It’s been interesting this year to watch the intersection (some might say “collision”) of direct response Internet marketing and the blogosphere.
Basically you’ve got the purveyors of the sales letter trying to figure out how to live in the hype-intolerant social media environment.
It’s often not pretty, and here I am right in the middle of it all with a blog about copywriting.
The latest dust-up came when WordPress selectively enforced trademark rights against two popular sites that sell WordPress tutorial videos. Without rehashing the whole thing here, in essence one might say that the problem boiled down to how those two sites looked.
Yes, they use those highly effective long-copy sales letters that many in the blogosphere hate. And the sentiment from WordPress was they looked “spammy” and “scammy.”
Now, we could jump up and down and say that it’s substance (i.e. “content”) that matters, not the format it’s delivered in that should determine whether something is “spam” or a “scam.” For the record, neither of the two sites in question are scams; in fact, at least one is extremely well-regarded and puts out some of the best WordPress instructional videos around.
The problem is, first impressions do matter. And fair or not, as well as those sales letters work with some, they will utterly fail with others, often at first sight.
However, I like to point people to 37 Signals when they say the long copy format never works.
Even Web 2.0 software companies are moving to sites with more copy, less graphical fluff.
Because when selling any type of information product–whether ebook, video tutorial, software or seminar– long copy works better, and graphical fluff and excess navigation do not.
Ultimately, it all comes down to presentation, and that depends on the audience you hope to reach. Both bloggers and traditional Internet marketers are leaving money on the table by sticking with convention and failing to learn from one another.
Copywriter Henry Gold seems to be attempting to do something interesting about this. He’s been doing side-by-side case study comparisons of websites on his blog, and inviting people in the comments to guess which converts better.
He’s now released a free copywriting manuscript, and is holding a free teleconference where he intends to reveal the elements he changed on some of those sites to make them convert better. I think he will be touching on some of these presentation issues that people wrangle with.
Grab the free copywriting PDF and sign up for the teleconference at Henry’s blog.
I’ll be writing a bit more about this topic in the coming weeks, as I present a case study of my own using the sales letter of a popular ebook site.