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

Coaches, Consultants, Speakers, Authors and Small Biz Owners:

No ambiguity here. You have a strong headline that announces exactly who this product is targeted to: Coaches, Consultants, Speakers, Authors and Small Biz Owners. It combines a strong benefit with just a touch of curiosity and “mystery.” There’s no mention of an ezine in the beginning. When the writer presents the idea of how a single email can get you the marketing results you need, you wonder what this is all about. There’s no sense of urgency in the headline, but curiosity gets the job done.

2. Story and Content – B

This landing page focuses more on the newbie who might never have heard of an ezine before, but it also hits the buttons of established Internet marketers who want to take their online marketing to a whole new level. So here you have strong copy that empowers the reader with the benefits of what they’ll get with an ezine, which include: instant credibility, the ability for you to command a greater fee, build a powerful fan base from people who will buy from you over and over again, and most of all, a convincing way for you to get into the hearts and minds and CHA-CHING the “wallets” of future clients.

The copy also raises obstacles you might encounter in wanting to have an ezine, and overcomes them with 14 reasons for having one. This copy presents a strong argument to keep reading all way to the last drop. Although I really never knew what business Alexandria is in, I believe she’s a copywriter. If I am correct, then I would’ve liked to have heard “her story” of how having an ezine catapulted her business to new heights.

3. Content Webfication – A

Strong use of an audio clip from the Queen herself asking you sign up for her ezine. You don’t even have a choice, you hear her soothing tones the minute the page loads onto your screen. Strong use of graphics of testimonials only.

Strong use of an audio clip from the Queen herself asking you sign up for her ezine.

4. Email Capture – A

If the “Ezine Queen” can’t capture your name, then who can? Going back to Webfication, Ali (as she is like to be called), sets up the name squeeze form right at the top of the landing page. The Queen wants to get your email address NOW, and offers you a bribe, even before you read the letter. And she instructs you on how to do it immediately, walking you through the process. Well done.

5. User Testimonials – B

Impressive array of testimonials, with photos of folks who vouch not only for Ali, but on the reliability of her program and how it changed their business. Good move. Here’s what I would’ve like to have seen in these testimonials. You see, some of the testimonials, at least to me were a bit interchangeable. I did like the specific increase in business that some of the testimonials used in regards to using Ali’s program.

I would’ve preferred to have heard how a specific technique achieved the response it did. Or perhaps from an incredulous business owner who didn’t think that an ezine would improve their businesses bottom line, but after using Ali’s program, became a true believer.

Impressive array of testimonials, with photos of folks who vouch not only for Ali, but on the reliability of her program and how it changed their business.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

Every good online marketer knows that you have to have as many links as you can throughout your copy so as to “prod” the prospect to action. Yes, Ali has strategically placed the links to order buttons throughout the piece under the testimonials, BUT she did not make them stand out. If there’s someone who’s read enough copy and has made a decision to buy, you want them to order now, and make it easy for them to do it. In this regard you want to have as many “CLICK HERE” to order buttond that are as BOLD as possible that grab the prospect’s attention NOW! On this landing site, they’re barely noticeable.

Yes, Ali has strategically placed the links to order buttons throughout the piece under the testimonials, BUT she did not make them stand out.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Clear, easy to understand, lots of benefits. Ali knows how to hit the prospect’s hot buttons.

8. Readability and Content Density – A

Very clean and pleasing to the eye that focuses on the benefits of the reader. This also reads as a long, #10 direct response letter.

9. Content Freshness – B

In fairness to the Ezine Queen it’s a little tough to comment on content freshness because this is a point-of-purchase website. The writer might tweak for better response, but if they are getting a decent response they might leave it alone. There is not much urgency, though. I would’ve liked to have seen more evidence of that. Perhaps mentioning limited amount of copies or how your competition will thrive because they use an ezine, and you won’t.

10. Load Time – A

Under 15 seconds.

11. Aesthetics – B

This landing page is simple in design. Other than using photos and different colors in the testimonials, it uses graphics sparingly. I would’ve tested using some other graphics to see if it improved response.

Other than using photos and different colors in the testimonials, it uses graphics sparingly. I would’ve tested using some other graphics to see if it improved response.

12. Order Options – A

Has the usual “bells and whistles” ordering options: secure website ordering, PayPal and a toll-free number.

Conclusion

I’d say this is an effective landing page. Ali impressively uses audio and some visuals to move the prospect to take action. There are tons of Internet marketing programs out there on “how to make money on the Internet”—but not many as far as I can see that focus primarily on the persuasive power of the ezine.

Dan Kennedy Free Gift Landing Page Review

Dan Kennedy’s Free Gift Landing Page is a Great Site to Model

Even before the Internet took over our lives (and I mean that in a good and bad way) there were marketers who made a great living offline promoting their products and consulting services.

One man, speaker/copywriter/bigtimemarketing consultant Dan Kennedy, was someone who took this “old school” knowledge and parlayed it into a strong cyberspace presence. I’ve studied Dan Kennedy’s work and he has greatly influenced a plethora of online marketers as well as many brick-and-mortar businesses who have produced a strong ROI for themselves.

Dan has said on a few occasions that he’s not a fan of the Internet, and I believe he has said he knows nothing about computers. BUT I am pretty sure the folks on Team Kennedy do. And they do an excellent job for him.

Here’s an interesting aside. I listened to an old cassette program of Dan’s called Mega Speaking… circa 1994. In it, Dan briefly mentions “The Internet” and some bulletin boards, but at that point in time, didn’t think it would amount to anything as far as creating a profit center for the speaker. Whew! I guess times have changed, haven’t they?

  • Dan’s very knowledgeable about his field, and despite the fact that he calls himself a curmudgeon, he’s a very likable chap. More importantly, the man “walks his talk.”
  • When it comes to marketing, branding and getting results for small niche neighborhood businesses, from professionals (chiropractors, doctors, accountants) to large conglomerates, Dan delivers. His USP (which he’s transformed into a strong branding message) is the “The Millionaire Maker.”
  • He certainly has the guns and ammo to back up his USP proclamation, having been quite successful as an in-demand copywriter/marketing consultant for the Tony Robbins of the world in Gunthy Renker infomercials… as well as drastically influencing online millionaires like Yanik Silver.
  • Take note folks: if you want an education in knowing how to overwhelm a prospect with LOTS of goodies (i.e. value, value and more value) so you can get their name, snail and email address—with the goal of bringing them into your inner sanctum (a.ka. profit funnel)—then this is the site to study.
  • You want to build your list? Then this is the ultimate “name squeeze” page. Dan does it as well as anyone in the western hemisphere.

Dan Kennedy Free Gift Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Strategic Intent – A

The Most Incredible FREE Gift—Ever!

From Dan Kennedy
The “Millionaire Maker”

$799.89 Worth Of “PURE” Money-Making Information Yours Absolutely FREE… if you are one of the FIRST 253 people to take me up on my outrageous offer!!!!

Remember: your headline is your “ad for your ad” and it should a) create curiosity or b) deliver a major benefit to the targeted audience/prospect, and c) produce urgency to move the prospect to action NOW. Lucky for us, Dan has incorporated all three quite well into this very compelling headline. If you study this man’s work you’ll discover that he has his own style of creating headlines/sale letters. And when you read his sales offers, you’ll know immediately what I’m talking about.

So let’s break it down: Dan zeros in on his targeted audience. Not flower lovers, not dog lovers, but folks who LOVE money-making information for their business.

He accomplishes his goal by bribing them with the most effective phrase in the human language to get someone to take action—short of saying, “Freeze, or I’ll shoot!”

What is it? It’s FREE gift! That stops the prospect, because who doesn’t want something for “nothing?” NOW, if you’re wondering what the “catch” is for getting the FREEBIES, and you’ve heard of Dan Kennedy, THEN you’ll immediately be put at ease that this is on the up and up. As human beings we have our guard up against the “to good to be true” syndrome.

Dan creates specificity with not $700 worth of BONUSES, but $799.89 (perceived value). BUT here’s how he creates urgency: it’s only available to the FIRST 253 people who are savvy enough to take action now.

Of course, we don’t know if he will really cut it off, but who cares? Dan is using scarcity perfectly.

2. Story and Content – A

Dan doesn’t mince words… no story lead or statistics. The man is a meat-and-potato type of copywriter and gets to the point. What you see is what you get. And here we go: a cornucopia of information that’ll make you richer. The copy immediately raises any objections you have, such as…

“OK, Dan why the hell are you giving me all of this?”

And he tells you why—and in the process informs you that he is shamelessly overwhelming you with all this free potent and valuable information so down the road you can’t live without him and are “Kennedy-ized” into a worthwhile protégé/subscriber for years to come. The big offer here is to test drive his inner circle membership for three months. Kick the tires, try his techniques.

Once he’s made you money, Dan is going to charge you on the fourth month to become a paying member of his elite inner circle, and who doesn’t want to become a member of an elite club?

Now, Dan is not going to take no for an answer. The best scenario is that you’re going to get a FREE education in marketing; the worst scenario is that you’re going to have to fork over just over $19.99 for shipping and handling to get more than $700 worth of real world information.

How can Dan afford to do this? Simple: it’s called a loss leader—and I am quite sure he will make it up on the backend when you buy his books, tapes, consulting services—and of course, join his continuity/inner circle program!

NOTE: I have gotten Dan’s information and it’s quite effective in the way that he gets you to think “outside of your business” in a way that your competition doesn’t.

3. Content Webfication – A

This landing page is one that would work offline as well. It’s simple in its design and doesn’t want to confuse you. In a nutshell: it’s the ultimate lead-generation letter on steroids. No fancy links. It has one that goes to a very important page: the order page. Dan’s reasoning is succinct: “You’re going to get all of this… and in return you’re going to give me this: your important OFFLINE and ONLINE information.”

4. Email Capture – B

That is the whole basis for this landing page, to get you to give your email address PLUS offline contact information. Now Dan lays on benefit after benefit to the point that you’d have to be a fool NOT to spend at least $19.99 to pay for the shipping. I believe Dan, whose mantra is “test, test, test,” has done just that with this offer.

He also doesn’t waste his time with getting folks who are “tire kickers” and just want freebies. He doesn’t want folks who don’t recognize the value in his information. When you’re a guru like he is, you can afford to do that.

This site doesn’t capture the email address for an auto-responder follow up. If folks click away, they click away. This hard-nosed marketer doesn’t want this type of subscriber. Although I do wonder what the response would be if he captured the email address anyway and followed up again, later.

5. User Testimonials – A

This is a site that strategically places testimonials throughout the copy and uses them exponentially. One is from Yanik Silver. Any online neophyte or experienced marketer should know about Yanik Silver. He’s a young phenom who’s made millions online, (who, by the way, has a strong offline background in direct response advertising). I imagine Dan placed him first for that reason.

Make no mistake: Dan understands the power of the Internet. He also knows that to be continually successful you have to use offline techniques, especially if you’re a professional with a client base (doctors, lawyers), or if you’re a local retail brick-and-mortar establishment.

I know this is true because once you sign up for Dan’s offer online, you’ll get LOTS of hard copy goodies in the mail from him. Dan believes that you should never, ever rely on only one type of marketing. If you do place a bet on one pony (the Internet) as a delivery system for your business, then you’re leaving too much dinero on the proverbial table.

Also note that Dan is not selling himself as just another Internet Marketing Guru. So much so, that he strategically uses specific testimonials from industries outside of the Internet that hit “his” targeted prospect’s hot buttons. There was some inconsistency here with the way some testimonials had photos next to them and others did not. Also, a streaming audio or video might help response, too.

6. Links to Order – A

Testing has proven that placing order buttons throughout a sales letter should give you a better response—If your copy has done a good job of selling. Listen: some people like to read, some people don’t. If they “get it” and want to order now, then give them the option. Dan accomplishes it here.

7. Labeling and Language – A

A master marketer and copywriter who sold millions of dollars worth of goods and services should certainly know how to speak to the common man, and Dan does. He’s honed his “one on one” personal voice down to a science. The language here is easy to understand.

8. Readability Content Density – A

This is a long sales letter that uses just the right amount of graphics (which were used only with testimonials) with its sales copy. Not to mention the use of personal, handwritten graphic versions of these testimonials. This was done, I imagine, to show proof that the testimonials were real—and that these folks took the time to handwrite their testimonials. (whether they did or not).

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

This is a static “name squeeze” site. I don’t believe it will change much, and I don’t believe folks will come back to see if Dan will offer other freebies. Dan uses (as stated earlier) the technique of urgency, saying that he is ONLY going to give these freebies out to the first 253 folks.

That being said, we don’t know if he’s hit that “magic number,” the first lucky 253. But, if he set a deadline, say April 29th, then after that deadline had come and gone Dan would’ve had to change the offer, or take down the page.

Using the particular number of people makes the accountability more ambiguous. Although I do wonder why Dan didn’t use $799 worth of FREE Information going to the first 799 people that respond. Who knows? Maybe next time he will. (Or maybe I just gave him an idea.)

10. Load Time – A

Loading time was well within the 15 seconds the Mequoda guidelines recommend.

11. Aesthetics – B

Dan believes that “Copy is King,” but I was a tad disappointed that he didn’t use more graphics as far as showing the actual CDs, or perhaps a group photo of his Inner Circle Comrades-In-Arms. This would be a more powerful inducement to send away for his freebies. Could it hurt that the site under-uses graphics? Again, only testing could tell. Could it help? You be the judge. I also would’ve included a photo of Dan right in the beginning, so you can see this guru’s non-smiling face.

(When Dan was marketing a large bootcamp recently, he certainly went all out with his offline marketing and used lots of graphics in his brochures.)

12. Order Options – A

The order options are placed where they should be—throughout the copy—so when the prospect has made his decision to sign up, he can be taken there immediately. Works well!

Conclusion

Overall, this lead-generation site worked for me. A powerful, strong offer, with benefit-laden copy, plus effective use of testimonials equals success!

NicheADay.com Landing Page Review

The fundamental mistake made by many entrepreneurs is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario in which the inventor first creates a new product and then seeks a market for it.

Experienced product developers do the opposite. They anticipate the changes in society. They assess the evolving problems, requirements and desires of consumers, and look for opportunities that have not yet been addressed by the market. Then they forecast demand and create new products that fill the gap.

With the development and popularity of the World Wide Web, enterprising business people anticipated a need for tools and instructional materials and responded by creating a plethora of information products, including software, books and videos. Even experienced publishers who were unsure of exactly how to respond to the new medium enabled by Internet technology began developing new information products around previously unfamiliar topics.

Adding fuel to this dream of successful entrepreneurship via online publishing is the emergence of Google AdSense™. If the publisher creates good editorial content, and attains high search engine rankings, she can subsidize her website by selling advertising. With Google AdSense, another new business model was born—publishing free-access, content-laden websites, supported solely by pay-per-click advertising. And with that, the search for the right niche topics took on even more importance for online publishers and wannabes. Here again, the desire of entrepreneurs to find lucrative niche topics about which to write—and publish Google AdSense-laden websites—was eventually addressed by other entrepreneurs who recognized and addressed the opportunity-seekers market with products sold on their own websites.

One such site is NicheADay.com, a production of Scot Standke (KeywordAvalanche.com) and John Caviani (Fagetabowdit.com), a couple of entrepreneurs who are familiar with theopportunity-seekers market.

  • The headline is fairly clear (but not so easy to read) and establishes the need to buy the product or service. But this is not the work of a journeyman copywriter.
  • The sales letter doesn’t tell much of a story. I don’t find it to be compelling.
  • This landing page uses just 400 words of copy to ask for your name and email address and promise a daily niche topic idea in exchange.
  • User testimonials that feature actual results and benefits would add to this sales letter’s credibility. Alas, this landing page has none.
  • Once you’re signed up, the daily emails from NicheADay.com arrive regularly and contain the information that was promised.

NicheADay.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

Introduction

The fundamental mistake made by many entrepreneurs is a classic chicken-and-egg scenario in which the inventor first creates a new product and then seeks a market for it.

Experienced product developers do the opposite. They anticipate the changes in society. They assess the evolving problems, requirements and desires of consumers, and look for opportunities that have not yet been addressed by the market. Then they forecast demand and create new products that fill the gap.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.


With the development and popularity of the World Wide Web, enterprising business people anticipated a need for tools and instructional materials and responded by creating a plethora of information products, including software, books and videos. Even experienced publishers who were unsure of exactly how to respond to the new medium enabled by Internet technology began developing new information products around previously unfamiliar topics.

After all, the print publishing industry had experience in matching up the research and editorial skills of writers with the advertising sales and print production experience of publishers and creating information products for niche markets. So, the move to online publishing meant learning a new medium, but not entirely reinventing the wheel. Or did it?

Any paradigm shift in technology levels the playing field for everyone. With the advent of online publishing, experienced print publishers were thrust into a new business. Their previous skills included producing or buying the rights to editorial content, designing and manufacturing books magazines and newsletters, marketing these products and delivering them in physical form to retail outlets (or directly to customers).

Now, with the advent of the World Wide Web, information products could exist solely in an electronic format and be delivered directly to the consumer’s home or office over telephone wires.

The cost of entry into this marketplace was negligible, so opportunities abounded everywhere—for large publishing companies and individual entrepreneurs alike. Just as a few years earlier desktop publishing software and the personal computer had enabled nearly anyone to become a newsletter publisher, the Internet enabled nearly anyone to become an online publisher. And so the new Internet marketplace spawned numerous software products, self-instructional courses, books, online newsletters and membership websites devoted to specialized topics.

Once again, individual entrepreneurs jumped into the fray with every conceivable information product. Many were spawned by the unique subject matter expertise of the entrepreneur himself. For instance, a model train expert might develop an online newsletter for a small, but hungry, niche comprised of double 0 gauge railway modelers who collect trains using that track size. That’s a narrow gauge and an even narrower niche.

Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs—experienced print publishers—first assessed the size of niche markets, and then decided whether there was sufficient demand for a specialized online publication aimed at a particular market segment.

And finally, a third entrepreneur type emerged who first fell in love with the business model of publishing a membership website or online newsletter and then began looking for an appropriate niche market. These were members of a market segment known as opportunity seekers, primarily comprised of individuals who dream of a change in lifestyle that enables them to be self-employed, work at home and make a good living online.

The dream of being a successful online publisher has been aggressively promoted by the entrepreneurs who developed the software packages and other tools that enable non-technical PC users to operate a subscription website or online newsletter. The Panglossian business plan for a lone entrepreneurial publisher can be intoxicating.

“If I publish an information product for the right niche,” he reasons, “I need only 5,000 subscribers at $200 annually to gross $1 million. And I can perform without help all the jobs functions—content creator, marketer and webmaster.”

That’s the dream. So, instead of beginning with lots of content from another medium, as experienced print publishers might, the would-be online publisher first looks for a niche to fill.

Adding fuel to this dream of successful entrepreneurship via online publishing is the emergence of Google AdSense™. If the publisher creates good editorial content, and attains high search engine rankings, she can subsidize her website by selling advertising.

Google AdSense™ automatically delivers text and image ads that are precisely targeted to the site’s content. If site visitors find these ads useful, and click the hypertext links for more information, each click earns revenue for the site publisher.

Using Google AdSense™, some online publishers with great niche content learned they could earn more in ad revenue—with minimal effort and no additional cost—than they could from subscription revenue.

With Google AdSense, another new business model was born—publishing free-access, content-laden websites, supported solely by pay-per-click advertising. And with that, the search for the right niche topics took on even more importance for online publishers and wannabes.

Here again, the desire of entrepreneurs to find lucrative niche topics about which to write—and publish Google AdSense-laden websites—was eventually addressed by other entrepreneurs who recognized and addressed the opportunity-seekers market with products sold on their own websites.

One such site is NicheADay.com, a production of Scot Standke (KeywordAvalanche.com) and John Caviani (Fagetabowdit.com), a couple of entrepreneurs who are familiar with the opportunity-seekers market.

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

“If You Are One Of Those People Who Has Trouble Coming Up With Ideas To Build Profitable Websites Around, Then You Are In Luck Because You Are About To Get One In Your Inbox Each And Every Day! For Free!”

OK, so the headline is fairly clear (but not so easy to read) and establishes the need to buy the product or service. But this is not the work of a journeyman copywriter.

First, who wants to be addressed as “one of those people”? Not very personal or intimate, is it? Terrible choice of words!

Second, it talks down to me (“trouble coming up with ideas”) and then tells me “I’m in luck because… ” That’s patronizing and mediocre at best.

A smart headline would talk about the opportunity that niche websites represent for those in the know. It would include the promise of “insider” information on what niche topics are most in demand. It would sell the dream of being a successful online publisher.

This headline doesn’t even come close.

2. Story and Content – C

This website is what the Mequoda research team calls a Rapid Conversion Landing Page (RCLP). The RCLP is used to entice a user to enter into a low-risk (AKA, low-friction) transaction, often when there is no cost to the user.

The free offer here is a daily email that cites a single niche market, the monthly traffic it gets and the current high pay-per-click bid for the keywords associated with that particular niche.

The sales letter doesn’t tell much of a story. I don’t find it to be compelling.

The storytellers (Messrs. Standke and Caviani) are clearly identified, but they don’t relate anything much of their own online success in niche markets.

The story is a loosely-strung-together series of statements without much logic or cohesion. There is little here in the way of a conclusion that moves the user to buy. But then again, it’s a free offer, so perhaps the publishers don’t feel compelled to work very hard at creating a compelling sales letter. It looks lazy when it should be energetic.

3. Content Webification – C

There are no text or graphics on the landing that have been webified. No innovative use of multimedia or interactive technology. Just 400 words of copy that ask for your name and email address and promise a daily niche topic idea in exchange.

4. Email Capture – A

This landing page uses just 400 words of copy to ask for your name and email address and promise a daily niche topic idea in exchange. There is no free downloadable report offered here and no use of pop-unders.

But when you sign up, there is a free report offered. That’s not the optimal timing, but I really like the thank you page for a different reason.

After you sign up for the free email newsletter, not only do you get the standard confirmation and thank you, but the message contains a tell-a-friend javascript within it. That’s great timing. At the precise moment the user is affirming that she wants to receive the free email newsletter, she is urged to validate that decision by sharing the experience with a friend. The free report is an additional bribe. Smart idea!

5. User Testimonials – F

User testimonials that feature actual results and benefits would add to this sale letter’s credibility. Alas, this landing page has none.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

This landing page includes a well-designed order form embedded right in the closing of the editorial content. A confirmation email is sent to the user and a double opt-in protocol is used. Well done!

7. Labeling and Language – C

This sales letter uses fairly clear language, but it is not logically constructed. There is a half-hearted attempt to create excitement and urgency, but it falls flat.

8. Readability & Content Density – C

Nearly half of the words in the sales letter are displayed in boldface type. That’s not pleasant to read and not very search engine savvy, either.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – D

The content and references are stagnant. There is no date stamp, no reply-by date and no urgent call-to-action other than “Don’t waste another precious moment.” It’s one thing to write that; it’s another to state a reason why the user should act immediately.

Whenever possible, give the user a reason why to take action. Is the offer about to be withdrawn? Is a price hike imminent? Is the user losing money by not acting promptly?

10. Load Time – A

– Under 15 seconds

Download time for NicheADay.com was 3.06 seconds at 56 K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

11. Aesthetics – B

Make your website graphic design a priority and pick the colors with care. This site uses a poor choice of wallpaper for the background, which is inconsistent, with a strange looking border around only part of the text message.

I’ve never been a fan of using red for a type color, even for the words “For Free.” Red is the international color for danger. Use it very cautiously. When in doubt, don’t.

The graphic design of your site should be comforting and trustworthy for the target user, and consistent with his mental model. This one looks thrown together without much concern for the outcome.

12. Order Options – B

Inasmuch as the order form appears embedded in the editorial, and the offer is followed up by a confirmation thank you page and a double opt-in email, the bases are adequately covered.

Conclusion

Once you’re signed up, the daily emails from NicheADay.com arrive regularly and contain the information that was promised. According to the NicheADay.com email I received on March 31, 2006, the keywords digital photography were getting 52,293 monthly searches on Overture and had a high pay-per-click bid price of $5.

Why, it’s enough to really get your greed glands working, isn’t it? Now if I only knew something about digital photography and could create a website, by golly, I could make some serious Google AdSense™ money.

Two (anticipated) upsells from Scot Standke followed shortly after I signed up for the NicheADay email. The first is for a set of videos on how to enjoy Internet marketing success ($37). The second is for a $57 monthly membership website devoted to building niche portals around the Google AdSense program.

It would seem that the opportunity-seekers market is inexhaustible and insatiable, with an endless number of product developers addressing that niche.

GardeningSecretsandTips.com Landing Page Review

With gardening season upon us, it seemed like a good idea to check out the landing page for Gardening Secrets and Tips.

There are few hobbies or avocations that rival gardening when it comes to the need for secret methods and helpful tips. And there are few activities that attract more avid practitioners. So, with that in mind, I took a long, Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard look at GardeningSecretsandTips.com.

  • The headline exhorts the prospect to “stop feeling jealous” of his or her neighbors and learn how to have a yard that “everyone else compliments and raves about.” As a serious benefit, I don’t see the ability to stop feeling jealous as a real motivator.
  • I’d probably be more interested in buying the book and I’m sure others would as well… if we only know early on what the book can do for us.
  • No free newsletter as far as I could determine, and even the little floater that drops in during the ordering process to sell the email course really doesn’t make you feel really warm and fuzzy about the book.
  • Unless you count the comments of the letter’s author, there are no testimonials whatsoever… and they really could use them here effectively.
  • There is no sense that one must hurry up and order. There’s no emotional pull, no “fear of loss of gain” as one of my old ad agency buddies used to say.
  • The landing page screams for an early-in-the-letter Johnson Box round up of the order options. Let the prospects know what’s coming. What are we selling? What are they getting for free?

GardeningSecretsandTips.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

The headline exhorts the prospect to “stop feeling jealous” of his or her neighbors and learn how to have a yard that “everyone else compliments and raves about.” As a serious benefit, I don’t see the ability to stop feeling jealous as a real motivator. The afterthought that one can have a garden to rave about is a bit more like it, although it’s not very specific. Suppose some well-adjusted erstwhile gardener just home from his or her therapist looks at this headline and thinks, “Well, I’m not the jealous type. I love my neighbors and I totally support their lawn and garden obsessions.” What will happen then? Wouldn’t it be much better to concentrate on the serious benefits of this book?

2. Story and Content – C

Personally, I don’t care all that much about the angst suffered by the author of this letter when he or she glides through the neighborhood eyeballing the neighbors’ geraniums and such. Get to the point. Get to the benefits. Tell me why I should buy this book. What’s it going to do for my gardening efforts. There’s a good bit of information later on in the letter that addresses what one gets in the book. I’d probably be more interested in buying the book and I’m sure others would as well…if we only know early on what the book can do for us.

3. Content Webification – B

They use the usual “order now” buttons and commonplace webification devices of that nature, but nothing like streaming video or some other device to make the site seem like something is happening.

4. Relationship Building – D

The Erma Bombeck-like ranting about the neighbors’ gardens in the beginning of the letter had a relationship-destroying effect on me. I found it annoying. They do mention a 7-part email gardening course, but it isn’t clear right away whether they are giving you the course or selling it to you. No free newsletter as far as I could determine, and even the little floater that drops in during the ordering process to sell the email course really doesn’t make you feel really warm and fuzzy about the book.

5. User Testimonials – F

Unless you count the comments of the letter’s author, there are no testimonials whatsoever… and they really could use them here effectively. And why not use them? Somebody must have read and liked this book, possibly turning their garden into… well, a garden spot.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

I like the bonuses (1 through 5) that are valued at $111 total, but they weren’t very clear early on that these were part of the $37 book fee. And we don’t know if we’re going to be downloading the book and all the bonus books ourselves, which would entail hundreds of pages and quite a little time. I’m assuming that they will send you the books in a traditional print format. They hint that it only takes 27 seconds to obtain the book, although they don’t elaborate about what occurs during that 27 seconds. All of this gives me the impression that they haven’t thought this out very well and that they may only be in this to liberate my $37.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The labels aren’t hard to understand, but the writing in the letter is less than extraordinary. The copywriter was probably trying to make the prose seem down-to-earth and common-man-like. However, bad grammar and awkward phrasing do not necessarily translate into accessible writing.

8. Readability & Content Density – C

This is extremely easy to read, perhaps because there is so little sales copy and the order language is so standard. Not hard to read and not dense at all.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – F

This is pretty lackadaisical for a site that deals with growing seasons and planting times and other matters of some urgency. There is no sense that one must hurry up and order. There’s no emotional pull, no “fear of loss of gain” as one of my old ad agency buddies used to say. And there’s nothing to indicate that this site is fresh as a daisy or something left over from last year.

10. Load Time – B

Loading time was 25.49 seconds on a 56K connection. The Mequoda Scorecard offers a B to anyone under 25 seconds. They’re so close…

11. Aesthetics – C

The page is not hard to look at. But it’s still quite dull, considering what their topic is… beautiful plants. Maybe they could have come up with some photos (along with the nonexistent testimonials) of happy gardeners amongst gorgeous plants.

12. Order Options – F

It’s fairly common knowledge that if you blow the order language, you might as well stamp out the fire and head for the ranch. Nothing is going to work if the offer doesn’t work. I like the bonuses (1 through 5) that are valued at $111 total, but they weren’t very clear early on that these are part of the $37 book fee. And we don’t know if we’re going to be downloading the book and all the bonus books ourselves, which would entail hundreds of pages and quite a little time. I’m assuming that they will send you the books in a traditional print format. They hint that it only takes 27 seconds to obtain the book, although they don’t elaborate about what occurs during that 27 seconds. All of this gives me the impression that they haven’t thought this out very well and that they may only be in this to liberate my $37. The site screams for an early-in-the-letter Johnson Box round up of the order options. Let the prospects know what’s coming. What are we selling? What are they getting for free?

Conclusion

This is a mess of a landing page. Lots of missed opportunities, plenty of mistakes…probably not a garden that will bear a lot of fruit.

PagePersonalizer.com Landing Page Review

Landing Page Conversions Gets Personal

For decades, direct marketers have been using personalization to increase direct mail response rates. When you send out a laser-printed sales letter with the prospect’s name in it, you gain his or her attention.

Personalization works equally well online, yet your name doesn’t appear within the copy of most of the landing pages you click on. Glen Hopkins wants to change all that with Page Personalizer.

Page Personalizer is software that enables you to build personalized landing pages and websites.

  • The visitor enters his name and whatever information you require on a short preview page (also known as a squeeze page), usually with a free offer as an incentive to do so.
  • After entering his information, he clicks to get the free gift.
  • When he does, he is served a long-copy landing page or website selling an offer, and the copy on the page is personalized with the information he entered.
  • Hopkins sells his Page Personalizer on a landing page made with the very software he is marketing, so the landing page itself, PagePersonalizer.com, is a live demo of the system, making it extremely powerful.
  • But let’s see how the rest of his sales site stacks up.

PagePersonalization.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

The headline of his preview page is straightforward and direct—and it works.

Discover How to Instantly Increase Your Sales, Conversions, and Email Lists by Adding Our New Page Personalization Technology to Your Website.

It clearly states the important benefits an Internet marketer cares about (sales, conversions, list building), offers us something new (“new technology”) and tells us what the method is (“page personalization”).

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When you click through the preview page, the same ideas are carried through to the long landing page headline, which states them in a slightly different, but equally effective way.

New Breakthrough Technology Automatically Personalizes Any Web Page and Dramatically Explodes Your Sales, Conversions, and Email Lists…

The headline of his preview page is straightforward and direct—and it works.

2. Story and Content – A

A lot of the landing page copy I see these days—particularly on the topic of Internet marketing and “how to make money on the Web”—is so hype-filled it makes me want to barf.

Hopkins’ superb copy for PagePersonalizer.com is a textbook example of how to write effective copy without all that hype. It’s everything good copy should be: clear, enthusiastic, authoritative, friendly, conversational, warm, positive and utterly convincing.

You often hear so-called Web marketing gurus and traditional direct marketers tell you to only talk about benefits. But Hopkins knows that when you are selling business software, the buyer wants to get an idea of how it works and what it does—in other words, the features—before making a decision to purchase.

So under a subhead “Using Page Personalizer is Super Easy,” he walks us through how the software works step by step, even showing the screens you will use to build your personalized webpages.

3. Content Webification – B

The content is well adapted to the Web. There is a short menu of hyperlinks in the left margin of the preview page where you can order, log-in if you are already a member (the software is sold on a subscription basis) or read testimonials. You can also click to hear a message from Glen.

The design of the site is slightly unconventional. In most long copy landing pages, you click a link to order; the link takes you to a shopping cart or other order form.

Here, the order form is already part of the landing page, and appears at the end. There are no intermediate “Order Now” buttons on the main landing page; you can only order when you go to the end.

4. Email Capture – A

When you use the preview page or squeeze page strategy, which is what the Page Personalizer does, you automatically capture the email address of every visitor to your long-copy sales page… because they can’t access the sales page until they submit their email address to you.

5. User Testimonials – B

Hopkins is smart. He doesn’t just use testimonials, but testimonials from proven Internet marketing heavyweights like Michel Fortin and John Reese.

Testimonials are spaced evenly throughout the long-copy landing page, but they don’t begin until you are a few screens into the copy. I would have reproduced condensed versions of the Fortin and Reese quotes and placed them at the very top of the first screen, above the headline, to establish instant credibility.

He doesn’t just use testimonials, but testimonials from proven Internet marketing heavyweights like Michel Fortin and John Reese.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

As I mentioned earlier, the design of the site is slightly unconventional. Instead of clicking on “Order Now” buttons that are links to a shopping cart or other order form, the order form here is part of the landing page (it appears at the end).

Hopkins is a smart marketer, so I am guessing he tested this approach and found it works best. Otherwise, I’d be more inclined to stick with the traditional method of “Order Now” buttons in various places within the copy hyperlinking to a separate transaction page.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Everything, from the sales copy and testimonials, to the guarantee and order page, is clearly labeled using conventional language.

The only thing that is the least bit confusing is the copy at the end showing the discounts you can get by ordering now instead of later. It is based on how many “members” are using the Page Personalizer. But this isn’t a club, so the word “member” may not resonate.

8. Readability and Content Density – A

Increasingly, I see micro-site and landing page design falling into two camps.

The first takes a clean, professional approach to graphic design, aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye, with all elements orderly and clear.

The second takes a “junk look” approach. Elements, typefaces and fonts are used seemingly at random, with no discernible scheme.

There is a theory in direct mail that “ugly sells,” meaning that homemade, crude direct mail packages outpull nicely designed ones. The “junk look” approach to website design applies this principle to the Internet.

Hopkins’ PagePersonalizer.com is clearly from the clean-looking, professional design school, and it works for me. It’s nice to look at and makes the copy extremely easy to follow and read.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

It isn’t clear how often this page is updated. But page personalization is a relatively new idea, so the entire page comes across as important news. A pre-head above the headline on the preview page adds to the sense of freshness by talking about “new customization technology.”

A minor quibble: Hopkins probably used “customization” on the pre-head instead of “personalization” to avoid the repetition of the word “personalization,” but I am not sure they mean the same thing.

10. Load Time – A

On the Web Page Analyzer, the PagePersonalizer.com short copy landing page downloaded in 4.25 seconds over a 56K connection—a more than adequate response time for a slow dial-up connection.

11. Aesthetics – A

As stated earlier, the design here is nicely done: easy to read, bold and attractive. No jumbling of type styles, sizes, and fonts as we see on so many landing pages these days.

12. Order Options – B

A “No-Risk Secure Acceptance Form” for placing orders appears at the end of the long-copy landing page.

If you are one of the first to sign up for the monthly Page Personalizer system, you get a better price than if you wait and sign up later. However, it took me a minute to figure this out; the presentation of these options is not crystal clear, or at least it wasn’t to me.

At the bottom of the No-Risk Secure Acceptance Form it says “ORDER NOW” in large red type, but when you click on it, nothing happens; there is no hyperlink. You have to move your cursor beneath it to the image of a credit card with the words “BUY NOW” in tiny type to order. It’s a small glitch, but to me, a glitch nonetheless.

When you click on the “BUY NOW” you are taken to a transaction page where you can place an order. If he hasn’t already done so, Hopkins might want to test having a few “Order Now” buttons with hyperlinks to this transaction page appear earlier in the copy.

At the bottom of the No-Risk Secure Acceptance Form it says “ORDER NOW” in large red type, but when you click on it, nothing happens; there is no hyperlink. You have to move your cursor beneath it to the image of a credit card with the words “BUY NOW” in tiny type to order. It’s a small glitch, but to me, a glitch nonetheless.

Conclusion

There is an argument to be made that B2B copy must be clear and straightforward, while consumer copy often works by being somewhat outrageous or focusing on a big benefit rather than the product or service itself.

Is selling ecommerce products such as Page Personalizer to Internet marketers a B2B or B2C sale? Hopkins has treated it as B2B, opting for a sensible, educational approach to explaining his software.

But he also understands exactly what the serious Internet marketer wants and does a great job of convincing us that his product can deliver those benefits and features. The result is a page that works for me, and—I would bet money—works for Hopkins, too.

Even if you’re not going to buy the Page Personalizer to personalize your websites, go to PagePersonalizer.com and submit your email address on the preview page.

You’ll be served an aggressive series of email follow-up messages via autoresponder that attempt to convert you to a Page Personalizer buyer. And like the landing page itself, these are worth studying as “best practice” models of their genre.

Internet Marketing Center Landing Page Review

Well-executed landing page that does honor to its inspiration and the legacy of Corey Rudl.

It wasn’t long ago that I was reviewing the landing page for the Internet Marketing Center, the very long and very well done Internet sales letter developed by late Web marketing guru Corey Rudl. When I heard of his tragic death in an automobile racing accident, I figured we’d probably seen the last of IMC.

Now, however, it seems that one of Rudl’s protégés is taking up where the master left off. Derek Gehl is the heir apparent. His landing page is every bit as long and hard-hitting as the one Rudl himself appeared in. The question is… will it be as successful as Rudl’s remarkable site? The following is an examination of this new IMC incarnation using the same Mequoda Scorecard I applied to Corey Rudl’s earlier effort.

  • There is no doubt that Mr. Gehl was paying attention to his mentor when it comes to headlines.
  • There’s something about this kind of copywriting that carries with it an implied camaraderie between seller and prospect.
  • The testimonials were full of credible language, whole names and compelling stories.
  • This is very accessible, upbeat, optimistic language that puts the reader completely at ease.
  • This is an easy product to be sold by people who know the value of keeping the order language and options easy to understand and participate in.

Internet Marketing Center’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

There is no doubt that Mr. Gehl was paying attention to his mentor when it comes to headlines. Cash millionaire, immediate results and life-changing income… those are all pretty powerful motivators.

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2. Story and Content – A

It would be pretty ghoulish if Mr. Gehl had done nothing but insert his name where Rudl’s used to be. Effective, perhaps… but ghoulish. Instead, Mr. Gehl made the landing page into a combination pitch for new customers and memorial for his late friend and boss. I’m fairly sure that Rudl himself would have approved of this tactic… basically turning a tragedy into a solid sales tool.

3. Content Webification – A

I’ve always liked the streaming video clips that Corey Rudl used. The ones in this version are still very effective. Just for fun I turned them all on at once. It was a cacophony of success stories that sounded sort of like a cocktail party at an Amway convention.

4. Relationship Building – A

There’s something about this kind of copywriting that carries with it an implied camaraderie between seller and prospect. He starts off talking about the big money that can be made and has been made… but pretty soon in the copy you’ll find out that he was once quite poor and inept in the world. Lousy car, bad job, not enough money… probably just like the prospect. Now, however, because Mr. Gehl wants you to enjoy the same successes he has, you can lift yourself above your station and start living the good life. This is the same kind of daydream planting that occurs in PowerBall or any other inexpensive gamble for big money. Almost everyone likes to think about being rich and nearly idle. I also liked the free newsletter, which is scarcely something new, but is nonetheless one of the more effective things on the site for capturing contact info.

5. User Testimonials – B

Mostly I liked the testimonials a lot, especially the streaming video ones. They were full of credible language, whole names and compelling stories. I did not, however, like the one in the first part of the letter that gave first names, last initial and a general area where they lived. These are not credible at all in my view. If Joe Blow wants to give a testimonial, let’s give him his full name and some other info. The first name, last initial approach makes that section lose a lot of credibility.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Like the Rudl letter before it, this pitch makes it very easy to sign up.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The language on the site is clear and easy to understand. Again, Mr. Gehl must have been listening carefully when his mentor talked about language. This is very accessible, upbeat, optimistic language that puts the reader completely at ease.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

This site is extremely readable. The paragraph structure is not daunting and the flow of the copy invites the reader to keep going. It takes a lot to get people to read pages this long, but I think they pulled it off.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – A

The site is teeming with urgency, particularly in the later stages. I liked the use of the handful of “limited” bonuses that follow the regular bonus list. You get these only if you’re one of the “next” 250 people to sign up. By the way, the complete set of limited bonuses is worth $1,050… if you wish to believe the copywriter. So, plenty of urgency, but I’d like to see it a little earlier in the letter.

10. Load Time – F

The site loaded up quickly on my broadband service, but a check on the Web Page Analyzer showed that the site takes 218 seconds to load on a 56K. This is well above the 15 seconds specified in the Mequoda guidelines. My guess is the streaming video and multiple pictures are responsible for the lag time.

11. Aesthetics – A

The site is packed full of photos of the people who have been helped by this site. I was glad to see that they were ordinary looking folks, not matinee idols or fashion queens. The photos and the general aesthetic of the site really enhance the feeling of community.

12. Order Options – A

One supposes that a site that offers tips and “life-changing” financial opportunities would also know how to work the order flow. They clearly know how to work the cash register. This is an easy product to be sold by people who know the value of keeping the order language and options easy to understand and participate in.

Conclusion

This is a solid, well-written, well-executed landing page that does honor to its inspiration and the legacy of Corey Rudl.

The South Beach Diet Newsletter Landing Page Review

The South Beach Diet Newsletter Could be the Best Thing Ever Printed… but we’d Never Know it from this Landing Page

Are there any subjects more mulled over and carefully considered than our health and appearance? If you can do something to make the population more slender and likely to live longer, you should be able to make a fortune—shouldn’t you?

Maybe not… at least if you make all the mistakes and miss all the opportunities that The South Beach Diet Newsletter does on its landing page. This is a sales page that offers pretty pictures instead of compelling reasons to buy and a glorified order form instead of a sales pitch. But to be fair, let’s take a moment and see how it stacks up to the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard.

  • This is really a glorified online version of a direct mail order form.
  • There’s not much storytelling or compelling copy to convince us that the newsletter will benefit us in any way.
  • The lack of testimonials makes me think that maybe they’re not so good at improving health and restoring youthful figures.
  • There is a lot more that could be done with this landing page.
  • Most of all, it fails to convince.

The South Beach Diet Newsletter’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

The intent is a little weak here. Sure, they mention the word “newsletter” in the title at the top of the page, but there’s not much to let you know at a glance that this page wants you to buy a subscription. It could just as well be selling the South Beach Diet book or a meal plan or whatever. “RISK FREE!” is a nice thought, but it still doesn’t tell us what they want us to do.

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2. Story and Content – D

This is really a glorified online version of a direct mail order form. There’s not much storytelling or compelling copy to convince us that the newsletter will benefit us in any way. The food pictures look nice (except maybe the roast hens which look a little burned to me), but I’d like to be convinced of the product’s merits. The “Exclusive articles like:” section wasn’t very moving… and not all that “exclusive” if you ask me. “Women on the Beach?” Can that be exclusive? Seems like just about every publication on the planet has used that. Perhaps they are depending on prior publicity and public knowledge of the vaunted South Beach Diet and don’t feel the need to promote. I think that’s a big mistake.

3. Content Webification – D

This page makes little use of available Web technology. They could have easily linked to copy describing the newsletter or an example of their recipes or testimonials.

4. Relationship Building – C

Perhaps it depends upon how you define the word “relationship.” If your definition includes having someone offer you a standard subscription pitch for a newsletter… then this might be for you. However, the Internet is full of free information on nutrition and diet and healthy living. These folks don’t seem to be doing much more than offering a standard advertisement: we’ve got this newsletter and we’ll sell it to you. There’s not much relationship building in that.

5. User Testimonials – F

This is a publication that offers to improve your health, reduce your body fat and give you great ideas for food you will love. You’d think that they would have legions of testimonials. The lack of testimonials makes me think that maybe they’re not so good at improving health and restoring youthful figures.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

It’s relatively easy to sign up for this product… even if they haven’t done a very effective job of selling it.

7. Labeling and Language – C

The language on the site is relatively clear and easy to understand. I am curious, however, how the “Plus, your subscription will be auto-renewed annually…” plays with the general public. A great many people won’t understand how that is a benefit, and some will certainly resent being subjected to anything “auto.” What if they want to make their own decisions about expenditures? There has to be a better way to express the offer and terms.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

This site is easy to read. The colors and the photos are pleasant… and I like seeing the newsletter pictured at the top of the page, although I still think they missed a good opportunity to sell the subscription with a better headline.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – D

I couldn’t find any reason to hurry up and subscribe. And there was nothing to indicate that the people who mounted this website ever visit it or provide new content. The examples of articles seemed generic enough to have been there for months… there is nothing that lets us know that this publication is on top of developments in diet and nutrition.

10. Load Time – B

The site loaded up quickly on my broadband service, but came in just over 21 seconds on a 56K. But then, why shouldn’t it? There’s very little going on that would slow down load time.

11. Aesthetics – B

They provide some nice photos of food. Plus, the site is very tidy and not overcrowded.

12. Order Options – B

This is pretty standard order language. You know how many issues you’ll get and how much it costs you. And you know that you can get a refund if you wish.

Conclusion

There is a lot more that could be done with this site. Most of all, it fails to convince. That’s particularly disturbing in a site that offers a publication full of self-improvement ideas. The newsletter could be the best thing ever printed… but we’d never know it from this page.

SEOElite.com Landing Page Review

OK, folks. Bring your seat and tray to the upright position. We’re ready for take off with an incredibly convincing and compelling landing page that shows you the mesmerizing influence of “good old fashioned-take-no-prisoners-suck-out-the-money-from the wallet” copy and graphics.

The secret of creating streams of revenue in a niche business is to identify a problem that keeps your prospect up at night and then give them a real, viable, solution. Now everywhere you go on the Internet there’s always some marketer who says they’ve invented a better “widget” (I’ve never seen a widget, but apparently there are a lot of them out there) to improve every website owner’s quagmire: search engine ranking with the 800 pound gorilla Google as well as with Yahoo, and MSN.

  • But how does one get the #1 SEO ranking?
  • By addressing the misunderstood holy grail of traffic generators: SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Being curious creatures, we are naturally incredulous about every software product that comes down the pike that promises a higher ranking.
  • And because we are… marketers have to be convincing with their copy and graphics.
  • SEOElite.com accomplishes it and does it quite well.

SEOElite.com.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline – A

Cut and dry and very effective. Just like Sgt. Friday on the old “Dragnet” series, this headline delivers “just the facts, ma’am.” No fluff… no confusion. It reaches out to its niche audience with a problem that everyone in cyberspace has: getting higher on the proverbial search engine ladder so you can not generate just any traffic BUT targeted traffic.

It’s concise and delivers a promise, with a unique and useful strategy, while using the popular word in direct response advertising.

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2. Story and Content – A

The main thrust of SEOElite.com is to empower the average “newbie” to take control of their marking and propel their website to the top of the search engine hierarchy so they can get very important targeted traffic. They hammer this home continually through out the copy while at the same time telling the reader that anyone can accomplish this.

And even though it’s geared towards “newbies”, the proof is so compelling that veterans will get caught up in the fever of higher rankings and getting more targeted traffic.

3. Content Webification – A

This is a landing site that uses long form copy. The copy gets you excited about how your site’s ranking is going to take off and get ranked (hopefully to #1) just by using this software. They accomplish this feat by using extensive proof and testimonials and explaining on each line how and why this particular software will deliver “the real goods” over the competition. It keeps pushing you—actually overwhelming you with proof—towards the call of action.

4. Email Capture – A

The minute you come to the site, “PLOP!” That’s the sound of a pop up appearing in front you delivering a strong specific promise: Discover how I made over 51,027.00 in Just Weeks. And to learn how they achieved this magnificent feat you have to, yep, you guessed it… give up your e-mail address. So right there the site tries to get your name and address PLUS at then end of the copy they request it again. Good job.

5. User Testimonials – A

Effective and convincing. Strong use of written testimonials along with the recipient’s photos makes this proof a powerful one-two punch. There’s also a very strong use of audio testimonials right at the beginning of the copy. Its goal is to stop the prospect after he reads the benefit in the headline and PROVE to him asap that this product really works.

Here’s the part that you should pay attention to when dealing with testimonials. Don’t use testimonials for your product or service that all sound the same. You know, the “usual puffery.” Try to model yourself after this site: each testimonial is very specific in giving a unique experience about their particular results in using SEO Elite.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

Disappointing. Great copy—captivating graphics—all lead you to the call of action where the link to order button is. There’s very long copy here… some time during the selling a prospect might want to order NOW. Instead, he’d have to go to the end of the copy to FINALLY order, when—if they were hooked earlier—they should be taken to the order page immediately.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Here is a strong synergistic approach to using copy and graphics. The language is easy to understand. It draws the user in, explaining how SEO and this program works… The copy and graphics (of the ranking proof) keep courting and proving to the prospect that he’s getting closer and closer to cracking the code of getting a higher search ranking.

8. Content Density and Readability – A

Excellent. Again, this is one long direct response letter; not a portal site that has lots of links. Easy to read and comprehend… The marketer holds your hand and in layman’s terms, actually holds your hand and PROVES to you that you can indeed get to numero uno on google and other engines.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

Judges decision: B! Why? Well, because it’s a landing page that is selling a product that delivers a specific outcome. I’m pretty sure that it’s pretty static if the marketer is getting a good conversion rate. There’s a built sense of urgency to buy the product—because everyday you don’t have it—is a day that you’re not getting the traffic you need to get you to #1.

10. Load Time – F

Granted, there are a lot of graphics which is why if you have a 14.4 connection then perhaps you should get out of the cave and get a FASTER one. I have cable; it was pretty fast. But 599 seconds? Yikes! There might be something with our trusty Web analyzer if this is what they record (Kim check this out for yourself, please…:)

Connection Rate Download Time

  • 14.4K – 599.35 seconds (Bake a cake – start to finish)
  • 28.8K – 299.67 seconds (order a pizza while waiting)
  • 33.6K – 256.86 seconds (do some long division)
  • 56K – 154.12 seconds (chat with a friend on the phone)
  • ISDN 128K – 47.20 seconds (take a cat-nap)
  • T1 1.44Mbps – 4.10 seconds ( inhale… now exhale)

11. Aesthetics – A

Very effective. What gets you to buy this product is the fact that the whole site is interactive. When it shows you the proof of a ranking… it invites you to click on the graphic—which goes on to prove that a particular site on weight loss is indeed #1. Impressive!

12. Ordering Options – D

No company number or email contact information that I could find. There is a problem ticket area to submit but that is for members only. This bothered me because what happens if a newbie has concerns about how to use the product or any other customer service problem. People want to know that they can contact a real live person for assistance.

Conclusion

Outstanding and convincing. The copy and graphics get you caught up in the excitement of your site becoming #1 on search engine heaven. (Doesn’t everyone want to be #1… so they can make a lot of money and and then nap on the beach while still making money?)

The purpose of each line of copy is to get you to read the next line… and the next line. This site does that, it also gives you a few surprises so it is NOT a liner experience. Always hammering home how, what, where and why the software works to accomplish this and what it will mean to your bottom line.

I would’ve perhaps wanted to know more about the creator of the product—how he cracked the code and how he came up with SEO Elite, but overall it’s an impressive execution.

And yes, it may sound too good to be true; but you have 60 days to test drive this product so there’s a strong risk reversal. I think I might even buy this product myself.

AWAIOnline Copywriting Course Landing Page Review

A friend of mine sent me a printout of the landing page promoting a copywriting course from American Writer’s & Artist Inc. He wanted to know if it would be worth it to him to enroll in the AWAI course. I was impressed that my friend, a skilled writer who has done national infomercials and other projects, was interested in this letter. It takes a lot of sales skills to tempt a semi-cynical infomercial writer.

I couldn’t really tell him definitively how he would benefit from the course if he took it, but I did decide to put the landing page through the Mequoda Scorecard and see how it fared. The site is a classic in the long-copy tradition. The landing page sales letter printed out to 18 pages. I love long copy, but let’s see what the scorecard has to say.

  • The subhead lets you know that there’s a secret that will help you accomplish the happy goal stated in the headline.
  • This landing page provides just enough webification to get the job done, but not so much that it would be confusing.
  • They’ve done a great job on their testimonials.
  • AWAI knows how to ask for the order and explain the offer.
  • This is a great, compelling landing page that does just about everything right.

AWAIOnline.com’s Copywriting Course Landing Page Scorecard
1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

“Retire this year… and still make more money than most doctors.” OK, that’s pretty clear… and pretty tasty. The subhead lets you know that there’s a secret that will help you accomplish that happy goal. Anybody who’s ever paid a doctor bill will be able to relate to this message. And they keep the theme throughout the letter. It’s clear that these folks want to sell you a secret that they say will help you amass a fortune in copywriting fees.

2. Story and Content – A

It would have been pretty pathetic if copywriters selling the “secret” to copywriting were unable to put together a good yarn. Happily, they do a good job of storytelling, full of empathy for downtrodden workers and optimism for the future of anyone with the foresight and intelligence to sign up.

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3. Content Webification – A

Personally, I don’t see that this site needs a whole lot of Internet bells and whistles. Some Web designers experience a difficult-to-resist urge to use technology just because they can. They’ve used admirable restraint in this case. Just enough webification to get the job done, but not so much that it would be confusing.

4. Relationship Building – A

Once you venture into the clutches of AWAI, they are very good at keeping you. You get previews of what’s coming up, you get the free Golden Thread email newsletter, and a lot of other interesting tidbits, not the least of which is a pitch to help you become a romance novelist… no matter if you’re a good writer or a poor one.

5. User Testimonials – A

They’ve done a great job on their testimonials. There are plenty of them, they’re prominently displayed, and they are by people who sound credible talking about how the course has helped them make money and live a more rewarding life. Great stuff.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

The links really don’t have much flash, but they do get the job done easily and quickly. There’s no mistaking what the links are designed to do and mechanically they work quickly and efficiently. Also, the “order now” buttons could work much higher in the copy. This is pretty compelling stuff. Why make the prospect go all the way to the end before allowing him/her to buy?

7. Labeling and Language – A

Again, if anybody should be able to come up with clearly understood copy, it should be somebody who’s selling a copywriting course designed to provide students with the skills to grab six figure incomes out of the thin air of commerce. The labeling and language is easy to understand.

8. Readability and Content Density – A

I like the design of this site. Just about anyone can read and absorb the message. The typography is attractive and the site is uncluttered.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

An offer to help you make more money—especially in the amounts discussed in this letter—creates its own kind of urgency. We all need more money… and we usually need it right away. There’s not so much to imply freshness in this landing page, unless it would be the day and date function under the headline. That, however, really doesn’t do much other than let people know that AWAI’s programmers know how to do that. The impression is that this copy will be pretty much the same if you bookmark it and come back in a couple weeks. Of course, that might be OK. You’ll probably still be interested in that six figure salary in a couple of weeks.

10. Load Time – A

The site loaded up quickly, well within the 15 seconds specified in the Mequoda guidelines.

11. Aesthetics – B

The copy is so neighborly and conversational, perhaps it would have been good to toss in a photo of Paul Hollingshead, co-founder of AWAI, and the guy who signed the letter… or maybe some of the testimonial folks, just to lend some humanity to the offer.

12. Order Options – B

AWAI knows how to ask for the order and explain the offer. People out there in direct response land have been trained by us copywriters over the years to respond to certain language and to expect certain phrases. One of those phrases really bugs me (OK, so I’m a little picky). The term, usually tacked on to a laundry list of features/benefits is “and much, much more” or some variation thereof. Why would six- igure copywriters stoop to such wretched bunk? They’ve just provided the prospect with a whole specific list of what he/she will receive…and now there’s some mysterious “much more” that they’re not going to reveal? It was the one glaring mistake and should have been snatched out of the copy…six figures or not.

Conclusion

This is a great, compelling landing page that does just about everything right. I still can’t tell my friend if he should enroll or not…but I bet a lot of people do sign up.

SqueezePageGenerator.com Landing Page Review

One of the most fun—and frustrating—things about Internet marketing is that the rules and best practices are constantly changing, based on innovation and discovery of new methods that work better than the old. I say “fun” because there are few thrills in direct marketing as big as creating a new promotion that significantly outperforms the old one. I say “frustrating” because implementing these new strategies can involve a lot of time and work—often forcing us to redo old online promotions that we thought were all set.

One of the major changes in online information marketing is the flow and structure of landing pages. Until recently, all information marketers basically used some variation of the following: drive traffic to a long copy landing page where the consumer can read a sales letter about the product. At various points on the landing page, the visitor can click through to an order page to buy the product. If the visitor clicks away from the landing or order pages without placing an order, she is served a pop under with a free content offer, the purpose of which is to capture her email address.

  • A growing number of online marketers are reversing the process: capturing the email address up front—before the visitor can access the long-copy landing page—rather than as an optional step when leaving the landing page.
  • This is done by sending the visitor first to a short, abbreviated version of the main sales letter. I call this a “preview page.”
  • Leon Klepfish, an Internet marketer and creator of SqueezePageGenerator.com, calls it a “squeeze page.”
  • Don Nicholas of the Mequoda Library calls this approach the “Squeeze eCommerce Conversion Architecture Internet Marketing Strategy.”
  • A good example of this strategy is Leon’s SqueezePageGenerator.com, a website selling an information product aimed at serious Internet marketers who want to increase email capture and conversions with squeeze pages.

SqueezePageGenerator.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

The preview page uses a basic question headline: “How would you like to boost your site’s profits into overdrive using a top-secret piece of software your competitors don’t want you to know about?”

It works because the copywriter clearly understands the concerns and mindset of the target audience: Internet marketers who want to increase their sales.

Pre-heads and subheads expand on the promise of the headline making a variety of attractive claims, including “Multiply your profit and grow your list in just 4 clicks” and “Increase your site’s profits.”

The same headline appears on the landing page, except it is personalized with the visitor’s first name, demonstrating a huge advantage of preview pages: by capturing the visitor’s name, you can serve them a personalized sales message on the long-copy landing page.

The one flaw I see in the first screens of both the preview page and the landing page is there is no attempt to build credibility up front. We are not told who Leon is, what he has accomplished online, or the success others have attained using his squeeze-page marketing method and software tool.

Visitors to your landing page are highly skeptical. You need to overcome this skepticism by establishing your credibility right up front.

One way to do this is with a couple of strong testimonials just before or right under the headline. Another method is to give your most impressive credential or accomplishment right up front.

2. Story and Content – A

The long-copy landing page clearly explains what a squeeze page is, the benefits of using them, how the product (a piece of software) can help you create them and the benefits of creating squeeze pages with this software vs. doing it yourself. It also demonstrates how the software works, and the demonstration makes it look easy.

In doing so, it not only helps sell the software being advertised, but it also gives the reader a valuable—and free—education in an important aspect of Internet marketing: the squeeze page strategy. Even if you don’t buy the software, you are rewarded simply for having read the copy.

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3. Content Webification – A

Leon doesn’t miss a trick; this is a great model of how to take long copy and adapt it to the Web. In particular, the graphics—nicely rendered illustrations of the products and premiums—convey an impression of weight, substance and value.

4. Email Capture – A

The squeeze page model captures the email address of every visitor who wants to read the long-copy landing page. That’s an advantage over traditional micro-sites that rely on pop-under windows to grab the email address after the fact. If the visitor doesn’t want to bother getting the content the pop-under offers, the visitor’s email address is lost and the name isn’t captured.

5. User Testimonials – B

I usually recommend a minimum of three testimonials, and there are two here. They are strong and specific, with customer photos. It would be stronger if at least one of the satisfied customers was a big name in Internet marketing.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

There are multiple, well-labeled links you can click on to go immediately to the order page.

The order buttons don’t appear until you are well into the landing page. One could make a case for testing a version with an extra order button that comes much earlier; perhaps Leon already did that and found that the current version generates the highest conversion.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Everything, from the sales copy and testimonials, to the guarantee and order page, is clearly labeled using conventional language.

8. Readability and Content Design – A

The design is textbook perfect: easy-to-read Courier typeface for body copy; big, bold subheads; borders to call attention to guarantees and special offers; picture of the free bonus gifts and colorful buttons to click on when you are ready to order.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – A

It isn’t clear how often this page is updated. But squeeze pages are such a relatively new idea, that the entire page comes across as important news. A pre-head above the headline adds to the sense of freshness and urgency by talking about “amazing new technology.”

10. Load Time – B

On SqueezePageGenerator.com landing page downloaded in 17.60 seconds over a 56 Kbps connection—a more than adequate response time.

11. Aesthetics – A

As stated earlier, the design here is terrific: easy to read, bold and attractive. No jumbling of type styles, sizes and fonts as we see on so many landing pages these days.

12. Order Options – A

The site makes it easy to place your order online. Links to the order page do not appear until you are well into the copy, which appears to be a deliberate decision, probably arrived at based on testing, given the marketer’s apparent savvy.

Conclusion

By forcing visitors to register before they are allowed to access the long-copy landing page, SqueezePageGenerator.com captures the email address of everyone reading the sales letter.

The SqueezePageGenerator.com is a nearly flawless execution of the “Squeeze eCommerce Conversion Architecture Internet Marketing Strategy.”

The preview page is long enough that it convinces the visitor it’s worth registering to click through and read the landing page copy.

Yet it’s short enough to maximize conversion from search engine traffic—organic and pay-per-click—as well as e-zines and emails.

PrayerPower.com Landing Page Review

Paul McManus, operator of PrayerPower.com, has an edge over other Internet marketers: he can pray for success, and if his product, “Prayer Power,” does what he promises in his copy, his prayers will be answered. Prayer Power is a $19.95 book. It comes with two free bonus CDs valued at $31.90, and shows you the right way to pray. How McManus has knowledge of the type of praying God responds to best is beyond me.

When you go to PrayerPower.com, you arrive on a short “preview page” offering you free content titled “The 7 Great Prayers.” To get the free prayers, you must enter your first name and email address. When you do, you are taken to a long-copy landing page selling the “Prayer Power” program. Whether you order or not, you get “The 7 Great Prayers” sent to you electronically via email autoresponder. The first prayer was waiting in my email as soon as I was through visiting the page.

  • I think the headline could be stronger… read on for Bly’s suggested headline.
  • The copy falls short in that it doesn’t explain how it is that Mr. McManus is able to know what prayers God responds to and which He doesn’t. He needs to back his claim.
  • In direct marketing, ugly often works. And I suspect that, ugly and disorganized as this site is, it works.
  • There are no testimonials that I can see, and in a site making such a huge claim as to know what God wants, this is an enormous omission.
  • With the price point less than $20 and a lifetime money-back guarantee, there’s enough risk reduction that curious self-improvement and Christian buyers might place an order.

PrayerPower.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

There are at least four separate copy areas above the personalized salutation, so it’s hard to say which one is really the headline.

The largest, centered on the page right above the salutation, reads “The 7 Great Prayers for an Abundant & Blessed Life.”

This headline effectively communicates the idea that this site helps you improve your life through prayer.

But often, you find a potentially stronger headline as you read further into the copy, and if you do, this should be moved up front to take the place of the headline.

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Below the picture of the McManus family, the copy tells us that “Prayer works!!” and that it can produce “better relationships, better health, better finances,” among other things.

I think the headline could be stronger; maybe something along the lines of “Put the Power of These 7 Simple Prayers to Work, and in Just 11 Minutes a Day, You Can Achieve Better Relationships, Better Health, Greater Wealth and a Closer Relationship with God.”

I think the headline could be stronger.

2. Story and Content – B

Most of the story is clear: prayer works, most people don’t pray regularly and this product will solve that problem by showing you when and how to pray.

Where the copy falls short is that it doesn’t explain how it is that Mr. McManus is able to know what prayers God responds to and which He doesn’t. This is an outrageous claim to make, and I see little proof to back it up.

3. Content Webification – B

The site design is slightly disorganized. A professional graphic designer probably would not give it high marks.

But in direct marketing, ugly often works. And I suspect that, ugly and disorganized as this site is, it works.

The site makes good use of personalization. After you enter your name to get the seven free prayers, you are served the long copy landing page, in which the salutation is personalized with your first name.

Under the photo of the publisher and his family is a button you can click to hear a 90-second audio message from Mr. McManus.

Under the photo of the publisher and his family is a button you can click to hear a 90-second audio message from Mr. McManus.

4. Email Capture – A

The user’s email is captured immediately by the short preview page. If you do not fill in your name and email address, you can’t get the seven free prayers. Nor can you go on to read the long-copy website.

5. User Testimonials – C

There are no testimonials that I can see, and in a site making such a huge claim as to know what God wants, this is an enormous omission.

Testimonials from customers as well as clergy, saying that these prayers are effective or improved their lives, are desperately needed to make a rather outrageous claim credible. Without those, I simply don’t believe it.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

There are numerous links on the landing page to the order page. The order page is well designed and easy to use.

The product is a book with two CDs, a card and a journal. You can pay either with a credit card or PayPal. With its sensible layout and clean design, this page likely has a minimal abandon rate.

When you submit your order, an invoice appears on the screen. You can print the invoice to use as a receipt.

You also get an immediate order confirmation via email with the order number, invoice, number and date. I ordered on 12/23/06, and as of 12/29/06, I had not yet received the book and CDs.

The product is a book with two CDs, a card and a journal.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The site design and labeling is rather conventional, which is a plus: everything is clear and there’s no confusion on what to do, where to go or how to order.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The copy style is conversational, clear, friendly and easy to read. As mentioned, the layout is slightly jumbled and disorganized, but the page is pretty linear, so you never get lost.

The copy does a good job of presenting and selling the product and the idea behind it: that prayer is beneficial, most people don’t do it every day and they should. I would like to see more proof—from the Bible, psychologists, medical journals—that praying can help improve health, happiness, wealth, relationships, mood and other important aspects of our lives.

The only scientific proof cited says that listening to classical music raises your IQ, which has nothing to do with the power of prayer (although there is classical music on the CDs).

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – B

As with many landing pages selling single products, the copy is static. While it doesn’t seem old and dated, neither is there new content that could cause one to return over and over again. Of course, the goal is to get you to order the product, not spend a lot of time on the site or revisit frequently.

10. Load Time – C

To measure how quickly a website downloads on various Internet connections, we turn to our online tool at WebSiteOptimization.com. Results showed PrayerPower.com downloaded in 28.87 seconds over a 56K connection, and it downloads in an instant over my broadband.

11. Aesthetics – B

As I said earlier, a professional graphic designer might give this site a grade of C. But in direct marketing, ugly often works, and knowing that, I grade it a B. It’s far from beautiful, but I believe it is effective at selling this product.

It’s far from beautiful, but I believe it is effective at selling this product.

12. Order Options – B

The offer is slightly, but only slightly, confusing.

The short-copy preview page gives us what is shown as a book, “the 7 Great Prayers,” free in exchange for our name and email address.

The order form offers “The 7 Great Prayers Book” for $19.95. If I get the seven great prayers for free, why do I need to order the $19.95 book? Is it different from the seven prayers I get free for submitting my email address?

The $19.95 package includes two free CDs, valued at $31.90, plus a free prayer card and free prayer journal.

Conclusion

The idea of a product you can buy online to improve your life by helping you pray more often and more effectively seems like a natural, especially to people of faith.

The domain name, PrayerPower.com is appropriately reflective of the subject (prayer) and its benefit (prayer’s power to improve your life).

The big missing element is credibility. While readers want to improve their lives, and may hope that prayer can do it, the idea that Paul McManus, of all the people on Earth, has unlocked the secret of what prayers God listen to most strains credibility, to put it mildly.

The copy lacks proof elements to overcome the visitor’s natural skepticism—no testimonials or research citations from credible religious and secular authorities.

Still, with the price point less than $20 and a lifetime money-back guarantee of satisfaction, there’s enough risk reduction that curious self-improvement and Christian buyers might place an order. And once they do, they are unlikely to request a refund even if the prayers don’t work, as long as the prayers are eloquent and moving.

SitStayFetch.net Landing Page Review

The Internet is a competitive marketplace, and the late Corey Rudl, founder of the Internet Marketing Center, once told me the most important strategy for Internet marketing success is to find a niche market that you are passionate about. Since people love their dogs, I would assume the founders of SitStayFetch.net have done just that.

In my last landing page review, I looked at PrayerPower.com, a site I believe to be effective despite its awkward design, crude layout and unpolished copy.

But SitStayFetch.net is the opposite: a slick, well-thought-out, powerfully written, cleanly designed micro-site. It is designed to sell a single product, an eBook on dog obedience, titled SitStayFetch, and serves as a model on how to create a successful eBook microsite.

  • The landing page is incredibly long. Once you get past the headline and subhead, the copy is pided into three major sections.
  • Daniel Stever, the ebook’s author, correctly recognizes that ebook buyers like bonuses, and the more, the better.
  • Not only are there testimonials from 10 users, but each is a detailed story with full attribution, including the customer’s name and location.
  • www.sitstayfetch.net is laid out in a clean, graphically pleasing presentation—what’s missing are bold graphics that are effective at calling attention to important benefits or features on landing pages.
  • Discover the common graphic technique used by this landing page that is very effective for increasing readership.

SitStayFetch.net’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

The headline, “Dog Obedience Training Secrets to TRANSFORM Your Dog’s Behavior Problems,” is straightforward and powerful. People are attracted to “secrets,” and dog owners want their dogs to behave better and be more obedient. I see no reason to put the word TRANSFORM in all caps here.

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Above the headline is a “pre-head”—a line of copy—whose purpose is to establish instant credibility. It reads: “Thanks to this powerful insider information, thousands of people worldwide have been successful with their dog training and solved their dog’s behavior problems.”

This lets us know that these techniques have worked for thousands of dog owners, making the claim in the headline more believable.

The headline is straightforward and powerful. I see no reason to put the word TRANSFORM in all caps here.

2. Story and Content – A

The landing page is incredibly long. Once you get past the headline and subhead, the copy is divided into three major sections.

The first is an introductory letter from the eBook’s author Daniel Stever. There are two links in this letter, one to get you to sign up for his free e-zine, and the second to the order page for his eBook.

We are not told much about Daniel, his dog or his qualifications for writing the eBook. Is he a breeder, trainer, vet or other dog expert—or just a passionate dog owner who figured out how to train his dog when obedience school didn’t work?

The next section contains ten detailed success stories of how dog owners got great results using the methods in Daniel’s eBook.

The third section is a long-copy sales letter from Daniel selling his program, offering the eBook, and describing the free bonus gifts, of which there are four. Stever correctly recognizes that eBook buyers like bonuses, and the more, the better.

3. Content Webification – A

The content is totally tailored to an interactive user experience on the Web.

For instance, at the end of each of the ten success stories (except the last) are three links that give you these choices: a) “Find out more,” which takes you to the long-copy sales letter selling the eBook, “Sign up to my FREE Dog Training Course,” which links you to a subscription page for the free email newsletter or c) “Get SitStayFetch Now” which skips the long-copy sales letter and goes directly to the order page.

Normally, you might say it is a mistake to go directly to the order page before the prospect is completely “sold” on the product. But the order page has long copy, sufficient to sell the product on its own, so this option works here.

4. Email Capture – B

There are more than a dozen links on the landing page to the registration page for the free email newsletter, which is offered in exchange for the visitor’s email address.

However, when you leave the landing page without placing an order or signing up for the free email newsletter, you are not served a pop-under making one last attempt to get your email address in exchange for free content. According to our Mequoda guidelines, that’s a mistake.

5. User Testimonials – A

Not only are there testimonials from 10 users, but each is a detailed story with full attribution (the customer’s name and location), a headline summarizing the story, a first-person testimonial in the customer’s own words and a photo of the owner and/or the dog.

There are testimonials from 10 users, and each is a detailed story with full attribution (the customer’s name and location), a headline summarizing the story, a first-person testimonial in the customer’s own words and a photo of the owner and/or the dog.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

There are more than a dozen links on the landing page to the long-copy order page.

The visitor can click onto the order page from almost anywhere on the landing page, so if he is ready to buy, he can—and the long-copy order page has sufficient sales copy to close the deal.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Everything, from the sales copy and testimonials, to the email newsletter sign-up page and order page, is clearly labeled using conventional language.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

A graphic designer would probably give this page an “A” in design, and I agree.

In direct marketing, ugly layouts can often work. But so can clear, neat layouts and SitStayFetch.net is clearly in the latter category.

Unlike PrayerPower.com, with its jumble of type sizes and fonts and odd copy placement, SitStayFetch.net is laid out in a clean, graphically pleasing presentation.

I rate it a B instead of an A because it is a little too clean and perfect. What’s missing is large blue type, yellow highlights, handwritten red arrows and other bold graphics that are effective at calling attention to particularly important benefits or features.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – B

You can’t really tell whether there is new content on the site or when content was last updated. But on a long-copy landing page selling a single product, it isn’t really as critical as it would be on a corporate website. The easiest way for the author to keep the site updated and fresh would be to periodically add new success stories.

10. Load Time – D

On WebsiteOptimization.com, the SitStayFetch.net landing page downloaded in 46.11 seconds over a 56 Kbps connection. On my broadband, it took only a couple of seconds.

11. Aesthetics – B

As stated earlier, this is a crisp, clean site with a pleasing layout. It uses a number of graphic techniques to break up the long copy and make it more readable.

Case studies, for instance, are each in their own boxed sidebar containing a headline, text and photo.

On the first page, under the headline and subhead, there is a photo of a man with a dog. I assume this must be the author and his dog. But there’s no caption, so we don’t know who they are.

The subhead “Put an End to the Stress and Annoyance of Your Dog Behavior Problems” appears in quotation marks, even though it’s not a quote. This is a common graphic technique and very effective for increasing readership: people’s eyes are drawn to copy in quotation marks.

As stated earlier, this is a crisp, clean site with a pleasing layout. It uses a number of graphic techniques to break up the long copy and make it more readable.

12. Order Options – B

The site consistently drives visitors to three options: a) sign up for the free e-zine, b) read the long-copy landing page for more information on the dog training program presented in the eBook or c) go directly to the order page for the eBook where you can read shorter copy and place your order.

Conclusion

One of the most popular products to sell online is eBooks, and with good reason: there’s no manufacturing cost, no shipping and handling costs, delivery of the product is virtually instantaneous and the profit margin is nearly 100 percent.

If you want to sell information products on the Internet, you should consider starting with eBooks. And if you want a model of how to design an effective eBook microsite or landing page, look no further than SitStayFetch.net.

Baby-Model.com Landing Page Review

Some wag once said “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” In other words, the goal of achieving perfection in a new venture often gets in the way of accomplishing an outcome that is “good enough” to succeed. Often an idea for a big, bold new product is one that never gets completed. Meanwhile, simple products quickly get created, marketed and sold, often bringing significant financial success to their developers.

That’s the impression I got reviewing the website at the URL Baby-Model.com. The product doesn’t excite me. The landing page design is not flashy. The copywriting is effective, but not exactly riveting. The graphics are not exceptional, except for one very cute baby photo. In fact, Baby-Model.com is entirely unremarkable except for the fact that it works. The site sells a downloadable eBook entitled Baby Modeling Secrets for $47. The sales letter copy for the book doesn’t specify the exact length but does refer to page 81, so we know it’s at least that long.

  • The site is registered to Richard Schefren, who claims to own more than 30 profitable sites, all selling unique products in targeted niches.
  • This sales letter landing page uses three hypertext links and one graphic button for a total of four opportunities to buy the Baby Model Secrets eBook.
  • The bulleted “secrets” that Baby Model Secrets promises to reveal are the strongest elements of this landing page.
  • This landing page will never win a beauty contest, but it’s perfectly appropriate for its audience.
  • The Baby-Model.com landing page sequence is a simple, garden variety online sales letter that appears to work despite its mediocrity.

Baby-Model.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

Introduction

The site is registered to Richard Schefren, who claims to own more than 30 profitable sites, all selling unique products in targeted niches. These include Baby-Food-Secrets.com, Baby-Sitting-Secrets.com, Baby-Sleeping-Secrets.com, Bedwetting-Secrets.com, Breastfeeding-Secrets.com,Smart-Baby-Secrets.com and Stop-Toddler-Biting.com, among others. With that many backend products, Mr. Schefren no doubt has a plan to upsell buyers of Baby Modeling Secrets.

Mr. Schefren says he first entered the business world by taking over a failing, bankrupt used clothing store, and four years later the store was grossing $6.5 million annually, enabling him to retire at age 26. Too young to stay retired, he then built a recording studio and a record label. This brought him national recognition on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, FOX NEWS and MSNBC, and profiles on the front page of the The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue and GQ, before he sold it. Next, he built a $7.5 million dollar chain of hypnosis clinics in less than four years, and created a direct mail offer that grabbed an unbelievable response rate of 77 percent selling an information product for an average price of $12,500.

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These are impressive credentials to bring to an online publishing enterprise. We decided to see what we could ascertain about his online marketing prowess by measuring Baby-Model.com against the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

“Who Else Wants To Discover The Fastest, Easiest And Most Effective Method For Getting Your Baby Into The Lucrative World Of Baby Modeling!” asks Baby-Model.com.

The “Who Else Wants” headline has been around for about 50 years and is still used to sell everything from cosmetic face cream to information products to workshops and seminars. I’ve always thought this formula headline is ineffective at defining a unique selling proposition, or proclaiming a strong user benefit.

In my opinion, the “Who Else Wants” is no longer very intriguing or thought-provoking, because it’s so tired and overused. Nevertheless, it must still work because copywriters continue to use it. Hey, if your tests prove that it gets a good response, why not?

In any event, the strategic intent of this landing page is to capture 1) your first name, 2) your baby’s first name and 3) your email address. This enables the website publisher to then deliver to you a second online sales letter that weaves both your name and your baby’s name into the text. Not a bad idea, but an imperfect execution. The site botched up the precise insertion of the baby’s name. In fact, this online sales letter has several typos and misspellings (e.g. Sakes (sic) Fifth Avenue).

Gary Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy, would say that Everything Counts!™, and I agree. You could argue, as I often do, that sloppiness diminishes credibility.

The site’s headline engages the user with a benefit (“Getting Your Baby Into The Lucrative World Of Baby Modeling”) and is clear and easy to read.

The headline on the second landing page—the personalized one you get to after providing your name, baby’s name and email address—has a better promise and user benefit, and is more engaging. It reads “Follow These Simple, Easy To Follow…. Step By Step Instructions And Your Baby Can Be A High-Paid Top-Model Almost Overnight!”

Headlines on Baby-Model.com Landing Pages

2. Story and Content – B

This sales letter’s authors identify themselves as Debi and Rich Schefren, parents of baby models Ava and Elle. Their story sounds credible and leads the reader to buy their eBook. The claims are not extravagant. “You’ll learn all about the dos and don’ts of baby modeling, including little known tricks that get you called back over and over again,” they say.

If you’re a would-be stage mother or baby-model-mom wannabe, the content of this letter will push all your buttons and get your greed glands working. (Subhead: “Imagine Having Enough $$$ To Pay For College In Less Than 2 Years… Our daughter Ava has over $8,753 in the bank!”)

3. Content Webification – C

Beyond the personalization device of inserting the mother’s and baby’s names into the sales letter, there is no other content webification.

There is no other content webification other than the personalization device of inserting the mother’s and baby’s names.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – A

Once the user submits their email address, an autoresponder starts a series of five baby modeling lessons from Debi (“Ava & Elle’s Mommy”), delivered once a day for five consecutive days.

These messages are short on valuable content (e.g., “One tip is to remember that patience is golden. There is no reason to get discouraged or disheartened.”) and long on promoting the Schefrens’ Baby Model Secrets book. Presumably the really valuable content is revealed in the paid product, as it should be.

5. User Testimonials – B

The Schefrens integrate five customer testimonials into the second landing page sales letter. Only one identifies its writer completely, but each letter is specific and credible. Using the customer’s full name, city and state would be more convincing.

Abbreviating these details makes the reader skeptical of the testimonial’s authenticity.

Abbreviating details makes the reader skeptical of the testimonial’s authenticity.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

This sales letter landing page uses three hypertext links and one graphic button for a total of four opportunities to buy the Baby Model Secrets eBook. That seems like about the right number for a letter of this length.

The links are appropriately underscored and colored blue; they change to maroon when clicked. The order form follows the standard ClickBank protocol.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The bulleted “secrets” that Baby Model Secrets promises to reveal are the strongest elements of this online sales letter. In fact, the words the copywriter uses are practically a textbook lesson in how to create interest in a product. For example:

  • “The little known method…”
  • “The very first step you must take…”
  • “How you can start…”
  • “Exactly how to quickly and easily determine…”
  • “The surprising facts about…”
  • “The truth about how…”
  • “The critical information about what…”
  • “Why you don’t even need to worry about…”
  • “The nuts and bolts of how…”
  • “Advice about the real…”

These are the kind of bullets experienced copywriters have used for years to rope in customers with the promise of revealing “insider secrets.” Gotta’ love that word—secrets. In this landing page ad, the copywriter uses it more than a dozen times.

These are the kind of bullets experienced copywriters have used for years to rope in customers with the promise of revealing “insider secrets.”

8. Readability (Content Density) – B

The layout and typefaces are appropriate, and there is sufficient white space.

9. Content Freshness – D

There is no date stamp or urgent call to action. The copyright date is still 2004, although this is December of 2005. There is no evidence of any content having been updated.

10. Load Time – B

You might expect this site to feature numerous pictures of beautiful, photogenic babies, but it doesn’t. That enables the page to download in 15.51 seconds at 56K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

The second, personalized landing page sales letter downloaded in 32.40 seconds. Good enough to keep the user from clicking away.

11. Aesthetics – B

This landing page will never win a beauty contest, but it’s perfectly appropriate for its audience. The colors, pink and baby blue, are consistent with the user’s mental model.

12. Order Options – C

This product is strictly available by download following a credit card, eCHECK or PayPal payment to ClickBank. There is no toll-free phone number, printable order form for fax orders or other options.

Conclusion

The Baby-Model.com landing page sequence is a simple, garden variety online sales letter that appears to work despite its mediocrity. This proves once again the sage advice from one of my earliest marketing advisors.

“You don’t have to get it perfect,” he said. “You have to get it started.”

BottomLineSecrets.com’s The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing Landing Page Review

Want to know a secret? Of course, you do. Everyone loves secrets. As Homo sapiens we always want what we can’t have and that includes desiring an edge over our competitors or discovering some nugget of information that’ll add value to all facets of our lives; whether its business, financial, personal or dealing with our health.

And no company can present it to you better than “The Grand Poobah” of them all: Bottom Line Secrets—America’s Best Source of Inside information. This publishing company was founded in 1972 by the great Martin Edelston. Today, this branded behemoth has taken our insatiable appetite for information and brought it online with a main portal website and its satellite landing pages. Bottom Line also publishes offline books and today, we look at one book that targets the health industry, found in the Bottom Line Bookstore. Now, if you were looking for information on natural healing you wouldn’t just want “any” encyclopedia on healing, would you? No, you’re busy. You want all of your information in its entirety and you want it now. No ambiguity at Bottom Line. No sir. And that’s because they give you: The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.

  • Their unique style of copywriting is called “fascinations,” and is used a lot in their eye-catching, mesmerizing magalogs.
  • This landing page tells you immediately what’s in it for the reader. It’s a complete information source on natural healing and you get to read it for FREE for 30 days.
  • Bottom Line—who as a traditional direct mail publisher tests all the time, probably determined that user testimonials didn’t increase sales, but I would’ve added some anyway.
  • If there’s anything this publisher wants, it is for you to SIGN UP and test drive their book— then have you either pay for it now, or later.
  • If you want to model your business off a multi-million dollar winner in the marketplace, then this landing page is the place to start.

BottomLineSecrets.com’s The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline – A

Online and off, Bottom Line doesn’t use much long copy in their marketing. In fact, their unique style of copywriting, where they communicate with their readers and prospects, is called “fascinations,” and is used a lot in their eye-catching, mesmerizing magalogs. Using “fascinations,” they tease you with a strong benefit in their headline (and their bullets) that make you so “curious”, you must know more on how they accomplished it. You only have to look at their headline and subhead to see how they weave their magic. And like the title of my favorite James Bond film, “Nobody Does It Better” than Boardroom.

Headline: Cured! Uncanny Treatments from Outside the Box.

Subhead: Today’s truly exciting new breakthroughs are coming from young scientists and doctors who are approaching medical problems in bold, new ways.

Now, when reading this, you might think, “Hmmm, what are these young guns up to?” And if you’re a rebel of modern medicine and believe in either holistic or cutting edge medical discoveries, then you might want to see how it can apply to yourself.

2. Story and Content – B

Bottom Line publishers are minimalists when it comes to delivering online copy. What they do deliver is a tremendous, “I’d-be-foolish-to-turn-this-down-offer.” So much so, that I believe they were innovators of it in the direct response industry and since then they’ve been copied by their competitors.

Boardroom will send you their product/book/information for FREE and have you test drive it before purchasing it. They also give you the option of billing you later or paying for it up front. PLUS, you’ll get two free reports. This is true risk reversal.

If Mr. Prospect isn’t happy, he can of course, send back the book. Again, they effectively use “fascinations” along with strong offers to get you interested in their book and overwhelm you with their offer of sending it out to you for FREE. But wait, there’s more! You don’t have to fork over all the bucks right away. You also get the option of paying in three equal installments.

What I appreciated about this landing page is that you know immediately what’s in it for the reader. It’s a complete information source on natural healing and you get to read it for FREE for 30 days. There’s no ambiguity.

On the other hand, people take in information by feeling, reading, or hearing. As a marketer, you must capture the hearts and minds of your readers to keep them interested in your offer, always. This is why I would’ve preferred if they had some enticing graphics on this page besides the picture of the book. Examples: happy, healthy, invigorated looking couples, a group of determined looking doctors, or perhaps the author himself, Dr. Gary Null.

What I appreciated about this landing page is that you know immediately what’s in it for the reader. It’s a complete information source on natural healing and you get to read it for FREE for 30 days.

3. Content Webfication – A

It works for me. Again, not much use of graphics here except for the cover of the book. But the FREE offers are so overwhelming that you figure, “what the heck—let them send the book to me for free.” Bottom Line also offers you a FREE preview of the encyclopedia but, alas, you won’t get it until you give them your contact information.

4. Email Capture – B

Lots of FREEBIES are presented on this landing page (and of course, on the portal site), which I like. But to receive them you must “give it up.” The email address that is. Unfortunately, when you’re leaving the site, there’s no pop-up to grab your attention and say, “Hey, where are you going? You almost forgot to get your FREE…” Well, you get the idea.

5. User Testimonials – F

None whatsoever. Again, I believe Bottom Line—who as a traditional direct mail publisher tests all the time, probably determined that user testimonials didn’t increase sales, but I would’ve added some anyway. Perhaps I would have taken the trouble to use not only those but also the testimonials of some of their contributors to possibly increase sales.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Links work and are used properly here.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Simple and effective. Again, every word of copy on the main portal and this landing page is used to get the reader to say, “Yes, send me your FREE book—now!” The buttons on this site are clearly labeled for easy “surfability” (a phrase I just made up). As a reminder, this is the Bottom Line Store. Most of the impressive benefits, free articles, community building, etc., are found on the main portal.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

Everything on this micro landing page is where it should be. It uses the common technique of a left column which gives you more FREEBIES. I would change and enlarge the font on the bottom of the page to show the other ezines they have.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

Again, this is a landing page for the Bottom Line Store. Most of the urgency and content freshness is on the main portal page which includes LOTS of freebie articles, which I assume they change on occasion. There is no RSS feed or blog that bring fresh content. I believe this is a static page that doesn’t change much. It has a purpose: it wants your order and it wants it now. It is after all—a store!

10. Load Time – B

It ran at 17.23 using the Web Page Analyzer. On the main portal page, which was heavier with graphics, it was a lot slower.

11. Aesthetics – A

Simple in design. It attracts and doesn’t distract. Again, as I’ve said in previous reviews, people don’t care about your product or service; they care about what your “widget” will do for them. When one thinks of an encyclopedia, images of school work and research pop into the mind. School = work. And no one wants to equate a book with work. Yes, this is an encyclopedia of natural healing… but I would bring some graphics in of happy, healthy people. This would show the prospect how their life will be changed once they purchase this book. They, too, will have their problems solved.

Simple in design. It attracts and doesn’t distract.

12. Ordering Options – A

This is where Bottom Line excels. If there’s anything this publisher wants, it is for you to SIGN UP and test drive their book— then have you either pay for it now, or later. Strong online options consist of a right column on the side of the screen that asks for all pertinent information. There’s also a tab on the top of the page to have you call customer service.

There’s a tab on the top of the page to have you call customer service.

Conclusion

This landing page works mainly because it engages the reader, teasing you with their wonderful fascinations, while not overwhelming you with clutter. The copy does a strong job of building your trust and presenting its credibility on its main portal homepage (and subsequent landing pages). If this was a free standing micro site, you’d need more information. Bottom Line presents an overall strong communal feel to its readers on their overall site (not necessarily on this Store page).

If you want to model your business off a multi-million dollar winner in the marketplace, then this is the place to start.

Real-Estate-Fortune.com Landing Page Review

Like just about everyone else, I’d like to make more money, work less, and enjoy a higher level of financial security. That’s what Dave Lindahl, the Apartment King, is offering the public on his landing page.

There’s a fine line that must be walked when offering get-rich products on the Internet. Offer too much and you lose credibility. Offer too little and you lose the sale. Lindahl’s landing page is a good example of a get-rich-quick pitch done well. We’ve tested it against the very objective measuring stick called the Mequoda Scorecard and present the findings.

  • In its soul, this is really just a good old-fashioned long-form direct mail-letter. It never loses track of its primary duty: to sell the product.
  • Links to the order flow abound on this landing page. Like everything else on this landing page, the focus is to get the prospect sold early and make it easy to order.
  • The benefits are clearly stated, the headlines are easy to understand, and just about anyone above a third-grade reading level can cruise through the page and figure out what’s going on.
  • The only element of urgency is an implied, “How long do you want to be poor?” message that relies on the reader to supply the urgency. I’d like to see a bit more plainly articulated urgency.
  • This is a convincing landing page. It really only needs a little tidying up design-wise and some good testimonials to make it an extremely convincing landing page.

Real-Estate-Fortune.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

This landing page uses a classic and very well done riches-are-waiting-for-you approach. The idea of making a fat monthly income—five figures, no less—from your own apartment property… that’s a very tasty bit of bait. It’s obvious from the very first sentence that Mr. Lindahl is offering a way to prosper, work less and build security. He employs specific language regarding his “Six Secrets” and uses his own formerly difficult life as a way to curry favor with people who may be reading this pitch letter because they have had financial troubles. He goes to considerable lengths to establish that you don’t need to be a trust fund baby to use the system…but that it will also work for people who are already in the apartment renting business and want to do a better job. If you’re interested in the apartment business on just about any level, Mr. Lindahl has something to interest you. There is no pussyfooting around on this landing page… he is crystal clear on intent.

This landing page uses a classic and very well done riches-are-waiting-for-you approach. The idea of making a fat monthly income—five figures, no less—from your own apartment property… that’s a very tasty bit of bait.

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2. Story and Content – A

I particularly like Mr. Lindahl’s description of his first visit to a problem building he’d bought—one that was “infested by two heroin dealers, a crack dealer, and two apartments full of junkies.” Here’s some more of the story: “On my very first visit to the property, I’m in the hallway, and a woman stumbles out of one apartment, seriously stoned. She finally focuses on me, and in a confrontational tone, says mockingly, ‘Who are you…the new owner?’ I calmly and pleasantly unleashed my secret, unusual weapon by uttering four sentances [which he will reveal in the course]. Her eyes got wide, and she rushed into her unit and slammed the door.” He goes on to explain that the value of the building went from $58,000 to $475,000 with a monthly cash flow of $4,100. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know what those four sentences are. This is a great example of using dramatic storytelling to amp up interest in the product.

3. Content Webification – B

In its soul, this is really just a good old-fashioned long-form direct mail-letter, which is something I personally love and respect. It never loses track of its primary duty: to sell the product. But Lindahl has also made fairly good use of the advantages of the Internet. There’s a nice little audio clip that’s easily accessed with a very clearly marked button. The clip isn’t particularly pushy as a sales tool, but it does match up a voice with the upfront picture of the very pleasant and friendly looking Lindahl. It might have been nice to see a streaming video of Lindahl working his magic, but even without that, the content seems very adequately webified. Nothing very arresting, but definitely adequate.

4. Relationship Building – A

The tone of this landing page is wonderfully designed to put the seller and the prospect in a friendly, mutually beneficial relationship. Lindahl hastens to point out that he’s no snob. He’s been broke and he’s been rich, and he definitely thinks rich is better. What’s more, he lays out three darned plausible reasons why he’s willing to spill his secrets for a relatively small amount of money. Even a seriously jaded copywriters like myself will come away from this site with a warm, fuzzy feeling about the seller and his product. It’s easy to believe that he really wants you to conquer the apartment world just as he has.

He also offers a free special report and captures the email address of the prospect.

5. User Testimonials – F

Maybe I missed them, but there appears to be a complete lack of testimonials on this site. He mentions how his students come up to him at various venues around the country and tell him how he’s changed their lives. But as far as I could see, they aren’t given a chance to tell the rest of the world. This kind of landing page product screams for testimonials. Mr. Lindahl needs to prevail upon those students to volunteer for streaming video, full name and city testimonials and put them up front in the site. It’s the least they can do for the guy who changed their lives and made them rich.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Links to the order flow abound on this landing page. Like everything else on this page, the focus is to get the prospect sold early and make it easy to order.

7. Labeling and Language – A

This is “plain folks” writing at its best. The language is easy to understand for any reader, but it doesn’t talk down to anybody. The benefits are clearly stated, the headlines are easy to understand, and just about anyone above a third-grade reading level can cruise through the page and figure out what’s going on. There is no confusion regarding what the product and the offer are all about.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

The typefaces are easy to deal with and the letter is easy to read and understand. There is plenty of call to action copy. I see no problems at all in this regard.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – C

There is definitely no run-for-your-lives urgency to this letter. In fact, the only element of urgency is an implied, “How long do you want to be poor?” message that relies on the reader to supply the urgency. I’d like to see a bit more plainly articulated urgency. He does supply a little intensity with the $24.50 look-it-over-for-30-days offer when he explains that he might pull the offer at any time…even tomorrow. But that’s buried in the copy. It would be more effective in the boxed headline.

10. Load Time – A

Loading time was well within the 15 seconds the Mequoda Scorecard recommends.

11. Aesthetics – B

I like the photo of Mr. Lindahl and for the most part the site is pleasant to look at and easy to read. Toward the end of the letter when he’s explaining the various deals he’s offering, I felt he could have used a bit of design help. It looked like the information was just typed in and hit with some highlighter color swatches. The copy seemed daunting to read and easy to skip over because of it.

I like the photo of Mr. Lindahl and for the most part the site is pleasant to look at and easy to read.

12. Order Options – B

Basically, the order options are not difficult to understand, but the descriptions could be presented more clearly…possibly with bullet points. I particularly liked the $24.50 offer for prospects who want to dip their toes into less expensive waters before deciding. I also liked the guarantee, although it could come a little earlier in the letter.

Conclusion

This is a convincing landing page. It really only needs a little tidying up design-wise and some good testimonials to make it an extremely convincing landing page.

RealtorMarketingTips.com Landing Page Review

My friend Fred Gleeck, the Internet marketing guru, says that if all you do to get people to sign up for your free e-zine is have a tiny box on your main website in which they enter their email address, you are probably failing to build your e-list as rapidly and cost-effectively as you could. “I get people all the time who tell me they have 300,000 visitors a month, and when I ask how many sign-ups they get for their e-zine from all that traffic, it’s something like 300,” says Fred. “They think that’s terrific, but it’s really abysmal.”

Fred recommends driving traffic not to the homepage of your main website, typically a brochure or portal website, but to a dedicated URL designed specifically to generate a large volume of sign-ups to your free e-zine. And that’s exactly the strategy used at RealtorMarketingTips.com, the subject of this month’s landing page review.

  • I like the idea that this e-newsletter gives you content that previously cost $147. It establishes a dollar value for the e-newsletter, something most e-zine publishers, including myself, fail to do.
  • Online copywriter Harlan Kilstein warns that having a link too early in the sales copy on your landing page can actually depress conversion rates—what happens, says Harlan, is that someone clicks to the order form before he is sold and when he gets to the order page, he is not ready to buy, and abandons both the transaction and the landing page.
  • The site operator should replace the annoying pop-up with a pop-under. That way, visitors can read the site copy unobstructed and if they attempt to leave without subscribing to the e-newsletter, they would be served a pop-under telling them to sign up for their free newsletter.
  • The major flaw of the RealtorMarketingTips.com site is that it claims email marketing is a great lead generating tool for realtors—but it fails to prove that this is true.
  • This is a better-than-average but not stellar example of a landing page dedicated 100 percent to a free e-newsletter subscription offer.

RealtorMarketingTips.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The copy for the headline is solid and on target, if perhaps a little clunky.

The “eyebrow”—the introductory copy above the main headline—reads, “Finally, a MARKETING NEWSLETTER for Real Estate Agents that is based on research and includes pages and pages of tried and true secrets no one wants you to know.”

Let’s analyze this copy phrase by phrase, starting with “finally,” which is a strong word, because it lets readers know that this is new and exclusive.

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“Marketing Newsletter” is a weak phase. Nobody needs another newsletter. Much better would be terms like tips, strategies, techniques, system, method, and ideas—all signifying value and potential benefit (e.g., “a proven marketing system for real estate agents”).

Also, the newsletter is free, so the word FREE should be prominent in the eyebrow copy.

“Based on true research” is good, but saying that these tips are based on proven, real-world selling methods of extremely successful real estate agents would be better.

“Pages and pages” is a turn off. The busy reader does not want e-newsletters to go on for pages and pages. He wants quick, pithy, pragmatic tips.

I would change “secrets no one wants you to know” to “secrets your competitors don’t want you to know.”

Now let’s look at the headline, “Discover how to become a next generation agent with proven eMarketing secrets—a $147 eBook is now available free.”

“Discover” is a strong action verb. But I have no idea what a “next-generation agent” is. I would change it to read, “Discover How to Become a Million-Dollar Real Estate Agent….”

Instead of “proven eMarketing secrets,” just say “proven marketing secrets.” I would wait a bit to reveal the fact that these strategies are all about email marketing. Tipping your hand too early turns off real estate agents who want to make more money, but who are not yet into Internet marketing.

I do like the idea that this e-newsletter gives you content that previously cost $147. It establishes a dollar value for the e-newsletter, something most e-zine publishers, including myself, fail to do.

Let’s analyze this copy, starting with “finally,” which is a strong word, because it lets readers know that this is new and exclusive. “Marketing Newsletter” is a weak phase. Nobody needs another newsletter. Much better would be terms like tips, strategies, techniques, system, method, and ideas—all signifying value and poten- tial benefit (e.g., “a proven marketing system for real estate agents”). Also, the newsletter is free, so the word FREE should be prominent in the eyebrow copy.

2. Story and Content – B

The lead paragraph expands on the value proposition: the content given here has been sold for $147 to others, but now you are getting it free.

Further proof of its value is that the publisher spent three years researching the marketing methods presented.

The copy explaining why the site is giving away its $147 eBook content for free isn’t clear to me.

The copy says, “We HAD to.” But it is never really explained why, in fact, they feel compelled to give this content away.

The visitor is not naïve. He knows the website operator is giving away a free e-newsletter to sell something else, or make money in some other way.

A more honest and credible approach would have been to reveal the business model for the website. Visitors don’t mind knowing you are making money by giving them content, as long as you are honest about it.

3. Content Webification – B

The material on this site is nicely arranged for the visitor’s use.

The main section of the site is a long-copy (actually, more of a medium-copy) sales letter promoting the free e-newsletter.

There is a link at the end of the sales copy you can click on to subscribe to the e-newsletter. But there is also a sign-up box presented earlier in the text, plus another “Sign Up” link at the top of the page.

Having multiple sign-up links within a long-copy landing page usually but not always increases conversions. The idea is that the person who needs to read a lot of copy to be sold can do so—and sign up when he is done. But the person who is ready to order now can click to sign up immediately, without being forced to scroll through all that copy.

However, online copywriter Harlan Kilstein warns that having a link too early in the sales copy can actually depress conversion rates. What happens, says Harlan, is that someone clicks to the order form before he is sold. When he gets to the order page, he is not ready to buy, and abandons both the transaction and the landing page.

So you should test where and how many links to the transaction page to have in any long-copy landing page.

Below the eyebrow and above the headline is a photo of Tommy Sczygielski, identified only as “The Surfing Agent.”

But the sales letter is not signed by Tommy. So why is he shown here? What is his relation to the e-newsletter? Is he the editor, author, or publisher?

Also, what exactly does “The Surfing Agent” mean? Does he sell search engine traffic to real estate agents looking for leads? Or does he run a surf shop?

There are buttons above Tommy’s picture that look like an audio player. But when I clicked on them, they didn’t work. If they activate an audio, the copy “Click here to play audio” should appear near the buttons.

At the top, there are some menu choices. In addition to the Sign Up link, you can click to view testimonials, learn more, license the e-newsletter to your site or find out more about the site operator.

Below the eyebrow and above the headline is a photo of Tommy Sczygielski, identified only as “The Surfing Agent.” But the sales letter is not signed by Tommy. So why is he shown here? What is his relation to the e-newsletter? Is he the editor, author, or publisher? There are buttons above Tommy’s picture that look like an audio player. But when I clicked on them, they didn’t work. If they activate an audio, the copy “Click hereto play audio” should appear near the buttons.

4. Email Capture – B

As soon as you click onto the site, an annoying pop-up window—containing a sign-up box for the e-newsletter—slides down from the top, blocking your view of the screen.

Amazingly, I was unable to fill in this subscription box: it kept moving down as I moved my cursor, and I wasn’t allowed to complete all of the fields.

The site operator should get rid of this pop-up and replace it with a pop-under.

That way, visitors can read the site copy unobstructed. If they attempt to leave the site without subscribing to the e-newsletter, then they would be served a pop-under window telling them to sign up for their free newsletter before they leave.

However, one can “Close” this box out, and the signup is offered again in the main body of the story.

As soon as you click onto the site, an annoying pop-up window—containing a sign-up box for the e-newsletter—slides down from the top, blocking your view of the screen.

5. User Testimonials – B

There are testimonials on the left column of the homepage as well as more testimonials on a separate page you can access by clicking on the Testimonials button at the top of the homepage.

I rate these testimonials a B instead of an A. They are a B because they praise the newsletter being offered. They would have been an A if the realtors giving the testimonials said they had actually made more money using the advice in the e-newsletter.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

As mentioned, there are multiple links from the homepage to the subscription form—at the top, early in the sales copy, and at the end of the sales letter. So wherever you are on the site, it’s quick and easy to decide, “I want to get this,” click on a link, fill in your information, and subscribe to the newsletter.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The various sections and links are labeled using conventional language the user is familiar with and understands: sign up, testimonials, about us. The site is easy to use and navigate.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The layout for this landing page is clear, clean and conventional. The main flaw is that there is no connection made between the copy and the photo of Tommy. If this is his site, and these are his methods and tips—based on his super-successful career as a real estate agent who has mastered Internet marketing—the reader doesn’t know about it.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

Most e-newsletter sign-up sites are fairly static and infrequently updated—and that looks to be the case here.

The copywriter has missed an opportunity to create a sense of urgency, which is this: if you are a real estate agent, email marketing can be an extremely effective tool for you. But most real estate agents haven’t discovered it.

If you sign up now and start using these email marketing techniques, you can get in ahead of your competitors and scoop up the early profits. If you wait, the Internet will become flooded with real estate email marketing—as it is already overcrowded with mortgage and Viagra spam—and you will have lost out on a ground floor opportunity.

10. Load Time – A

To measure how quickly a website downloads on various Internet connections, we turn to our trusty online tool, the Web Page Analyzer.

According to this tool, the landing page downloads in 8.17 seconds over a 56K Internet connection. Not surprising, given that the site has a simple purpose—getting e-newsletter subscriptions—and therefore is relatively small.

11. Aesthetics – B

The simplicity of the site design fits its purpose—sign-ups for a free e-newsletter—so I give it a B. The visual appeal could certainly be enhanced with the appropriate graphics: testimonials with photos from realtors praising the system, or reproductions of fat commission checks they earned with these methods.

RealtorMarketingTips.com

12. Order Options – B

The only “order” option is to sign up for the e-newsletter, and the entire site is focused on driving visitors to the online subscription sign-up form—just as it should be.

Conclusion

This is a better-than-average but not stellar example of a website dedicated 100 percent to a free e-newsletter subscription offer.

Aside from the other criticisms already noted, the major flaw of the site is that it claims email marketing is a great lead generating tool for realtors—but it fails to prove that this is true.

I was impressed to learn that Internet users search for realtors online more than 10 million times a month, and yet less than five percent of realtors use email marketing. Clearly there is an opportunity here to gain an edge as a realtor using the Internet.

But the proof points showing that email marketing works, such as the DoubleClick study cited in the copy, all apply to email marketing in general. What’s missing is specific proof that email marketing actually works in generating leads and commissions for working real estate agents today.

Instant Real Estate Newsletter Landing Page Review

If you want a good example of a soft offer in direct response advertising, all you have to do is pick up a copy of the National Enquirer at your local supermarket. (Yes, yes, I know you scan “only” the cover and the headlines, but wouldn’t dare buy one.) But if you did—and you actually read some of the advertisements inside, you’d come across a strong two-step method of getting a targeted prospect to raise his/her hand.

Then you could capture the prospect’s interest with an offer such as “FREE Report: Ten Proven Ways To Get The IRS Off Your Back Forever!”

The report would direct the prospect to send a S.A.S.E. for the report. If the prospect took the time to mail it, then you knew you had either a) someone who likes FREE things or b) someone who likes free things and has the IRS after them. This “loss leader” method allows the marketer to use your address and contact you in the future, for such things as perhaps selling you an audit proof tax course. Using a focused niche market as its target, InstantRealEstateNewsletter.com landing page uses this two step method, but more importantly—now you can too.

  • Kris KNOWS her audience well, but there could have been some urgency on this landing page—such as “get the information NOW before your competitors do…” or perhaps giving a deadline to get the information
  • The copy on this landing page, for the most part, is engaging and successfully gives benefits to the reader and shows them how their professional life is going to improve exponentially with the customized newsletter that they’ll give their clients
  • Effective, strong testimonials with photos and voice clips of “happy campers” who have purchased the newsletter are important sellers—voice, print and photos help
  • The short-copy landing page along with the main landing and order page are presented to the reader in an easy, understandable way—but personally, I’d like to see a font other than “Times New Roman”
  • Strong copy, excellent offer and a decent graphic layout. Marketers might want to try this two step method for their own landing page campaign to see if it works for them

InstantRealEstateNewsletter.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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Introduction

Mark Victor Hansen always says a person should become “rich within their niche.” I agree. (Mark is also man who knows how to brand himself and who also likes rhymes.) Kris Asquith, owner of InstantRealEstateNewsletter.com brands herself (with an personal audio clip speaking directly to her audience) as well as with her landing site, to solve the prospect’s big time problem.

As you know Real Estate marketers are all over the Internet. There’s the: Buying, Fixing, Flipping Method… Buying and Holding Method, No Money Down Method, Using Your Brother-In-Law’s Money Method etc. And now you have a site that deals primarily with the pain of the rest estate agent: how they can get clients.

Kris, being a real estate agent (or a former one), knows first hand the pain that her brethren go through and decided to create a solution for them: showing other real estate agents how to keep in contact with new prospects and former clients via an information newsletter that can be customized for them. This is a take off of Yanik Silver’s InstantSalesLetter.com site.

Let’s look at the first headline of the short landing page that targets the prospect: the beleaguer tired, aggravated real estate agent.

1. Headline – B

If You’re Sick and Tired of Cold Calling and Begging for Business or Cut Your Fees to the Bone Just to Get the Deal or Wasting Time and Money on “Dead-End” Leads, Then I Urge You To Listen Up…

“Introducing ‘Done For You’ Newsletter That Is Guaranteed To Fill Your Pipeline With Highly-Qualified Buyers And Sellers With No Cold Calls and Absolutely No Pressure Or Rejection!”

Just Fill In A Few Blanks And Voila… Out Pops A Brilliantly Worded And Perfectly Crafted Newsletter 100% Customized For You!

BOOM! POW! No… that’s not sound effects from the old Batman series… it’s the sound a pretty strong headline—with an effective lead that grabs the prospect by the shoulders and hits his hot buttons with a stun gun. Kris KNOWS her audience well. I only gave it a B because there could have been some urgency—such as “get the information NOW before your competitors do…” or perhaps giving a deadline to get the information.

For better or worse, Kris WANTS your email address… NOW! And will give you the information to take away your pain, if you hand it over to her.

Here’s what got my attention with this landing page. Normally when someone tells you that you’re going “to receive information” that can benefit you, one thinks it’s a report or e-book that’s coming their way. Uh, uh, uh… and with this headline that’s what you “think” you’re going to get. The copy doesn’t say it, it (ahem, clears throat) implies it.

You see, what happens next is that you’re whisked in a matter of seconds to a longer landing sales site. Yes, you, as the prospect, who has given your email address is now going to get the information in the form of a long sales letter telling about an offer that will change the way you do business. Once you get to the site… the homepage is basically the same as the short landing site, which I am sure saved Kris money with her designer.

Kris KNOWS her audience well. I only gave it a B because there could have been some urgency—such as “get the information NOW before your competitors do…” or perhaps giving a deadline to get the information.

2. Story and Content – A

Impressive. Kris knows her audience’s wants, needs and desires and what keeps them up at night. That’s getting and keeping more clients. One cost effective way to do that is to market a customized newsletter to them. The writer gives a convincing argument on the benefits of this particular newsletter and in the way that it’s prepared for the real estate agent every month. At the same time, the copy shows them how they’ll have the freedom to work on their business and NOT worry about writing that newsletter.

3. Content Webification – B

The copy, for the most part, is engaging and successfully gives benefits to the reader and shows them how their professional life is going to improve exponentially with the customized newsletter that they’ll give their clients. The graphics are appealing, but doesn’t “wow” me. Yes, they “attract and do not distract.” And there I go rhyming like Mark Victor Hansen. ALTHOUGH (Uh,oh… he’s using caps so this must be important)… the only way to get back into the site is to go back to the short landing page, place your email into the box which will directly take you the sales page. You can bypass this by bookmarking the site at InstantRealEstateNewsletter.com. How many prospects are lost by making them take this extra step, I don’t know.

4. Email Capture – A

Short form to long landing page—in a snap! This market strategy piqued my interest. As stated before, the marketer gets your email address immediately and refuses to give you the info until you “give it up”—the address, that is.

But I would have had a POP-UP available (anyway), so when the prospect clicked away they would be offered another FREEBIE—that would go right into their mail box again. I imagine the marketer felt that since they got the reader’s email address, no other tactic was needed. It didn’t have any fallback bonus that the freebie would give, but, in essence, it didn’t need one, because they got the address. Mission Accomplished.

5. User Testimonials – A

Effective, strong testimonials with photos and voice clips of “happy campers” who have purchased the newsletter are important sellers. The higher the perceived value of a product or service is, the more engaging and believable your testimonials should be. Voice, print and photos help. And they’re here.

Effective, strong testimonials with photos and voice clips of “happy campers” who have purchased the newsletter are important sellers.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

The links get the job done and are simple to follow. You’re teased with short copy, taken to long copy and the selling process begins. Kris puts her full address and all pertinent contact information at the bottom of the site so that the potential customers know that she’s the real deal. There’s an offer of a free $1 trial period for the newsletter—which I feel is an effective sales tool—along with the “click here to order” button. But I’d prefer to place it more throughout the copy, instead of near the end of the piece.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Labeling and language are easy to follow. The “usual suspects” of copywriting and marketing are present in this sales piece—”Order,” “Click Here,” “bonuses,” “Double guarantee,” “I’m taking all the risk here,” etc.

8. Readability and Content Density – B

I found this site pretty easy to read. The short-copy landing page along with the main landing and order page are presented to the reader in an easy, understandable way. Personally, I’d like to see a font other than “Times New Roman.” In this direct response piece, there aren’t many graphics, except of the newsletters that keep my eyes glued to the screen.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

This is a powerfully written sales piece. but one needs more urgency to “help” close the deal. When they order they get a FREE e-course, but no other freebie except what they get in their mail box earlier for giving Kris their email address.

We all love freebies, don’t we? And we know that to get them we have to act FAST! There should be a nice freebie that the customer gets if they act by a certain date.

10. Load Time – A

Pretty fast-loading site. That goes for short copy and long copy page.

This is a fast-loading website. When tested on Web Page Analyzer, the front-end, short-copy introductory landing page downloaded in just 1.67 seconds over a 56K connection, while the long copy version downloaded in 26.55 seconds.

11. Aesthetics – B

As on many other effective landing sites, this long copy has bulletin lists and smartly uses what little graphics it has. Again, I’d like the font to be bigger. Graphics? I would have shown naked merry real estate agents dancing around a bonfire throwing dollar bills in the air, thrilled that they got my clients all from the newsletter.

OK, not really. I just wanted to see if you were still reading. But you get the idea. Graphics are so important to the sales equation: people take information in by feeling, reading and listening. Excite all the senses for optimal results. Remember: this is your Web presence, exploit it as best you can.

Make no mistake: people aren’t interested in your product or service. They’re interested in the results they’re going to get from using it. Show your reader the results of what their life will be AFTER they order your product or service.

Instant Real Estate Newsletter’s Homepage

12. Order Options – C

It does have a secure ordering device. It should and it doesn’t, as I stated earlier, ask for the sale enough times. The landing page isn’t doing enough to get the prospect to the ORDER page quick enough. Sometimes a reader will have read enough copy—gotten enough information—and wants to buy NOW! So this site should provide the prospect ample opportunity to do that.

Conclusion

I liked this short and long copy landing site(s). It captured the email address swiftly which will send information to the prospect by getting them to the sales page and then an auto responder that will hit their mailbox. Once Kris gets their email they will continue to get follow up information. (I did.)

Strong copy, excellent offer and a decent graphic layout. Marketers might want to try this two step method for their own campaign to see if it works for them.

Web Usability for Senior Citizens Landing Page Review

Reviewing a website published by Jakob Nielsen is a little like giving driving lessons to your father. It feels as though the roles ought to be reversed. Nielsen has a Ph.D. and holds 78 U.S. patents, most of them on ways for making the Internet easier to use. I, ahem, do not. The New York Times calls Nielsen “the guru of webpage usability.” U.S. News & World Report calls him the world’s leading expert on web usability.” A popular German publication calls him “the world’s leading expert on user-friendly design.”

You get the idea. Nielsen and his colleagues have impressive credentials and a world of experience in website design and usability. Much of that experience came from usability testing. Their conclusions are based on good measurement. Then again, so is the Mequoda System, which is a model based on measurable good practices. So I approached the task of reviewing a sales landing page for Nielsen’s new report, Web Usability for Senior Citizens: 46 Design Guidelines Based on Usability Studies with People Age 65 and Older, with due respect, but not intimidation. I look at it this way: None of us is perfect. Regardless of how loudly we proclaim our values, each of us fails to achieve perfection in our work, despite our best intentions. Moreover, even the best physician cannot remove his own appendix. Despite being an advertisement for a product by the legendary Jakob Nielsen, the Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page is far from perfect. Here’s how I rate it using the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

  • Even when the product is a report that is self-described by its title, you need to state a compelling benefit in the headline—this landing page headline does not
  • They have followed their own advice with regard to graphic design—they know how to make a website that is both functional and attractive
  • This site does not benefit from the testimonials of others who have bought the report. It does, however, list some of the companies that participated in the usability testing—they help add credibility
  • The Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page loads in 4.20 seconds at 56K according to the webpage analyzer—outstanding!
  • While the Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page does not conform to my model of what a good sales page/landing page ought to be, owing to the credentials of Jakob Nielsen, the report’s author, it probably succeeds in spite of itself

NNGroup’s Web Usability for Senior Citizens Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

Here’s a lesson from Advertising 101: the name of your business or product is not a headline for your advertisement. Even when the product is a report that is self-described by its title, you need to state a compelling benefit in the headline. This landing page headline does not. It’s weak and unimaginative. It’s not creative because it doesn’t sell. It doesn’t sell because it doesn’t answer the user’s first question, which is inevitably, “What’s in it for me?”

Perhaps when you’re the Nielsen Norman Group, you feel your product stands on its own and doesn’t need any hype. I disagree. Even if The New York Times calls you the world’s foremost expert, you need to tell your potential customer what the benefits of your product are. In addition, you need to give them reasons to make a preferential decision in favor of your product or service.

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The Ford Motor Company has one of the strongest brands in the world, but that doesn’t stop them from aggressively advertising their products to the tune of several millions of dollars a week. Reputation and name recognition alone are not nearly enough.

2. Story & Content – D

The lead sentence of the Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page sales letter is so tired, it contains a typo that makes it ungrammatical. Yawn. Did anybody even bother to proofread this website?

The letter does tell a short story, but the storyteller is not identified. The story is believable, but far from compelling. The whole effort is an exercise in how to put your audience to sleep.

I’m betting nobody bought this report based on this landing page sales letter. They may have decided, for reasons of their own, that they need the information in this report. However, this sales letter didn’t win over any skeptics.

I’ll bet sales letters to morticians have more energy.

The lead sentence of the landing page sales letter is so tired, it contains a typo that makes it ungrammatical.

3. Content Webification – C

OK, so if you’re determined to buy Web Usability for Senior Citizens: 46 Design Guidelines Based on Usability Studies with People Age 65 and Older you can download it immediately after entering your credit card details. Standard stuff.

The order page includes a convenient currency converter. That’s cool. Otherwise, this site is not exactly cutting-edge high tech.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – F

There is absolutely no attempt to capture the user’s email address or otherwise request permission to contact them until they get to the order page and enters their credit card details.

5. User Testimonials – D

This site does not benefit from the testimonials of others who have bought the report. It does, however, list some of the companies (Bristol-Myers Squibb; Charles Schwab, etc.) that participated in the usability testing. They help add credibility.

Additionally, there are hypertext links to press coverage on the topic of Web usability for senior citizens, but not to specific reviews of this Nielsen Norman Group report.

This site does not benefit from the testimonials of others who have bought the report. It does, however, list some of the companies (Bristol-Myers Squibb; Charles Schwab, etc.) that participated in the usability testing. They help add credibility.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

The standard icon for an Adobe Acrobat PDF download is displayed, along with the words “Download Report,” which is an obvious hypertext link. There is no attractive “Order Now” button or any other more demonstrative device present.

The order flow to the shopping cart page is direct and clear.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Overall, the sales letter uses clear language and avoids terms not commonly understood by target users. There is some inexcusable carelessness relative to grammar and spelling.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

The first thing that strikes a visitor to the Nielsen Norman Group website is the elegance of the sans-serif typeface in relation to the white space. I’ve viewed this site in three different browsers and with every available optional font size and it never looks horsy.

These folks have read their own books and followed their own advice with regard to graphic design, at least. They know how to make a website that is both functional and attractive.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – A

“In the United States alone, 12 million people older than 65 were online as of October 2005,” states the Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page. As this Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page review is being written during the first week of October 2005, the site is certainly timely and current.

How often the site is changed is anybody’s guess. When I consulted the Internet Archive, a.k.a., “The Way Back Machine,” I received the following message: “We’re sorry, access has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.” That’s a means by which website publishers can instruct automated systems not to crawl their sites.

I found this very curious. Most website publishers work very hard at search engine optimization because they desperately want their site to be crawled and indexed. At useit.com: Jakob Nielsen’s website (another one) on usability and Web design, there do not appear to be any systems in place to prevent spiders from crawling the site. The sites rank one and two for a Google search of “Jakob Nielsen.”

10. Load Time – A

The Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page loads in 4.20 seconds at 56K according to the webpage analyzer.

Outstanding! Lightning fast because there are no graphics on the page. No room for improvement here.

11. Aesthetics – A

This site is designed entirely with typography and uses no graphic images. Its aesthetic appeal is based on the designer’s deft use of type and white space. It reflects the Swiss school of design. It’s very clean and functional. Commendable. (See #8 above.)

12. Order Options – D

The product is a $125 downloadable report in the Portable Document Format. A site license is $260. The order flow is clear and straightforward. The user can only pay via credit card. There is a convenient currency converter built into the site.

Surprisingly, there are no options for fax orders, bill me, or pay-by-check. There is no toll-free number for telephone orders. Not very accommodating, especially considering the audience and authors.

The product is a $125 downloadable report in the Portable Document Format. The order flow is clear and straightforward. The user can only pay via credit card.

Conclusion

I come from a school of marketing that believes “it’s not creative unless it sells.”

My beliefs include:

  1. Great graphic design is subordinate to copy writing.
  2. A headline is an advertisement for an advertisement.
  3. Clever headlines are only appropriate if they move the reader to go further into the text.
  4. Benefits are far more important than features.

For me, these are fundamental beliefs about the craft of marketing, in which I have worked for much of my adult life.

The Usability for Senior Citizens Report landing page does not conform to my model of what a good sales page/landing page ought to be.

Nevertheless, owing to the credentials of Jakob Nielsen, the report’s author, it probably succeeds in spite of itself.

Doctor Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs Landing Page Review

Doctor Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs Landing Page by Agora Demonstrates How Traditional Long Copy, Captivating Headlines and Effective Story Telling Convince Readers to Buy

Let me preface this review by confessing that I’m a big fan of the Agora Company’s approach to Internet marketing. Maybe it’s because I started out as a direct mail copywriter and I appreciate the way they’ve taken some of the best parts of that copywriting style and applied it to the age of electronic communications. Maybe I admire the millions of dollars they earn doing it. Or perhaps I just like the way they tell a story.

Whatever the reason, I found the landing page for Doctor Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs extremely interesting and very appealing. But that’s just me. Let’s see how the landing page stacks up when seen through the eyes of the Mequoda Scorecard:

  • This kind of shotgun approach to headlines and subheads in landing pages is quite effective—you can almost hear the paradigms shifting
  • The most important technical gizmo needed here is the scroll bar so that readers can cut to the chase and order the product—with that in mind, I’d like to see more “order now” buttons sprinkled through the letter copy
  • The lack of testimonials works against Real Health Breakthrough’s credibility—as a prospect, I would find considerable comfort in knowing that somebody else in the world has tried the doctor’s advice and come through it a more healthy person
  • There is a lot of blue copy, which I, and almost everyone else who surfs the Internet, take to be clickable links—in this case, they are not… just pretty blue type that looks good but has no additional function
  • This landing page is another in a long line of effective, money-generating landing page sales letters by the Agora folks

Doctor Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

It’s a little hard to isolate a single benefit headline on their first page. The obvious headline proclaims “I haven’t had a glass of water in 20 years…” and follows up with the news that drinking too much water can bring on strokes, kidney failure and early Alzheimer’s. Okay…you have my attention with that. Several other subheads ponder questions like “Is your cholesterol high enough?” “Are you eating enough salt?” and “Do you take in enough eggs and bacon?” So it’s pretty clear that the site’s strategic intent is to shake up the way the reader thinks about health and lifestyle-related issues. I might have encouraged the copywriter to move up the headline, “Believe it or not, you can live long and love every minute of it!” That’s some pretty heavy benefits-oriented writing. Nevertheless, this kind of shotgun approach to headlines and subheads is quite effective the way it is. You can almost hear the paradigms shifting.

This kind of shotgun approach to headlines and subheads is quite effective—you can almost hear the paradigms shifting.

2. Story and Content – A

When the Agora copywriters get their hands on an audience of “like-minded individuals” they know how to pour it on. If you’ve ever suspected that the health-care industry has been less than candid with you, you are going to love this sales letter. If you’ve ever distrusted the purveyors of “Mass Media Medicine,” you’re going to be standing up and cheering. Here’s a health-care professional—an M.D., no less—who advocates drinking beer and coffee, wants you to eat juicy steaks and says that vegetarians are “full of tofu.” The health-care industry, he says, has never been about making you healthy. It’s about making billions of dollars for giant corporations. In other words, a healthy individual is not a profit center… at least not as much as a sick person is. Even if you don’t totally believe the message, it’s easy to get on Dr. William Campbell Douglass’ side. It’s them against us… and apparently “they” are winning. Dr. Douglass is here to help. What could be a more compelling story?

3. Content Webification – B

You won’t see a lot of the latest Internet technology used on this site. No streaming video, etc. But I don’t really miss it. This is direct response copywriting in a long-copy format. About the most important technical gizmo needed here is the scroll bar so that readers can cut to the chase and order the product. With that in mind, I’d like to see more “order now” buttons sprinkled through the letter copy. I’ve noted this shortcoming in other Agora sites… often enough so I’m inclined to think they’re doing this on purpose. Given their financial successes, it’s not hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, if I were writing the letter there would be more of said buttons.

4. Relationship Building – A

I like the tone of the letter, the “Aw, come on” attitude toward the people who tell us how to live, eat, drink, etc. There’s no question that the good doctor is on the reader’s side against the scoundrels who would erode our good health and happiness for mere money. I also like the free sign-up for the Daily Dose and the fact that the daily email messages include politics along with health and medicine issues. Keeping in mind the reader’s relative level of paranoia is a good tactic here. Frequently pointing out the scary, duplicitous nature of medicine and politics is a very effective way to keep the prospect’s attention… especially if he or she already believes that there is mischief afoot in the corporate world.

I like the free sign-up for the Daily Dose and the fact that the daily email messages include politics along with health and medicine issues.

5. User Testimonials – F

I was very disappointed to find no testimonials whatsoever on this site. The very nature of the claims made by Dr. Douglass would seem to scream for testimonials. He’s telling us to cook our spinach in bacon grease and push Q-Tips up our noses to cure back pain. There is an abundance of pretty wild stuff throughout the letter. Conventional wisdom is taking a serious beating here and I—as a prospect—would find considerable comfort in knowing that somebody else in the world has tried the doctor’s advice and come through it a better, more healthy person. In fact, the lack of testimonials works against the letter’s credibility. That’s a shame, because if Dr. Douglass really has been saving (or at least improving) lives, it shouldn’t be difficult to find people who will testify to that fact.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

Although I would have liked more “order now” buttons throughout, there is no confusion as to the function of the order button and the order language once you get to the appropriate button at the end of the 27-page sales letter. It’s well done… I’d just like to see it done more often in the letter.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The language throughout is easy to understand. However, there is a lot of blue copy, which I—and almost everyone else who surfs the Internet—take to be clickable links. In this case, they are not… just pretty blue type that looks good but has no additional function. These would be great opportunities to zip the reader to an order form or to a testimonial section.

There is a lot of blue copy, which I—and almost everyone else who surfs the Internet—take to be clickable links. In this case, they are not… just pretty blue type that looks good but has no additional function.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

I found this to be an extremely readable letter. The language is very “common man” which plays well with the message of “us against the big corporations.”

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – D

I saw nothing here—other than the need to fix one’s health before it’s too late—to inspire any kind of order-now urgency. There’s no ticking clock counting down a snappy price reduction or any other reason I could see that would make me order today rather than wait until tomorrow or next month.

10. Load Time – A

The site loaded up quickly on my broadband service, and when checked on the Web Page Analyzer, it loaded in 13.28 seconds on a 56K, well within the 15 seconds specified in the Mequoda guidelines.

11. Aesthetics – A

This site is not hard to look at. I can’t say it’s a total thing of beauty, but there’s plenty of white space and the design does not get in the way of the letter’s message.

12. Order Options – B

I like the easily-understood order options… and they do provide a fax number and a toll-free number as an alternative to ordering electronically. Perhaps those options could have been a little more prominent… but at least they were there. That’s more than a lot of landing pages can claim.

They provide a fax number and a toll-free number as an alternative to ordering electronically.

Conclusion

This is another in a long line of effective, money-generating landing page sales letters by the Agora folks. Any shortcomings I’ve noted are probably more than overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information storytelling. Good job.

Jose Silva’s UltraMind System Landing Page Review

This week we’re looking at the landing page for Jose Silva and his Jose Silva UltraMind System. Here we face a particular challenge that pops up frequently in information marketing: how to best sell an author, expert or system that has been around a long time. On the plus side, Silva’s longevity means his methods have been extensively tested, read and used by thousands of people, and featured in major media for decades. These credentials make it easier to promote Silva as a credible expert vs. someone who is just trying to break into this market… as new people are doing all the time.

On the other hand, some readers may not know Silva at all, or worse, think of him as yesterday’s news. Consumers have an obsession with what’s new, and so the difficulty here is to introduce these ideas as new to the reader, yet tested and proven so you know they work.

  • The first problem here is one of strategic intent: I am not sure what the landing page is trying to sell me or what it is supposed to do
  • The main section of the landing page tells the story of Silva and his method, but it is poorly organized and disjointed, jumping from topic to topic
  • There are too many order options for too many offers and products, and they are confusing
  • The type is reasonably clear and readable, although the odd spacing and random changes in type size, font and style make the page graphically unappealing
  • Two words that best describe this site and its promotion of the Silva UltraMind System are “unfocused” and “schizophrenic”

LearnNaturalHealing.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

The first problem here is one of strategic intent: I am not sure what the site is trying to sell me or what it is supposed to do.

The main panel focuses on a free self-healing program. A photo at left of a meditating woman offers a free eBook and audio program. At the top, there are buttons for seminars and home study programs. Where is one supposed to start?

There are a number of ways to address this. If Silva has one lead product that they want to sell—such as the $129 home study course you can read about when you click the Home Study Button—they could do a traditional long-copy micro-site to sell that product (that’s actually what you see when you click on Home Study).

Or, they can offer a self-assessment test (like DeniseAustin.com) and then recommend the right product for you based on the result.

(For more information on the Denise Austin website, read Bob Bly’s DeniseAustin.com Website Design Review.)

The headline, “Master the Techniques of Holistic Faith Healing,” is weak. “Master” is a strong verb, but the phrase “the techniques of” is unnecessary.

“Faith healing” is a negative: it conjures images of Bible-belt preachers in tents healing crazed parishioners with snake bites. And it’s not what Silva means.

“Holistic” is equally weak. Most readers really don’t know what it means. And even for those who do, there’s little appeal or promised benefit.

What the headline lacks is the benefits you get from Silva’s system as it pertains to health: living longer and healthier lives, with less illness and pain.

This page will convert unique visitors at a high rate only if the majority of traffic was driven by searches on the term “holistic faith healing.” If traffic comes from other search terms—immune system, health, healing, mind body healing—it probably won’t work well.

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A banner above the headline contains the name of the method, “The Jose Silva UltraMind System,” with a picture of Silva. I would add a subhead or tagline under the product name that gives a capsule description of the system. And I would use a different photo of Silva; he looks kind of “out of it” in the one shown.

A banner above the headline contains the name of the method, “The Jose Silva UltraMind System,” with a picture of Silva… I would use a different photo, he looks kind of “out of it” in the one shown.

2. Story and Content – C

The main section of the website tells the story of Silva and his method, but it is poorly organized and disjointed, jumping from topic to topic. It lacks cohesiveness, does not flow well and just “presents information” without telling a compelling story or drawing the reader into the system.

The messy typography—with its seemingly random use of type styles, sizes, faces, boxes, indents and layout—reflects the out-of-kilter style of the copy.

I haven’t read Silva in a while, but from what I recall, his method can lead to widespread improvements in all aspects of your life, only one of which is health. If the intent of this site is to promote the Silva method only for health improvement—and the URL of www.learnnaturalhealing.com indicates that it is—then the site copy, graphics and design should be much more oriented toward health and healing.

For instance, the main page should have, within the central body copy, a group of testimonials from Silva readers who claim better health, more energy and less sickness as a result of following Silva’s methods.

I would include photos of these people along with their testimonials so we can see them. Show me the Silva user who can now dance even though before she was crippled by arthritis, or the former heart attack patient who just ran a marathon after doing the Silva method.

3. Content Webification – C

While the content has been well adapted for the Web through the use of images, layout and typography, they have made the page graphically unappealing due to odd spacing and random changes in type size, font and style.

4. Email Capture – C

When you are on the website, there are numerous free offers where you are given content in exchange for your email address. However, if you leave without taking any of these offers, you are not served a pop-under that makes a final offer (e.g., “Don’t leave yet … you can still claim your FREE REPORT”). According to our Mequoda guidelines, that’s a flaw.

5. User Testimonials – A

The website has multiple testimonials and related facts (e.g., a list of famous people who have used the system) that firmly establish Silva as an expert in his field.

But it’s not exactly crystal clear what that field is: self-help, holistic faith healing, visualization, mind-body healing, alpha, ultra mind, goal setting, mind training and almost a dozen other buzzwords are peppered throughout the copy. So although I know people are happy with Silva’s programs, I don’t know exactly what he can do for me.

The website has multiple testimonials and related facts (e.g., a list of famous people who have used the system) that firmly establish Silva as an expert in his field.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

There are too many order options for too many offers and products, and they are confusing. Also, not all the links and pages work.

When I clicked on the CLICK HERE text superimposed on the image of the meditating woman to get my “FREE Audio and eBook Training,” the page I was supposed to be served had expired.

When I clicked on “Get Free Training” at the top right of the banner with the clouds in the sky graphic, I was served a long-copy landing page on something called “Alpha Life.” Was this the same offer as the “free audio and eBook” training? It seemed so, but I couldn’t be sure.

On the Alpha page, a box in the left column instructs you to “Claim Your Free eBook” by just filling in your name and email address. But when I tried to scroll down the box to fill in my information, the box kept moving down with my cursor, and I could never get to the form, fill in the missing fields and submit my request.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The buttons on the website are clearly labeled in common online language the user understands: home, seminars, home study, testimonials, about us. The naming of the various products—both free and paid—is not clear. In one section, you are offered the “Alpha System.” In another, there’s the “ESP System.” And which of these is the “Holistic” system mentioned in the headline?

Does this inconsistency matter? Yes, because it confuses readers and makes you look uncertain of what you’re doing. Good writing is consistent in use of spelling, abbreviation, terminology, grammar and punctuation, and Web copy is no exception.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The site elements are sensibly laid out: a banner at the top of the homepage, with a menu of click buttons underneath. Click on those buttons and you go to various major sections.

The layout under the banner has a column at left and the main text at right—a common layout for webpages.

The type is reasonably clear and readable, although the odd spacing and random changes in type size, font and style make the page graphically unappealing.

The odd spacing and random changes in type size, font and style make the page graphically unappealing.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

I don’t see any of the common methods—a free e-zine, a blog, a “what’s new” section, a media room, an articles library, a streaming RSS news feed—for delivering fresh content to the reader. I get the sense that this is a static site: what’s on there now will be there months from now. If there is new content, it is not labeled as such.

10. Load Time – C

To measure how quickly a website downloads on various Internet connections, we turn to our trusty online tool at WebsiteOptimization.com.

The Silva URL scored a pitiful 91.53 seconds over a 56 K connection and even took 28.17 seconds over an ISDN 128K connection.

I’m slightly suspect of the measurement I got, because when I accessed the URL over my broadband connection, it loaded in a flash. Usually, sites that load instantly on my highspeed connection score 20 to 30 seconds on the tool for 56 K download. So maybe there was a glitch in the system that day, which is why I am giving Silva a C instead of an F—the benefit of a doubt.

11. Aesthetics – C

As I already mentioned, the long-copy typography in the main section of the site’s homepage is a bit clumsy and crude, randomly mixing type sizes, positioning and fonts. It’s not awful, but neither is it professional or appealing.

12. Order Options – C

Also as mentioned, there’s no clear path for the visitor to take, no guidance on which product you need, too many choices and multiple paths for what seems to be the same materials even though they are not clearly identified as such.

There’s no clear path for the visitor to take and too many choices.

Conclusion – C

Two words that best describe this site are “unfocused” and “schizophrenic.”

By unfocused, I mean that although they are clearly a health site, as indicated by the URL and the products they are offering, this doesn’t feel like a health-specific site. It looks and reads like a general Silva Method site with some casual health references thrown into a write-up of the system that is probably generic and reused from other sources.

By schizophrenic, I mean that I can’t tell where the site wants me to go, where they want to lead me and what they want me to do or buy. Is it a $129 information product? A live seminar? A free course?

Silva is a top expert in “mind control,” but he or his webmaster need to be in better control of the site.

21st Century Investor Landing Page Review

Naturally, investors of all shapes and sizes want a great ROI, which is why they spend a lot of money on investment newsletters. And as you’re well aware there’s no shortage of it online and off. The majority of investment newsletters we know and love primarily use long-copy landing pages to sell their products. This review is of an excellent company that’s been giving a plethora of information since 1997: 21st Century Investor.

This is not a landing page which usually uses a long sales letter as a vehicle to sell customers. Instead it’s a main portal page site that also includes sister subscription services such as 21st Alert21st Century Options,Erlanger Squeeze Play and Jim Patterson’s Tactical Trading Outlook among others.

  • The headline combines a strong, benefit-oriented promise and gives its targeted audience a Unique Selling Proposition
  • Because this isn’t a standard sales letter landing page, I would enjoy longer copy—although I am impressed with the premiums they offer on the product page to sign up for their other sister newsletters
  • One thing is certain about 21st Century Investor: they want you to order… and they want you to order NOW
  • This website certainly has their ordering options down very well—they have the Big Three: fax, toll-free phone and email, a practice we strongly suggest for landing pages
  • 21st Century Investor tells you how many issues you’ll get, and the standard 30-day money back guarantee is presented—a more compelling guarantee would have likely increased response

21stCenturyInvestor.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline – B

“100% Unbiased, Independent And Professional Analysis For Individual Investors,” is 21st Century’s headline, which is located in its masthead.

This headline not only combines a strong promise with a benefit for the reader, but 21st Century Investor gives its targeted audience (drum roll, please) a Unique Selling Proposition: a sense of empowerment so they can make their own investment decisions.

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Now don’t forget: a landing site delivers a compelling headline for a single product or service to compel the prospect to buy it. Now a main portal website, such as with this particular headline, shows us that its goal here is to give a strong benefit and brand itself into the hearts and minds of its future prospect.

Now I’m sure there are other subscription services that deliver unbiased, independent and professional analysis throughout their copy, but 21st Century is the one company that decided to present it right up front to its reader as its USP. The headline in the masthead is a broad promise, but it tells the future subscriber what’s in it for them. If this was for a particular product, such as at a mini site for a particular newsletter, then I’d make the headline more specific.

“With Our 100% Unbiased, Independent Professional Option Analysis We Had 23 Out of 24 Winners.” (Psst! We have four more that are ready to explode but you have to act NOW!)

2. Story and Content – B

This particular portal website does not rely on long copy to sell its services. In fact, this publisher uses editorial copy to lure the prospect in with brief teases of information of what a particular issue of 21st Investor will look like. Then when you click on it for more information, you’re then taken to a new page where you’re asked to put in your username and password (if you’re already a member) or the opportunity to subscribe. Personally, I’m a proponent of giving a longer story for copy, but again, that’s me.

Past experience has shown me that successful marketers such as 21st Century probably tested this model over and over again, which is why they’re using this teaser type of copy for their site. What concerns me is that they have on the side bar a headline that says: CHECK OUT ALL OF OUR NEW AND UPDATED SPECIAL REPORTS. Online prospects love to get information and 21st Century uses power buzz words to get you interested in reading more. But I imagine the reader goes there thinking they’re going to get “some steak,” but instead they get a nice little appetizer.

And that’s because when you click here for more information (after reading the enticing lead), you’re whisked to a page that asks for—you guessed it—your password and user name again or the opportunity for you to whip out your Visa card and sign up. With this strategy the publisher’s letting the prospect know, “See? If you were a member now… you’d be privy to this important financial information that our other cool subscribers have right now that will help them pay for the children’s education. So here’s your chance to sign up, have your kids LOVE you and join other hip and profitable investors.”

I would enjoy being courted by 21st Century Investor with longer copy—although I am impressed with the premiums they offer you on the product page to sign up for their other sister newsletters.

I am impressed with the premiums they offer you on the product page to sign up for their other sister newsletters.

3. Content Webification – B

OK, call the cliché police: 21st Century Investor “kills two birds with one stone.” Here’s why: some marketers prefer putting a column along the right margin with more information for the reader. Others prefer having a “click here for more information” (this usually works very well with long copy) through the sales piece. This newsletter does both and does it well. The marketer is always trying to get the reader to sign up for their newsletter.

4. Email Capture – F

There’s no pop-up window that appears when I click away from the site, nor is there any email capture on the home page. Please note for your own website: you should do your best to grab the email address of any human that visits your website either for your blog, ezine or to follow-up with auto responders.

5. User Testimonials – B

Strong testimonials. Yes, today’s customers are quite incredulous about any offers that are shoved down their throat and they’re especially incredulous when it comes to parting with their hard earned money. That’s why it’s important to have testimonials from other like minded people that’ll help the prospect make a wise purchasing decision. Testimonials found on this site are strong endorsements from happy subscribers. (Would you put disgruntled ones?) Although I feel they were “general” in their accolades—I would’ve preferred some specificity where they mention a particular stock play and the gains they had made on it. Testimonials are found on the subscription page. But, as you know, you go with what you get when it comes to testimonials.

I feel they were “general” in their accolades—I would’ve preferred some specificity where they mention a particular stock play and the gains they had made on it, but you go with what you get when it comes to testimonials.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Excellent links to order. One thing is certain about 21st Century Investor: they want you to order… and they want you to order NOW. Links to order are strategically placed throughout the site. There is a strong call-to-action on each page.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Even though this is a financial services website, it uses clear and easy-to-understand language. Not overtly hard sell or “hypey,” the use of the language gets you excited about the cutting investments that are on the horizon.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

Effective use of typeface and a design that is both inviting and not distracting. On the investor education link the designer used an animated photo of Alan “Mr. Happy Face” Greenspan which is probably more animated than The Fed Man is in real life. It certainly gets your attention and shows that 21st Century Investor has a sense of fun, particularly when it comes to investor education.

On the investor education link the designer used an animated photo of Alan “Mr. Happy Face” Greenspan which is probably more animated than The Fed Man is in real life. It certainly gets your attention.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – A

Some investor subscription sites, believe it or not, don’t keep up with economic trends or mention them at all. 21st Century Investor does. They’re extremely aware of what is going on in the geopolitical arena and address it right out of the gate on their homepage where they tantalize the reader about hurricane stocks. In fact, the whole essence of 21st Century Investor is identifying investment trends of the future so YOU, the prospect, can capitalize on them whether it’s in stocks or options:

    Discover Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders, Telecommunications Giants, And Breakthrough Biotechs Today Become a 21st Century InvestorEach month, over 30,000 individual investors and financial professionals rely on 21st Century Investor for original insight, unbiased recommendations, and impartial advice on the technology, telecommunications and biotech companies that are reshaping.

10. Load Time – A

Quick and precise. Something I wish my family would be when telling me a story.

11. Aesthetics – A

The design presented is to keep the reader involved with the copy and it accomplishes its goal. Again, most investment newsletters use long copy to engage the reader, overcoming any resistance they have, right up to the call-to-action. 21st Century Investor uses short “teaser copy” to get you to subscribe. It doesn’t highlight key words which you’ll find in hard sell landing sites.

The writer uses strong headlines for the small chunks of copy they present to the reader and gives them exciting and profitable trends in the investment world. BUT again, they don’t give you the whole story. It’s almost “tabloidesque” as they draw you in, get you excited of what your financial future is… and then… and then… THEN ask you to subscribe if you want the whole story. (Sigh.)

21stCenturyInvestor.com’s Homepage

12. Order Options – B

This website certainly has their ordering options down very well. They have the Big Three: fax, toll-free phone and email. Not only that, but on every page there’s a “click here to order button to subscribe NOW!” They don’t offer any freebie reports that other investment newsletters ethically bribe you with to get you to subscribe—except with 21st Alert where they provide over (count ’em folks) 15 investment freemiums.

This investment newsletter also tells you how many issues you’ll get, and of course, the standard 30-day money back guarantee is presented. I’d be curious to see what their response rate would be if their guarantee was more compelling.

If you are not completely delighted with 21st Century Investor, as a first-time subscriber you may cancel within 30 days and receive a full refund. You’ve got nothing to lose. Your subscription is fully guaranteed, and may be tax-deductible* as an investment expense.*Consult your tax advisor for details.

21st Century Investor also gives you an option to try any service for one month at $9.95 a month. This RISK FREE offer is to allow the subscriber a test drive. Works for me.

Conclusion

I liked this site and the information it presented to the reader. It involves the reader with its very extensive product list of investment newsletters. I would like to see more of the track record for each of the other newsletters, but again, this publisher uses teaser copy for its offer. I’d be interested in knowing what its conversion rate is. Overall, I give it a B.

Tax Loopholes of the Rich Landing Page Review

Mequoda guidelines outline the 12 characteristics a landing page needs to successfully close sales online. And to incorporate all 12 characteristics typically, at least for a consumer product, requires medium-to-long copy on that landing page. But should you send your traffic directly to that long-copy landing page? Or will visitors be put off by its length?

Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: when you are generating traffic from an ezine ad or solo email sent to your eList, you’re reaching an audience “trained” to read your stuff… and you can send them directly to your long-copy landing page. But when you generate traffic through Google Adwords and other pay-per-click advertising—or through organic search—those visitors have much less familiarity with you, and no demonstrated inclination to read long copy on your subject. An example of this two-step landing page approach is TaxLoopholesoftheRich.com.

  • For pay-per-click and search traffic, many successful Internet marketers use a two-step landing page process- you are first sent to a relatively short landing page requiring you to enter your email address and continue to read more and get more information
  • Once you enter your email address, you are taken to a traditional long-copy landing page selling the main offer, which promotes an information product, aimed at consumers, on how to save money on your taxes
  • When you visit the URL, you see a relatively brief landing page with a headline and six bullets promoting a free CD, which you have to enter your name and email address to receive
  • When you click, you are taken to a longer landing page where you are told how to get the free CD and are given two options for doing so
  • If you want to set up a two-step promotion, TaxLoopholesoftheRich.com provides a great model for you to follow and adapt

TaxLoopholesoftheRich.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The long landing page has a strong multi-part headline that, a) briefly credentializes the author, b) presents a strong testimonial up front, c) has a headline “Stop Over Paying Your Taxes and Throwing Your Money Away” and d) is followed by a subhead making a big promise—that the product is guaranteed to reduce your taxes by $10,000 or more—and also offering $547 worth of free bonus gifts.

The headline offers big benefits in an interesting and compellingly stated offer. The only reason I rate it a B instead of an A is that it’s missing a sense of urgency: there’s little reason to order now instead of later, aside from the vague, not-very-credible claim “quantities very limited.”

And it would be easy to add a real sense of urgency. You could put a time limit on the offer of the free bonus gifts. Or remind the reader that he has to put these tax-savings strategies into action NOW if he is to reduce his next tax bill. If he waits, he misses out on the tax savings for the year.


This is the headline for the short-copy landing page.


This is the headline for the long-copy landing page.

2. Story and Content – B

The content is strong, presenting a coherent argument on why you are paying too much in taxes, why you need this product right away and how it can reduce your tax payments and put more money in your pocket. Long, specific testimonials with photos of satisfied customers help convince the reader that the product does what the copy says it can do.

The story is not quite as strong. The promised theme is “Tax Loopholes of the Rich,” and the copy could have been made much stronger by telling a believable story of why rich people pay less taxes because they take advantage of loopholes others don’t, and how the product can help you benefit from these same loopholes even if you are not rich.

But this story is never told, and so the “big idea” behind this promotion—”Tax Loopholes of the Rich”—is never fully exploited.

3. Content Webification – B

The copy has been well adapted for the Web through the use of images, layout and typography. The free bonus CD has a graphically attractive cover, and this image is repeated throughout the landing page to stimulate visitors to click through to the order page.

4. Email Capture – B

If you enter this online promotion through the short copy front-end landing page, you must enter your email address to read further and go to the full sales letter on the long-copy landing page and order the product.

When you attempt to leave without doing so, you are served a pop-under that says “WAIT!” and once again makes the offer of the free CD.

The pop-under contains a button you can click, “ORDER NOW,” that takes you back to the order page. But it does not ask you to enter your email. No fallback offer is made (e.g., a free bonus report), in exchange for just the email address.

This pop-under is offered when users attempt to leave the page without signing up.

5. User Testimonials – A

The page has numerous strong, specific testimonials with pictures of satisfied customers.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

The sequence of events is clear, logical and easy to follow: a) you go to the front-end short landing page and enter your email address, b) you click to the long copy landing page, c) click to the order page where you can order the product, choosing from one of two offers and finally, d) you are taken to the transaction page where you can buy the offer you selected using your credit card.

The language is very familiar and easy to read.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Throughout the promotion, the language is in terms that online shoppers understand and respond to, e.g., “Order Now,” “Yours Free,” “Enter your name and email address to get your free CD that will quickly change your financial life.”

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The entire sequence of pages—front-end, short-copy landing page, main long-copy landing page, order page—is clearly laid out and easy to read. All pages also have the publisher’s snail mail address and toll-free phone number, further enhancing credibility.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

The landing page is powerful, but if there is a flaw, it is the lack of content freshness and urgency.

To increase content freshness, you could add to the section “you will become aware of” a few bullets referencing important new changes to the tax code.

To add a sense of urgency, see my comments in section #1 of this review about an expiration date for the offer—a deadline by which you must respond to get the free bonuses—or stressing that you will lose tax benefits unless you implement the strategies in the program in a timely manner (e.g., by the end of the current calendar year).

Here’s another technique that could add a sense of urgency to this site: put a counter at the top of the long-copy landing page that shows the countdown (number of days) until one of the two significant tax deadlines: December 31 or April 15.

In tiny type at the top of the long copy landing page it says “Quantities are limited.” But do you really believe it? The product is a CD, and if they run out, can’t they just burn more copies? If you say quantities of an information product are limited, you have to make that claim believable by explaining why this is so (e.g., “we have a limited supply, and once the inventory is gone, we will not be going back to press”).

10. Load Time – B

This is a fast-loading website. When tested on Web Page Analyzer, the front-end, short-copy introductory landing page downloaded in just 1.67 seconds over a 56K connection, while the long copy version downloaded in 26.55 seconds.

11. Aesthetics – B

The copy is clearly laid out, and the type is large and easy to read.

The landing page makes good use of relevant graphics, including showing an image of the free CD to stimulate orders, and photos of satisfied customers next to their testimonials.

What other visuals could possibly have been shown? Maybe images of big tax refund checks from the IRS, or a head shot of the product author.

12. Order Options – A

The long-copy landing page asks for the order several times throughout the page, showing an image of the FREE CD with a caption urging the visitor to order: “Get Your FREE CD Now! Tax Loopholes of the Rich! Yours Absolutely Free, Without Commitments, or Obligations.”

This is accompanied by prominent buttons labeled “ORDER NOW!” So the landing page is working hard to get you to click to the order page.

On the order page, you have two options for ordering. The first option sells you a “Wealth Accumulation” program for $47.99, which includes the promised “FREE CD” as a bonus. When you click on this option, you go to a clear, easy-to-use transaction page where you can order using your credit card.

The second option enables you to get just the CD for free as promised, although there is a $5.94 shipping and handling charge, which means the promoter is still making a sale and getting your credit card information.

Both options enable the promoter to get your credit card information due to the shipping cost on the free product.

Conclusion

This is a really strong promotion: good layout, good graphics, great copy, attractive offer.

If most of your traffic is generated from search engine optimization or pay-per-click traffic —and not email marketing to your house eList or online ads in your ezine – then you may want to test a two-step approach like this vs. sending your visitors directly to your long-copy landing page.

And if you want to set up a two-step promotion with a short, upfront landing page followed by a long-copy traditional landing page, TaxLoopholesoftheRich.com provides a great model for you to follow and adapt.

The Hume Report Landing Page Review

The Hume Group has been in the self-help education arena since 1974. Like Nightingale Conant, they’re one of the granddaddies of that genre. They specialize in providing financial security education with real estate and stay-at-home, do-it-yourself investment programs. To quote the company’s mission statement: Our goal is to help you achieve personal financial security with investments that are most suitable to your life… (works for me).
They’re a strong brick-and-mortar direct response company that market heavily in direct mail and are quite successful at it. You’ll know this is true if you get their offers in the mail. We applaud their off-line product line, but wonder why they’ve dropped the ball online.

  • More time and more specificity have to be shown with the headline to allow it to get into the hearts and minds of the prospect
  • Strong inviting copy should be the first thing that the reader sees, so they have the desire to hit other links
  • There isn’t any strong USP (Unique Selling Proposition) weaved throughout the copy
  • Their direct mail packages always include testimonials of satisfied, “now wealthy” customers—but online, testimonials are nowhere to be found
  • They have put all their energy into offline marketing and not enough time into their online presence—they should create a sense of an online community by offering an ezine or a blog

Introduction

I’m guilty as charged. I’m a junkie. A self-help junkie, that is. As a copywriter/author, I write for, market to and appreciate this arena of information. Throughout “my journey” (and notice how I just threw in that new age self-help phrase), I’ve had the pleasure of acquiring The Hume Group‘s superior programs over the years, which include commodities, stock market and real estate investing.

Their courses are the real deal and provide strong content which includes their company’s goal of educating the “Average Joe and Josie” so they can reach fulfillment and prosperity through investing. But whereas self-help advocates who believe everyday folks should improve their lives, The Hume Groupshould start with their (ouch!) own website.

This site is not far from making a real impact with online customers, but it needs a makeover.

The HumeGroup.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

Helping Americans Achieve Their Financial Goals Since 1974. Well loyal reader of the Mequoda Library reviews, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the site’s headline. It’s not. This copy is located near the company’s logo, off to the left and in a small font.

This is, in fact, the company’s “branding slogan.” The folks at The Hume Group mention 1974 to give the company credibility and to announce to their prospect, “Hey, we’re not some fly-by-night company. No sir. We’ve been in business since Nixon resigned, Starsky and Hutch was a hit series and gas prices were REALLY high.” (Déjà vu all over again?)

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Now the headline: the intention was admirable, but it missed the mark. Don’t forget the purpose of a headline. It’s the ad for YOUR ad in your website. Its job is to stop Mr. Busy Surfer Dude, or Dudette, in their tracks so they immediately know what’s in it for them. You do this by describing a strong benefit, or arousing such curiosity that they have no choice but to read about your offer.

Let’s look at “Take Control of Your Financial Future.” (beat… as I ponder) OK, is that a command? Is it giving me a solution to my problem? Of course I know I should take control of my financial future. But what’s of importance to me is if The Hume Group’s going to help me do it. More time and more specificity have to be shown with this headline to allow it to get into the hearts and minds of the prospect so they read further into the offer!

This headline does not offer me a solution to my problem.

2. Story and Content – C

In website copy you want to deliver as many benefits as you can and take your reader on a journey (there’s that phrase again). This is especially important when a) trying to motivate the future customer, and b) painting a picture in your reader’s mind of what their life will be like AFTER they purchase the product or service. On The Hume Group homepage are links that take you to the facts page, contact page, partner’s page and the all-important products page.

Strong, inviting copy should be the first thing that the reader sees, so they have the desire to hit other links.

On the products page you’d think they’d go into overdrive and present deeper, more meaningful copy that gives the reader strong product benefits, PLUS show how their lives will be drastically changed. But alas, it doesn’t happen. I would’ve had a strong headline to start the copy off, and then went with the title of the product, “Successful Investing & Money Management.”

Instead, the motivation to buy the product dropped harder than Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff chasing the Road Runner. Again, The Hume Group’s products are top-notch—their copy isn’t. Like the line from Jerry Maguire: I want you to “Show Me the Money!”

3. Content Webification – B

Simple and inviting in design. They specifically used the color green in their design for obvious reasons. The graphics of happy couples were used successfully here, but there isn’t a, “Wow, I have to surf this site for more goodies” type of feeling that I would’ve wanted. Again, the webmaster and the powers that be have to decide what their goals are for their site. Do they “just” want a Web presence? (For better or worse, they got it!) Do they want to sell their products? (Evidence shows they do not.)

Presently, there isn’t any strong USP (Unique Selling Proposition) weaved throughout the copy. And because there isn’t, there’s also no reason for the reader to bookmark this URL and come back again.

Once again, no strong call-to-action. When The Hume Group “teases” you to “click here” to know more at the products page, you think there’d be more inviting copy here. Instead, they tell you at the end of a short page of copy to call a toll-free number for more info.

They’re counting on the prospect to actually do that? Why aren’t they selling their product with the Internet real estate they’ve purchased? (He says, scratching his head in mock disbelief.)

They shouldn’t count on the prospect to call for more information. Instead, they should use the website real estate they’ve already purchased to do that.

4. Email Capture – F

Nada. Nunca. Goose egg. How can The Hume Group NOT want to capture the prospect’s email address so they can sell them later, or at least give them a free report? Enough said.

5. User Testimonials – F

As you know, The Hume Group‘s been in business since 1974 so they must be doing something right. I’ve received plenty of their direct mail where they succinctly use testimonials of satisfied, “now wealthy” customers. I am nonplussed as to why there aren’t any on this site. I would’ve at least liked to have read about their program instructors and their backgrounds.

6. Links to Order – B

Again, the site has no real, strong call-to-action. The links just take you to different parts of the site. Nothing more, nothing less. It does its job.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Clear and concise. No compelling reason to really spend a lot of time at this website, although the language in the copy they use is effective. Yes, you get a strong idea of what the site is about and what The Hume Group has to offer, but this reviewer feels that this particular website portal is really just a colorful online brochure.

Yes, you get a strong idea what the site is about, but this particular website portal is really just a colorful online brochure.

8. Readability and Content – C

Strong Web design, pleasing to the eye, but the copy is average with no strong bullets or subheads to keep the reader moving forward.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – F

I don’t see much freshness or uniqueness about the offer or the copy. The only urgency I get is at the end of the product description—the reminder to call their toll-free number to get more information on ordering their products. They do describe the other partners in business with them… just in case you want to deal with them, too.

10. Load Time – A

Not a lot of webpages to upload so the load time was excellent. Quick and breezy, just like my vacations.

11. Aesthetics – B

Very clean and easy to read. The website design comes off as a standard Web template.

12. Ordering Options – D

No ordering options here. No fax or email options for the prospect. Forgive me for being redundant as an Al Sharpton diatribe, but the only call-to-action you get is the message to call their toll-free number for more information on ordering their products. It seems this website is dealing more with image advertising that with direct response marketing.

If you want to improve your financial situation and you’re interested in taking a course in it, thenThe Hume Group “hopes” you’ll call the toll-free phone number and talk to a live operator who will answer questions (and God willing, sell you on the phone).

Conclusion

My feeling is that this fine company has put all their energy into offline marketing and certainly not enough time into their online presence. They haven’t created a sense of an online community by offering an ezine or a blog, and they should.

I found this to be a cool feature—the company has a glossary section for prospects to use if they want to look up financial terms.

This is a cool feature that allows prospects to search for financial terms.

The site doesn’t distract that much, but it doesn’t attract. They could get away with keeping the website design, but if they put more effort into expanding and improving their copy, the results could be staggering.

Overall I give this portal website a C.

The Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor Landing Page Review

There are a few glaring problems with the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor landing page. Mostly, they are not using effective copywriting techniques to sell this newsletter. Instead of promising readers a longer and healthier life, the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor landing page only manages to promise 2 free issues – something someone with a shelf already full of health information would not get overly excited about. Let’s see how else they do when run through the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard.

ClevelandClinic.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

The large banner at the top of the landing page contains the publication title and tag line. The tag line is a solid, clear positioning statement: “Advice and information from the world leader in coronary care and research.”

But when you make a big claim, such as being “the world leader in coronary care and research,” you’d better prove it. The proof here is in a caption under the visual of the newsletter, which notes that the clinic was “rated #1 in cardiac care by U.S. News & World Report for the last 10 years in a row.”

That’s an extremely credible source, and it sets the Cleveland Clinic apart from everyone else in the cardiac health field. So I would set this copy in large, bold type. And I’d move it up to the headline or at least make it more prominent.

Also, in the tag line, “advice and information” is weak. No one needs more “information” about health, a ton of which is available for free on the Internet—without paying for a subscription to the Cleveland Clinic newsletter.

No, what the reader wants is not information but cures and solutions—medical technologies, remedies, treatments, nutrition tips, exercise routines and health breakthroughs to help us live longer, happier, healthier lives.

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Below the publication name and tag line is a headline offering two free issues of the newsletter.

Free offers work well online. But if the strongest thing Cleveland Clinic can say about its heart newsletter is that they give you two issues free, they’re in trouble. I want to know how this publication can help me live longer and healthier, and why it’s different and better than the mountains of cardiac health information already overflowing my bookshelves and files.

2. Story and Content – C

The Cleveland Clinic has opted for a bland, non-selling landing page free of hype.

Unfortunately, it’s also free of copy that makes anything but the most minimal attempt to sell us a subscription.

The Cleveland Clinic newsletter is, I am sure, full of fascinating news and recommendations on cardiac health. So why don’t we see a list of bullets teasing us with the promise of getting those healthy heart secrets if we subscribe?

Instead, the main copy on the landing page is a fairly generic description of a health newsletter along with the offer. There’s not much here to indicate that there is anything special, exciting, new, or unique about the content published in the newsletter.

The lead-in under the “ABSOLUTELY FREE” headline mentions heart attack, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To this list I would add high cholesterol and stroke.

3. Content Webification – C

The content is fairly well adapted to the Web. For instance, you can click on a cover of the newsletter to read a sample issue online.

The landing page has multiple links to the order form, which also appears at the bottom of the page. A number of these lists are highlighted using bursts, making them easy to find. The order form is clean and simple.

4. Email Capture – C

When I clicked away, I was not served a pop-up window offering me a bribe (e.g., a free e-newsletter or special report) in exchange for my email address. This is a huge tactical error for any landing page.

Why? Because if you get the visitor’s email address before he leaves without ordering, you can serve him a series of follow-up emails via autoresponder attempting to convert him to a trial subscription. And, you’ve added another valuable name to your house e-list. Without his email address, you have lost the opportunity for follow up, significantly reducing your conversion rate.

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5. User Testimonials – C

I didn’t see any subscriber testimonials here. Nor does the copy say how long the newsletter has been published, how many subscribers it has or the name of the editor.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

The various links throughout the landing page encourage you to click to order. Clicking brings you to a simple, easy-to-follow order page with a soft offer: you can sign up for a subscription on a bill-me basis.

Traditional health newsletter publishers like Agora and Phillips promote their publications with hard offers (payment up front), while institutional health newsletter publishers like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins seem to use mainly soft offers (bill me). This makes me wonder what the pay-up rate is from orders placed on this landing page.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The landing page uses clear language: terms commonly understood by the target user. Terminology is consistent, and “power words” (e.g., “absolutely free,” “Request your FREE issues today!”) appear throughout to encourage ordering.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The typeface and layout are familiar, common and easy to read. The copy is made readable with the use of subheads, links, bullets and dual columns—there’s a wide central column with the main message, and additional selling copy and graphics to the left. When you click on the graphic of the newsletter cover in the left column, you can download a PDF of the latest issue.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

I could see having a section on this landing page where health items in the news (those featured in the newsletter) are prominently displayed. But there’s nothing here to make me believe that they haven’t been using this same copy for years. It doesn’t convey a sense of freshness, excitement, timeliness or discovery.

Alarming statistics about the incidence of cardiac illness in the U.S. are conspicuously absent. Not only does this result in a failure to create any sense of urgency about getting a cardiac health newsletter. But it also conveys the impression that the publisher hasn’t done his homework to find out the facts.

Also conspicuously absent is any mention of cardiac health breakthroughs, such as new supplements for lowering cholesterol or safer ways of performing heart surgery.

10. Load Time – B

This is a reasonably fast-loading page. When tested on with the Web Page Analyzer, the page downloaded in 22.7 seconds over a 56 Kb connection.

11. Aesthetics – B

This is a nicely designed, completely standard short-copy landing page. The design is clean and easy to read, and presents all copy and graphic elements clearly. The newsletter comes with a money-back guarantee of satisfaction, which could be made more prominent by placing it in a box with a certificate-style border.

12. Order Options – B

The primary order option is to click on a link and go to the order page where you can subscribe online. The publisher’s name, email address and toll-free phone number appear at the end of both the landing page and the order page. There is no option to order by fax.

The price for a one-year subscription (13 monthly issues) is $20, which, we are told, works out to around five cents a day. The publisher correctly recognizes that consumer health newsletters have a low price point, and is stating the daily cost to minimize price resistance.

Conclusion

The copy is concise and easy to read; the layout is clean and bright; the graphics are simple and eye-catching. However, I don’t learn anything about the importance of cardiac health, the existence of new life-saving developments, or how reading this newsletter can improve my cardiac health.

A few, simple, benefit-oriented copy tweaks would do a lot to improve the health of this landing page.

eBookSecretsExposed.com Landing Page Review

You might know, and subscribe, to one or more products from information marketing juggernauts like Bottom Line Publications, Agora, Healthy Directions or Philips Investment Resources. More importantly, you may study their strategies and creations like an aspiring artist studies the work of the great masters.

  • These master marketers are still going strong because they tested, perfected and cracked the code to Internet marketing profitability
  • Master marketer Jim Edwards and top copywriter and coach David Garfinkel understand how to hit their target market
  • They know how to pen effective copy to get their prospect to take action now
  • Graphics are not very eye-catching, but the marketer’s goal is simply to deliver strong copy and sell e-books
  • Jim and David put their time in to deliver strong copy and a compelling offer, and they’ve accomplished it

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Introduction

Remember back in the go-go days of the 90s when venture capitalists were literally throwing money at dot-com business with the cavalier attitude of, “Hey, that’s a totally outlandish idea with probably no chance of succeeding… how much cash do you need?”

Well, during this Gold Rush of stupidity there was a small group of guerilla marketers with ninja-like nimbleness who quietly and effectively grew their online businesses by leaps and bounds.

As you’ve probably realized by now, the companies that did flourish on the Internet were the ones that used a viable off-line business model and concisely incorporated them online. You might know and subscribe to these information behemoths, such as Bottom Line and Agora & Philips Publishing.

After the nuclear dust had cleared from the fallout, those same Silicon Valley “players” who dished out big bucks like Joan Rivers dishes out one-liners eventually woke up one morning and realized—not only was their Roman orgy of opulence over, but they were now working at Starbucks. The guerilla marketers? Well, these slow and steady folks are still going strong because they tested, perfected and cracked the code to profitability.

What was amazing during those early Internet pioneer days is that these same guerilla marketers (who were using effective joint venture techniques even back then) were calling each other Internet “gurus” when the Internet was barely out of Al Gore’s consciousness.

One marketer who didn’t proclaim his “guruness” was the humble Jim Edwards who co-wrote eBookSecretsExposed.com with David Garfinkel, a top copywriter and coach. Jim and David are old school, and they understand how to hit their targeted market. More importantly, they know how to pen effective copy to get their prospect to take action now (with landing pages).

Today these popular point of purchase landing pages (which are actually very long, direct response letters) are all over the Internet.

Copywriter Peter J. Fogel looks at eBookSecretsExposed.com to determine if this landing page makes the grade. He happily admits it does with a few reservations.

eBookSecretsExposed.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

First of all, I appreciate the website address eBookSecretsExposed.com. It gives off a feeling of secrecy and sexiness all at the same time. It’s a strong standard headline that works.

How to Make MASSIVE Amounts of Money In Record Time With Your Own eBook (Whether You Wrote It or Not!)

It’s straightforward and gives an immediate benefit to the reader.

As you know, when you have doubts about creating a headline, always insert the words “how to” in the beginning and for the most part you’re good to go.

Right off the proverbial bat, Jim overcomes the possible resistance that most prospects might show when deciding to write an ebook. They tell him (or her) that they will still prosper and make massive amounts of money with an e-book—even if they can’t write the darn thing themselves (a collective sigh of relief for non-writers.)

Too busy to even attempt to write the book? No problemo, amigo. Jim includes bullets to reinforce the fact that you can do it—even with your busy, busy schedule.

These two veterans know that people absorb information by either reading or listening. Jim, with his soothing voice, gives a personal greeting and reinforces what they’re in store for. More landing pages are using this technique. And if they are… it’s a strong bet that it’s because it works.

The headline is basically saying that selling e-books the right way is a “no brainer.” Plus, the marketers plant an idea in the readers’ minds that yes, they too can be a best selling author. The perfect world, isn’t it? The prospect thinks, “Wow, I don’t have to write the ebook and I can still be a best selling author! Is that cool or what?”

This headline hits the hot buttons of the Internet biz opp customer like Barry Bonds hits a fastball.

The headline is basically saying that selling e-books the right way is a “no brainer.” Plus, the marketers plant an idea in the readers’ minds that yes, they too can be a best selling author.

2. Story and Content – A

This is hard selling copy at its best. Right from the beginning Jim and David give the prospect tremendous benefits. Step by step—as if on a safari—these two men lead the customer through the process of how and why they can be successful marketing e-books—right up to the call to action.

They know the resistance that most folks have when it comes to writing and marketing this product and they address it throughout their prospect’s journey.

Even in the mp3 file greeting they explain how THIS book is different from their other e-books on the subject. Once again, these two marketers know how to get into the hearts and minds of their future customers.

Even in the mp3 file greeting they explain how THIS book is different from their other e-books on the subject.

3. Content Webification – C

Again, not many bells and whistles here… no distractions. And there aren’t many links except the one that links to the order page. Jim and David want your order, and they bring you to the bottom of the letter where you’re asked to sign a disclaimer form, which states that when it comes to earning revenue “your mileage may vary.”

Then you’re whisked away to ClickBank. There was no FREE or partial chapter to read, which would’ve been a nice incentive for the reader.

4. Email Capture – F

Here, I was disappointed. No email capture whatsoever, including no pop up with an auto responder to give away a free mini-course, so they can at least capture the prospect’s email address. This surprised me. These gentlemen know the power of “the list” and I would’ve thought they would try to grab the “tire kicker” for a push later on.

5. User Testimonials – A

One thing about guerrilla marketers is that they know the power of testimonials. Jim and David use them very efficiently here. In fact, even before the meat of the letter begins, the prospect gets the first testimonial (right under the headline) to peruse.

They also strategically place one that mentions the amount of money this happy customer made from using Jim and David’s information.

Even before the meat of the letter begins, the prospect gets the first testimonial (right under the headline) to peruse. (It’s strategically placed—one that mentions the amount of money this happy customer made from using Jim and David’s information.)

6. Links to Order Flow – B

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the links to the order flow. In regular text email promotions like Agora uses, they want the whole story told, then you’re taken to the order page. In fact, you won’t even know the price of the product or service until you’re taken there. (Invoke curiosity?)

Guerrillas that use HTML realize that, in long copy, if the prospect “gets it” and is ready to order, then they should immediately be taken to the order page. Jim and David use this method, although I would’ve added maybe one or two more links earlier in the sales piece.

7. Labeling and Language – A

This is simple and concise, just the way top copywriters should write. They also use the correct terminology to court their prospect. You feel as if Jim is talking to you one on one over a beer in a tavern. The copy creates strong credibility by telling the prospect that they might NOT become rich overnight, when it fact, it all depends on having the right e-book for the right market.

They even let Mr. Prospect know the pitfalls he might encounter. See, typical “hypey” sales letters (which this is not) sometimes deliver promises that sound too good to be true. Jim and David’s copy hits the segment of the population who might be incredulous about their offer and then succinctly address their concerns.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

This is something we’ve seen before on other landing sites. The landing page design is nothing to get excited about. The emphasis again is on the offer and the copy. The goal of this (and all) landing pages is to keep the prospect reading up the call to action. It’s done very well here.

These marketers include strong subheads and lots of bullets. Perhaps they could add a column to include some more information for the reader, but they chose not to.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – B

The landing page is a static direct response offer. It will not change for the most part, except if the marketer wants to update or change the price. They offer five inviting bonuses which gives the offer a sense of urgency. Plus they let the reader know that the price is a “market test.” (More urgency.)

Note: Most people will not bookmark a landing page such as this and then come back to see if there’s any fresh content on it.

10. Load Time – B

I have Internet cable connection and the load time was excellent. Then again, there aren’t many graphics to load.

11. Aesthetics – B

Very clean and easy to read. Testimonials were highlighted in yellow graphic boxes. There was plenty of white space to make the reading a pleasurable experience. However, the “standard” book graphic was used to show the prospect that it was, indeed, a book.

But we all know the only book you will receive after you download is the one you put together from the PDF with clips and hole punches. Also I don’t know what a smiling attractive blond woman has to do with exposing e-book secrets, but that is the graphic JPEG they decided to use in the title of the landing page.

I would’ve liked to see a photo of David and Jim smiling at us. This way they could’ve branded themselves and presented even more credibility to the prospect.

12. Ordering Options – B

Newsletters like Agora, Mayo Clinic and Philips Publishing give you a variety of ways to contact them—toll free numbers, fax, phone. The only way to contact Jim is through email.

Although the landing page has a phone number, it’s not for ordering. It’s probably there to lend credibility to the company, or if the buyer wants to contact the seller to complain that they couldn’t download the book.

Jim and David leave nothing to chance. If someone surfing the net in the wee hours isn’t sure they can order now… they let them know they can even order at 2 A.M. This again creates more urgency for the prospect to act now.

The price for the e-book is $47, which is suitable for a niche product such as this. Naturally, veterans like David and Jim tested this price. This site has been up for awhile so I imagine it’s accomplishing its goals and hasn’t changed any ordering procedures.

Jim and David leave nothing to chance. If someone surfing the net in the wee hours isn’t sure they can order now… they let them know they can even order at 2 A.M. This again creates more urgency for the prospect to act now.

Conclusion

For the most part, I liked this landing page. As far as the graphics are concerned, it’s not very eye-catching, but the marketer’s goal is simply to deliver strong copy and sell e-books. Not much in the way of branding their company, but Jim and David put their time in to deliver strong copy and a compelling offer, and they’ve accomplished it.

Overall I give this landing page a B.

Ohannualrecipes.com Landing Page Review

Can a person (moi) who has never had a weight problem review a landing page that markets healthy recipes which enable someone to lose unwanted pounds? “Yes!” he emphatically says with a mouth full of rich, calorie-filled cheesecake. Ohannualrecipes.com is the name of this landing page, which belongs to Oxmoor House, a Time Warner Company.

Oxmoor House has licensed a book of healthy, delightfully scrumptious recipes from—you know ’em, you love ’em, in fact you might’ve tried them—”Weight Watchers.” In fact, that is how we found this landing page—by doing a Google search for Weight Watchers. Oxmoor House also licenses other products from other sites like CookingLight.comMartha Stewart, etc.

  • The precursor to Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers International has been around since 1963.
  • This “Grand Poobah” of weight loss companies provides healthy weight management services with operations in 30 countries worldwide.
  • Its business consists of weekly meetings that promote education and group support in conjunction with a flexible, healthy diet and exercise method.
  • The USA is, unfortunately, a prosperous nation that has a weight problem, so this company has experienced exponential growth and branded itself into our consciousness.
  • This is probably why Time Warner has decided to market this book, and they’ve pretty much done a good job of this landing page with a reservation or two.

Ohannualrecipes.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

Now here’s a recipe for success. Take a strong brand, add into it a powerful headline, and sprinkle in an emotion-laden subhead and you have a compelling offer. Weight Watchers Annual Recipes for Success. Eat What You Love and Love Every Luscious Bite. The headline announces to the prospect if you’re here at this site, you’re probably wanting to lose weight and now you can with “these successful recipes.” The subhead does a good job of letting the prospect know that they can continue to enjoy eating what they love with no guilt on their part. Now who wouldn’t want that?

2. Story and Content – A

If ever there’s a compelling story it’s Weight Watchers. They use a convincing blend of copy and graphics to tell their story and deliver a strong benefit. Weight Watchers effective USP (unique selling proposition) delivers the magic pill. Eat whatever you want… and still lose weight! You can’t beat it. This three-decade-old brand does “the talking” and convinces the readers with a strong promise of losing weight and to show you how serious they are, they’re going to let you try their recipes out for FREE. This is what Jay Abraham calls “risk reversal.”

3. Content Webification – A

This is not a branding site. It’s a point-of-purchase page with a strong U.S.P. It’s “mean and lean” (no pun intended) in its design and the information it gives you. The person who deals with diets undoubtedly knows about Weight Watchers. The USP for Dominos Pizza is “hot pizza in under 30 minutes.” Weight Watchers is “Eat the foods you love.” And who wouldn’t? “You mean, I can eat the foods I love and still LOSE weight. Sign me up!” They also display Weight Watchers favorite point system.

That is dieting heaven. Strong and compelling and Oxmoor plays it up heavily in getting you to taste-test their book.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – B

Effective. The site easily captures the prospect’s email well. In essence, the whole site is a squeeze page with a strong offer that lets you know… “Hey, you’re going to get the book to test drive for FREE… so if you want it, well, you’re going to have to give us your address, phone number etc.” Again, people are fickle, why wouldn’t they want to test drive the book for FREE? Well, some might not want to at this particular time. This is why this site should still have a pop-up that appears as the prospect is trying to exit the site. Something to the effect: “Hey, where are you going? The ‘Weight Watchers’ book is FREE for you for the month, why don’t you try the luscious recipes out yourself and prove it to yourself…” etc.

5. User Testimonials – A

Strong, convincing. Weight Watchers has built their brand on user testimonials for over three decades. At this site they’ve also added “before” and “after” photos which make testimonials, or otherwise called here, success stories, quite effective.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Effective. With its link, the site continually reminds the prospect that they’re getting the opportunity to test drive this sensational “Weight Watchers’ Successful Recipes” for FREE for 30 days. This is not a very complicated portal site, it’s a micro site, with one goal in mind: to get you to order this book as quickly and efficiently, as possible—now.

7. Labeling and Language – A

I love it… and I am really hungry now. The copywriter and Web designer hit the “hot button” of the diet conscience person big time here. They accomplish this in a compelling way using excellent graphics of food that you can devour while still maintaining your desirable weight or losing excess pounds. Your mouth starts watering just looking at the points you gain or lose as you gander at the wonderful recipes you’re going to get and at how successful you are going to be! Remember: people buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic. This site is a good example of it.

8. Content Density and Readability – A

Clean, neat and easy to read. You’re not confused in what they want you to do… to keep reading and get excited about the great recipes you can have and the success you’ll get from losing weight.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

Unfortunately, I can’t or don’t know how much Oxmoor House changes the content here. I’d have to go back and view it a few more times, but I believe, again, that this is a point- of-purchase landing site that wants your information. I am sure they’ll keep after you with other fresh offers via email, but nothing earth shattering. This site is to sell a book and get your contact info. Something every online marketer should do.

10. Page Load Time – C

Here’s the problem: I think the whole world uses DSL or cable. And if they do, then this site loads quite fast for those connections. Unfortunately, NOT everyone has DSL or cable. Using our trusty Web analyzer, here are the connection rates:

  • 14.4K – 119.47 seconds (zzzz’s)
  • 28.8K – 59.83 seconds (OK, I am waking up a bit)
  • 33.6K – 51.31 seconds (Stretches, but still groggy)
  • 56K – 30.87 seconds (Can’t lift myself out of bed, but almost there)
  • ISDN 128K – 9.59 seconds
  • T1 1.44Mbps – 1.02 seconds (Now we’re cookin’ with fire)

So if we’re to use the Mequoda model, I’d unfortunately have to give it a C if using dial-up connections.

11. Aesthetics – A

Strong use of graphics. Here we see again, happy-go-lucky folks who have successfully become thin (hopefully from eating Weight Watchers recipes). It displays an empathetic balance of graphics showing us people that have lost weight eating the foods they love. And isn’t that what life is all about?

12. Order Options – A

Whether you market off-line or on, you need to give the prospect as many options as possible to acquire your product or service. Toll-free and fax numbers are present at this site along with a simple form to fill out. Plus, they ask the prospect’s permission to send you more info on other products. Yes, they’re priming you for more up-selling.

Conclusion

Very strong, neat and concise. A compelling offer for folks who want to continue to eat the foods they love and become thin. Language, labeling, and graphics are used effectively here. But wait there’s more: Oxmoor also gives you a FREE book for you to keep even if you decide to return the main recipe book. This marketing uses standard direct response advertising concepts and strategies.

The Whole Dog Journal Landing Page Review

It’s really quite difficult to find fault with an organization that devotes its time and resources to helping people train and care for their dogs using natural techniques and products. Dogs are our best friends, right? And who isn’t in favor of natural techniques and products under just about any circumstances?

So it is with the utmost respect for dogs, dog trainers and dog people in general that I unleash the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard on the gentle folks who wrote and designed the landing page for The Whole Dog Journal.

TheWholeDogJournal.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

There’s no question what this page is about or what they want you to do. The logo, with its big friendly dog’s face and the subhead—”A monthly guide to natural dog care and training”—tells you exactly what the publication is about. The headlines below the logo are equally clear – Get Your First 2 Issues of The Whole Dog Journal as a “treat”—ABSOLUTELY FREE. The subheads urge the reader to “Save at Home! Save at the Vets! Save at the Pet Store!” This is good old-fashioned benefits and features copywriting, which warms the cockles of my direct mail copywriter’s heart. Obviously, they want you to try the magazine and are willing to let you look before you buy. Plus, they’d also like to save you some money. That can be a very potent combination. Hey, I signed up and I don’t even own a dog.

2. Story and Content – C

The homepage is really quite sales-like in content. They really aren’t trying to “tell a story” in this section… unless you define “story” as reiterating the features and benefits and then asking the reader to sign up. I’m inclined to like serious offer copy more than the average reader does, so this really didn’t offend me very much. The site does offer a “preview of what The Whole Dog Journal can do for you dog,” if you click on the photo to the left. What you’ll find there is basically a table of contents for the magazine. I didn’t find it very compelling, but it did introduce the story of Hera, a “highly reactive Bulldog” who was vastly improved by natural training techniques. When you sign up for the free sample, you’ll get the complete story of the heroic Hera and her struggles. Actually, I read it and thought it was a nice piece of service journalism… but you do have to sign up to read it in its entirety.

The site does offer a “preview of what The Whole Dog Journal can do for you dog,” if you click on the photo to the left. What you’ll find there is basically a table of contents for the magazine.

3. Content Webification – C

There’s not many bells and whistles involved in this site… just a couple of links to a table of contents and a “click here to get started” that speeds you to the free sign-up form at the bottom of the page. You’ll see no streaming video of cute puppies undergoing training in the “natural” way. Really, this site could have been designed a decade ago in terms of technology and webification. Ironically, that doesn’t greatly detract from the effectiveness of the site… people who love dogs and are sympathetic to natural training and care issues probably won’t mind at all that the site designers didn’t load the site with snappy functions. They might even appreciate the lack of gizmos.

4. Relationship Building – B

I like the immediate access to the electronic version of the free issue. However, it was only a little over 20 pages long, which made me wonder how substantial the actual printed product might be. Nevertheless, they did offer it for free and it is a good way to judge the content and style of the magazine. And they did use it to capture my email address… and they have sent me other emails to keep me thinking about their product. I also like the yes-or-no option regarding sharing your contact information with people who sell dog-related products. The overall feeling of the landing page is that these are legitimate special interest journalists who love dogs and are willing to give you a fair chance to see if you fit with their editorial product before you spend your dough.

5. User Testimonials – F

If there were any testimonials on this site, I have to confess I failed to find them. A pity, really, because the kind of information their magazine offers should really inspire all kinds of grateful reader comments. Stories about how readers used the magazine to heal and train their pets using natural, money-saving methods… that would be very compelling. The only thing even remotely resembling a testimonial is the “Helping Hera Help Herself” blurb in the table of contents sample… and, of course, that’s not really an objective comment from a happy user.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

While the links really don’t have much “gee whiz” value, they do get the job done easily and quickly. There’s no doubt what the links are for and they take you to the order form very quickly. And there’s no confusion about how to order your free issue.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The language on the site is clear and easy to understand. There is a refreshing lack of dog-related puns (with the exception of a reference to the free issues as a “treat”) and overly cute copy. The sales language is strong and leaves no question about what the offer is all about.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

This site’s typography is very comfortable with nothing strange or weird. The layout is clean and crisp with reasonable use of white space and graphics that are completely appropriate for the task. I found the site to be a nice preview of how the electronic version of the magazine looks.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – C

Other than using the current issue as a free premium, there’s really nothing to indicate that the folks behind this site visit it every day or even every week. Something as simple as the current date on the site would help. As long as they keep putting up the current issue and the current issue’s table of contents the lack of urgency probably won’t damage them, though. The magazine is clearly identified as a monthly publication, so perhaps readers won’t expect the content to turn over any more frequently than that.

10. Load Time – A

The site loaded up quickly on my broadband service, well within the 15 seconds specified in the Mequoda guidelines.

11. Aesthetics – A

The site is full of pleasing photographs and illustrations of dogs, which ought to make it attractive to people who appreciate canine beauty. The layout is very accessible and easy to enjoy.

The site is full of pleasing photographs and illustrations of dogs, which ought to make it attractive to people who appreciate canine beauty.

12. Order Options – B

Since this is a classic “soft offer” that doesn’t require the prospect to send cash or checks or credit card info, the order options probably aren’t as critical as they would be in a “hard offer” that demands payment with order. The order language is relatively simple and straightforward. The 800 number and the customer service email address were, in my opinion, a little too hidden away at the bottom of the order form. I will be curious to see what kind of order options show up when I get my invoice from them in the next week or two.

The 800 number and the customer service email address were, in my opinion, a little too hidden away at the bottom of the order form.

Conclusion

This is a nice, friendly sales pitch that will probably generate a nice flow of subscribers… especially if they do a good job of driving dedicated dog enthusiasts to the website. They could have been more technologically advanced… but I don’t think that would have made much difference. They do a really nice job of making the reader feel safe doing business with them.

Hideaway Report Landing Page Review

Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report® is a privately published newsletter dedicated to the discovery of peaceful vacation retreats for the sophisticated traveler. The publication claims 85 percent of its executive subscribers hold the title of CEO/President/Owner/Partner.

I’m not surprised. The $99 initial annual price is steep enough, and the resort destinations that Hideaway Report reviews are clearly for the well-heeled, or those traveling on a generous company expense account.

I suspect very few stumble onto Hideaway Report by accident or as the result of a Google search. This newsletter, in its print form, has been continuously published since 1979 and has a very credible word-of-mouth reputation among the gentry.

Some could argue that Hideaway Report’s landing page probably doesn’t need to do a hard sell; most people arriving here may have already made up their mind to subscribe.

If so, that’s a good thing for Andrew Harper, because this landing page is more laid back than a bikini-clad sunbather on a private Caribbean island. In fact, at 225 words, this landing page is really on vacation (or at least, not working) by Mequoda standards, and earns a score of only a C.

If, on the other hand, the average visitor is not already convinced to subscribe when landing on this page, they’ve got work to do to improve that visitor’s likelihood of signing up. We expected to see a lot more from the Hideaway Report’s landing page, as they are leaders in the print publishing industry.

TheHideawayReport.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

“The Ultimate Harper Travel Guide to Luxury Hotels, Resorts & Hideaways” is not my idea of an effective headline. While it’s descriptive of the product, it doesn’t a) offer a promise, or b) explain why or c) state a compelling reason to plunk down my credit card and subscribe.

Is selling to the uber rich any different from selling to the average Joe? Yes, it probably is, however the rules of ethical persuasion still apply. But they aren’t in evidence here.

2. Story & Content – B

Hideaway Report has a terrific story to tell, but the landing page sales letter tells it here in only three short paragraphs. Brief and to-the-point, for certain, but I would have spun it out longer.

As I recall (I could be mistaken), when Hideaway Report launched as a print newsletter many years ago, it promised to be a limited circulation publication. Does it still? Not that I can confirm from looking at an online issue.

Wouldn’t this newsletter be ever-so-much-more attractive if you knew it was only going to 3,500 select subscribers? And couldn’t you charge so much more if that were the policy? Exclusivity and scarcity really add value!

I imagine Mr. Harper writing something like this:

    “We have a waiting list for Hideaway Report. It’s almost as tough to get as tickets to The Masters Tournament. Only 3,500 fortunate families can subscribe.

    “That’s a promise we made to our readers many years ago, in order to keep the best vacation resorts from being overrun by the nouveau riche and the great unwashed.

    “Now, owing to some deaths and retirements, we can accommodate a few additional subscribers for 2005. If you hurry, you could be one of only 228 individuals initiated into Hideaway Report’s family this year.

    “But you must act right now! Just send your check for $99 today or call 800-000-0000 with your credit card in hand and speak to one of our Hideaway Report associates. We’ll gladly accept your membership if there are still vacancies.”

I’d make it a membership, not a subscription. There’s nothing very exciting about being a subscriber, but being a member—well, that’s got a different panache to it. And to his credit, that’s what Mr. Harper calls his online customers—members.

3. Content Webification – D

Hideaway Report’s landing page offers a hypertext link to a PDF file of a sample eight-page copy of the print newsletter. No other interactive or multi-media technology is employed. Again, Hideaway Report has chosen a more laid back, soft sell.

4. Relationship Building – F

There is no attempt by Hideaway Report’s landing page to capture the user’s email address. No offer of a free e-zine or special report. No pop-up or pop-under at work here. In fact, no aggressive sales techniques at all are in evidence, which supports my earlier stated premise that no one stumbles on this site by accident.

5. User Testimonials – F

Testimonials? We don’t need no stinking testimonials!

The landing page does offer that “So while you may have seen Hideaway Report favorably mentioned in Forbes,Fortune, Mirabella, Vogue, The New York Times and other such publications, his [Mr. Harper’s] identity has never been revealed.”

Perhaps the mystique of the secret shopper is enough to create the required allure and capture the imagination of the prospective subscriber/member.

6. Links to Order Flow – C

No button or underscored link is used, just a simple (bold typeface) hypertext link to the order page. More evidence of Hideaway Report’s belief in minimalism. Less is more—even on a landing page, according to Mr. Harper.

7. Labeling and Language – B

Hideaway Report accepts no advertising and is therefore totally free of pressure from advertisers! In short, Andrew Harper’s monthly recommendations are unbiased, objective and totally reliable.”

This appears to be the major selling point of the Hideaway Report landing page. Mr. Harper can’t be bought. In fact, because he travels incognito, he generally can’t even be identified.

In any event, the language used here is clear and straightforward.

8. Readability – B

Hideaway Report’s landing page designers have made good use of typography, graphics and white space. But more incomprehensible than The Da Vinci Code is why the site is offset to the left rather than centered. Point deducted.

9. Content Freshness – D

Nothing on Hideaway Report’s landing page smacks of urgency. There is no reason—impending price change, scarcity, timely information alert—to join today vs. some other time or whenever the spirit moves you.

10. Load Time – C

Hideaway Report’s landing page downloads in 30.5 seconds at 56K according to the Webpage Analyzer. There are 14 objects on this page including 12 graphics totaling 49514 bytes. There is a case to be made for optimizing the cascading style sheets (CSS) for size by eliminating white space, using shorthand notation, and combining multiple CSS files where appropriate.

11. Aesthetics – B

The graphic design of Hideaway Report’s landing page is comforting and trustworthy, but lacks the excitement the user might associate with luxury travel. Additionally, a couple of non-functioning links do not add to my confidence about the site.

Personally, I feel disappointed because the site doesn’t really match my mental model, but then again, I’m not Mr. Harper’s target audience (i.e. frequent luxury traveler).

12. Order Options – B

There is a nice flow from Hideaway Report’s landing page, to selecting options on a radio button page, to a name squeeze page, to a secure page for entering credit card information. An optional toll-free number is offered, although it is only available during business hours in the U.S. (MDT). No printable form or fax option is available.

Conclusion

Many newsletter professionals regard Harper’s print publication as a best practice. Harper sets their standards high, and delivers a high-quality product. The website, we feel, should hold the same high standards set for its print publication. It was a surprise to encounter such a disappointing landing page, especially when we’ve expected to get so much more. It seems as if the marketing team ignored some of the most important traditional marketing practices when converting their efforts online.

The last frame of the Hideaway Report online enrollment process asks this question: “How Did You Hear About Us?”

I’m betting that referrals are at the heart of this business model and that Hideaway Report has many enthusiastic members who spread the word among their peers. However, there are numerous weaknesses on Hideaway Report’s landing page that would discourage the casual visitor from joining.

CookingClub.com Landing Page Review

Cooking Club of America is an efficient, user friendly membership site. We found this site by typing “Cooking Club of America” into Google, and this is the first page that showed up in the organic listings.

While this page serves as the home page of this membership website, it also serves as a rapid conversion landing page, as it immediately offers a free issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine in exchange for a free trial membership to Cooking Club of America.

CookingClub.com is a strong membership website landing page and one you should model. So let’s get to it.

  • Cooking Club of America has a strong compelling headline, BUT their headline focuses more on the feature as opposed to the benefit.
  • The minute you get to the site, it’s apparent they want your email. Want to become a member? Give us the email address! Want a free issue of our magazine and a cool, neat grater? Give us your email address.
  • Strategically placed all over, they keep dangling a carrot to you. Sign up for the FREE membership and get lots of cool freebies (Deals & Discounts, Club Credit Card, Recipe Reprints, Phone Discounts).
  • Decent use of graphics, but not much use of compelling copy to get the prospect and future club member interested in the benefits of the club.
  • When using graphics to sell your product… people want to see the end result of what your product or service will do for them. Give it to them. It’s not done at all here.

CookingClub.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline – B

Cooking Club of America, with no relation to Automobile Club of America, has a strong compelling headline: Cooking Club of America – America’s Premier Club for People Who Love To Cook!

You know exactly what it is… and what is being offered to you. We’ve always wanted to belong to something “bigger” than ourselves. And one way to make someone feel like they’re part of something bigger is have them join a club. Being in one tells the reader that they’re among like-minded people. BUT their headline focuses more on the feature.

Yes, it’s an elite club for people that love to cook, but what is it going to offer you? Perhaps: (headline) America’s Premier Club for People Who Love To Cook, (sub head) Learn Super Star Chefs’ Incredible Recipes For A Successful Meal.

2. Story and Content – A

Appealing graphics with good copy and you have a strong story. “Join us,” it tells us, “and you’ll be among friends that love cooking just like you. You’ll also receive lots of goodies, member benefits, a free issue of our magazine and a grater (I must get one of those).”

We know it’s a membership website because they want you to sign in and get a username and password. It’s FREE and it’s their way, I am sure, to keep sending you LOTS of other offers.

3. Content Webification – A

This is what we call a portal site. And it gets the job done. Lots of information on cooking. Not like the “Weight Watchers” site that is a niche site for people who love to eat and lose weight. This is for people that come high or hell water… love to cook!

It has a strong USP. And it says it in its headline, or I should say sub-headline. This really is the “Premier Club” of its kind. That’s why, dear marketers, it’s so important to get the right domain name that will capture the attention of your prospect. Cooking.com was taken, but thankfully CookingClub.com wasn’t.

4. Email Capture – A

The minute you get to the site, it’s apparent they want your email. And they do it in a variety of ways. Want to become a member? Give us the email address! Want a free issue of our magazine and a cool, neat grater? Give us your email address. Here’s the part that I am not a fan of… and perhaps they should do a split test.

I am NOT a fan of giving a home address out. An email sure—but not a home address. Again, I will NOT get any member benefits into the site unless I give them all the information they request. Now they might lose folks at this request, but the people that llllllllllllove to cook will give all the contact information they want.

5. User Testimonials – F

They’ve done other things pretty well, so why did they leave out user testimonials of thrilled cooks/subscribers?

6. Links to Order Flow – A

Strategically placed all over, they keep dangling a carrot to you. Sign up for the FREE membership and get lots of cool freebies (Deals & Discounts, Club Credit Card, Recipe Reprints, Phone Discounts).

7. Labeling and Language – C

Decent use of graphics, but not much use of compelling copy to get the prospect and future club member interested in the benefits of the club. Mostly ho-hum. Again, this is what I got from the homepage where you have to get the person interested in giving the all-important contact information. In direct response advertising you are in a courtship with your prospect. There’s a much stronger use of copy and graphic at the Weight Watcher’s book site which also deals with food.

8. Content Density and Readability – B

Pretty clean. You’re not overwhelmed with lots of links. Again, graphics are “decent.” I would still prefer to see happy, joyous people cooking in the kitchen, or some pictures of some well-known chefs that want to help you reach your goals of becoming a better cook.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – B

I am giving this site the benefit of the doubt and figure there is content freshness. Only because folks who love to cook are going to come back and want to get MORE RECIPES for cooking. There is some urgency to get you to give them your contact information and that’s accomplished by the free issue of their magazine.

10. Load Time – F

If you have 14.4k connection still, then perhaps I have a rotary phone you’d like to buy. The site is yes, a tad heavy on graphics, but on the Mequoda scorecard 40.07 for 56K is NOT fast unless you like watching paint dry.

Connection Rate Download Times

  • 14.4K – 155.26 seconds
  • 28.8K – 77.73 seconds
  • 33.6K – 66.66 seconds
  • 56K – 40.07 seconds
  • ISDN 128K – 12.41 seconds
  • T1 1.44Mbps – 1.26 seconds

11. Aesthetics – C

This is a cooking site, a club for cooking enthusiasts. I would like to see, as mentioned earlier, graphics of happy people toiling over a stove in a fun way. People want to think of themselves as Emeril—Don’t forget: when using graphics to sell your product… people want to see the end result of what your product or service will do for them. Give it to them. It’s not done at all here.

12. Order Options – A

Company provides email contact information along with a toll free number for ordering purposes.

Conclusion

This landing page is good, not great and is on the cusp of doing some effective promotion and direct response advertising. Their copy can be stronger although there are benefits galore. BUT their choice of graphics has a lot to be desired. Look at other cooking sites and see what they do to capture the hearts and minds of their subscribers. Food is a very emotional product and it means a lot to people—so the company should work on that aspect of it. They do have a strong community bond with their subscribers at their bulletin boards where folks can give feedback on recipes.

Wall Street Journal 20-Free Issues Landing Page Review

At first blush, you would probably expect that a world class publication, with all its resources and media knowledge, would have a truly inspiring landing page. They are, after all, The Wall Street Journal.

So it was with great expectations that I clicked onto the page for a look at how the big boys market subscriptions and boost circulation. Once again, we are forced to put away our own preconceived notions about the product and the company while we submit the landing page to the cold, objective test of the Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard.

  • This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features—they have got to know better than this.
  • This landing page has all the personality and relationship building potential of a speed limit sign.
  • The language is pretty standard—free issue(s)—soft offer stuff that you can crib off just about any piece of soft offer direct mail.
  • There is no reason to rush this order—nobody says it’s a limited time offer or anything approaching an urgency issue.
  • Somewhere out there a copywriter fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

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WSJ.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

A lot of small businesses advertising in local publications seem to think that just slapping their logo onto the top of a small ad will relieve them of any sort of copywriting responsibility. This, in my opinion, is never a good idea for small businesses and an even bigger mistake for larger outfits. This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features. They have got to know better than this. They are, we find out later, giving away four weeks of their product. Doesn’t that seem worthy of a large, aggressive headline? Twenty issues of a leading newspaper is a pretty snappy offer, but one that is not sufficiently exploited in this landing page.

This WSJ landing page sports a huge logo that offers nothing in the way of benefits or features.

2. Story and Content – D

This is really just an Internet order form, the creators of which obviously assume that the (admittedly) formidable reputation of the newspaper will entice people to pay attention and order the free issues they’re offering. The headline over the photo of the issues promises that if we subscribe today we will “receive FREE weeks!” OK, just how many weeks would that be? The five weeks that are implied by the five issues under the headline, or the four weeks they mention in the tiny squirt of copy under the logo/headline?

3. Content Webification – C

Other than a standard Internet order grid and some submit and reset form buttons, nothing is happening here from a webification standpoint.

4. Relationship Building – F

This landing page has all the personality and relationship building potential of a speed limit sign. Just some information that we can absorb and use or look at briefly and ignore.

5. User Testimonials – F

The landing page has zero testimonials.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

How can we criticize the order flow when this site is nothing but one slightly glorified order form? If you want the free issues, just fill out the form and hit submit.

7. Labeling and Language – B

What little language and labeling exists on the page seems fine to me. The language is pretty standard—free issue(s)—soft offer stuff that you can crib off just about any piece of soft offer direct mail.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

This is extremely easy to read, perhaps because there is so little sales copy and the order language is so standard. Not hard to read and not dense at all.

Not hard to read and not dense at all.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – F

There is no reason to rush this order. Nobody says it’s a limited time offer or anything approaching an urgency issue. And, in terms of freshness, this site could have been mounted up and left on the Internet for years. That’s not shelf life, that’s staleness.

10. Load Time – A

Loading time was well within the 15 seconds the Mequoda Scorecard recommends. This did not come as a shock, since there is almost nothing to the site that would have required longer loading time.

11. Aesthetics – C

The page is not hard to look at. The graphic of the five newspaper copies is commonplace to the point of being cliché. Surely, the WSJ could have come up with something more compelling than a stack of back issues.

12. Order Options – A

The order options, which are basically accept the 20 free issues or don’t accept them, are pretty clear. If you know your address and other contact information, you will be able to use the form easily. If you can’t provide that kind of basic information, you probably don’t need the WSJ or any other publication.

Conclusion

This is a nearly total failure as a landing page. Perhaps the reputation of the newspaper can save them, but I doubt it. Somewhere out there a copywriter fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter Landing Page Review

There are a number of consumer health newsletters being published today, mainly in two categories: “guru” or doctor-driven (e.g., The Atkins Letter, Dr. Andrew Weil) and institution-driven, such as the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, a newsletter published by the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

One of the challenges of selling paid-subscription consumer health newsletters is that there is already an abundance of health information available on the Web for free. That’s why virtually all successful health letters have either a guru or institution behind them: the subscribers trust the editor; and they rely on him to provide wise, expert counsel in health matters.

The other challenge is price sensitivity. Consumer health newsletters always have low price points, and believe me, all the publishers have arrived at these low price points through testing, not charity. Therefore, you are always at risk of encountering consumer price resistance when asking for the order, and should use copywriting techniques to minimize that resistance.

MayoClinic.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

The banner at the top of the landing page contains the publication title and its serviceable, but bland slogan, “Reliable information for a healthy life.”

Placing the newsletter name at the top of the landing page makes sense, because it gets the familiar Mayo Clinic name right up front, where it should be.

To the right of the publication name and tag line is the offer of a free trial subscription with two free reports.

The headline under the banner reads, “Get the medical information you need from the experts you trust!”

Again, serviceable but bland. No one needs more “information” about health, a ton of which is available for free on the Internet—without paying Mayo Clinic $27 for its monthly newsletter.

No, what the reader wants is not information but cures and solutions—medical technologies, remedies, treatments, nutrition tips and health breakthroughs to help us live longer, happier, healthier lives.

2. Story and Content – C

The Mayo Clinic has opted for a bland, non-selling landing page free of hype.

Unfortunately, it’s also free of copy that makes anything but the most minimal attempt to sell us a subscription.

The Mayo Clinic newsletter and the free bonus reports are, I am sure, full of fascinating news and recommendations on health. So why don’t we see a list of bullets teasing us with the promise of getting these secrets if we subscribe?

The Mayo Clinic newsletter has, I believe, a spectacularly successful direct mail package that’s been a long-standing control—written, I think, by top copywriter Mark Johnson.

Why they didn’t adapt that copy for their landing page instead of using the bland pap that appears there? Probably because someone involved with their online marketing believes that “long copy doesn’t work on the Internet”—a myth we know to be patently false.

3. Content Webification – C

The content is fairly well adapted to the Web. For instance, you can click on a cover of the newsletter to read a sample issue online. There are also covers and titles of premiums with hyperlinks, but when I clicked on these links, I was served pop-up windows that were empty; perhaps there was a problem with my browser.

The landing page has multiple links to the order form, which also appears at the bottom of the page. The order form is clean and simple.

4. Email Capture – C

When I clicked away, I was not served a pop-up window offering me a bribe (e.g., a free e-newsletter or special report) in exchange for my email address. This is a huge tactical error for any landing page.

Why? Because if you get the visitor’s email address before he leaves without ordering, you can serve him a series of follow-up emails via auto-responder attempting to convert him to a trial subscription. And, you’ve added another valuable name to your house e-list. Without his email address, you have lost the opportunity for follow up, significantly reducing your conversion rate.

5. User Testimonials – C

I didn’t see any testimonials here. True, the Mayo Clinic name is such a strong brand that the need for credibility building is not as strong as it would be with most other health advisors.

But even though I know the Mayo Clinic name, I may not have heard of their newsletter. And so I need to see testimonials from subscribers, the media, and experts saying that this service is worthwhile and makes money for its readers. And I don’t.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

The various links throughout the landing page encourage you to click to order. Clicking brings you to a simple, easy-to-follow order page with a soft offer: you can sign up for a subscription on a bill-me basis.

Traditional health newsletter publishers like Agora and Phillips promote their publications with hard offers; institutional health newsletter publishers like Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins seem to use mainly soft offers. This makes me wonder what the pay-up rate is from orders placed on this landing page.

7. Labeling and Language – B

The landing page uses clear language and avoids terms not commonly understood by the target user. Terminology is consistent, and “power words” (e.g., “free trial issue, subscribe now”) are used throughout to encourage ordering.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The typeface and layout are familiar, common and easy to read. The copy is made readable with the use of subheads, links, bullets and dual columns: there’s a wide central column with the main message, and additional selling copy and graphics to the right.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

I could see having a section on this landing page where health items in the news (those featured in the newsletter) are prominently displayed. But there’s nothing here to make me believe that they haven’t been using this same copy for years. It doesn’t convey a sense of freshness, excitement, timeliness, or discovery.

10. Load Time – B

This is a fast-loading page. When tested on the Web Page Analyzer, the page downloaded in 15.06 seconds over a 56K connection.

11. Aesthetics – B

This is a nicely designed, completely standard short-copy landing page. The design is clean and easy to read, and presents all copy and graphic elements clearly. I particularly like the way the no-risk guarantee is made prominent by placing it in a box with the Mayo Clinic logo.

12. Order Options – B

The primary order option is to click on a link and go to the order page where you can subscribe online. The publisher’s name and address appear at the end of both the landing page and the order page. There is no option to order by phone, fax or email.

You get two free special reports when you sign up for one year, and this is clearly indicated on the landing page and the order page.

The price for a one-year subscription (12 monthly issues) is $27, but that number never appears on the landing page or the order form. Instead, we are told to make “just 3 payments of $9.”

The publisher correctly recognizes that consumer health newsletters have a low price point, and is presenting the price in a manner calculated to minimize price resistance.

Conclusion

There’s very little to dislike about the Mayo Clinic Health Letter landing page. The copy is concise and easy to read; the layout is clean and bright; the graphics are simple and eye-catching.

On the other hand, there’s very little to like—or at least to get excited about—on this landing page, either.

If you divide products into two categories—must-have and nice-to-have—newsletters fall decisively in the latter. No one needs newsletters. As Bill Bonner, founder of Agora Publishing, a large consumer newsletter publisher likes to point out, “Nobody wakes up, taps their significant other on the shoulder, and says, ‘Honey, we need to get some more newsletters today.”

Newsletters do not sell themselves. They need to be sold. And this landing page just doesn’t live up to the copy standards that Agora, Phillips, SoundView, and other successful publishers use to sell their health newsletters.

SuperAffiliateHandbook.com Sales Letter Landing Page Review

“We don’t turn back our odometers.”

When I first logged on to the sales letter at SuperAffilateHandbook.com, I liked the clean design and the bright colors. However, I can’t say I feel the same about the brief, but very negative, intro copy the author offers at the top of the letter.

Ms. Gardner starts off criticizing the “huckster” who hype their programs for earning huge amounts of money on the Internet… and then she spends a whole letter telling people about her program for earning huge amounts of money on the Internet. The hypocrisy and hyperbole of those shady operators sickens her, she says, and she would like to offer the reader the non-BS scoop on how to make a lot of money on the Internet.

Okay, I’m sure she is utterly sincere… but this approach is like a used car dealer saying, “We don’t turn back our speedometers.” The car dealer may be telling the pure truth, but such an announcement puts a very negative thought in the prospective buyer’s mind… it reminds him or her that car sales may well involve some chicanery and prevarication. Likewise, prospects reading the Handbook sales letter could easily be swayed by that copy into a negative frame of mind about people who offer to show them how to make scads of money ($435,000+, for example) on the Internet.

SuperAffiliateHandbook.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

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1. Headline – B

There is little or no question regarding the purpose of SuperAffiliateHandbook.com. The author would definitely like for you to purchase her book. She’s provided a nice photo of the book, along with a quick description: “This is the amazing true story of how one woman, with no previous business experience, earns $435,000+ per year online…selling other people’s stuff!” The book has been “completely updated for 2005” and “could change your life.” Not much doubt about intent…this is an unabashed attempt to get you to order the Super Affiliate Handbook. The headline could have offered a stronger benefit instead of simply stating the name of the website.

2. Story & Content – C

The sales letter definitely tells us a tale…how Ms. Gardner made her fortune and how we can do likewise. The story is clearly in her voice and she painstakingly establishes her credibility by sharing some financial documents that probably wouldn’t hold up as evidence in court, but nonetheless look quite convincing. As I implied earlier, I don’t like the negative lead about “hucksters” who “never earned a dime” and their “sickening” business practices. These might be great attention grabbers, but they certainly don’t put me in a grab-my-credit-card-and-order frame of mind. The story concludes with a pretty strong inducement to purchase.

3. Content Webification – C

The site does a fairly good job of using the unique elements of Internet marketing. The date on the sales letter, for example, changes daily to provide a nice up-to-date feeling. The author also offers an audio message next to her still shot photography. Two criticisms here: the “brief message” is way too long, and she should have gone whole-hog and given the prospect a video clip of her delivering her intro message. I was annoyed by the gratuitous use of boldface in the bulleted copy sections. A little discreet boldface can be very effective, just as it is in any direct mail application, but too much is too much. It ends up working against you, making the copy harder to understand.

Also, when I tried to use the “Contact Rosalind” function, it shuttled me over to a page that said she was getting so much SPAM that I’d have to go to another link to contact her. It seems to me, if she had time to build a message to bounce me to, she had time to re-do her “Contact Rosalind” button. Few things on the Internet irritate a prospective customer as much as links that don’t work or pages that aren’t available.

4. Relationship Building – B

Ms. Gardner’s site has a nice, easy-to-use newsletter signup section…and when I signed up, the welcome message came back on my email very quickly. The acknowledgement message was very warm and friendly, if perhaps a little too similar to the sales letter in terms of language. Visitors have a couple chances to sign up for the newsletter in exchange for their email addresses.

However, I didn’t find the copy especially compelling and probably wouldn’t return to the site. Also, I couldn’t find any second effort or free offer as a fallback when I abandoned the order process. The site did, however, capture my email and I’ve received a handful of updates and special messages from Ms. Gardner in my email box since signing up.

5. User Testimonials – C

This letter is linked to a large section of testimonials, many of them quite compelling. I would have liked to see more reference to these happy, prosperous folks in the letter. Listing testimonials is fine, but I like to see at least a few of them worked into the copy as part of the story. Also, it would be nice if we could have full names and contact information on all of these people. The Dr. Joe Vitale testimonial gives contact info, but it is really more of an ad for his book than a testimonial for the Gardner tome.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

SuperAffiliateHandbook.com does a good job with its links. The buttons are well designed and easy to identify and use. There was, however, some blue type in a bulleted list and elsewhere that appeared to be links but weren’t. This was mildly confusing, but not enough to drive someone away from the site.

7. Labeling and Language – B

I definitely could have done without the rather rude statement early in the copy: “What a pile of unadulterated cow dung!” Again, it’s not a good idea to put negative ideas in the prospect’s head while we’re trying to sell him or her what could look very similar to that very same “dung.” I understand that she is trying to position herself as the person to go to for the straight information, but a more positive approach would almost certainly be more productive.

Other than the unfortunate negativity, though, the letter seems to be written in accessible, familiar language. Some of the subheads could have been more strongly benefit-oriented. For example, instead of asking the prospect, “How much is all of this information worth to you?” it would have been much better to tell the prospect exactly how much this stuff is worth…hundreds of thousands of dollars if we are to believe the earlier copy.

Likewise, the subhead that ponders, “Is there a guarantee?” should have said something like, “You bet this offer is fully guaranteed.”

8. Readability and Content Density – A

As I mentioned earlier, this site is very readable with nice typography, an uncluttered layout, and plenty of white space. The graphics are well integrated with the copy and the whole site is very easy to read and to follow.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

The content here seems relatively fresh with a date stamp on the sales letter. Other than that, though, I didn’t feel much urgency in the sales letter. Even the up-to-date, good-for-today-only stamp on the Gold Upgrade offer didn’t seem very credible. Anyone looking at the offer would probably realize that the same today-only offer would be up there the next day and the next and so on.

10. Load Time – A

SuperAffiliateHandbook.com loaded with impressive speed on my machinery, well under our 15-second standard for excellence.

11. Aesthetics – A

Clean design and attractive graphics make SuperAffiliateHandbook.com a very aesthetically pleasing website. Visitors will no doubt feel very comfortable poking around in the sales letter and links. Nothing too grating or disturbing aesthetically.

12. Order Options – D

SuperAffiliateHandbook.com is a bit weak in order options. I saw no toll-free numbers to call in your order. Nor was there an easily printable form for ordering by fax or snail mail. Also lacking was an offer to have a representative call upon the prospect via phone or email or in person.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor Landing Page Review

It’s no secret that we at the Mequoda Group are big fans of the Motley Fools. In our Motley Fool Media Network Case Study, we chronicled the company’s admirable history from its humble beginnings as an America Online discussion forum in 1994. And we cited the Gardner brothers’ remarkable business model change in 2001 after the dot-com bust, which enabled the publishing company to rise like a phoenix to do $23 million in gross revenues in 2005.

Our Motley Fool Website Design Review gave them high marks in nearly every category, and we have mentioned the Motley Fool’s exemplary online business practices in numerous Mequoda Library books and articles.

The Motley Fools do a few things differently from most other publishers and do lot of them very well. You know you’re dealing with a hybrid publisher when its mission and values statement includes the words, educate, enrich and amuse. You don’t normally see the word amuse in somebody’s mission statement. And, of equal interest, under core values they include freedom to make mistakes.

– We find that many publishers use free content to largely just drive traffic to their website. Motley Fool is a great example.
– Motley Fool produces about 700 free articles a month and sends heavy syndication feeds to the major portals.
– That’s its single largest source of traffic to their website.
– When they get a prospective customer to their website, the Fools don’t just let you come there once and generate some traffic and maybe buy something or generate some ad impressions. They do their best to start a relationship.
– One key to converting casual visitors into paying customers is an effective sales letter landing page.
Let’s look at just one of the Fools’ seven landing pages and see how it measures up on the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

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Motley Fool Stock Advisor Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – D

The headline is practically nonexistent.

Amazingly, “Hello and welcome!” is the headline.

That’s about as lame an excuse for a landing page headline as I have seen since commercial websites started popping up back in 1995.

A sales letter landing page is an online advertisement, and an ad requires a headline. In fact, some marketing professionals consider the headline to be an advertisement for an advertisement. And every marketing pro I know would agree that a headline is the most important component of the ad… that the headline drives the reader to the first paragraph… that a mediocre headline will literally kill an ad’s effectiveness.

Just “Hello and welcome!”? There is no offer, no promise, no intrigue. Nothing compelling or motivating in any way. I’m stupefied!

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor is the publisher’s flagship print newsletter and it reflects the Gardners’ personal investment philosophy and advice. So it is especially disappointing that this landing page doesn’t engage the first-time visitor with a benefit-laden headline.

Fortunately, the sales process gets better—if the reader hasn’t clicked away yet out of sheer boredom.

2. Story & Content – A

The sales letter tells a story; the storyteller is credible and clearly identified. It has a believable but not particularly compelling lead. The story has a conclusion the moves the user to buy.

A couple of features about this letter that I especially like are its specific previous buy recommendations and very unambiguous track record for beating (clobbering!) the S&P 500.

Specificity enhances credibility. Never say one of your stock picks has tripled since you recommended it. Rather, as the Gardner’s say, “The stock has risen 205 percent since David’s recommendation, turning a $10,000 investment into $30,500.” That’s a lot more specific and convincing.

3. Content Webification – A

The landing page makes innovative use of interactive technology. Motley Fool has a handy online quotes and data function that enables the user to look up the current price and performance history of hundreds of stocks. When this landing page refers to stocks that it has recommended, the user has an instant hypertext link to the current price and detailed history of that stock.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – C

Surprisingly, this landing page offers no free downloadable report in exchange for an email address and permission to contact. However, I suspect that many visitors to this page have encountered other Motley Fool webpages prior to arriving here. It’s a landing page, but not necessarily the first landing page the visitor sees.

And the Fools have done an aggressive job of acquiring the visitor’s email address much earlier in the process. When the visitor arrives at this sales letter landing page, they assume he is ready to buy a print newsletter.

5. User Testimonials – B

The four testimonials are credible and clearly identified. One is from The Washington Post. Another is from Money.com. The third appears within the body of the letter and comes from The Economist magazine. A fourth testimonial is from an “investment newsletter industry’s watchdog.”

They’re not exactly users in the sense of individual investors, but they do add a certain gravitas to the sales letter.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

The landing page includes a well-designed button in the closing. The size, color and typeface are correct. It looks and behaves like a button; it has good affordance.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The sales letter uses clear language and good grammar. It avoids terms not commonly understood by the target user, but includes “power words” to create excitement and urgency.

While the headline was nearly non-existent, there are two quite respectable sub-headlines in use here:

Be The Next Motley Fool Millionaire!
Become an Investing Master!
Both are right out of the “sell the dream” playbook.

8. Readability & Content Density – A

The typeface is familiar, comforting and easy to read online. The layout is uncluttered and easy to follow. The landing page makes adequate use of white space. Graphics are well integrated with the sales letter flow.

Excellent! See Aesthetics (below).

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – D

There is no real sense of urgency communicated by this sales letter. It’s quite well crafted (despite the ridiculously lame headline), but nothing about it urges the reader to “act right now” other than this less-than-urgent advice:

The sooner you get started buying the world’s greatest stocks, the better off you’ll be.
10. Load Time – D

Download time was a slow 38.59 seconds at 56K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

11. Aesthetics – A

The graphic design is comforting and trustworthy for the target user.

This is a very well designed webpage. There is a good choice of colors, typefaces and graphics. It’s a great example of how to make a site visually attractive.

Excellent! See Readability & Content Density (above).

12. Order Options – B

The sales letter is followed by a usable online order flow and includes a toll-free number for questions and/or phone orders, although they are not aggressively invited.

But there is no printable order form for fax orders or the option to have a sales representative contact the user to place orders.

Finally, an exit pop-up up sells the Motley Fool Stock Advisor Annual for an additional $149.

Conclusion

Because no investment letter can promise or guarantee specific results, it relies on stating the past performances of its authors. So there is an emphasis on features as opposed to benefits. The subscriber gets:

– All back issues and recommendations.
– Periodic updates and alerts on current holdings.
– Full access to all Motley Fool discussion boards.
– And the Gardners offer a fair satisfaction guarantee (money back in full for 30 days, prorated after that).

This landing page is effective by being understated. It is good, but not great.

The Blaylock Wellness Report Landing Page Review

If the advent of the World Wide Web and the superabundance of information it puts within easy reach has done anything for me, it’s made me a much better consumer of medical services and a greater participant in my own healthcare.

For most members of the wired world, the Internet has become our first stop for information about disease—both prevention and cure. Consider this: the word “cancer” was searched about 25,000 times a day at Yahoo! in March of 2006. And that’s just one search engine.

With this demand for information about illness and health, it’s not surprising that many physicians and traditional publishers have teamed up to begin online newsletters that address these issues. Many of these publications are highly specialized and focus on a single topic or ailment.

Others take a shotgun approach and attempt to address the public’s infolust across a wide spectrum of disease prevention, physical ailments and medical remedies. The wider editorial focus that targets a greater number of potential subscribers at a relatively lower price point has a different revenue model from the smaller niche, higher price newsletter. And it creates a special problem for the newsletter marketer and copywriter.

That’s because most people don’t search for general health or illness prevention information. No, most people search for very ailment-specific information. If you discover that you have hypertension, for instance, you’re much more likely to search high blood pressure cure than general health and wellness newsletter.

And you’re more likely to respond to a sales letter that promises information about your specific ailment—in this case, high blood pressure—than to a sales letter that promises general health care advice.

That’s the conundrum facing the publishers of The Blaylock Wellness Report. One sales letter landing page for that newsletter isn’t nearly enough.

Now, whenever I see a URL with a number in the last part of the address, such as the one for this site—www.newsmax.com/blaylock/20.cfm—I always explore what other pages might be available if I simply change the number. You can get a great lesson in advertising copywriting this way. Have a look.

  • The URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/20.cfm is a general, all-purpose sales letter landing page for The Blaylock Wellness Report. It talks about measles, mumps, chicken pox and all the other common maladies, and evokes concern about “sleeper germs and hidden infections.”
  • The URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/17.cfm addresses concerns about a grumbling stomach and the fear of lower gastrointestinal tract ailments and prescribes a subscription to The Blaylock Wellness Report.
  • The URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/14.cfm addresses obesity and recommends a diet of The Blaylock Wellness Report.
  • The URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/12.cfm recommends The Blaylock Wellness Report as a cure for diabetes.

Each of these is a well-crafted sales letter landing page targeted at a different subset, or niche, of health and illness-prevention information seekers.

Let’s examine just one of this collection of sales letter landing pages used by the publishers ofThe Blaylock Wellness Report. The URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/13a.cfm targets users concerned about hypertension. Let’s see how it measures up on the Mequoda Sales Letter Landing Page Scorecard.

The Blaylock Wellness Report Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – A

The headline engages the target user with a compelling user benefit.

Headline: Discover What No One Else Will Tell You About The Deadly Disorder Hypertension

Sub-headline: Nearly 50% Of Americans Are At Risk – Right Now – For Blood Pressure Problems…

That’s an attention grabbing combo, but so are these alternatives from the URL www.newsmax.com/blaylock/13.cfm, at which the publisher has a different sales letter landing page for The Blaylock Wellness Report that also focuses on hypertension. It appears there might be a split test being conducted here:

Headline: There are over 50 million Americans suffering from HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE… And many don’t even know it!

Sub-headline: ARE YOU ONE OF THE THEM? Then you’ll want this new surgeon’s report that shows you how to CONQUER HYPERTENSION.

Both versions are intriguing and compelling. If it is a split test, the publisher is testing two entirely different sales letters, not just headlines.

The headline engages the target user with a compelling user benefit. It appears there might be a split test being conducted.

2. Story and Content – A

Returning to www.newsmax.com/blaylock/13a.cfm, which is the subject of this review, the sales letter tells a story about Dr. Russell Blaylock, identifying him as “not your usual doctor… he’s out there in the trenches, spreading the truth about simpler, cheaper and safer ways to prevent and manage disease.”

It’s a persuasive story—a good read—especially for someone who wants to be “sold” on a natural alternative that flies in the face of conventional medical wisdom.

3. Content Webification – B

There is no use of technology here to enhance the sales message. This letter could (and perhaps does) appear in print without significant changes. Its effectiveness is in its power to persuade with words alone. The only graphic is a picture of the very photogenic Dr. Blaylock, which convinces us that he really exists and is not some invented persona such as Betty Crocker.

The only graphic is a picture of the very photogenic Dr. Blaylock, which convinces us that he really exists and is not some invented persona such as Betty Crocker.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – F

The sales letter landing page for The Blaylock Wellness Report atwww.newsmax.com/blaylock/13a.cfm goes directly for the subscription sale. It does not offer a free downloadable report in exchange for an email address and permission to contact the user.

There is no attempt here to capture the site visitor’s email address.

5. User Testimonials – F

There are no user testimonials. Perhaps there can’t be any. If, for legal reasons, the publisher can’t make any specific health claims or promises, presumably testimonials from users would be either worthless or also impermissible.

As an alternative to user testimonials, the sales letter runs an extensive sidebar that is Dr. Blaylock’s thumbnail resume. It is appropriate and convincing.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

Strategically placed throughout the sales letter landing page are four blue, underlined links to a data-capture-page order form. They are clear and well designed. There are no order buttons employed. Again, this is a text-only sales letter.

Strategically placed throughout the sales letter landing page are four blue, underlined links to a data-capture-page order form.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The sales letter uses clear language and good grammar. It promises an easy-to-read newsletter and uses exceptionally well-written, mouth-watering benefits statements to argue the case for subscribing.

8. Readability and Content Density – B

The sales letter landing page at www.newsmax.com/blaylock/13a.cfm uses the familiar Arial and Helvetica sans serif typeface family, which is easy enough to read in this context. The layout is uncluttered, simple to follow and makes adequate use of white space.

The designer uses a lot of boldface and italics for emphasis and to create a rhythm. It’s a bit overdone for my taste, but not entirely obnoxious. The color red for sub-headlines must be executed with care and is often a bad choice. But it seems to work well enough here.

It’s a bit overdone for my taste, but not entirely obnoxious.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

The content and references are presumed to be accurate and up to date, but there is no way to confirm this easily. The sales letter does not include a date stamp.

Strangely, while the letter begins with the salutation “Dear Friend,” there is no valediction and no signature. We presume that Dr. Blaylock himself is the author of the message.

The offer of free bonus reports with a paid subscription is characterized as a limited time, 50 percent off, no-risk, subscription opportunity, but is not very convincing. The skeptic in me wonders if the newsletter is always available at a “discounted” price.

10. Load Time – A

Download time was 9.83 seconds at 56K as measured by the Webpage Analyzer.

11. Aesthetics – B

The look and feel supports and reinforces the sales letter’s flow, but gets right up to the edge of being frenetic and boraxed (graphic designer slang for “cheap and tasteless”). As a consumer, I am part of the generation that expects a degree of dignity in messages associated with health, fitness and the practice of medicine—although considering the recent trend toward vulgar television commercials for prescription drugs, this mental model is rapidly eroding.

12. Order Options – D

This sales letter is followed by a usable online order flow, but there is no toll-free number for phone orders, no printable order form for fax orders and no option to have a sales representative contact the user to place orders. These are missed opportunities which, if added, would doubtless increase sales and profitability.

Conclusion

While this sales letter is worthy of a journeyman copywriter, there are additional tweaks in design and layout that would improve its performance.

Rukeyser Mutual Funds Sales Letter Landing Page Review

Depending on who’s counting, there are at least 160 paid-subscription financial newsletters published in North America. The most popular focus on stock recommendations, but there are others covering everything from options and futures to precious metals and mutual funds.

There are also a few large—and numerous small—Web-based investment advisory services, many of which sell stock and mutual fund recommendations in a variety of online and offline formats.

Among these financial newsletter editors, Louis Rukeyser is perhaps the one most familiar to the general public—largely because of his TV show. He publishes two newsletters: Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street and Louis Rukeyser’s Mutual Funds, the latter—as its name indicates—focused solely on mutual funds. It is the landing page for this mutual fund newsletter we are reviewing today.

LouisRukeyser.com’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The landing page carries Mr. Rukeyser’s byline directly under the headline. That’s a good strategy for two reasons. First, it creates the impression that you are reading an article, rather than a promotion. And second, it gets Mr. Rukeyser’s famous name right up front, where it should be.

Promoting the famous Rukeyser brand is also accomplished by placing the newsletter masthead above the headline (remember, Rukeyser’s name is prominent in the newsletter title) along with Mr. Rukeyser’s photo and signature; these images provide graphic reinforcement for the brand.

The headline itself, “Here’s how to put the best fund managers in the country to work for you,” is a sensible statement and promise. But it could be much more powerful.

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Part of the problem is that it’s not specific. What does “best” mean? Are these the fund managers with the best performance today? This year? The past 5 years? The past 10 years?

Also, what’s the benefit of putting the best fund managers in the country to work for me? If it’s to help me outperform the broad market, show me, right in the headline, how they did it—for instance, “How the top 10 fund managers helped my readers turn $100,000 into $398,450 in just 15 months … with less risk than the S&P 500!”

2. Story and Content – B

The lead is specific and engaging, telling you how you would have turned $10,000 into $194,943 within 20 years by investing in a fund with a great manager, but would have turned $10,000 into $836 by investing in a fund with a lousy manager.

The rest of this long-copy landing page is similarly strong. It does a great job of explaining the “big idea” or system behind the newsletter, which is increasing mutual fund profits by finding the best-performing fund managers and revealing their favorite stock picks. (The reader can either buy those funds or the individual stocks.)

When discussing their track record, the copy focuses not on the newsletter’s performance but on the track records of the fund managers he profiles, which are indeed impressive.

The one flaw is that there’s not enough promise, early in the copy, of future benefit. I know these fund managers have done great, but they’ve already been covered in the newsletter. If I subscribe today, what will I learn that will help me make more money today and tomorrow?

The easiest way to remedy this is to create a premium with the best current stock or mutual fund picks, and offer that early in the copy—perhaps even in the lead.

3. Content Webification – B

Several standard devices have been used to make this long-copy newsletter promotion work on the Web. One is the use of a two-column format, with a column running along the right margin used to get additional sales points across. The other is the placement of links to the order page early and periodically throughout the long copy, rather than waiting to the end to give the link.

Some experts say that placing a link to the order page too early in the copy can depress response. Reason: people click through to the order page before they are sold, and then click away without ordering.

On the other hand, other experts say that placing links to the order page early and often throughout long-copy landing pages increases the conversion rate, and that’s been my personal experience in most instances. So this is something you may want to test.

4. Email Capture – C

When I clicked away, I was not served a pop-up window offering me a bribe (e.g., a free e-newsletter or special report) in exchange for my email address. This is a huge tactical error for any landing page.

Why? Because if you get the visitor’s email address before he leaves without ordering, you can serve him a series of follow-up emails via autoresponder attempting to convert him to a trial subscription. And, you’ve added another valuable name to your house e-list. Without his email address, you have lost the opportunity for follow up, significantly reducing your conversion rate.

5. User Testimonials – C

I didn’t see any testimonials here. True, the Rukeyser name is such a strong brand that the need for credibility building is not as strong as it would be with most other advisors.

But even though I know Rukeyser, I may not have heard of his mutual fund newsletter. And so I need to see testimonials from subscribers, the media, and experts saying that this service is worthwhile and makes money for its readers. And I don’t.

6. Links to Order Flow – B

The various links throughout the landing page promise a 100 percent risk-free trial to the newsletter when you click on the link. Clicking brings you to a simple, easy-to-follow order page where you can sign up for that trial.

The one flaw—and it’s a big one—is that the offer of a “100% risk-free trial” is not repeated or explained on the order page. (It is explained in the closing text of the right-hand column, but if you click on a link before that and go to the order page, you won’t see it.)

7. Labeling and Language – B

The landing page uses clear language and avoids terms not commonly understood by the target user. Terminology is consistent, and “power words” (e.g., “risk-free, guarantee”) are used throughout to encourage ordering.

8. Readability and Content Design – B

The typeface and layout are familiar, common and easy to read. The long copy is made readable with the use of subheads, links, bullets, and dual columns: there’s a wide central column with the main message, and additional selling points running through the right margin.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – C

What’s lacking is any sense of news or reference to what’s going on in the market right now.

There are a number of powerful trends affecting the markets and outlook for investors today. These include China’s booming economy, record U.S. trade deficit, looming threats of inflation, the new bull market in natural resources, continued fears over global terrorism, interest rate hikes and rising oil prices, to name a few.

The writer of this landing page is either blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the real world or doesn’t think the latter is relevant to his product. But since it’s an investment advisory, he is wrong.

10. Load Time – B

This is a fast-loading page. When tested using the Web Page Analyzer, the page downloaded in 23.72 seconds over a 56K connection.

11. Aesthetics – B

The target market for investment newsletters is accustomed to reading long-copy letters, and so the text-intensive design used here is totally appropriate. We know from years of testing that newsletter subscribers are information seekers. So if the copy is informative and exciting—and this copy is—they will read it.

I didn’t give the page an A because the designer did not go the extra mile to make it more grabbing and compelling, e.g., putting key words in bright red or blue, or highlighting key points in yellow, or calling attention to copy with graphic devices like arrows or simulated handwriting in the margins.

12. Order Options – B

The primary order option is to click on a link and go to the order page where you can subscribe online. Other contact information—an address, toll-free phone number, fax number, and email for customer service—appear at the end of both the landing page and the order page.

You get two free special reports when you sign up for one year, and four free reports when you subscribe for two years—this is clearly indicated on the landing page and the order page.

You also get a nice discount off the regular rate. This is made clear on the landing page, but not on the order page, which only gives the price—but does not indicate that it’s a discount off the regular rate.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a solid effort: long, compelling copy, a powerful idea (you should invest in the funds and the stock picks of the best managers only) and lots of proof that the idea works (the track records of the fund managers profiled in the newsletter).

The reason it rates a C instead of an A is that there are a number of significant flaws in the execution—such as lack of tie-in with news and current market conditions—that may be holding this promotion back from achieving its maximum conversion rate.

The Samsung SyncMaster 710MP Landing Page Review

The global consumer electronics company Samsung currently has a campaign running on Forbes.com which caught our eye at Mequoda. The animated rectangle advertisement on the top of the magazine’s homepage rotates through several products, each with its own landing page. We’ve selected the SyncMaster 710mp LCD product landing page for scrutiny. This review reveals how lack of marketing focus can hinder campaign goals.

This particular ad/landing page combo is for a high-end TFT LCD three-in-one monitor targeted at the home consumer market. The pitch focuses on style, quality and a reduced price point. The goals of the campaign are unclear—as the page focus vacillates between getting an email sign up, linking to more product information and additional links to well-known online retailers where the product can be purchased directly.

Samsung is not a retailer and more of their advertising experience follows a brand marketing rather than direct advertising model. This background is obvious in the confused objectives and muddily-executed landing page for this campaign. An attractive design and interesting story are wasted on a campaign that is unsure of its goals. Since the landing page asks the visitor for an email address, we assume the main goal for this campaign is to build an email marketing database. This page falls short on many of the landing page criteria designed to clarify each aspect of how to achieve that goal.

Specifically:

The headline focuses on price point, even though there is no direct purchase option.
The image animation takes the viewer’s eye away from the product.
Out of the nine links on the page, only one of them actually fulfills the email signup order flow.
There is no sense of urgency, the visitor has no reason to take any action at all.
Link design makes it easy for the user to leave the page without signing up.

The Samsung SyncMaster 710MP’s Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – C

Samsung’s headline focuses on the low price, even though there is no way to purchase the product from this page. The headline does extol a benefit, but it doesn’t help attain marketing goals as the visitor is then left wondering what to do about it.

Here is the user experience:

1, The user clicked to this landing page via an animated button:
The first headline: Spend more time in the Kitchen. Then the image changes from a rolling pin to a picture of a cool LCD screen: The Samsung 710MP LCD. Now $279.
2. The landing page headline reads:
Enjoy a four star viewing experience at an affordable price. The Samsung 17″ 710MP LCD. Now only $279.
Samsung created this campaign to get email marketing permission to people interested in LCD monitors. When I read the headline and look at the page, I assume that I can buy the item directly, or that I will be given some direction about how to buy it at a special price. This is not the case.

If strategic intent of the page is to get an email address, then the message should connect the email collection form to the LCD monitor being advertised. The headline and the intent of the page don’t match up. The email sign-up form doesn’t even mention the product. Am I here to get a deal on a specific monitor, or to sign up for generic Samsung product emails?

Not only is the headline not aligned with the page’s goal, but it has been placed over to the right side of the page (English readers look left first) in a small-ish font, and even with animation it doesn’t stand out. Conclusion: A headline that is easy-to-miss, and offers a benefit that is not connected to the strategic intent of the landing page.

2. Story and Content – C

Samsung is marketing this product to the high-end home user. The story is that I can have technology that combines things that I want into a smaller, better, less expensive package—without cluttering up the fantastic marble countertop in my designer kitchen. The main image on the page is a beautiful kitchen, followed by this first line of copy:

“Whether you are in the kitchen, office or dorm room, the Samsung SyncMaster 710MP always gets things cooking. For only $279 you can enjoy a 17″ TFT-LCD display that offers three-in-one functionality enabling you to use it as a computer, TV and video monitor.”
Not a bad story. Many consumers wonder why they would need a three-in-one LCD monitor, so putting the product in an everyday context is a good strategy. The style of the writing is right on target, combing a casual, consumer magazine writing style with just enough tech buzz words thrown in to impress. And with the popularity of cooking shows, and the plethora of recipes available online, a computer/video screen in the kitchen is a luxury worth having.

Good story, but again, they missed the goal of the campaign. The short copy in no way encourages the user to take the action the page was designed to encourage. My complaint is the same as with the headline—the story is not aligned with the strategic intent of the page. I read the copy and instead of filling in an email form, I just click on one of the product links and find myself lost on Samsung’s site. Samsung is not a direct retailer, so driving consumers to their site is just throwing away their advertising dollars.

3. Content Webification – C

Good webification will enhance the story, help the audience visualize the product or build a relationship. It should be used for strategic objectives, not for the entertainment of the production crew.

In this case, Samsung got it half right. By spending production time on creating an animated image they could have built on the visual and experiential aspect of the product. But then they made a completely irrational decision.

Imagine you’re Samsung, you’re pitching your LCD screen with a high-quality resolution and illustrating how useful it is to have in a kitchen. You’ve got a beautiful product shot in a kitchen environment to tell the story. What do you think you should ask the designers to animate in the photograph?

1. The image on the LCD monitor
2. The microwave oven light
3. The gas flame under the teapot on the stove
4. Steam from the teapot

Samsung, for some unbeknownst reason, chose everything (microwave, gas flame, steam) except the obvious choice—the product. Animating the LCD screen would bring the actual experience of the product right into the pitch. Watching the chef pictured on the monitor actually cutting the vegetables would add punch to the page and a good visual shortcut to experiencing the value of the product.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – C

This whole page should be about the email capture. Once again, Samsung almost got it right. They placed the email capture form above the fold, it’s easy to see and short (only four fields). Where they fall down is in not offering me a reason to give them my email address. The consumer needs a quid pro quo. All they tell me is that I’ll get news about Samsung products and services. Seriously kids, as an email-overloaded consumer, I need more than that. Are you going to give me discounts? Are you going to tell me about a new monitor before anyone else, so that I can get it first? Are you going to do anything for me in return for my personal information?

5. User Testimonials – F

Why do I want a three-in-one LCD monitor in my kitchen? The price might be lower than before, but at $279 it’s nothing to sniff at. I need a little convincing. Let me see someone like me who’s glad that they bought the thing, someone who uses it, someone who’s life has been improved by having it.

No luck. There are no user testimonials. I guess I’m just going to have to take Samsung’s word for it that a monitor in my kitchen is a useful thing to have.

6. Links to Order Flow – D

User stream of consciousness: ‘Hmmm—I’m stumped. Where am I supposed to click? Oh—OK, the product name… “SyncMaster 710mp” written in the copy is blue—I guess that’s a link. But wait—that takes me to the Samsung site—that’s not what I want to do, is it? I think I want to fill in that email form over on the right side, don’t I? Huh, what a tiny little grey arrow here—is that greyed out on purpose? This “Submit” word must be clickable—although it’s small and grey and not a button or anything… and then there’s this “buy from online retailers” sentence at the bottom of the page in blue—oh—that’s not a link after all—but the retailer’s names are greyed out—doesn’t grey mean that I shouldn’t click there? I’m confused… .’

Get the picture? Don’t confuse the user. The order flow on this page is the email capture. It is diluted by the other options and linked text, and visually handicapped by the grey color and small font of the word “submit.” This is not a well executed order flow.

7. Labeling and Language – A

Like a good magazine article, the friendly tone of the copy talks directly to me, without talking down. The splattering of technical terms like TFT-LCD, Dolby and BSE give me confidence and will speak to the audience that lives for tech terminology bragging rights.

8. Readability and Content Density – B

An attractive page with a good layout. The large attractive image is balanced by the text block and the email form, and is easy on the eye. The short copy doesn’t require a lot of handling. Points are taken off for readability, however, as the main text is grey on a grey background. With such a small font and low contrast, I can’t help feeling that they don’t actually want me to read it.

9. Content Freshness and Urgency – F

I have no idea when this product came out, is it new? Maybe it’s been out for a while and the lowered price is new? I am given no time indicators, and absolutely no urgency about doing anything immediately. Well, I guess I’ll just come back and give them my email address another day.

10. Load Time – C

The Samsung SyncMaster landing page loaded in 36 seconds on a 56K modem. More than half a minute is too long to ask the user to wait to see your ad.

11. Aesthetics – B

The aesthetics of this Samsung landing page match the audience well. We’ve got a high-end product being sold with an attractive photo (and making a picture of a flat screen monitor on a kitchen counter attractive is not an easy assignment). The color scheme is serious, the audience will feel at home and have confidence in the message.

My only gripe—and it’s a big one—is that my eye is drawn to the wrong object. Every time I look at the page, I find myself drawn into the sharp focus on the teapot image in the center of the photograph, with the light glinting off the sides, and the elegant black arch of the handle… hmmm, maybe I need a new teapot?

Oops. I should be describing the product being sold—the Samsung SynchMaster 710MP Monitor—when describing this photograph. I guess the designer was thinking about her next cup of tea while working on this project.

12. Order Options – D

As I mentioned in #6, links to order flow, we’re not going to see high marks here. There are too many options. I can just see the marketing team arguing over what they wanted most from a visitor to this page:

– Give us email marketing permission and build our database.
– Buy this product from a partner/retailer
– Get more details about this product

The page is like a marsh with too many outlets. There are four links (including the image) to the Samsung product page, four links to online retailers and a single link for the email capture.

I’ve been assuming throughout this article that the email capture is priority number one for this Samsung campaign. Samsung doesn’t sell the product directly on their site, so any traffic driven to the Samsung site will get product information, customer service, and retail store locators. While tempting, it is a mistake to spend the time and money on this ad campaign and then throw away leads by diluting the landing page objective. The email capture will allow for multiple marketing efforts to a self-selected group that has an interest in a specific product line. Don’t let the user sail away to another site. The majority of links on this page should lead the user to complete the email capture order flow.

Conclusion

Samsung has wasted time and energy on this landing page. While we can point to each specific mistake point by point in the above landing page scorecard criteria, the root problem is a lack of focus. The marketing team didn’t prioritize the goal of the page well. I’m still asking what, exactly, was Samsung’s goal here. Were they really trying to build a email database as I’ve assumed? Or was this actually a brand-building campaign, with an email capture thrown in? Neither answer would make this a successful page. A good marketer will always ask him/herself the question “What’s the point?.” The reply must be obvious in every aspect of the campaign.

Without a clear objective, the potential results of this campaign have been damaged. The opportunity to build a targeted customer database has been diluted by the unclear headline and strategic intent, the lack of content freshness and urgency, and the multiple links that lead away from fulfilling the order flow.

Morningstar.com’s FundInvestor™ Sales Letter Landing Page Review

The Morningstar® FundInvestor™ landing page, when measured against our Landing Page best practices model, is ineffective and dysfunctional. This review is of one page on the MorningStar.com website, a link from the site’s homepage to the landing page for one of its many print newsletters.

In my opinion, commercial websites should use the “real estate” of their landing pages conservatively. When your strategic objective is to get the visitor to sign up for a free newsletter or a trial subscription, it is distracting to be confronted with rotating banner ads for other products. Landing pages need to be tightly focused on a single intention. This one is not.

Morningstar.com’s FundInvestor Landing Page Scorecard

1. Headline (Strategic Intent) – B

The headline calls attention to the product or service by name. But little else.

The headline “Review the next issue of Morningstar® FundInvestor™ absolutely risk-free” is an offer without a compelling reason to act. “Free” is always a powerful word in any headline, but “risk-free” is something else.

A powerful headline offers a promise. Example: “Try the Morningstar® FundInvestor™ for six full months, and if you’re not entirely satisfied, simply notify us by email and we’ll refund your entire subscription fee—no questions asked.” That’s more than a guarantee; it’s a promise.

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Instead, the Morningstar® FundInvestor™ immediately displays the prices for its “risk-free” product. It isn’t until much further down the landing page that the visitor finds the promise:

“If you’re not happy with it for any reason, you may cancel your subscription before you receive your second issue for a full refund. Also, if you continue your subscription and ever become unhappy with Morningstar® FundInvestor™, you may cancel any time. You’ll receive a full refund on the unused portion of your subscription.”

That’s a fair offer, but it’s too far away from the (not compelling) headline.

2. Story and Content – F

There is no story.

The reader requires a reason to take action. Even if he has already decided, for reasons he may not be conscious of, to buy the product, he needs to be reminded of the good reasons for his decision. Unconsciously, it’s a matter of acting congruently.

Buying decisions are largely emotional: we buy what we want, not necessarily what we need. Compelling reasons (rationalizations) provide the congruency required to justify an unconscious decision.

An engaging, believable story enhances this process immeasurably. This landing page has none.

3. Content Webification – D

There is no content webification.

There are no devices used to enhance the basic text message. However, there is an attempt to engage the visitor in a relationship with an appropriate interactive device. See Relationship Building below.

4. Email Capture (Relationship Building) – B

The order process for two of the three options displayed is interrupted with the offer of a periodic e-newsletter, and emails about new features, products and member benefits. Users chose their own username and password to register as a free member of the main website, Morningstar.com.

The timing of this offer in the order process is questionable. See Order Options below.

5. User Testimonials – F

There are no user testimonials on the landing page. In fact, we could not find subscriber testimonials on any page of the Morningstar.com site.

This site suffers from a lack of mouthwatering bullet points describing in the most tantalizing and specific terms what people will get from subscribing to its products. Subscriber testimonials would provide additional credibility. Unfortunately, neither are present.

6. Links to Order Flow – A

The landing page includes several well-designed buttons on the landing screen. See Order Options below.

7. Labeling and Language – A

The sales letter uses clear language and good grammar.

Unfortunately, it’s only 173 words long, including the headline and subheads. Not much of a “letter”. See #2 above.

8. Readability & Content Density – B

The typeface is familiar, comforting and easy to read online. The layout is uncluttered and easy to follow. The landing page makes adequate use of white space.

All of this is very nice except that the “letter” is otherwise ineffective. There is no compelling reason to take action.

This reminds me of working with an inexperienced marketing communications manager years ago. My company was doing the graphic design of his company’s new product brochure, but not the copywriting.

“Don’t worry, the copy is going to be great,” he explained. “The copywriter has a master’s degree in English.”

“Yes,” I thought, “but has she ever sold anything? Has she ever stood toe-to-toe, belt-buckle-to-belt-buckle, eyeball-to-eyeball across from somebody and actually sold anything to a prospective customer?”

Words move the brain. Good copywriting compels the reader to take action. Form follows function. Make up your own cliché.

9. Content Freshness & Urgency – D

This landing page is so tired it’s practically asleep. It’s comprised of three features and only one benefit.

There is no sense of urgency; no compelling call to action.

10. Load time – A

The landing page loads in under 15 seconds on a 56K Internet connection.

11. Aesthetics – A

It’s not unattractive, it’s simply ineffective.

12. Order Options – B

The landing page includes a toll-free number for phone orders.

An order form displays three delivery options and their prices. Chose one, click, and you’re whisked away to a shopping cart or registration page—the latter being a somewhat confusing interruption in the order flow that is bound to make some would-be customers abandon the process.

There is no printable form with which to fax an order and no option to contact a sales representative.

Conclusion

If you sell information products, whether in print or online, you’re in the direct response marketing business. It doesn’t matter what your product is, if you can’t describe its features and write glowingly about their benefits, you can’t sell it effectively.

I have no doubt that the Morningstar® FundInvestor™ is a quality publication—well-researched and written. But if I’m a serious investor, I have an almost unlimited number of investment publications from which to choose. The competition for my subscription dollar is intense.

If you’re going to convince me to try your newsletter, I need a lot of reasons. Reversing the risk of the subscription price by offering a money-back guarantee is fine. But it’s not nearly enough to convince me to risk an investment in my time.

What is your publication’s unique selling proposition? Why should I buy? What is your track record for recommending specific funds? What are your credentials? These are all questions from Introduction to Marketing 101.

The Morningstar® FundInvestor™ landing page doesn’t begin to address them.

Great products seldom stand on their own or sell themselves without someone creating an introduction or story, a thorough explanation and lots of hard-hitting sales points. A landing page and online order form must synopsize all these elements in a dynamic, persuasive summary that includes a forceful call to action.

The landing page for the Morningstar® FundInvestor™ does not.