The X Factor of Marketing - How To Create Video Sales Letters That Convert

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The success of any direct marketing campaign is routinely broken down into 3 distinct categories:

1) The List
2) The Offer
3) The Copy

But there's something most people never talk about... because it isn't easily quantifiable. I call this the "X Factor". You could also call it the Midas touch. No one hits a home run every time. But for some marketers, virtually everything they create converts. Then it just becomes a matter of making the numbers work.

The X Factor states that HOW the message is delivered is more important than exactly WHAT the message is.

No, getting the audience and the offer right is not enough. Maybe 50 years ago. You can target an urgent problem, provide an effective solution, have decent copy... and still FAIL. In fact, most marketers do.

Yes, you need to do that - but that only gets you into the arena.

Execution is what differentiates: The how.

I learned this first hand in direct sales doing hundreds of in-home presentations. In our 3 day sales training I was taught that sales is 93% NON-VERBAL. I don't know about the credibility of that exact number. But it doesn't matter. What does matter is that the majority of sales is non-verbal.

Tonality
Confidence
Appearance
Likeability
Aura

It's why one guy can approach a woman and get rejected, while another can approach her, say the exact same thing and be well received.

Take a moment right now and think about a hot offer. Maybe a Clickbank offer. Now I want you to imagine this same offer with the exact same copy, but with a different design. Something unattractive, like a putrid lime green and ugly graphics. Now I want you to imagine a different voiceover on the video - reciting the same script but in a weird, amateurish tone.

Obviously, we just destroyed the offer.

In other words, copywriting and direct response marketing is not a science. It is an art.

We can further prove that right now: Water is two parts hydrogren, one part oxygen. Science. But in selling any product or service there is always more than one way to achieve a desired result. In reality, there are infinite.

But here's where science comes in... testing. Besides the copy, here are 4 aspects of your marketing you can test to lift your conversion rate... And yes, this is extremely relevant to copywriting because it's what enhances the power of the words you choose - both spoken and written.

1) LENGTH

Every now and then back in my direct sales days I'd have a customer say "OK you have 15 minutes and then I've gotta run. I have a meeting to get to. What do you have for me?" Or they would just try to rush me to get to the point. Early on, I'd comply. Hell, I was just happy to be there. But before long, I learned that these situations NEVER ended well. Never. The product I sold required the building of value - similar to an information product.

Personal sales is also largely dependent on building rapport. There's a fine line here. You don't talk about fishing for an hour just because the prospect wants to because that puts you into too much of a submissive position. Not good.

But there is a certain level of comfort you both need to ease into. At least that was my experience – we needed to spend a certain amount of time together in order for trust to be established.

If I broke these rules and just let the prospect dictate the tempo, 9/10 times the presentation would end with them asking me prices, saying they're interested, saying they would call me, and then ultimately resulting in a no sale. Later, I found that by (subtly and politely) refusing to comply with their request - 6/10 would buy.

So how does this translate to online marketing? Length.

The way I see it, the longer the better. There's no such thing as too long. You could repeat the same thing 4 different ways, and if it's done well... it will work.

One of the biggest differences between offline and online that people rarely mention is that you aren't limited by space.

One video I did for one of my most recent clients is 48 minutes. I actually tried to fight him on this. We were turning his sales page into a VSL and I suggested we get rid of some of the copy. I was apprehensive of it being too long. I said 20-30 minutes was plenty. But he wanted to use it all... and considering he's a very good marketer in his own right, I agreed to at least test it and it came in at 48 minutes.

The result? The conversion rate doubled from his sales page conversion rate. And this is from cold traffic.

Think of it as an X rated video. Can it be too long? When someone is "done" watching it, they'll turn it off. That extra length isn't going to hurt. But if it's too short...

You might be thinking... "I'm not going to sit through a 20 minute video!"

I understand. I'm not the type of person who would either despite the fact that I frequently do for research purposes.

Yet if this describes you, then you need to understand most people aren't like you and me. Most people are influenced emotionally. Time and time again, history has shown that they'll vote for charismatic leaders with little emphasis on objective data.

Assuming your video is good (it either is or isn't) the longer it is, the more time they have to absorb the message.

This is why virtually all successful VSL's are long... and one of the highest grossing ones ever (Pimsleur Approach) is 33 minutes long. No it doesn't have to be that long, but if you're coming in at under 10 minutes then there's room for improvement. More selling.

Consider: if one of the top copywriters in the world was writing your script... and one of the best voice talents in the world was doing the voiceover... and the cost was the same regardless of length... would you choose a 10 minute video or a 30 minute video?

2) DESIGN

One of my favorite marketing teachers is Dan Kennedy. And one of the concepts I learned from him early on is, in essence, that design doesn't really matter. Or even a step further, ugly designs convert better.

This is one of the only one of his teachings I've had to unlearn. Actually, just recently I saw someone here citing a guru who said his ugly design out-pulled a more slick design. But you have to understand the context. He's talking about warm traffic.

And what was the data size? What was the conversion goal?

It's very easy to take a small test and manipulate it to match what you want to say. Usually to be controversial. Its smart marketing and I actually like most of these gurus from a personal standpoint. They’re usually good guys who will say something useful and provocative every now and then... but you need to understand that most of them don't actually own big time successful offers that run on cold traffic.

They're just preaching in the bizopp space and it's critical to understand the difference.

If you want to master anything then you need to immerse yourself in it, to the point of obsession. You can't fall into the guru fan boy role and rely solely on third party statements. You need to find out for yourself. The numbers never lie.

And if you do your research - which I encourage you to do - you'll find that in almost every case that the biggest, most successful and most stable offers do in fact utilize a simple, clean and minimalist design. Or some type of visually appealing design.

Example: Pimsleur Approach (5+ million monthly uniques) uses a plain free standing white background.

3) VIDEO IMAGERY

The basic PowerPoint video with just text and voiceover still works well. But I've found switching up the imagery can make a big difference.

Changing from text and basic images to whiteboard animation doubled the conversion rate on one of my videos. I know the truth about abs offer had similar results, perhaps not as dramatic, but it did improve their conversion rate.

If I'm not mistaken, he actually started the entire whiteboard trend and many marketers have followed because it works so well.

Here are some of the options you can test:

1) Text alone
2) Text with images
3) Some type of animation - whiteboard is most common but there are others.
4) An actual person talking - Example: 4 Dangers Destroying Men
5) Video clips - Example: One Nation Under China WALL-5392101
6) A combination of any or all of the above

4) VOICEOVER

This is the most impactful of the 4. It's huge. I'm even tempted to say it's more important than the copy, but of course it isn't. Without the script you have nothing. The script is the most critical component of the video.

But in my experience, a decent script with a strong voiceover will outperform an outstanding script with a so-so voiceover.

A good confident voiceover grabs your attention and brings your script to life. For my own product, I've tested 4 different voiceovers and saw drastically different results between them despite no changes in the script and imagery.



Finally, I want to emphasize that in no way is any of this meant to downplay the importance of the copy. But once you have something that is converting, but perhaps not well enough to make the offer fly, consider testing these 4 variables before creating a new appeal.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you disagree, feel free to share your experience - nothing wrong with a little lively discussion…

But I wanted to share this with you because it's a topic that I don't hear most marketers talking about and I can't even begin to put into words what a monumental difference it's made in helping me take my own marketing to the next level...

Cheers,
Robert
#convert #create #factor #letters #marketing #sales #video
  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    You say
    Changing from text and basic images to whiteboard animation doubled the conversion rate on one of my videos.
    And then I scroll down and yep - thar she blows! - a link to your whiteboard animation sales letter.

    As for the rest...as William Goldman the screenwriter said about Hollywood "Nobody knows anything" - meaning prior to a movie's release, Hollywood has no real idea how well a film will do. Same for this racket. Sometimes an amateurish read will outdo a slick professional voiceover. Sometimes shaky camera and background distraction out-pulls a green screen. Sometimes short copy kills long copy. Etc etc. You said it yourself - it comes down to testing. Same with whiteboards - some of them are good, some are stinkers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Robert_Rand
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post


      As for the rest...as William Goldman the screenwriter said about Hollywood "Nobody knows anything" - meaning prior to a movie's release, Hollywood has no real idea how well a film will do. Same for this racket. Sometimes an amateurish read will outdo a slick professional voiceover. Sometimes shaky camera and background distraction out-pulls a green screen. Sometimes short copy kills long copy. Etc etc. You said it yourself - it comes down to testing. Same with whiteboards - some of them are good, some are stinkers.
      William Goldman has had a brilliant career, no doubt about that. And I do agree that you never truly know what's gonna work. But that quote shoves off too much responsibility to be relevant to direct response marketing. There's no rule that you have to get it right the first time out - unlike a movie where if it flops, it's dead. It also fails to explain why certain actors, producers and directors command such big numbers.

      Hollywood has also changed dramatically over the past 50 years. There are now lots of systems, procedures and businesses practices that mitigate their risk. It hasn't necessarily changed the industry for the better and you could argue it's stifled creativity in many ways. Personally, I'd rather watch Die Hard or Predator than the newest shiny Marvel adaptation - but it is what is.

      And if by "amateurish read" you mean someone who isn't a professional voiceover artist but can still sound confident and get the tonality right... yes, of course.

      As far as whiteboards... you're right: some are stinkers. It needs to be professionally done. If you're using something like Sparkol, you're killing your credibility. Even if the person watching has no idea about production... they can sense inferior quality. You're better off just using text and images.

      Whiteboards (or any animation) aren't a magic bullet. If the video doesn't convert without the animation, chances are it's not going to convert with it. It's simply a tool that can be used to lift conversions. Something to consider and test like everything else that I mentioned.


      Mark,

      Yes, social proof is important but for the purpose of this post I would categorize it under copy.

      And yes, I do agree you do need to adapt. Definitely. If you have a big list or lots of JV partners that's cool. You could create something, launch it - it either works well or doesn't, and then move on - possibly never making any changes whatsoever to it. There's nothing wrong with that but it's not my business model.

      I test, test, test while gradually scaling up. I want something that is going to last - something stable and consistent. So yeah, I agree... I would never set a limited "budget" on a project. I expect to keep spending money. I always have something in mind that I'm going to test next. And inevitably, a successful site is going to end up dramatically different than what it was birthed as.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    The success of any direct marketing campaign is routinely broken down into 3 distinct categories:

    1) The List
    2) The Offer
    3) The Copy
    First of all, you are wrong about number 3. Also, I'm not sure if you're right or wrong about number 2 until you tell me what you mean by "The Offer."
    Signature

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    • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
      Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

      First of all, you are wrong about number 3. Also, I'm not sure if you're right or wrong about number 2 until you tell me what you mean by "The Offer."
      I thought the actual product has SOMETHING to do with it.

      Anyway, he lost me at "Countrywide". I wouldn't tell anyone I worked there.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
        Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post

        I thought the actual product has SOMETHING to do with it.
        Thanks for giving him a heads up my friend. (My guess he still doesn't get it. LOL)
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    The success of any direct marketing campaign is routinely broken down into 3 distinct categories:

    1) The List
    2) The Offer
    3) The Copy

    But there's something most people never talk about... because it isn't easily quantifiable. I call this the "X Factor". You could also call it the Midas touch. No one hits a home run every time. But for some marketers, virtually everything they create converts. Then it just becomes a matter of making the numbers work.

    The X Factor states that HOW the message is delivered is more important than exactly WHAT the message is.
    First of all, you're missing a HUGE part of why copy converts: Social Proof. I was informed last week that one of my videos bombed. Not kinda bombed, but totally missed the mark. But here's the deal: The way the video was presented looked more like it was appealing to the IM crowd, which massively changed the tonality I painstakingly created in the video script. So you're right. HOW the message is delivered absolutely does make a difference. Is it the x-factor? No. It's just one of the factors.

    In this particular market, I think it was a bigger factor than most, but it still should have converted decently, so I'm not prepared to say that it's THE reason.

    In my opinion, while the video bombed largely because of the copy, there was also zero social proof. No reviews. No testimonials. Nothing. And the other winning product on Clickbank in this niche is almost 50% testimonials. Really good ones at that.

    Last I was told, the project manager went with another copywriter to rewrite the video script. Shame. I'm usually included in the stats and revise/refine/rewrite my copy - when I'm giving ample information on what seemed to fail.

    Conversely...

    I've had two sales letters I wrote this year (which included VSL's) perform extremely well on lukewarm lists. In fact, they wildly exceeded my own expectations (one converting at 12%.) Both were design well and included strong social proof.

    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    No, getting the audience and the offer right is not enough. Maybe 50 years ago. You can target an urgent problem, provide an effective solution, have decent copy... and still FAIL. In fact, most marketers do.

    Yes, you need to do that - but that only gets you into the arena.

    Execution is what differentiates: The how.

    I learned this first hand in direct sales doing hundreds of in-home presentations. In our 3 day sales training I was taught that sales is 93% NON-VERBAL. I don't know about the credibility of that exact number. But it doesn't matter. What does matter is that the majority of sales is non-verbal.

    Tonality
    Confidence
    Appearance
    Likeability
    Aura
    Execution is key. But perhaps more important, especially in the testing phase, is your ability to adjust. For instance, if you dump all of your budget into the VSL production (video and voiceover,) leaving yourself with no options should the campaign fail to convert, you're left believing it's the copy. When in reality, a few simple adjustments in the tonality and execution (e.g. changing the style and design of the VSL and/or website) could make all the difference in the world.

    I wonder how much money has been left on the table by marketers who gave up - when the process had only just begun???

    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    In other words, copywriting and direct response marketing is not a science. It is an art.
    Copywriting is BOTH a science AND an art form. If you just use psychological techniques in your copy without tapping into raw emotion, you're left with information. Now, I realize that psychology is what often evokes emotion in copy. But once you inject personality and character into your copy, it comes alive; it takes on a very particular essence (or atmosphere - if you will.) The art form is integrating technique with what you know about people - on an intuitive level as much as an intellectual one.

    Otherwise...

    You stand the chance of just sounding purely manipulative.

    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post


    1) LENGTH

    The way I see it, the longer the better. There's no such thing as too long. You could repeat the same thing 4 different ways, and if it's done well... it will work.
    Agreed. You can't say the same thing in different ways and connect with more people. Different people "hear" things in different ways. Likewise, when you repeat something in an authoritative tone, it can make people believe it more readily. Even more, going back to previous points (or your hook) can build credibility (i.e. bringing it all together.)

    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    2) DESIGN

    One of my favorite marketing teachers is Dan Kennedy. And one of the concepts I learned from him early on is, in essence, that design doesn't really matter. Or even a step further, ugly designs convert better.

    This is one of the only one of his teachings I've had to unlearn.
    A lot of marketers need to unlearn this.

    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    3) VIDEO IMAGERY

    The basic PowerPoint video with just text and voiceover still works well. But I've found switching up the imagery can make a big difference.

    Changing from text and basic images to whiteboard animation doubled the conversion rate on one of my videos. I know the truth about abs offer had similar results, perhaps not as dramatic, but it did improve their conversion rate.
    Again, you need to have the ability to adjust. Create different types of presentations and test them on smaller lists (or segments of your only list.) If you put all of your eggs in one basket and don't give yourself the ability to adjust, you'll blow your wad in a single blast and convince yourself it's just the copy failing - when it could be (ad likely is) a whole host of things.

    Mark
    Signature

    Do You Want To Make 5 and 6-Figures A Month As A Freelance Copywriter? My Copywriting System Has Made Over 600 Million Dollars. Discover More

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  • Profile picture of the author GlenH
    Originally Posted by Robert_Rand View Post

    Here are some of the options you can test:

    1) Text alone
    2) Text with images
    3) Some type of animation - whiteboard is most common but there are others.
    4) An actual person talking - Example: 4 Dangers Destroying Men
    5) Video clips - Example: One Nation Under China WALL-5392101
    6) A combination of any or all of the above

    Cheers,
    Robert
    I just wondered if anyone knows who created video (4), the one with the real person narrating?
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