There are two main parts to selling. First, get people to look at your offer. Second, convince them to buy it. Online, we usually think of these two things as traffic and conversion. Traffic is pretty easy to get these days. Even if you’re not some organic SEO wizard, paid advertising platforms are accessible to pretty much anyone with some money to spend.
The real difficulty is when it comes to conversion. Unless you have some miracle product that practically sells itself, you need to understand exactly how to convert your leads into customers. This is where good copywriting practices come into play.
Whether you are selling physical products, promoting software subscriptions, making affiliate offers, or even selling your services, strong copywriting will make a big difference when it comes to maximizing your conversions.
This is a guide on how to become an effective sales copywriter.
Understanding Your Ideal Customer Persona
The first step in becoming an effective copywriter doesn’t actually involve any writing. It involves market research. Specifically, market research about deeply understanding exactly who your potential customers are.
Effective copywriting doesn’t try to target anyone and everyone. It targets a specific demographic, in a specific niche, and is usually laser-focused. This makes creating your ideal customer persona absolutely crucial.
Your ideal customer persona is a profile of the average person that is most likely to buy the product or service you are selling. If you already have an audience, you probably already have a good idea of who your average customer is. If you are starting with a fresh audience, then do some research on the type of people who buy the kind of thing you’re selling.
Here are some important questions to answer:
- How old is your ideal customer?
- What do they do for a living?
- How much money do they make?
- How many people in their household?
- What is their personality like?
- What Hobbies or interests do they have?
- What is the main problem they are facing in relation to your niche?
- How would they feel if this problem was solved?
By answering these questions, and listing anything else that may be useful, you are well on your way to understanding your target customer on a deeper level.
Writing to an Audience of One
Not all of your customers will fall under the description of your ideal customer persona. Your customers are of course going to be a mix of different attributes. However, it is important in copywriting to write as if you are speaking directly to the personification of this ideal customer.
By communicating directly to this audience of one, you are relating to the reader in a way that will both capture their attention and make them more open to your offer. Even for those readers that don’t exactly fit under your ideal customer persona, you will still have a higher conversion rate by writing directly to your ideal customer instead of writing in a broad manner.
Remember, the sales process is a journey. Your responsibility in that journey is to guide each individual along the way.
Unique Selling Position
It’s important to find the unique selling position of your business or the specific offer you’re making. This unique selling position should be the core of your message and it should resonate throughout all of your sales copy and other marketing material.
Your unique selling position is the thing that makes your business or offer both unique and valuable when compared to your competitors. This is the thing that your offer is most known for. You should be able to condense this unique selling position into a short, specific message. While this doesn’t need to directly be a slogan, it should be the model from which the rest of your copy will form. However, slogans of famous companies are a great way to understand the unique selling proposition concept.
Think of things like WalMart’s “Always Low Prices.” It’s simple and memorable. It communicates that there is no need to wait for sales, compared to their competitors, their prices are always low.
Domino’s has the simple offer that they will deliver fresh pizza to your door within 30 minutes or it’s free. De Beers’ message is that diamonds are forever. FedEx is when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. These are all simple, core messages, that resonate with those brands and clearly express what makes them special.
Headlines and Subheadlines
“How to write attention-grabbing headlines that will make you a millionaire!”
The example here is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it illustrates the main point. A great headline should jump out and capture the attention to the specific type of customer that you are targeting. If you have any qualms about clickbait-y sounding headlines, it’s time to squash that now. Unfortunately, there is a reason that clickbait is so common: it works.
Your headline should go one of two ways. It should either bring attention to the problem, or it should bring attention to the solution. Whether your ideal customer will respond better to the problem or the solution in the main headline will depend on their specific demographic but also the severity of the pain that the problem causes.
Your headline needs to entice the reader to continue reading. It should jump out at them and make them really want to read the next line, and the line after that. You get the idea.
If you’re doing a long form sales page, your different sections should have subheadings that are as powerful as the initial headlines. The headlines should be able to be read without the body of the sales letter and still make perfect sense to readers. The headlines alone should guide the reader along and convince them to buy.
Here is a basic outline:
- Main Headline:States the big problem.
- Subheadline 1: Further reinforces the pain of the big problem.
- Subheadline 2: Makes the reader aware that there is a solution.
- Subheadline 3: Mentions the main benefit that the product or service solves.
- Subheadline 4: Clearly states the end result solution.
- Subheadline 5: A call-to-action telling the reader what to do next.
The copy under each section will elaborate on the main point of the headline and should guide the reader into the next headline effortlessly. You may have more sections depending on your product or service, but this is a great place to start.
The Power of Yes
Within your copy, it is important to get the reader to say yes in their head early and often. By saying yes in their head, they are subconsciously priming themselves to agree to buy at the end. Humans tend to follow the patterns that are already happening within our own head.
So, how do we get our audience to start saying yes in their own head? We ask questions in the copy to the reader that would obviously be answered yes. The questions should be simple and to the point. Make sure the questions are relevant to the actual product or service, you don’t want to confuse the reader.
“Do you want to lose that extra weight and have an amazing six pack that will get noticed?”
“Would you be happier right now if you were laying on a tropical beach with a cold drink in your hand?”
“If you could quit your soul-sucking job tomorrow, have more money, and have more free time, would you be interested?”
These questions don’t need to be so overt and to the point. They can be a little bit more subtle. Just be sure not to ask questions where the answer is no. The same principle applies when answering negative questions and you don’t want your reader to have an internal pattern of “no” when you ask them to buy.
Short, Simple Language
Sales copy is not an essay. It’s not prose. It’s not even an article like the one you are reading currently. You aren’t writing a novel or a short story here. You are communicating your message.
The simpler and more concise your language is, the better your message will be understood and the more sales you will make. There is no need to use big, smart-sounding words. Great copy doesn’t need to be flashy, it just needs to be effective. Don’t be James Joyce trying to impress readers with your vocabulary. Be Hemingway.
Even when writing for educated adults, you should be writing so that your average 12 year old child can understand it.
Along with your simple language, keep your paragraphs short and vary your sentence length.
By keeping your paragraphs short, the entire sales letter looks much more digestible. Walls of texts are scary. Short paragraphs are inviting.
When you vary your sentence length, you help break up the monotonous reading rhythm that is going on inside your reader’s mind, keeping them interested and reading further. Some sentences can flow and use more words to explain things more clearly. Short ones help make a point. Long tells, short sales. Understand?
Show, Don’t Tell
When writing convincing copy about a product or service, it’s important to talk about the benefits of what you are selling, not simply list features. In essence, you need to show, not tell.
It’s easy to list the features of a product, but these are just details that don’t really say anything to your reader. Instead, you need to explain how these features benefit them. How will this product make them feel? What will it do for them?
People don’t buy $100,000+ super cars because of some engines metrics listed on a sales sheet. They buy these kinds of cars because of the perceived social value. It makes them feel great to drive it and get noticed. It feels great knowing they can drive faster than any of the cars next to them on the highway if they really wanted to open it up.
No Pain, No Gain
Hit the pain point hard. If you’ve done your research on your ideal customer persona, then you should already have a great idea of what their major pain point is. It’s crucial that you you clearly emphasize this pain and show that you understand it. Bring that pain to the surface, don’t let it be ignore.
Once you’ve hit the pain point hard enough, it helps prime them for the solution that you are offering. When you talk about the solution, you need to speak as if it is the one and only solution to their problem. Nothing else will work. Only your product or service will help them overcome this pain.
It’s important to understand the different mental hurdles that your customers will be going through when reading your sales letter and then address those hurdles directly. If your product is expensive, you need to clearly show why the value of the product is so much higher than the price. If you’re selling something that some might find too complicated, you need to clearly address how simple it can actually be.
The specific hurdles will depend on your offer and your target audience. Don’t be afraid to reach out and directly ask potential customers about why they wouldn’t buy your product. This feedback can be integrated into your sales copy to help address the exact reasons people may be hesitant to purchase.
A Strong Call To Action
There is no point guiding your customers throughout your sales copy if you’re just going to have a weak call to action at the end. You need to clearly tell them exactly what to do next.
“Click here to buy now.”
It’s so simple, but that one little phrase can make a huge difference in how many sales you make.