This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—author of The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing, and a professional online marketer who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!
I tweeted a couple of days ago how wonderfully evolutionary sales page copy can be as it passes between the different people who are working on it. At the time, I likened it to Chinese whispers with a happy ending.
It’s a tweet that culminated from the copywriting process for Darren’s brand new book on DPS, Click! How to take Gorgeous Photos of your Kids. The book’s sales page presented some interesting challenges for me and reminded me of some important lessons that I thought would be good to share with you all.
1. Thinking before writing
All of Darren’s sales page start with a semi-workshop, usually with Darren, Jasmin, and myself. We’re not at this stage thinking about the specific words we’ll use—we’re thinking about the core message we’re hoping to convey and how we’ll present it. We weigh up the core benefits of the product and pick which one we’re going to lead with. It normally starts with a bit of a brain dump and ends with us exploring more specific personas—the ones for which we created the product in the first place.
With Click!, we started with a simple audience definition: “those who wanted to take photos of kids,” but soon realized that it needed to run a little deeper than that. We came up with four target personas: moms, dads, grandparents, and pro photographers. Whilst the book is perfect for all of them, the key benefits of buying the book were distinctly different for each group. We discussed options to create a page that conveyed a message to all, but settled for focusing on moms. We felt they were more likely to respond emotionally to the sales page.
2. Engaging the word nerds
Often the hardest part in the copywriting process is to draw a line in the sand and put an initial draft into play. It can be quite daunting but among the team at ProBlogger we have a Georgina, and that always gets us off to a good start.
From a short brief from Jasmine, Georgina provided the first draft. This was always going to be a tricky one for her, as there was a strong emotional entanglement in the messages (Moms and capturing the memories of their kids), and that meant we’d need to tread a fine line between making an emotional connection and looking shallow. I think Georgina did a great job, and we could have run with this version right out of the box, however Darren and I always like to take things a little further.
3. The deliberation begins
I just realized something as I’m writing this post: I’ve known Georgina for over five years. She’s used to me pulling apart her copy. But all’s fair—she’s changed as many of my words in the past with her editorial hat on. So the deliberation stage usually takes place with Darren and myself shooting it our over Skype. Sometimes we’re only tweaking things here and there; other times we’re making wholesale changes. A couple of hours later, we end up with a second version of the sales copy loaded up on Darren’s blog.
With Click! I decided to re-write the whole first section, as I felt we could be a little stronger in our messaging, and a little shorter in words. I spent some time and came up with a version that Darren incorporated into the final sales page. There were a couple of things I wasn’t 100% sure about, and I was keen to see what would happen in the next phase—the field test.
4. The first field test
There is nothing scientific about our field tests. Depending on the product, we’ll usually pick a few connections from our networks, and get them to honestly tell us what they think of the sales page content. Formal tests would follow a more structured approach, with a little more thought put around specific questions, but we’re usually running out of time, and with true blogger spirit, do what we can with what we’ve got.
With Click! It was pretty easy to contact all the moms we knew that were online at the time. But that was where the easy part ended! The response we got was interesting. The couple of phrases I wasn’t sure about basically horrified every mom who saw them. It was back to the drawing board, pronto. Whilst I’d never call writing fun, all I can say is I’m glad we knew before we email a couple of hundred thousand people! Motivated by some of the suggested alternatives, we set about creating a second revision.
5. The second field test
Nine times out of ten we never get to this, however, in the case of Click! the moms had spoken, and we’d made some pretty extensive changes from their feedback—and hoped we were right. So we re-tested the copy. A few nervous minutes later, the feedback was much better and we had a sales page ready to ship.
6. Time to shine
Once we’re happy, all our sales pages go through some pre-flight checks. A final pass at the copy to make sure as many typos are corrected as possible. Then we check and double-check that all the order buttons work, and the images are in place. Once that’s done it’s off to launch we go…
Whilst the lead-up is quite extensive, it’s the result that matters. In the first nine hours of launch conversion rate of the sales page was around 10%—there’s nothing wrong with that!
There are a few important lessons that we can take from this latest sales page evolution:
You are not your customers
I’m not a mom, and I don’t have any kids, so I need to be mindful that I’m writing a sales page for someone completely different from me. Seeing things from others’ perspectives is the key to writing sales pages that will convert more people than just yourself. If you’re ever unsure, seek feedback from others.
Small things can have a dramatic influence
Within the first version of this sales page, we included one sentence that struck the wrong chord with the reviews. There are over 500 words in this page, yet five seemingly innocent words could turn buyers away in droves. If there’s anything that can show you the power of copy, this is it.
Revisions can be a good thing … and a bad thing
Suffice it to say my initial revisions did more harm than good. But the second revision turned things around sharply. You need to be careful not make changes for their own sake, and if you do, make sure you take a step forward rather than backward.
So there you have the life and times of a team ProBlogger sales page. And we haven’t even started the A/B testing yet!
Stay tuned for more posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — author of The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing, and a professional online marketer for a major web brand.