“Can you sell a $4,000 product online?”
Sometimes a strong salesletter strategy may be counter-intuitive to what you’d expect.
But when you get it right, it works crazy good!
This example was a short test project for a company selling a software and teaching package to teach stock market trading. Most of their sales leads came from live presentations at trade-show events — with several in-person follow-ups to expand on the presentation with a slide presentation and interview-based sales process.
When we started, overall time to go from prospect to customer was typically between 2.5 to 3 hours per person — including their tradeshow presentation, follow-up sales presentation and interview, plus various telephone and email conversations. Not unusual at all, when you consider that the product was priced at $4,000 for the standard package.
(An advanced offering was available for over $5,000 — I think shipping was included, fortunately.)
When the project began, I met the CEO at one of their tradeshow demo events and we reviewed their sales brochures and existing website. To be honest, both items were pretty dry, although they tried to focus more on the ‘sizzle’ than the steak. You know, pictures of a sun-drenched beach and lots of ‘imagine your life without a care in the world’ type of stuff.
That may have worked for some people, or for a more casual audience… but given the cost of this product, and the sophistication of most stock-market investor types, their black-and-white website and photocopied brochures weren’t doing them any favours. (Yes, really)
So after in-depth immersion into the company’s products that included full training in the use and strategy behind their investing successes — plus a hands-on look at their tradeshow offerings that included a couple of live presentations by yours truly, along with the question-and-answer sessions that followed for hours afterwards — I gained an intimate knowledge of their typical customer’s questions and concerns. Along with some in-depth exposure to their software and training process to understand how it could be used to answer those concerns.
And then the fun started
Because translating all of that ‘raw data’ into an effective web-based selling machine became an exercise in stepping into someone else’s mind. That’s when we stretched into ‘counter-intuitive’ territory.
Let me explain…
As we both know, strong promotional copywriting is essentially salesmanship in print. So it certainly helped that I’d gained some live selling experience with their product, after experiencing their sales process as a customer beforehand.
At that point, my goal was to bring as much of those expensive and time-consuming presentations into web form, and lead prospects through an ongoing sales process with words, pictures, audio, video and clicks.
Not an easy job, to be sure. (Try it yourself sometime and you’ll see what I mean.)
However, several members of the company’s sales team were hoping to find an alternative to booking $5,000 tradeshow appearances and 1-hour webinars, so the project certainly had management support.
Until they discovered…
The salesletter was about 15 typed pages long!
Some of the salespeople smirked when they said it would never work. “Nobody will take the time to read all that,” they said.
So while I put the first draft up for an initial test run, we began driving traffic to the offer and creating an email auto-responder to support the site. It was actually pretty light to begin with, using only a handful of messages highlighting some of the product’s benefits mentioned in the long salespage.
From there, most of our efforts went into an intensive SEO campaign, getting the site to show up at the top of Google and other search engines for a few key terms.
And then… we waited.
At first, web traffic barely trickled in. However, within about 2 months the site had gained enough traction online that visitors were finding it instead of the company’s main site!
Keep in mind that this was more than 5 years ago…
Back when online SEO was a little easier to influence. But at the time, the test site showed up for at least 256 of the top 330 Google results for the company name and product names!
So you see, copywriting isn’t just about persuasion; when you’re working online, there’s a huge advantage to something called SEO Copywriting that can help to bring viewers to your website in the first place.
Now this project went on for a few months of building, tweaking and traffic generation and buildup. So the actual ‘test period’ didn’t really start until visitors started showing up to read it. Overall, the test duration started with the site’s first product sale and finished its eventual hand-off approximately 4.5 months later.
Here’s where it gets REALLY interesting
By constantly monitoring viewer comments and questions — along with feedback from the sales staff — the site was quite well-received. But a few points kept coming up in sales conversations that took time to answer. The salesletter and the entire site were constantly being reviewed and refined. And by the time it was finished…
Now the salesletter was over 23 pages long!
And here’s the reason why.
As viewers discovered the answers to their initial questions on the improved site, they’d often click to register for an live online webinar presentation with sales staff. Conversion was good at that point, at least equal to the company’s averages.
Then we got an unexpected opportunity to do much more testing when the company was featured in a full-page article in one of the national newspapers. Within days, people were discovering the test site just by typing the product name into Google, resulting in over 1,000 calls to the company headquarters in less than 2 weeks!
The best part…
The new, improved, expanded copy included enough facts, descriptions and personalization to their target market to make it a compelling sales tool. Before the month was up, at least two callers from different parts of the country told us they felt like they’d already had an in-depth conversation with the sales staff. One woman said that the site only left one question unanswered…
“Who do I give my credit card details to?”
You see, when someone is truly interested in your product, they can’t get enough info when they’re checking you out.
As long as you don’t overwhelm or bore them, that is.
Overall, the site ended up selling more than $32,000 in products to a tiny list of about 130 people. And with this short 4-month test project, we had effectively reduced a 2-hour-plus sales process to under 12 minutes of hands-on sales staff involvement. Most of that time was used to provide the reassurance of live contact with the caller — and to process the online sales transaction.
Now THAT’S when you know the copy’s working!
Got a big-ticket item you’d like to sell – in print?
It all starts with your click on the big yellow button below…