Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

How to use advertising
To promote your web site

O.K. You've just created a terrific Web site filled with hot offers that no one can resist. Now you have to figure out a way to get the world to beat a path to your door.

I know you've spent time registering your site with all the search engines, but have you given serious thought to how you can promote your site in your current communications materials using direct response copywriting techniques?

Let's focus on the print advertising you're running right now. Have you considered how you can leverage your current advertising to promote your Web site? Many software developers haven't and they're losing sales as a result. Let me give you an example.

Dr Solomon's Software recently ran a full page ad for its Anti-Virus product in Byte. The ad does a lot of things right, but amazingly enough, there is absolutely no URL listed anywhere in the ad!

What makes this omission even more glaring is the fact that Dr Solomon's has a nifty Web site up and running. They offer a free evaluation copy of a product, press reviews, tech notes, a useful glossary -- the whole enchilada. Why they didn’t promote their site in their ad is a mystery to me. The question is, are you making a similar blunder?

Or consider a more common mistake -- the one Traveling Software made in its LapLink ad. Listen to how their elegantly art-directed ad ends:

"And now that LapLink is available for Windows NT, you have every reason in the world to request one of our free, fully-functional trial packs. Pick up the phone and dial 800-224-7704. Or visit our Website at www.laplink.com. We'd be delighted to bring you up to date."

Does the direct response copywriter mean that you can download a trial pack over the Web or that you can simply browse the Web site for more information?

The writer should have made things absolutely clear. Maybe like this:

"And now that LapLink is available for Windows NT, you have every reason to request one of our free, fully-functional trial packs. To get your personal copy (with no obligation), call 800-224-7704. Or download LapLink from our Website at: www.laplink.com/freesoftware.html You can be putting LapLink to the test yourself in minutes!"

Clearer, no? Sometimes, all direct response copywriters have to do is pay attention to the details to dramatically increase sales.

By the way, did you notice that I created a new URL with the word "freesoftware" in my rewrite above? Here's why I made the change . . .

Currently, if you use the URL that Traveling Software provides, you wind up on the company's home page. Then the hunting begins. There are beautiful color graphics and invitations to visit at Comdex, but no "FREE Trial Pack Download!" button to be found anywhere. That would be too easy. Instead you have to go down to the bottom of the home page, between "about us!" and "technical support" to the "order/download" button.

This is terrible. You should never have to search for the offer. And you should never use the word "order" on a button that links you to a free offer. The word "order," of course, implies payment!

With my new, suggested URL, the reader of the ad could open directly to a special Web page that says, "Thanks so much for responding to our ad in Byte magazine! To get the free trial pack we promised you, click here." (I could do a lot more with that page but I'm running out of space!)

The offer-specific URL would, of course, also provide a great way to test media effectiveness. If you copywrite a separate Web page for each publication you're running in, you just check your hit rates to see how the books are pulling!

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