I’m going to tell you a weird, but amazing story about a marketing disaster that accidentally increased sales conversions by 338%.
But first I want to lay down a challenge…
The tale I’m about to tell, although absolutely true, is one of those marketing stories where an expected disaster turns into an unexpected success.
You know the kind of thing…
I accidentally added a zero to my price tag and sales tripled!
I unintentionally left out the testimonials and registrations increased!
However, this story is a little different. It’s one of those disasters where success was achieved DESPITE the mistakes, not BECAUSE of them.
That’s a key difference.
I don’t want you to read this story and think that the answer is to replicate the mistakes. Do NOT do that. Please.
What I want you to do – and this is my challenge to you – is to read this story and see if you can figure out WHY things worked out.
I’ll give you my view at the end, but see what you come up with on your own!
Never fear, Andy Jenkins is here!
Not a lot of people know this, but when I’m not busy laboring to make spectacular profits or cuddling with my kids, I moonlight as kind of a marketing superhero.
Every now and then, I get a call from a friend who has a “friend” in dire business distress, asking me to swoop in and save the day.
Occasionally, it’s more accurate to say I pour gasoline over the whole thing and set it on fire.
So… a bit like Batman, then.
This particular story began with a text message from a friend asking if I could help someone they knew who was about to put on a webinar. Definitely up my alley – I thought – so, I agreed to give my friend’s friend a call.
The lady in distress – we’ll call her Jane – had 8,000 people registered for a webinar scheduled to take place in two days.
Her problem was that the webinar solution she’d chosen was a mess and she just KNEW that on the big day the whole thing would implode. The proverbial “disaster waiting to happen”. Jane’s webinar was already recorded, ready to be played to her audience, but she just didn’t trust the tech she was using.
Well, that was an easy fix, as far as I was concerned. We could just migrate the webinar to my automated webinar platform, EverWebinar.
Nice, stable tech. No concerns about server loads. Lots of marketing bells and whistles.
Perfect! Andy Jenkins saves the day!
We uploaded everything to EverWebinar, pulled up a virtual seat, and watched as the system flawlessly delivered the webinar without a hitch.
You know the old saying about why you should never “assume”?
Well, I wish I would have thought about it.
In my rush to provide Jane with a stable automated webinar solution, it never occurred to me to ask her about her CONTENT.
I “assumed” that Jane was using a pre-recorded webinar and that EverWebinar would happily do its thing, just like it does thousands of times every day… deliver a flawless automated webinar experience.
And from a technical point of view, everything went fine.
The problem was that the content WASN’T a webinar.
Not even close.
The content was a Video Sales Letter (VSL).
And not even one of those carefully crafted VSLs that we love to use. This was (sorry, Jane) an UGLY VSL.
We’re talking standard font, black text, plain white background, subtitling every single word like some kind of demented autocue…
For 45 reeeeaaally looong minutes.
I figured the webinar was doomed before it even began because… well… it just wasn’t what we typically refer to as webinar content. And it was really bad. The audience was NEVER going to stay put for such a moribund (love that word) experience.
It would be like showing up to a movie theatre to watch the latest Avenger flick and seeing a documentary on filing tax returns, instead.
After it finally ended, I sat in my office sort of stunned and accepted the truth. It didn’t matter how well EverWebinar performed. The whole promotion was dead on arrival.
And then my phone rang…
I admit, when I saw the number I considered letting the call go to voicemail.
But Batman always picks up the phone, so.
I answered it fully expecting to hear, at best, a disappointed Jane, peeved at her “webinar” results. Or, at worst, a stream of expletives that would make Tony Soprano blush.
Instead, this is what I got…
“THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! OMG!”
Walt Whitman, it wasn’t, but still poetry to me.
As it turned out, the VSL I decided would be a failure had just converted more than 3 times better than it had ever converted in the past!
Apparently, the video we’d uploaded to EverWebinar had been doing the rounds for almost six months, receiving traffic from pay-per-click, Facebook retargeting, and even directly endorsed affiliate email promos.
But it had never converted anything close to what it had achieved from its EverWebinar performance.
The satisfaction and joy I vicariously experienced for a few minutes quickly faded to be replaced by the nagging question…
Why had this mediocre-at-best VSL performed so well on this occasion when results had been so “meh” before?
I HAD to know.
I decided to grill Jane about her VSL.
What I needed to know was what had changed. What was different about this VSL, compared to its earlier performances?
Were you using a different traffic source?
“No. All the webinar registrants are from my mailing list and have already seen the offer at least three times.”
Ah, so the Offer must have been different… better somehow…
“Nope. The offer was pretty much the same as always. In fact, I actually removed the payment plan so, if anything, the offer was less enticing than in the past.”
What about the bonuses? Was the Bonus Stack ramped up?
“Dammit! I knew I forgot something. I must remember to put the bonuses back on the checkout page before the next event.”
Erm… (clutching at straws now) Did you have any new testimonials?
“Woops – forgot all about those. I really should add some of those to the webinar.”
I poked around a little bit longer, but there was nothing to find. The ugly VSL that had just performed so well, was the same ugly VSL that had been struggling for months.
And that led me to one inescapable conclusion.
If nothing significant had changed to the content, and the ugly VSL had succeeded in spite of its flaws, it could only be because…
That’s when it hit me.
With this one project, Jane proved something that I had long suspected.
Imagine going through a McDonald’s drive-thru and ordering a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a bottle of water, to then be presented with a bill for $35.
You’d probably hurl the food back through the delivery window, right?
But go to your favorite restaurant and receive what is, essentially, the same meal on a carved block of stained walnut, with a sprig of alfalfa and some aioli in a little stainless steel cup, set in front of you on a woven wicker placemat with a half-pint of lager from a local brewery…
And you pay the $35 without even questioning it.
The presentation of a thing CHANGES your perception of a thing, along with the value you assign to it.
Jane’s VSL succeeded because it was PRESENTED as a webinar.
And that changed EVERYTHING!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and tell you that Jane’s project succeeded entirely because it was presented by EverWebinar.
In truth, if Jane’s original webinar provider was able to deliver her VSL without crashing (which is doubtful), the result would probably have been the same.
No, the key difference was simply that it was delivered AS A WEBINAR!
A Webinar Audience is a Captive Audience
Your audience might click on your VSL, watch a few minutes, and then decide whether what they’re watching is worth the time needed to consume the whole thing or not.
A webinar is different.
When someone attends your webinar, they’ve already asked the question and decided, yes, the promised content IS going to be worth their time. And then they’ve marked it in their calendar and maybe even moved some things around to make sure they’re available to attend.
When your webinar begins, they’re already more attentive than any audience you might have gained through any other marketing medium.
This is what happened to Jane.
Her webinar may have been a VSL.
It may have been a bit sketchy in terms of quality.
It may have missed out on a lot of basic marketing techniques.
But simply by virtue of presenting the content as a webinar to a captive audience who showed up with a commitment to watching the whole presentation…
Now, again, I’m NOT suggesting that you should follow Jane’s example.
If you create a webinar in which…
➔ Your presentation is interesting and visually appealing from Start to
➔ Your audience feels Smarter at the End than they did at the beginning,
➔ You create a palpable sense of Rising Urgency as you explain the
➔ Your customers understand the Limited Nature of the Offer…
Then, your conversions will SKYROCKET even further!
Maybe you already have a VSL that’s performing pretty well (if not, please don’t worry. We’re totally teaching you how to create one in an ongoing series that started last week).
What do you think would happen if you converted that content into a webinar, uploaded it to EverWebinar, and played that automated event to a new audience every single day?
Or even multiple times a day?
I suggest you try it and see for yourself.
Jane had tremendous success, and I’m happy for her. But if she follows webinar best practices and VSL best practice – the kind of things we regularly discuss on this very blog – I just KNOW that her next event is going to put her first attempt to shame.
Why do YOU think Jane experienced a 338% sales conversion increase?
Is my reasoning sound?
Post your thoughts in the comments, we’ll argue about it, and then eventually decide that I’m right. Just kidding! Not really. 🙂