On May 20th 2012 I launched a brand new ebook to the SEO community. In the first week of the launch that ebook generated $11,259 in revenue from a standing start. The following image shows my statistics for the launch – revealing the dates at the top together with the sales below. Note that you reach the total of $11,259 by adding together sales of the main ebook together with sales of the upsell which was offered to the same customers.
Today I’d like to tell you exactly how I did it and what the key factors to my success were.
Revealing My $10,000+ Ebook
I have been doing SEO for over a decade and in that time I have tested out just about every link building technique going. In my ebook – which I titled “Lazy Link Building” – I laid out the very best ways to build authority backlinks and as a result significantly increase the traffic to any website that applied these techniques. But more than that – I focused on free link building techniques. In this way all a website owner needed was my ebook and some time and they could quickly build dozens – even hundreds – of high quality links to their site.
The 3 Secret Ingredients For A Successful Ebook Launch
Successfully launching an ebook isn’t as difficult as some people might first imagine. Indeed there are only three major areas where you need to focus your time. Get these elements in order and a successful launch is virtually guaranteed.
1) A Quality Product With A Unique Angle In A Hot Niche
First and foremost you need a truly great product to sell. Too many people try to outsource their ebook writing, looking for the cheapest provider possible and/or simply rewriting another successful ebook in their own words.
If you want to be successful your ebook needs to ooze quality so that it stands out from the crowd. It also needs to offer something new, or a unique spin on something old, that will get people interested. Remember there are hundreds, even thousands, of ebooks about SEO, just as there are about many other topics. There are plenty just focusing on link building. But how many of them focus on (a) getting authority links and (b) doing this for free? The answer is not many at all. Most “link building” guides focus on low quality, spam links like getting automated social bookmarks and blog comments.
Because these kinds of links don’t really cut it in the “real world” I knew there would not only be people who wanted to know how to build quality links but furthermore I was sure that there were all sorts of people who had followed the advice of all the link building “gurus” but had come out without the high-ranking site they so desired.
Lastly your ebook should be in a hot niche – somewhere where people are actively spending money on a regular basis. Think weight loss, hobbies and crafts, career development and so on then try to whittle it down to find a “sub niche” that people are interested in but that isn’t being serviced by the current products or services on the market.
One nifty way to do this is to add a quick survey to your existing website. If you are building a list by giving away a free product then placing a simple poll on your download page can be a great way to generate responses from your readers.
As an example I created one using the free WP-Poll plugin on one of my own download pages. It simply asked my subscribers to tell me specifically what they were interested in learning more about. A slightly different version is used on another of my download pages where the question is more open-ended. Rather than asking people to simply tick some boxes there is a text box where people can actually tell me in their own words what they’re looking to learn.
Whilst the second option garners a lower response in general (because it requires more effort) the results can be truly enlightening – allowing you to not only figure out topics of interest in your market but even the words used, the major concerns of your niche and the specific problems they are having. By doing this your sales letter creation will be far easier as you will be able to talk directly to those individuals’ needs and wants and thus maximize your response rate.
2) A High EPC
Incase this acronym is new to you, EPC stands for “earnings per click”. In essence this is the average value of someone that arrives at your sales letter. For example if you sent 100 visitors to your page, and 10 of those people bought your ebook, and each ebook cost $10 then your EPC would be:
(10 sales X $10) / 100 visitors or an EPC of $1.
The higher this EPC is, the more money you can make from your ebook. If you have an EPC of $1 then if you can buy good quality traffic for less than this then you know you can make a profit. Moreso, it becomes far easier to convince affiliates to promote your product if it has a decent EPC. After all, if I have a list of 5,000 subscribers and I can send just 250 of them to your sales page, I know that on average I should make $250 in this instance. For sending a single email.
Contrast that with another ebook, which is just as good, but has an EPC of 50c and it’s clear that all else being equal most affiliates will promote the ebook with the higher EPC because it means more profit for me from the same amount of work.
Looking at the equation above it’s clear that the two ways to boost your EPC are to write a great sales letter that converts as many leads to customers as possible and additionally to try and sell your ebook for as high a value as possible.
Clearly this is a balancing act – price your ebook too high and your conversion rate comes down. Price it too low and while your converion rate may go up your EPC may still end up low. When it comes to pricing your product there are two techniques worthy of consideration. Firstly, ask your existing customers or newsetter subscribers what they think your ebook is worth – then offer it for sale at significantly less so that it appears such a great deal that people want to snap up a copy straight away. Secondly, do your market research looking at similar products and find the most common price-point that seems to be working for your market.
Another way to boost your EPC is to add what is known as a “one time offer” or OTO. When someone actually pulls out their credit card (or Paypal log-in details!) and buys a product they are in a receptive frame of mind. They are in “shopping mode” and so it is possible at this stage to offer an additional complementary product to them.
If the OTO product really is an extension of your main ebook – in that it will make it easier/quicker/cheaper to implement the techniques in your main ebook you’ll be surprised how many people will opt for it. Using my own launch as an example I was quite shocked to note that 45% of people who bought my ebook then went ahead and bought my OTO too – something which took the average transaction value from $12 up to $19 – thanks to the $7 OTO. Clearly this significantly increased my EPC, making it more tempting for affiliates while offering my customers additional value for a very small price.
When it comes to your sales letter you have the option to either write it yourself or to hire a professional copy writer. And while I write my own copy it has taken me years to get to where I am now. Consequently if you’re relatively new to writing sales letters you may well want to hire a writer who knows that they’re doing because a proper sales letter that converts browsers into buyers is arguably the single most important element of all that everything else hinges on.
Before we move onto the final ingredient for a successful launch I want to mention the importance of testimonials. Having a good number of believable, high-quality testimonials for your product is essential for maximizing your conversion rate. The real problem is how to get them, especially for an ebook that hasn’t yet launched.
Contacting Active Reviewers
Look around your niche at competing products and you may well find that there are certain names that crop up time and again in the testimonials section. Make a note of these people, track them down via Twitter, their website, their forum profile etc. and contact them offering them a free copy of your product. Simply ask that if they like your product, they will consider sending you a testimonial that you can use. Clearly they gain a free product and they get their name front and central on a high traffic web page that can lead to extra traffic for them, and you benefit from the higher response rate of your sales letter so it really is a win/win deal.
Contacting Active Affiliates
Smart affiliates know that testimonials sell. As a result they are often quite willing to send you a testimonial to use on your sales page – especially if they are considering promoting your product.
Contacting Active Bloggers
Bloggers in your niche are in constant need of new content so they too are often willing to review your product on their blog and send you a testimonial to use.
Contacting People You Have Bought From
If you’re a paid customer of mine I feel I have some form of relationship with you. After all, you’ve sent me money. I consider that a compliment. You’ve put your trust in me and ended up sending me money. It’s people like you that keep me doing what I do. So if you contact me as a customer – or even a subscriber to one of my lists – I’m far more likely to open your email and try to help you out than if I’ve never heard of you before.
As a result it is a smart idea to set up a folder in your email software to store all the “thank you for your purchase” emails you get when you buy software, ebooks and suchlike from other people. Then when it comes to launching your ebook you can find the products you’ve bought in that same niche, hit “reply” to those emails and offer them a free copy in exchange for a review. Not all of these emails will get the desired response but in my experience a fair number will.
As a side note, I have gotten far better responses by hitting “reply” to the original email rather than by sending a brand new email to the senders email address. Why? Firstly if I’m a customer and I’m not happy in some way – maybe I want a refund or maybe I can’t download my product then it’s natural to respond to that “receipt” email. As a result any email with a subject line like “Re: Thank You For Purchasing X” is likely to be a problem – and will receive priority attention. It’s almost guaranteed to get read.
Secondly by replying to their original email you’re not only proving that you are a customer of theirs but furthermore it would be difficult to classify this as spam in any way as you’re merely responding to their email that they sent you. Done in a gentle, ethical fashion this is a very powerful technique overlooked by many people.
Contacting Your Existing List
Have you ever sold a product before? Do you have a list of proven buyers? If so, why not contact a few of these offering them a review copy? Even if your list only consists of people who have signed up for your free ebook you can create an “event” letting them know that the first 20 people (or however many) that respond, or comment on your blog, or whatever else will get a free copy to review with the proviso that they provide you with a testminial if they like it.
The “Feedback Circle”
If you’re anything like me, you buy a decent number of products each month online and ask for refunds on only a tiny percentage. Many of them I truly love (like OptinSkin that I bought a few weeks ago). However I’m not the kind of person to go out of my way looking to shower anyone with praise – after all I’m a busy guy.
However if you make it easy for these happy customers to provide you with a testimonial a surprising number will in my experience.
To this end I try to include a request for testimonials to all my customers, together with a link they can click to leave their feedback. Remember we need to make it easy and natural to leave a testimonial so by placing this section at the end of your ebook your customers will be aware that they have finished the ebook. If they have enjoyed it, as many will, quite a few will click that link to be taken to your blog or your contact page or your forum thread to leave their comments.
I refer to this as the “feedback circle” because every time I sell a copy of my ebook there is a decent chance that the customer will click that link at the end of the ebook, head on over and leave their feedback. That feedback then makes my sales message more powerful, leading to more sales, more testiminials and so the cycle goes on.
As a side note try not to do what many people do and ask for the testimonial on their download page. Clearly at this point your customer has not yet read your ebook so they are unable to leave a genuine comment – and furthermore all they want to do after purchasing is to download their ebook and get reading. However a strageigcally placed link at the end of your ebook instead can do wonders.
3) A Ready Source Of Traffic
The final part of our “holy trinity” of ebook success is a ready source of traffic. Quite simply you need to be able to send an avalanche of traffic to your sales page in a very short space of time. There are numerous ways to do this – such as by buying PPC traffic, creating videos for YouTube, ranking your website in the search engines etc but personally I have found three strategies work best for almost-instant traffic in droves.
Viral Blog Posts Promoted With Social Media
A top-quality blog post, published in the right place, and supported by social media, can be one of the best ways to drive hundreds of visitors to your sales page in a matter of days. Now whilst I have a blog it’s hardly Problogger, Copyblogger or Entrepreneurs Journey. A post here may get a few hundred visitors on the first day it is published – maybe more if it gets retweeted by someone with a decent following.
But a guest post on one of these “authority blogs” can go crazy, sending huge amounts of traffic your way if you link to your sales page in the author bio. Furthermore these blogs receive more than their fair share of tweets and Facebook shares so your message can go even further than the blog’s original readership.
Nobody ever buys a single product in hot markets. People buy multiple weight loss ebooks. Numerous pay per click courses. Assorted poker guides. The trick here is to write a blog post that will appeal to your ideal customer. What tips and actionable advice can you give them, that isn’t contained in your ebook, yet will attract your ideal target customer as well as being so insanely useful that people will want to comment on your post and share it all over the social media sphere? There almost needs to be a natural progression – that people love your post and share it, but when people have finished reading it the next “logical” step is to click over to your sales page and consider buying your product. It needs to almost be the “next step” in the learning process.
Clearly writing a blog post of such epic proportions takes considerable time and effort – as well as planning because the top blogs in any niche can be so inundated with articles that it can be weeks until they have a spot available for your post. Indeed when I got my guest post published on Kikolani it actually took six full months between getting the post accepted and it actually getting published (but it then got over 100 tweets)! In contrast I have had a guest post published at Problogger that took just a couple of weeks to get published (and got over 300 tweets).
An epic blog post like this can take several days (not just hours) to write and needs to be done well in advance of your launch – with an agreement in advance that it won’t be published until launch day. But if you get it right it’s not unusual to send hundreds if not thousands of potential customers to your site in a single day. You may even manage to sign up the blogger themselves as an affiliate of yours – a powerful alliance that can come in handy time and again in the future.
My Own Subscriber List
If you have a mailing list in the same niche as your ebook then hopefully you already have some kind of a relationship with them. And this “familiarity” and “trust” means that they are highly likely to buy a product that you release. In this way you can quickly send through a load of sales. When I mailed my own list on launching this latest ebook of mine I saw sales coming in within 5 minutes of sending the email. There must literally have been people at their computers checking their emails at the second my message arrived, who clicked straight over and bought. Infact, I don’t even know how those early customers even had time to read my email, click over and read my sales letter before clicking the “buy now” button!
But what if you don’t already have a list? This is really the beauty of an ebook launch in that all the traffic coming to your site and buying your ebook will create a list for you. You’ll build up a database of previous customers – people who have spent money with your before – and this really is the most profitable form of list of all to have.
This means that each time you launch an ebook in that niche you will have a larger list of prospects and previous customers to contact. And with each launch your list will grow. Leading to what I call the “product launch circle”. When you offer great products and build a sales process that really works you will gain email subscribers, customers, Twitter followers, Facebook likes and affiliates every time you launch a product and so over time your launches will become bigger and more successful. Did I earn $11,000+ with my first ever ebook launch? No, frankly I didn’t. Some people do, but I made just a few hundred dollars the first time.
However over time those results have “compounded” leading to ever greater returns with the same effort. After all, it takes no more time or work to email a list of 10,000 people than it does to email 500 people, wouldn’t you agree?
And so it follows that even if your next ebook launch doesn’t live up to your expectations, if you’re really adding value to the marketplace you should continue to launch products because you’ll earn more from each successive ebook you launch in a specific niche.
Successful Affiliates With Email Lists
If I was going to launch an ebook but could use only one marketing technique then this is the one I would use. Getting affiliates with big lists to promote your product is the single most powerful way to blow up your sales.
Attracting affiliates could be an ebook in itself (indeed I wrote one a few years ago myself!) so I don’t plan to cover every element of finding and contacting affiliates here but there are two key points I want to make. Firstly affiliates want to promote a great product that makes them look good in the eyes of their list. And secondly they want to promote products with a high EPC so they make as much money as possible.
If you’ve followed my guidance given already you’ll have both of these sown up. So offer a generous commission rate and you shouldn’t struggle to find people willing to promote your ebook. By generous I mean a 50% commission at the very least. Ideally 75% or more.
It’s difficult because after all the effort you’ve put into your product it’s natural not to want to give away too much of your profit to your affiliates. However the higher the commission rate you offer, the higher the EPC will be and so the more affiliates will be willing to promote your offer. It’s better to have dozens of affiliates taking 75% of the profits than a single affiliate taking 50% – you’ll still make more cash overall.
Also don’t forget the power of building a list of buyers that you can market to time and again. Remember that “product launch circle” we mentioned earlier where your list and influence grows with each launch making each successive launch more successful? Indeed I have even offered 90% commissions a few times to affiliates with massive lists – and I know of several people who offer a 100% to their affiliates on a regular basis – to encourage them to mail. After all even if you don’t make a penny upfront if a giant affiliate can help to build you a list of 1000 buyers for free in a matter of days you’ll be earning from that list for years to come.
The Affiliate Circle
OK so maybe I’m overdoing the “circle” concept by now having already mentioned the “feedback circle” and the “product launch circle” but the last of these concepts I want to mention is the “affiliate circle” that I use to try and turn as many cstomers of mine into affiliates.
Clearly more affiliates mean more customers. And if more customers also means more affiliates then you have a self-perpetuating sales process that keeps on churning out profits and subscribers for you on autopilot.
The concept is simple. I make it easy for anyone to sign up as an affiliate of mine. I link to my affiliate signup area from my main sales page and furthermore I include a link at the end of my ebook that encourages people to sign up as an affiliate and promote it. And sure enough a fair number of people do.
So that’s my secret for a five-figure product launch. A unique, high quality product in a hot niche, a healthy EPC and some rapid traffic-generation techniques. Clearly this post is just a general overview but I’m considering a more “detailed” article explaining far more about putting all this into action – please leave a comment below if you’d like me to write such a thing or to ask any questions that you have.
Lastly, if you’re gearing up to launch a new info product and you’re looking for an experienced copywriter to write your sales letter for you then I am currently taking on a limited number of private clients. Depending on the project I charge on average $297 for a complete salesletter though as I’m sure you can imagine these few available slots will fill up pretty quickly so contact me as soon as possible if you have a project you’re interested in getting some help on.
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