Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 3 of 4

Steelhead« Continued from Part 2

This week we will continue with the writing of your killer sales copy, with a focus on holding the reader’s attention.

8) Keep It Simple

It’s usually safest to keep your industry’s jargon and any gobbledygook out of your sales copy. But, there are times when it’s both necessary and appropriate to call things by their correct names. In those instances, you don’t want to make your reader look words up in a dictionary, pop out to “Google” the term or leave your site in frustration. Where you feel it’s important to include an ‘techie’ or industry term, try to make the meaning apparent from the context, without dumbing the content down so the reader feels stupid.

The first time you use an acronym, it can be helpful to place the full text in brackets, underlining the letters used in abbreviated form.

9) Write for Lazy Readers

Many of my most memorable hours have been spent fly fishing for steelhead in the crystal clear frigid waters of the Chehalis River in winter. These enormous trout hold in pools to rest before continuing their journey upstream. They’re on a mission, and not particularly hungry. Conserving energy for the arduous uphill trip is important. But if a very easy meal presents itself they may be willing to move an inch or two to sip it in. Carefully drifting a bright fly within inches of their nose — often repeatedly — can eventually provoke a strike. I’ve had steelhead take the fly on the fifth or sixth bump on the nose.

Your web visitor doesn’t want to work for your answer to their problem or desire, so make it ridiculously simple to identify the benefits of your offering and grab it.

10) Use Chunking

Your readers have short attention spans, thanks to scanning entirely too many emails, blog posts and letters like yours. So, avoid overwhelming your prospective customers by making them slog through long blocks of text. Keep paragraphs short and punchy. A good rule of thumb is to limit paragraphs to four sentence chunks and keep sentences down to twelve words or less.

Trying to be too clever or creative requires your reader to think. Web searchers are on the hunt, so making them stop and process content can be distracting, or even annoying. Keep paragraphs short, simple and easy to scan.

‘Sign post’ your content with illuminating subheadings. Key points will benefit from bold, italic, underlined or highlighted text.

Consider breaking some of the paragraphs into bullet points. In some cases bullet points can be effectively linked to corresponding subsections lower in the page, using ‘#anchor’ tags.

11) Be Conversational

This isn’t high school English class. When most of us speak face to face or on the phone, we use contractions and begin sentences with “But”, “And” or “Because”. I know… horrible! In copywriting it’s also okay. To make a sale, you want to begin a conversation, so use that tone as you write.

12) Don’t Bore Them

You are never going to bore someone into making a purchasing decision.

Last week, I covered the placement of your most important information. Your prospects are unlikely to absorb your entire message, although some will occasionally read a traditional long sales letter top to bottom. If it’s unrealistic to expect their undivided attention, so you want to keep every paragraph exciting and on point.

Remember the ‘price/promise’ trade-off. People will pay the “price” of reading your copy, if the “promise” of gain or prevented loss is great enough. Referring to the answer about to be revealed — holding the prize in front of them — can keep them engaged.

Spice it up with power words like “easy”, “simple”, “hurry”, “faster”, “now”, “free”, “special offer” and “suddenly”.  They make an impact. Avoid the passive tense and too much repetition.

To be continued next week, as we move into the close

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Cole Wiebe

SEO / Content Marketing Consultant at Cole Wiebe & Assoc.
Cole helps small businesses and brands grow their influence and value online. The Cole Wiebe agency, founded 1997, is a boutique Vancouver SEO / content marketing firm specializing in online strategy, SEO copywriting and social media evangelism. Cole Wiebe on Google

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Cole

    Conversational articles always keep my concentration rather than something I’d read in an industry journal.

    I’m more likely to read to the end if someone has a conversation with me with words.

    I agree. It’s really important to keep things simple and explain any jargon you’ve used.

    There’s nothing worse than reading the first paragraph and not understanding what the message is. Most people will run for the hills!

    I’d never heard the term ‘chunking’ but I like it! It’s good to split your copy up into small bite-size sections. It aids with skimming through a page and let’s face it, most people do that on the internet!

    Some more really useful tips Cole. I appreciate you sharing them with us!

    Have a great weekend.

    Tim
    Tim Bonner recently posted…Sponsored Post: How Does Guest Crew Work? The Guest Crew Guide [infographic]My Profile

  2. says

    Hey Cole
    Lots of important lessons in here, and many I also try to use in my posts on a regular basis. It takes time to integrate these ideas into every post, but hopefully with time we improve and make our posts and ideas more readable.
    I also try to make my posts scannable and more easily readable. And have also gone with a larger font of late as I find and have read it really helps – something you should think about too?
    good job as always
    ashley
    Ashley Faulkes recently posted…Comment Luv Plugin – Share the LoveMy Profile

  3. says

    Hi Cole,

    It all makes sense.

    It’s very sad to even think about it, for a writer, but readers are lazy, indeed, and we need to write in such a way that’s easy enough for them to follow along. If we put them things right in front of their nose we might be able to catch one :) like the trouts.

    Technical terms are never a good idea, but even less so in a sales page.

    Thank you for those great tips, and have a great day!
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…Is Google Translate An Accurate Translator?My Profile

  4. says

    Hi Cole,

    I definitely agree with you on keeping it simple. I’ve read some sales copy that talks about their product and sometimes I find it very difficult to understand. I think that if people don’t understand what you’re talking about, they will leave and you’ll never get a second chance.

    I’ve never heard of the term “chunking” but definitely sounds like something that can be applied to our blog posts as well.

    Thanks for sharing these tips with us and I hope you have a great day.
    Susan Velez recently posted…Make $500 On Flippa – My Christmas ChallengeMy Profile

  5. says

    Hey Cole,

    More great tips you’ve shared continuing on with your first two parts. I think the one that stuck out to me the most is how lazy our readers really are.

    Because of that we need to keep it interesting, simple with out terms, fun to read and easy to scan for the important parts. Now I think I have all this down in my blog posts but as you already know, I’m not a pro at sales copy. It’s good to know though that the same really relates to that as well.

    Great share and I believe I have one more part to go so thanks for this one and I’m off to part four.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…How Facebook Is Slowly Killing Small BusinessesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Adrienne,

      I titled the subsection “Write for Lazy Readers”, but I don’t know if readers have become lazy, or if they’re just deprived of the time it would take to slog through long copy. Over the past weeks I’ve come across several posts that have promoted a return to the long sales letter advocated by David Ogilvy in his direct response campaigns. The results we’re seeing from our own marketing copy just aren’t supporting that approach.

      I’m also seeing less of the super long squeeze pages on the web. They have often been replaced with a short and upbeat video presentation.

      One of my favorite bloggers is Seth Godin. I understand he tries to keep most of his posts down to about 150 words, and that means I can always fit Seth into my day. I’ve also purchased most of his books as a result.

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…The Real Reason Most Blogging and Social Media Missed the Mark in 2013My Profile

  6. says

    Cole:

    Your copy leads your readers extremely well! Found your fabulous blog as a direct result of studying another experts!

    That being Ashley Faulkes. Certainly while all the points you raised are extremely valid! Numbers 9,10, 11 & 12 really drive your points home best for me!

    Specifically you make note in point # 12. You’ll never bore anyone into purchasing! You got that right!

    And your other extremely helpful technique of utilizing the price/promise trade off!

    That’s a great tactic to always bear in mine as your crafting any type of offer!

    On or offline! Great content! We’ll definitely be sharing more going forward! Thanks for sharing!
    Mark recently posted…Three Really Simple Ways To Increase Your Targeted Website Traffic In Seven Days Or Less!My Profile

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