Psychological Review of Splash Page

9 replies
Hey everyone,

My friends call me Jon...which makes sense because that's my name. Anyway, I've been involved in the IM world for about a week now, and I've begun to notice some very interesting trends that I wanted to touch upon. Feel free to correct me if any of these observations are way off base - I really haven't been involved in this world for very long.

Anyway, as a quick primer, I'm a organizational behaviorist by education that only recently decided to get involved in WarriorForum. I study mostly behavioral psychology, and I wanted to break down a typical splash page into some base psychological principles (from a consumer behavior point of view).

Without going into too much detail, I decided to just do a very cursory review of the first splash page that I saw (which I think is for a fairly popular product?). I could've gone on for another 20 pages easy on the issue, but this is what I came up with before I got sleepy.

My test case: The #1 IM Clickbank Product - AutoMassTraffic (I've never used this product...nor do I really know what it does...or what Clickbank is)

Anyway, let's begin:

Color Choice - According to the most recent study on visual stimulation: Green, Yellow, Orange, and Cyan capture the most amount of attention. Overuse, however, causes what's known as visual fatigue, thereby eliminating the "pop" effect completely. This causes what some people refer to as "eyes glazing over".

Test Case Analysis: Pretty heavy use of the color red, which is perfectly fine for differentiating text from the rest of the page, but does not serve as well as the aforementioned colors (known as saturated colors) to capture eye attention. Yellow highlighter is obviously a pretty common strategy to mark important text, and I think they did a perfectly good job keeping it to a minimum to prevent visual overstimulation.

Primacy Effect - A common memory phenomenon in which the first items in a list are better remember than the middle items. This is generally seen in conjunction with the recency effect - in which consumers usually remember the last item in a list. Essentially, this means that the middle part of any list is the least impactful.

Test Case Analysis: Essentially, these two effects call for an impactful headline and a convincing ending. In terms of a headline, the site certaintly has a powerful message that summarizes the benefits of the program easily, and the ending is a call to purchase with a risk of not being able to download the program again in the future. If a consumer is only going to remember two things - these would certainly be enough to provide a compelling message.

Fulfillment of Needs - There are a few generally recognized needs that are relevant in buying behavior:
1) Need of Achievement - to attain some sense of personal accomplishment
2) Need for Affiliation - to be socially connected to others
3) Need for Power - to be able control one's own environment
4) Need for Uniqueness - to be able assert one's individual identity
The best products are those that fulfill all four categories, or at least can appeal to all four.

Test Case Analysis: This product addresses each need to some extent, and does to varying effectiveness.
Need for Achievement - Constant references for the amount of money that can be made in short time appeals to a sense of personal accomplishment
Need for Affiliation - This is the weakest category that is addressed, the program does not appeal to the affiliation need strongly, and could do so by addressing how this program could allow them to spend more time with family, etc.
Need for Power - Constant references to the simplicity behind the program appeals to the power need, asserting that one can control one's environment easily and with little effort.
Need for Uniqueness - Assertion of the "secrecy" and "newness" of this program appeals to one's ability to asset one's identity (refering to other people as "losers"), which in the case of this particular consumer, might be that of an effective internet entrepreneur.

Judgement Effect - A very interesting effect that is a bit difficult to explain. An easy example to provide was a study done on car purchasers, in which an experimental group was asked, "Do you expect to buy a car in the next year?". The experimental group bought more cars that year than those that weren't asked. This is a bit of an example of the Mere Exposure Effect - where the exposure to a concept increases one's preference for that concept later on.

Test Case Analysis: Pretty big fail for this one. The copy addresses the concept of purchasing the product early, but does not force the reader to internally acknowledge and address the concept. Questions allows the reader to do this - not commands.

Persuasion Capacity - This is a concept that is severely overcomplicated, since it is nearly universally agreed upon by social psychologists on some fundamental psychological principles.
- Reciprocity: people feel the need to repay people
- Scarcity: people value that which is limited and finite
- Authority: people care about the reputation of the source
- Consistency: people desire to look consistent in words, beliefs, and actions
- Liking: people like...things that they like

Test Case Analysis: Well, obviously there are several points here that are difficult to identify...so let's take a cursory look.
- Reciprocity: Fail. The reader owes the product creator nothing and he/she knows it.
- Scarcity: Success. The author establishes the rarity of the product and a limitation of sales.
- Authority: Success. The author spends a significant amount of time establishing their credentials
- Consistency: This one is harder to judge, since it depends on the reader
- Liking: Also harder to judge, but generally a success, the author tries to speak in a friendly manner.

Loss Aversion - Another common psychological phenomenon in which people value loss much greater than gain. This is mostly due to the inability to accuractely judge benefits on an emotional or even rational level at times. Loss can be emotional understood nearly immediately.

Test Case Analysis: The site does address loss at several points, though certaintly not as much as they focus on benefits. A balanced approach may be more effective.


This is as far as I got before I got tired and my wife told me to stop. I am interested though: there is SO MUCH more to consumer behavior, influence psychology, and motivational theory that all can be applied to various aspect of internet marketing. If you would actually be interested in stuff more like this, click the thanks button down there and I'll get started on more reports.

Maybe I'll make a WSO...though I'm not entirely sure what that means. (Sorry if I sound like an idiot, I really never heard about Internet Marketing as a concept until probably 3 weeks ago).

Motivational theory establishes that social connectivity is one of the primary sources of personal success, so I thought I might as well throw myself into the fray.
#consumer behavior #page #psychological #psychology #review #splash #splash page
  • Profile picture of the author Samuel Baker
    I am actually quite intrigued by that post.
    Thank you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sammy McClane
    Hi Jon,

    Nice analysis, but I think it's useful to look at things in context. If you're so new to IM, you might not be able to do this yet. (Note: I'm not going to critique the sales letter itself, but just address some of your observations.)

    For example: claiming that you'll have more time to spend with family is one of the most overused gambits of make-money sales letters. IM prospects have seen it so many times that it now appears patronizing and insulting to intelligence.

    Mere exposure: you can't really ask "do you think you'll buy this product?" early on in a sales letter and expect people to ask themselves that question without a great degree of cynicism. Especially in IM, where the average prospect is likely to read maybe 10 sales letters every day. There's a certain desensitization that happens to this kind of sales-advancing behavior.

    And even if you were to argue that all questions are automatically answered subconsciously, the cynical IM-er's answer would be "no! I don't think I'm going to buy because you're just the same as everyone else who's trying to get my money."

    Asking this question is a dangerous game.

    You do get mere exposure, however, by putting a buy button at the top of the page and another one a little bit further down.

    Scarcity: it reeks of fake. False scarcity is again a massively overused tactic in IM. From "price goes up at midnight {today's date}"... to something like "We've only got 90... 54... 29... JUST 3 left". It's an ebook. Everyone knows it doesn't sell out.

    Consistency and liking are harder to judge - you don't know what pre-sell process the prospects have gone through. (And, given the sales letter, I'm guessing it's quite a heavily-promoted product with lots of pre-sell if it's a CB#1.)

    Loss aversion: people may value loss more than gain, but, from a sales point of view, the advice is to always sell a cure - not a prevention. This is because people don't easily see themselves losing anything. (I probably don't need to explain this to you; you're the psychologist, right?)

    I'm not trying to put you down - a lot of what you said is spot-on - but you need to take into account other contextual factors when you make these types of assessments.

    Good luck with your IM career. I'm sure you'll get to grips with it much quicker than most.

    - Sammy
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    • Profile picture of the author XToni
      Originally Posted by Sammy McClane View Post

      Hi Jon,

      For example: claiming that you'll have more time to spend with family is one of the most overused gambits of make-money sales letters. IM prospects have seen it so many times that it now appears patronizing and insulting to intelligence.

      - Sammy
      Maybe for us is insulting but there are thousands of newbies ready to get started , dreaming to all that money they can make in 30 days, 10 days and even while their sleep . Just go to one of these insulting sales pages and read the comments (ignore 30% of them because are paid comments) and you will get the ideea.
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  • Profile picture of the author systematicniche
    I agree with you, Sammy, on pretty much all of your comments. I suppose the one question I do have for seasoned IMers is whether ANY splash page is necessarily persuasive in itself? Even with things like the Mere Exposure Effect, the effect actually reverses itself after awhile (i.e, desensitization to sales letters).

    I suppose I analyzed the website from a newbie's perspective, but I do wonder, do you have any examples of splash pages that are entirely convincing to YOU still? Or do you approach any product with a high degree with skepticism regardless of the content of the page?
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  • Profile picture of the author Sammy McClane
    I do approach most sales letters fairly skeptically - especially in IM where hype and junk products abound. The reason is probably that (a) I've seen so many near-identical pitches that it no longer has any effect on me and (b) the magic trick is never nearly as impressive when you know the secret... and I know exactly how low-quality products can sometimes be spun into flashy pitches.

    But there are some pitches I find convincing - pitches that are based on reason-why copywriting, where the offer is explained in detail... pitches that rely on solid proof elements, and give me plenty of reasons to believe the claims made.

    Look at this investment newsletter magalog by Gary Bencivenga (probably the world's best copywriter):

    http://www.theryanmcgrath.com/bencivenga1.pdf

    (*It's hosted on copywriter Ryan McGrath's website)

    It offers valuable information. It explains why I should listen to the guy. It makes me a solid offer that isn't all hyped up. I'm not interested in investments, but if I were, this letter would tempt me.

    That's because it's based on reason-why copywriting. Here's a link to an article written by Bencivenga on "reason why":

    Marketing Bullets | Bullet #9

    Here's a more extreme example:

    Be-Psychic.com The Ultimate Psychic Training Course For Development, ESP, Intuition, And Astral Travel!

    Notice how we start off with a completely absurd claim, and the copywriter then appeals to authorities (US government, Einstein, etc.)... as well as providing a somewhat plausible explanation for why psychic power are real and why I can develop them myself.

    I give you this example precisely because it's ridiculous - it makes it easier to spot how they handle the natural skepticism of their prospects.

    That, I think, is one of the keys to a "convincing" sales page - best-case scenario, you prove all the claims you make. Failing that, at least acknowledge my legitimate doubts and explain to me why it's plausible that your claim is true. That's the essence of reason-why copywriting.

    Obviously, I'm still affected by every single one of the principles you list in your review, but if the sales letter is based on nothing but these psychological "gimmicks" then repeated exposure to them makes you jaded.

    Take reciprocity. Conventional IM wisdom states: give away a free report to build your list. That way, your subscribers will feel they got a valuable gift from you. They'll feel indebted and will also look to you as an authority.

    The problem is that every IM-er and his grandmother is doing this (I'm talking specifically about the IM industry, by the way). Trading information reports for email addresses has become so commonplace that, in my opinion, the practice triggers no reciprocity whatsoever.

    What I'm saying is, reciprocity as a principle is just as powerful as it always was, but now we need to be more calculated in its application. In other words: we have to make sure the report we offer appears to have some real value.

    (One way to do this is to set up a web page that sells the report for real money, giving it a real-world value. Then we can claim honestly and credibly that the report is worth something.)

    And overexposure is a real problem too. Here's an example of how an entire industry can become desensitized to a good sales technique:

    In the late fifties Rinso soap produced an ad that ran with the headline:

    "Who else wants a whiter wash - with no hard work?"

    This is a copy of it from '59:

    The 100 greatest advertisements: who ... - Google Books

    It was a very successful promotion, and other advertisers began to copy the "Who else wants [benefit]?" format. It was a successful headline because it carried strong implied social proof - an image comes to mind of hoards of happy customers doing some effortless laundry.

    Now, if you look around Clickbank, you'll see that every second headline is a variant of the "who else" gambit. It's become a joke.

    I hope that goes towards answering your question.

    - Sammy
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  • Profile picture of the author systematicniche
    Great stuff, I actually was thinking about adding a section to my review which I never got to about Weber's Law, which addresses exactly what you are talking about. Obviously, I made a mistake in assuming that the audience being addressed was purely newbies, but it is a well-established fact that continuous exposure to the same stimuli eventually negates the impact of that exposure, which would absolutely be true for copywriting letters that are overused.

    Likewise, you touched upon a lot of issues of power and influence, especially regarding the credibility of source information. I could write a whole new post on this - but you're absolutely right. Especially for people with experience doing what they're doing - rational, evidence-based support is perhaps the only convincing method of persuasion that is statistically notable when the relationship between buyer-seller is lateral.

    Thanks so much for your input by the way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    I appreciate your analysis, thanks for sharing. Analysis of this sort on its own has very little merit, however. I can speculate whether or not red or blue is better for headline text, but only real world testing tells me for sure which one converts better -- and conversion is what I'm looking for.
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  • Profile picture of the author tantris
    Some very interesting stuff here. Thanks for sharing it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TelZilla
    I just finished reading that sales letter by Ryan McGrath and it is pretty darn good, also the psychic sales page couldn't overcome my skepticism.

    I'm a major skeptic, I've read too many sales letters.

    No, to open minds and wallets and have prospects eagerly buy,

    The most persuasive words in advertising are simply, REASON WHY.
    This is just awesome.

    Anyway, Jon, Sammy thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
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