Pre-Testing Copy on Your Blog

May 26th, 2009 by Bob Bly

I am not a huge fan of copy pre-testing with focus groups, surveys, or other methods soliciting subjective opinions.

It’s not that these opinions aren’t interesting. They are. It’s that what people SAY they like in advertising vs. what they actually respond to are two different things.

But let’s try it. Below are 3 possible headlines for a course on getting started in Internet information marketing.

Which do you like best — and why?

A–Make $4,000 a week on the Internet.

B–Make $1 million a year on the Internet.

C–Make $1 million on the Internet in just 36 hours.

Or would you completely rewrite, and if so, what would YOUR headline be?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 at 4:27 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

701 responses about “Pre-Testing Copy on Your Blog”

  1. Fiona Fell - websitePROFITS said:

    From the options shared I ‘prefer’ A: as it seems like a do-able jump from my ‘regular job income over a month’ to briong in the same income in online in a week.

    What headline I would respond to is an entirely diferent matter. I guess you could find that out by sending me the promo and seeing if I buy.[The only true way to find out]

  2. Susanna K. Hutcheson said:

    Of the given options, I would go along with “A” also for the reason it sounds more believable. I don’t especially like any of the headlines because they sound too full of hype for my tastes and an insult to intelligence. But, since that’s what the Web is all about, that’s the one I’d vote for.

  3. bill perry said:

    I have to also say “A”.

    “B” and “C” both fall way outside my believability zone on the upper end.

    But, for “B”, instead of “$1,000,000 per year”, I think if you rewrote it to something like “Make $20,000 per week…..”, that brings it more into a zone of believability since it’s a smaller number.

    Does that make sense?

  4. Vishal Nayak - Marketing Copywriter said:

    Bob, option A is much better than the others. The main issue is believability of the claims. As a standalone headline, the prospect would view A with less skepticism than B and C. Depends on the writer, I’d say. B and C are not actually inappropriate because with strong copies by a copywriter like yourself could make B and C not only believable but also highly successful.

  5. Sheri said:

    I agree with everyone else — answer A all the way as long as the target market is likely to believe it.

  6. ‘Pre-Testing Copy on Your Blog’ by Bob Bly said:

    […] Pre-Testing Copy on Your Blog… […]

  7. Bob Bly said:

    Bill Perry: Great suggestion for B — changing $1 million a year to $20,000 a week. Do you think saying $3,334 a day is even more believable or less?

  8. Wanza said:

    I would go with Option A. It does sound more believable to achieve. Although, the last two are great attention grabbers. It made me click on the link right away from Twitter.

  9. Dream Big/Take Action said:

    I would prefer Option A as well, and for the same believability reasons everyone else has already mentioned.

    HOWEVER, a headline such as:
    “How I Made $1 Million on the Internet in 36 Hours” would grab my attention and cause me to click on the link and/or at least start reading the sales page to learn more about the story.

  10. Martina Roters, German copywriter said:

    Of all the choices, for me it’s answer B (although it still is tough to believe. However to me a million is a more nebulous figure than regular 4000 a week). Keeping in mind that this is for beginners that are full of doubts about themselves I would be very interested to find out how much it would boost response if you would turn it into:

    “Make $1 million a year on the Internet – not yet this year when you start out, however quite seriously the coming year!

    You thus would conserve the old dream of becoming a millionaire …

    (Perhaps you could better my English, but you certainly get the idea).

  11. Kelja said:

    How about, “Make $100 an hour on the Internet (and it’s not porn)”

  12. Kelja said:

    or, ‘without shedding your cloths!’

  13. Susan Martin said:

    Like the others I prefer A, in answer to the question about saying $3334 a day, doesn’t seem to make sense, but this one seems less believable.

  14. Bob Bly said:

    Kelja: “without porn” is stronger than “without shedding your cloths.”

  15. Ash said:

    I would have to say A. But why such a nebulous headline? The first is the only one that is remotely believable. What’s the point of this exercise?

  16. Fiona Fell - websitePROFITS said:

    I would like “Make $100 an hour on the Internet (and it’s not Porn!)”

    I would certainly click on that title, possibly more so that A. (As I thought earlier)

  17. Bob Bly said:

    Ash: the point of the pre-test is to determine whether using a big number (a million a year or a day) is more effective than a more modest claim ($4,000 a week). The big number appeals more strongly to greed but arouses skepticism. The smaller number offers less of a reward but is more believable.

  18. Jason said:

    My money is actually on option C as the performer of the bunch. The others we’ve seen a thousand times, but C has an “oh, I gotta see this” quality.

  19. Jack Settles said:

    The writers delima. What can you envision and believe. You can have what you want. Make it believable and it will sell. You can reduce the million to monthly, weekly or daily and bounce it around. Any of them are good if presented properly. Which is why we’re here to learn from Bob.

  20. I.A. said:

    Most definitely option (1)


    It’s much more believable. That is to say if
    your traffic that’s checking out your offer is
    new to the internet.

    Option (3) would be if your traffic is more
    seasoned to the hyped up world of internet money


  21. bill perry said:

    I think $3,334 per day does have some believability to it, simply because of the coverage Markus Frind got when it came out that was earning $10K per day in AdSense revenue at one time.

    As far as being more or less believable, I can’t answer that myself. I think that’s where A/B testing would come in to show which the paying customers thought were better.

  22. solidboss said:

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  23. sharrisongs said:

    “A” is fine. However, I would also say that I like “B” the best. It’s simple and balanced. A nice round million and a single year. The “36 hours” bit just comes across as over-the-top. Yes, you do think “yeah, right ‘one million’ but then you think if you only did a quarter as well, it’d at least be worth checking into.”

    I want to thank you for your e-books and your blog. Both have been a tremendous help to me, filled with insight!

  24. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:

    I have to agree with Jason about C. $1 million in 36 hours is something we’ve never been promised before. I might click through to read about that.

    As to the suggested revision about making $3,334 a day, that strikes me as too specific. I’d go with $3,000 or $3,300.

  25. Wendy Meyeroff-- Marketing Enhancer said:

    Definitely A for the believability factor. But I might twiddle with it a little:

    You can make $4,000 a week on the Internet (addressing folks “personally” tends to grab many of them.) It might be YOU can make… or You CAN make….

    You can make $4,000 a week using the Internet. (Using is a more active verb, sort of empowers them.)

    How can you make $4,000 a week using the Internet? (The question makes them ask, “Yeah–How can I?–and thus keep reading.)

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