Sales copy isn’t sales copy unless it sells your prospects on your offer. In fact, it’s just an article – a hype filled, exciting article– but an article nonetheless. So, what does it take to turn that dull, one dimensional article into a sales pitch that really works?
That’s what we’re going to look at in this short guide, hitting on the 77 secrets that will boost your sales and help to convert more readers more quickly.
Starting with your headline and progressing through the step after step of a sales page, we’ll hit on every little element you may or may not have heard of since you got started, putting them together into an ideal, top notch strategy that would help you sell ice to eskimos.
So, close that window to Facebook, put away that bag of chips and open up that draft of your sales copy. It’s time to start selling.
Before you even touch your keyboard to work on your sales copy, consider some of these preparatory tasks you can complete. You’ll be better engaged and prepared when it comes time to write your sales copy.
1. Look at Other Sales Copy and Study Competitors
One of the easiest ways to learn more about sales copy is to look at what works and emulate it as much as possible. That’s why I always recommend you take a closer look at your competitors, as well as high gravity sites in Clickbank.
Take careful notes, review what they do differently from one another and try to find common themes among high gravity, high sales volume sites. Just don’t steal anything directly from their sites. You can borrow the idea for a flying popover, but don’t take their HTML or text. It’s bad form and often illegal.
2. Research and Understand Your Customers
Your customers are going to be very different from those of another niche. Even if you feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know from looking at competitor sites or high gravity pages, you’ll still need to learn what your customers need and how you can communicate it to them.
What are their biggest fears? How can a product you sell benefit them? What are they willing to part with? Remember, you’re selling a solution to a problem, not a product. To sell that solution, you need to understand everything you can about the people who have it.
3. Know the Action You Are Targeting and Have Goals
Every sales page has one or more calls to action. You need to know not only where that call to action will be, but exactly what it will be. Ask yourself and your customers what you want them to do and then word it exactly as you have practiced.
In addition to outlining and defining your calls to action, make sure you create goals that can be monitored and checked up on intermittently throughout the life of your page. Have newsletter conversion goals, click thru goals, and actual sales goals you can analyse in real time.
4. Develop Your Hook and How to Put it to Use
Every sales page needs a hook. What single phrase can you use in your headline or first paragraph that will capture the highest possible percentage of customers in your niche? Read other sales pages and talk to your customers to get a good idea of what fits the bill here.
Most hooks are very simple – asking a basic question or highlighting a problem your readers might have.
5. Target Only One Audience in Your Copy
I’ve seen far t oo many marketers think that they can target a wide swath of people in their sales copy and get away with it. Sure you might be able to sell a marriage advice guide to people about to get married, but is that your target audience? No, your target audience is the couples who are already having marriage problems and need immediate solutions. They are most likely to make immediate, impulsive purchases.
6. Know how to Answer “What’s In It for Me?”
Every person on this planet will eventually ask you “what’s in it for me”. They don’t care how amazing your product is or how many people have bought it. All the psychological mumbojumbo in the world is meaningless if you can’t tell them to their face: ‘you need this because it will help you XYZ”. Your sales copy should be littered with statements that tell them exactly what they gain by reading your copy, signing up for your list, and ultimately buying your product.
7. Use Above the Fold Properly
Above the fold refers to the space viewable on a website when it first loads. The header, navigation bar, headline, and any images you place at the top of your sales copy is the first fold and it should be used to the best possible results. The goal here is to convince them to go to the second fold and beyond. They need to see something that will drive their eyes down, convincing them that if they keep reading, you will solve the problem they have been facing for some time.
8. Use Captions with Photos
If you use photographs on your sales page, make sure you use captions or descriptions to highlight the point you’re making. Many people will read through sales copy at high speed, scanning for headlines, bullet points and images. If your images are only being used as placeholders, you’re wasting valuable real estate. Along with captions that highlight the text, work on building images that make selling points– such as charts, graphs, or visual representations of your niche.
9. Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Short and to the Point
The dreaded wall of text can kill your sales copy faster than anything else. People are intimidated by having too much to read. If you compared the results of a 400 word paragraph and a 1,000 word sales letter with 20 shorter paragraphs, the latter would almost always convert better because it would get more readers. Don’t get choppy, but use short, sure statements to make your points and convince readers to keep with you.
10. Don’t Talk Over their Heads
Sure, you’re an expert in your field, but your readers are not. That’s why they’re coming to you for advice. There is a fine line between understanding a niche and overdoing it. If you use big words, complex technical terms, and deep analysis that goes over your readers’ heads, they will either get frustrated or assume the product is too complex for them. Write for the Everyman, using short to the point sentences at a 7th-9th grade reading level.
11. Highlighting and Formatting Text to Make it Stand Out
I’ll give you this tip, but keep in mind that it is very easy to get carried away and go too far with it. If you have a particularly bold point, feel free to use a yellow highlighter on it or bold it to draw attention. Also, use the white space on your page to draw attention to single statements. Don’t turn your sales copy into a paint by numbers, but feel free to apply carefully selected formatting to highlight points and attract the eye to key factors that may help you make a sale.
The single most important part of any good sales copy is the headline. It’s the first thing your visitors see and if you do it wrong, it can be the last. So, the headline needs to be perfect, in how it looks, how it reads, and the action it calls to in your readers.
12. Find the Single Most Important Thing to Your Audience
Ask yourself a very simple question. What is the single, absolute most important thing on your audience’s mind right now? This can be the longest research piece of the entire process as you start working on your sales copy. It is vital though and it needs to be at least alluded to in your copy. The moment you can determine what your readers want most and then highlight in the first fold, your readership will jump.
13. Remember they Are Buying a Key Benefit, not a Product
Stop trying to sell your readers a product. They’re not there for a product. The y can get those anywhere. You’re trying to sell them a benefit that will help solve their problem. Headlines that discuss the “best new dating guide” are missing the point. You’re not trying to sell a guide. You’re trying to sell a solution to the problem of not having any dates. Hit on that key benefit both in your headline and throughout the rest of your guide to drive conversions.
14. Use Preheadlines to set the Table
A short preheadline will appear before your full, size 25 font intro and will usually be a teaser of sorts. For example, you might say, “Find out how 23,432 people were able to….” And then lead into the thing that those 23,000 people were able to do with your product. The idea is to add a small amount of context without creating a headline that is too long. You want your core message in the headline to be short and to the point, but there are other bits of information that you can use.
15. Video Presentations to Boost Credibility
Not every website needs a video. Many people can make millions on a new product launch with text alone and will continue to do so for years to come. However, nothing works better to build credibility than to produce a video that directly confronts your reader’s doubts about your headline’s claims. For instance, if you sell a Clickbank course and claim that you have made over 10,000 sales in the last five months, you can easily show them with a video those 10,000 sales on your Clickbank account page. It’s short, it’s simple and it’s incredibly effective for building credibility.
16. Credibility Elements Above Your Headline
Other credibility elements have become very popular in recent months when placed above your headline. Having seals that show you are a registered business, a safe site, or that your content has been featured on any number of media outlets will draw immense attention and trigger trust in your readers before then even see what you’re selling. Don’t just place these seals on your page though. They need to be real or you could get in trouble with the FCC for false claims.
17. Brainstorm Multiple Headlines
The first headline you think of will never be the one you end up using. Even $10,000 copywriters with thousands of headlines under their belts will sit down and write dozens of possible solutions before settling on just one and putting their site together. The best part about this is that the ones you don’t use are not necessarily useless. You should keep them in a file somewhere and come back later if you launch a new site or would like to split test your page with a new headline.
18. Make Your Headlines Scannable
The main headline at the top of the page should be short and to the point with no more than one solid sentence that outlines your reader’s needs, but don’t forget you’ll have more headlines throughout the rest of your page. These headlines should be clear indicators of what that part of the page is about, and should always be entirely scannable so that if someone just skims your page they can still get the gist of what you’re selling.
19. Asking Questions
A great trick for a headline that engages your readers is to integrate questions into the text. Simply ask your readers a basic question that either stimulates their imagination or hits on a topic they’ve been wondering about for some time. Simply asking them “Are you ready to…” can drive action, enticing them to really wonder if they are ready. If they are, you can bet they’ll read your page immediately.
20. Using Numbers
Numbers are a natural device to measure and analyse data. Your brain sees a number attached to something and immediately views it as more legitimate and trustworthy. Use that psychological connection with your readers to capture their attention and to showcase the numbers behind your product. You can tell them how many people you’ve helped, how much time you’ve saved, how much money you’ve made, etc.
Once you have their attention, you need to get into the head of the reader and make sure they stick with you. Describe their problem, agitate the issue and then teach them something new that will help them solve that problem. This is where you go next.
21. List Common Problems
When you first enter this section, make sure you show your readers that you understand what their problems are by listing out a series of common issues this group of people often has. Your research should already have uncovered most of these issues and made it easy to make this list. If you don’t have a clear idea of 5+ problems to list, visit forums or competitor sites and see what people are trying to find solutions for.
22. Agitate the Problem with Possible Consequences
Don’t just list the problems, agitate and showcase what potential consequences might await someone who doesn’t act quickly. For instance, if your target audience is people whose dogs are not behaving properly, use the fear that their dog might get away or bite someone. These are substantial, real fears that dog owners have every day and that someone will do nearly anything to avoid. A new dog owner with an unruly pup might not even have advanced to the point of worrying about these things yet – bring them there.
23. Bust Industry Related Myths
A lot of times there are myths related to your industry that can hold back your readers from believing you or following along with your advice. For instance, in the making money niche, many people think that there are really ways to sit down and make a fortune with a few hours of time on the Internet. This is your chance to show them that these myths are not true and that they really do need your product to solve their problem. If at all possible, use facts and data to back up any myth busting you do.
24. Provide a Single Solution (with proof)
Once you’ve outlined problems, showed the worst case scenarios and then removed any biased or society related misinformation from the discussion, it’s time to provide a solid, real world solution that they can use for the issues. Again, referring to the dog training issue, your solution might be to “take alpha leadership of the pack and command respect from your dog so they follow your lead and stay safe.” You’re not giving away anything in your product – just highlighting the philosophy you’ll use to solve their problems.
25. Building Credibility
All of this needs to be done with credibility in mind. You cannot simply tell someone, “hey I’m important. Use my solutions for your problem!” They need to see that you are a credible source of information and that you have been there and had their problems in the past. Use short stories, issues you had, or specific training you’ve received that qualifies you to help.
26. Short Summary Letters
A short summary letter is a section of your sales copy that will delve directly into the problems that your reader is having, the solutions you have and the methods they must use to put it all to good use. These letters are often only 300-500 words, though length is less important than quality, and will show your readers that you were in their shoes and have come out the other side with a solution.
27. Challenging the Reader
The odds are that, however your reader ended up on your page, they are at least partially aware they have a problem that needs fixing. The issue now is to convince them to step up to the plate and combat that problem. To do this, you need to challenge them. Avoid profanity or insults, but feel free to use as persuasive of rhetoric as possible to convince them to step up and start facing their issues. A great tool here is to use social norms. For instance, “don’t let your dog walk all over you anymore. Show your family, friends and neighbors once and for all that you can be the alpha leader in your house.”
28. Credibility Photos Where Possible
If you are trying to showcase yourself, are making claims about solutions to a problem, or simply need to show something that will support what you’ve been writing, this is the place to use images. This is where you often see the before and after pics of the author on a weight loss site or the “I made this much” screenshots on a money making site. Use screenshots and proof you’ve gathered to drive your point home as much as possible.
29. Appealing to Someone’s Emotions
Emotions are the core of who we are and if you can tap into them, it is much easier to drive a sale. This is why a benefit is a better selling point than a feature. If you outline features, you’re making a logical argument – “this product is good because…” But, when you outline benefits of your product, you’re instead saying “this solution will give you relief and make you happy because…” People are much more likely to act when you engage their emotions and the impulsive part of their brain rather than the calculating logical part.
Your readers want to find someone who has been where they are, solved their problem, and have the expert training and experience that will qualify them to teach a solution. This is where you need to establish yourself as a viable expert in your field.
30. Your Backstory
Step one in becoming an expert and relating to your readers is to develop a backstory that shows you are one of them. This is where you tell them about your early days with a bad dog or with no dates, or with no money. Whatever you suffered through, lay it out for them and make sure they know you’re not just a nameless, faceless guy halfway across the globe out to make a few bucks.
31. Use Screenshots for Proof
A great way to increase credibility in this section is to use images of yourself in the particular situation you’re trying to describe. A basic head shot is a good place to start, but you can also showcase where you came from with shots of you in college, or of your dog digging a hole, or whatever else you can scrounge up. This is a pretty straightforward element, but it is very important in building that credibility early.
32. Integrate Where Possible with Short Summary
I don’t normally separate this section too much from the rest of the guide. Rather, I will have it directly tied into the first paragraphs were I lay out the problems and solutions that my readers have. This allows you to generate as much credibility as you can before your pitch really gets underway. Some sales pages will have a screenshot above the fold, along with a short, basic introduction to get things started. However you do it, make sure you have at least a short author intro early on.
33. Tell a Story and Keep it Casual
You’re not a college professor. You’re a buddy who wants to help out. To keep from getting too carried away, imagine you’re telling your mom about the product instead of a random stranger. Keep it casual like you’re talking on the phone and don’t get too carried away talking about yourself. The number one thing that I see too many sales pages do is turn into user’s manuals. You’re not teaching them yet, you’re selling to them.
34. Create Envy to Drive Action
People will act quicker when they envy their neighbour. The first time I bought an iPod was because a friend had one and I played with it for a few minutes. I had to have one. I already knew they existed before that, but seeing him with something that cool made me want to get one too. Use that urge and desire to both compete and conform to drive action in your readers. Show them how their neighbors have good, well behaved dogs or how their buddies have dates every Friday night. You can use your own story to drive that envious nature very easily as well.
35. Freely Admit Your Shortcomings (in Context)
Don’t be afraid to admit you have shortcomings and then to lay them out clearly for your readers. Too many marketers think they need to be the infallible teacher who never messes up. That’s not true. In reality, you need to humanize yourself as much as possible and show them how your solution can help them reach where you are. Tell them how long you failed with women before you stumbled upon the secrets you’re providing or how long it took to get your dog under control. They’ll respect you for being honest.
No sales copy is complete without a box for email opt-in, allowing people to sign up for your newsletter and get future communications. Conversion rates and future sales skyrocket once you have that magic email, but you need to create a good entry point to get those emails.
37. Flying Popovers after 25 Seconds
The most effective method I’ve found to get email addresses is to use a flying popover, a simple HTML effect that brings up an on-the-page popover with an email address entry form on it. This is not the same as a Pop-up and is therefore far more effective. Set the timer for about 25 seconds after the reader arrives on your page so they can get invested and make sure your popover is a complete newsletter signup pitch, with details about the free offer.
38. Placement of a Static Newsletter Box
If you would rather use a static newsletter box, make sure it is placed high on your page where someone might find it within the same 25 second window. Your goal is to get the email address before someone who is not quite ready to buy leaves your site.
Separate the box with a single cell table and a dotted border and make sure to use images and a bright headline to draw attention to it. Most people will recognize the signup form, but they need to see it first.
39. Using Bullet Points
When describing the offer, make sure to use easy to scan content that they can read through very quickly. Bullet points, short paragraphs and headlines all do this very well. The bullet points should list out specific benefits they will receive by signing up for your newsletter. For example, if you have a 20 page report, list out what “secrets” and “insider tips” each chapter will teach them. These show simple problems or teasers that they normally have.
40. The Non-Spam Notice
Getting an email address is far easier than a credit card number, but many customers will still be protective as they don’t want to get spam. So, instead of not mentioning it, come straight out and say “we won’t send you any spam and won’t sell, give away, or trade your email address to other sites”. Some marketers will tell you not to bring attention to the spam issue, but here’s the thing. Most readers are already thinking it, so you should do what you can to alleviate their concerns.
41. Headlines and Images to Drive Action
Every time you try to drive an action out of your reader, you’re writing a mini-sales page. The first fold is a mini-sales page that gets your readers to keep reading. The product description is a mini-sales page that convinces them to read about your product. And your newsletter opt-in box is a mini-sales page that convinces them to hand over their email address for more information. You need to sell them on it. To do that, provide images of the free report or 6 part minicourse you’re going to offer, along with clear, vibrant headlines outlining the key benefits of the course.
Social proof is the backbone of the decision making process. A prospective buyer wants to know that other people in the same boat as them (other than you) were able to solve the problems. This is where you provide that proof.
42. Minimum of 5 Success Stories
It’s important to show your readers that other people have purchased your product and succeeded because of it. Now, getting those testimonials may be tough at first, but it’s a vital part of the process. I like to get initial testimonials from readers I give the book to for free. After the product launch, contact you customers 7-10 days after purchase and ask them what they think of their book. Provide them with sample testimonials and ask if they’d be willing to give one of their own. Make sure to have at least 5 of these on your landing page.
43. Top X Stories for Current Month
If your niche is an ongoing one with new stories on a constant basis, and you’re collecting new testimonials regularly, showcase that ongoing success with a headline like this. You can then list a new set of 5-10 success stories every month from your customers. If someone comes back three weeks after first visiting your site, through an email newsletter, and sees that there are new testimonials up, they’ll realize that there are a LOT of happy customers out there.
44. Link to Order Page Between Stories
When you tell stories of success on your sales page, put order links in between them where you can. I don’t necessarily think you need an order link between a string of 5 testimonials, but put one in there every 2-3 or so to give them the option to buy. Many times, that social proof is just enough to put them over the edge. Give them the opportunity to take the plunge.
45. FCC Guidelines Regarding Testimonials
I can’t write about testimonials without mentioning the rules about them. There are new FCC regulations that state any testimonials you place on your website must be real and truthful. In addition, if the reader was given the product for free, you must disclose that and you must have a contact list for those testimonial givers. Plus, if their results are non-typical (someone losing 100 pounds with a weightloss book), you need to state as such.
46. Video, Audio and Images
Don’t just throw up short blurbs of people’s successes and leave it at that. Support them with credibility laden media. Even with new FCC regulations, most people don’t just trust what you tell them. So, have your customers tell them. A video or audio testimonial personalizes the message quite well. Even just a headshot will show the reader who had the nice things to say so they know it’s not just you.
The product you sell needs to be laid out as clearly as possible to generate interest and ensure it is well explained. At the same time, benefits laden statements should be used to show them how the product will improve their life.
45. Early Order Box
If you’ve developed the right elements early in your sales page, you’ve already given your readers a good enough reason to buy, so you may as well give them a link from which to buy. An early order box is very similar to the end-boxes you see on most sites, but with only 10+ lines of text and the order button. Don’t include your full end- pitch or the pricing information and all that. You’ll have room for that later on. Now, just provide an easy link for someone that is already ready to buy.
46. Bullet Points
When you describe your product, don’t write lengthy paragraphs about how the product will change someone’s life. Instead, break it down as much as possible into easily digestible bullet points. A bullet point should be no more than two lines and easily digestible bullet points. A bullet point should be no more than two lines and 4 folds of bullet points is a good idea, providing a thorough rundown of the product without getting too carried away.
49. Product Benefits Surrounding Features
In your bullets, you’ll need to maintain your focus on benefits, while also describing what’s in the book. That can be tricky, but not impossible. Here’s an example. Say you have a chapter about how to stop a dog from chasing after cars. Instead of saying “Tips to stop your dog from chasing cars”, say “End the constant worry that your dog will be run down by one of the cars he chases.” You just told them what the feature is while framing it in a way that outlines the benefits.
Lists are fantastic ways to highlight benefits as well without giving away any features. For example, ‘The 10 Things You Can Change in Your Dating Life TODAY for Better, Longer Relationships”. You haven’t said what those things are, but you’ve given a clear idea of what might be in that section with very loud benefit words.
50. Images and Value Indicators
Along with clear benefits, make sure to use value indicators to create the sense that your product is worth a lot. To start with, have a different book cover or software cover for every piece of your product. If you have 10 videos, 3 eBooks and a software package, don’t have one ebook cover made and slap a title on it. Instead, have separate covers made for all 14 items in the package and place them throughout your description to visualize the value.
51. Compare to Related Products (Not Price!)
While you don’t need to compare directly to another product, you should compare to your “competitors” as much as possible, showcasing what your product does and what theirs doesn’t. I like to use charts for this with simple checkmarks, one sentence descriptions or stars. The goal is for someone to look at this section, see that your product outperforms another and keep reading. Do NOT use price as a comparison point. You shouldn’t be trying to sell your product on price, but rather value.
52. Industry Busting
Many times, when you create a new product, it’s unique in some way, providing a