Cheat sheet for writing sales pages that sell

I mainly write about streamlining your sales and marketing tech, but the best tech set-up in the world isn’t going to make you any money unless your sales pages inspire people to reach for their credit cards. Most of my clients are people with an absolute ton of experience in their specialist areas, but when they come to sell things online like workshops and digital programmes, they struggle. If that’s you, here’s a blog post to help you write a sales page that sells.

Please note that this is only a rough guide to getting started. You could spend years studying copywriting and you may find it far more cost-effective to pay a copywriter to do it for you. Also, I’m a self-taught copywriter who learned by trial and error while writing sales pages for my own digital products, I wouldn’t call myself a copywriting expert. But a little knowledge helps a lot, even if it just helps you identity a good copywriter to do it for you!

Copywriting is a skill that most of us haven’t been taught. As adults, we mostly write in a style that’s right for business or a slightly less formal style, maybe when blogging or on social media. Perhaps you spent time at university writing in an academic style. The chances are you haven’t written in a persuasive style much, if at all. If so, copywriting is going to feel a little odd. The trick is that you’re writing with a goal in mind – to get your readers to to take an action, whether that’s to buy your product or download a freebie and join your list.

(I know, that last one has got even more challenging since GDPR. Nightmare. But all is not lost, more about that in a later post.)

Keep in mind that the primary goal isn’t to tell them about the thing, the primary goal is to get them to buy the thing.

The good news is that there’s an old copywriting formula that still works really well, in fact I use it for all my digital product descriptions. Here it is:

AIDA

And here’s what the letters stand for:

A is for Attention

AIDA: Attention

Write a headline that grabs your reader’s attention by addressing something he or she really wants to have or really wants to avoid. For example, if you were selling maths tutorials to parents you could write:

‘Sick of struggling to help your kids with their maths homework?’

or

‘At last, you can confidently help your children with their maths homework’

…which would be more effective than something like ‘Maths tutorials: 3 for £20‘ or ‘Help your child with maths‘. Why? Because you need to tell the buyer what’s in it for them, or how their lives will be better after buying your product. In the bad examples the buyer will be either twenty quid worse off or have some extra work to do, but with no obvious benefits!

The benefits the parent could get from this product might be:

  • Confidence that they can help their child at last, especially if the parent had a bad experience with maths when they were at school
  • Relief from the frustration of trying to persuade an unwilling child to do their homework
  • The satisfaction of knowing that their child is doing much better at maths than they were before

Think beyond what your buyers will get e.g. a book, a workshop, a digital product, and think about how it will make their lives better. Think about basic human needs like…

  • To be attractive, popular, successful and to have status in their peer group.
  • Security – to be warm, safe, reassured, to have enough of whatever they need. To have a sense of ease or peace.
  • Health – to be (or at least feel) healthy, both physically and mentally.
  • For their children to be happy and successful.
  • Money and other material things. Note this can be connected with security, pleasure, status or all three. For a business this would be increased profits or reduced costs.
  • Pleasure – e.g. fun, food, holidays, not doing any work 🙂 …
  • Altruism – to feel they are doing good or perhaps leaving a legacy.

I is for Interest

AIDA: Interest

Now you have your reader’s attention, follow it up with a paragraph that will draw him or her in. Keep writing directly to a single reader, as if you were a friend offering the perfect solution to a  knotty problem.

Using the example above, you could write something like:

I know how you feel, in fact I struggled with maths myself right up until I was 30. By then my children were asking for help with their homework so I knew I had to learn – and fast! I realised I was far from alone, so I….

Here’s an example I used on one of my own sales pages:

Are you thinking of making an online course? Do you own a membership site? Need tutorial videos for your clients?

Great news! You don’t have to struggle with cameras, lighting or expensive software because I’ve already made your videos for you.

D is for Desire

AIDA: Desire

Now you need to follow on from the interest stage, and make them really want your product. Using the tutorial example above:

Think how it would feel if you could calmly and confidently answer your child’s questions without the fear that you’ll get it wrong or go into a cold sweat because your mind has gone blank.

Or the example from my own sales page:

Just buy one of my done for you video courses and you could have it live on your site in less than an hour. You can edit the videos and text, too. So you can add your own branding, mix and match my videos with any other content you have or you can upload them ‘as is’.

Simply download my video courses and upload them to your membership site, online course platform or video hosting service.

Then, and only then, you can talk about the features of you product. How long is it? How many modules does it have? Is it available online? If there are dates, times and locations add those here.  This is because they won’t be interested in how the thing works until they really want the thing.

Make them want the thing first, then tell them how it works.

A is for Action

AIDA: Action

This is your call to action that the entire page has been building up to, for example a ‘buy now’ button with a persuasive sentence above it encouraging them to click it.

You may also like to include…

You can include other items that will help people who are not quite convinced to take the plunge. For example testimonials, a money-back guarantee,  discounts or bonuses if they buy within a certain time period. These are usually best placed just before the action section, although you can use a stunning testimonial to grab attention at the top, too.

Images are good, but make sure they serve a purpose rather than just being something pretty to break up the text. If your text is boring, then you need to work on the text rather than adding a  photo. Statistics can also be very persuasive as long as you use them sparingly.

And finally…

I came from a training background where all my writing was factual, and persuasive writing is mostly emotional. My copy felt over-the-top initially, but I changed my mind as soon as I started selling products! So while you shouldn’t write in a ‘voice’ that isn’t yours, do try to inject a lot more emotion than you normally would and see what happens.

Writing for businesses tends to be a little more formal than for consumers, but keep in mind that people are people whatever setting they are in. They’ll be driven by needs and desires whether they are at work or home. At work they might want to impress the boss, at home they might like to show off to their friends – it’s not that different. So try to avoid the temptation to be so professional that your writing makes people switch off.

Keep your paragraphs short. (No necessarily as short as this one, though.)

It’s helpful to tune in to adverts and other examples of persuasive writing to see if you can pick up a few tips, too. And you’ll be amazed how much you can learn about selling from the QVC channel!

Good luck!

PS If you’d like more info on getting the most from your sales and marketing tech, please do sign up here.

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