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Forget Everything Your English Teacher Taught You…
And Instead, Write A Landing Page That Makes You Money
…maybe don’t forget everything. (You still want to spell correctly, use the correct word tense, and not get confused on there, their, or they’re – but as far as “split infinitives,” ya, really don’t care that much.)
Before we get into the details of writing sales copy, let’s first define it. One of the best explanations comes from sales copywriter pro, Henneke Duistermaat:
“Sales copy aims to persuade a reader to take a specific action – to buy a product, inquire about your service, join your email list, download a free report, or follow you on social media.”
As you can see, sales copy is much broader than you might think. In fact, you could argue that people use “sales copy” (or sales copy techniques) frequently in their daily life…
- Want that promotion? Take Mr. Jones, your boss, out for a round of golf and conversationally persuade him you’re the best candidate.
- Want the corner booth? Sweet talk Sean, the host, and tell him it’s a special romantic evening for you and your date and could the two of you please take that nice large corner table.
- Want your assistant to take on a new task? When writing down the details of the new assignment, give an explanation of the specific skills Ms. LaPorte possesses that will allow her to excel at the additional responsibility.
- Want the son to mow the lawn? Offer the car for his use on Saturday night so he doesn’t have to do the weekly pleading.
As you can see, we use sales copy (or techniques) in our daily life without even thinking about it. In a nutshell, sales copy is simply persuasion in written form.
For the purpose of this article, however, let’s narrow down the broad use of sales copy. Let’s focus on writing what’s called a “sales page” or a “sales landing page.”
Have you ever clicked on a Facebook ad and been directed to a web page that further explains what was featured on the ad? These are called landing pages. The experts who write these landing pages are masters of using persuasive sales copy. And you can be, too!
Just search “landing page” on Amazon and start reading the 700+ books that they list. Not a problem…
What? Don’t have time for that?
Ok, let’s sum up the basics of what you need to know to start selling online and let those 700 books wait.
But when you’re done reading this blog, and you would like a more comprehensive document to continue your persuasive writing skills, I recommend one book that is not only one of the best sales copy books ever written, but also loads of fun reading.
And that book is, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley.
This Wall Street Journal bestselling book should be required reading for anyone who puts “pen to paper” (or these days, “fingers to keyboards”).
One of the main takeaways from her book is a simple formula:
Utility X Inspiration X Empathy = Quality Content
Here’s the breakdown of what she means:
- Utility – provide something to the prospect that truly matters to them – make their life easier, ease their pain, or help them in some manner
- Inspiration – this relates to your written copy – it must be creative or use data (or both), be well-written, nicely designed, and present a fresh idea
- Empathy – here you tirelessly focus on the prospect – your entire copy must be seen through the eyes of the customer
And remember your math teacher’s lesson? If you put a zero in any place holder in the above formula, the answer will always be zero. Your sales copy must contain Utility AND Inspiration AND Empathy in order to make a connection to your audience. And hopefully, that connection will persuade them to click and buy.
If you’d like to read more about Ann’s success story, click here.
And get more lazer-sharp insights from this ingenious marketer on her web page by clicking here.
So as promised, let’s sum up what you need in your successful landing page. Here’s a basic blueprint that can get your started:
The importance of a strong, creative headline can’t be overstated. We all are inundated daily with content. In December of 2009, the New York Times reported that according to the researchers at the University of California, the average American consumes about 34 gigabytes of data and information each day.
With that much content being shown to us each day, how in the world do you get a chance to get your landing page read?
You make a GREAT first impression – with your headline!
Following is a shortlist of ways you can do this:
- Focus on the most important benefit of your product – and only one – keep it direct
- Make it catchy – use rhyming words, or outlandish statements – make it fun
- Use numbers – haven’t you clicked on the offer “17 Products You Need in Your Kitchen?”
- Be sure to speak to your specific audience – while it may seem wise to try and talk to a broad audience (to encourage more people), it’s not
- Use strong adjectives – “great, good, awesome” will not cut it
- And overall, create interest – your headline should grab your audience and not let go
It’s often wise to follow the headline with a subheading. While a subhead is not necessarily, it does allow you to broaden your headline concept, answer a question proposed in the headline, or create even more interest.
Just remember, the headline area is an extremely valuable landing page “real estate.” If a subhead doesn’t add value or interest, forget it and get onto the lead.
The lead is just that…a lead into your landing page. It’s an introduction – an enticement.
Obviously, continue the theme of the headline with your lead. If your headline is serious, then so should your lead be. If your headline is cute or mysterious, continue that essence as well. In other words, there shouldn’t be a disconnect between the headline and the lead. In fact, your entire landing page should flow. It should grab the reader and take him or her down a written path.
But the lead is the starting place of the path. Are you going to tell a story about how a certain product or service you used helped “save you?”
(And there are many ways of being saved – financially, emotionally, finding purpose, or even how a product saved your garden from weeds and you are now the envy of the neighborhood. It doesn’t always have to be a dramatic, “I’ve been SAVED,” moment.)
Maybe your lead shares facts and statistics of how many people benefited from a product. Or introduces a famous person who recommends (or came up with) the product.
The important thing to remember is to start with the “can’t ignore” headline and build upon its message through an interesting lead – one which the prospect will get caught up reading.
You will need to demonstrate your authority to inform your audience about the product or service.
You can do this by providing the following:
- Years in business
- Certificates earned
- Level of education
- Number of current customers
- Awards you or your product has received
- Number of people helped
If you are relatively new in the sales arena, you can gain authority in several less conventional methods
- Reference your previously written clear and compelling blogs, articles and other published items.
- Reference your YouTube videos on the subject, number of followers, etc.
- Make note of your association with authority, examples being: pictures with famous people,
members of masterminds with industry leaders, etc.
Keep it lite and simple. Demonstrate you have enough knowledge to help others confidently. Just enough to prove you are worth listening to but not too much that you gloat.
Body with Benefits
Benefits are where the rubber meets the road. Up until you start weaving benefits into the body of your landing page, you are basically providing an intriguing storyline for your prospect to become engaged with and to follow.
Now the challenge is to have the reader see him/herself in the story. How? By bringing up benefits.
Benefits are often thought of as bullet points, but aren’t always listed as the typical
- Bullet point #1
- Bullet point #2
- Bullet point #3, etc.
Instead, think of benefit bullet points as a way to 1) list out the features of the product, 2) list the benefits of these features, 3) list the benefits these features bring to the reader, 4) list what amazing outcome these benefits bring to the reader. Here’s a “formula” way of remembering this:
<feature>, <benefit of feature>, <benefit to reader>, <amazing positive outcome for reader>
Let me provide you with an example:
Our just released earbuds have the newest sound canceling capabilities so when you put them in, you will hear only your chosen soundtrack – ahhh…the joy!
From here, you can go on to list (perhaps in a traditional bullet list) more benefits with positive outcomes:
Our sound-canceling earbuds will allow you to…
- Enjoy your plane ride without hearing that crying baby
- Take your jog through city without noticing the noisy traffic
- Vacuum the house while enjoying your favorite book
- And so much more – you’ll wonder how you got along without them
Again, this is the place to show your readers what life will be like with your product. Make it so enticing (yet true) that the prospect visualizes themselves already enjoying their sound-cancelling earbuds.
Be creative about how you sprinkle benefits throughout the entire landing page. Don’t force it upon the reader, but keep it creative and flowing from the beginning of the body throughout the remainder of the landing page.
Now comes the time to be thinking about testimonials. While there still is a place for the typical written testimonial signed “Julie from New York,” testimonials have gotten a facelift over the recent years.
Perhaps the most powerful of the “new testimonial formats” are video testimonials. Grab these whenever and wherever you can get them. If you’re creating a landing page for your own product, ask anyone you can to create a video testimonial for you. If you’re creating a landing page for a client, then strongly encourage your client to do the same.
These video testimonials should NOT be formal or look like they’ve been produced in a studio – whew! Tell you customers to simply grab their phone and shoot a short 30-second video about your product. Encourage them to share just how this product changed their life. It should be real, it shouldn’t be read from a script, and it should be engaging and/or heartfelt.
The other new testimonial format that has gained quite a bit of traction over the last couple of years – social media testimonials. Clients can comment about how pleased they are about the product they’ve purchased on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media channel. The savvy marketer will take a screenshot of these comments and place them on the landing page as a testimonial. Not only do they provide the needed testimonials, but they also inherently bring visual interest to the page.
If you are a little shy on clients (perhaps launching a brand new product with a new company), then researching statistics or quotes from famous people can help you here. Think of an angle your product addresses and go and look for supportive articles or quotes. Certainly not as good as a video from a satisfied customer who announces just how much money they’ve made with your product, but statistics and/or quotes will help get you started.
Offer, Bonuses, and Call-to-Action
Here is where you’ve been heading all along…
…selling your product.
It is time to reveal the exact offer you have for your prospect. As with the other components of a landing page, there is an art to describing the offer as well.
You may have heard the offer being called the “stack.” And perhaps because there is almost always a visual image of what the prospect is going to receive – and often there is more than one item being sold – thus, a pictorial “stacked” image is often used.
Bonuses (and/or premiums) are included here. Customers have gotten so used to the added bonus that it is almost mandatory to include them in your offer. In fact, it is often said that the bonuses or premiums should by themselves be worth the purchase price, making it a no-brainer purchase for the prospect.
Right after the image and explanation of the offer, is the place for the call-to-action button. (Many marketers will place call-to-action buttons much earlier in the landing page, but you will at least need to have one placed after the stack.)
The call-to-action needs to be specific and direct. Don’t simply say, “Click Here for the Great Offer.” Instead – in the case of our earbuds example, “Get My Best Earbuds Now!”
Be sure to provide the call-to-action buttons throughout the landing page; you never know when the prospect might be convinced and ready to buy.
Urgency and Scarcity
By now, you hopefully have convinced a high percentage of your readers of the value and benefits of your product. And your item is flying off the shelf!
But you will still have some prospects holding back. Here’s where urgency and scarcity can help.
Warning: While both urgency and scarcity are excellent marketing tools – they need to be truthful!
Use urgency for when you have a sale that is ending soon or the price is going up, etc. Use scarcity when you have only a certain number of products to sell.
However, nothing will hurt your reputation more than for someone to see your “urgent price increase ad” – three months later with the same low price. And in these days of social media reviews – it is always best to be telling the truth.
Guarantee, Offer Restate, and P.S.
Time to start summing things up. When doing so, you have to present a logical conclusion as well as trying your best to reign in the last of the holdouts.
The guarantee is a must-have in today’s marketing world. It sets aside the feeling of risk for the prospect. Even if writing for a client reluctant in providing a money-back guarantee, it’s your job to convince him or her the money that they may have to return far outweighs the amount of purchases they will obtain due to the relieved risk provided by the guarantee.
Easy part is next – restate the offer. Don’t change it from the previous offer you presented. You need to be consistent with the offer so there is no second-guessing by the prospect. It’s all about building trust with the client.
While you may not remember the last time you physically hand-wrote a letter, it used to be typical to end a personal letter with a postscript – a P.S. This is the place to restate what is not only important – but also, what is it that you want your client to remember.
Just like your headline is important landing page real estate, so is your P.S. The beginning and the end – bookend your landing page with the best stuff you have.
Let’s end with advice from Ann Handley, “Less is More.” While it’s tempting to share everything that is important regarding your product, don’t write so much that your client becomes overwhelmed.
Learn what’s really important to your client, and write like you’re talking directly to them. Some of the best advice ever given regarding landing pages is to write like you’re talking to your best friend – don’t write like a marketer. Learn that skill, use the above format, and you’re off to becoming a landing page expert.