This is the first in a new concept for a category – rants. Less official than a manifesto, but more impassioned than a rhetoric, the rant is the most unruly of the the monologue brothers. It’s a polemic with ‘roid rage. It’s always useful to remember that a rant, by definition, is one-sided. Some people use rants to make a point, others use them to blow off steam. For me, it’s more of a hobby. Here’s the first; two things I hate about internet marketing.
The Sales Letter aka “The Long Page”
Dear Valued Customer,
We’ve seen the long page one too many times. You know what I’m talking about – you follow a link to what appears to be an interesting and informative site. Excited about the prospect of new and beneficial information, you sit and wait for the page to load. Then, it hits you. A dreaded “Long Page.”
Your scroll bar shrinks to the size of a pea as the true horror of the long page is revealed to you. Bright, red, capitalised words scream at you, as a constant stream of bullet points flood your vision. The excessive use of exclamation marks slowly hypnotises you, while warm, comforting promises entice you ever further down the page.
You keep scrolling. Now you’re in free fall. There’s no going back. You’re scrolling faster and faster, reading, striving to get to the end where the magical piece of information will be revealed to you! And then, finally, you see it –
“All these secrets and more, available for only $39.99!!!!”
OK look, I can’t keep up this pretense anymore. I hate them. I’ve become so repulsed by these things, that if I read one for more than 33 continuous seconds I instantly vomit. Seriously.
You must understand, that these pages are designed to manipulate you, to bombard you with claims, promises and persuasion techniques, over and over and over, so that when you get to the bottom and see that the book is priced only *slightly* higher than one that you could buy in person and tangibly own, you’re impressed enough to buy.
The worst thing is when they are filled with NLP techniques – little methods of using language aimed at manipulating you. Whether these techniques actually work is questionable, but the fact that they are in there at all is so…slimy. Some of these long page writers make the sterotypical used car salesman look like Jesus.
My policy is simple – see a long page, click back.
The FREE BONUS EBOOK
People, apparently, are suckers for bonus items. You know how you get a mint at the end of your meal out? Studies have shown that if you are given the mint by your waiter, rather than take it from a bowl on the counter, you give a bigger tip. It’s the principle of reciprocity, a part of our psychology. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
So when you’re buying an ebook, you’re almost sure to get a short (less than 20 pages) additional ebook, on a topic somewhat related to the main product. It gets it’s own title and cover art, and everything is done to make it look like a stand-alone product. It would not surprise me if the time-pressed internet shamster didn’t pull a chapter out of the finished product – or at least used chapters that didn’t make the cut of the final draft.
And why, whenever it is referred to, must it always be in full caps? It’s not your free bonus ebook, it’s your FREE BONUS EBOOK!
And of course, it’s value must always be emphasised, to make it clear just how much the author is SACRIFICING by giving this away for free. He’s really doing you a favour here – this thing’s worth $17!!
It’s always a strange, non-rounded last digit, isn’t it?
Because the FREE BONUS EBOOK couldn’t possibly have a rounded off value, like $10 or $15. No, that would be weird! It might even seem like IT ISN’T EVEN WORTH THAT AT ALL!
No, better to give it a price ending in 7, that way it’s clear to the victims, sorry, I mean the customers, that the FREE BONUS EBOOK has been carefully analysed, and it’s value calculated to the exact digit.
These two nasty tactics are in the malicious end of the spectrum. If you see the long page, or the bonus ebook, there’s a good chance you’re being manipulated. It’s that simple.
No one puts up the long page to inform you about the product – they are doing it to push your buttons so that when you get to the bottom, you’ll want to buy. Same with the bonus ebook, no author thinks “Hey, my actual product isn’t good enough, so I’d better whip out some more material. Besides, this extra piece would be really beneficial to my customers!” They are thinking “what can I write up quickly and pass off as a free gift?”
Now, there is always a small chance that people using these methods really are credible. I’ve wondered if they are actually so effective, that even credible sellers have to use them too, just to stay afloat.
But I doubt it. There has to be a better way. The long page truly is the tackiest page on the internet. It’s the website equivalent of making jewellery out of tin foil. Instead of a long page, why not a short page? Instead of a FREE BONUS EBOOK why not 10-15 articles, available for free on the website? I’m all for effective marketing, but you’ve got to keep it classy, take the higher ground.
Ultimately, you’re probably not losing much by ignoring sites using these tactics. There are some really good products out there, available by genuinely knowledgeable authors, and you don’t have to scroll down 18 pages of advertising to buy them either.
And I’ll tell you where to find them, for just $39.99!!!!