DISCLAIMER: When reading this post, please follow the “just because they do it, doesn’t mean you should” principle. This is a study of Clickbank sales pages that may have very different contexts to your products, so what they do may or may not apply to your situation.

Like some sort of digital diaspora, thousands of information products lay scattered throughout the limitless reaches of the web.

One of the bigger convergences of info product-related sales pages jostling for your attention (and dollar) is Clickbank, an electronic oasis where merchants die and thrive in their hundreds.

For every top-performing product and page, there are dozens lucky to register a flicker of life, with barely a sale or two to their name.

Yet, when you first set eyes on a proven Clickbank page, it’s hardly comparable to looking at the sales or marketing equivalent of the Mona Lisa.

I mean, would this have you clicking frantically at the “Get Started Now” button?

(I know, I know: you’re probably not the target market so your motivation’s low, plus you haven’t been pre-sold or prepared, but you get the point!)

However, there’s a good reason this page is splattered designed in such a way.

Because it works.

Back in 2011, Clickbank paid out $2 billion in revenue to their clients (i.e. entrepreneurs selling digital products and courses). That 2 billion figure had doubled in just 3 years, so it’s not hard to guess where it’s shot to today, some 7 years later.

The simple truth is, entrepreneurs are putting up pages like this… and people are buying from them.

A lot of people.

Despite the eye-sore appearance of many pages, there are clear patterns in play. Sales tactics and techniques have been lifted from all over the places, such as:

  • Direct response copywriting
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Psychology
  • UX design (yes, hard to believe at times)

Basically, they’re sales pages on steroids. And we can learn a lot from them if we analyse some of those top-performing pages.

So, peg your nose and put your goggles on… we’re going in!

NOTE: Just before we leap off the diving board, two important points.

  1. I’m not going to comment on the ethics of these tactics, though I’d like to suggest that you use these for good instead of evil.
  2. These are all proven, effective tactics, but that doesn’t mean they’re all you need for sales page success. Without the copy fundamentals in place, these techniques are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.

#1 – OPEN WITH AN EYE-GRABBING HEADLINE

Just like this blog post, it all starts with an eye-grabbing, almost spectacular headline. Clickbank pages don’t hold back when it comes to shouting their big claims from the rooftop…

A First Look

This is the headline from a product called “Your Wealth Magnet”.

Once you get past the highlighted “REVEALED” intended to draw eyeballs, you realise the language is simple but deliberately descriptive for a reason.

Terms like “dead broke” and “abundantly wealthy” (notice how these are subtly highlighted by being black text amongst gray copy) drive home the before & after the copy will talk at length about.

By hinting that the mechanism (i.e. how you go from broke to wealthy) is “one simple mind hack” is a pure curiosity-building play to pull you in further.

A Closer Look

While there are dozens of different headline formulas one can use, ClickBank pages follow a simple, time-tested recipe:

Throw in an incredible benefit or outcome, add a strong dash of curiosity, then mix well.

Naturally, there are a few little differences.  For example, some headlines use specificity.

  • No Nonsense Method To Lose 40 Pounds A Month!
  • Discover a WEIRD trick I use to make over $3,500 per month taking paid surveys online

Some less so.

  • See how I make money from Home with no boss doing REAL online jobs!
  • URGENT!! Writers needed! More writing jobs than we can fill…

But notice that none of them mention the product or a feature. The focus is very much on “here’s a life-changing outcome for you”.

Two other points are common with ClickBank headlines

  1. Exclamation marks are a staple
  2. Highlighting or coloured text is almost mandatory (we’ll get into this in just a moment)

Lesson Learned

There’s no room for shy, wallflower-type headlines here.

ClickBank pages are here to sell, and the first step is to not just grab a reader’s attention, but to practically smash them over the head.

Even products that don’t lend themselves to sensationalism still get “big claim + curiosity” headlines, like Ted’s Woodworking Course:

Retired Master Craftsman Finally Reveals His Secret Archive Of Over 16,000 Plans

#2 – USE HIGHLIGHTS

So… much… yellow…

OK, that’s hyperbolic. But only a little.

Some Clickbank sales pages are emblazoned with a bombardment of highlighting that transforms a busy page into a gaudy eye-sore. But like every tactic these merchants make, there’s shrewd reasoning behind it.

A First Look

To be fair, while most of the top Clickbank pages use highlighting, not all of them go overboard.

The Unlock My Hips page uses highlighting sparingly, limiting itself to a simple colour change of the copy (rather than an overlaid highlight).

On the other hand, “Take Surveys for Cash” has three highlights just in the top section visible when the page loads…

…while the highlighting fun continues as you move down the page.

A Closer Look

Neil Patel’s blog around the psychology of colour and conversion states:

In strict testing environments, the highest-converting colors for calls to action are bright primary and secondary colors – red, green, orange, yellow.

Now, guess which colours you see most often plastered on these Clickbank pages. You’ve got a 3 out of 4 chance of nailing it!

Yes, each page is emblazoned with at least one — if not two — of these colours.

(Green was the only colour that didn’t make a regular appearance on the pages I looked at.)

While it’s a design move that most of us copywriters generally don’t involve themselves with, colour choice and highlighting is a neat example of the intersection between copywriting and conversion rate optimisation.

Lesson Learned

Use highlighting to grab attention, but choose your highlighted copy carefully.

On the Take Surveys for Cash page, there are 8 separate instances of bright yellow highlighting.

But move past the seeming crassness and look at WHAT is being highlighted…

  1. The dollar value in the headline: a huge benefit
  2. “KING of paid surveys”: a title the author claims, implying authority
  3. “100% true and verified”: credibility-based copy
  4. A dollar value: another expression of the benefit in a subhead
  5. “I discovered a secret trick”: claim to an unusual mechanism
  6. “Available now”: implies urgency
  7. “FREE SPENDING MONEY”: another way of expressing the benefit
  8. “Freedom!!”: yet another way of expressing the benefit (while ticking off Punctuation Nazis like myself)

Half of those highlights put the benefit (i.e. “Money!!”) front and centre.

Coincidence?

#3 – THE IMPORTANCE OF IMAGES

Well-written copy evokes all kinds of emotions and reactions from readers.

Images also provoke a powerful reaction. When the two work hand-in-hand, you’ve got a persuasive one-two punch that goes a long way to convincing prospects your offering will change their life.

A First Look

Woodworking isn’t what you’d call the most thrilling niche (apologies to woodworkers out there), but that doesn’t stop all kinds of images used for the popular Teds Woodworking course.

Counting the duplicates of the course contents, 27 images and diagrams are splashed throughout the sales page, not counting the half dozen testimonial photos and handful of icons.

A Closer Look

The thing you notice about the images on the Teds Woodworking page is the mix in the types of image used.

They’re not all benefit-driven “here’s what you’ll create” shots, though the tiled montage handles this nicely.

Some are feature-ish, “here’s what you’ll get” schematic diagrams.

You also have the obligatory “course contents in physical form” images (we’ll talk more about that in the next tactic).

Interwoven through the copy, they enhance the messaging and provide a potent visualisation aid for readers. But there’s another reason why images play a powerful part on sales pages: they add credibility.

Yes, before & after shots for weight loss products and photos of Paypal accounts bulging with dollars are strong proof elements.

But studies have shown simply including a relevant, generic image when you make an argument helps to favourably shape belief.

That’s why you’ll find sales page or VSLs littered with evocative images that not only drive the messaging home, but amp up the credibility.

Lesson Learned

Plaster your pages (or VSLs) with relevant images.

Is this a “new paradigm” when it comes to sales copywriting?

In the more classic style of sales letter, images are few and far between.

Take Ben Settle’s “Email Players” page, for example. It’s a typical sales letter-style page with a grand total of 3 images: a solitary one of the author, and two of the product itself.

(Obviously, context comes into play: he’s a well-known copywriter and his audience is usually aware of both him and what he sells.)

Even the classic “International Living” sales letter that launched the billion-dollar Agora empire only had a few product pictures scattered throughout.

But look at a Clickbank page and you’ll see a cascade of colourful images.

With the No Nonsense Ted, I counted 26 images before stopping.

On the Your Wealth Magnet page, there were 22.

Need I say more?

#4 – SHOW A PHYSICAL PRODUCT

Clickbank’s most frequently used for selling digital products.

The thing about digital products… they’re really just bits and bytes in the form of a PDF or eBook.

And when it comes to maximising your sales, that’s a problem.

A First Look

It’s a problem most Clickbank sales pages easily solve. Take a look at what “How To Get Ex Back”, one of the myriads of Clickbank dating-related products floating around, did…

It looks like quite the package of seduction techniques, with at least 6 DVDs, 2 books and a larger workbook. I’m sold!

A Closer Look

So, what’s the problem this image so ably tackles?

Studies show people tend to value physical goods more than digital items. The feeling of “ownership” just doesn’t extend from the real world into digital realms.

So, whether you’re buying a language course, weight loss program, or a complete “how-to” on making money online… you’re basically buying a file or two. And putting an image of a digital file on your sales page isn’t going to have prospects exactly salivating with excitement.

However, as you’ve seen, Clickbank sales pages capably handle this inconvenience by simply:

Representing a digital product as a physical item.

You obviously don’t get the products as depicted on the page. But, when you’re reading (or watching) the sales message and you see pictures of “things” you get, it’s another piece in the persuasion jigsaw that moves your mind closer to buying.

(And as we just saw, practically any relevant image you include improves credibility.)

Of course, Clickbank has to do the legal compliance thing and advise you that the DVDs and books aren’t sitting in a warehouse ready to be shipped to you.

If your cursor hovers over the “Digital Product”, you get a little more explanation, but it’s not super-obvious. And it’s possibly meant that way.

Lesson Learned

If you have a digital product, display it in a physical form.

There’s not much more to it than that, really.

#5 – ZERO IN WITH LOCALISATION

The Internet’s gone a long way to making the “global village” more and more a reality.

And that means we’re browsing sites every day that could be in any corner of the world.

So, when we see little details like our country’s flag or currency, we automatically know this is an offer that applies to us.

And while it’s not a common thing across Clickbank sites, those that do use localisation use it effectively.

A First Look

The Take Surveys for Cash page has two obvious examples of localisation when you land on the page. Being in Australia, I immediately saw the Aussie flag and a pile of lobsters, pineapples and kermits.

(Apparently, they’re nicknames for $20, $50 and $100 notes. Can’t say I’ve ever heard them called that.)

Again, these are just small touches, but familiarity instantly frames the page for me. And if I try to leave the page, the exit-intent pop-up has more localisation.

A Closer Look

There’s not much to this relatively basic level of localisation.

It’s easy to detect the country of a reader based on their IP address. From there, it’s just a matter of loading the relevant images on the site.

But with this minor technical wizardry, you land a huge benefit. Localisation goes a long way to answering one of a reader’s biggest objection: “Does this apply to me?”

Naturally, there are other factors to fully address that objection, but location plays its part.

Lesson Learned

Make design tweaks to localise your page to better accommodate international audiences.

Unlike a lot of the other things we’ve covered, localisation changes weren’t anywhere near as common.

However, little things like the flag…

Or a country reference in microcopy (as included on the charming Get Ex Back page)…

…turned up on a few of these sales pages.

Remembering that ClickBank is an international market, localisation may well be worth using if you’ve got the technical ability to handle it.

#6 – VIDEOS ARE THE SALES PAGE

In this media-drenched day and age, not all content types are equal.

A Hubspot survey found 62% of those who answered “thoroughly consume” video, making it the current king of content. Compare that to online long-form content, which comes in at a dust-eating 25%.

While content isn’t the same thing as sales copy, it does point to a strong bias in how we prefer to consume media today.

Naturally, Clickbank sales pages have been quick to jump on-board.

A First Look

The “leaves nothing to the imagination” weight loss product called Fat Decimator leads with its video sales letter (or VSL), only offering a text-based option on their exit-intent pop-up.

You’re treated to a 50-minute long sales presentation, all carefully tailored to grab your attention, build interest, hit your desire buttons and convince you to take action.

Equally interesting are the supporting elements around the video.

  • As per Tactic 1, the page leads with a curiosity-inducing and “big claim” headline
  • There’s a “load warning” to prevent people activating the video and then impatiently leaving before it starts
  • A provocative, practically “clickbait” image on video, complete with call to action
  • No video controls beyond a tap or click to pause, so you can’t jump ahead (it’s all about controlling how a prospect consumes the messaging)

And this was a nice little touch: if you pause the video after starting, the placeholder image updates to encourage you to keep watching.

(For the record, everything was NOT revealed in the next 2 minutes.)

A Closer Look

The 5,000-word sales page isn’t dead, but their heyday, at least in ClickBank circles, may be on the wane.

Videos are now the sales page. Or rather, video sales letters are now the page.

Of course, there’s a massive difference between a “hey, here’s my product” video and an expertly-crafted sales letter presented in video form.

And when you watch a few of these videos, you’ll see the classic sales letter architecture in action, with a few twists.

  • The video opens with a “bang”: an attention-grabbing hook (usually in the form of a story) that’s often not immediately clear how it’s linked to the product.
  • Once the story / intro finishes, it “twists the knife” by agitating the problem the product solves, using emotion-soaked language, stomach-turning scenarios and heart-breaking “Don’t you wish you could do something about this?” questions.
  • With more sophisticated or better written videos, you’ll get validation. “It’s not your fault” and “You deserve it” are two very popular themes.
  • This may (or may not) lead into listing alternative solutions, where each one is shot down in turn.
  • After all that, it’s only now the product is introduced…

And so on and so on (this isn’t meant to be a blow-by-blow account of how to structure a sales page).

The point is, these ARE 21st-century sales pages. While many ClickBank pages have both VSLs and text versions, VSL only pages are on the rise, while it’s extremely rare to find any that only run with copy only.

Lesson Learned

Consider whether a VSL can be used to help sell your product (if you have an existing text-based sales page, the answer is probably “yes”).

VSLs and traditional sales letters can happily co-exist — you’ll notice the copy versions of a VSL are almost word-for-word transcriptions. That means there’s little reason not to have both video and copy versions of your sales presentation (though your design effort is doubled).

Bonus tip: don’t forget to mention that the viewer will get all the answers they need in this “short” presentation… even though your video may run for 30 or even 45 to 50 minutes.

(Yes, that was sarcasm.)

#7 – PLENTY OF PROOF

A Clickbank page is a sales page on steroids, and there can be some crazy strong claims floating around. Making claims without a shred of evidence to back them up is generally a great way to not make sales, so it’s unsurprising these pages are one step ahead of the pack…

A First Look

With its ability to capture “before” and “after”, weight loss is the perfect niche for some of the most powerful visual proof you can find. The No Nonsense Ted program uses this to maximum advantage.

(Throughout the page, there are 7 before/after images)

And while before/after is perhaps the strongest proof for their market, No Nonsense Ted doesn’t hesitate to use other elements to strengthen their claims. In fact, their stats at the very beginning of the page reinforces their “overweight people everywhere” argument.

Of course, they include testimonials as well…

A Closer Look

However, not every page I looked at uses proof.

The Writing for Wealth page is a strikingly compact page that doesn’t have the slightest bit of evidence to show there are “more writing jobs that we can fill”.

It feels like they missed a trick. Just because your page goal is aimed at attracting opt-ins instead of sales, it doesn’t mean you can ignore adding credibility. The Take Surveys for Cash site also angles for people to simply opt in, but uses a ton of proof to help make the decision easier.

  • Photos at the very top of the page
  • A video in the hero (with supporting copy “Want to see proof?”)
  • A before/after photo
  • 3 or 4 screenshots

That’s a lot of proof packed into a page that’s relatively short by ClickBank standards.

Lesson Learned

Like any good sales page (ClickBank or otherwise), use plenty of proof.

Proof and credibility aren’t just for hyper-aggressive sales pages. Proof elements are an essential ingredient of ANY sales page or conversion-focused copywriting. What’s more, you can use it practically anywhere, from web pages to landing pages to emails to even social media.

#8 – DON’T LET GO: EXIT POP-UP & OFFER

You know those annoying pop-ups you get when you go to leave a website?

Or even worse, those browser alerts asking you to switch on notifications for the site?

Yep, you got it. Clickbank sites love to use both.

A First Look

This is your garden variety Clickbank page exit pop-up, taken from Your Wealth Magnet. And there’s a lot happening here…

Can you spot all the “tactics”? For those playing at home…

  1. A highlighted “WAIT!” in an eye-catching yellow and red
  2. A rephrasing of the primary offer as a “very special offer” (nothing changes other than the price)
  3. An emphasis on the bonuses and their dollar value (in visual / icon form)
  4. A $10 discount, with the price also in red
  5. A big, orange call-to-action with two red arrows, just in case you missed it
  6. Not just payment icons, but a guarantee ribbon (though the copy is a little small to read)
  7. An “expiry date”, which just appears to be a somewhat lame urgency play (because I’ve checked this on 3 different days, and the date keeps changing)

(If you’ve spotted something I didn’t, let me know!)

They’ve certainly left no rock unturned to lure you back. But Your Wealth Magnet are far from the only ones who do this, and there’s a good reason why.

A Closer Look

As Sumo proved in their analysis, exit pop-ups can be super effective in the right context.

For sales pages like these, the context is simple: the buyer comes onto the page, and the page goes all pitching to them. The exit pop-up is simply a slightly-tweaked variation of the pitch (e.g. a $10 discount becomes a “very special offer”). Reframing it like this in the exit intent popup is necessary, as the on-page messaging hasn’t been effective.

In any case, the Your Wealth Magnet pop-up seems to be the “model”, as its replicated (down to the same wording) on the No Nonsense Ted pop-up. Take Surveys for Cash pop-ups is a little different, as it aims to get people to opt-in there and then, which is the original purpose of the page:

However, the Voice Cash Pro exit pop-up tries another angle:

An interesting approach: the $1 bill dominates an otherwise basic design to present a different (and tempting) offer for the person leaving.

Like the exit pop-ups, the browser alerts some pages use still aim to serve a similar purpose: stop the visitor leaving the page.

Unlike the exit pop-up, the browser alerts stop the visitor by using notification functionality that prevents the tab from being closed until the alert is. It’s a cheeky, last-ditch method to keep the visitor hanging around.

Lesson Learned

Use an exit pop-up to give your page a “second bite at the cherry”.

Despite their annoying nature, exit pop-ups statistically prove their worth.

Even as your reader’s walking out the door, you can still pull them back with a reframe of your offer or a juicy incentive to win them over at the last minute.

Of course, there are reasons to not use exit pop-ups, but with the consensus on top-rating ClickBank pages being to use them, they may well be worth further investigation.

#9 – REPEAT YOUR OFFER, BUT ONLY WHEN YOU’RE READY

Remember the Battle of Stirling in “Braveheart”?

It’s the scene where Mel Gibson and his band of Scottish warriors stare down the charge of the English heavy cavalry, with Gibson steadying his troops with “Hold… Hold… “ just before springing their trap.

And it’s something Clickbank pages have taken inspiration from when it comes to springing their offer on readers (or viewers).

A First Look

It takes you just a second to realise this page is selling a “red tea detox”…

But if that gets you excited, you’re going to have to calm your farm.

Why?

Because to grab this sensational offer, you’re going to have to scroll past..

A story about a snake encounter in Africa…

How this led to the product creator shedding pounds in just weeks…

How this saved her sanity, health and marriage…

A warning: people don’t know want you to know about this!…

Why this is as much about confidence as it is about freedom…

5 Fat-Shrinking Rules to speed up fat loss…

And more, and more, and more…

On a sales page that’s over 9,500 words long and has eight call-to-action buttons, you don’t see the first “Add to Cart” button until you’re past the half-way mark.

That means you’ve read through more than a lot of other full-length sales pages before running into a single thing you can click.

A Closer Look

People love to click buttons and links, because they’re curious. We generally want to know more. As one research paper puts it, it’s almost as if we want information for information’s sake.

But the curiosity that leads to “click mania” isn’t often ideal for us marketers.

After all, not everyone is planning to buy when they click. According to the “100 audience formula”, a heuristic from lead generation & sales process expert Marylou Tyler, only 3 out of every 100 people exposed to your messaging is ready to buy right now.

However, this doesn’t stop the other 97 from “button mashing”, which takes them out of your messaging and disrupts the awareness and sales process.

A button too early in our copy means we risk losing their attention, and losing the sale.

As for those tiny few raring to grab what we’re offering…

Sure, we might lose a few hyper-impatient types who want to BUY IT RIGHT NOW. But if the copy’s interesting enough and on a topic they’re already interested in, they’re just as likely to scroll – along with less aware audiences – down the page until they hit a call to action.

Lesson Learned

For a text-based sales page: follow this basic formula.

  1. Open with a story behind the product.
  2. Delve deeper into that story and include credibility elements (like testimonials or before/after shots), but minus call to action.
  3. Talk in-depth about the benefits, the mechanism, what others have achieved with the product… and still don’t offer a call to action.
  4. Only after seemingly exhausting your story do you then offer that first Cart button.
  5. Intersperse more and more frequent calls to action with “closing” copy, like bonuses, guarantees, and more testimonials or reviews.

For video sales pages: hide the CTA.

Keeping prospects from premature clicking with a video sales letter is even simpler. Most VSL pages won’t display a link or button for prospects to click on until a pre-set moment in the video’s (often considerable) run time. This might mean 10, 15, or 20+ minutes into the presentation.

#10 – “LOAD UP” YOUR CALL TO ACTION

Without a call to action, you don’t have a sales page.

That button or link that leads an excited prospect to the order form is the magic that makes the money, so it’s hardly surprising Clickbank pages go to great lengths to make clicking the CTA as irresistible and risk-free for the prospect as possible.

A First Look

Just like the rest of the pages, a Clickbank CTA is buzzing with hyper-activity. Take a look at the call to action on the No Nonsense Ted…

Here’s the component-by-component breakdown:

  • Microcopy above the CTA emphasising the price and guarantee
  • A huge “Add to Cart” button in a bright colour, with two arrows (just in case you missed the button… somehow)
  • A smaller link-based CTA (most likely as a “back up” if the button doesn’t render properly)
  • Microcopy around “Immediate access”
  • Payment icons to ease fears around payment methods
  • Trust icons to again emphasise the guarantee and ease fears around security

All topped off with a dotted, Johnson Box-style border that helps draw the eye.

A Closer Look

The No Nonsense Ted is a call to action pulsing with persuasion. In fact, it covers most of the elements you’d see in typical CTAs (though often not with such density). Let’s talk a little more about each aspect…

Microcopy

As I wrote about here, Microcopy around a call-to-action generally aims to reduce risk, convey a benefit or communicate some legalese. The two sticks of microcopy here are primarily benefit-based, talking about immediate access and the price. Reiterating the guarantee helps to lower the risk of buying.

Button / Link

The button or link is ultimately what a call to action is about. It’s the door the prospect steps through to buy your product. That’s why sales pages go to seemingly extreme lengths to make it stand out, like using a high-contrasting colour and visual aids (like arrows) to further highlight it.

The “Add to Cart” language is fairly standard for these types of sales pages, but it’s surprisingly non-aggressive copy. That said, these pages are often tested to the extreme, so it’s highly likely that this short copy has beaten longer, more “hypey” alternatives.

Payment Icons

It seems pretty obvious what the payment icons are supposed to do: show a prospect how they can make a payment. But they’re not just there for informational purposes, with at least one test showing they can improve conversions.

Trust Seal

Being able to trust a site in terms of security is a huge hurdle for many buyers. A study from Baymard Institute showed a lack of trust with credit card info is one of the top reasons a purchase never completes. That’s why, like the payment icons, trust seals can go a long way to tipping prospects over the line.

(For the record, another Baymard Institute study found the “Norton Secured” trust to be the most effective, with over 35% of responses favouring it. Before you scroll back up, you guessed it: the No Nonsense Ted CTA uses that exact one.)

Lesson Learned

Think of your call to action as much, much more than just a button or link.

To really drive home just what you can do with a CTA, here’s another example.

  1. Include the name of the program or product
  2. TWO “Add to Cart” buttons, each with guarantee-based microcopy
  3. If offering your product at a discount, strike out the full price and have the discounted price immediately beside it: a classic example of anchoring (BONUS: where possible, include a reason for the saving to add legitimacy)
  4. Display the standard payment icons (nice touch here to put them in white to contrast better against the other colourful elements)
  5. Include trust seals (by the way, the McAfee secure came second in the study I mentioned earlier… so this has the top two most effective trust seals)
  6. Plonk an image of your product either above, below… or in this case, smack bang in the middle of the CTA

* * *

Yep, that’s a lot to get through… but there’s a definite science (and art) to building a crazy-converting sales page, whether it’s for ClickBank or anything else. And remember, without the fundamentals, 

To make it easier to digest, I’ve condensed the essence of each lesson into the infographic below. Feel free to download use and re-post wherever you like — all I ask is that you attribute and link back here.

(You can download a PDF version here.)

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