May 2, 2021 | Sean Foo
If you have been writing copy for some time, you probably know that crafting an effective message that converts isn’t that easy.
Many writers and marketers tend to get lost in the brainstorming and planning process trying to cobble together different ideas and angles – then comes actually sitting down and writing the copy!
In fact, even with years of experience under your belt, it could take you days to finish writing a single page of sales copy.
But even then, will your copy resonate and truly speak with your ideal customer?
Will it sell?
Optimizing your sales copy is a necessary polishing step to turn good copy into great copy.
Whether you are writing for your product’s pricing page or for a landing page where paid online traffic is on the line, you’ll want to make sure every element of your copy is taken care of.
Thankfully, we have you covered!
At our agency, we run every sales copy we write through a comprehensive 39 point checklist to ensure we don’t miss out on any critical element before we approve it for use.
So grab yourself a coffee, strap in and let’s begin!
This checklist will cover all the key elements of your sales copy and is applicable for a variety of online pages – from your homepage and landing page to pricing pages where your primary goal is to drive conversions.
Are you writing to a broad audience or have you defined the exact customer that you would like to sell to?
Without effectively defining your ideal client, you will likely utilize the wrong information and marketing angle, missing the mark on what your ideal audience values.
Take some time and ask yourself:
Everything from their gender to earning potential and age range will affect the way you select information and how you craft your messaging.
Understanding what motivates them is key in swiftly identifying what they value from your solution.
Knowing their definition of success allows you to present the right benefits and paint the right picture of success that they desire.
A powerful value proposition is a clear statement, often a single sentence, that tells customers why they should do business with you.
It is a clear differentiator that separates you from the competition, front load value to your reader, and makes it clear how they will benefit.
When writing your copy, check:
The key here is not to be vague or hide behind witty taglines.
You want to be direct and straightforward with the value you will deliver to your customer.
Whether it be your process, the way your product is made or some killer feature, you’ll want to make it prominent on what exactly makes your solution unique.
Data and numbers are powerful tools to build trust and make your claims more believable.
This can be done by either highlighting a key benefit or showcasing directly the end-state or ‘heaven’ your customer wants to ultimately attain.
Square’s web copy for their online store landing page is a great example of knowing who you are writing for and clearly articulating your value proposition.
With most of Square’s customers being small and up-coming brick and mortar retailers, they tackle the biggest challenge that their audience face – the challenge of setting up shop online.
They speak to what their audience values – simplicity in selling online and hits home with offering a free online store. No ambiguity here, only clarity.
Your headline is the first thing your reader sees, paying extra attention and care to it is essential.
In fact, according to Copyblogger, 80% of your page’s visitors will read your headline, but only 20% will read the rest of your web copy.
An effective and powerful headline is necessary to capture attention & communicate immediate value.
Here’s what you need to check to bullet-proof your headlines for maximum effectiveness:
Attention spans are getting shorter and if your headline is too long, you’ll risk your reader moving on.
A good headline tackles just one big idea or highlights one benefit your reader cares about.
Are you highlighting the right benefit, feature or end goal that your reader cares about?
When it comes to writing great headlines, simplicity is key. There is no need to look smart.
Your headline has to be visually appealing and large enough to grab attention. This includes having a more dominant font size to having complementary designs.
Slack’s headline on their homepage is a great example of a straightforward and simple headline that checks many of the boxes.
It showcases one big idea, is very easy to understand, and communicates an intangible value and the ideal end state of people searching for a productivity solution – working pleasantly with the rest of their colleagues.
Your subheading is copy that comes directly after your headline that expands on what the headline is talking about.
While not every page utilizes subheadings, it helps provide additional information to your reader.
An example is highlighting the supporting features of your product to justify a benefit-driven headline.
Here are some key considerations to help you maximize the full potential of your subheadings:
A key purpose of your subheading is to support and add to the claim or concept your headline is about.
For example, if your headline highlights a benefit, use your subheading to showcase the relevant features to justify the benefit.
Take the opportunity to clearly explain in a nutshell what your business (or solution) provides to the customer.
Use keywords and highlight specific features (and benefits) that your ideal customer would be highly interested in.
Don’t worry too much about alienating the masses, focus on appealing to your intended audience.
Your subheading isn’t just meant to inform, it should be packed with tools of persuasion (which we will cover in the next section) to get readers interested to find out more.
The subheading on Stripe’s homepage does a good job of explaining what the business is about, what is on offer, and even sprinkles in some social proof to add confidence to the reader.
Writing persuasively is essential, especially when conversions are on the line.
Thankfully, there are some time-tested strategies and tools you can use to amp up your copy’s power of persuasion.
In fact, if you have the time, I would recommend diving deep into Joe Sugarman’s list of 24 psychological triggers to truly understand what makes your buyers tick.
When going through your copy, be sure to check for these elements of persuasion:
If you have limited-time offers, a special deal, or a waiting list, use it in your copy – especially if you are selling a premium product.
Are there lingering doubts or common industry misconceptions your reader has?
Be sure to address these objections throughout your sales copy – you can even dedicate an entire section if there are many to tackle.
Comparisons are powerful persuasion tools – they remind your readers of their current situation and the results they will enjoy after your solution.
People trust and identify with others that talk and sound like them.
Be sure to research common language patterns, mannerisms, and keywords used by your ideal customer group and sprinkle them throughout your copy.
People fear loss much more than the desire of gaining something new, you can use that to your advantage.
From a one-time free trial (FOMO-style) to a reminder of what is at stake, incorporate the fear of loss into your sales copy.
Power words (and verbs) inject authority and energy into your copy. This adds color and context to your action phrases to inspire your reader to pay extra attention and take action.
Basecamp utilizes the power of before & after in their copy that not only relates with the reader’s current situation, but also paints an ideal future of what the reader really wants to end up at.
This helps to make a very persuasive argument by relating and drawing comparisons.
As awesome as your product or service might be, you’ll need to back up those claims with evidence – and that’s where social proof comes in. People trust the decisions of their peers and industry experts they look up to.
A sales page that doesn’t have elements of social proof will be fighting an uphill battle to build trust and look credible no matter how persuasive your messaging might be.
While writing your sales copy, be sure to incorporate:
Does your sales page feature customer testimonials that your audience identifies with? Be sure to highlight their results and get specific on the benefits.
Getting a nod from an industry influencer for your product speaks volumes about your brand’s credibility. But be sure to obtain one that your audience knows and respects.
From Forbes to Entrepreneur and Huffington posts, showcase where your product has been featured. Having those media mentions add authority & credibility.
Whether you have a million active users or sold over ten thousand units of your product, be sure to mention these milestones proudly – there is strength in numbers!
Semrush incorporates a whole suite of social proof on their homepage.
What we love is them going full force into showcasing influencer endorsements across the various use cases of their product – SEO after all, is an industry where their audiences look up and learn from key influencers.
Your offer is where you do the ‘ask’. This is where an exchange of value happens – whether that means asking for money for your product or exchanging a resource for their email.
Here are three things to take note of when crafting your offer:
Have you clearly stated what the buyer will receive in exchange for the time/money/contact details?
Do they know exactly what it will cost?
A good offer reminds the reader of both the logical reasons to buy as well as tap into emotions – from greed and hope to fear and excitement.
I’m sure your solution has tons of great features and benefits, but when it comes to writing your offer, focus on just two or three at most.
Your call to action is the final step before that much-anticipated conversion.
The key here is to be direct but also remove as many obstacles that might prevent the conversion from happening.
Here’s what you’ll need to check:
From your hero section to the FAQ section and just below the offer, have you placed your CTAs at clearly visible points?
A great CTA promises value even within the limited text possible on the button. It could be a discount or instant access.
This is especially important if you are selling a high-priced product or service that has recurrent billing.
You’ll want to include information around your CTA that takes away risks – these can be offering a free trial period or even a money-back guarantee.
A strong and direct tone not only makes your CTA instruction crystal clear, it is more compelling and personable.
Take the additional step to let your reader know what will happen next once they click your CTA button and convert.
Basecamp’s offer is well laid out, highlighting what their audience will get for $99 a month with a call to action that removes risk and presents value with a free trial.
Your tone of voice goes beyond just relating with your audience, it is an extension of your brand and what it represents.
Here are four things you’ll want to ask yourself:
If your sales copy sounds robotic or ‘fabricated’ you’re in trouble. You’ll want to write in such a way that you sound like a human being communicating with another human.
By using the word ‘you’ more often, you place your reader as the central character in your messaging. This helps them identify better with your message.
Unless you are selling a very complex technical solution, you’ll want to limit the complexity of your language and sentences.
Use the Hemingway App to check how simply you have written – the easier it is to understand the better it will be.
The key here is to be as authentic as possible. If you are upbeat, be cheerful in your messaging, if you are professional, stay serious and on-point.
Convertkit’s landing page uses a very personable tone of voice that places its audience as the central character.
The copy uses simple language, lots of ‘you’s and is highly conversational like how a friend would talk to another friend.
With our checklist above, we seek to help you ramp up the level of persuasion in your sales copy.
By going through each key element in your copy and truly tackling each question, you’ll be able to hook your reader emotionally and convince them logically why your solution (and brand) is the perfect option for them.
Need help with crafting your sales messaging? We can help!
Just drop us a message here and we’ll be in touch.