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One really looong page type of web design
What's the big idea?

 7:05 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Over the months, I have noticed some websites (generally selling ebooks or "How to make money without working" type of sites) that have just one sales page. And the page is generally 8 miles long, interspersed with "testimonials" and takes lots of scrolls to go through all that content.

What's the big idea?

Do they make more sales than "normal" websites? Do they have a better conversion rate? Why do I see them only in sites that are selling ebooks?



 7:15 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

I believe that the reason is someone started telling every one that these pages converted better. I see them all the time and quickly run screaming. It is some attempt at slowly convincing someone that they should buy. It is based off the "But wait there's more" tactic. Do they work, I don't know.


 7:22 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

quickly run screaming

Well I don't. I always check the "length" of the page to see if beats any existing records. After that I calmly close the browser window.

Did I forget to add? There will always be this at the end of the page -

Free Bonus Number 1
Free Bonus Number 2
.Free Bonus Number x

Total value $999
Your price $49

I'm almost sure there IS something in this strategy.


 7:23 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let me use my own wording for what korkus2000 just said :

Those people got so brainwashed by their own sales tactics they overlooked on the web basics. They still think in some linear way to trap visitors. I guess they get better conversion from AOL visitors... ;)


 7:32 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

I read a big, long ebook by a guy who ran one of those one-long-page sites... he specifically said that the layout of that site completely contradicted all his own best advice about designing sucessful websites, but that he'd compared the conversion on that specific site between the "long page" layout and the more commonly accepted multi-page format...

He said he found that sites which agressively targeted non-web-savvy people (like most "get rich quick" schemes and ebook sale sites do) converted better in the long page format. I think it would have something to do with not confusing an easily confused visitor with clicking links or making choices... you read the one long page, and then there's a big "Buy NOW" link at the bottom. If you're sold, you click. No muss, no fuss, no confusing navigation. (And there is a segment of web users who find almost all navigation somewhat confusing...)


 7:52 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have seen pages like this work very good. A friend of mine has one that was a one page site with only a couple incoming links that was PR7 and ranked very well for some very competitive keywords for a few months. I told him to enjoy it while it lasted because eventually Google would drop it and they finally did this past update.

As far as how they sell they can do very well if worded correctly. My friend tried experimenting with a page like this vs. a "traditional" webpage and saw 5 times better conversion with the one long page.

There seems to be a circle of about 4 or 5 guys that heavily promote this type of site. It might work for some purposes but I have never been convinced enough to try it.


 8:02 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

because eventually Google would drop it and they finally did this past update.

I'm not sure whether I got that part. Are you saying Google will put some penalties on a site because of the length of the site?


 8:05 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

So if I want to sell the Brooklin Bridge, I must use pages as long as the Golden Gate?


 8:11 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

[Are you saying Google will put some penalties on a site because of the length of the site?]

No. I don't think it has much to do with the length of the site. It wasn't really a "site", just one page. There is evidence that certain page sizes to better than others but that wasn't the case here. It was just a bad site that shouldn't have been ranked as well as it was. It didn't get totally nuked. It still has a PR4 which is closer to what it should have been from the start.


 8:28 pm on Jan 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

generally selling ebooks or "How to make money without working" type of sites

I first noticed this when looking for bulk email software - I guess for some people bulk e-mailing falls into the "money without working" category.

If you're used to a nicely designed, easily navigated site, these are not for you! I kept expecting a pitch for Ginsu knives or something...


 1:56 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

They do work, and very well at that, depending on what's being offered and who the target audience is.

It's basically an adaptation of proven direct marketing tactics adapted from the old school direct mail info product legions.

In certain niches I've seen this design combined with good copywriting out pull every other approach by as much as 5 to 1.

Despite their potential in the right market, there are many lemmings defaulting to this approach in areas where a multi-page site could do better.

But then, follow-the-leader-itis is a disease that exists in just about every industry. ;)

In any form of marketing... testing is the key.


 12:39 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Those pages are designed for printers in mind. It's an info snow storm. You'll notice alot of media pages are now that same style. I know of one major company with a 7meg file including graphics. If they print out the page, then they really print out the page.


 1:04 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I personally think they make them only one page because many of the products/services/etc. marketed on these pages are borderline scams and people are more likely to click the back button than a link, but they will scan the page to make sure it is not something worth checking out.

With that said many of the sites like this that I have seen pop up so many advertisments that I accidently close the main page (if I don't accidently close it I hit the back button as soon as I get that far down in the pile of windows).

I still feel that if you have a good quality product, clean layout that makes people feel comfortable and fast loading pages you will get good quality customers and return visits from potential customers.


 1:31 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I ran into these the other day and found them so hideous - but I think there is something to it. Even though I was heavily pre-disposed, I found it to have a psychological effect that made me keep on reading. Also, they're designed to get you to give them an email address at any costs and then they start a heave email marketing campaign. I can see how this would be effective. Would I do it? Never.


 1:37 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is a really old web technique. I have seen it for many years. If it is really effective then why do only make money online and other sites like iJeep said "borderline scams" use this? I would think others would pick it up if it really worked. I am not sure the conversion rate is based on the design but more on the product being pedaled.


 1:46 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would think others would pick it up if it really worked.

It only works for certain naive target audiences and/or impulse buy items... As I mentioned in my post earlier, a "web marketing expert" e-book I read used his own sucessful one-long-page site as an example of what NOT to do when building a site in general.

He then went on to explain that in his own observations of his own sites, that particular (borderline scam/aimed at internet novices) site converted many times better with the ugly one-page design than when he tried to redesign it to a more "sophisticated" design.

You'd also think telemarketing and email solicitation "would never work" and that "everone would do it if it produced results," but what works great for one market/product/audience may bomb with another, and that goes for targeting your product to the right market, as well as targeting your design.


 3:00 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've been seeing these and I hate them with disgust.

The logic I have formulated as to why the webmaster thinks it is a good idea to do it this way is:

Instead of letting the surfer pick and choose which pages they want to read under a traditional design, it forces them to read it all, or at least scan through it all.

Being exposed to more copy leads to the higher conversion rate.

However, personally, I don't like being forced to read section I don't want to. I don't like being forced to read/scan through info-garbage that I am not immediately interested in.

Instead of wading chest deep through all that information over-load, I hit the back button.


 9:02 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

I have a friend, whos site I was resently optimising. He has a really long sales page which is about 4-5 A4 pages long. It is broken up by small, although not a lot, of images. I explained how I could better optimise the page, however, he stuck his toes in and showed me some very interesting statistics. Don't ask me why, but, REALLY long sales pages convert to more sales.



 11:56 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

One thing you've got to keep in mind here - the target audience isn't people like us. The target audience is people who really believe that they can find a way to "Get Rich From Home". We can't comprehend these pages and why they work simply because we can't comprehend how anyone could get sucked in in the first place.

There are a few other trains of thought that (probably) apply.

1) Pay for Inclusion: Usually it's a pay by page inclusion. Pay for one and Ink will spider it all.

2) The "click-away" concept. Every click a surfer makes to go to a new page and not to the order form is another chance for the person to be lost. Fewer clicks to buy, better conversions. This is pretty standard with all of us.

3) Hook - Inform - Close - It's standard. You give them a hook. If the hook is good, they'll read on. You then inform them about it. If the information is promising or interesting, they'll keep going. Then, you close the deal. If the first two parts have worked, then the last will work. I use the same technique on many of my pages (though my front page is the only one with Info Bloat even close to the extent of what we're talkig about here). In fact, a good many of the pages on my site don't even let you know your supposed to buy something until I've already gotten you hooked. What I do isn't exactly the same as what we are talking about in this thread, but it's in the same family. Once I started applying it, my conversion rates quadrupled in a single week back in October.

Yeah, I agree, I'm not going to buy something like we're talking about here, but believe me, the concept is at least rooted in proven "real world" sales techniques. <shrug>

"I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." - Bob Seger


running scared

 4:16 pm on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

The ones that interest me are the ones that don't even include a price in all the info bloat. You sometimes have to click further before finding out.

These sort of sites usually have strong affiliate schemes going. I am amazed that they make someone who has read the affiliates review and soft sell wade through all the mush as well. I would of thought a smaller page would definetly work better for these sort of users.


 1:25 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

We had a discussion about the way these pages are often written a *long* time ago that I think you all might find interesting.

Psychological Triggers In WebSites [webmasterworld.com]


 5:03 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have seen many of these sites, usually pitching some type of product. The length has nothing to do with design - it is all about keeping the reader interested through the use of "hypnotic" copywriting, images, and page flow. The idea is to get the user to *read* a sales pitch, and follow the steps to making a sale. Breaking up this pitch into several pages would decrease retention, and would require the seller to focus more on "clickthrough" enticement, rather than getting the reader to read the whole pitch and making a purchase.

Many of these pages suck in the way they are written and developed; others are truly masterful.

To address the original post, I would say that 'yes'- depending on your product and your own internet marketing resources, this type of site may be more effective.


 6:05 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

This type of page is a conversion from the typical direct mail sales letter. It's common knowledge among direct mail marketers that "long copy sells". These guys test every mail piece they do and they have the business of direct mail down to a literal science. I worked as a graphic artist for a company that did a lot of direct mailings and learned quite a bit about layout and copywriting for this type of piece.

I haven't seen any statistics regarding this type of ploy on web sites, but I'll bet the bigger guys doing these pages are doing the research and testing. They wouldn't use the pages unless they worked. In marketing fields, you shouldn't go with what you want, what you think people want, or what consultants tell you people want, you should TEST different layouts and copy, and SURVEY customers to determine the layout and copy that brings in the most sales.


 9:24 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yep - direct mail marketing taken to the web - not email, but to a web page.

I think many web marketers could learn a lot more about conversion from traditional direct marketers (wow- what a concept).


 1:45 pm on Feb 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Volatile and xbase, you are kindred spirits. As I read the first part of this thread, I came to the same conclusion - a super-long web page of this type is really the long-copy DM piece converted to web use. It's sort of counterintuitive - I'd NEVER spend the time to read four pages of dense text about why I need a magazine subscription. Nevertheless, these pieces worked for years. And one thing paper direct marketers know is what works - if you don't, you go out of business in a hurry. On the web, unfortunately, the Darwinian selection effect is much, much weaker - poorly performing web pages can last forever, with only the owner knowing the truth.

A couple of other "tricks of the trade" that might be convertible to web use: the long sales letters were usually enhanced by simulated hand-written notes - an underlined or circled word, "This really worked!" in the margin, etc. Since you can't write on web pages, the metaphor isn't as strong, but I could imagine some creative use of images to accomplish a similar effect. Another common tool was a separate little insert that said something like, "Read this only if you have decided not to subscribe" - it would contain another selling point or two and perhaps some kind of bonus offer. On the web, this would be a popup window that opens when you leave the page.

The key to making a long page work is very effective copy. The reason the long paper letters worked is because they typically engaged the reader quickly, perhaps by starting a story or stating an outrageous fact, and held the reader's interest. Length alone won't help, and will probably hurt. Great copy will make the reader keep scrolling.

One advantage of long copy is that you can change reality for the reader. I've always been amazed at the success of door-to-door salespeople (a dying breed these days). I knew a guy who worked his way through college selling expensive encyclopedias. Naturally, nobody ever opened their door saying, "Thank goodness - we were just about to go out and buy a set!" NOBODY was interested at first. But if he could get in the door, and start talking about the huge amount of knowledge in the books, the improved school performance the kids would see, the pennies per day the books would cost, etc., he could actually change the perception and world view of the prospect. (Kind of like Steve Jobs famous "reality distortion field".) A long sales letter works the same way.

What about looong posts at WebmasterWorld? ;)

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