Copywriting Case Study: Aaron Wall’s SEOBook.com

As I promised a while back, we’re going to take a look at how presentation and organization of sales copy can make a big difference not only in how your sale page is perceived, but also in how it converts.

Aaron Wall is a leading authority in the search engine optimization field. His 328-page, continually updated SEO e-book is indispensable reading for anyone who markets online, and I’m a proud owner.

Likewise, Aaron’s blog is a treasure-trove of information, and I believe that the vast majority of his success in selling his book stems from his blog. The content is great, and the design by Chris Pearson provides a stunning presentation to the blog itself.

Like any smart online information product publisher, Aaron also has an affiliate program. Affiliate traffic is a bit different than repeat blog readers, in that affiliates want to send visitors directly to the sales page in the hopes that the traffic will convert to a sale right away.

This is where I think there might be a problem. From a presentation standpoint, the sales letter just doesn’t seem to fit. Plus, while the story Aaron is telling is on target, the organization of the copy elements might benefit from some tweaking.

And we always want to try a new headline, right?

Before I did anything, I threw a bunch of traffic directly at Aaron’s sales page to see how well it converted. The short answer is, it didn’t.

Aaron sells a lot of books because of the excellent value he provides through his blog. I felt that he could sell even more if his sales page were optimized to better match the overall tone and presentation of his blog.

Take a look at Aaron’s current sales page.

I’ve redone the page, and on Thursday, Aaron will unveil it so you can see what I’ve changed and a bit of why. Plus, early next week Aaron will be interviewing me over on his blog.

We’ll then of course have to look at what really matters… increased conversions, or no?

UPDATE: Here’s the new sales page and my explanation of the changes.

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  1. Excellent. I have sent some traffic to that sales page too with no results. It will be interesting to see if it gets better

  2. So you’re redoing the sales letter page into a newly revamped sales letter, or getting rid of the sales letter approach?

  3. Hey Brian;

    Looks like that page could use some help!

    So do you offer such services to chaps like me?

    Let me know!

    PS: Where can we see his great blog?

    Mike

  4. I’m in the middle of reading Aaron’s book (page for page) as we speak. Brilliant!

    This idea of a copywriting case study is also very interesting. Look forward to the “before and after” installment.

  5. I can’t wait to see what changes come on Thursday. Personally, I’ve been testing a variety of landing pages for my own software product. In the past 2 weeks went from 0% download conversions to 17.5% :) Proving testing does work. I don’t want to post unsolicited links but if anyone wants to see the 0% conversion page vs. the 17.5% I can send them on request or post here, provided I have Brian’s blessing.

  6. Aaron is great! Although I haven’t purchased his book (yet!), I’ve read everything he has blogged. Ever.

    The only problem I can see with optimizing the sales page is that his knowledge is dangerous – too many people read his SEO book, and the rest of us ‘professional’ SEOs are now out of work :P

    I can’t wait to see the unveiling!

  7. What a great idea. I’m dying to see the new version and hear the reasons for the changes.

  8. Jim, I’m still keeping the sales letter format. With blog reader traffic, I think you can sell with a short-form page, but with affiliate traffic for an information product, you still need longer copy in my experience.

    Michael, click on Aaron’s name at the beginning of the second paragraph to see Aaron’s blog.

    Brad, post away… I think that’s exactly the kind of thing we want to see around here. :)

  9. Ok, here goes… Guess which one gets 17.5% download conversions and which one gets 0%:

    Page 1

    Page 2

    Spoiler….

    Answer: Page 1 which has been averaging 23% for the past 3 days averages overall 17.5% for 3 weeks. Page 2 got 0% download conversions for a 3 week test (ouch!!)

  10. P.S. if anyone has any comments on how to make Page 2 better..by all means let me know! I’ll be happy to test ;)

  11. Hmmm… just at a glance I’d say it’s the headline and the lack of that distracting screenshot that makes Page 1 way more effective.

    Test the Page 2 headline with the rest of the Page 1 format to see what happens. I think removal of the screenshot was key, but it would be interesting to see how much better the Page 1 headline is over Page 2.

  12. Brian, Aaron’s book is now 328 pages as of last week’s update. :)

  13. Thanks, fixed.

    I knew that, and managed to forget all the same. :)

  14. Brad,

    The screenshot might not even be so bad if it were more clear. The problem I had was that it was very blurry.

  15. Brian, I’m going to start that test today. I have one test running with a different graphic that performs at about 13%. Interesting how a graphic can make such a difference. Let’s see what the headline does

  16. I went to his website a few weeks ago and I don’t remember how I landed up there. I almost bought the book but I have this bias — it could be unreasonable too — against a sales copy that goes on and on and on. I wanted to buy the e-book, but didn’t buy it because of the sales copy. May be I will now, since you and a few commenters here say it is a great book :-).

  17. Jay, that was one of the problems I had with the page itself. If I shrunk the image there was no detail at all. If I blew it up it pushed out the formatting. I developed a strong hate for Frontpage during that time. lol

  18. Definitely headline and lack of screenshot that makes #1 so much better than #2 on Brad’s pages.

  19. I’ve considered buying Aaron’s book a few times but have always stopped at that sales page. The headline is way too sensationalist to me. It reminds me of an infomercial or “snake oil salesman”. Then there’s the “What the SEO pros DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW”. Complete with shouting.

    There’s way too much market-ese in there for me to have any respect for the product. It looks like they’re trying to rope in the gullible people who fall for empty promises (because when you see things like that they’re associated with products that end up being complete garbage).

    I found similar problems on the pages Brad posted above. #1 had a much more believable and realistic headline. #2 was only slightly different but the “Guaranteed!” was enough to put me off. For the second one it could also be that the text is broken across two lines in mid-phrase so the headline is less readable. I agree with others about the screenshot as well.

  20. Hi Megan. Yep, it’s clear that a lot of people make snap judgments of a product based on its marketing. It’s a shame to a certain extent, because often the products are really excellent and people simply miss out.

    I say to a certain extent, because you’ll never please anywhere close to everyone when selling a product. You just want to find an approach that sells the most product possible.

    For example, I agree about the shouting, but the “what SEO pros do not want you to know” is a great hook.

    Likewise with “guaranteed,” if that’s just an empty bit of hype, it will and should fall flat. But if used to communicate a genuine removal of risk from the purchaser, it will boost response through the roof.

    It will be interesting to see the response to my revisions. I never promised Aaron everyone would like it, I only said that more people would buy. :)

  21. Megan, I’m with you on the headlines. I am an introvert and that type of shouting really isn’t my style. On the other hand, since I started taking Brian’s and other copywriter’s advice and focusing on headlines, more people try my product and read my blog posts. I almost feel like saying it’s a necessary evil. Without doing so, my software and blog wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

    Brian, thanks for pointing that out..my guarantee link must have been lost in the shuffle. I’ll re-insert it into both pages so the two headline split test is still equal.

  22. Brian,

    I am a big fan of both you and Aaron. But I think that you are going about it the wrong way.

    If, like you said, Aaron’s blog is the biggest seller of seobook. Why not have the affiliates send people to a page that “sells” the blog. Since Aaron’s blog is great and free, this should be a piece of cake.

    And then, sit back and let the blog make the sales.

    Am I missing something here?

  23. Yep. Afilliates don’t want to “wait” for the blog to sell the book, and will likely be concerned that their tracking cookie will expire or be superceded by another incoming link.

    You can’t make affiliates do what you want… the good ones will just refuse to promote you. In that regard, affiliates are just like customers… you do what benefits them first, not what’s most convenient for you.

    Plus, a better sales letter should increase sales from blog readers too. Many commentors have expressed that the sales page is what is keeping them from buying, despite the great blog and recommendations from others.

  24. I totally agree that a better sales letter will help either way.

    But as an affiliate, if I had the choice to send traffic to a “sell now” page which has a conversion rate of 1.4% but sells immediatly, or send it to a “buy in 1 month page” which has a 4% conversion rate – this is a no brainer. Would you select the first?

  25. No, I would contact the product owner and offer to fix the problem. :)

  26. Touche :)