Website Makeover, Part I

As I mentioned in my last post, “Meet the Man Who Holds the Keys to the Kingdom”, I began work on Nelson Duffle’s sales letter last weekend. The copy wasn’t bad but several problem areas immediately got my attention.

Nelson's Original Headline
Nelson's Original Headline

The first thing I look at on any sales page is the headline. Nelson’s got a good headline but is there room for improvement?

One simple way to improve almost any headline is by adding “quickly & easily”. For example: “How to Improve Your Website” becomes, “How to Quickly & Easily Improve Your Website”.

Unfortunately, that phrase won’t work on this headline. While what Nelson teaches isn’t terribly difficult, I wouldn’t label it ‘quick & easy’.

A second thing I always consider adding “Guaranteed” to the end of a headline. This almost always turns more browsers into buyers. That’s because a guarantee let’s their ‘inner skeptic’ know they can get their money back if they’re dissatisfied.

Then it hit me. Nelson’s letter didn’t have a guarantee. Oops.

I gave Nelson a call to ask him what length of guarantee, he felt comfortable with and he decided to go with 30 days. Many copywriters teach that you should go with as long a guarantee as possible, especially when selling info products like Nelson’s.

A shorter guarantee can create tension for the buyer, especially if they buy with what’s called the ‘puppydog close.’ (Don’t decide now, take the puppy home for the weekend. If you don’t like it, you can always bring it back on Monday.)

Often, people order something but don’t open it right away. And they’re constantly thinking about that looming 30-day deadline. They may request a refund without having looked at the product because the deadline is near and they don’t want to take a chance they wouldn’t get their money back.

Smart marketers often offer longer guarantees; say six months to a year, so buyers can relax knowing they have plenty of time to change their mind. With a longer guarantee, there are usually far less returns,

However, recent changes in payment processor’s policies have, in many cases, ruled out longer guarantees. Paypal, for example, will only accept a maximum of 60 days. Nelson’s payment processor has a similar policy so he decided to go with 30 days.

So I added ‘Guaranteed’ to the end of his headline and copy spelling out his guarantee.

Nelson's Original Testimonial Box
Nelson's Original Testimonial Box

After the headline, the first thing on the letter was a testimonial from Joe Vitale. This is a strange place for a headline although I have seen one or two sales letters make this work.

I didn’t like the idea for this sales letter so I moved it further down the page in order to weave it into the copy. I also thought the testimonial box itself needed work:

  1. It’s looks crowded. Most people don’t read testimonials, they just scan them. So make it easier for them to read. This box has the text crowded right up against the left margin.Also, with the scanners in mind, it’s a good idea to put part of the testimonial in a headline and use bold text for key phrases. Those phrases will stand out and catch the reader’s eye. Nelson used both a headline and bolded text in his testimonials. Good move.
  2. The box looks dated. The border and color look like websites I was building seven or eight years ago. A dated look can lead the reader to believe the information being sold on this site it out of date, too.
  3. The wrong photo. You could argue this one either way but it bugged me seeing a photo of two people in a testimonial coming from one person. Now obviously I know both Nelson and Joe Vitale but I felt like a reader might be distracted wondering who the second person was. They’d eventually figure it out but why do anything that distracts the reader from the message? I think a photo like this one would be far more useful when used on a blog or newsletter.

New & Improved Testimonial Box
New & Improved Testimonial Box

I created a more updated looking testimonial box with room between the text and the border so the text can ‘breathe’. I also used a professional photo of Joe that looks friendlier than the candid shot used in the old testimonial.

The old sales letter used too many variations of type sizes, styles and colors. I try to stick to two to three different fonts (type styles) per sales letter and no more than three different colors of text. I knew cleaning this up would go a long way towards improving the sales letter.

Why put the sales letter in a box?
Why put the sales letter in a box?

I was also surprised to see that the main body of the sales letter was in a little box similar to the old testimonials. I’m not sure why it was done but knew we’d need to get rid of it. Notice how once again, there’s little to no space between the text and the border? Big no-no.

Scrolling further down the page, we come to the end of the text box to fine more problems…

What's wrong with this picture?
What's wrong with this picture?

First, while this photo isn’t terrible, it’s too large and in the wrong place. I like the idea of using a photo of the subject in a sales letter but I prefer to put it at the point the author introduces himself.

I also think this particular photo is too large. I like the idea that Nelson is looking at the camera but he’s not smiling and it’s an outdoor shot and he’s squinting. Better to use a new photo. Nelson is going to provide me with one but, in the meantime, I cropped it and moved it.

Also, Nelson’s letter has a space for a signature but no actual signature. There are two ways to go here. You can scan your actual signature or go with a signature style font. If you choose to scan your own signature, don’t use an ordinary pen. A signature created with a ballpoint pen will often appear thin and broken when scanned into your computer. Use a felt-tip instead and it’ll appear much bolder.


Some people, fearing identity theft, are uncomfortable putting their real signature online. Instead, you can use a signature style font. Try experimenting with the different fonts that are on your computer to find one that looks right.

Most PC’s have several like Bradley Hand ITC, Lucida Handwriting or French Script MT that will work. But don’t just format the text using one of these fonts. If the reader’s computer doesn’t have the same font, they’ll see it as ordinary text.

Instead, write the signature out in Paintbrush (which is included with Windows) or another graphic program. Crop it down to size and add the graphic to your sales letter. Then everyone will see it the same way.

For some reason, Nelson’s old letter continued below the box seen in the last photo. Even though, he’d essentially said ‘goodbye’, the letter inexplicably continued for several paragraphs followed by yet another close and P.S.

So after getting rid of the box, I removed the first close and added the signature to the new improved close seen below.

A New Ending
A New Ending

I moved Nelson’s newly cropped photo to the point in the sales letter where he’s making his introduction. This photo will eventually be replaced with a new improved head shot.

A Better Introduction
A Better Introduction

Tomorrow, I’ll reveal Nelson’s newly made over website. We’ll also take a look at how the site was going about collecting visitor’s names and email addresses and what we worked on to improve things.

Finally, I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. Many of you email me but please take advantage of the comments section. That way, everyone can join in. Your comment won’t appear immediately. They’re held for moderation to prevent spammers from taking over the blog but they will appear ASAP.

All you need to do is scroll down to the bottom of this post to leave a comment. Note: If you’re reading this on the main blog page rather than page for this individual article, scroll down and click on the link that says “0 Comments” or “5 Comments” (depending on how many people have posted comments.)

Can’t wait to hear from you. See you tomorrow!