For our first product blog review, let’s take a look at SEO Book, a blog by SEO expert Aaron Wall that ultimately revolves around the sale of a continually-updated book on search engine optimization techniques that bring more traffic to websites.
Like any successful product blog, it all starts with the product. Aaron’s book is excellent, and stands head and shoulders above a lot of the SEO dreck that gets peddled to unwary newbies.
The fact that Aaron uses a blog to sell his book is incredibly smart. Beyond the natural search engine benefits provided by publishing via blog and RSS, Aaron’s regular posting schedule and archives are critical tools for information product sales. They build his authority on the subject matter, help people take a liking to him, create relationships via a free subscription to the blog, and even put people in a position to feel indebted to him (via reciprocity) for all the great free information he provides.
When it comes down to the sales process for the book, Aaron actually promotes his consulting services a bit stronger first with a graphic on the right sidebar. At $500 for an hour of phone consultation, a comprehensive ebook for $79 starts looking really attractive to a lot of folks. Note that if Aaron had not first built up his authority and credibility with his blog, this strategy might backfire.
OK, on to the sales page for the book. Aaron starts off with a strong headline, which is the absolute most important element to anything you want people to actually read — whether a sales letter, article or blog post.
All good headlines make a reader-focused beneficial promise, and Aaron accomplishes that by speaking to you (the webmaster) about how you can get something you want — more traffic. He then takes the promise a step forward by turning it into another crucial element; a money back guarantee that transfers risk away from the buyer and back to the seller.
Just below the headline, Aaron has a nice testimonial from Mario Sanchez of The Internet Digest. Later on down the page, Aaron has a string of other testimonials, all of which are crucial to building trust due to the power of social proof — the psychological mechanism by which we look to others to guide our own actions.
The problem with written testimonials (especially online) is that people may think they are fake. Aaron does something very smart with his — he gives a full name, website, and a live hyperlink. Many people are afraid to do this out of fear that the reader will click away.
The thing is, someone who is truly interested in what you have to offer most likely will not click away. But they will be reassured by the fact that they could… and then even email the person to verify the testimonial. It shows Aaron has nothing to hide.
Next, Aaron gives the price and has a “Buy Now” button. Most copywriters would advise against this, but in this case I think it works. The beauty of selling a product with a blog is the “pre-selling” that happens when people engage with your free content. A certain percentage of people might buy off of the headline and testimonial alone.
Not completely sold yet? Most people aren’t.
The page continues with a very nice tactic. Aaron creates a bond with readers by letting them know he’ll share with you the secrets that other SEO experts won’t, and that it’s much easier to achieve great ranking results than you think. This is a mild form of “creating a common enemy,” which hopes to shift the adversarial nature of the “seller vs. buyer” mindset into one where the reader is on Aaron’s side.
From there, Aaron goes into a “FAQ” mode to pose, and then answer, common questions. This is a great way to raise, and then knock down, common objections.
Then, Aaron goes deeper into the features of the book, sets forth his testimonials, reinforces his credentials, and closes with the 90-day money back guarantee, offers free bonuses to sweeten the deal, and asks for the purchase one last time.
What Could be Done Better?
Knowing what works is not a matter of personal opinion. The only way to know if Option “A” is better than “Option “B” is to test them both, and know for sure. This is called split testing, and it can be done with Google AdWords, autoresponders, and web scripts.
For example, although I like the gist of the headline, it’s possible that tweaking only a word or two could raise conversion rates hugely. Headlines are THAT important. Advertising legend (and testing fanatic) John Caples asserted that 75% of buying decisions are made at the headline alone (but, ironically, the rest of the copy still needs to be there to make the decision stick).
Likewise, an alternative to the initial testimonial and “buy now” button could be tested, just to see if it’s having the unintended effect of driving too many people off before they were fully engaged.
While Aaron’s use of the “creating a common enemy” tactic is smart, it might be more effective in story form. Illustrating how easy it can be in a personal narrative is much more powerful, and creating vivid mental imagery early on is crucial to keeping the reader engaged.
Another crucial element of copy that sells is a focus on the benefits of the product, not the features. As it’s been aptly said, “No one wants a drill, they want a hole. Sell the hole.”
Likewise, no one really wants to learn SEO. They want traffic. While the headline nails this, it needs to be elaborated on early and strongly in the copy. Examples of traffic growth that can result from using Aaron’s techniques would work nicely.
I might then lead directly into the list of testimonials after the benefits section. With that powerful combination in place, a follow-up section designed to raise and address common objections, plus illustrate the features of the book, would lead the reader on a slippery slope to the free bonuses, money-back guarantee, and the close of the sale.
Aaron sells a lot of books already. The reasons why include having a great product, but the blog element cannot be underestimated. By pre-selling without selling, plus having a concept that attracts people via search engines looking for exactly what he offers, the SEO Book blog acts as an ideal platform for selling an information product. In this way, he’s capitalizing on the “low-hanging fruit” exceptionally well.
By making some adjustments to his sales page, Aaron could boost his conversion rates even higher, especially through other sales channels like his affiliate program. Not everyone is familiar with SEO or why they would want to learn it, but everyone with a website understands the need for traffic.
Telling a compelling story about big spikes in traffic (thanks to SEO tactics that work) can result in more sales for Aaron across the board.
Brian Clark teaches his readers how to blog (and sell) more effectively at Copyblogger.