Can This Marriage – and This Landing Page -- Be Saved?


Robert W. Bly



            Is there any married person reading this who has not, at one time or another, had a huge fight with his or her spouse? Of course not.

            And with half of all marriages ending in divorce, the market for the marriage advice Amy Waterman is selling on her landing page is enormous. So let’s see whether the copy and graphics she has placed on the landing page are strong enough to get visitors to shell out $29.95 for her e-book, “Save My Marriage Today!”

            1. Headline (strategic intent) – B. 

            The headline – “Put an end to the stress and anxiety of not knowing what to do to save your troubled marriage” – gets to the point quickly, but is perhaps a little cumbersome.

            Specifically, do we have to bring in the idea of “stress and anxiety”? Isn’t just talking about “save your marriage” enough? If we do need to elaborate on the benefits or concerns, are they really “stress and anxiety”? I would think “fear, worry, and anger” are more to the point.

            I’m not sure how I’d rewrite the headline, but maybe a question headline in big, bold type – “Can Your Marriage Be Saved?” – could work, especially followed by a short, interactive, online quiz.

            The subhead – “Discover proven methods for getting your marriage back on track – even if you are the only one who wants to work on it” – seems more direct and hard-hitting; perhaps it should be the headline.

            2. Story and content – B.

            The problem – a troubled marriage in danger of ending against the reader’s wishes – is clearly spelled out, as is the way to solve it (buying the author’s advice-filled downloadable publication).

            But the copy operates on a fairly logical, rational level. And that’s its main weakness. It does not exploit the intense emotion a person with a failing marriage is likely experiencing, nor does it connect strongly with the reader on a personal level.

            One possible solution: lead with a great story of a troubled couple – either the author or one of the couples she counseled – and how her program saved the marriage.

            Another weakness of the site, though not as critical as the lack of emotional power in the copy, is lack of credibility for the author.

            Yes, we see a picture of Amy Waterman and are told she is the author of Save My Marriage Today! But that’s the very product being sold here -- and being an e-book author isn’t exactly a stellar credential.

            I would add a sidebar with a brief bio of the author focusing on her credentials as an expert in saving troubled marriages. These can include having authored a book from a mainstream publisher, TV and radio interviews, articles in women’s  magazines by or about Amy, and stories of marriages she has saved, whether other couples’ or her own.

            3. Content Webification – B+. The content is well adapted to the Web in general and to the landing page format in particular.

            On a site purporting to give marriage advice, there is an overwhelming temptation to post lots of free tips and content. That can work to build credibility for a marriage counselor, divorce mediator, or other service professional.

            But for selling an information product, it’s usually more effective to use the traditional landing page format, as Waterman has here: the site is basically a long sales letter with no real options but to either (a) order the product or (b) submit your e-mail address.

            4. E-mail capture – B. The most common mechanisms for capturing e-mail addresses on landing pages are either a pop-under or a squeeze page.

            A pop-under is a window that appears on the screen when you attempt to leave the landing page without ordering. The pop-under asks you for your e-mail address in exchange for some free content.

            A squeeze page is a short introductory Web page that describes what you will learn on the full landing page. You must enter your e-mail address on the squeeze page before you can click through to the main landing page.

            The landing page uses a third option: a form built into the main landing page as a sidebar. As you read through the landing page copy, the second thing you get to (after the headline and lead) is a sidebar offering a free e-course in exchange for your e-mail address. You can continue reading the main landing page whether you fill in this form or not.

            I haven’t used this strategy, and it doesn’t have a name as far as I know. We could call it an “e-mail capture sidebar.”

            I know that both pop-under windows and squeeze pages work. Do e-mail capture sidebars work as effectively?

            I don’t know, but it seems they might not. A squeeze page requires you to give your e-mail address before you can proceed to read the landing page copy, but with an e-mail capture sidebar, it’s optional.

            A pop-under offers you free content (in exchange for your e-mail address) only after it’s clear that you are not going to buy the product. By offering the free content early on the landing page, isn’t the e-mail capture sidebar discouraging purchase? Why buy the paid product when you perceive you can get similar content for free?

            5. User testimonials – A. With a claim like “my information can save your marriage,” readers are naturally skeptical. And one of the best ways to overcome skepticism is with strong testimonials. The landing page is loaded with specific testimonials of real people saying how the product preserved their marriage.  

            6. Links to order flow – B.

            At the close of the landing page copy, there is a bar you can click on to order the product. When you click on it, you go to an order page. There is a second hyperlink to the order page in the P.S.

            But that’s it. You have to read through all the landing page copy before you can find these links.

            I might test placing a few more click buttons or bars a bit earlier in the copy. Reason: some visitors with severe marital problems might want to order right away, and do you really want to force them to scroll through the whole site before they can do so?

.           7. Labeling and language – A-.

            Everything, from the sales copy and testimonials, to the guarantee and order page, is clearly labeled using conventional language. A good example is the headline for the e-mail capture sidebar, which reads: “Before you carry on, get your FREE 6-day mini e-course ($27 value).” You know exactly where you are and what you are supposed to do.

            8. Readability and content design – A.

            I found the layout and typography on to be easy to read and pleasing to the eye. I especially like the way bullets, subheads, and borders are used to break the copy up logically into separate sections.

            For instance, there’s a separate section giving actual advice (“You may not believe this but…”). Another boxed sidebar lists and describes the 3 free bonus gifts.           

            9. Content freshness and urgency – B.

            I’ve never fully agreed with including “content freshness and urgency” in our Mequoda guidelines for landing pages. Web sites, yes: a Web site is both a resource and an online community, and fresh content both adds value and increases stickiness.

            But a landing page is a sales letter. And in direct mail, once we have a “control” – a sales letter that works – we stick with it. We don’t change it for the sake of updating content unless absolutely necessary or to test new copy.

            The site doesn’t give any indication of how recent the copy is, and there is no mechanism for finding updated content. However, the copy seems fresh and contemporary, written in the year 2006 and not 1956.

            10. Load time – B.

            On, the site took 17.74 seconds to download at 56 kbps. On my broadband connection, it downloads almost instantly.

            11. Aesthetics – A-.

            The site has a simple, clean design -- easy to read, bold, and attractive. No jumbling of type styles, sizes, and fonts as we see on so many landing pages these days.

            12. Order options – B. The Order Page is simple and easy to follow.

            The list price is $49.95 and the asking price is $29.95. Although it may seem obvious, the marketer should spell out the savings – “Order now and save $20!” – which is not done here.

            There are three bonus reports and a fourth bonus: lifetime access to online updates. None of these is assigned a dollar value, and they should be.

            An effective technique in information marketing is “self-liquidating premiums” – having the value of the premiums exceed the entire purchase price. The purchase price here is $29.95. If we gave each of the three bonus reports a $10 value, and the online updates a $50 value, the total value of the bonuses would be a hefty $80.

            Add in the $20 discount, and the total savings is $100. All of this should be spelled out on the order page to help close the sale by making the asking price seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the value received.


            Conclusion – B+/A-.

            Even though most of the components of the site rated a B according to our Mequoda guidelines, I gave the site an overall grade of B+/A-.

            Why? Because in this case, the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. Individually, I would find small faults with each aspect of the site.

            But when I step back and look at, my overall impression is that of an extremely strong, effective sales letter that convincingly makes the case for ordering Amy Waterman’s marriage advice.

            The only two faults that I think need to be corrected are (a) the lack of a personal, emotional connection with the reader (a person suffering the agony of a troubled marriage) and, to a lesser degree, (b) the need to build a little more credibility for the author.

            But overall, I believe yes, my marriage can be saved … and, with these two simple improvements, so can this Web site.


            About the author:

            Robert W. Bly, a freelance copywriter specializing in direct marketing, is the author of 60 books including The White Paper Marketing Handbook (Racom). His e-mail address is and his Web site is