Robert W. Bly
working in Web sites for newsletter subscriptions and other information
products? Here are a dozen quick observations:
1. Provide links to the order form early and often. Marc Stockman of
TheStreet.com says that placing links to order forms at the top of a
page increases response. He also puts the “call to action” link
landing page, not just at the end and the beginning.
2. Use a dedicated microsite to sell directly off the Web
Silver, Fred Gleeck, Mark Joyner, Terry Dean, and other successful
information marketers use dedicated microsites to sell e-books and
sites, with lots of free content and navigation
capabilities and varied sections, microsites are basically a strong
letter set up as a Web site. The only place the reader can click to is
form for the product. For an example, see
a microsite Mark Joyner did for my e-book on customer service.
3. Personalization sells. When you go to
www.trashproofnewsreleases.com, another Joyner site -- this one on
relations -- you are asked to enter your name. Then the Web site comes
your name in the headline, “Joe Jones Will Be in the News in 45 Days or
Guaranteed” -- a clever and effective use of personalization.
4. Establish credibility up front. Yanik
Silver, a successful online information marketer, observes that
skepticism online is even higher than offline. Therefore, you need to
build credibility. On Yanik’s microsite www.instantsalesletters.com, he
with three testimonials -- and a link to dozens more -- before he even
the first word of his headline.
5. Offer a free e-zine. The most
profitable model in online subscription marketing is to build an e-list
subscribers to a free online electronic newsletter, or e-zine, and then
to that list. The alternative -- e-mailing to rented e-lists of opt-in
acquire new subscribers -- has met with extremely limited success.
Your marketing Web site should have a prominent box for e-zine sign-up; see www.dailyreckoning.com for an example. The Daily Reckoning is a free daily e-zine published by Agora, the financial newsletter publisher. They have hundreds of thousands of free e-zine subscribers to whom they market their paid subscription newsletters with great success.
you have a microsite to generate orders for a single offer, you may not
give potential buyers an alternative to purchasing your front-end
Therefore, use a window for your free e-zine offer that pops up only
buyer has either ordered your paid product or is clicking away from the
microsite without ordering.
6. Combine free and paid content. An alternative to microsites are sites that combine both free and paid content.
good example, mentioned earlier, is TheStreet.com. Many of the articles
free; some are not. If you attempt to read an article that is not free,
taken to a “bridge page” (also known as a “barrier page”) that explains
can read the article and others like it by subscribing to a paid
as TheStreet.com’s RealMoney.
example is the home page of The Bahamas
Report, www.thebahamasreport.com, a subscription newsletter about
in The Bahamas. There is a section “Islands of the Bahamas” where, when
click on the name of a specific island, you get a free short report on
that is a section “Recent Articles,” when you click on the article
want, you are told you must subscribe to their online newsletter to
7. Avoid “sterile” copy. In the belief
that online users don’t read, have short attention spans, and do not
copy, many Web marketers make their sites very plain and unexciting.
look like information, not sales hype,” some experts advise.
just because someone is online does not mean they don’t have to be sold
product. They do -- as strongly as you sell them in print.
Dean, a successful online information marketer, packs his microsites
that reaches prospects on a personal and emotional level, not just
intellectually. The lead sentence in a microsite selling membership to
subscription site Net Breakthroughs reads: “In just a moment, I hope to
you so angry you’ll want to throw your computer right out the window.”
8. Offer a choice of monthly or annual
subscriptions. Subscription Web sites or newsletters promoted
give the subscriber a choice of monthly or annual payments. Salon.com,
instance, allows you to subscribe monthly for $6 or take an annual
for $30. The annual fee for online subscriptions is typically 10% to
than the monthly option; Salon.com is unusual in that their annual rate
than half the equivalent cost of a monthly subscription.
9. Offer free trials and strong guarantees. Guarantee
satisfaction unconditionally. E-book marketers, for instance, offer a
money-back guarantee even though the product, sent as a digital file,
truly returnable -- and they know the refund requestor is going to keep
Another effective offer is the 30-day free trial, where you take the
card information online but tell the buyer you will not process it for
-- allowing them to try the product for a month free. (If they cancel
the 30-day trial period, the card is never charged.)
10. Know your numbers. A variety of services and programs are available for tracking Web site metrics; you can find some vendors at www.evendorsonline.com.
most important metrics are number of hits, conversion rates (percentage
who buy the product), and average size of order. From this, you can
the value of each hit.
instance, if your conversion rate is 1 percent and your product costs
will make $100 in revenues for every 100 hits. If you are willing to
to acquire a new customer, you can afford to pay up to $1 per hit in
11. Position your site as the premier online
resource in your topic. You can increase traffic and therefore
positioning your site as a value-added information resource on your
not just a sales vehicle to push a paid subscription product. When you
www.nanotechplanet.com, you are told you have reached “The Center for
Nanotechnology Business.” News briefs, articles, stock information, a
FAQs, and other features reinforce that image and feeling.
12. Push your primary offer
like crazy. At
the simply designed site has one goal: to get you to accept their offer
free credit report. The home page is totally focused on this offer, as
pop-up windows that come up when you log onto the site. When you click
two more pop-up windows again make the same offer.
Bob Bly is a freelance
copywriter and the author of The Complete
Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books). He can be reached
201-385-1220 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.