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#1 Caissa

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 07:43 PM

Greetings,

First I must say that several of my heroines and heroes are moderators here. This is a rare priviledge to be able to interact with such highly esteemed advisors.

I own the site www.ChessCentral.com. I have a good amount of traffic, mostly from SE/Directories (about 5500+ unique a week). Sales have been getting better, but I am not converting as much as I think I should. I have tinkered often with the copy on the homepage, but it doesn't seem to create any significant increases (or decreases). Is there something I am missing?

Also, here is a stumper that doesn't belong in this section but...

I am
Thanks for any and all help!!

#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 10:42 AM

Hi Caissa, welcome to the forums.

First I must say that several of my heroines and heroes are moderators here. This is a rare priviledge to be able to interact with such highly esteemed advisors.


That's so nice of you to say that. Unfortunately, before the heroines and heroes arrive, you'll have to settle for an answer from me, but I'm sure the others will be along soon. :lol:

I'm here mainly to answer your second question, regarding why good positions on MSN have not translated into good positions on Google.

I have a question though... Just how good do you want your Google rankings to be? ;) There you are, happily sat at
Anyway, back to your question. The reason that you can have good results on MSN and not see identical success on Google is that the two engines are totally unrelated. No connection at all, except that they both share the term 'search engine'.

MSN isn't a search engine. MSN is a brand, and they serve a mixture of adverts and third-party search databases to anyone searching there. The results come from PPC search listings, Looksmart Directory entries, and data from the Inktomi search engine database is used as 'backfill'.

Google on the other hand is a real search engine, powered by unique algorithms and its proprietry PageRank.

The two sets of search results should be as different as can be because the criteria for ranking are very different.

Google places high importance on link popularity, and on the words used to describe or encapsulate your site in those links. It rewards you for being listed in the Open Directory (dmoz.org) and/or the venerable Yahoo Directory. Finally, Google has advanced algorithms that return good results even where link-popularity is lacking.

To do well in Google, build a quality website people will be glad to link to and to recommend to others. Pay attention to navigation, title pages and links effectively, and let your quality do the rest. You already have at least 1
MSN places highest importance on how much you are prepared to pay per click (because the PPC providers share the revenue with MSN). It rewards you for having paid through the nose to be listred in the rip-off Looksmart Directory (who pay MSN to include their listings, so they can charge webmasters to get listed). As a last resort, MSN actually provides data from the Inktomi database just in case you're looking for something they don't have sponsors willing to provide. ;)

To do well in MSN, first pray that they don't offer a proprietry service in competition, because MSN's own proprietry stuff is forcibly glued to the highest placement for relevant keywords. Provided you're clear on that, you ideally want a powerful listing in Looksmart with good keywords in the description (and category path), and to rank highly on Inktomi.


Google and MSN have different preferences. They are looking at different criteria. How are you doing with FAST/AllTheWeb which has different tastes again?

#3 Black_Knight

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 11:28 AM

I decided to take a look at the other problem for you too, the lack of conversions. Caissa, you need a proof reader. You desperately need a proof reader - there are glaring mistakes in grammar all through your product descriptions.

Examples:

[quote]It is one of the heaviest set of its size currently on the market.[/quote]

One of the heaviest sets.

[quote]This set is designed to withstand the rigors of practical play while maintaining the elegance which have become the hallmark of a Staunton chess set.[/quote]

...the elegance which has become the hallmark...

[quote]Your choice of Ebonized, Rosewood, Black or Red Lacquer.[/quote]

Try "Available in choice from a rich Ebonized finish, a lustrous Rosewood, or the classic Black or Red Lacquer finishes"

[quote]Staunton Boxwood Chess Sets
Players Series natural and ebonized boxwood Staunton pattern chess sets. The King stands 3.75" tall with a 1.7" diameter base. It is one of the heaviest set

Sorry to be blunt but this is just awful copywriting. It reads badly even when the grammar is corrected. It doesn't sell any appeal at all. Where is the evocative phrasing? The descriptive quality that will inspire people to actually want this item?

Even in seconds off the top of my head I could suggest improvements:

"This classically inspired boxwood chess set is one of the sturdiest sets of its size currently on the market. The set is designed to withstand the rigors of practical play while providing the elegance which has become the hallmark of a Staunton chess set. The quality of the craftsmanship of these chess sets makes them sure to become practical heirlooms. The Staunton chess set is avaliable in a choice of rich Ebonized finish, beautiful Rosewood, or traditional Black or Red Lacquer finishes."

#4 Caissa

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 04:02 PM

The Black Knight has pierced my keyboard with his straight and honest arrow. :oops: I certainly know what I will be doing this weekend - proofing.

I do want to say that all the top results (and I am in many SEs, with almost all my keywords, in the top 10 - without paying a dime) is due to diligently following the advice of many of the professionals at this forum.

Now, I have learned that you can lead the horse to water but copywriting may be the best way to get him to drink.

Thank you, Black Knigt, for your input. I will start immediately fixing the grammar and punctuation. But, the talent of copywriting may be beyond my abilities. The paragraph you rewrote on the chess pieces was simply amazing. I have not sold one set in the year it has been up. Could you have found the reason?

Thank you for you time!

#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 08:58 PM

The art of writing good sales copy isn't magic, and its not about those psychology tricks some articles like you tell you about. Good sales copy is about describing a product in the terms that matter.

Take a moment to look around your home. Look at some of your possessions and think about how you FEEL about them. These kinds of feelings are about familiarity and about the precise way things touch your senses. We remember the textures of things, the tastes, the scents, and we associate them with feelings.

I have some favourite books in dusty old hard-back covers, with faded, dry, old pages. You know what? The dustiness, dryness, slightly worn-in and faded quality of those books is half of what I love. You know what I mean, don't you? And that is my point. If I can make you share my love of a dusty, worn, battered book, without even telling you who wrote it or what it is about, then I can make you see the appeal of anything else too. :)

You can find some great books on creative writing at any public library. Go visit, read and study. You can learn to write great copy, and it is far easier than you think. It will cost you nothing but time to study, and a few trips to your local library.

#6 Judi

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Posted 03 October 2002 - 06:05 PM

Caissa,

Sorry I am getting into the mix a bit late. I wanted to make a few general comments.

I've been a professional, college-level, and below, educator for a number of years, and I have taught all manner of writing. I don't have coursework behind me in marketing, but I do know the general format for writing essays, and other types of content, and I use these principles when I write product descriptive text. I will briefly outline it here:

1. *Introduction* -- Start with an Introduction of what it is you are going to talk about and what it does or why you are going to talk about it. State the point you are going to make with the idea that you will back it up with convincing evidence. But, "sell the sizzle not the steak." Elicit emotions with action or emotional words. Start with the name of the product and what kind of "thing" it is:

"Revolutionary "Hopper Chopper," chops onions and pimentoes to perfection."

Now we have told the reader the name of this thing, what kind of a thing it is, and what it does.

2. *Supporting Information* -- Answer Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How related to the product and claim made in the Introduction:

"Used by chefs in the finest restaurants where state-of-the-art chopping is essential for a perfect dish every time."

3. *Conclusion* -- Take the statement you have made in the Introduction and add the "proof" or "support" of your assertion and then sum it all up as a logical conclusion that your statement in the Introduction is correct:

"So, if you wish to serve a perfect meal every time for your dinner guests at home, do what chefs in the finest restaurants do and chop your onions and pimentoes only with the Revolutionary "Hopper Chopper."

**Note: Always identify the audience you intend to target and use language which is appropriate for them. Always use good grammar and perfect sprelling. :) You could completely lose your visitor if you can't write and spell properly.

The End ~

Judi :(
PS: Everyone gets an "A" on this exercise .... ;)
PPS: To Caissa: In Netscape your top navigation bar covers the top line in your title and the top link of the page on your home page.

#7 Caissa

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 07:36 PM

Hi,

Thanks! Great advice. I have been studying copywriting all week. What you wrote is clear and to the point.

I knew about the problem in Netscape and have been pondering how best to address it. All the javascript I have found does not work well in either NN or Opera. I like the idea of the drop menus because it eases the clutter. If you or anyone knows a way to make those type menus that work in all browsers I would be grateful.

#8 Black_Knight

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 09:17 PM

"sell the sizzle not the steak." Elicit emotions with action or emotional words.


I know exactly what you mean there, and fully agree, Judi.

I guess some might wonder exactly what we mean by 'selling sizzle, not steak' though. It is about knowing what people want from a product. When I think about steak, I can almost smell it, and I think of the flavour of a prime steak cooked to pefection. Yes, I even hear the sizzle of it cooking. When I buy steak, I am really buying the smell, taste and even the sizzle. I'm not thinking "I want to buy 16oz of cow carcass".

To sell well, you need to understand your market. You need to know what motivates someone to buy the product (such as a lump of cow carcass), to understand the emotional attractions (mom cooked great steak, and it reminds me of home), the needs that the customer has (they want a particular taste, smell, experience).

A great place to look for inspiration is at the automobile industry. They don't sell cars (buy this, it has four wheels and an engine) but instead sell safety, image enhancement, lifestyle choices, reputation, and most of all, social status. Take a good hard look at the next ten advertisements for cars that you see. Study how they 'sell the sizzle', and not the fact that they sell a car.

#9 Judi

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 12:59 AM

Caissa,

I am so happy that I was able to help. Been writing since I was 7 years old so I guess by now (I'm 112) I should have learned a thing or three.. The only problem that has ever been pointed out to me in my writing is that I don't ever seem to know when to stop..... Men seem to think it's a Venusian kind of thing... LOL

As far as your javascript problem in NN is concerned, I don't have an answer for your problem. What I do is write only HTML from a basic authoring program using no tricks or shortcuts at all. I do everything manually but coding. I have forgotten how to hand code over the years. I create to NN 4.7 and if an element won't work there, I find some other way to do it. My goal is to make my sites work as close to exactly the same across all the browsers and AOL, too. I know this is a pain in the neck attitude, but if I create an element and it looks one way in NN and another in IE, I don't use it. I actually had a client one time sitting at his desk with two computers, four service providers (including AOL back when it was really crappy) and if anything was not identical, he was prepared to complain. He never had a complaint. I take pride in that, but that is very basic, no bells and whistles kind of development. I put it all into the look and feel and UI and graphics. I have never used javascript except when constructing rollover elements. Sorry, I don't have a real answer for you.

Ammon,

It'a about all I can do now not to go to the frige and pull out that steak I put in the freezer not more than half an hour ago. Now you have me drooling... You "sold" a little too much "sizzle" to me for this late hour. LOL

Excellent points. I love your elaborations... and the yummy steak.. and the auto industry really does provide an excellent example.. YOu are right on for sure... :)

Have a great week everyone...

Judi ;)

#10 sanity

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Posted 28 November 2002 - 01:50 AM

Great stuff Judi and Ammon. Thanks for sharing. Copywriting is one area I want to improve in.



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