How I Beat Danny Iny 5:1 at His Own Game (Sales Letter Split-Testing)
- Peter Sandeen
But a couple of months ago he asked for a second opinion on a sales letter he was writing.
I gave him my feedback, but I also proposed a friendly competition over who could get more sales.
Danny’s a good sport, so he said “sure, let’s do it”…
Well, I ended up winning by 423%… but since that means a *lot* more sales for Danny, I’m assuming that he isn’t too miffed about losing. 😉
This post is all about our little competition: what Danny missed, how I beat him at his own game… and how *you* might get 5x more sales in your business, too!
The Back-Story to the Competition
Danny and I are in the same mastermind group, and so we correspond quite a lot.
A couple of months ago he asked for a second opinion on his sales page for the “Marketing That Works” program.
I was happy to give feedback, and I also offered to write a whole new sales page, to compete against Danny’s page.
We didn’t expect huge differences in conversions (the day before the launch Danny estimated that we wouldn’t see definitive results before the launch week was over).
But 10 hours after the launch email went out, the test was over…
Five out of every six sales were coming from my page.
(I think the extra 400% sales on a $1,000 program takes the edge off from losing!) 😉
To be honest, if I had lost, it wouldn’t have been a big deal; Danny is pretty talented copywriter, and he knows his audience exceptionally well.
But I still won. Here’s how…
What Made The Difference
There’s no scientific way to know what exactly made my version the winner, but there were a few distinct differences that I believe caused my page to convert better…
- The first headlines.
- The first paragraphs.
- The angle of the copy.
Now let’s break down the key differences:
1. The First Headlines
Only about 20% of readers read more than the headline.
And that’s when the headline is really good.
In Danny’s case the percentage might be higher because his audience believes that he provides good value, so they have more reason to expect good things from an offer.
But still the first headline has a huge impact on conversion; if the reader doesn’t read more than the headline, they won’t buy.
Danny’s first headlines were:
“Let *Us* Be Your Unfair Advantage: Take the Guesswork and Frustration Out of Your Marketing & Get The Customers You Want!”
“A Marketing System *Custom-Tailored* for Your Business; An Extra $12,000/Year (MINIMUM!) or Your Money Back!”
My first headlines were:
“Will You Let Me Help Make Your Business More Profitable?”
“I personally GUARANTEE that you’ll add more than $12,000 to your annual income within 6 months…”
There’s a small difference that made a huge difference…
I believe my headlines feel more personal and at least they’re shorter and simpler. I also expected my headlines to match Danny’s audience’s thoughts more closely.
I could try to analyze the headlines indefinitely, but I’ll let you give your opinion about them in the comments 😉
But I’ll also (quite blatantly) tell you that I’ve written a free eBook about headlines (that even Danny recommends). You can download it here. Wayne Mullins of Ugly Mug Marketing also wrote a killer sales letter example that you can swipe and modify!
2. The First Paragraphs
If you get people to read the sentence that comes after the headline, you have another problem:
People aren’t convinced yet.
How you start the main copy affects the conversion as much as the headlines; if the reader doesn’t relate to it, they don’t read more.
This was probably the biggest difference between Danny’s and my sales pages…
Danny’s first paragraphs concentrated on creating a connection with the reader.
It’s generally a good way to start a sales page.
I believe the problem was that it was too negative.
Even though the readers probably could relate to it, it didn’t offer light at the end of the tunnel fast enough.
My first paragraphs were about the guarantee and clearly telling whom the program is for, and whom it isn’t for.
The purpose was to create the feeling for the reader that the program is meant specifically for them (and not for “everyone”).
Actually the copy excluded only very few people who wouldn’t have bought the program anyway…
The promise of the guarantee was so big that I expected that readers would feel skeptical.
The idea was to give them a reason to believe in the promise.
But actually that’s something the angle of the copy did…
3. The Angle of The Copy
No matter what you sell, there are always many ways how you can present it.
Just as if you were taking a photo of something; you can use different angles to make it look different.
In sales copy the angle you use has a huge impact on sales; it’s the thing that makes your product seem different from competitors.
Noticing the angles of sales pages is a bit trickier, but there was a clear difference:
Danny’s version didn’t have a very clear angle (or at least I missed it).
He talked about one aspect of the offer at a time, instead of referring to one or two things throughout the page.
That can work very well, but when you’re offering something that – at first glance – won’t seem clearly different from competitors, I’d find an angle that makes the difference clear (and I’d talk about it a lot)…
My angle was the personal help you get in the program.
I referenced it throughout the copy.
I also talked about “the foundation for marketing”, which makes it possible for any marketing method to work.
And I tried my best to make people really notice the guarantee; even a strong guarantee falls prey to guarantee blindness…
If you read the pages, let us know in the comments what you think about them.
What do you think about the angles?
What About Design?
There were a few differences in the designs of the pages.
Here are the most important ones:
- I made the headlines easier to read with a higher line-height (lines of text have more space between them) and a different font. I also increased the white space around headlines to make them stand out.
- Danny’s color theme (blue banner and bright blue background) didn’t really match Mirasee’s design. Even though I used a greenish gray background, I used red borders and a red top banner to make the page feel coherent with the brand.
- I used a lot of “notice boxes” that stand out from the page. I also used a black box that is so out of place that the reader almost certainly stops to read what it’s about 😉
I’d love to say that I believe the changes in design had a big impact on conversion.
But I don’t think so.
I do believe they made a difference, but only a small one.
The “notice boxes” (with yellow background) probably made the biggest difference.
They make readers stop to see what the bullet-points and testimonials are about.
The bullets I used were meant to intrigue the reader with bite-sized benefit-statements; when you offer long lists of benefits, the overall perceived value of the offer goes up.
The testimonials were there to talk about very specific benefits of the program. I even dug a couple of extra testimonials up for the page to prove specific benefits that the existing testimonials didn’t mention.
The other design differences were so small, that I wouldn’t read too much into them…
Some Post-Mortem Thoughts on the Launch
I’m not writing this post to brag – I’m writing it to show you that no matter how good you are, there’s always room to improve.
In that spirit, here are things that we probably could have done better:
- Towards the end of the launch, it became clear that quite a few people weren’t clear on exactly what they would get as part of the training (i.e. the format, the packaging, and all that). That was my mistake; you should (almost) never be unclear about what it is that the customer will pay for. This is something Danny should definitely change/test when the program re-opens… I purposefully didn’t make a big deal out of the program’s format (audio + PDF files), but I should’ve made it clear enough for everyone to understand.
- We fell prey to the same bad instinct that affects everyone else who does split-testing; as soon as we got (statistically significant) results, we shut down the test, and went with my version. The thing is, my page was more “aggressive”, so it kind of makes sense that it would get better results with the impulse buyers at the beginning of the launch; we probably should have kept both versions running for the whole launch to see how it affected the sales arc over the course of the entire process (it’s possible that a larger percentage of people would have bought through Danny’s page later during the launch). If the difference had been smaller up front, we would have kept testing, but the difference was big enough to get us excited, and put our better judgment aside. Note from Danny: This was totally my fault – I really should have known better. Oh well. :-S
This isn’t the end of the testing, by any means. Danny can always write a new sales page that competes against my version… or maybe he’ll hire me again to beat myself… 😉
Either way, whenever you get test results, you can understand better what works best and use that in the next version.
Okay, now let’s get to the best part, which is…
How You Can Multiply *YOUR* Sales
Obviously I think you should hire a good copywriter; the cost comes easily back with more sales.
Granted that’s extremely self-serving and I’m as biased as you can get. 😉
But if you don’t want to do that, do these three things:
- Learn how (and why) headlines work. (That’s what my free eBook is about…)
- Figure out what kind of first paragraphs will “suck” the reader into the copy.
- Find the most powerful differentiating factor of your offer.
Then go check your sales page to see what you need to change.
And in any case leave a comment and tell us what you thought about the sales pages…