In April 2001, after a full year of development time, Gobots Internet Solutions' Owner Neil Morgan was ready to start selling his new product AutoResponsePlus, a software program for online marketing.
He didn't have a big marketing budget to invest in direct mail or space advertising; so, he decided to concentrate 100% on Internet marketing. Although Gobots is based in Glasgow Scotland, Morgan's target demographic were entrepreneurial marketers in North America, where buying and selling online is still more commonplace than in the rest of the world.
So he studied the Web sites for successful American software companies in his product price range, such as McAfee and Symantec, and launched sales site based on their tactics. Morgan says, "I tried the kind of informational approach they used. Here's our software, do you want it?"
After buying keyword ads on GoTo and Google, as well as placing ads in some email newsletters targeting his demographic, Morgan sat back and waited for sales to pour in.
Within a few weeks, sales got a bit better, but the numbers were still nothing to write home about. Morgan began to rethink his site strategy. Instead of copying sites that (apparently) successfully sell software, why not copy sites that successfully sell to his target demographic?
So, Morgan began to study sites, such as InternetMarketingChallenge.com which appeal to entrepreneurs marketing online. These sites' classic direct response marketing style definitely didn't fit Morgan's personality, but that didn't matter as long as it would raise sales. Morgan says, "I'm British, very reserved. But I was very aware of the fact that the audience for the product was Americans. And so many of these direct sales type Web sites are started by Americans."
Morgan decided to replace his concise home page informational copy with a long, benefit-driven, sales letter. He wrote the rough draft himself and then hired Brenda Howard, an American direct copywriter, to polish it. He says, "She didn't change the message, but she made the English better. When you write these things, you read them again and again, so you need someone else to look at it."
The final home page sales letter prints out to a whopping 10 pages long. It's packed with glowing testimonials which Morgan began collecting even before he had paying customers. He says, "My Web designer had a newsletter with 1,000 subscribers. We offered a free copy of AutoResponsePlus to the first 100 people to respond, and a 75% off discount to the rest. I got about 140 responses. I decided I was going to support those first people 150%. They had perfect support! I answered the phone at all hours of the day and night. When you do that sort of thing, people respond to it. They wrote, 'You did such a great job, you really helped me, it's wonderful.' I got two or three of these to use on the site initially. Now that there are 'real' customers, I use 'real' testimonials on the site of course."
Aside from adding this strong sales letter, Morgan took away many of the navigation links on the site to make it simpler. He explains, "When you get someone to your site, your objective is not to have them click here, click there, click on all your buttons. All you want them to do is buy your product! So I changed from loads of buttons and links to just a few. All are related to buying the product." Links that supported customers after the sale, such as forums, contact and support were moved to a special customers-only site instead.
Last but not least, Morgan added an offer for site visitors to take a free email course, 'The AutoResponse Top Ten Tips: 10 Tips for developing a highly effective autoresponder strategy.' The course is simply a series of ten emails plus a welcome letter that he sat down and wrote over the course of one day, and then set up using his own autoresponder system. He says, "It shows people how autoresponders work and follows up with potential buyers."
To encourage visitors to sign up for the course, Morgan purchased the rights to give away free copies of the ebook, 'Autoresponder Magic' which features a collection of sales messages from famous direct response emarketers such as Ken Evoy of Make Your Site Sell. Entrepreneurial marketers can study the sales letters to steal ideas for their own autoresponder marketing efforts.
The revised site launched in July. Then in September Morgan added one last touch to it -- a pop-up box now appears when you leave the site to offer the free autoresponder course one last time.
AutoResponsePlus' online sales rose 50% within seven days of the site redesign in July. After that, despite the economy, Morgan says, "They haven't fallen back ever since." So far, he's made tens of thousands of dollars.
The extra-long letter definitely has its fans. "People have complimented me on it," says Morgan, "and I haven't changed it since we re-launched because it's so effective."
The most-clicked button on the site is 'Order Now!' because many visitors order, and because it's the easiest way to discover the price of the product, which is otherwise buried far down in the letter copy. One of the least clicked on buttons on the site is 'Tell a friend' which Morgan added in hopes of encouraging viral marketing. He's not sure why it is a failure, but we suspect it's because people donít tend to click on graphics. A text-linked tell-a-friend button might work better.
Although ecourse was already fairly popular, opt-ins almost tripled after Morgan added the pop-up box. So although people may not love pop-ups, they still respond to them.
Next, Morgan has big plans to implement a super-affiliates program within the month, as well as continuing to tweak site design for maximum sales conversion. So keep your eye on his site for more ideas in future.
Copywriter Brenda Howard:
Artist who designed the product's virtual packaging:
Web design for AutoResponsePlus site provided by: