The Business of Display Part 4: Information Products

Back in 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt quoted this amazing statistic:

We create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003

And according to Domo.com, every minute, Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries, Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content and over 200 million emails are sent.

What all this boils down to is that people are hungrier than ever for more and more content. But let’s face it… most of the content out there is crap. There’s no substance to it and people are becoming less and less trusting of internet “advice”.

So, even though you there’s a plethora of content out there, many people still pay for great information.

And the most popular way to sell this information is with an infoproduct, or information compiled in text, video or audio format that’s sold at a premium.

This is the most common and easiest business model to get started in.

You don’t need any special skills to create an info product. Most everyone is an expert in some topic that someone would be willing to pay money to learn. And since most products are digital, there are no raw material costs, no assembly costs and no shipping costs.

And of course… infoproducts work extremely well on display advertising.

So first… how do you make an infoproduct?

eBook, Course, Newsletter Or…?

There are a couple of different ways to deliver your information.

eBooks

The most common (and easiest) is an eBook.

You can literally write a 20-50 page MS Word document about just about any topic, give it to a designer and boom — you’ve got a finished product ready to sell.

The upside to an eBook is that it’s stupid simple to create.

The downside is that most people don’t read eBooks, even when they pay for it. 

Think about it. How many eBooks do you currently have on your computer that you’ve either paid for or gotten for free for opting it to an email list? How many of those eBooks have you actually read?

If you’re like most people, then not money.

And it’s much likelier that someone is going to ask for a refund or not buy from you again if they don’t consume and see value in your content.

Online Courses

A great way to package information is as a “course”, complete with video, audio or maybe even just text.

The content in your course can just be what you would have written in an eBook, but formatted as “modules” and shown in an “online members area”, which is pretty easy to do with WordPress and plugins like Wishlist.

If it feels more valuable people are more likely to consume it.

Newsletters

A lot of the bigger online publishers (specifically in the internet marketing and financial spaces) sell digital or physical subscription newsletters.

Newsletters are great because you get guaranteed income from a customer every single month month.

The downside is that you’re going to constantly need to provide new and valuable information.

This can difficult to keep up as customers and customers are likely to cancel their subscription if they notice a drop in the quality your information.

Why Is This a Good Business Model?

Cheap/Free to Produce and “Ship”

The marginal cost of producing and ‘shipping’ a digital product is approximately… $0.

Businesses that sell physical books or newslettershave some production costs, but they’re not high. Books and newsletters are just sheets of paper and the margins are still high because subscription for a lot of these products is in the $47 – $97/month range.

Easy to Create

Have you made some change in your life that you think other people might be interested in making as well?

Maybe you lost 50lbs, started your own business or figured out have to have more success meeting men/women.

You can write down your life experiences and format them in a way that teaches other people how to do it too.

You don’t even need to be an expert (although it does help build credibility). If you’ve lost 50lbs but aren’t a personal trainer or some fitness guru, it’s not a big deal. A lot of people are interested in paying to learn how “someone like them” was able to achieve their fitness goals.

Lead Generation Based

Although you should be building email lists and leads for any market you’re in, info products are particularly conducive and work really well with email marketing. If you’ve got a good landing page and promise and deliver on providing good information, it’s pretty easy to get someone to opt-in. Therefore whether they buy or not, you can keep sending them valuable information, building trust, and pitch different offers. Most people are going to be curious about your premium material if you’re been providing with valuable free material that they’ve used to improve their lives in some way.

Low Price Point = Low Barrier to Entry

Large purchases require time to weigh the pros and cons, if it’s worth it and/or spousal approval. Most info products sell in the $27 – $97 range. It’s a pretty easy sell if your targeting and copywriting are in order.

Why This Model Works Well on Display — High Margins

The #1 reason why info products work so well on display is due to the high margins.

As mentioned earlier, the marginal cost to produce and ship a digital product is ~$0 (or very low if you’re selling a physical info product like a book or newsletter).

This means you can spend more on marketing and advertising your product.

There are even a lot of marketers who are willing to spend the entire cost of the front end core product AND all the upsells and downsells just to get one customer.

Why?

Because the value isn’t necessarily in the revenue they’ve brought in from the first product that the customer purchased. The value is having the customer on their email list. Having a customer on your list makes it much easier to build trust and have a back and forth relationship with previous and prospective customers.

As the saying goes, your best list of customers is people who have already bought your products. People who have bought your products and gotten value out of them are more likely to buy more products you offer and maybe even premium coaching, courses, masterminds, etc. that could all be in the $1k+ price range.

Info Product Niches That Work on Display

Although you can create an info product on just about anything, there are a few niches that tend to work very well. Particularly, “The Big 3”: Health, Wealth and Relationships.

Here are a few examples for each…

Wealth

Everyone wants more money. Whether it’s through investing, tax loopholes/strategies or just getting a better job, there are a million and one “make money” info products out there.

Examples:

Health

Everyone wants to be thinner, in better shape and fix health issues. The health market is a great one, especially I’ve you’ve overcome some sort of health hurdle in your life and want to share your recipe for success.

Relationships

Every guy wants more women, to have more successful relationships or… just have a lot of casual sex. Women want to understand why men are such idiots and “what he’s thinking when he’s quiet”.

Examples:

Smaller Niches

Although info products in the Big 3 tend to work very well on display, you don’t have to be in one of these niches to see success. There are a lot of smaller companies who are killing it on display in uncommon (some might even call them strange) niches that most people would never expect to work.

Here are a few examples:

You can really sell any product in any niche if your messaging and targeting are right. There might be a limit to how much revenue you can make (no doubt the weight loss market is much bigger than the Sunday School Teaching market market) but you’re not doing too bad if you’ve got 2-3 of these smaller businesses each making $5k/month.

Outline of a Basic Info Product Sales Funnel

One of the best investments you can make when you’re building or improving your sales funnel is to buy the products your most successful competitors are marketing and document every step in their sales funnel.

After doing years of competitive research, I’ve noticed that there is a pretty basic sales funnel that works for most info products on display.

The diagram below outlines a very basic sales funnel that works very well for anyone looking to get started selling an info product.

Many bigger companies have much more intricate sales funnels, with multiple upsells and downsells at various price points, but anyone would do very well just by using the basic sales funnel outlined below.

basic_sales_funnel

Here’s a short description of each step of the process…

Traffic

How do you get people to see your landing page? Display ads, search ads, affiliate traffic, etc.

Landing Page

What does your prospect see after they click your ad?

Exit pop-up + Discount offer page

Last ditch effort to try to get your prospect to buy your core product when they try to exit the page

Upsells

Upsells are products that are immediately pitched to the customer once they buy your core product. The idea being that since your customer has already purchased something they’ve now entered a “buying state of mind” and are likelier to buy another product.

It’s essential to have at least one (if not 2 or 3) upsells for pretty much any product (info or otherwise).

Most marketers will price their “front end” offer very low to make the purchase a no-brainer. However, the cost to get one customer might end up being the same price of your core product, meaning that if you have no upsells you either end up with a profit of $0 or are in the red. Usually, the only way to achieve profitability is to have a few upsells.

Example: You sell a $27 eBook on titled “The Lazy Man’s Guide To Meeting Hot Women” as your front end offer. It costs you $27 in advertising spend to get one customer to buy. You’re left with a profit of $0.

However, you also have a few upsells on the back end that add up to ~$100 (“The Lazy Man’s Texting Guide” + “The Lazy Man’s Guide To Lovemaking” video series). If someone buys both of these upsells you’ve now turned a profit of $100.

Not everyone will buy your upsells, but many will. Think about it… when people go shopping usually one of two things happen:

They come back from the mall with empty hands… or 5 or 6 shopping bags that they can barely carry.

What happens is that once people start buying they enter what’s called a “buying frenzy”. That first purchase sets off a chain reaction where their mind has decided that it’s “okay” to spend more money. The thought process being… “Well, it’s only $50 more and it sounds interesting… why not?”

Downsells

The downsell is a product you pitch to someone who doesn’t buy the upsell.

It’s usually a lower priced product or a discount/installment payment plan on one of the upsells.

It’s likely that the people that the reason someone didn’t purchase the upsell isn’t because they’re not interested in it, it’s probably has to do with price.

Offering a lower priced downsell is a great way to get extra profit from people who are more price sensitive.

Email Marketing

The average conversion rate for a direct buy from cold traffic is usually somewhere between 1% and 5%.

Not very high.

It’s not that people don’t want your product… it’s just that they’re not ready yet and need a bit more coaxing.

There’s nothing more valuable then getting people who come from your cold traffic into your email funnel, both buyers and non-buyers.

Email is a great way to get buyers to consume the product. If you have a tailored email sequence that tells them how to consume the product, they’re much more likely to read the material, take action, and see results.

You don’t want people to buy your products and never look at them again (most people do this). When someone doesn’t consume your material, they won’t see the value in it. They’re less likely to take action, they’re less likely to buy another one of your products and they’re more likely to refund.

For the non-buyers (which is going to be most people coming from paid traffic) you need a way to show authority and build trust. Email is perfect. You can create a short 10 email autoresponder sequence where you share tips, do “soft-teaching”, send FAQ emails, share customer results, case studies, etc. Most people that come to your site through cold traffic will not buy. You will get a lot of sales if you do your email marketing right.

Case Study: Old School New Body

Old School New Body(which I’ll refer to as “OSNB” from here on out) is a very successful weight loss info product targeted at men and women aged 35+.

Word on the street is that they’ve been making good money off of affiliate partnerships and they’ve recently taken to doing display advertising themselves. Their sales funnel is fairly simple, yet seems to be working very well for them.

Let’s drill down and see what they’re doing.

Part #1: Traffic

Ad Networks

osnb-networks

OSNB relies heavily on Adsonar (also known as Advertising.com). This is another higher quality ad network similar to Google.

Publishers

osnb-publishers

OSNB buys 95% of their traffic from The Huffington Post. Since OSNB is a mass market offer (weight loss), their advertising is going to work well on websites that cater to a large audience, like The Huffington Post.

They’ve also done some advertising on weather.com (another great site for mass market offers) and NFL.com (a great mass market site to hit a male demographic).

Ad Creative

OSNB has sent a lot of traffic with these two basic text/image ads:

osnb-ad-1

osnb-ad-2

These ads are very good and there are a couple of elements that make them very compelling.

  • Curiosity — If you’ve ever gone to a gym, then you always know that the treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines are the most popular. Running (and cardio in general) is a very mainstream fitness activity.It’s what most people consider to be the best way to lose fat and what the fitness industry has made them believe. If someone sees an ad that says, “The #1 WORST exercise for aging” or “The 5 WORST exercises for aging” combined with a picture of someone on a treadmill, that’s going to get their attention. It’s going against the commonly held belief that running is good for your health.
  • Numbers — People love numbers, period. It makes it feel like the information they’re about to receive will be easy and quick for their mind to understand. If it’s “The Complete 100 Page System With Documented Scientific Evidence”… most people are busy and don’t want to read it. But if just a list of quick tips and all you have to do is STOP doing these 1, 2 or 3 things to burn fat… it’s much more appealing. People like tactics and lists.
  • Calling out the market — Getting older means loss of beauty, loss of energy, loss of libido, etc. The idea of staying a kid forever does not just apply to Peter Pan. Most people will reach a stage of their life where they’ll yearn to feel younger and do what they can to “slow down” the aging process. The copy in these ads speaks to that desire.

Part #2: Landing Page

OSNB uses what’s called an “article lander”. If you read our last post on the nutraceutical market, we pointed out that many health/fitness companies use the article lander.

5 Simple Steps To Looking 10 Years Younger! (1)

The idea is to give their prospects good information that appears to be article. This makes it seem like they’re not going to be pitched another product. These work especially well on content discovery networks and Adsonar when the ad text implies that when they click they’ll receive information, not a sales pitch.

In this case, OSNB actually uses a 5 page sequence that gives the prospect a piece of valuable information on each page, and then frames them for the actual sale on page 5 where the last paragraph says… “x, y, z”

One of the advantages to using a multi-page article lander is that it’s really easy to find out where the leaks are in your funnel. For example, if you notice that a lot of people drop off on page 2, then you know that page 2 is where the problem lies. You can A/B different text, pictures, formatting, etc. on page 2 and see if you can fix it.

And while it’s really easy to change text on a sales page, it’s very hard do it in a video sales letter.  You’ll have to write the text, change the slides, record new audio, splice it into the video and then re-upload the video. Lots of work without any clue if it’s going to have an effect.

After the article lander… they’re led into the actual sales page that contains more information about why traditional weight loss methods are counter-productive and introduces the offer.

The sales page is very good and contains all the important elements, like…

A compelling headline…

headline

Intro stating why it’s different…

intro

Addressing common questions & concerns (“Will it work for me if I’m a woman? If I don’t have gym equipment? If reason X, Y, Z?”)

address-concerns

Scarcity…

scarcity

A discount off the retail price…

discount

And a great guarantee…

guarantee

You should really read, study and analyze the entire sales page to get an idea of what’s working in the health and fitness market.

Part 3: Email Capture + The Sale

One way that OSNB could potentially capture more sales that a lot of info product companies do, is the way for the user to buy the product is to enter their email and click the CTA. Only after they enter their email are they taken to the buy page.

Now, it seems like this extra step might lead to less people converting (extra friction and extra distrust — some people won’t want to enter their email) but the benefits could be worth the possible downsides.

If someone enters their email, you now have their in your backend.

So, if they get the buy page and decided NOT to buy… you can still target them through email marketing.

But if they’re coming from cold traffic and you can’t email them, then the only way for you to target that same person is through retargeting ads. Retargeting is awesome and very effective, but email tends to work very well with info products.

Part 4: Last Ditch Effort — The Exit Pop Up

Everybody claims to hate these… yet they work so well.

If a prospect tries to close the tab/window when they’re on the sales pages, they’ll see a pop-up with a message urging them to stay on the page to receive a special deal. This is a last ditch effort by OSNB to capture people who are curious about the product but aren’t sure if it’s worth the $20 bucks.

Here’s OSNB’s exit pop-up:

exit-pop-up

And here’s the page you’re taken to if you select “Stay On This Page”:

Exit Pop Up

Try it for 7 days for just a buck… pay later. This is a no-brainer offer for anyone who was interested in the product but was hesistant in spending the $20.

Upsell/Downsells

Since OSNB only costs $20, they’re going to need a lot of sales and a lot of traffic to reach profit. Some of the CPMs and CPCs on news sites like Huffington Post are very expensive. Upsells and getting customers on their email are often the only way for these companies to reach profitability.

However, your upsells and downsells should be strategic.

There are a couple of different ways you need to design your upsells/downsells.

      • Complimentary — Upsells that go that compliment core product. Example: An upsell for a diet program could be a workout manual that helps them get six-pack abs. An upsell for a “Talk To Women” product could be a “How To Text Women” product.
      • Solves a “new” problem — Once your customer uses your product and sees results, they’re likely going to be facing a whole new set of new challenge. For example: you sell a dating product. Your customer has done so well with your dating product, that he has more numbers and dates lined up then he knows what to do with. You could upsell a product all about “Managing Your Relationship” which will teach him how to successfully juggle all the women who want to go out with him.
      • High ticket upsells — There is going to be a sub section of your market that is so passionate about solving their problem, that they’re willing to pay a premium to get someone to help them through the program and with strategies. One of your upsells could be a paid monthly mastermind, 1 on 1 coaching/consulting or anything that is higher priced and offers more tailored attention.

Paleo Cookbooks

upsell-1

The hardest part about losing weight is fixing your diet. No one wants to eat “healthy”. These cookbooks are an easy sell because they offer recipes that are healthy, play off the popularity of Paleo and claim to be delicious.

Six Pack Abs Program

upsell-2

No fitness product is complete without something aimed at the people who want those washboard abs. This is one of those upsells that is related to the problems that they’ll have once they go through the program. Okay, now you’re in shape… but how about those abs?

151 Foods

upsell-3

Since the product is targeted at people over 35, this is a great offer because they’re going to be concerned about aging, wrinkles and feeling more energetic. A “101 foods” eBook is a great product because it addresses this concern in a format that people love. It’s all tactics. There is no strategy… there’s no thinking… people love lists for this reason. You don’t have to make any great change in your life, but add a few of these foods in to help stop aging.

Making Money Off Their Customer Email List

One of the ways that companies like OSNB make money off their previous customers is by partnering with other companies in health/fitness niches and selling their products for a commission. Here’s a screenshot from my Gmail account.

Email

Steve & Becky love to send me affiliate offers related to health and fitness. They’re probably doing pretty well off these offers, since they go hand in hand with the Old School New Body program. If you don’t have another product to sell, then partnering with other companies and selling their offers on commission is a great way to make some extra money off your list.

Conclusion

For anyone looking to get into product creation, I can’t think of a better place to get started than with an info product. Easy to create, easy (and fun) to sell and a great way to take advantage of display advertising.

5 Comments

  1. Hey Mike …what an incredibly generous share of key information …many thanks in cutting through some of our marketing confusion 😉

    Reply
  2. DAMN Brad!

    I remember hearing about Mike when he did an interview on Mixergy. I was like “I want to be like that guy.” I identified with him because I’m in technology too and close to him in age. I downloaded that episode on my phone and listened to it over and over again when I would travel for work (I still have it on my old phone, lol). Paid traffic just made so much sense. I kept hearing how building a list is the best way to make money online, and while I believe that’s true, seeing him make money from Mike Geary’s product was unbelievable.

    I ended up creating my own fitness offer and have known that paid traffic is the way to go. I even found a PPT presentation Mike Geary did that showed how he built his business. You can see it here: http://www.undergroundonlineseminar.com/ug5private/MikeGeary.ppt

    I even used archive.org to look at the variations that the TruthAboutAbs sales page has gone through over the years. I know my sales page still needs some work, so I wanted to see what his looked like before he switched to a VSL.

    I also tried to model my own sales page after OSNB.

    Then I joined Craig Ballantyne’s Virtual Mastermind and was obsessed with how Old School New Body was converting because he said they were profitable from day one. I studied Justin Goff and Vic Magary’s 31DayFatLossCure (they went out of business since then) because they were getting traffic from AdSonar. I studied MaxWorkouts because he’s one of the only fitness info guys that’s allowed to advertise on AdWords.

    I’ve always wanted to join AdBeat because of that interview he did on Mixergy a few years ago. I’m just trying to tighten up my sales copy, get more testimonials, etc. A lot of guys get their start with affiliates, but I prefer paid traffic if I can get it right.

    Anyways, I don’t know what’s involved in joining AdBeat, but trust me, I know you guys are legit.

    It would be cool if you could share this comment with Mike.

    Thanks,
    Raza

    Reply
    • For anyone interested in getting started with AdSonar, here’s a GREAT video of a profitable campaign by Justin Goff (the guy I mentioned earlier). It’s not even 15 minutes long, but totally eye-opening:

      http://www.31dayfatlosscure.com/adsonar/

      Enjoy.

      Raza

      Reply
  3. hi Mike
    thanks very much for your real useful content on advertising and selling your own info product and am considering buying from you
    cheers have a great Christmas
    bye peter mcgrath

    Reply
  4. Another genius post! It’s a cliche to say this, but you could charge for content this good.

    Reply

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