The only purpose of a sales letter is to motivate visitors to take action. Most sales letters on the Web today motivate visitors to abandon the site immediately – not the action the writer of the copy had in mind, but a predictable result when you study the behavior of Internet users.
You only have a few seconds to engage the reader’s heart and mind in the Internet sales process. You can’t waste words or screen views if you hope to establish the degree of trust and rapport that’s necessary for closing an online sale.
Most sales letters fall flat on their faces. Here are 18 action steps to help you write sales letters that triple your conversions:
1. Your sales letter needs a hook at the top of the page. Don’t make visitors scroll down the page to find out if you have a solution to their problem. Internet users have countless options for how to spend their time online. If you take too long to get to the point, visitors will take their money somewhere else.
Your headline will make or break you. Tell visitors immediately about the benefits of buying your product or service. Get right to the point. Make sure visitors don’t have to scroll down the page to find out what the benefits are. Make sure they see it on the first page view.
2. Focus on a single action you want the reader to take. Resist the temptation to talk about Step Two – your sales page should only have a Step One. Write down the action you want visitors to take. If you can’t describe that action in a couple of words – one brief sentence at the most – you need to sharpen your focus.
3. Keep your paragraphs short. Endless blocks of text aren’t fun to read, and they’re hard on the eyes. Your paragraphs should contain no more than three or four sentences. Make sure you have enough white space around each paragraph. This makes reading easier and more pleasant, enabling you to pull the reader along to the end. An occasional paragraph with only one sentence helps to draw the visitor’s attention to your most important content.
4. Vary the length and type of sentences in your sales letter. Few sentences should contain more than twelve or thirteen words. Nothing causes visitors to abandon a site more quickly than sales copy that drones on and on as if it had been written by someone who just wanted to get the job over with. Long sentences should be followed by short sentences to keep readers on their toes. Try it. It works. See what I mean?
5. Short words are better than long words. Less than 20% of your words should be three syllables or more. Don’t tell prospects how their lives will be improved by utilizing your product. Let prospects see themselves using your product. Never finalize something – finish it or end it.
Shorter words are almost always more powerful than their longer synonyms. They sound truer, too. When speakers want to hide behind their words, they use the longest and least familiar words in the dictionary.
Foggy language kills your conversions ratio. The problem is that even when you have nothing to hide, people will automatically think you’re trying to cover something up if you let fog creep into your copy. Be yourself. Customers want to trust you.
6. Use verbs in the active voice. Don’t tell prospects how their lives will be improved by your product. Tell them how your product improves lives. Keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum. Delete almost all words ending in ―-ly. Don’t overdo the superlatives. Cut down on ―-est words.
7. Use bullets. Bullets are the best way to guide the reader’s attention. Bullets also help you focus your writing. Bullets are the perfect format for writing sentence fragments, and fragments are often easier for the mind to digest. Bullets are the best way to emphasize key points or action steps. Indenting bullets also helps to break the monotony of endless blocks of texts. This refreshes readers and pulls them along to the end of the sales letter.
8. Personalize your sales letter by writing in a warm, casual tone. Imagine you’re talking to a trusted friend. When you get stuck with a phrase, step away from it for a moment. Trying too hard to write a phrase can complicate it beyond hope. When you get stuck, ask yourself how you would say it to a friend. Write it that way. This technique will smooth out the rough edges in your writing.
Let visitors know who you really are. Express your ideas in warm, simple language. Imagine you’re writing to a trusted friend. How would you tell a friend about the benefits of your product or service?
You don’t hard-sell your friends. When you’re convinced that something can make their lives better, you burn with a passion to let them in on the secret. You want them to enjoy the same benefits that you enjoy by using something. Write every sales letter as if you were writing to your best friend. Let customers know you care.
9. Use smooth transitions from one paragraph to the next. Good transitions keep readers curious and guide them to the end of the sales copy. When you finish your first draft, cut and paste until you get it right.
Your sales letter shouldn’t be longer than a single letter-size page. Print it out and cut it into strips – one sentence on each strip. This will give you a better feel for how to develop your ideas. You’ll immediately see how to improve your paragraph transitions, and you’ll develop a keener eye for how to build individual sentences into paragraphs.
You’ll notice that a sentence at the bottom would make more sense at the top. You may realize that a sentence at the top of your copy doesn’t grab your attention; it needs to be rewritten or deleted. I don’t bother to do this with longer documents, but you can get a new angle on things by taking a few moments to try this technique with your sales letters.
10. Don’t overwhelm the reader with product information. Talk about features and advantages only in connection with the benefits they create for customers. You need to establish your expertise, but too much factual data in a sales letter will cause most visitors to leave.
Be warm and friendly, but don’t get carried away by a flood of emotion that will ring false in the minds of your readers. Being passionate about your product doesn’t mean you punctuate every sentence with an exclamation point. Concentrate on telling visitors about the benefits and your product will sell itself.
11. Double check your spelling and grammar. Spelling and grammar mistakes create the impression that you’re unprofessional, or even worse, unprepared to offer a reliable solution. The best writers know they have to get some distance from what they’ve written before they review and edit.
When you finish your first draft, put it away overnight. Looking at it the next day with fresh eyes will help you see where it needs to be beefed up and where it needs to be toned down. Read it aloud to make sure it moves smoothly.
12. Create a sense of urgency. Your sales letter must tell visitors what they stand to gain by acting now. If you don’t give visitors a clear idea of why they need to buy now, you’ll lose them.
The trick is to motivate readers to want to change something. You can’t make them change – you’ll drive them away as soon as you try to change them. The trick is to motivate them to want to change themselves.
13. Don’t overdo bold type and colors. A little goes a long way—too much will create an unprofessional image that turns readers off. Don’t put your name in bold letters. Use bold type to help readers focus on why they should buy whatever it is that you’re selling.
14. Tell a story that customers can relate to. An anecdote or story is the best way to personalize a sales letter. Customer success stories play a crucial role in convincing visitors to buy. Tell a story about how your product or service made a difference in the life of a customer.
15. Leave an impression. Create a call to action that convinces potential customers to do something. Always seal the deal with links to a secure-payment page where customers can make their purchase. Don’t oversell your product or service. Sell the next action step in the sales process and concentrate on building rapport and trust. A sales letter must be used as a sales tool, not as a sales pitch.
16. Don’t thank the reader two or three times. Once is enough. If you must say something, tell readers that you appreciate their time and attention. Don’t apologize for anything. Don’t say – thanks for the opportunity. Tell customers how your product or service can add value to their lives and skip the rest.
17. Ask a friend to proofread your sales copy. Your friend’s feedback can be a key to writing more powerful sales letters. When visitors arrive at your sales page, they expect to meet a salesperson. Let them find a friend instead, and they will want to come back.
18. Ask for feedback from as many people as possible. Accepting criticism and learning from mistakes is the key to everything we do in life.
Think of how you read copy on the Internet. In most cases, you aren’t interested in reading every word. You scan the copy as quickly and as effortlessly as you can. You usually make a decision in just a few seconds. If you find the copy convincing, you take the next action. You sign up for a free service or buy something. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in just a few seconds, you leave the site. And if you’re like most people, you won’t go back.