This is part one in a free tutorial for writing online sales pages.
I’m often asked to write sales pages when people have a big product to sell.
It takes time and a lot of research but when it’s launch day my clients (who always have wicked products to share with the world) can feel confident that the page is compelling, authentic and contains the key ingredients to move customers from interest, to confidence to making a purchase.
However, it doesn’t make sense for everyone to hire a copywriter to write a sales page, and if you have the time to learn and practice you’ll find those skills can also work wonders in other parts of your business.
Even though I offer a mid-priced workbook that walks you through creating your sales page, I’ve been wanting to do a free series about writing sales pages for a while.
So, today is the first part in a number of posts dedicated to walking you through writing your own sales page. Over the coming weeks we’ll be looking at:
- What you need to know about your customer
- What you need to know about your product
- How to structure your draft
- Writing and editing your sales page
- Creating a headline
- The design and layout of your sales page
Today, we’re going to look at what you need to do to get started.
What is a sales page?
A sales page these days has evolved from the physical sales letters companies mail to potential customers encouraging them to buy or try out a product.
Mailed sales letters are still used today and come in all different styles and layouts as you can see by this one I received from National Geographic Magazine and this one encouraging me to sign up for horse racing tips.
Initially, a lot of online sales pages replicated the traditional design of direct marketing (even by starting with: “Dear reader” and including yellow highlighter markings on important areas), but you don’t have to. A lot of people don’t like these styles because they feel they are over-the-top. That’s not to say that these styles don’t work, but it is important that you find the right style for you, your product and your audience.
However, there are some common features that you’ll find in online sales pages that should help you identify what one is.
Generally speaking, an online sales page will:
- Be a whole page dedicated to selling a single product
- Have the menu bar and side bars removed so that the page simply has text, images and a buy button (this is designed to minimise distraction)
- Have a bold headline which announces the big benefits of the product
- Contain enough detail in the page to let the customer decide if the product is for her or not
- Contain specific copywriting elements to build the customer’s confidence in the product. For example benefits, overcoming objections, including testimonials (we’ll be covering this later in the series)
The most important distinction though is really that first point. The whole page is dedicated to selling a product.
Here are some examples of different openings to sales pages I’ve written for clients:
What’s the difference between a sales page and a squeeze page?
Ah… so you’ve heard of squeeze pages have you?
These are similar in that the whole page is dedicated to you taking a specific type of action, but it isn’t usually encouraging you to buy something.
Because you’re not trying to sell anything outright, squeeze pages tend to be shorter, with just enough points to get you to:
- Register for an email newsletter
- Sign up for a free report or gift
- Join a free webinar
- Listen to a free teleseminar
Here is an example of one of my squeeze pages I used to promote the Personality Entrepreneur report:
You can also have ‘landing pages’ and these are kind of in between a squeeze page and sales page.
They’re usually asking you to register for something free, but also act as a ‘pre-sale’ sales page. You might find a long landing page promoting a free teleseminar or webinar because:
- The organiser wants to get as many people as possible to attend to build a mailing list and credibility
- The organiser wants to get lots of pre-qualified leads for a specific offer that happens at the end of the free event
Because of this, the writer will takes extra time explaining why committing to the event is worth it.
This series of articles is going to focus on writing a sales page, rather than a squeeze page, and most of the techniques will work well for a longer landing page.
When would you use a sales page?
It might be that you have an upcoming launch for a new ebook, product or program. If you’re spending time recruiting affiliates, planning guest posts and writing content for your blog and newsletter about your upcoming promotion, you really want to make sure you have a strong sales page in place.
After generating all of that interest and traffic you want it to be a final smooth experience that guides your prospect through to the sale.
You can use sales pages to promote:
- Your services or product page
- Your eBooks
- Online membership courses
- Coaching or consulting services
- Tickets to a live event or workshop
If you’re selling something, you can use a sales page!
How long does it take to write a sales page?
Unless you’re pretty practiced and / or don’t mind doing things on the fly, I wouldn’t recommend sitting down to do a sales page all in one sitting.
It will drive you mad and you won’t do your best work.
I tend to block out a couple of hours a time to work through the different stages of writing a sales page. For example:
- Researching the product
- Researching the customer
- Reading any supporting material
- Brainstorming ideas and different angles
- Writing the draft
- Editing the copy
- Proofing the copy
Plus time to set it up on my site, or work through revisions with a client.
What I would say is that the more time you have, the better. Don’t leave your sales page to the last minute.
If I’m working for a client, a sales page can take me 2-3 weeks. If it’s for my own launch I’ll start plotting ideas for the sales page while I’m creating the product (I keep a ‘promotion ideas’ file open on my computer) and I’ll aim to start drafting at least 2 weeks before going live.
I did have a copywriter use my eBook to write a sales page in just 3 hours that her client loved which was fantastic, but if you’re just getting used to the idea of copywriting and sales pages, leave lots of time to work through each section. Trust me, it’s a lot easier on your sanity. 🙂
What should you do before the next instalment?
Okay, well this was a little introduction to writing sales pages. Next week we’re going to look at how to start researching your customer and what specific things you’re going to need to know about them.
Between now and then I would start your own little ‘promotional ideas’ file for either an imaginary product you want to use to practice your sales page for, or a real-life product you already sell in your business.
Think of this as the first lesson back to school where we ease ourselves in before the real work begins!
See you next time!