Without A Doubt, Sales Copy Is One Of The Most Important Elements Of A Web Site
Time and time again, I've seen a few small improvements to a site's sales copy result in a massive boost in sales!
But, despite this, sales copy is also one of the most neglected elements of most web sites -- particularly by new Internet entrepreneurs.
For starters, people are often unsure how long their sales copy should be. Here's a general rule to go by: If you offer a single product (or a group of products that share the same benefits) on your web site, then you need a LONG sales-letter on your homepage.
Most people think one or two paragraphs are enough, but in fact, the process takes much more than that. Think about it: Sales copy replaces the human interaction of an offline sales experience.
And, unlike a face-to-face encounter, there's no opportunity for a prospective customer to get to know you online, or to ask for more detail about a product benefit, or to raise concerns.
So your sales copy has to cover every possible question a visitor to your site may have about you and your product or service.
A long, structured sales-letter gives you the space to do this, and provides all the information your visitor needs to help them make the decision to buy.
I know, because I've tested my own sales copy to death over the years! I tested a long sales-letter (containing around eight pages of copy) against the same copy split over four separate web pages... and the long copy generated almost 70% more sales!
As you may imagine, I've been using this long sales-letter format ever since!
But how long is long?
The answer to that is… As long as it needs to be to fit in all the elements required for you to close the sale!
Typically, the higher the price point, and the more complex your product or service, the longer the sales-letter. Longer copy allows you to spend adequate time accomplishing all the tasks that are vital to closing the sale, including the five essential elements of successful sales copy:
- Determine your unique selling proposition (USP)
- Grab the reader's attention with a killer headline
- Establish your credibility
- Solve your reader's biggest problem
- Include a strong guarantee
With all these elements in place, your sales copy will have the power to take your visitors by the hand and lead them step by step through your sales process, addressing their concerns and answering their questions along the way...
giving them the level of comfort and the information they need before they can take the next step -- and buy your product!
Essential sales-letter element #1:
Your unique selling proposition is a benefit of your product or service that makes it "unique" in the eyes of your customers, and what makes it stand apart from your competition's products or services.
Determine your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
You need to ask yourself what your product does better or differently from competing products. Does it cost less? Does it look better? Are there any special or unique features?
An example of a great USP is Domino's Pizza's guarantee of "30-minute delivery or it's free!" They don't try to sell you on the quality of their pizza -- instead, they promise to deliver fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes, or you don't pay. This promise sets them apart from everyone else, which makes it a great USP.
The key is to find one thing that your competition doesn't offer, and then use it as the foundation of your sales copy. Your USP and the benefits that come from it should be placed throughout your copy, starting with the headline...
Essential sales-letter element #2:
When visitors arrive at your web site, it's a safe bet that they've come looking for information about your products or a solution to a problem they have.
Grab the reader's attention with a killer headline
However, you still have a lot of work to do. After all, it's more than likely that there are other sites offering similar information and products just a couple of clicks away!
So if you're going to make that sale, it's critical that you grab each visitor's attention right off the bat.
The most important attention-grabbing tool is your headline. It's the first thing visitors to your site see -- and just like the neon sign outside the movie theater, or the newspaper vendor on the sidewalk shouting out the day's headlines, it's what makes people stop for a closer look.
A great headline should:
- Create a problem that the reader can identify with
- Stress the main benefit of your product in solving that problem
- Generate excitement and a desire in your readers to find out more
I can illustrate this using a "before and after" example showing how our team rewrote a headline for a client of ours (in the interests of confidentiality, I've changed the product name):
XYZ Soil Conditioner - Shelf stable live soil microbes from concentrate!
For lawn, garden, & houseplants! Used in agriculture, too!
This headline includes a classic mistake that most online entrepreneurs make -- they use the name of their product or their web site instead of a real headline.
The above headline doesn't introduce a problem that readers can identify with, or provide any benefits of the product. And it's not going to grab the attention of many readers -- after all, what's exciting about soil microbes?!
Use the Best-Kept Secret of Organic Farmers to
Grow a Vibrant, Healthy Lawn and Garden, Reduce Your
Watering Bills, and Bring Damaged Soil Back to Life...
... Plus Learn How You Can Stop Wasting Money on Chemicals and Pesticides!
This new headline addresses the specific problems of its target market -- damaged soil, and money wasted on chemicals and pesticides -- and promises a solution.
It also clearly lays out the two biggest benefits of the product -- a healthy lawn and garden, plus cost savings. The language is dynamic, attention-grabbing, and makes the reader want to find out more.
Take it from me -- headlines can have a HUGE impact on your sales, and just a couple of small tweaks can dramatically increase your profits. In fact, one simple change to your headline can increase your sales by up to 714%... or more!
I know this because at The Internet Marketing Center, we test several different headlines for each sales-letter we write to see which works the best. I'd strongly recommend that you do the same.
Essential sales-letter element #3:
Establishing your credibility helps your readers feel safe enough to buy from you -- and to give you their money over the Internet. You need to reassure them that you have all the right experience, and that you are trustworthy and honest.
Establish your credibility
The key is to back up everything you say with details of your experience, qualifications, awards, or memberships to relevant organizations and associations in your industry.
Take a look at this example from our sample sales-letter:
Believe me, I know what I'm talking about! I've spent years traveling the world and learning the secrets of soil biology -- and I've put those secrets to work in my own organic gardens. Without using any fertilizer, herbicides, or other chemicals, I'm able to grow more fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables than I know what to do with! And I don't have to pull any weeds... because there aren't any!
Copy like this is aimed at convincing readers that you've faced EXACTLY the same problems as them -- and solved these problems! This will make readers far more likely to buy from you than from someone who doesn't demonstrate the same knowledge and experience.
Another great way to reinforce your credibility in the eyes of your readers is with testimonials from people who have bought your products and are happy to sing your praises!
You can put all your customer testimonials in one section, or spread them throughout your sales-letter. Either way, be sure to include at least one or two strong testimonials right up front on your homepage.
Include the customer's full name, business name, and URL in each testimonial -- this makes it obvious that it has come from a real person.
And avoid the temptation to "clean up" the writing in your testimonials so they all sound the same -- leaving the mistakes and rough spots in will make them more convincing.
Essential sales-letter element #4:
After creating a problem that the reader can identify with, including it in your headline, and describing it in more detail early in your sales-letter, you'll need to show how your product or service can solve this problem.
Solve your reader's biggest problem
A big mistake that most web site owners make in their sales copy is neglecting to emphasize the BENEFITS of their product or service.
The fact is, your potential customer will NOT already understand the benefits of your offer -- so you must clearly explain EXACTLY what your product or service can do for them.
How will it solve their problem? Will it save them money and time? Will it enrich their lives?
Make sure to pack your explanation full of clear, powerful benefits, so your reader knows exactly what your product can do for THEM. And don't forget -- benefits are NOT features!
You've probably heard the "benefits, not features" mantra before, but just in case you haven't, here's a quick overview. A FEATURE is an attribute of a product; for example, an adjustable spout on a watering can would be a feature.
A BENEFIT, on the other hand, is a way that a product solves a problem.
For example, if the adjustable spout (a feature) lets you easily change the direction and volume of water you pour on your plants, saving you time and effort, that's a BENEFIT.
Finding features of your products, talk about the product's benefits to the reader and exactly how the product will solve their problems.
Here are a couple of benefits from the copy we wrote for our client's soil treatment web site:
Note how this copy talks about specific ways in which the product can solve their problems, like easing their workload and reducing the number of different products they need to buy.
Every benefit you give your reader is another reason for them to buy, so be sure to list as many as you can!
Essential sales-letter element #5:
A guarantee is an essential part of any sales-letter. And the stronger your guarantee, the better.
Include a strong guarantee
Whatever kind of guarantee you decide to offer, you must write it in such a way that it gives the reader the confidence to buy your product.
A well-written guarantee shows that you fully believe in your product, and that you are willing to back up your belief in it. For example, here's the guarantee we wrote in our sample sales-letter:
If your soil DOESN'T grow thicker and richer... if your lawn and plants DON'T flourish like never before... and if your fertilizer and watering bills DON'T drop dramatically... simply return the empty bottle and I'll refund your complete purchase price, no time limit, no questions asked.
This is a strong guarantee with no time limit and no penalties. A guarantee like this shows that you have complete confidence in your product's ability to do what you say it will -- otherwise, you'd be swamped with returns!
The stronger your guarantee, the more sales you'll generate -- and the fewer returns you'll actually get. It's a highly effective sales tool, and a vital part of any successful long sales-letter.
How to make your sales-letter close the sale!
So now that you've got the key elements of your sales-letter in place, there are a few more strategies to consider that will take your sales copy to the next level -- and help convert your site's visitors into customers…
- Write to your audience: You don't need to be a professional writer to create great sales copy -- just be yourself and write in a style that your audience will relate to. Imagine that you're talking DIRECTLY to just one person, rather than making a speech to an audience of hundreds.
Make it "scannable": You should use just one or two typefaces, include lists of bullet points, and separate the copy with sub-headlines. All this helps makes the copy scannable (most people scan web copy rather than reading it closely). You should also steer clear of unnecessary graphics and pictures, which can distract readers from your sales copy, and avoid using lots of different colors.
- Create urgency: If your visitors are hesitant to make a purchase, they may decide to "think about it" for a few days -- but the fact is, if they leave your site without buying your product, they probably won't come back! You want visitors to your site to buy NOW! So you need to build urgency into your offer. For example, you could say your product is only available at this price for a few days, or offer free bonuses that people will only receive if they order within a certain period of time.
- Ask for the order: This may seem obvious, but you need to explain EXACTLY what people need to do next to order. Don't just say "Click Here" or "Buy Now"! Say something like, "To order safely online, click here to visit our secure web server and follow the three easy steps."
- Don't forget the P.S.: The "P.S." is the second most-read part of a sales-letter, after the headline. Make sure to restate the main benefits of your product or service here, and also restate the urgency of your offer.
Too many people spend all their time trying to drive traffic to their site… and ignore their sales copy or leave it until last! But the fact is, if your copy doesn't do its job in converting traffic to sales, it doesn't matter how many visitors your site gets -- you won't make as many sales as you could be making!
By leading the reader through all of these elements using a clear, uncluttered format, written the way you would talk to a customer... stressing all of the benefits of your product... and creating a sense of urgency that makes your readers click through to your order page… a well-written long sales-letter can make an enormous difference to your sales.
If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend that you check out this in-depth, A-Z "how-to" of writing captivating and sales-generating copy that really works, including tons of tips, examples, and resources.
Effective sales copy involves good planning, and constant tweaking and testing to find what works best. As my own tests show, a good sales-letter on your homepage can improve your sales by at least 70% -- and up to 714%!
Those are amazing sales increases that no business can afford to ignore. And by using the proven formula I've outlined in this article, you should be able to make a real difference to your sales. Remember... even just one small tweak to your headline can make all the difference!