The Drawbacks Of Putting Sales Letters On Wordpress

26 replies
Hi Folks

Over on the main forum they're discussing how, allegedly, a Wordpress
plug-in was pulled because it violated a so-called new "unwritten"
Wordpress policy.

I don't know the truth of that, but I think it highlights an important issue,
which perhaps we copywriters should be more vocal about.

Personally, I think Wordpress is a GREAT blogging platform.

However, many people are using it for sales letters as well, and I
personally think that's a mistake.

(a) You are at the mercy of plug-ins which could break or cease working
at the next Wordpress upgrade.

(b) You can't use Javascript within a page. Yes, I'm aware Wordpress itself
uses
Javascript, but at the time of writing this post, you can't use your
own Javascript code within a page or post. I have a couple of scripts I'd
love to use in a post, but can't because you can't run your own Javascript
in a post.

(c) It's not easy to split test. Yes, I'm aware there are split testing
plug-ins, but see (a). At least with static pages and a decent PHP script,
you know it's not going to break any time soon.

(d) It can be quite fiddly to make small design changes. I can do this quite
easily with a static page even without knowing any HTML... I just open the
page in Kompozer, and it's easy. To change Wordpress, you have to
understand its own proprietary file system, and know how it all works.

So here's a question...

Should we be actively DISCOURAGING clients and people who want to
write their own copy, to avoid Wordpress for sales pages?

(Of course, on the occasion I point this out in the main forum, I inevitably
draw out the people who are selling Wordpress plug-ins and templates for
sales letters. Naturally, they're going to defend their business. I
understand that.)

Or should we not care?
#drawbacks #letters #putting #sales #wordpress
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Rogers
    Good points and an important question. We definitely need to care, especially if it can save them headaches and potential disasters. I've got a client about to implement with WP. I'm eager to learn more about the pitfalls so I can advise them accordingly.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Howard
    I don't consider myself a "copywriter" - but I agree with you Paul.

    I do use wordpress for my blogging and I get a theme designed for wordpress and have the exact same theme made into a minisite at the same time.

    That way the theme matches each other and it looks the same. The sales letter goes on a static html which you can use your php and javascripts for tracking and whatnot.

    Rob
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  • Profile picture of the author Nicola Lane
    What ccmusicman said!

    Building a sales page using plugins can be done - but it is painful and tortuous and imposes all sorts of restrictions. Using a static page is quicker, easier and has none of the restrictions - and most importantly your customers really won't know the difference!

    Use the right tool for the right job - would you want to write a letter in excel?
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    I like to keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out

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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Paul,

      Good question and even better points of view that I happen to agree with.

      Clients who don't know HTML like to use WordPress b/c it seems easier to work with. I like working with HTML because I can use the full arsenal of webtools including Flash, Javascript codes, etc, etc.

      I can run any tests I want with HTML.

      I don't have to follow the rules of some faceless open-source crowd who aren't marketers and who don't understand how marketers want to use their blogging platform to ethically make more sales.

      I tend to discourage my clients for using WordPress for sales-related activities (except blogging or displaying free content) the reasons you gave plus one more big one: It's open source so security can be a big issue.

      That means any hacker can get access to the WordPress code and figure out where the vulnerabilities are to hack it.

      While some of the WordPress plug-in sellers would disagree with me, I don't they could argue effectively with me about WordPress staying hack-free.

      Sure their plugin maybe secure... but what about the opensource program (WordPress) that it's plugged into? If hackers attack the WordPress files on your site, then they can wreck serious havoc, even if they never breach the plug-ins.

      I think using a WordPress blog as a members-area behind a non-WordPress secure membership script like LFM or Amember is still a sound idea. But I've seen too many WordPress security alerts over the last 2-3 years to completely trust it to protect my paid content.

      Take care,

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author zigato
    Hmm, I never knew that. Used to work in an IM/affiliate marketing company that used WP all the time for sales letters, authority, and mini site pages. Never had a problem with it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Will Compton
      Paul,

      I respectfully disagree. As long as you change your file permissions after you install WP, and there are lots of free security plugins you can install.

      And I use javascript code in my websites, if you look at my WSO in my sig, that site is built on WP and I have a current date script running...
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      • Profile picture of the author Ashley Gable
        Conversion Chicken, a split testing script by Tim Robinson, also comes as a wordpress plugin, but it is paid, so you can bet it will be up to date with any wordpress update.

        I havent used it yet with the sales page plugin I bought. This "plugin" creates a "custom" template to be used in wordpress, all the other plugins/themes I found required you to use a different theme altogether. And this salespage plugin was also paid for, so I would expect it to be up to date with any new version, and so far it has.

        So I dont see a problem with either of those.

        I havent needed to use any javascript in a wordpress salespage yet, but if I do, I will definitely go for a paid option, if there is any.

        All in all, I think if you go for free, you can expect problems when a new version of wordpress comes out.

        I would say for for something that someone gets paid for, then you can be sure they will be updating so it works smoothly. Of course there is a chance that it could break.

        I am not a paid copywriter though, so what I have in mind as a "functional" salespage, maybe completely off to what a pro would need or want. And I am sure there are many things that can be done on a static html page that cannot be done in wordpress.

        Ashley
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      • Profile picture of the author Gary Pettit
        Originally Posted by Will Compton View Post

        Paul,

        I respectfully disagree. As long as you change your file permissions after you install WP, and there are lots of free security plugins you can install.

        And I use javascript code in my websites, if you look at my WSO in my sig, that site is built on WP and I have a current date script running...

        Thank you, Will, for this other side of the coin.

        I couldn't agree more.
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  • Profile picture of the author pdhodges
    Get the redirection plug in. If the permalink for your first your sales page is myblog. com/salespage, then you redirect myblog.com/salespage to myblog . com/sales/sales.html or .php. You can keep or delete salespage at that point.

    In this case sales would be a directory above your public_html directory and sales.html or php would be anything you wanted. Above means further from the root.

    The redirection plug in will also give you a usage count on any page it has a redirection for.
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  • Profile picture of the author Takuya Hikichi
    Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

    Hi Folks

    (a) You are at the mercy of plug-ins which could break or cease working
    at the next Wordpress upgrade.
    This happened to me not only during WP update, but also during my theme update.

    I had to go manually update the sales page setting.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Paul, given all the cons to using WordPress for sales letters (something I
      would never even consider doing) I agree with you 100%. In fact, I'm going
      to write an article on this subject sometime today and submit it to EZA so
      that hopefully other wannabe copywriters will see that the ease of initial
      implementation doesn't overcome the terrible downsides that I see to doing
      it.

      I know others will vehemently disagree with both of us, but personally,
      I think creating WordPress sales letters is suicide.

      Oh, and I'm certainly going to mention your name (as I have done so many
      other times) in my article as inspiration.

      I think this is a subject that needs to be discussed because of the trend
      towards using WordPress for every darn thing under the sun. Yes, for
      some things, it's great.

      But for sales letters?

      No way in hell.
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  • Profile picture of the author davemiz
    yeah, no way i'd use it.... you're limited by wp, and you have to work around the framework to get what you want.

    its awesome for other stuff but for sales letters? why?

    why do you need it?

    I can do everything with a blank html page and some graphics.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelParsons
    Is the main issue for using WP the fact that you still have the top displaying the WP default menus and such? Its easy enough to create a "no column" or "no widget" page without a plugin. I've done so myself, but not with a traditional "sales page".

    I agree that its easy enough to FTP an HTML sales page, even if you have WP as your 'site'.

    Or is it the limitations WP places on you forcing you to work within the confines of the program?
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    @Michael: no, the main reason I don't recommend Wordpress for sales letters is because if you want to do anything beyond a simple sales page, i.e. split testing, you have to use a plug-in.

    Now, I have nothing against plug-ins... in fact, I think they're a great idea... but there is no guarantee the plug-in you rely upon won't break at the next Wordpress upgrade.

    A year or two ago, it seemed like Wordpress needed to be updated / backed up every couple of weeks! Every time you did this, you risked having some aspect of your sales page "break".

    AshleyAA made a valid point... that a plug-in you paid for is more likely to be kept up-to-date - but still, it's possible a Wordpress update could make it difficult for plug-in developers to update quite as quickly. At least with a "static" page you'll never have that problem.

    As I said, I love Wordpress for blogs, and highly recommend them as a blogging platform. However, I personally find it very restrictive in the context of sales letters.

    I appreciate people have come out with some great sales letter Wordpress themes. But let's think of what's involved here, versus a static template:

    For Wordpress:

    (1) Install Wordpress (free)
    (2) Install sales page theme.
    (3) Edit sales page in the Wordpress editor.

    For static page:

    (1) Get a sales page template.
    (2) Edit sales page using something like Kompozer (free)
    (3) Upload page to web.

    About the same amount of work is involved... the difference is, with my static page I have the freedom to make design adjustments quickly, install PHP or Javascript scripts into the page to split test or do other fancy stuff.

    Plus, I don't have to worry about keeping Wordpress updated every time they find a new security flaw, and worrying about a plug-in not being compatible with the latest version.

    @Steven, great idea
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Faber
    You can always use WP for your site and and link to a static HTML sales page. Best of both worlds.
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    • Profile picture of the author mystline
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post


      (a) You are at the mercy of plug-ins which could break or cease working
      at the next Wordpress upgrade.
      Wrong, you can always not upgrade wordpress until the authors have released new versions, and as a rule generally unless it is a major update to the core of wordpress *most* plugins will still work.

      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      (b) You can't use Javascript within a page. Yes, I'm aware Wordpress itself
      uses
      Javascript, but at the time of writing this post, you can't use your
      own Javascript code within a page or post. I have a couple of scripts I'd
      love to use in a post, but can't because you can't run your own Javascript
      in a post.
      Wrong again, you are able to use javascript in a post. I have done so myself many times. Granted, I have been developing wordpress themes and plugins for nearly 3 years now, so I may be a step above some of the other people using the platform on this forum.
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      (c) It's not easy to split test. Yes, I'm aware there are split testing
      plug-ins, but see (a). At least with static pages and a decent PHP script,
      you know it's not going to break any time soon.
      It is actually, fairly easy to split test on WordPress, I have implemented custom systems on my own blogs that do this fairly easily (using cookies), once again on the plugin issue, don't just upgrade willy-nilly. Have a look at what you're upgrading, and make sure that it is compatable. A good place to start is google, thousands of people are probably using the same plugin as you and no doubt some of them have upgraded.

      The best solution to avoid the oh sh*t moment when you break your site is to keep regular backups of your wordpress database and any plugin/theme files you are using, so if the worst case happens you can revert without too many troubles.
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      (d) It can be quite fiddly to make small design changes. I can do this quite
      easily with a static page even without knowing any HTML... I just open the
      page in Kompozer, and it's easy. To change Wordpress, you have to
      understand its own proprietary file system, and know how it all works.
      WordPress really isn't that hard to get a hang of, if you're in the business of making websites on the internet I think that you should learn basic HTML and CSS, even learning PHP is easy.

      I have noticed that a lot of people will simply outsource things such as design/small changes, while this may free up time to work on other things (like making money) if you don't understand how a website is rendered then you're at a real disadvantage imo.

      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      Should we be actively DISCOURAGING clients and people who want to
      write their own copy, to avoid Wordpress for sales pages?

      (Of course, on the occasion I point this out in the main forum, I inevitably
      draw out the people who are selling Wordpress plug-ins and templates for
      sales letters. Naturally, they're going to defend their business. I
      understand that.)

      Or should we not care?
      You should really be giving the clients the information to make an informed decision themselves on what to do instead of spoon feeding them solutions.

      As a side note, I hate to rip apart your post like this - I just feel that some of the issues you raised are not as big of an issue as everyone on the forum seems to be making them out to be.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rob Howard
        You know what, most of the issues you suppose as to being "wrong" is only "wrong" if you know what the hell you are doing.

        Javascript in a post? How? I wouldn't even know how to begin.

        Just take it plug it in?

        Well, I went and tried, and guess what - didn't work for me.


        So apparently you do know something the rest of us don't.

        For those who are not programmers (you admitted to being a developer for 3 years), we don't have the time nor energy to develop your level of sophistication with the platform. And why would we need too? Learn to code wordpress just so we can throw a sales letter up?

        Forget it.

        It's ten times easier just to throw a static page up and be done with it - rather than bother with wordpress.

        Sorry, I would say that you are only right if you love to code - which I hate. Thus, for the rest of us technical dunces, we'll stick to what is easy and gets the job done.

        Rob



        Originally Posted by mystline View Post

        Wrong, you can always not upgrade wordpress until the authors have released new versions, and as a rule generally unless it is a major update to the core of wordpress *most* plugins will still work.



        Wrong again, you are able to use javascript in a post. I have done so myself many times. Granted, I have been developing wordpress themes and plugins for nearly 3 years now, so I may be a step above some of the other people using the platform on this forum.


        It is actually, fairly easy to split test on WordPress, I have implemented custom systems on my own blogs that do this fairly easily (using cookies), once again on the plugin issue, don't just upgrade willy-nilly. Have a look at what you're upgrading, and make sure that it is compatable. A good place to start is google, thousands of people are probably using the same plugin as you and no doubt some of them have upgraded.

        The best solution to avoid the oh sh*t moment when you break your site is to keep regular backups of your wordpress database and any plugin/theme files you are using, so if the worst case happens you can revert without too many troubles.

        WordPress really isn't that hard to get a hang of, if you're in the business of making websites on the internet I think that you should learn basic HTML and CSS, even learning PHP is easy.

        I have noticed that a lot of people will simply outsource things such as design/small changes, while this may free up time to work on other things (like making money) if you don't understand how a website is rendered then you're at a real disadvantage imo.



        You should really be giving the clients the information to make an informed decision themselves on what to do instead of spoon feeding them solutions.

        As a side note, I hate to rip apart your post like this - I just feel that some of the issues you raised are not as big of an issue as everyone on the forum seems to be making them out to be.
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  • Profile picture of the author Barry Unruh
    I love WordPress, but I cannot for the life of me think of one valid reason why a sales page needs to be created in Wordpress.

    Where is the advantage? Is it in slower loading times? More vulnerabilities? Plug-ins which could break when I update Wordpress or another plug-in?

    I can live with problems on a content page and needing to get things back up and running, but on my sales page?

    Then factor in not being able to use Google Website Optimizer for my sales page "easily" in WordPress, and I find it almost impossible to find an advantage.
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    • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
      Yeah... I'm with Barry... I just can't find a compelling reason to do it.

      Originally Posted by Barry Unruh View Post

      I love WordPress, but I cannot for the life of me think of one valid reason why a sales page needs to be created in Wordpress.

      Where is the advantage? Is it in slower loading times? More vulnerabilities? Plug-ins which could break when I update Wordpress or another plug-in?

      I can live with problems on a content page and needing to get things back up and running, but on my sales page?

      Then factor in not being able to use Google Website Optimizer for my sales page "easily" in WordPress, and I find it almost impossible to find an advantage.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Precisely, Rob.

    I was going to say basically the same thing, but you did the job for me

    I have been programming for several years, and even I find Wordpress somewhat of a challenge when it comes to anything beyond the basics... which is why I advocate it as a blogging platform, but not for sales letters.

    Why should I have to worry about upgrading Wordpress, upgrading the individual plug-ins, backing up databases, understanding its custom design structure, etc etc... when I can just put up a static sales page and forget about it?
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  • Profile picture of the author multimastery
    Glad I found this thread. Definitely a good argument and gives me some things to think about. Right now, sounds like static would be the best and most straight-forward route to go for the average non-tech person.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ansar Pasha
    Banned
    Thanks for this... I think I am going to move away from using wordpress and get my ass in gear and relearn some HTML again.

    ... I don't know if it's just me, but Wordpress always has some annoying formatting issues when you switch between WYSIWYG and source. Sometimes the fonts and sizes come out mangled and even if you try to "remove formatting" and start over it does the same thing.

    Plus, it can't be too good for your servers to have a wordpress install for every sales page you want up.

    Thanks for the tips Paul,
    Ansar
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  • Profile picture of the author AdwordsMogul
    This is like saying "Don't go out today because a car may hit you."

    The issues you have raised are not really issues - you might as well say, don't blog at all because a plugin may breakdown.

    Besides, if you are not a programmer you wouldn't need to use Javascript anyway. Plus there are plenty of plugins that allow you to insert code into your posts.
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  • Profile picture of the author wanjugu
    Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

    Hi Folks

    Over on the main forum they're discussing how, allegedly, a Wordpress
    plug-in was pulled because it violated a so-called new "unwritten"
    Wordpress policy.

    I don't know the truth of that, but I think it highlights an important issue,
    which perhaps we copywriters should be more vocal about.

    Personally, I think Wordpress is a GREAT blogging platform.

    However, many people are using it for sales letters as well, and I
    personally think that's a mistake.

    (a) You are at the mercy of plug-ins which could break or cease working
    at the next Wordpress upgrade.

    (b) You can't use Javascript within a page. Yes, I'm aware Wordpress itself
    uses Javascript, but at the time of writing this post, you can't use your
    own Javascript code within a page or post. I have a couple of scripts I'd
    love to use in a post, but can't because you can't run your own Javascript
    in a post.

    (c) It's not easy to split test. Yes, I'm aware there are split testing
    plug-ins, but see (a). At least with static pages and a decent PHP script,
    you know it's not going to break any time soon.

    (d) It can be quite fiddly to make small design changes. I can do this quite
    easily with a static page even without knowing any HTML... I just open the
    page in Kompozer, and it's easy. To change Wordpress, you have to
    understand its own proprietary file system, and know how it all works.

    So here's a question...

    Should we be actively DISCOURAGING clients and people who want to
    write their own copy, to avoid Wordpress for sales pages?

    (Of course, on the occasion I point this out in the main forum, I inevitably
    draw out the people who are selling Wordpress plug-ins and templates for
    sales letters. Naturally, they're going to defend their business. I
    understand that.)

    Or should we not care?
    This is a great read,personally i think wordpress is such a great idea since i joined IM.
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