How sales letters convert visitors into buyers

Sales letter landing pages pre-date the Internet in that they resemble traditional direct response sales letters.

A sales letter landing page is a conversion landing page. Its objective is to convert the casual visitor into a paid customer.

Sales letter landing pages are traditional direct response sales letters designed to maximize the conversion rate for a paid product. Often, the very same sales letter landing page, with minor but significant modifications, can be used in both email and postal direct marketing programs.

As with any advertisement — online, print or email — a headline that engages the reader with a compelling user benefit is crucial to a sales letter landing page. In fact, all of the elements of expertly crafted copywriting apply to the sales letter landing page, and must be even more prominently in evidence.

That’s because, “on average, a headline has less than a second of a site visitor’s attention,” according to the Eyetrack III research by the Poynter Institute. So if the headline doesn’t work — and work instantly — the game is over. You might as well quit. The user will click away to another page on another site.

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There are other differences between the traditional direct postal mail sales letter and the online sales letter landing page that create challenges to the copywriter. Unlike a printed letter that a user can physically handle and skim over quickly, only about half of a sales letter landing page is visible on the user’s computer screen — unless he scrolls down.

The experienced copywriter must add a subhead (or two or three) to the top of the sales letter landing page (the part fixed on the screen above “the fold”) because he can’t rely on the user scrolling down to see the offer. So great sales letter landing pages often bunch three or four important copy points at the top of the page.

For instance, here’s a great sales letter landing page for The Motley Fool Green Light Personal Finance and Investing Newsletter.

Look at all that’s going on above the fold, owing to the copywriter’s divergent appeals.

First, a teaser, “NEW from the world’s #1 website for investor education.”

Second, a provocative headline, “You Have More Money Than You Think.”

Third, an engaging sub-headline with three, easy-to-read bullets:

How to add $450 to your bottom line every month…

  • Without busting your hump to earn it
  • Sacrificing your morning latte
  • Or robbing a bank

Fourth, a summary of the offer, including the word “FREE” in capital letters:

These straightforward, uncomplicated money tips can boost your savings, shave your expenses, and build your wealth…and best of all they’re yours FREE for the next 30 days!

Conversion architecture that makes ordering easy

What follows in this outstanding example of a sales letter landing page is a long, excellently crafted explanation of the product, surrounded by the usual testimonials, bonus offers and guarantees.

Even more impressive is the exemplary use of conversion architecture. There is a short OFIN (Order Form In Navigation) in the right nav panel above the fold, a long OFIE at the bottom of the page, and six — count ’em — six opportunities to order the paid product appearing as hypertext links within the sales letter landing page.

This is clearly a Mequoda “best practice” sales letter landing page.

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