PubCon: The Art of One Page Wonders

    November 16, 2006

Ah-Ha, Bobby McFerrin and Dexy’s Midnight Runners are all classic examples of one-hit wonders you may or may not remember from the 1980s. Effective one-page wonders, however, boast a more significant impact on the industry landscape than Terrence Trent D’Arby or Devo.

George Kepnick from kicked things off in today’s “One Page Wonders” session, and WebProNews was on the scene as usual to provide the latest coverage from this year’s PubCon.

Kepnick began the session by asking a very simple question:

What is a one-page wonder? Is it a long sales letter? A PPC lander? A SERP? A Shopping Engine?

In short, a one-page wonder is any page that convinces a user to take action quickly. There are three main incentives in striving for a page that inspires quick user action:

•   Increase conversion
•   Lower CPA
•   Extend your reach

Kepnick stresses that one of the primary elements of constructing a one-page wonder is knowing and understanding your customers. What demographic are you trying to reach? What does it take to sell them on a product?

Secondly, a successful one-page wonder will leave little doubt about what products are being offered. Whether it’s clicks, leads, products or services — you have to be keenly aware of your product and get straight to the point in marketing it.

Kepnick noted that Google’s SERPs are excellent examples of one-page wonders because clicking advertisements and navigating through organic results both demand action from the user.

Metrics lay an important role according to Kepnick. In his presentation, he stressed the importance of tracking URLs and AdSense channels for monetization purposes. You should be intimately familiar with the data your one-page wonder generates.

Since that data is always flowing either upward or downward, it is paramount that you continually test and re-test your landing pages for effectiveness. If you don’t change things up, you are running the risk of becoming stale and repetitive. Take your ads and try them in different landing page configurations, use the data to find out what incarnation produces the high conversion rate.

As he concluded his presentation, Kepnick made a final point concerning user based content such as MySpace and YouTube, citing that these types of sites are good fodder for one page wonders.

Up next was Ted Ulle of The Mews Group, who spoke at length about strategies for writing effective copy for your one-page wonder.

Ulle started by outlining long copy, and it roots in direct mail. He noted that, traditionally, longer letters have achieved better long-term results with customers.

He elaborates by stressing that publishers should write copy to their best prospect. Instead of trying to pitch the whole world, instead focus on you core audience. Write “tight” and not “wide”, meaning that you should stick within the narrow scope of your particular niche and how it appeals to your target audience.

Long copy works in this strategy because you are hammering away on these targets with very specific information. Ulle encourages publishers to think of their target audience as a bell curve, and write to the peak of the curve.

Ulle suggest that a good copywriter is very helpful for an effective one-page wonder, something the web industry hasn’t grasped as much as traditional media. Ulle points out the success of (Corey Rudl) – his target was the frustrated e-mail marketer, which was completely apparent when landing on his page. He named the problem and provided a working solution. Consequently, one sale would equate to ten more.

Writing is the essential skill here, and copy is very important for the long page approach.

Ulle encourages publishers to be engaging, write about the reader not the product, tell a story, make the prospect visualize enjoying the use of your product. Last words of sentences and paragraphs should build momentum and curiosity; this makes your copy stick.

Publishers should strive to build a flow with their content. Every paragraph ending gives the intended audience an opportunity to leave; asking questions instead can help prevent that from happening.

Because people skim pages by nature, every first word of your sentences needs to be used as bait to turn them into readers instead of skimmers. Use uncommon words or words that stand out to grab their attention.

To close the session, Ulle highlighted tips and tricks for improving copy and making your site a more effective one-page wonder:


•  Avoid all distractions to gain focus
•  Build a rhythm then subtly break the expected flow
•  Change expected sayings up, unexpected change like this will catch your reader’s attention
•  Write for the screen, not for print
•  Use a respectable font size
•  Thin text blocks (no long paragraphs) you have to consider the graphic element of web copy presentation.
•  Use fixed content widths
•  Short sentences
•  Frequent subheads
•  Use an active voice, not a passive one
•  Use bullet points
•  Precise nouns and verbs
•  Be redundant; this will capture the skimmers

Things to Avoid

•  Don’t double the verb and it’s object
•  Don’t make the reader carry the information, be concise
•  Too much punctuation hurts the graphic look of the page
•  Don’t fly solo. Make use of a co-editor and of peer reviews

So the next time someone calls your website a one-page wonder, just take a page out of Bobby McFerrin’s book and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.