This week’s volunteer for my Site Review Monday post is Ron Mertens, founder of Tel Aviv, Israel-based Metalgrass.
Metalgrass has two products – AdSenseLog and SAM. AdSenseLog monitors and analyses your Google AdSense placements; SAM is a collection of small Windows utilities (To do list, unit converter, stop watch, reminders and more). Metalgrass also has a set of technology-specific web sites.
Ron faces a very common problem among micro-ISVs: what’s the best way to present several, dissimilar products? “The hardest question was whether to make one page for all software, or a page for each, and I decided at the end to put it all under the ‘metalgrass’ roof,” Ron emailed me when he volunteered.
I think this was the wrong decision.
The USP:
(The Unique Selling Proposition a.k.a “the elevator pitch” should be the first thing the visitor sees, communicates the value of the product and must immediately be relevant to the visitor.)

Unfortunately for Metalgrass’s main product, AdSenseLog, there isn’t one:

The visitor to the site gets four messages, not one: That Metalgrass software is about easy to use software for the windows platform, there a network of web sites, there’s AdSenseLog and there’s SAM.
Huh?
Metalgrass gives the visitor 4 things to think about – and that’s three too many. Given that AdSenseLog is the main product, I’d recommend redoing this page so that is it all about AdSenseLog, with a small box below the fold: (“Looking for the utilities Microsoft forgot? Check out SAM“)
If you click though the present home page – something most people won’t bother with unless they are already hooked – you get to this page:

Well, this is better, relatively speaking. But rhetorical questions (“Do you want to grow your AdSense business?”) can backfire easily. Nor does “Then AdSenseLog is for you!” measure up as a USP.
USPs can take many forms, but you ought to be able to plug them into this template:
Acme is an [X kind of thing the customer can relate to] that [solves a problem/provides a desired benefit] for Y [a specific kind of people with particular attribute – a market segment]. Unlike M [your competition, or doing it manually], Acme [a differentiating benefit].
A quick Google of “unique selling proposition” will net you plenty of sites: the best of the lot I found was this marketing tip by Interactive Marketing, Inc. Definitely give it a read if you’re unclear about eh process of creating a USP.
Benefits and Features:

While the product page for AdSenseLog has a decent set of benefits, and as you move down the page you’ll find surprisingly a nice range of features, testimonials, screenshots. But, without that USP, there’s no anchor, no hook to hold on to.
Visuals:

While Metalglass has nine good screenshots, using them as a sidebar of small postage stamps is hardly the best use of them. Nor is linking to the full size .jpg without any explanation on that page of what you are seeing a successful strategy for a micro-ISV.
The purpose of screenshots is to tell the story of your product – but you have to tell that story. Whether you use callouts explaining each screen, text that tells the story, you have to get the message across.
Credibility Markers & Testimonials:

Metalglass has five great testimonials, was recently updated, a link to both an FAQ and online help. But those testimonials are completely wasted, buried on this product page.
Again, just by taking the contents of the AdSenseLog page and moving it to the index.html page help a great deal.
Blogs:

If you go to the About page, and if you scroll it down and if you click on the link you’ll find the Metalgrass blog. That’s a lot of ifs. Too many. The blog itself is fine – except it could benefit from a better focus, more frequent posts and few visuals to break up the text.
Blogs are a powerful way of connecting with your customers and (most importantly) your prospective customers. I believe Blogs should be prominently linked to on the main menu of your site.
The Bottom Line:
Metalglass has some major web site surgery to do: the product page for AdSenseLog needs to be transplanted to where it belongs – index.html. That would be half the battle.
The other half is taking the time to draft, develop and hone a unique selling proposition and moving that front and center so your visitors immediately understand the value to them of what you’re selling. USP’s are the guiding lights of marketing and of entire companies, be they micro-ISVs or multinational corporations. Spend the time to develop your USP.

2 Comments

  1. Bob,
    Thanks a lot. That’s a really useful review, and I’m sure gonna try and implement some of the things. I still have to go through it all in detail, but I just want to say this –
    The hardest part for me will be to separate products. But let me tell you my rational – I found that most of the people do not land on my main page – let’s take the AdSenseLog program. If people search for “adsense tools” (let’s say), or find it via download.com – it all leads to the product page. And I think that having a company “behind” it adds credibility. So ‘why bother’ with the main “Metalgrass.com” page anyway? It hardly gets any visitors.
    Anyway. I actually have 4 products (the other 2 are more ‘hidden’ indeed), and having 4 different “domains” and “companies” is not something I wish for. But I will try to make my main one more prominent, and think about different USP, and stuff like that.
    So thanks again, that was very useful review for me.
    Ron.

  2. bobw Reply

    Ron –
    Landing pages – tightly focused pages addressing visitors who for example clicked a Google AdWord ad – are a powerful way to sell. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
    -They should be very tightly focused. Be it from a specific download site, a blog posting, a PPC ad or whatever, you need to build on the interest the prospective customer has already shown and make convenient the next action you want them to take. For example, let’s say you did a free ebook called, “10 ways to get more out of Google AdSense” Your landing page from that ebook should tie directly into the message in your ebook. The readers of that ebook want more from you – and your landing page should provide it for them.
    -What if the customer got there by mistake? For example, I came across a blog home page acting like a landing page a moment ago with a banner welcoming Financial Times readers (http://moneysmartlife.com/ ). Huh? I’m confused. Confusion is a bad thing.
    Also, credibility is important and your company can add to that credibility. But not on the home page that Google and other search engines are going to index first. Look at your revenue by product and reward success with space on that all important home page. You may end up repeating yourself – that’s not a bad thing and it’s a good opportunity to practice your copywriting skills – but the home page is just too important to say it’s not worth bothering about.

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