Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology.


Case Study: Max-Effect Before and After

John Morana knows how to design killer ads for the Yellow Pages. What he can do would knock your socks off. Trouble was, his Web site wasn’t knocking anybody’s socks off. Now, John, being a veteran reader of me (!), had already made a few changes. And they were good improvements.

But not good enough. So he called us. And, together, we got down to brass tacks.

Wanna see why John is now in the enviable position of having to turn away business? Then read on!

Certain aspects of John’s site were well done. In particular, his text was formatted for scanning and skimming: it was blocked nicely; key text was bolded; benefits were bulleted. The text itself made effective use of hyperlinks that appealed to different personality types. His navigation elements were simple and consistent. The phone number was prominent.

But he was only getting one or two leads a week. Folks just weren’t getting past the home page. So we scrutinized that first.

Look & Feel

It didn’t take long to find a big problem. Aesthetically pleasing John’s old home page might have been to a designer, but it screamed “Don’t Bother!” to prospects. The background was black (a somber, sometimes negative color). Various text elements were red, or purple, or teal … sometimes yellow. Most dispiriting for the potential client who landed there, much of the copy was reverse-type grey.

This sort of design creates usability problems. And if you’re an ad designer hoping to get prospects to believe your ads are going to get folks to take action, you want to do everything to promote your credibility. How credible do you look when folks aren’t even persuaded to get past your home page?

The new home page look and feel is brighter, conveys energy and, most important, highlights the copy that is critical to Joe’s conversion process: once you’ve focused on the central headline, you are quickly drawn to text that is benefit-rich and includes hyperlinks as internal calls to action.


John’s old home page copy was fairly benefits-oriented. It did include a degree of self-congratulation, but the key problem lay elsewhere. The old copy read:

Eliminate Yellow Page Advertising Hassles Forever
… And watch your calls & sales SKYROCKET !

A Custom Designed Yellow Page Ad by MaxEffect Will:

  • Maximize your readership, phone calls & sales... 24 / 7 / 365
  • Save you money... Using the most cost-effective sizes & colors
  • Save you time... Minimizing YP sales rep calls & DIY struggles
  • Eliminate Yellow Pages frustration, doubts & deadline worries
  • Nullify your competitors... Letting you dominate your classification
  • Yellow Pages advertising is expensive, time-consuming and fiercely competitive. A new, custom-designed ad by MaxEffect will let you easily conquer your rivals and save you time, money and the aggravating headaches common with Yellow Pages advertising. Study the following Ad Samples, read a few Testimonials or review our Risk Free Guarantee. But whatever you do Place Your Order Now... before your competitors !

    MaxEffect clients have asked us, even PAID us, to NOT ACCEPT ORDERS from their competitors. They've learned something you absolutely MUST... A custom-designed Yellow Page ad by MaxEffect is your most powerful weapon when doing battle in the Yellow Pages directory. Your new advertisement will reign supreme.

    If you're determined to drive your Yellow Pages ROI to the absolute MAX, you need to Order MaxEffect Now.

    As you read this rather heavy-handed copy, notice the way the words speak to “pain” and focus heavily on negative associations: eliminate, hassles, minimize, struggles, frustration, doubts, worries, nullify. And then, “Yellow Pages advertising is expensive”!

    Here’s the new copy:

    Maximize Your Investment!

    Place Your Business under the Yellow Page Advertising
    Spotlight and Listen to Your Phone and Cash Register Sing!

    Dare to stand out within your Yellow Pages category!

    Then your potential customers will...

  • Be drawn to your Yellow Page ad more strongly than anything else on the page.
  • Be engaged by your ad so they read it entirely!
  • Recognize that you are the solution to what they’re searching for.
  • Call you, visit you & buy from you!
  • For just a onetime, low investment you get an express in-depth company evaluation, outstanding graphic design and persuasive creative messaging that will deliver immediate results.

    Best of all, your new MaxEffect Yellow Page ad is 100% Guaranteed. Check out some happy clients' ad samples and read about all the business we've generated for businesses like yours.

    Contact us now to dramatically increase your sales opportunities!

    This shorter revision is more to the point, removes the hard sell, speaks to “the heart of the dog” in a positive light and is more believable. And while Yellow Page advertising may be expensive, this copy eliminates the discussion of money in favor of convincing the prospect of the value (remember, value is rarely about price).

    Product Presentation

    Think about a Yellow Page ad, any Yellow Page ad. Can you bring one to mind? Kind of unmemorable entities aren’t they? Samey too.

    Naturally, John had a whole page of sample ads clustered together on that black background. And they were really great ads. But we figured we could make the product presentation even more persuasive.

    Now, instead of 13 samples, you’ll find only two. But each is paired, in before and after fashion, with the client’s former ad - the one that ran before John worked his magic. The juxtaposition highlights John’s abilities with startling clarity. Anyone looking at that page who needs an ad is going to be impressed.

    With these changes in place, John went from 1 or 2 leads a week to 2 or 3 a day. He tells us he more than exceeded his ultimate goal of 7 leads a week. In fact, he got more business than he could handle! So he found someone to help.

    Recently, John raised his rates, figuring that would discourage some of the visitors to his Web site and help him catch up with his workload. It didn’t.

    What a problem to have, huh!

    For an additional perspective on this case study read Debbie Weil's CASE STUDY: Bryan Eisenberg on BEFORE and AFTER home page copy that engages and converts visitors.


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