COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS!
Classic lines from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross echo through your mind as you nervously try to turn that blank page into a sales page.
You feel bullets of sweat forming on your forehead. It's the pivotal page on your site after all: the only thing standing between bounce and profit.
But you're riddled by questions:
How do I create even a half-decent sales page?
Should it be long or short? Should it be colourful or official?
You place your words gingerly on the page, as if walking on a minefield of self-doubt.
Don't worry, you're not alone. Designing a sales page is one of the most challenging tasks for any marketer. But there's a way to make it simple and straightforward.
Let me show you how to use a handful of basic elements to create a sales page as powerful as Alec Baldwin's award-winning speech.
Do I Have Your Attention?
A sales page has one purpose: get your visitor to click on the BUY-button.
It's a lead generation page with higher stakes: You're asking your visitor to make a monetary investment. That's huge compared to just asking for an email address.
The style, length and format of a successful sales page will vary wildly depending on audience and product, but the structure can always be boiled down to the classic AIDA-sales model.
AIDA is an acronym for Attention Interest Desire and Action, and it describes the events your prospective buyer may go through when hearing your sales pitch or reading your sales page.
Skim-Friendly Subheadings: The Backbone of a Sales Page
Visitors will interact with your content in one of three ways:
- They read everything from beginning to end.
- They read the headline, and skim the subheadings to find an interesting section to read
- They hardly read the headline, and skim to find an interesting subheading.
Regardless of the way your visitor will interact with your site, you need to make sure your page is SKIM-FRIENDLY. Do this by separating your text into distinct sections with effective subheadings.
A good subheading has both an informative and a marketing job.
Firstly, it must answer the question "What is this particular section about?". Your reader should be able to follow the message on your page just by looking through the subheadings.
Secondly, it must elicit curiosity or provoke some other emotion that will stop a reader in their tracks.
Break up your sales page into sections with descriptive subheadings that provoke and elicit curiosity.
The 8 A.I.D.A. Elements That Turn Interest Into Desire
Let's take a look at how some experts use these elements to form amazing sales pages.
1. An Irresistible Headline That Holds Attention
Ramit Sethi: I Will Teach You To Be Rich
The headline on Ramit Sethi’s short form sales letter is longer than you’d traditionally expect from a headline. Yet, it feels punchy and straight to the point. Why is that?
Ramit is obsessive about testing and gathering insights about his readers. He knows exactly which words will resonate with them and what their frustrations and desires are.
That's why his lengthy headline fulfills the three requirements of a successful headline:
- It’s bluntly clear. It steers clear of any sort of cleverness or artistry.
- It answers the question “What’s in it for me?”
- It offers something truly irresistible: a solution to an extremely frustrating problem or a path to a deeply held desire.
If your headline doesn't demand attention, the rest of your content won't matter because no one will read it.
To create a successful headline, you need to know your audience. Get familiar with their deepest frustrations and desires, and offer an irresistible result with your headline.
Don't worry about writing incredible headline copy. Instead, listen to your audience and use their words.
2. An Opening Paragraph That Paints A Picture
Karen Marston: Untamed Writing
Have you secretly harboured the romantic fantasy of being a writer — the kind who gets paid handsomely to write things you care about — for a long time now?
And have you never done anything about it because, well — it’s just a silly dream, isn’t it?
Karen Marston's sales page is aimed at writers and upcoming writers. She starts by painting a common dream or desire to everyone in that space, then forms a painstakingly real picture of the frustrations.
One of the most powerful ways to create engagement is through emotional highs and lows. When you reach your reader's deepest frustrations or desires in the opening paragraph, you draw them into your story.
You're talking directly to them and addressing their feelings. When your reader is emotionally invested, it'll be hard for them to let go. They are compelled to read on.
The function of an opening paragraph is to engage your reader. Show them you know exactly how they feel, and help them invest emotionally.
3. The Personal Struggle You Empathize With
Jen Hansard & Jadah Sellner: Simple Green Smoothies
Selling with words is hard. That’s like trying to convince someone to fall in love based on logic. No, we fall in love because someone's true self makes us feel warm and bubbly inside.
Similarly, to make your readers fall in love with you, you must show your vulnerability. Your humanity. You're a real person and you're going through the same struggle as they are.
Jen & Jadah share their frustrations of not having enough energy throughout the day. Who couldn't relate to that?
By showing that you've also gone through a similar conflict, you're creating trust between you and your reader. You're not just another somebody trying to sell something. You empathize with your reader in your opening paragraph, and they empathize with your struggle.
After your opening paragraph, tell your reader about your personal struggle. It will help to develop a camaradery between you and them.
4. Resolve Your Conflict Through Personal Conquest
Gael Breton / Mark Webster: Authority Hacker
When you've succeeded in capturing your readers frustrations with your opening paragraph and personal struggles, it's time to offer a resolution. A resolution, which will lead into your product.
But remember! You're not trying to selling a product. You're offering a resolution to the conflict in the story.
The Authority Hacker-guys tell about their personal struggle with not finding good enough guidance for problems they constantly ran into. Their personal conquest, or resolution to their conflict, is them choosing to tackle the information themselves and turn it into workable actionable guidance material.
Because of that learning process, AH was able to provide the answers they struggled to find in the first place. These answers are the real life benefits of the product.
A common mistake on a sales page is to focus on the product and its features. Your reader isn't interested in features at this point. They are only interested in what benefits the product will offer them.
The desired outcomes, or benefits for the AH-audience are:
- Getting more email subscribers
- Grow search traffic
- Increase social media reach
All of these are tangible results the AH-audience gets from this program. Only later do we actually see the actual features of the program, neatly listed in the pricing table:
Quick Reference: Features vs. Benefits
As a quick reference, let's look at some technical terms and acronyms you'd find in a car brochure. These are the features your car has. How these gadgets help you in your everyday driving life would be the benefits.
You're supplied with refreshingly cool air in hot weather.
Your car will not get stuck even on the iciest road with these tyres.
Xenon-technology makes your headlights twice as bright and lets you see further ahead with more clarity.
Electronic safeguards will keep you out of trouble in emergency manoeuvres.
As you see, the features can come across as useless words, while the benefits have a real life use for the reader.
What frustrations or desires will your product provide a solution to?
Study the FEATURES your product provides, and then focus on what BENEFITS it will bring for your audience.
5. Trustworthy Testimonials
Nathan Barry’s Authority-book sales page has plenty of proof and testimonials, complete with photos and quotes of real people.
Selling and buying is an emotional experience more than anything else. Your customer will experience anxiety and doubt before deciding to buy, and it’s your job to ease their mind.
The most effective advertisement is a word of mouth advertisement. Would you rather listen to a sleazy marketer trying to sell or a happy customer who already purchased? Same goes for testimonials on your page. You create trust in the product by showing how happy your previous customers are.
Offer your product for free against testimonials before selling it. This will also be an excellent chance to improve on weaknesses before making it into a fullfledged product.
6. An Offer You Can't Refuse
Your reader needs to feel they're getting more than their money's worth. The value of money is after all, relative. Perry Marshall raises audience expectations of the value of his product, and then blows them away by offering it for a much smaller sum than that.
If you can make the asking price of your product ridiculously small compared to the perceived value, price will suddenly be no object.
You've seen this tactic used in the TV-shop genre, where it sounds like a ridiculous oversell.
"BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!"
Here's how it works:
Before you go asking for any sort of money, you need to preface it somehow. Perry Marshall tells a story about being an instructor for Dan Kennedy's $26,000 per year mastermind group.
He goes on about finding a huge frustration of the students, and showing them time and time again how to resolve it. "Every person in the room paid $1000 to $2000 to watch the magic."
Based on everything else, he says, he could charge up to $1500 or $1000 for the product.
Take a moment and think about the monetary figures you have running through your head now.
After cranking up the perceived value of the product, Perry reveals the true asking price.
It's much lower than what you expected, right? Seems like a bargain.
Obviously you should steer clear of sounding like a comical TV-shop hardsell on your sales page, but the principle is sound. You can frame your product so the perceived value is much higher than the amount of dollars you ask for it.
Whatever your asking price is, show your audience they're getting a product worth 10x the monetary value.
7. Guarantee A Risk-free Purchase
John Lee Dumas: Podcasters' Paradise
John Lee Dumas, like many others, offers a satisfaction guarantee for his podcasting course. Sure, John is known to deliver amazing products, but it's still comforting to know that you can back down after purchase if the course just isn't your thing.
Offering a 30-day money back guarantee is standard. More than that, it's a sign of trust towards not only your product, but your audience as well. You trust that they will get value out of your product, and if they don't, they should at least get their money back.
There are other types of guarantees as well:
- The 30-day free trial. MOZ.com offers their SEO and marketing tools-software for free for 30 days. Sometimes the best guarantee is a free unlimited trial period. Check it out for yourself, and just cancel if you don't like it!
- The 100% satisfaction guarantee. Hampton Hotels is famous for their 100% satisfaction guarantee, which they present with great pride. This sort of open guarantee speaks miles of their confidence to bring satisfaction to every guest, which is paramount in the luxury hotel-business.
- The forever-guarantee. Cutco, the cutlery manufacturer, offers a "forever" guarantee on their cutlery. This means you can actually send your knives for repair or sharpening, at any time without a receipt. How confident do you have to be in the longevity and build quality of your knives to offer this sort of promise?
- The low price guarantee. Amazon.com has made a bit of a reputation for being a customer-oriented provider. Their low price guarantee for pre-ordered items means that you can pre-order an item now and get it at the lowest price when it's available. Should shake off some of that pre-order anxiety, right?
- The Extreme Satisfaction Guarantee. Zappos.com, the shoe company, offers a 365-day return period for any of their products. For any reason. When your customer knows they can try out their clothes or shoes risk-free, it's bound to alleviate those anxieties of shopping online.
- Awesomeness guarantee. Chris Guillebeau offers an "unconditional guarantee," which includes a 30-day money back guarantee and an additional income guarantee. So if his clients aren't satisfied, they get their money back. But even if they are satisfied, they still get their money back, if the product doesn't help them earn at least $5,000 in additional income. How's that for risk-free?
Offer a guarantee to create trust and ease purchase anxiety.
8. The Unavoidable, Unmistakable and Unambiguous Call to Action
Neil Patel: The Advanced Customer Acquisition Webinar
Neil Patel refers to himself as "kind of a big deal". He's a longtime digital marketing juggernaut increasing sales not only for himself but also for anyone who employs his services.
...I guess it's a fair assessment.
On Neil's homepage we're faced with a short sales pitch leading to a simple but crystal clear call-to-action.
You're asked for an immediate action. Respond now or move away.
It's funny how often the CTA is neglected. Whether it be for overlooking or just trying not to appear pushy, it can be fatal to your conversions.
- It's vague - Button texts like "Click here!", "Buy now!", or "Submit!" tell your visitor nothing about what will happen when they click your CTA.
- It blends in - Small button or colour blends in with the rest of the page.
As we saw in the post about the "Big 3" conversion mistakes, it's easy to fall into the trap of being too vague with your call to action.
Three elements of a kickass CTA:
- It conveys a compelling offer - Rather than have "Click here" as the button text, have the button answer the question "What will I get when I click here?"
- It STANDS OUT - Make your CTA pop out with sharply contrasting colours and white space around the button.
- A prominent location - When your visitor is ready to buy, they should see a CTA.
Evernote's call to action has one clearly visible button with one clear result of clicking the button.
This will easily get you started. For more information about calls to action, remember to check out our post on the three big conversion killers!
A good CTA is a direct instruction on what to do now. You've lead your reader down a red carpet of streamlined sales copy. Now it's time to CLOSE THE DEAL with a carefully crafted BUY-button.
All You Need is Action!
You now know the core elements that form a decent sales page. To get a head start in turning that blank slate into a successful sales page, check out our sales page templates!
Even without the template you have a clear guideline to follow in fleshing out that blank page:
- Copy the elements onto your page. Just copy them, don't worry about content.
- Figure out your call to action. What do you want your visitor to do?
- How does the product benefit your reader? Write a quick headline using this answer.
- Fill in the rest of the points.
- You now have a draft (and you're that much closer to glorious coffee).
In case you've been wondering what I'm on about with this coffee business, check out this clip from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross.
Publish that sales page. Be a closer.
Earn your coffee.
I’ve read about how to create a good sales page before, but it’s never been spelled out as clearly as this. Thank you!
I’m glad you find it useful. You’re very welcome!
I struggled to read the content because of the DIM, difficult to read content. Over 1/3 of the people have some visual difficulty. The illustrations were good and the message was clear.
Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry about the content being difficult to read. We’ve never had complaints before with these settings. I’m not aware of DIM, what is it?
this is probably the BEST post on sales page I’ve ever read.
Clear to the point, without giving
me a thousand options of how to
write a sales page.
Thanks a lot.
P.S. That sales page image is great!
Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it useful. I also think it’s hugely frustrating when there’s a million things to and it all becomes overwhelming. =)
I would have found it more useful, had I not just spent $10 though “appsumo” for a stripped down version of this article.
Haha I’m sorry for your loss! But thanks for the compliment. =)
WOW!! excellent, informative, clear …. YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!!!!!
Thanks! I’m glad you found it useful! =)
Sadly, Alec Baldwin has never won an academy award.
Thanks for the correction. =)
Great round up. Clear, wide-ranging examples. Especially liked the CTA section….after all, isn’t that why we got the reader there in the first place?
Jay, your website is down for me just fyi.