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Archive for July, 2009

Web Copywriting: Ted Nicholas vs. Jacob Nielsen

July 8th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Is copywriting the key to Internet marketing success?

Master copywriter Ted Nicholas seems to think so.

“Mega success on the Internet is all about copy alone,” he writes.

“It’s also helpful to know about other things like search engine optimiziation, squeeze pages, twittering, and teleseminars.

“But without powerful copy to fuel the marketing engine, you will not even be able to make a living online, let alone become wealthy.”

Ted says his online marketing success “is 99.9% due to my copy which drives all the rest of the elements.”

Ted’s viewpoint about the importance of copy in online marketing is diametrically opposed to that of web usability guru Jakob Nielsen.

“We know that users on the web typically don’t read very much,” proclaims Nielsen in his 5/6/08 Alertbox.

He says that high-literacy users scan — and, on average, users typically read only 20% of the text on the page.

What he thinks drives sales online is a mystery to me, but obviously, he doesn’t think it’s the copy that no one reads.

My question to you is: who do you side with?

Do you agree with Nicholas that strong copy is what makes money in Internet marketing?

Or do you, like Nielsen and others in the usability crowd, believe copy is a necessary evil on the web — and the less, the better?

P.S. Let me tip my hand and say that I side with Ted’s view that copy is important, and think Nielsen is a gasbag full ot hot air.

Why? Simple. Ted’s conclusions are based on generating $6.8 billion in sales online and offline with his copy.

Nielsen’s conclusions are all based on statistical analysis of “page views” — people looking at and reading web pages — and not on people RESPONDING TO WEB PAGES BY SPENDING MONEY.

But enough about me.

What do YOU think?


Category: General | 34 Comments »

Should You Ban “Serial Returners” from Buying from You?

July 7th, 2009 by Bob Bly

One of my Internet marketing colleagues, GR, hates it when online buyers return his products and request a refund.

He hates it so much, that if someone does it more than once, he “bans” them from all his web sites.

That means he (1) blocks their IP address from his shopping cart so they cannot place another order and (b) unsubscribes them from his subscriber list.

His reasoning is that returns cost time and money, and he doesn’t want to waste either with people who are habitual returners of products.

GR feels that once is OK, but if someone returns multiple products from the same seller, he is deliberately setting out to cheat the seller — and GR will have none of it.

Serial returners aren’t just a problem for online information marketers. Traditional catalogers find them to be a headache, too.

For instance, there are women who will order shoes or a dress from a mail order catalog for a big event, wear them to that event, and then return them for a refund.

Some catalog marketers tag these buyers in their database, and if there are too many returns, removes their name from the mailing list.

What do you think?

Should a business “fire” a customer just because she has asked for a refund once … twice … three times? More?

Or should you just keep selling to that customer in the hopes that, some day, they will actually keep and pay for the information product they ordered from you and no doubt read, watched, or listened to before returning it for refund?

What say you?


Category: Online Marketing | 39 Comments »

Where Have All the Good Copywriters Gone?

July 6th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Since I am highly selective on which projects I work on … and turn down 10 clients for every one I take on … I am frequently asked by these prospects, “Well, can you recommend a copywriter who can help us?”

You’d think it would be easy, but it’s not. Yes, there are more copywriters than ever today.

But most of these are beginners who, frankly, don’t really know what they are doing.

I don’t recommend cheap copywriters to my clients, because 99 times out of 100, the failure of their copy to work costs you much more than the savings you gained from their dirt-cheap fee.

I only recommend experienced copywriters with a track record of success.

Here is my short list of recommended copywriters:

Any you would add to the list? Yourself? Others? Any you would drop?


Category: General | 34 Comments »