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Make Your Sales Copy Sell 7 tricks to writing copy that brings in business.

By Derek Gehl

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Writing good sales copy doesn't have to be hard--you just use a formula. Plug in all the elements, and you'll create a whole that's bigger than the sum of its parts.

Any one of the copywriting techniques I'm about to tell you about can increase your conversion rate on its own, but use all of them together, and you'll create an unstoppable online salesperson that'll sell your product or service 24/7.

1. Write to a targeted audience.
Unless money is no object, you have to define your audience beyond "people on the internet." You have to know exactly who your niche market is and then target your sales copy to precisely what they're looking for.

You can find out a lot about your site visitors' preferences and habits by looking at the server logs your web host supplies:

  • What's the most popular page on your site?
  • What pages do visitors stay on for the longest time?
  • Where do people most often click away from your site?
  • When do most people visit your site?

Also consider the questions or comments you get from customers after a sale. What do they want to know? What do they like or dislike?

All this hard information will help you come up with copy that addresses your users' specific needs and anticipates any questions or objections they might have--just the way a sales rep would do in person.

2. Create an attention-grabbing headline.
A winning headline gets straight to the point and promises an answer to the problem your visitor wants you to solve.

You see limp, irrelevant, ineffective headlines like these all the time:

  • Welcome to www.MyWebsite.com!
  • WidgetWorld--the solution to all your drainage problems!

Now take a look at some effective headlines:

  • From Penny Halgren's How-To-Quilt.com : Now, in Just 9 Easy Steps, You Can Transform Ordinary Fabric Into a Handmade Quilt That Your Family and Friends Will Love, Admire and Cherish -Even if You Have Never Made a Quilt Before!
  • And from Darren Salkeld's Down-Feather-Bedding.com : Have you been searching for luxury goose down comforters--at places such as Amazon.com, Bizrate.com, Overstock.com, eBay.com (just to name a few)--but cannot decipher all the hype from the true quality!?

    Finally... Get all of the facts that surround the luxury goose down bedding business--including insider information AND closely guarded industry secrets--so you can make a totally informed decision for your entire family's well being!

Both headlines address precisely what the target visitor is looking for. If you keep your headline highly relevant, simple and specific, your visitor will read on.

3. Establish your credibility.
Your visitors are just two clicks away from dozens or even hundreds of other sites similar to yours. Why should they believe what you have to say? You have to prove very early on that what you're about to tell them can be trusted. So:

  • Provide your credentials. Detailing your credentials helps establish you as an authority on your subject in the eyes of your visitors and will put you one step closer to making the sale.
  • Tell a story. Explain the story behind your business or product, and your visitors will relate to you as a person, rather than just seeing a faceless commercial website.
  • Use testimonials. Results-packed testimonials from happy customers are the most powerful trust-builder of all. Make sure they're specific and describe the exact results your customer achieved by using your product or service. Include the person's name, company name and URL if possible to show there's a real live person behind the rave review.
  • Add a strong guarantee. Since your product or service can't be inspected over the internet, many consumers are understandably cautious about buying online. A strong guarantee shows you stand behind what you're selling. We've found that the longer your guarantee period is, the fewer returns you'll get!

4. Talk about benefits, not just features.
Your potential customers want to know how your product or service will make their lives easier, so focus on benefits, not features.

Here's an example:

  • Feature: The Grade A Gardening Shovel is ergonomically designed to remove weeds more efficiently than traditional shovels.
  • Benefit: Get your weeding done in half the time and reduce wrist soreness!

A benefit answers the question "What's in it for me?" and gets visitors to imagine using your product to take care of the problem they're trying to solve.

5. Add a sense of urgency for immediate sales.
Now that your visitors know where to find you online, they may decide to browse around some more, think things over and come back later--only they won't come back.

You need to give your visitors a good reason to buy now rather than later. Offering a limited quantity of products or offering them only for a limited time can give them the nudge they need to pull out their credit cards.

Coupons or discounts that expire also motivate potential customers. Another option is to offer a special bonus item for a limited time. For example: "This special bonus is available only to the first 200 people who order!"

6. Format your pages for easy scanning.
People scan online rather than reading word by word. Break up your text with these techniques:

  • Use bulleted lists and subheads.
  • Make short, chunky paragraphs of one to four lines--and mix them up.
  • Emphasize important points with bolding, highlighting, or italics.
  • Use a plain font like Arial or Verdana.
  • Use only relevant graphics and images.
  • Put your text on an unpatterned, white or light background.

7. Ask for the order.
Once you've drawn your visitors through the sales process by explaining the features and benefits of your product or service, you need to spell out exactly what you want your visitor to do. For instance:

  • To order now and receive your copy within minutes, click here!
  • Click here to take advantage of this limited-time offer!
  • To get your widget--backed by our 100% risk-free guarantee--click here now!

If you don't make the next step crystal clear for your visitors, there's no telling how many sales might be slipping through your fingers.

When it comes to your online business, your sales copy is your one and only chance to communicate directly with your potential customers and tell them why they should buy from you over someone else. So use these copywriting techniques to make sure your sales copy is doing its job.

Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses. IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.

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