Your invisible sales team. Working their magic, handling your prospect’s objections, building desire and selling your product. All through the written word: your sales page copywriting.
A great long-form sales page requires not just great copywriting but also great thinking. Because, yes, your sales writing needs to hold your reader and convince them to say “yes”. But you need to research, discover and think of a big idea that’s going to compel them to do so. Without a big idea, you have nothing substantial to write about.
Fortunately, the principles of turning a big idea into a persuasive sales page are well-vetted. And through this article, you’ll be able to see what they are so you can, too, write your own persuasive sales page and turn prospects into customers with ease.
These principles apply not just to long-form sales pages but all forms of direct-response copywriting – like website copywriting or landing page copywriting. Just how you deliver them looks a little different.
Let’s start simple.
What is a sales page?
A sales page is the ultimate mode of written sales copywriting. A long-form sales page, in particular, is direct response copywriting in its purest form. It leaves no stone unturned, speaks in terms of reader benefits and caters for all decision-making modalities. The complete selling job.
Online, a sales page is usually a web page that persuades your target audience to become customers. This page is often their last destination before exchanging their money for your goods.
You have long-form sales pages and short-form sales pages. Both inherently do the same thing, just in different ways. Long-form sales pages sell hard. Short-form sales pages sell soft.
Which should you use? The next section will help.
Who should use a sales page?
Technically, any business can use a sales page. If you’ve got suitable traffic (either organic or paid) that links to your business, you can use a sales page to sell them. Whether it’s the best mode of selling, though… well, that depends on your situation.
In most cases, sales page traffic comes from (online) advertising or email lists.
Deciding whether a sales page is the best means of selling also depends on what you’re selling – and who to. Long-form sales pages are usually paired with high ticket offers (products and services), complex products or a highly sceptical audience because they require more convincing. A short-form sales page, on the other hand, is normally used with small-ticket offers, less complicated (or demanding) products or highly aware audiences.
However, regardless of the sales page size, you should only use a sales page to sell one product or service to one (type of) person. If you have multiple, you’ll need a sales page for each.
What’s the difference between a sales page, landing page and product page?
A ‘landing page’ is an umbrella term. By definition, it’s a web page that someone ‘lands on’. So technically, a sales page is a landing page, and a product page is also a landing page… but the opposite is not true.
However, in the world of copywriting, copywriters generally refer to a landing page as a page used for lead generation. Whereas sales pages and product pages are specifically used for sales.
In fact, a product page is a type of sales page. But the differences between a product page and a conventional sales page lie in where they sit. A product page sits on your website, with easy navigation to other pages. However, a conventional sales page sits alone. It has no global navigation or links to other pages. Its only focus is to take you from the top of the page and convince you to exchange your money for the product at the bottom.
Prerequisites for writing your sales page
Before you get into crafting your persuasive, long-form sales page, let’s make sure you have the prerequisites in place. You should:
- know what you’re offering (i.e. the product, price and terms)
- have all your forms of credibility organised together (e.g. social proof, reviews, ratings, awards, video testimonials, guarantees)
- you should have all your bonuses (and their features) with their respective monetary value
How you complete these prerequisites is outside the scope of this article. Although, for help crafting your offer, the article has a section that helps.
Once you’ve got these in place, let’s have a look at the steps to crafting your sales page.
The 4-step process to crafting a high-performing sales page
Like most copywriting projects, a high-performing sales pages has four steps:
This article will take you through each of these steps, so you can follow along and complete as you go.
Step 1: Researching your sales page
Research is arguably the most important step in crafting a high-performing sales page. And it’s broken into three categories: audience, product and competition. The aims of this step are simple.
For audience research, you need to find (or crystallise) who you’re talking to, what pains they have, what they’re sensitive to, where they’re looking to go and what that looks like to them. You need to know them better than they know themselves. All the little details. Pay attention to any ‘moments’ that could help you create your overarching story.
For product research, you need to find how your product will best become the vehicle of transformation (from pain to pleasure). And what features of your product best support that. This area of research also involves digging into the sector itself and the context in which your product sits – so you can elevate its benefits.
For competitor research, you need to see what others are saying so you don’t say the same. Repeating competitor claims and mechanisms doesn’t help you stand out or make it easy for your prospect to pick you.
How and where you find this information can be found in this article: How to research for any copywriting project.
But ultimately, all your research findings are going to give you the bits you need to think of your big idea. We head there next.
How to find your sales page’s big idea
Like a lot of things, finding a big idea is easier said than done. But important nonetheless. There is no hard and fast way to think of – or find – a big idea, but there are characteristics to look for. Your research is the foundation.
Your big idea should combine:
- Your reader’s strongest motivation/desire
- You stating it in a new, interesting way
- Your reader desperately wants to know more
But as big as your big idea is, it needs to be simple enough to fit on a post-it note. Just one sentence. If not, it’s going to be too complex to reinforce throughout your sales page.
Step 2: Writing your sales page
A sales page has a number of components that need copywriting. For example, you have the overall page structure – or the page formula – the story you’re going to weave into it and your lead (how you begin the sales page). In this step, I’ll take you through each of them.
Choose your sales story
Once you’ve researched and you know your audience, product, market, competition and big idea, you’re ready to start creating your overarching story. Why do you need a story? Well, stories evoke emotion. And emotion sells. They also help you bypass the natural sales defence prospects put up when a sales message is on the horizon. That way, you can spend more time building rapport with your prospect and charming them with your sales pitch.
All sales pages (and other forms of sales copywriting) use stories to some extent. But the sales page copywriters don’t just close their eyes and pick one – no. Your resources and research findings will dictate what story type is best suited to your sales page.
There are four main types of sales page stories:
- The “Two Picture” – A before and after story
- The Origin – Using the past to make the present more interesting
- The “Future Shock” – Using the future to make the present more interesting
- The Quest – The hero’s journey
You can find out more about these sales stories, how to write them and what information best suits each type (i.e. if you have XYZ, choose this story) in this article here.
Choose your lead type
So, whilst sales stories are (very) important, you don’t have to necessarily lead with them. In fact, there are a number of ways you can open a sales page. The book Great Leads, written by Michael Masterson and John Forde, shares six different types.
Before we look at them, let’s understand why the sales lead is so important.
In a few words, your lead is your first – and only – chance to emotionally engage and persuade your reader. If your lead doesn’t grip them, they won’t read the rest of your sales page. And if they don’t read your sales page, you can almost guarantee they won’t buy your product. So it all starts here.
According to Masterson and Forde, these are the six main lead types:
- The Offer Lead
- The Promise Lead
- The Problem-Solution Lead
- The Big Secret Lead
- The Proclamation Lead
- The Story Lead
They start direct and become increasingly indirect. And generally, the level of directness depends on your audience’s awareness. For example, you’d pair a direct lead with a highly aware reader.
To make your lead as gripping as possible, you should also use the 4Us to help. This isn’t a checklist but rather a consideration. You’re not trying to force these Us into your lead, but you should see if you can make them more so.
This article looks at the 4Us – in relation to your sales lead – in more detail.
How to structure your sales page
Story? Check. Lead type? Check. Now it’s time to assemble your sales page.
Many of the great sales page copywriters start with a page formula. They’re proven persuasive structures that get you thinking in the right way. So, with your own page structure, there’s no rigid framework to follow. Just guidelines that should then tailor to your reader and product. (Hence why you’ve got your story and lead already sorted!)
Every sales message – whatever the format – inherently has the same components. They don’t always have to be in the same order or to the same degree, but for a message to sell, they need them.
The components of a complete sales message are:
- Make a promise
- Hit a pain point
- Tell a story
- Establish credibility
- Prove the promise
- Handle objections
- Make an offer (increase perceived value)
- Push for the sale
You can then take these components and put them into the following tried-and-tested sales page structure.
Remember, they don’t have to follow this order. Your research might lead to you starting with the solution – or dream state – and then going back to agitate a problem. It might even invite you to blend some together. Similarly, each section doesn’t have to be the same length. For example, you could have multiple crossheads and mini-sections within your Agitation or lots of objections to handle in your Why. That’s perfectly fine.
Let’s have a look at each section and see what kind of information you need to cover.
If you’re starting with the problem, and likely a more indirect lead, you need to hit a pain point. The more vibrant you paint it, the better. Great copywriting understands the reader’s situation because that’s the fast track to trusting you. Like all leads, it needs to be bold and attention-grabbing. So make sure you’ve considered the 4Us.
Next, you’re trying to rub salt in the wound. Dramatise the problem. Hone in on the details. Consider who else is affected by these pain points. This is going to make your copy more emotional, so looking for a solution becomes all the more inviting. Remember, you can weave this into your story. As long as it’s relevant, your reader will draw parallels and feel connected.
Note: If you’re not following this section with Solution, don’t let your reader drown in their pain. End with a way out. Offer hope.
Once you’ve agitated their problems, it’s time to show them the magical remedy that fixes them. Your copywriting should show you understand what they’ve been through and what they now need. Empathy is a very persuasive tool.
However, you’re not introducing your product yet – that’s next. Right now, you’re making a promise of what the solution does and what the other side of this pain looks like. You want your reader to long for the “how”.
Note: You can sometimes lead with the solution with a more direct lead. You’ll then follow that with the Problem and Agitation.
And now, you’re giving your reader the “how” – your product and offer details. This is the vehicle of transformation. Include some form of credibility or social proof here, like ratings, awards or authoritative figures who have used/made your product. These can be text- or image-based. Whatever you think best suits your sales page. At this point, though, you’re not including your bonuses. They’ll come later as deal sweeteners.
The question that next arises in your reader’s mind is “Why should I choose this product?”. This section answers it. Fortunately, you have a few ways you can do this: establish credibility, prove your product does what it says, handle objections and separate your product from others on the market.
You can include reviews, case studies, video testimonials, guarantees, specific product features and other forms of social proof to help. If you’re handling objections and anxieties, use proof that supports those objections in particular (it’s more persuasive than just saying it).
Now, you want them to visualise their life with your product so they can see (specifically) how much your product will improve their life. Again, include more credibility to keep doubts to a minimum. You can show people using your product and what their new-and-improved life looks like.
Once you’ve crystallised their impending happiness and your product is as desirable as it can be, you can introduce your bonuses. These should expand how much your offer will help them. And sweeten the deal, making a “yes” even more likely. Use images and your bonuses’ monetary value will help further. If you have a guarantee, now’s a good time to share it.
Finally, it’s time to summarise – and remind your reader of – the key parts of your offer and push for the sale. You can close out with a short body of text or a (long) bullet point list of everything they’re getting with your offer. Don’t forget your bonuses. If you haven’t introduced any urgency, make sure you do. If you have, reiterate it. You can also add more proof (e.g. reviews/social proof) beneath this section to minimise doubts.
If you have other objections or useful bits of information that you’ve not been able to work into earlier copy, adding a list of FAQs beneath your close can be a great way to do so. The answers to their questions act as motivations to take action. Make sure you add an option to buy – i.e. a CTA button – at the end.
Where to put images
As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So images on sales pages are a very wise choice. But like your copy, and everything on a sales page, they need to be relevant. The pictures you choose should magnify the impact of your words. Make your words real.
For example, images in your “agitation” might show the real pains your protagonist had to endure. Images used in your story add credibility to what you’re saying. The more ‘native’ and authentic, the better.
Similarly, you should add plenty of pictures of your product and bonuses. The more your reader can see your product, the more believable it becomes. You could add professional pictures to your ‘Introducing’ and plenty of videos or images as testimonials. You could even use some from customer’s social media. This adds another dimension of credibility.
But with all images, make sure you add captions. Captions have high readership and thus high ‘influence-ability’. Use them to add context and reinforce your body copy.
Where to put CTA buttons
Most sales pages move the reader through awareness levels. Most readers won’t be aware of your product or offer when they start the sales page. So, until you’ve introduced your product or offer, there isn’t much point in adding a call-to-action button. If you do, you’ll only encourage curiosity clicks (which interrupt your message…).
Once you’ve introduced your product (and bonuses), regularly include buttons and in-text links. You can add buttons at the end of a mini-section or in-text links mid-mini-section. Now, you want to increase the opportunities to buy and make it as easy as possible to do so.
Other sales page formulas
The sales page structure – or formula – you’ve seen here is not the only one you can use. Here are some others you can try:
- Qualify the prospect
- Understand where they are
- Educate them on a better way
- Stimulate them to want the better way
- Transition them from where they are to becoming a customer
- Attention. Grab them and pull them into your message.
- Interest. Hook them and lure them deeper into your message.
- Desire. Make them hungry for what you’re offering.
- Conviction. Help them get over their scepticism. (Use proof)
- Action. Push for the sale and ask for action.
Regardless of what formula you choose, you need to cover all the components of a sales message. These formulas are just another way to deliver them.
Step 3: Editing your sales page
Now you’ve written your sales page, it’s time to edit. This can take some time, and you need to be ruthless with yourself and your work. Here’s what you need to check:
- Have you tapped into the key pains and desires?
- Is everything you’ve said honest? I.e. is your copy compliant?
- Is your sales page suitable for scanners? Do your crossheads and images fit the narrative so scanners understand the story without reading the full piece?
- Does your copy flow? Are the transitions smooth from section to section? Does each line pull you into the next?
- Does your proof support the transformation? If you’ve used weak proof, can you replace it? If not, have you sandwiched it between stronger proof?
- Is your headline and lead suitable for the traffic source?
- Are there any further incentives you could use to nudge your reader over the line?
- Does your sales page look easy to read?
- Is your copy as short, sharp and clear as it can be?
- Are you using low-effort language?
- Have you handled all objections and anxieties?
- Have you included lots of call-to-action buttons and in-text links?
Writing and editing are intentionally separate steps. They shouldn’t overlap. When you’re writing, you get sucked into it and lose perspective. Taking a break and separating the steps helps your editing because you regain it. Edit aggressively, cut out anything you can that doesn’t reinforce your core message.
Step 4: Testing your sales page
The final step of crafting your sales page is to test. To hone in and create the best sales page you possibly can, testing shouldn’t stop. You can always try and improve it. Even individual words in headlines can change the lift from a sales page.
But what are you testing?
Well, only one thing at a time to identify its impact… but ultimately, within three categories: your big idea, your offer, and your audience. Within each of those are multiple components to split test. For example, you could change your lead, your headline, your price, your bonuses, all the way down to button position, shape, size and copy.
Your existing sales page will act as your control. You can then split traffic across your control and your new version to isolate the impact of your change. Generally, it’s best to carry forward the elements that work best.
On-page analytics, like heat maps, can be useful to show where you’ve got drop-offs (and areas to look at improving first).
Go get ‘em
And that’s how to write a sales page. You know how to research, write, edit and test your sales copy. You know the core elements of a sales message and that you need to incorporate them into any structure. You know the types of leads and stories – and when to use them. Get your sales page out there and start turning potential customers into loyal ones.