Praying for Internet Marketing Success
Robert W. Bly
Paul McManus, operator of www.prayerpower.com, has an edge over other Internet marketers: he can pray for success, and if his product, “Prayer Power,” does what he promises in his copy, his prayers will be answered.
Prayer Power is a $19.95 book. It comes with 2 free bonus CDs valued at $31.90, and shows you the right way to pray. How McManus has knowledge of the type of praying God responds to best is beyond me.
When you go to www.prayerpower.com, you arrive on a short “preview page” offering you free content titled “The 7 Great Prayers.” To get the free prayers, you must enter your first name and e-mail address.
When you do, you are taken to a long-copy landing page selling the “Prayer Power” program. Whether you order or not, you get “The 7 Great Prayers” sent to you electronically via e-mail autoresponder. The first prayer was waiting in my e-mail as soon as I was through visiting the page.
1. Headline (strategic intent) – B-.
There are at least four separate copy areas above the personalized salutation, so it’s hard to say which one is really the headline.
The largest, centered on the page right above the salutation, reads “The 7 Great Prayers for an Abundant & Blessed Life.”
This headline effectively communicates the idea that this site helps you improve your life through prayer.
But often, you find a potentially stronger headline as you read further into the copy, and if you do, this should be moved up front to take the place of the headline.
Below the picture of the McManus family, the copy tells us that “Prayer works!!” and that it can produce “better relationships, better health, better finances,” among other things.
I think the headline could be stronger; maybe something along the lines of “Put the Power of These 7 Simple Prayers to Work, and in Just 11 Minutes a Day, You Can Achieve Better Relationships, Better Health, Greater Wealth, and a Closer Relationship with God.”
2. Story and content – B-.
Most of the story is clear: prayer works, most people don’t pray regularly, and this product will solve that problem by showing you when and how to pray.
Where the copy falls short is that it doesn’t explain how it is that Mr. McManus is able to know what prayers God responds to and which He doesn’t. This is an outrageous claim to make, and I see little proof to back it up.
3. Content Webification – B+.
The site design is slightly disorganized. A professional graphic designer probably would not give it high marks.
But in direct marketing, ugly often works. And I suspect that, ugly and disorganized as this site is, it works.
The site makes good use of personalization. After you enter your name to get the 7 free prayers, you are served the long copy landing page, in which the salutation is personalized with your first name.
Under the photo of the publisher and his family is a button you can click to hear a 90-second audio message from Mr. McManus.
4. E-mail capture – A.
The user’s e-mail is captured immediately by the short preview page. If you do not fill in your name and e-mail address, you can’t get the 7 free prayers. Nor can you go on to read the long-copy Web site.
5. User testimonials – C.
There are no testimonials that I can see, and in a site making such a huge claim as to know what God wants, this is an enormous omission.
Testimonials from customers as well as clergy, saying that these prayers are effective or improved their lives, are desperately needed to make a rather outrageous claim credible. Without those, I simply don’t believe it.
6. Links to order flow – B.
There are numerous links on the landing page to the order page. The order page is well designed and easy to use.
The product is a book with two CDs, a card, and a journal. You can pay either with a credit card or PayPal. With its sensible layout and clean design, this page likely has a minimal abandon rate.
When you submit your order, an invoice appears on the screen. You can print the invoice to use as a receipt.
also get an immediate order confirmation via e-mail with the order number,
invoice, number, and date. I ordered on
7. Labeling and language – B.
The site design and labeling is rather conventional, which is a plus: everything is clear and there’s no confusion on what to do, where to go, or how to order.
8. Readability and content design – B.
The copy style is conversational, clear, friendly, and easy to read. As mentioned, the layout is slightly jumbled and disorganized. But the page is pretty linear, so you never get lost.
The copy does a good job of presenting and selling the product and the idea behind it: that prayer is beneficial, most people don’t do it every day, and they should. I would like to see more proof – from the Bible, psychologists, medical journals – that praying can help improve health, happiness, wealth, relationships, mood, and other important aspects of our lives.
The only scientific proof cited says that listening to classical music raises your IQ, which has nothing to do with the power of prayer (although there is classical music on the CDs).
9. Content freshness and urgency – B.
As with many landing pages selling single products, the copy is static. While it doesn’t seem old and dated, neither is there new content that could cause one to return over and over again. Of course, the goal is to get you to order the product, not spend a lot of time on the site or revisit frequently.
10. Load time – C.
To measure how quickly a Web site downloads on various Internet connections, we turn to our online tool at WebSiteOptimization.com. Results showed www.prayerpower.com downloaded in 28.87 seconds over a 56 kbps connection, and it downloads in an instant over my broadband.
11. Aesthetics – B.
As I said earlier, a professional graphic designer might give this site a grade of C. But in direct marketing, ugly often works, and knowing that, I grade it a B. It’s far from beautiful, but I believe it is effective at selling this product.
12. Order options – B.
The offer is slightly, but only slightly, confusing.
The short-copy preview page gives us what is shown as a book, “the 7 Great Prayers,” free in exchange for our name and e-mail address.
The order form offers “The 7 Great Prayers Book” for $19.95. If I get the 7 great prayers for free, why do I need to order the $19.95 book? Is it different from the 7 prayers I get free for submitting my e-mail address?
The $19.95 package includes two free CDs, valued at $31.90, plus a free prayer card and free prayer journal.
Conclusion – B.
The idea of a product you can buy online to improve your life by helping you pray more often and more effectively seems like a natural, especially to people of faith.
The domain name, www.prayerpower.com, is appropriately reflective of the subject (prayer) and its benefit (prayer’s power to improve your life).
The big missing element is credibility. While readers want to improve their lives, and may hope that prayer can do it, the idea that Paul McManus, of all the people on Earth, has unlocked the secret of what prayers God listen to most strains credibility, to put it mildly.
The copy lacks proof elements to overcome the visitor’s natural skepticism – no testimonials or research citations from credible religious and secular authorities.
Still, with the price point less than $20 and a lifetime money-back guarantee of satisfaction, there’s enough risk reduction that curious self-improvement and Christian buyers might place an order. And once they do, they are unlikely to request a refund even if the prayers don’t work, as long as the prayers are eloquent and moving.
About the author:
Robert W. Bly, a freelance copywriter specializing in direct marketing, is the author of 60 books including The Online Copywriter’s Handbook (McGraw-Hill). His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his Web site is www.bly.com.