Why is it that some books become bestsellers and other can hardly sell a 100 copies? Why is it that some books you read with passion and interest, with some you can’t get past the first 10 pages? What’s the difference?
It’s simple: the choice of words. The words you use—and the order in which you use them—makes all the difference when it comes to boosting sales. It doesn’t matter if it’s books or websites, but words do matter, so pick your words carefully.
As Mark Twain said, “the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Here are the principles of writing good sales copy.
1. Who are you talking to?
Look at the three pictures below. A skater dude, a busy mom and a backpacker. If you’re writing sales copy for a product, you should always talk to a specific person in mind.
You should talk differently to all of the people below – no brainer, right? Still most people try to write copy that works for everybody. Try to figure out what is the common denominator between all the potential buyers.
Create a customer persona, describe this person and give it a name. Imagine what this person is like, how he spends his days and what are the key issues for him. Your sales copy will be much better if you write it with a specific person in mind.
2. You’re writing to your friend (wife, colleague etc)
Don’t forget you’re dealing with people. Even if you sell B2B products, there’s always a person with a name and an identity reading your copy and making decisions.
If you know this, then why are you writing business jargon? Forget buzzwords (social media management system) and nonsense that doesn’t mean anything (flexible solutions). Say it as it is.
Use ‘the friend test’. Read your copy and if you spot a sentence you wouldn’t use in a conversation with your friend, change it.
Human relationships are about communicating. Business jargon should be banished in favour of simple English. Simplicity is a sign of truth and a criterion of beauty. Complexity can be a way of hiding the truth.
– Helena Rubinstein, CEO, www.labgroup.com
3. Work hard to create a compelling headline
People don’t read, they skim. The main thing they DO read is the headline, so make it good. If the headline does not capture their attention and make them interested to read further, the rest of the copy doesn’t matter.
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar
– David Ogilvy, ad guru
Questions to think about while coming up with a great headline:
- What does your prospect care about the most?
- What her biggest problem?
- Biggest goal or dream?
- How can you help her achieve it or solve it?
The best headlines communicate a direct benefit.
It’s hard to know off the bat which headline will work the best. Test them.
4. Don’t make them think
Thinking is hard. Most people don’t want to do it.
They look at your copy and want to understand what is it that you’re offering here. If it’s not obvious in first seconds, they will move on.
Your main headline might be benefit-oriented, but underneath it describe in 2-3 lines what your product is, does and who is it for. A photo or screenshot of the product is a smart idea to add, people “get” images much faster than text.
5. AVOID ALL CAPS AND DON’T USE EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!
There are no good reasons to put your text in all-capital-letters. Putting a lot of words in all caps or all bold slows down reading, comprehension, and interest.
Since there are more shape differences with lower case letters than with capitals, texts in lower case are recognized faster than all caps.
Also, using more than one exclamation mark in a row shows you’re 12 years old. Nobody wants your stuff more just because you add exclamation marks. Au contraire.
6. Readability matters
If you want people to read your text, make it readable. Even the most interesting copy in the world is not read if the readability is poor.
Key things to improve readability:
- Font size minimum14px, preferably 16px
- Line height 24px
- New paragraph every 3-4 lines (empty line between paragraphs)
- Use sub-headlines as much as you can (at least after every 2 paragraphs)
- Use images to break text apart. People read more if patterns are broken.
- Line width max 600 px. If your lines are too long, people won’t read them.
- Dark text on a light background, ideally black text on white background.
Tests have shown that 79% of people don’t read, they just skim. However, 16% read everything.
Those 16% are your main target group, the most interested people. If people are not interested in what you are selling, it doesn’t matter how long or short your sales copy is. If they are interested, you should give them as much information as possible. A study by IDC showed that 50% of the uncompleted purchases were due to lack of information.
They can always skip parts and click the “buy” button once they have the information they need. But if they read through the whole thing and they’re still not convinced or have questions, then you have a problem.