Writing Sales Copy for SEO
A while back I posted a blog about the role that content plays in a modern SEO strategy. One point I briefly alluded to was that it is multifaceted, and in this blog I hope to expand on one of those facets…content as a sales tool!
I know for many people reading sales copy is bad enough, so the prospect of reading about the creation of sales copy is likely to sound about as appealing as having your fingers repeatedly slammed in a door Joe Pasquale reads extracts from '50 Shades of Grey' to you. However, I'm here to change that false perception, and show you how it is possible to write captivating and compelling sales copy.
How to write a great sales page:
Writing sales copy for a product you're going to sell online is not easy. In the offline environment if you're pitching to a product or service to someone, at least you have the opportunity to engage with them, answer questions and allay concerns. Online, you don't get those opportunities. You have to answer all prospective questions a buyer might have before they've even had the time to think of them. For the best sales copy the most important question for many consumers, 'How much does it cost?', will be irrelevant – the buyer will want the product, whatever the cost.
As I mentioned, when selling an item online through a sales page you generally miss the opportunity to interact with the visitor. For this reasons it's necessary to anticipate the potential objections that the average visitor would have to purchasing a product at your site. Here is a list of common hurdles that a user might encounter in the online purchasing environment:
- "You don't understand my problem."
- "How do I know you're qualified?"
- "I don't believe you."
- "I don't need it right now."
- "It won't work for me."
- "What happens if I don't like it."
- "I can't afford it."
Sales copy must address some, or preferably all, of those aforementioned objections. While this is not an easy process, in this blog I'll outline a template you can apply to your sales copy to improve just how effective it can be. It is based on the 12-Step sales letter formula outlined by David Frey.
- Get Attention
People have short attention spans, and this is exemplified by the nature with which people browse the web – people don't read, they skim – particularly shoppers. You have to grab their attention quickly, and there are three basic ways you can do this.
- 'How To' headlines – People want to know how to solve problems. A 'How To' headline with a powerful benefit will illustrate that your product really can get things done.
- 'Secrets of…Revealed' – Knowledge is power, and with a 'Secrets of' headline you are offering you readers access to insider information.
- 'Warning!' headlines – The majority of people have an innate fear of loss, and with a 'Warning' headline you can leverage this into your sales copy.
- Identify the problem
Most of the time people will invest in your product or service because it helps them overcome a problem they are having. In your sales copy you need to identify that problem, and empathise with it. The easiest way to do this is to demonstrate that you personally have encountered the same problem.
- Provide the solution
Once you have identified the problem and built an empathy with the reader, you must illustrate that you have the solution to that problem. Obviously, your product is the solution.
- Present your credentials
Naturally, people are cynical about sales pitches. It's easy to say you have the solution to their problem, but unless you can back that up with evidence then you will struggle to convert. List successful case studies, businesses you've worked with or who use your product, how long you've been in the field etc. Display your expertise and make the readers understand that you are an expert.
- Show the benefits
At this point people often list the features of their products or service. The truth is, at this point buyers don't care about what you or your product can do, but they need to know what it can do for them.
Let's say, for example, that have a business offering language tutoring online. Instead of listing the modules that would be taught on the course, it would be better list the future career opportunities that are open to those who speak multiple languages, the chance to work abroad, the increased earning potential and general increased life opportunities etc.
It's a fact that people will purchase a product based on a sole benefit, so you need to make sure you cover every possible benefit that your product offers.
- Give social proof
I have spoken about the importance of social proof before, but what it comes down is that you need to illustrate credibility. Herd mentality is obvious amongst online shoppers, so if you can show that other people have bought and endorsed your product or service, that is likely to have a big impact on your eventual conversion rate.
- Make your offer
Why should the visitor to your site buy the product with you and not with your competitor? What are you offering that they aren't? Without a great offer, it is unlikely that your sales copy, no matter how good, will achieve its full potential. Here's a little tip…vivid, intense explanations increase the perceived value of the offer to the reader. Make them think they'd be crazy not to take you up on your offer.
- Give a guarantee
To make you offer completely irresistible, all you have to do is take the risk out of the purchase – you do this with a guarantee. If you offer a complete money back guarantee over a certain time period, or if a user is not fully satisfied, then you demonstrate your confidence in the product and make the visitors more confident about purchasing the product themselves.
- Inject scarcity
Use scarcity as an incentive to motivate people reading the sales copy into making a purchase there and then. Let me give you an example I genuinely experienced:
I was in a phone shop wanting to purchase a new phone. After the salesman had explained in not so subtle detail the qualities of the phone and the contract he was trying to sell, I expressed a mild interest. Surprise, surprise…he suddenly remembered there was only one of these phones left in stock. He then called a colleague over and said, "The offer on [phone XXX] expires tomorrow, doesn't it?" The colleague responded with initial bemusement, but after he realised what was going on, he replied, "Oh yeah, that deal stops tomorrow." Scarcity in motion…
Okay, so this was the clumsiest, most contrived example of scarcity I have ever experienced, but when used properly it is a powerful selling technique.
- Include a call to action
Clearly inform the reader of your sales copy what is required to make a purchase. At this point, if you have included all the steps outlined above, the reader will be in the palm of your hand. For this reason, it's best to be action orientated and completely clear about the necessary steps a person needs to take to complete a conversion. "Pick up the phone and call now", "Click the buy now button and change your life" etc.
- Give a warning
The best sales copy doesn't end after the call to action, you can continue to leverage peoples 'fear of loss' by reminding them of the consequences if they don't act now.
- Close with a reminder
It's a little known fact that a P.S. at the end of a sales letter is often the third most read element of that letter? The same principle applies to online sales copy. In the P.S. section, remind them of your irresistible offer, the scarcity of your product and the key benefits that you believe would be of most interest to the user. If you've followed all the steps I've outlined in this post, then this should absolutely seal the deal.
I hope this has been useful for you! Happy selling.
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