By Don Nicholas • 08/06/2012
First Class Flyer is a great product with a great value proposition, which is a great foundation for creating a sales letter landing page with impressive conversion rates.
A new client recently asked me how many hours it would take to create a first-class sales letter landing page for his subscription website and newsletter. Having done this a few times, I answered that it would take 50 to 100 hours of copywriter time to create a great landing page. He was stunned and said he could do it in a day. I told him I was sure that he could. After pausing for a moment, he asked why it would take us so long. The copywriting, I replied, will take about 10 to 12 hours. The rest of the time will be spent researching your competitors, your value proposition, other winning landing pages, and talking to your readers about the benefits of subscribing. Most great copywriters were originally trained as journalists. As any good journalist can tell you, a great story is 90% research and 10% writing. Great online copywriting is no different.
While a great sales letter landing page may look simple, it is actually a very complex document with 15 to 20 elements that can all have a significant impact on response. Using the First Class Flyer landing page as an example, let me point out some of the details.
Long copy always wins
It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking for $20 or $2,000, long copy always wins, or at least ties. When your prospect is ready to buy, he will buy. If you stopped writing, before you convinced them to make the purchase by overcoming their objections and addressing their needs, they will simply click away. Long copy is not about writing a letter, of which every word will be read. Great online copywriting, like all great direct response writing, is about meeting needs and overcoming objections. The more objections you overcome and needs you meet, the better your chance of closing the sale. Long copy wins because it offers a greater diversity of reasons to buy.
Testimonials are the heart and soul of online copywriting
Well-researched testimonials that reinforce the copy have always been a great way to boost direct response conversion rates. Online copywriters are addressing an audience that has come to rely on user comments to make purchasing decisions at stores from Amazon to Blue Nile. So now more than ever, great testimonials help readers decide to purchase. Like most research, gathering testimonials starts with accumulating way more data than you need. The copywriter must then look for patterns that represent the reasons people buy. Finally they must select the ones that are articulate, complementary, and realistic. Gathering testimonials actually precedes writing copy. Then the benefits described in the copy are simple restatements of the testimonials that will be used to reinforce that copy. It’s a great example of beginning with the end in mind.
Easy-to-read, easy to skim
Once you understand that virtually no buyer will read your entire sales letter, it’s important to make it easy to skim. A relatively narrow main column with a right rail is perhaps the most successful format for presenting a long sales letter. Sub headlines are incredibly important as they help the reader find the benefits, objections and information that have relevance to them. Some use of design elements that emphasize short pieces of copy like bold, highlighted, or even pull quotes, help move the reader through the content efficiently and keep them engaged.
Audio and video grab attention
While video is all the rage in sales letter landing pages, our example uses a still photo and audio track to allow the newsletters editor to grab your attention. The message is personal and real and summarizes the overall much longer sales letter. This technique can boost response rates almost as much as a more complex video approach at a fraction of the cost.
Ask for the order at every turn
For products priced from $20-$200, the inclusion of multiple buttons and links that lead to the order page almost always increases landing page conversion rates. Once again, when you know the reader is not reading your entire letter before deciding to purchase, it makes complete sense to provide a way for the user to move easily into the purchase process at any point where they may have become convinced they are ready to buy.
While following the basics is great, testing is better
I’ve never seen a sales letter landing page that couldn’t be beaten by a version of itself. With so many elements that impact response, even the most experienced online copywriter is virtually guaranteed to not have a perfect outing on their initial try. For this reason, a series of simple optimization tests almost always lifts response rates significantly over the initial effort. Perhaps subscription websites more than most other products can benefit from this type of testing and optimization because they are evergreen in their benefit. Best-selling books and videos will come and go in your marketing line. Subscription websites are perennial performers with the continuity backend that merit optimization for the long-term.
Posted in Landing Pages