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Monday, January 21, 2013

4 Ways to Suck at Online Sales

What's on the iPod: Live and Die by The Avett Brothers
writing, freelance, marketing

How was the weekend? I'm not yet feeling over my flu/cold/whatever. Still stuffy and a little achy, but it felt good to finally sleep without waking up to cough incessantly.

I spent some time on Friday looking for some sales page strategies. Anne and I are launching a number of new things via the 5 Buck Forum, and I wanted to make sure our sales pages weren't detracting from our message. What I found was kind of disturbing.

Even the so-called experts write long, boring sales pages.

I will not claim to be the purveyor of all things salesy, but I know what I like to see when considering buying something. I like simple. I like straightforward information that compels me to act.

Yet what's out there right now....oy.

Here are surefire ways of driving traffic away from your sales pitch:

Long-assed sales pages. Good lord, one ran nearly 3,000 words. I skimmed it because the thought of reading a sizable article bored me at the outset. That's when I realized the problem with this particular "expert's" content -- nothing, and I mean nothing, jumped out as something I had to buy. This from someone whom other people have said "You have to follow this person's advice!" Uh, no. Even the subheads were mediocre. I don't follow -- least of all parrot -- mediocrity.

Buildups to....nothing. If there are more than two exclamation points, I'm outta there. Why? Because someone is trying to force an emotional response. If your offer is solid, you need only to present it well. The same goes for fonts that change color and size. It looks ridiculous and detracts from your message. And unless your message sucks, that's not good.

Not enough information. That's exactly how a message can suck. Sales pages should tell buyers 1) what they're buying, 2) how much it costs, and 3) what they get for their money. There should be enough information about what you're selling to be clear. What should be left off -- anything not directly related to the offer. That includes pages of prose trying to convince your buyers that you're special. Your offer (and the strength of it) should convey that instead.

Be trendy. These long-assed, pointless sales pages came into vogue because someone way up the food chain decided it was a perfect idea. Sadly, even experts can make mistakes, and rather than say these pages are mistakes (they are to me, but you may love them), I'd prefer to say they're trends. Trends go out of vogue just as quickly. Instead of following someone else's lead, prove you're a creative person -- create your own sales page that rocks. If you follow everyone else, you're sure not to stand out.

What about online sales tactics or these sales pages doesn't work for you?

11 comments:

Devon Ellington said...

What bugs me: If someone is such an "expert", such a "guru in the field" -- why haven't I ever heard of them before today? Why hasn't there ever been interaction at networking events, both online and in-person, with these so-called professionals?

There are always new people to meet, and circles to expand, but if someone's THAT good, chances are I will have at least heard the name before.

Kimberly Ben said...

About a year ago, I was hired to write a sales page for a client. when I submitted it, she complained that it wasn't long enough. She liked the content, but was worried because "isn't it supposed to be longer?"

A lot of people feel that online sales pages need to be as long as the traditional direct mail pages and like you I disagree. People don't consume information on the web the same as print. They skim content and scan for key points.

I've noticed many of those very long sales letters will contain repetitive information throughout. Repetition can be an effective sales tactic, but it shouldn't be too obvious.

Lori said...

Oh Devon, you've hit on my peeve, too. "Gurus" of social media who aren't sociable are....well, nothing. And yet people flock like lemmings because someone somewhere said "Wow! Look what he's doing!" Yet the emperor is still undressed...

Kim, that's sad. The idea is to make your message stand out, not blend in. I love that you saw that. And I agree -- repetition can work, but it has to be used intelligently. Never insult the audience.

Paula said...

I'm guilty of skimming sales pitches and going right to the bullet points or highlighted info - and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Long sales pitches always remind me of what my dad said about one of my friends who would (and still does!) try anything to impress strangers: If you have to work that hard at making an impression, you can't be very impressive.

Ashley said...

Hi Lori. The weekend has been great. I'm mixing a little work and play - writing a website for a new client and also had a girls day (complete with a much-needed pedi) to celebrate the last few days of baby-free life. It's still hard to accept that I can't reach my toes anymore :) Soon, though!

The thing that bugs me about sales pages is that it's too hard to find the price of the product or service that's being sold. I realize that's kind of the point - to get the reader so hyped up about the thing that they're willing to pay almost any price. But for me, I'd rather know a little sooner than the last 200 words of a 3,000-word sales page.

The length matters less to me if the writing is really good. I'll admit I've been tempted to buy products and services that were WAY out of my price range simply because the sales page was so persuasive. So much depends on the individual reader that I think it's definitely worth testing several types/styles of pages to see which convert the best. Maybe the "gurus" have done that and that's what works for their audience, I really don't know. Hopefully that will help you have a successful landing page for the things you're planning!

Lori said...

Paula, I skim, too. More often that not, though, I simply give up. Like you, Ashley, I look for the price. If you have to hide it, it must be too high (my impression only). Tell me how you'll benefit me. Don't tell me how frigging special you are!

EP said...

All very good points but I don't know. I really like that "Big Ass Sale" poster just the way it is!

Lori said...

LOL! True enough, EP. I like it, too. :)

AnnaLisa said...

To borrow your catchphrase: Amen!

I always decline on the rare occasion I'm asked to work on someone's sales page--for exactly the reasons you and Kimberly give. Clients EXPECT them to be long-winded, overhyped, and ridiculous. I just can't in good conscience charge someone to produce something that I as a consumer WILL NOT read. Ick.

http://www.wordsonpageblog.com/2013/01/4-ways-to-suck-at-online-sales.html said...

Couldn't agree more with what you discuss here, Lori. Well, my thoughts about this is that since we all know that online marketers and businesses are uncontrollably increasing in terms of number and that, I guess, forces these different businesses to try out different kinds of strategies that will make them unique apart from the other ones. Unconsciously, they didn't notice that they are using lame methods already, I don't know but I think that's one.

Michael Stew said...

Couldn't agree more with what you discuss here, Lori. Well, my thoughts about this is that since we all know that online marketers and businesses are uncontrollably increasing in terms of number and that, I guess, forces these different businesses to try out different kinds of strategies that will make them unique apart from the other ones. Unconsciously, they didn't notice that they are using lame methods already, I don't know but I think that's one.

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