Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4

Sales copy that converts« Continued from Part 3

In this last post of the series I’ll cover trust factors, creating urgency and sealing the deal.

13) Prove It

Social proof is your most powerful persuasion tactic. If you’ve made claims about your product or service, here’s how you back them up. Your readers will naturally consider what you say to be biased, so you’ll need outside help to bridge the credibility gap.

Inserting an excerpt, graph, infographic or video from a recognized industry authority can validate some of your statements. But, killer testimonials are hands-down your best tool for encouraging prospective customers to choose you. Most testimonials on the web are dreadful, so this is a place for you to really shine.

Never make up testimonials. Ethical issues aside, your readers are way too smart for that. Signing a testimonial with first names  “Jim” or “Mary”, without any link for verification, makes the testimonial message highly suspect. Including these diluted, anonymous endorsements can actually be a negative. Anyone genuinely vouching for you will have little or no objection to having their full name associated with their words.

A quality testimonial will discuss the way your product or service solved a problem, saved time, made them money, improved their life in some other way or elevated their status. It will include a first and last real name, company name (where applicable), website URL and/or social media ID. Very few people will ever take the time to confirm a testimonial’s authenticity, but endorsements without the provision for verification are generally considered fabricated.

The best time for obtaining a testimonial is right after you’ve made a purchaser very happy. Send them an email asking, “How did we do?” Hint: lead their response with loaded questions that pertain to one of the leading objections you encounter, and how you met or exceeded expectations. Here are a few examples. “How did you feel about our price before making your purchase, and do you now feel you’ve received excellent value?” “Were we fast?” “Did our support team solve your problem and live up to your expectations?”

Third-party testimonials also work well. An example: “Since joining XYZ Fitness my wife has lost the 25 pounds she wanted to drop, but I’ve also noticed she radiates a confidence I haven’t seen in quite a few years. She’s a new person. Last week she was promoted to head of her department.” There are times when it’s easier to acquire a third-party endorsement, so keep your eyes open for these opportunities.

If your site has a case studies section, you can insert excerpts in your sales copy, with a link to the full page. (Be sure to have links open as a new page, so your reader won’t lose their place in your sales letter.)

Sprinkle your copy with social proof as it relates to the copy immediately above, clearly distinguishable from the copy by insetting it in quotes or inside a pale colored box.

In addition to social proof, you’ll want your page to include any other trust elements that apply: trade associations, official Better Business Bureau rating, PayPal Verified, TRUSTe, VeriSign Secured, GeoTrust, 100% Money Back Guarantee and other badges. Again, you’ll want to link all badges to web pages that verify their authenticity.

14) Why Should They Take Action Today?

In Part 1 I mentioned the squeeze page offers, where the site will be taken down in only, say “2 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes and 41 seconds,” and counting. They generally market a course or ebook, sold on the business model of the traveling snake oil salesmen of the early west. If customers didn’t buy the magic elixir that day, the offer was literally riding out of town the next morning.

This series of articles is written primarily for small businesses, and you are hopefully planning to make not only the one sale, but cultivate repeat business and referrals. As an incentive, “Buy today, before we take the site down and vanish forever,” is too drastic, and it sends entirely the wrong message when building your customer base.

Fortunately, there are several ways to provide an incentive to buy today, without going to the dark side with a fly by night angle.

There are several seasonal opportunities that can be utilized as a legitimate reason to provide a reduced price for a very limited time period. Many of my clients have pointed out that holiday seasons almost run into each other throughout the year, so there could technically always be a discount offer. I disagree with that premise. Often your prospective customers will stop by a site a few times before making a purchase, subscribing to a list or taking some other desired action. Your incentive to “buy now” will lose all credibility if there’s always a sale. It also suggests your product or service isn’t really worth the “regular” price.

During the periods of the year when there is no seasonal discount offer, various free upgrades provide an attractive incentive for people that see the value of your product or service and would love the inclusions at no additional charge.

To structure the value-added offer correctly, you must build sufficient value in your sales copy for the primary product or service, which is sold at full price. You then also sell them on the value added benefit, preferably with one or two testimonials that support the benefits of these add-ons.

An example of a free upgrade offer might be a printer. If purchased today, the customer receives an extra set of ink cartridges and five packages of paper, shipped one per month. The brilliance of an offer like this is that it gets the customer used to receiving supplies from the same company the printer was purchased from. Another example would be a software purchase that benefits from a subscription add-on. Giving away a six month free subscription as a ‘closer’ lets the customer become used to the extra features. When the free subscription expires most will renew with a paid subscription. Now, isn’t this better than discounting your margins away?

15) Don’t Forget to Ask Them to Buy

You’ve put a lot into writing your copy. This is no time to be shy. It’s time to make it super simple to “Buy Now.”

I used to be a sales manager for a direct marketing company. One of the biggest challenges I had was getting our sales team to risk all those warm fuzzy feelings they had just built with the prospect to go in for the close. I had to remind them that if they made the sale, they would see that customer again when the product was delivered, and probably meet their friends through referral. But if they failed to ask for the order, they would be forgotten within a week. That’s the reality of marketing. You enjoy the relationships you build only if you “sell” them something.

Unless you’re selling a shitty product or service (in which case you seriously need to rethink your offering), you owe it to your prospective customer to ask for that order… repeatedly if necessary.

16) Rinse and Repeat

Track your results. Retain all versions of your sales copy and file them with the results. This will enable you to identify what has worked, tweak what did not and restore previous versions as required.

Back to You

I welcome your comments and any questions you may have. Do you have a story to add, where you’ve had success with one of the techniques described in this series?

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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. Ashley F says

    Hey Cole
    Some great ideas here from the trenches it seems.
    I have not gotten to the point of testimonials on my site yet, but i was always a big dubious. You give some good ideas here how to overcome this. Which is perfect!
    Also selling, that is a tough one, even for us bloggers. We want to be everyone’s friends and forget that we have to make money. I often hear Pat Flynn mention this on his podcasts, that he hates pushing people to buy but has to make himself do it. A necessary evil of our lives!
    have a great week
    ashley
    Ashley F recently posted…Market Samurai Review – Get on page one of GoogleMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Ashley,

      So true… natural street smarts and the acquired ability to sell and convince people to take action… these don’t generally come naturally to creatives.

      I was watching an episode of Shark Tank this morning (the US spin on the UK and Canadian show Dragons’ Den) with my daughter. We observed again that someone may have the very best education from a prestigious university, a brilliant invention, the most innovative service concept… but if they can’t sell it, they’re dead in the water. One of the ‘sharks’ asked the inventor why he hadn’t partnered with someone that could sell and get his product out there, considering he’d recognized his shortcomings in that area.

      My daughter is an English honors major in her fourth year of university and has asked me several times what I thought she might take in addition to her language studies. I have advised her to choose courses on sales, so she can market herself effectively when she’s out in the workforce.

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  2. says

    Hey Cole,

    I think it is important to have social proof. Just look at how many marketers out there who claim they are doing well. Frankly, not all. Most of them are either selling a product or service which claimed they had achieve (plus photoshop) Haha!

    So yes. Start with sharing legitimate results and stats. Readers and clients will appreciate that.

    Great write mate.
    Reginald recently posted…Long Tail Pro Review, Features And $30 Discount CodeMy Profile

    • says

      In traditional brick and mortar businesses, the “success” (survival) rate is about 5% after 5 years (in Canada). Without mortgaging the house, taking out a large loan or hitting friends and relatives up for money for the start-up, it’s typically a lot easier to bale on a small internet business. I’d be very surprised if more than 2% of the “filthy rich” online marketing gurus are as successful as they claim to be. The squeeze pages show testimonials, but they tend to be exchanged with others also selling “get rich quick” info products. I agree, the information products industry probably requires more proof than any other.
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  3. says

    Hi Cole

    I agree that there are so many bad testimonials out there these days. Particularly when it comes to things like internet marketing products.

    You see the same faces endorsing the same or similar products because they want to make money out of selling it to their email list too!

    I like your suggestions though. I don’t have anything to sell yet but one day when I do, I’ll have something to follow.

    I’m not great at asking people to buy things either. If I write a review of a product, for example, I’d never ask someone out right to buy it.

    I know that’s not quite the same as if you’re selling your own product but maybe it would have the same effect? Something to try.

    I appreciate this series Cole. I’ve taken a lot from it.

    Have a great day.

    Tim
    Tim Bonner recently posted…Blogging Tips Shared: Pramod ChoudhariMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback Tim. Some of the best information I’ve ever purchased has come from quality ebooks and courses; yet I can’t think of a single purchase I have ever made from one of those dreaded squeeze pages — where all the same faces endorse each other’s info products in testimonials sprinkled throughout the copy — that I was happy I made.

      I would agree that recommending a product in a review is very different from asking for an order with your own product.

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  4. says

    Good stuff Cole,

    Social proof is a key trust building factor and definitely agree that you should never put on fake testimonials – your customers will smell a rat for sure.

    Also, you are bang on with a strong call to action. No point building up all that trust/urgency and then not asking them to do anything!

    You can lead an idiot to a website, but you can’t make him buy without a big shiny, blatantly obvious button…
    David McSweeney recently posted…How To Be NiceMy Profile

    • says

      Hi David,

      Have you tested which color of “big, shiny, blatantly obvious button” works best? Is it the standard PayPal-inspired yellow? In an effort not to appear the same as all those “buy it today or you’re screwed for life” squeeze pages out there, I’ve favored a more subtle color like silver, but perhaps that’s too timid. :-)

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  5. sherman smith says

    Hey Cole,

    Testimonials make a lot of sense. If great testimonials work for a sales page, why not have them on your blog page. When people see how strong the social proof you have, then this will greatly affect how they make a decision.

    Also when you already gave social proof on the products and the benefits, why be shy about the call to action. A lot of people, including myself, have missed some great sales just from not asking people to buy. Why waist all that time on building trust if you’re not going to ask your prospective customers to buy!

    Thanks for sharing the tips
    sherman smith recently posted…Using Sucuri Security To Rid Malware From Your BlogMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Sherman,

      So true… Why is that the fly-by-night hucksters selling those crappy ebooks and video courses, with completely fabricated “proof”, have no compunction about pushing hard for the order while legitimate businesses with high quality products or services, and great after-sale support, are shy and almost apologetic about asking their customers to make a decision they will be very happy they made for years to come?

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  6. says

    You mentioned never make up testimonials. That is one thing I have never done. I have gone to my competitors site and it is so obvious. I say to myself Really..

    It is important on your site is to have a call to action to get people to buy.

    I noticed that one of your comments was to have your daughter take a course in sales. That is not a bad idea, how not everyone is cut out for sales. I have been in sales all my life and it is such a part of me that I don’t even realize that I am closing people all the time.
    Arleen recently posted…A Christmas Story of Marketing SuccessMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Arlene,

      The late Zig Ziglar insisted that everyone is in sales. We sell our girlfriends and boyfriends on marrying us. Then we sell them on sticking around after “I do.” We sell our kids on what great parents we are. We sell people on hiring us or becoming our clients. We sell others on being our friends. I’ve convinced my dog I’m one hell of an owner :-)…

      To me it’s so sad when someone is attractive, well educated, respectful and pleasant to be around… promise itself… but ends up at a mediocre, unsatisfying job because they were never able to market their assets and close the deal. I believe the ability to sell at least marginally is a small key that can open some very big doors.

      I would agree with you that not everyone is cut out for sales as a career. There are some people with a natural aptitude for it and for them ‘full commission’ can represent a license to print money.

      - Cole
      Cole Wiebe recently posted…Writing Sales Copy That Converts :: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  7. says

    Hey Cole,

    Okay, I’m back and to the end of this really great series.

    Ah, the prove it part. With all the fake stuff going around today and even having learned that big brands are doing this too I’m kind of not even sure about the testimonials anymore. Like you said though have their name and link so if people did want to get in touch with them and ask them they could and I think that would be probably your best bet today.

    I like the discounted price for a limited time more then the if you don’t grab it now it’s off the market when we all know it’s not. I think getting it at a lower price for a limited time to me is much more appealing so I would definitely consider that direction.

    This was a great series Cole, good job and thank you for taking the time to share this with us. For those of us who aren’t copywriters, this is really good stuff to know.

    Have a great ending to your week.

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

  8. says

    Hey Cole,

    Thank-you for including a segment about asking for the sale.
    I’ll admit that I have always found it tough to do – regardless of whether or not I believed in whatever I was selling at the time.

    It may be a combination of the fear of rejection, or feeling as though I’m putting someone in an uncomfortable position by asking for the purchase.

    So I’m glad you brought this up because I need to stare this aspect of myself in the face and find my limiting beliefs about it.
    I’m gonna triumph over this dammit!
    Lol
    Dana recently posted…Freedom…My Profile

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