If you're hiring a copy writer or writing the copy yourself, here's a checklist of the essential elements to help you organise and plan your next Internet sales page.

The key to having sales pages that convert is to be sure you include a few essential elements. There's a basic formula to writing good copy that has been tested and is proven to work. Once you've created a successful sales page, you own a template that you can use repeatedly, customising it to fit other products. Your template will be like having a golden goose.

Headline

This includes three elements. First, the pre-headline to set-up the main headline and capture the attention of the category of prospects you want to attract. Next, the main headline, in the largest font you will use anywhere on the page, tells the product's biggest benefit (a benefit evokes a favourable emotional response). Last, the post-head, which further clarifies the main headline.

Introduction

The first few sentences of the web page should grab the visitor's interest at an emotional level. The introduction draws the visitor further into the copy, allowing you to make a presentation of your product and offer. To appeal to the emotions, show the reader the benefits of your product or service by describing how they'll feel or how their life will improve once they own and use the product.

Your credibility

This is especially important online, and needs to come early in the letter. Some of the ways you can build credibility include:

  • Provide testimonials about real results, that include the full name of the person giving the testimonial
  • Use specific numbers rather than approximations in your copy overall
  • If you have expertise and credentials related to the product, say so
  • When applicable, explain product test results
  • Quote favourable reviews from newspapers or magazines
  • Give your contact information with an address to prove you're real - don't worry that someone will show up on your doorstep, and if someone calls you, that's good

Benefits of the product or service

Using bullet format, because bullets are easy to scan, itemise all the benefits (not the features) and put them in order of priority. It's better to have too many than too few because it often takes just a single benefit to inspire a prospect to purchase, but every prospect has their unique hot button.

Features and/or specifications

This is where you specifically tell the visitor exactly what they are getting. Here is where you give details about the product.

Bonus

Include something valuable in addition to the main product. A bonus should be something that people might order the product just for the bonuses, but the bonus doesn't have to be costly for you. Quick start guides or tutorials are good. Or be creative and joint- venture, including a free sample of someone's introductory product. Give a specific value to the bonuses so you can use that during the value build-up.

Build-up of value

In addition to adding in the monetary value of the bonuses, be explicit about why the product price itself is a good deal. Compare to similar products that cost more or provide less. If possible, offer a guarantee. Counter any objections that might come to the visitor's mind. Create urgency, either because you have a limited number of inventory, a limited time period for an introductory offer, or whatever. Just make sure that your urgency is real; if you give a deadline, keep to it.

Ordering

First, remember to ask for the order. Make an ‘Order Now’ link. Then, make the ordering process and instructions absurdly clear. Imagine this is your visitor's first ever online order. Give step-by-step directions. Also, give purchasing options: secure credit card pages and PayPal are most common, but include directions for ordering by check of phone if possible, even though it is rare that anyone does.

Conclusion

In a final paragraph or two, repeat and summarise the important parts of the sales page. Make a final request for the order.

After reviewing this list, find good examples by doing a little online research. You wouldn't ever copy another sales page, of course. Simply look for inspiring examples, and then say it in your own way.

Loren Beckert, Marketing Vice President for ClickTracs Advertising, is also an author and business consultant.

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