12 Ways to Improve Your Online Sales Copy

12 Ways to Improve Your Online Sales Copy



Guest article by James Daniel, a professional copywriter and MD of EarthMonkey Media

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There are 3 basic challenges when it comes to selling your wares online:

- Finding a group of solvent customers with a common need
- Understanding their need and how they express it in search terms
- Persuading them you can deliver the solution

When you’re writing your sales copy, this should be the guiding principle – so try this 12-point approach to structuring and polishing your message:


# 1  Define your audience

Whatever you’re selling, the worst thing you can do is assume your market is “Everyone”. 

Whittle it down to a group that shares a common interest or desire.  “People who breed budgies”, “Gaming enthusiasts””, “Parents who need reliable childcare” – these are specific niche markets who will share a problem or chase the same opportunity.  And that gives you something to latch onto in your copy.


# 2  Know their keywords

Once you know who your market is, do some further research.  How are they expressing their needs in Google, Yahoo and all?  If you log onto Wordtracker you’ll find all the most popular search terms – and chances are, you’ll find a cluster of keywords that your competitors have overlooked.  If you work these phrases into your copy, you can leap to the top of the rankings. 

Also, your research might show you other opportunities, like additional products or services you can sell to the same group of prospects.
 

# 3  Grab their attention


OK, so you know who you’re selling to and you know exactly what they’re after.  That should make it a whole lot easier to write some copy that gets their attention!

The best headlines serve a mix of self-interest and curiosity.  For self-interest, think how your product brings pleasure or fights against pain or anxiety.  For curiosity, think how you can tell half the story – just light the spark of self-interest and the reader will carry on…


# 4  Empathise

The made-to-measure suit is better than its off-the-peg equivalent, because we’d all rather have something that feels like it’s tailor-made.  So show the prospect that your solution is there specifically to solve their problem.  Show them you understand their worries and the challenges they face, then your product is more than a thing on the shelf: it’s a custom-made solution.

Remember though, empathy is about more than addressing your prospect’s concerns.  You have to speak in their language and adopt a sales style that suits their preference – not yours!


# 5  Get to the point – and stick to it

We’re a restless bunch when we get online.  There’s email and back buttons and other shiny things competing for our attention, so you have to make the connection early.  Then make sure you stay on track.  The blinkered horse always wins the race because he has fewer distractions – so don’t let your copy flit back and fore between one point and another.


# 6  Balance your keywords

The optimum keyword density is whatever it needs to be.  Enter your keywords into Google, then assess the top ranking sites through www.keyworddensity.com.  You’ll see the sort of density that you have to beat.

At the very least, you should place your keywords in your headline, sub-heads and browser tags, as well as the first few paragraphs of text.

But the golden rule with keywords is remember who you’re selling to.  Don’t be tempted to crowbar extra keywords in if it hurts the sales message – until Google spiders get credit cards, they’re not going to buy from you!


# 7  Make it scanable

Chances are, your prospects will read your headline and the first few paragraphs, then scroll to the end looking for a price.  Your goal is to send them back to the start so they take in the full sales message.  So:

- Make sure you put the most powerful words on the left hand side of the screen.  Words like “command”, “explore” and “discover” are more likely to excite your readers than purely functional words that fall randomly onto the page.

- Include a price, but make sure your readers have to look for it!  Don’t put it at the end – tuck it away in the middle, so they see more and more of your compelling message as they scan the page for details.


# 8  Build your credibility

Your prospects don’t know you from Adam, so show them testimonials – but not from ‘JK in Dorset’ or any of that twaddle!  Use real names with real photos or company logos if you’ve got them.  And show you’re genuine by offering a guarantee that gives you all the risk.


# 9  Give it – and take it away

Your mission here is to tantalise the reader as you put the product within their grasp.  Make it real.  Use descriptive language so they can touch it, feel it, taste it! 

Then take it away from them!

Remind them they haven’t got it yet and make them see how dreadful life is today!  When you create this sense of loss, they’ll want it all the more…

 
# 10  Force a reaction

Your prospect still has 2 questions: why you, and why now? 

Why you?  Because you’ll add some bonuses they’ll only get from you – things that don’t cost you much, but have a high value to the customer like a tip-sheet or custom report. 

Why now?  Well usually because stock is limited or the offer’s about to time out!  But make it believable – give a genuine reason why you can’t hold the offer forever.  If your core message is compelling, why would anyone risk it and wait?


# 11  Ask for the order!

No one is going to second-guess you, so when the time comes, be bold.  Tell the reader what to do next – they’re in foreign territory so naturally they expect to be led.


# 12  Make it easy to buy

Give a range of trustworthy options like Paypal and show your website’s security settings.  Most importantly, include a sales order line.  Only the big guys like Google and Amazon get away with hiding their phone number!


# BONUS - Keep the door open

If the prospect’s not ready to buy from you, they might be in the future.  For most people it takes 7 contacts before they finally buy, so make sure you capture their contact details, then stay in touch through newsletters or autoresponders. 

You could promise a free e-book in exchange for an email address.  Or get round the 7 contacts factor by sending a 6-part autoresponder sharing some of your best-kept secrets…