How to Write A Website Sales Page
A job copywriters are regularly asked to perform is writing website sales pages. Such pages are widely used across the Internet, to sell products including books and e-books, training courses, instruction manuals, computer software, professional services, business opportunities, health and dietary products, tools and gadgets, and so on.
This type of writing can be lucrative, and the top writers in this field - whose work generates many thousands of pounds' worth of business for their clients - command correspondingly high fees.
Although at first sight writing an online sales page can be a daunting proposition, the job is really not much different from writing a traditional sales letter. The basic AIDA principle (attract ATTENTION, arouse INTEREST, stimulate the DESIRE to purchase, call the reader to ACTION) still applies. You just have to adapt this to allow for the different nature of the Internet.
As you will soon discover if you research this subject online, there are endless theories and 'systems' for creating the perfect sales website. We prefer to keep things simple, so here is our basic seven-step plan for creating a successful online sales page.
1. Know Your Target Audience
This is an important and frequently overlooked step in all sales letter writing, but in writing online sales sites in particular. Literally, anyone in the world can visit a website, but the only ones who are of interest to your client will be (a) those who have a need or interest in the product or service on offer, and (b) have the means to pay for it. It is therefore very important to understand who your client wants to target and match the tone and content of the copy to that particular group of people.
2. Create an Attention-Grabbing Headline
This is arguably the most important ingredient of any sales page. Because of the nature of the Internet, you have only a second or two to convince visitors to stay and read on before they click away somewhere else.
The aim of the headline is to attract the ATTENTION (the first A of AIDA) of the target readers as described earlier and persuade them to read on. There are many different types of headline you can use. Below we have set out some of the most popular:
How to - This type of headline immediately gets to the crux of the issue, such as, 'How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off - for Good!' Sometimes the actual words 'How to' are omitted: 'Get That Job You Always Dreamed Of!'
Question - Questions are good for identifying target readers and grabbing their attention. For example, 'Are you worried about filing your tax return this year?'
Command - Turn the key benefit offered by your client into a commanding headline:
'Stop rushing through life.' 'Make more money this month.' 'Feel better about yourself.'
Secret - Secrets aren't really secrets if you're telling the whole world about them, but people like to feel they will learn something that no one else knows such as, 'The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire in Only 12 Months'.
Deadline - Putting one of these in your heading will give it added urgency: 'Save up to 50% on your motor insurance if you act today!' Even just using the word 'Now' has been shown to increase response rates: 'Download this eye-opening report now!'
Free - In emails you need to be cautious about using this word because of spam filters, but in website headlines, it can be extremely effective. Everyone loves getting 'something for nothing', and using the word 'free' can be a powerful attention-grabber: 'Get a free quotation today!'
Quotes/Testimonials - If you simply say a product or service is brilliant, people are unlikely to believe you. But put a testimonial (in quotes) and this can be highly effective: 'I Lost 20 Pounds in 20 days Following this Easy Diet!' Of course, to retain credibility you must then reveal whom the quote is from.
Worth the Wait - Make your headline sound as though it's 'just the thing' that everyone has been waiting for, such as 'Finally, You Can Discover the Truth About Permanent Weight Loss.'
Don't Be Left Out - One very popular headline on web sales pages begins, 'Who else wants to..?' This is effective because it implies that there is already a small, select group of people who are reaping the benefits of the product or service in question.
Keep your headlines as concise as possible - about 12 words is the usual maximum. Use plenty of action words such as save, make, get, act, see and do. Cut out any unnecessary words and 'padding'.
Because the headline is so crucial, it's important to devote some time to it. Don't be satisfied with the first idea that comes into your mind. Try to come up with 10 or - even better - 20 headlines, and pick the best. If possible, ask a colleague or family member for their opinion as well.
3. Talk About the Problem
Having gained the reader's ATTENTION, the next step is to arouse his INTEREST by showing him how what you have to offer is relevant to him and his problem. One way of doing this is by asking negative and then positive questions. For example:
Do you hate living in the 9-to-5 rat race? Do you wake up each morning dreading going to work?
Are you tired of working for somebody else?
Would you like to be your own boss? Would you love it if you never had to drive to work again? Do you want to learn how you can do this?
In this example, the questions first focus on where the reader is right now - unhappy in their job - and then on where they want to be - working from home. This can be a good way of drawing your prospect into the page.
Also in this section, you might explain why your client is qualified to talk about this product, and what he or his company has done for others in this field. You might tell a story about a happy customer, or talk in more detail about the problem that your client's product can relieve. Once your prospect is convinced that you understand his problem, you can move on to the next step, which is where you offer a solution.
4. Set Out the Benefits
In this section, you talk about what the product or service can do for the prospect. As ever, it's important to focus not on features - what the product is, how it looks - but rather on the benefits it will confer on the buyer. Your aim in this section - which will take up most of the rest of the page - is to show how your client's product or service will solve the problem in question, and how the prospect's life will be improved as a result. This is where (using the AIDA model once again) you stimulate the prospect's DESIRE to purchase. Typically on website sales pages benefits are set out in the form of bullet points (see the example sales letter below).
5. Insert Testimonials
You should intersperse testimonials throughout the sales page, not just at the end. They should be genuine testimonials from people who have used the product or service in question and liked it. Your client should be able to provide these for you.
Testimonials are particularly important on website sales pages, where people often have an exaggerated fear of being 'scammed'. Prospects need plenty of reassurance before they will turn into buyers, and for this reason, there should be at least three testimonials, preferably more.
6. Offer a Guarantee
For similar reasons it is important to offer prospective customers a guarantee, especially if you are asking them to buy off the page. People are naturally skeptical of claims made on websites, so to get them to order - or even just ask for a free report - you need to persuade them that they are not taking any risks by doing this. An unconditional money-back guarantee is the best way of achieving this. Of course, you will need to liaise with your client over how exactly this is worded.
And while on the subject of reassuring prospects, it can also be a good idea to include on the sales page a 'real world' contact address and - if your client doesn't have a problem with this - a phone number. Many people like to browse online, but still, prefer to speak to a human being before proceeding with their purchase.
7. Ask for the Sale
Now is the time for the final A of AIDA - calling the reader to ACTION. You should aim to make it as easy as possible for your prospect to buy, and ask for the sale. Tell the prospect exactly how to order, how it will be delivered, how fast they will receive it, and how quick and easy the ordering process is. Include several links and several different methods of payment. Try to streamline the ordering process so that the prospect has to click the minimum possible number of links to make the final purchase. Obviously, you will need to liaise with your client and/or his web designer over this.
- With longer sales pages it can be a good idea to include 'Buy Now' links at various points throughout your copy. That way, you avoid annoying people who have already decided to buy and can carry on trying to persuade those who are still undecided.
The best way to learn to write online sales pages is, of course, to study and analyze successful ones. In a moment we will suggest a method for easily finding such pages. But first, on the next page is an example sales page which illustrates the seven-point plan set out above. This is an abridged version of the actual page, which aimed to sell a downloadable guide to people wanting to give up smoking. It was written by a UK copywriter, though - as you might guess when you read it - it was aimed principally at a US readership. When copywriting for websites that sell internationally you will often be asked to do this, as the US is by some distance the world's biggest marketplace.
START OF WEBSITE SALES PAGE
STOP SMOKING IN 28 DAYS OR LESS!
"Give Me Half an Hour and I'll Give You a Tested Battle Plan to Help You Stop Smoking Today!"
I was in your shoes once. Yes, I was… I did pick up a smoking habit a long time ago that I just couldn't kick. It was nothing but extremely embarrassing...
...But I quit, and I quit in just four steps. I did it because I had a firm decision on what I wanted to do and I got prepared. I feel great, and you can too. How would you feel if you realize that the last cigarette that you had... is the last cigarette you'll EVER have!? Scary? A little, I think. But exciting? DEFINITELY!
Listen, folks, if you want to kick the smoking habit for good...
"You CAN Do It! How to FINALLY Stop Smoking...in 28 Days or Less!"
My family and friends didn't think that I could quit smoking, but they didn't know that I had already made up a battle plan to ATTACK my addiction to cigarettes.
No-one WANTS to be a chain-smoker. Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes or any other such thing is a bad habit. But the only people who know how difficult it is to quit smoking are the people who have tried it. And I am one who knows.
I also know that YOU CAN DO IT, too!
How about a Four-Step Plan to defeat your nicotine dependency...starting today!
"Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less!" is the exact plan that I thrived upon to kick my habit for good. It's an easy-to-read, thoroughly researched, step-by-step, encouraging BATTLE PLAN to stomp out those cigarettes from your life - forever!
Everyone needs a little help. I found out the extremely hard way that yearning to quit without a little help is almost impossible.
It wasn't until I dug down... did some heavy research... and got PREPARED, all by myself, for my new smoke-free healthy lifestyle that I was finally able to quit.
Luckily for you, I've got all that necessary work down in print for you to see and grasp. There will be no surprises on your way to becoming a non-smoker.
"Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less" is cram-packed with essential information. For starters, you'll learn…
- The SIX MAIN REASONS why people start to smoke, and which, certainly, apply to you. (Pages 5 and 6)
- What proportion of people living in industrialized nations die from smoking-related illnesses. I guarantee you'll be amazed by this! (Page 10)
- The number of years on average a smokers' life expectancy is reduced. (Ten years? You're not even close!) (Page 10)
- How smoking can cause IMPOTENCY in men and reduced fertility/premature menopause in women. (Page 10)
- Why you MUST stop smoking from this moment if you want to have healthy eyesight. This little-known fact about the high chances of losing your sight if you are a habitual smoker WILL shock you! (Page 11)
- SEVEN MORE COMPELLING REASONS for giving up smoking - and not one of them has anything to do with your own health! (Pages 11 and 12)
But of course, knowing all this is no help unless you have a strategy for giving up. And my manual reveals not just one but A WHOLE ARSENAL of powerful techniques for quitting.
Here are just a few of the things you'll learn…
- The GOF Method - my unique, patented method for overcoming withdrawal symptoms. A NEVER REVEALED IN PRINT BEFORE, this is a very strong psychological method which is worth the price of the manual alone! (Page 26)
- The five main types of anti-smoking medication, and how much each of them will improve your chances of quitting permanently. (Page 27)
- The one medication studies have repeatedly found is TWICE as effective as any other. (Page 27)
- How self-hypnosis can help you to give up smoking - and where you can obtain a tailor-made self-hypnosis script you can use as often as you like for UNDER $15! (Page 30)
- A simple method you can use to ensure your whole family is four-square behind your battle to quit. Here's a clue - it involves the contents of your purse or wallet! (Page 31)
BUT WAIT JUST A SECOND. Here's where many people - and many so-called experts - get it wrong!
They forget that giving up smoking involves more than just quitting the evil weed - it requires other changes to your lifestyle as well.
And unless you make these changes, your chances of quitting permanently are seriously reduced. So my guide also reveals…
- Why you should get rid of EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOME AND IN YOUR LIFE that reminds you of smoking. (Page 36)
- How you can make use of exercise to your benefit when quitting. (Page 35)
- Why eating a healthy diet will be a major factor in your success - plus what foods to stick with and what to stay clear of on your journey to becoming a non-smoker (Pages 38-40)
- THE TRUTH about stopping smoking and putting on weight (it's NOT inevitable, and even if you do put on a few pounds the chances are you will soon lose it again!) (Page 37)
- Why many smokers have trouble sleeping - and how you can get a great night's sleep every night by following a few simple guidelines. (Pages 40-43)
- Eight Drastic Changes you WILL observe within weeks of giving up smoking - and by the end of the 28 Days in the title of this manual! (Page 47)
And there's still MUCH, MUCH MORE I haven't had time to tell you about here!
"Now TELL Me! Are you ready to quit smoking for the LAST TIME!?"
I'm going to tell you right away... while you are putting up your best foot forward to stay away from cigarettes, you are, certainly, not going to want ANY surprises.
You do NOT want to be reminded of how much you want to smoke every time you see that favorite chair that you used to burn a cigarette in each night. For this situation...
...just turn to page 25!
It's in there. I decided to write this book because I knew that being prepared is incredibly empowering. It can actually make the difference.
But don't just take MY word for it! Read these unsolicited testimonials - just a few from the many hundreds in my publisher's mailbag - from people who successfully quit smoking - after reading the advice in my manual:
[INSERT TESTIMONIALS HERE]
So there it is. The cravings are going to come. You just need to know how to deal with them.
If you get my report today, you could, certainly, be a non-smoker by the next day. I won't kid you it'll be easy - it certainly wasn't for me - but with the right knowledge, preparation and application, tomorrow could be your first smoke-free day in a brand new SMOKE-FREE LIFETIME!
I spent a lot of time putting this report together and it's not free. So, how much is my research and time worth to you?
How about counting it thousands less than what you'll spend on burning cigarettes this year alone?
In fact, it wouldn't shock me if it would be less than what you'll spend on cigarettes this month.
Spend just $xx.xx today and you will get my Four-Step Battle Plan, "Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less!" within minutes. You can download it straight to your device and start getting rid of your addiction today. It's a small price to pay for beating your dependency and regaining your quality of life.
Even so, I don't want you to feel that you're taking any chances at all in ordering my guide. Your health is far too important for me to jeopardize in that way. So, in collaboration with my publishers, I'm offering you the following incredible, no-risk guarantee…
[Insert Guarantee Here]
That's it, then. The talking is over - it's time to make your choice. So give yourself the best present anyone could give - the gift of life itself. To immediately order "Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less", just click on the button below right away…
[ORDER NOW BUTTON]
Yours in good health,
MICHAEL H. SMITH
"Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less"
* * *
END OF WEBSITE SALES PAGE
The above sales page is typical of many that are written for the web. It may perhaps be a little 'cheesy' for your taste, but it was successful in generating thousands of sales for its publisher. The page illustrates many of the principles of Internet writing set out in this article, including using short sentences and paragraphs, addressing the reader directly (plenty of 'you copy'), using sub-headings and bullet-point lists to break up the text, and so on. Let's also analyze it from the perspective of the seven-point plan for creating a website sales page set out earlier.
1. Know Your Target Audience
No problem here. The author is clearly aiming at smokers, and specifically at smokers who want to give up.
2. Create an Attention-Grabbing Headline
The headline is also the title of the manual: 'Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less'. This is a concise and punchy 'how to' type heading. Note also the sub-heading, which expands on the promise set out in the main headline.
3. Talk About the Problem
In the first part of the letter, the writer talks about his own experience of trying to give up smoking. He explains how hard he found it, how he researched the subject, and how what he learned helped him finally to give up. This part of the page aims to show the prospect that the writer understands his problem and that he has the knowledge and experience to offer a solution for it.
4. Set Out the Benefits
In this section of the page - which we have abridged somewhat - the writer sets out the benefits the prospect will enjoy through owning the manual. As is usual on web pages, these are set out in bullet point form, with plenty of 'you copy' to draw the reader in. Notice also how page numbers are given for each item - this helps reassure the prospect that if he buys the guide he WILL find this actual information on the pages concerned.
5. Insert Testimonials
In the example, the copywriter has written 'Insert Testimonials Here'. Either the client or his web designer will do this later. In the actual sales page, testimonials were interspersed throughout the copy.
6. Offer a Guarantee
Again, in the example, the copywriter has written 'Insert Guarantee Here'. The guarantee is a very important component of any website sales page, but it needs to be drafted in consultation with your client. You must be very careful to avoid making promises your client is unable to meet.
7. Ask for the Sale
At the end of the page, that is exactly what the writer does. The instruction couldn't be clearer: ' To order "Stop Smoking in 28 Days or Less" RIGHT NOW, just click on the button below.'
The best way to learn to write website sales pages is to study and analyze a number of successful ones, so here is the method we promised to reveal earlier. Go to the popular ClickBank website at www.clickbank.com. Thousands of downloadable products, including software, self-help guides, instructional manuals, and so on, are sold via this site. Click on Marketplace and you will be able to view their top-selling products. Just click on the product name and you will be able to see the 'pitch page' from which it is sold. Analyze a few such pages according to the principles set out in this article. You will soon start to get a feel for how website sales pages are written.