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Increasing Profits With Better Sales Copy

Aug 17, 2007
"Everything else is overhead if you can't close the deal." -- Ross Lambert

If I've ever coined a phrase worth being quoted, I think that would be it. I've lost count of how many times I've clicked on a link in Adwords only to be taken to an abysmal sales letter; Google, Yahoo, and MSN will happily pocket your pay per click ad money whether you make any sales or not.

I've followed internet-based marketing since the dawn of time: I had a technical publishing business on the web way back in early 1996. In the decade since I've seen far too many honest, hard-working folks lose a lot of money promoting solid products--including me! Most had to throw in the towel and go back to their cubicles.

It makes me sad. In many of these cases (maybe yours?) the difference between success and failure was undoubtedly an inability to close the sale.

Although sales copy can make or break a fledgling internet marketing business, the difference it can make to an already profitable product is even more astonishing. Small improvements to a good sales letter can have enormous results. Consider this scenario...

Joe Blow created an excellent info product that is well-targeted to a rabid niche market. For the sake of example, let's say that Joe is an avid golfer who created an e-book with instructional videos. Joe is pretty savvy and knows that e-books alone are a hard sell these days, but add some video and the possibilities become quite dramatic.

Anyway, Joe's golf instruction is so good he guarantees that customers will take 3 strokes off their average score within the next year or they can get their money back.

Golfers are a well-defined, highly-motivated, generally affluent, and easy-to-find niche market, so Joe is making some decent money already. Let's look at the numbers.

Joe's e-book sells for $37. He is promoting it via Adwords at a cost of $0.20 per click. He's getting 100 clicks per day and is converting 1.5% of the traffic to sales. As those of you who've done Adwords know, these are pretty average figures.

Conversion Rate: The percentage of web site visitors that wind up placing an order. If you get 1.5 sales for every 100 visitors, your conversion rate is 1.5%. If you get 4 sales for every 100 visitors, your conversion rate is 4%.

Here's how it all added up the first month:

Sales (1.5/100 clicks for 30 days = 45 X $37): $1665.00

Adwords (30 days * 100 clicks * $0.20 per click): $ 600.00
Web hosting: $ 15.00
Net Profit: $1050.00

Joe's got a pretty good thing going here, doesn't he? He should definitely let that Adwords ad run. But guess what? If Joe tweaked his sales letter just a little, he could do a lot better! In fact, look what happens if he converts 2.0% of his traffic to sales, a mere 0.5% increase:

Sales (2.0 per 100 clicks = 60 X $37): $2220.00

Adwords (30 days * 100 clicks * $0.20 per click): $ 600.00
Web hosting: $ 15.00
Net Profit: $1605.00

Cowabunga! Joe just increased his net profits by nearly 60%!

Now consider that most master copywriters consider anything less than a 2.5% sales conversion rate to be a failure. These magicians often get 3.0% - 3.5% (or more). Look at what a 3.0% conversion rate does to the bottom line:

Sales (3.0 per 100 clicks = 90 X $37): $3330.00

Adwords (30 days * 100 clicks * $0.20 per click): $ 600.00
Web hosting: $ 15.00
Net Profit: $2715.00

The net profit at 3.0%, $2715, is nearly 260% higher than the net profit at 1.5%, $1050.

Improving your sales copy is low risk and has an incredibly high return on investment. I'm amazed at how many internet marketers invest enormous amounts of money in additional advertisements and new product development when simply improving existing sales letters could fatten their bottom line just as much--and with far less risk.

The Opt-in Conundrum: "The money is in the list."

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard "The money is in the list", in the last 10 years, I'd be retired to Maui and wouldn't be writing this. :-) Still, it is repeated so often because it is true. If you consider the lifetime value of a customer--the sum total of all revenue you're likely to generate from a long-term relationship with a satisfied customer--it is truly worth it to sacrifice money up-front in order to acquire an "opt-in" (which is when your web site visitor assents to receiving e-mails from you by providing their e-mail address).

Tip-of-the-Day: I strongly recommend you use a double opt-in process. This means that the prospect must not only fill out and submit and HTML form on a web page, but must also "confirm" their subscription by clicking on a link in a confirmation e-mail sent to the address on the form.

The double opt-in process shows your respect for your prospect's privacy. Anyone can fill out an HTML opt-in form for anyone else, but only the actual recipient of the e-mail can confirm that they want continue to receive e-mails from you.

There are many ways to get the opt-in, but they all require a pretty severe interruption to the sales process. The reason is that every mechanism must post the user's data (usually name and e-mail address) to an external e-mail autoresponder service, which then transitions the user to a different page, often a "thank you" type of page.

There are certainly ways to minimize this disruption. One is to put your form into an IFRAME. The other is to use the new AJAX technologies to post your opt-in form.

The point of raising the "opt-in conundrum" issue is really this: Building an e-mail list is so critically important that you've got to make it an integral part of your planning from the very beginning.

If you just try to make one-time sales with a sales letter and do not try to capture e-mail opt-ins, you're leaving money on the table. In fact, I would argue that you're leaving most of the money on the table.
About the Author
Ross Lambert is the Midnight Marketer, the publisher of the Midnight Marketer News. He also created Magic Opt-in and Ross's Guide to the Masters of Marketing .
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