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Web Marketing Case Study: Carsecrets.com


Executive Summary

Internet marketing guru Corey Rudl has made the claim of selling over 21,000 copies of his $ 27 book "Car Secrets Revealed" since 1996. What makes this unusual is that sales came from his Web site www.carsecrets.com.

He sold 10,000 copies of the book during his first 12 months online, for a net profit of $140,000. As of May 2002, about 21,027 copies of the book have been sold, at a rate of 15 plus books per day.

As of May 2002, the total number of visitors or hits to his site is 2,805,647. The current rate is 18,877 visitors per month, or approximately 630 visitors per day. There are 200 direct affiliates driving traffic to the site. Traffic would also come from the main site of Corey Rudl called www.marketingtips.com.

Selling 21,027 copies based on 2,805,647 hits gives a conversion rate of 0.75%. In other words, for every 133 visitors, there will be one buyer.

In terms of Web site design, there is nothing special about the site. It is a simple layout that makes use of marketing copy. The site does offer an invitation to join the mailing list, and makes it a priority to get a visitor's email address. This is a good strategy for a direct email marketing campaign.

To summarize, a good product, a very visible Web site, and strong marketing copy are factors to the success of selling the book via a Web site.

General Information

Date of Report: May 9, 2002
Website: www.carsecrets.com
Owner: Corey Rudl
Expertise: Online Internet marketing.
The money: Sold 10,000 copies in the first 12 months online, for a net profit of $ 140,000. A total of 21,027 copies of the book have been sold, at rate of 15 books per day. [2]
Business: A 198-page book called "Car Secrets Revealed". [1]
Bonus offer: Offers a searchable software version of the book. [1]
Guarantee: 150% lifetime money back guarantee. [1]
Cost: $ 27 + $ 2.95 shipping and handling. [1]
Traffic rank: 90,964 (The lower the number, the more traffic to the site.) [3]
Incoming links: 394 [3]
Online since: January 1996 [1]
Number of hits: 2,805,647 since January 1996 [1], and currently at an average rate of 630 visitors per day. [4]
Payment: [1] The site offers 3 ways for buyers to order. The first is via a secure server, the capability of accepting online credit card payment. The second is via a toll free number, accepting payments via credit card. The third allows buyers to fax and order form.

Web Site Design

Title: "Slash Your Car Expenses By $1,000 - $5,000 This Year - Guaranteed - Or The World's Most Precious Car Secrets Are Yours Free" [1]

Description: Automotive Tips: Learn hundreds of money saving insider tips on new or used car buying, leasing, how to get FREE repairs after your warranty expires, how to get 20-40% off every auto part, reducing car insurance, parts and more. Save time, money and aggravation. [1]

Keywords: car, cars, buy, automobile, automotive, buying, lease, leasing, repairs, new, parts, auto, used, truck, automobiles, sell, vehicle, selling, book, service, maintenance, wholesale, warranty, price, insurance, tips, tax, mechanics, purchase, consumer, money, help, information, tune-up, engine, oil, mufflers, brakes, transmission [1]

Headlines: [1] The home page of the site contains a very long marketing copy, and has the following headlines:

  1. Car Secrets Revealed
  2. "Stop Being Cheated By Car Salesmen, Mechanics, And Insurance Agents - And Slash Your Car Expenses By $2,000 - $5,000 Every Year"
  3. Insider Secrets To Buying And Leasing Cars - Both New And Used4. Slash Your Driving Costs By Up To 67%
  4. Stop Getting Ripped Off By Mechanics - And Save Thousands On Car Repairs
  5. My Fourteen Year Education Is Yours Risk-Free
  6. Super Bonus #1 - "How To Buy Or Lease Any Car At $50 Over The True Dealer Cost"
  7. Super Bonus #2 - "How To Drive A New Luxury Car Free Every Year"
  8. 150% Money-Back Lifetime Guarantee
  9. One Final Bonus For Internet Customers Only!
  10. These Secrets Are Yours In Just Five Minutes
  11. Three Ways To Place Your Risk-Free Order

Navigation scheme: The Web site does not separate the hyperlinks into a navigation column. All hyperlinks to other pages in the site are embedded into the paragraphs of marketing copy. Links to other Web sites are all found in at the bottom of the home page.

Content: Makes use of headlines to stress the benefits of the book. There are also 5 client testimonials on the main page. There were also 8 hyperlinks that looked like links to external sites, but will actually take you to other pages within the carsecrets.com site. The site offers free newsletter subscription and makes use of a pop-up ad to promote the free newsletter.

Page layout: The Web site contains 11 pages. There are very few images, one is the main title "Car Secrets Revealed", followed by 4 pictures of cars, and a couple of banner ads at the bottom of the page.
Color scheme: The site uses predominantly black text on a white background. The headlines make use of bold, red text.

Font: Regular text uses arial font, size="2". The headings make use of arial font, size="5" and size="4".
Technology: Uses JavaScript and HTML. Does not use cascading style sheet, java, frames, or flash.


Product: Corey Rudl claims that the book will help people win the fight against money-hungry repair shops, car salesmen, and insurance companies, and reclaim thousands of wasted dollars! [1]The product has a global appeal because it deals with the popular topic of buying a car, and the promise to save the buyer money in the process.

Sales conversion rate: Selling 21,027 copies based on 2,805,647 hits gives a conversion rate of 0.75% (1 person out of 133 buys the book). As a comparison, my other studies of Web sites selling products on the Web have yielded conversion rates from a low of 0.25% to a high of 0.9%. Note that the figure of 21,027 copies sold comes directly from the Web site; however, I notice that it is not updated. In any case, this figure is used in this report.

How the site gets hits: There are several possibilities for driving traffic to a Web site. First, is from search sites. Second, is by referral coming from other Web sites. Third, is online advertisement such as banner ads, placement in ezines, and mailing lists. And fourth, is through offline advertisement. 

High placement in search sites is important to Cory Rudl, stressing that it is one of the biggest factor in driving traffic to a site. However, I have no statistics on what percentage of traffic to the carsecrets.com site comes directly from search sites such as Yahoo and Google. Based on information from www.marketer.com, posted on www.entrepreneur.com, online purchase starting points of US Internet users (as a % of respondents who have purchased online), 55% start from search engines, 9% from banner ads, 7% from rectangle ads, and 30% others.

There are 200 direct affiliates driving traffic to the site. Note that Cory Rudl has a more popular site called marketingtips.com promoting several products (one is the carsecrets.com site), which will indirectly drive a lot of traffic to the carsecrets.com site. I myself found the carsecrets.com site through the marketingtips.com site.

Incoming links to the carsecrets.com site is 394, meaning there are 394 other Web pages that have hyperlinks pointing to the carsecrets.com site. The incoming links to Cory Rudl's main site, marketingtips.com, is 11,285. This figure is more significant, as I feel that the carsecrets.com site gets the majority of its traffic from people visiting the marketingtips.com site.

In short, for carsecrets.com to get the 600 plus hits per day, it relies on the 394 direct links to the site, and 11,285 indirect links courtesy of the mother site marketingtips.com. As a comparison, one of my Web site www.webphil.com has approximately 66 direct links from other sites. The site gets approximately 30 - 40 hits per day, mostly from search sites such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

Corey Rudl has also promoted the site through banner ads, but I have no information regarding the effectiveness of said method.

Web site design: The simple page design is interesting. Most of the contents are put in the home page, the flow of content being:

  1. Big headline
  2. Letter from a happy client
  3. Invitation to join the newsletter
  4. Letter from Cory
  5. Headlines stressing the benefits of the product
  6. Testimonials
  7. Offering a discounted price of 45%
  8. Bonus offers
  9. 150% money back lifetime guarantee
  10. Product can be delivered in 5 minutes
  11. Three ways to place an order
  12. PS and PPS
  13. Links to other resources

Big headline - An attention grabber, and I found the words secrets and revealed to be intriguing.

Letter from a happy client - The headline is followed by a seemingly personal letter from a happy client. This immediately presents a good testimonial from a third party.

Invitation to join the newsletter - The site places emphasis on getting a visitor to join the newsletter, and in the process, submitting his email address. Upon entry to the site, a pop-up window asks visitors to join the newsletter, and invites visitors again early in the marketing copy.

Letter from Corey - The rest of the marketing copy starts of with a letter from Corey, and starts with "Dear Friend." This establishes a warm rapport with the visitor, and is a marketing copy technique used by other marketing gurus such as Gary Halbert. Headlines stressing the benefits of the product - Another marketing technique, placing emphasis on product benefits, rather than features.

Testimonials - Quotes four testimonials from happy clients.

Offering a discounted price of 45% - Who among us can resist a 45% discount? But if you look carefully, even after the discount, the price of the book is still $ 27, not exactly cheap. Here the strategy is to set the original price to be high then offer a discount. This allows you to sell the product at the price you really wanted, while giving the impression that a buyer is getting a bargain.

Bonus offers - Make a buyer feel that he/she is getting more than what he/she is paying for.150% money back lifetime guarantee - The money back guarantee gives the impression that the purchase is risk free to the buyer and ensures the quality of the product.

Product can be delivered in 5 minutes - The allure of instant gratification.

Three ways to place an order - Provides ordering and payment options, making it easy to buy the product. Corey Rudl also places emphasis on have the ability to accept credit card payments.

PS and PPS - Some have the view that people read what is written in the PS more that the entire copy itself. Corey Rudl uses this to remind the visitor that the product is guaranteed, and to order it now.

Links to other resources - Provides links to other sites and products. Site content does not give the impression that content is updated on a regular basis (e.g. no articles of the week), not giving a viewer a reason to come back to the site. I feel this aspect is compensated by the invitation to join the newsletter, wherein new information will be sent directly to a viewer's email. This is a good strategy. Email communication is more personal, and selling via the email can be more effective as opposed to selling via a Web page.

Secrets to success: Corey Rudl's mentors are direct marketing experts Jay Abram and Gary Halbert. It is interesting to note that Corey Rudl's site gets more traffic than his mentors.Corey Rudl is at the top of his affiliate program, and will benefit the most from the multi-level marketing scheme that his is promoting and actually selling. His 200 affiliates for the carsecrets.com site does the sales work for him.His Web sites are simple, but very clean. I find his use of long marketing copy, coupled with headlines on how the product will save money (i.e. good return on investment) to be a good strategy.His marketing copy follows the AIDA principle of marketing. First, he grabs your Attention and Interest via big, bold headlines. Then he creates Desire for the product by stating the how much money the buyer will save. And finally, his frequent call to Action. Buy now, order now. He also makes use of promotional pricing that is available only for a limited time, to further encourage us to buy immediately.To summarize, a good product, a very visible Web site, and strong marketing copy are factors to the success of selling the book "Car Secrets Revealed" via a Web site.

1. Based on information from the Web site www.carsecrets.com.
2. Based on information from the Web site www.marketingtips.com.
3. Based on the results from www.alexa.com.
4. Based on daily monitoring of page counter from May 9 - 13, 2002.

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