Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, email techniques, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability,  and consumer psychology.

"Top Ten Internet Marketing Myths" From the Wizards of Web

Green folk often find humans amusing. Today I’m thinking about your list-loving propensity. You love your “top-of-the-charts” tunes, your best-selling books, your league-leading players, your seven habits of highly defective people - even your lists of lists. What’s with this?

Perhaps it’s a deep longing for order in an otherwise chaotic world. Maybe it’s a desire to simplify complex abstract concepts into digestible format.

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What I do know is that lists are powerful marketing tools. They sell loads of books, music, all sorts of merchandise and even intangibles. Think of all those seminars that promise you’ll learn 7 ways to sell this, and 3 ways to identify when, and 5 ways to simplify ABC, and 12 ways to improve that and 10 things that will boost your whatchamacallits. Try it yourself; just add a well-prepared list to a heavily trafficked Web page and watch sales climb.

Whenever Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg are invited to speak at events, I always hear them get the tiniest bit cynical over being asked to produce the “guarantee copy” for their presentation. But Jeffrey shrugs, “How can they expect to learn so many complex things in such a short time - we usually get less than an hour and don’t control the content of the event. All we can really do is briefly review our topics. And people eat those lists up. So, if that’s what they want, that’s what they’ll get.”

You can understand, then, why I was really curious about a list of Internet marketing myths Bryan and Jeffrey devised for a three-day seminar where they control the content. It’s dicey to second-guess the boss; you risk implying the act is a cynical maneuver to sell more seminars … so I was politic. I said: “Hey boss! What’s with the dorky list? I thought you hated lists?” Diplomacy is such a valuable skill.

After a long talk and some not so amused faces, I decided this list is truly different. And here’s why:

1. No attempt will be made to explain any of the ten points, only to teach participants how to think for themselves about these issues.

2. Not one of the points is based on rules (those guys hate rules), only principles that participants can learn to apply to their own situations.

3. Participants will see the list at start the seminar, but it is they who will explain the list to each other at the end of the seminar.

Is this article an advertorial for Wizards of Web? Nope. It’s an invitation to you, dear reader, to learn two incredibly powerful principles of persuasion:

1. Lists get response

2. Curiosity is motivating

If you want to see the Wizards of Web’s “Top Ten Internet Marketing Myths” you can click here to read them Yeah, I’m gearing up for some grumpy mails about failing to deliver immediately on the promise of this article’s title … but do keep those critical persuasion principles in mind!

Sound Off!

click here for a printable version of this entire article

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There is good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that in this edition we were going to promote our unique 3-day workshop Wizards of Web but it sold out (oops, sorry about that) without ever promoting it at all.

The good news is that we're going to be starting a list of our readers who want to be notified of our special events before they become public knowledge. Here's a preview: we'll be offering the 2-day workshop "Fundamentals of Conversion Rate Marketing"  in July and another 3-day Wizard of Web workshop in August.

Let us know if you want to be included on that list.

Bryan Eisenberg
CIO, Future Now, Inc.

P.S. Do you have questions you would like to see answered here? Ask away!


Practice Pacing the Rhythm

Rhythm is an powerful element in your writing. And you can think of the rhythm of your writing in (at least) two ways. It can be the technique of matching the pace of your copy to the feelings and visuals you intend to create. But you can also think of rhythm as a way to impart a “musicality” and unpredictability. Consciously using rhythm techniques helps you generate sight, feeling and, yes, even sound images for your reader.

Rhythm as Visual Mood

People internalize what they read as visual images - that’s one of the great beauties of sitting down with a good book: it gives you the opportunity to create mental worlds. And the pace of your writing reinforces the mood of its visuals, in an almost movie-like way.

To inspire an excited, fast-moving feeling in your reader, punctuate intentionally, and impart motion through the use of action verbs and short, rolling words. If you want to convey a relaxed feeling, a sense of rest or of moodiness, lengthen your sentences, use abundant punctuation and appropriate descriptives, and pay very close attention to detail.

Your pulse races, hands clenching your ticket as she comes flying into the homestretch. Whispering a prayer, you watch her cross the line. A photo finish. Too close to call. Eternal silence. Bated breath. The announcement crackles in your ear. She lost. By a nose.

How do you feel? Breathing just a bit shallower? This example is full of short, incomplete sentences. Lots of periods that bring readers abruptly to the close of a moment, yet leave them hanging, so they want to move on. Visually, it’s choppy, a montage of images that gives you more information than actually appears in the words themselves.

Now read this:

Your pulse races … your hand clenches your ticket … she comes flying into the homestretch. You whisper a prayer … she crosses the line … a photo finish … too close to call … eternal silence … bated breath. The announcement crackles in your ear. She lost by a nose.

Pretty much the same short sentences, but a different scheme of punctuation. Does that change the images the passage creates in your mind? Me, I visualize this event in a softer focus. The montage isn’t as stop-and-go; instead it almost flows with a strange quality of suspended motion that is at odds with the obvious speed of what is happening.

You gotta use a technique like this sparingly - heaven forbid you should create a whole Web page or email of it. It would quickly bore your readers by becoming predictable and would lose its inherent power.

Now let’s set a different mood:

Your fingers finally uncramp and ease their vise grip on damp paper, a palpable weight in your open palm, the embodiment of hope that has become failed dream. You shred precisely, with contempt, then surrender the useless burden, and the tatters flutter like betrayal to the stained concrete at your feet, no longer distinguishable in their promise from crumpled candy wrappers and empty plastic cups.

Now how do you feel? Can you see the palm opening in slow motion, ticket fragments falling like decayed petals? Can you sense the despair?

Rhythm as Verbal Music

One definition of rhythm is: an alternating recurrence of similar elements. Songs have rhythm; jokes have rhythm in their timing and delivery. Good copywriting has rhythm that is revealed in the variation of sentence length - and it is precisely this sort of rhythm that gives your reader a sense the copy “sounds” compelling.

When you consistently write sentences that are all the same length, your writing develops a plodding predictability. To avoid this, mix up your sentence lengths: a short sentence, a long sentence, a long sentence, a medium sentence, then another short sentence. This last sentence will carry some impact, because the reader wasn't expecting it. Another short sentence might reinforce the impact. Then a long one. Give your reader the experience of rhythm in variety.

Interestingly, there is a "rhythm in three." When you incorporate a series of things into a sentence, three seems to be the magic number. It has a nice rhythm - we hear it as complete and satisfying. "We leap into the boat, setup the sail and venture out onto the sea."

So plan your words to create just the right pace, then give it a good beat.

 

Sound Off!

click here for a printable version of this entire article

P.S. If you enjoyed this issue, why not share it with your colleagues and friends?
They'll appreciate it. Forward This Issue To A Friend!

GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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