So, you want to sell something, but feel that your copywriting is mediocre at best. You might be worried that your lackluster skills are hurting your conversion rate.
And you may be right.
If your words aren’t hitting the right buttons, you could potentially be losing hundreds, if not thousands of leads and customers every month.
Even if you’re offering high-quality products and services, you could be leaking profits all over the place if you’re lazy with your copy.
Well then, how do we patch this up?
To someone who’s just getting started with marketing, learning effective copywriting may seem like a long and tiresome road.
I mean, the top copywriters get paid hundreds of thousands, if not MILLIONS of dollars every year…
It has to be difficult, right?
Of course, the chance that you’ll immediately get the same results as these rockstar writers is slim to none.
However, there’s a simple checklist you can follow that will instantly elevate the level of your current copywriting.
If you don’t follow this already, implementing it will pretty much guarantee a big boost in your conversion rates.
Old But Gold
So, what am I talking about?
No, there’s no long copywriting book you have to read, or expensive courses you need to take.
Now, don’t get me wrong, investing in these resources in the long run is a good idea, but you don’t need them to get started.
With that in mind, I want to introduce you to an article that was written over 15 years ago (that’s like 83 in internet years!).
It’s called “12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template “, by the veteran marketer David Frey.
Yes, the article is kind of old.
Yes, Frey was mainly talking about physical mail marketing.
However, make no mistake about it:
This stuff still works in online marketing today!
Here, we’ll go through each of the 12 points he lists in the sales letter template, and why they’re so efficient at driving sales.
In fact, as you read through this list, you’ll probably be reminded of at least one time you were sold to by someone using this template.
Let’s dive right into it.
1. Get Their Attention
This is the very first step to driving sales. It doesn’t matter how well-crafted the body of your copy is — if your headline or introduction is weak, you’ll lose out, big time.
While this has always been true, it is especially important today.
People have an abundance of stuff to do online, and the next distraction is just a click or two away.
If you want to grab the ever-shifting attention of your potential leads and customers, you have to get your headlines right.
You have to hook them. Firmly.
Have To Know
Use lines that make the reader curious. You don’t want to be obnoxious about it, but the headline should make them feel like they just have to keep reading to get the full story.
Some ideas you can use for your headlines:
• “How to *insert desired outcome*”— this is a tried and true example that can easily be altered and expanded upon to fit your niche.
• “This Little-Known Loophole/Secret Will *Insert desired outcome*”— people simply love loopholes and secrets, especially when it’s related to a strong need they have.
• “Avoid/Get Rid Of “insert pain point” By Doing This” — if you’re in a niche with really strong pain points, this headline (and similar variants) will be very effective.
2. Identify Their Problem
So, you’ve got their attention with an attractive headline. Good job!
The next step is to remind them of their problems, and show them that you know how it feels to suffer with that specific issue.
This is the part where you really hammer on the pain point of your customer. In fact, Frey even mentions that you should “pretend that it’s an open wound that you’re rubbing salt into”.
If you’re new to sales, this may sound really mean-spirited to you. However, it’s really not as bad as it sounds, everything considered.
Besides sucking them deeper into your copy, you’re showing them that you empathize with their problems, which is reassuring. If you’re selling them high-quality products, you shouldn’t feel bad (just don’t knowingly peddle crap, ok?).
In Their Shoes
If you’re pitching someone a product about weight-loss, you can describe in detail how it feels to have excess fat around the belly, seeing the size of your clothing steadily rise etc.
Go deep with this — remind them of the burdens of their problem and why they want it resolved.
A tip to consider when doing this:
Storytelling is incredibly powerful in persuasion. If you’re good at it, you can include a story of a real or fictional person who mirrors the reader in ways that are relevant.
Basically, create an avatar of your customer and tell a well-crafted story, while outlining their hopes and fears.
Include a nice ending where the person solves their problems and lives their dream life.
Now that you’ve created an emotional spike by outlining the reader’s problems, it’s time to…
3. Provide The Solution
Here, you’ll mentally relieve the reader by presenting them with the solution to their problem. This will suck them in even further.
This is the section of your copy where you’ll present your product and yourself/your company for the first time.
Keep in mind, however, that this is also where most people get skeptical, so don’t make it too long-winded.
This logically brings us to the next point.
4. Present Your Credentials
After you’ve presented them with the solution (your product or service), you have to give one or more reasons for why the reader should trust you.
Maybe they’ve bought similar products in the past that fell short on their promises, or perhaps your offer simply sounds too good to be true.
Reassure them that you know what you’re talking about. Tell them exactly why they should listen to you.
Examples include: your experience in the field, famous people you’ve worked with, the money you’ve made so far etc.
Direct proof is always the most persuasive (screenshots of sales dashboards, pictures of your ripped physique etc.).
If you can’t do that, you at least need to make sure that you’re convincing with your words (including the tone of voice if you’re doing audio/video).
5. Show Them The Benefits
After you’ve shown them why you can be trusted to fix their problems, it’s time to present them with how you’re going to do it.
Rather than just blurting out line after line about all the amazing features of your product, keep your main focus on your customer and their needs.
Remember, when people are looking to buy a product, they’re not really interested in the product, per se, but rather how the product will make them feel — how it will improve their lives.
Include both the obvious and subtle benefits of your product.
For example, if we’re talking about a weight-loss product, you can mention:
• Obvious: They’ll get a tighter waist, they’ll lose x amount of weight in x amount of days.
• Subtle: They’ll have more energy and a more active lifestyle = healthier relationships and a more interesting social life.
Make the benefits clear and easy to understand. Incorporate bullet points and/or numbered lists to create a neat overview, and use relevant imagery if possible.
6. Provide Social Proof
As humans we’re heavily influenced by the people that surround us — both our family and the community at large. This includes our buying decisions.
Take Amazon.com, for example. You can have two more or less identical products listed right next to each other, yet they’ll have widely varying sales numbers.
If all else is equal, you can bet your donkey that the one with more reviews (more social proof) will outsell the other.
In fact, despite stricter policies, Amazon is still having a massive problem with fraudelent ratings. Certain sellers are making big bank by artificially inflating their reviews — social proof is just that effective.
When we’re unsure about something, most of us automatically look to others to influence our decision (whether we want to admit it or not).
While you don’t need thousands of reviews to sell your product, think of various ways you can incorporate social proof to influence your readers to buy.
Here are some suggestions:
- Facebook likes and shares.
- Testimonial snippets.
- Personal recommendations from other experts.
- The number of people you’ve helped so far.
- How many users your service has.
- The number of people who are viewing the sales page.
- Popups showing recent buyers (“Ted J., Ohio just purchased *insert your product* 5 minutes ago”).
7. Make Your Offer
If you’ve implemented all of the 6 steps so far, you should already be seeing increased conversions.
Now we’ve arrived at what’s arguably the most critical step of the whole process:
You’ve done a lot of initial work to get here, so it’s vital that you don’t mess this up.
Your offer has to seem like a no-brainer — a deal that nobody in their right mind would decline. You can do this by offering great terms, a slashed price, and a bonus or two.
Don’t worry, though. The bonuses don’t have to be ultra-shiny to be persuasive.
For example, you can give away ebooks, mp3s or a short video course. These are just the cherries on top that will raise the perceived value of your main offer.
8. Give A Guarantee
At this point, the heaviest lifting is done, and a good portion of your leads will have bought already.
Still, there’s a powerful “one-two punch” you should use to convince the remaining doubters, and push your conversion rate to the next level.
First up is the guarantee. This deals with the customer’s fear of being ripped off.
On the web, especially, people are wary about giving their email or credit card details to someone they’ve just come across (for good reasons).
Reassure them that you’ll give them their money back if they don’t like it, and give them a time window for the refund.
I’m so confident in *insert your product* that I’m willing to give you a 30-day money back guarantee.
If you don’t *insert desired outcome*, you’ll get your all your money back, no questions asked!
Giving a guarantee removes the perceived risk from the purchase. With that, the final major mental hurdle is gone.
“There’s Always Tomorrow”
But wait… There’s still some people left that are interested, but they’ve not hit the buy button yet.
Well, this is the “maybe later” crowd. They are keen on what you have to offer, but they tell themselves they’ll get it another day, or maybe they feel they don’t need it right now.
As we know, like in most areas of life, “later” usually turns into “never”.
So, what can we do to avoid losing this last group of potential buyers?…
9. Inject Scarcity
The second part of the “one-two punch” is to create a sense of urgency in your reader.
Most people are more motivated by the fear of losing something than the potential pleasure of gaining something.
Consider this example:
Mark and Pete have both started their own little online businesses, and both of them have a day job.
Mark has a boring, but comfortable, day job that leaves him with a surplus every month.
He wants his online business to succeed so he can quit his job and be independent. Still, at the end of the day he’s left with plenty of money in the bank either way.
Pete, however, has a low-paying job, and his mother needs vital medical care that he currently can’t afford beyond the next year.
He’s used all his savings to start his business. If his online venture fails, he risks not only being stuck at minimum wage for years to come, but also the loss of his mother.
Out of these two men, who do you think would dedicate the most time and effort to their business?
Who would be more likely to invest more?
The answer is obvious.
Inject scarcity into your sales pitch by creating a feeling that your reader may lose a great opportunity if they don’t act now.
They may be missing out on an opportunity that others like them are already acting on (“the fear of missing out” aka FoMO).
Let them know that certain bonuses are time-limited, the supply is limited or that the price of the product will increase by a certain date.
However, make sure that you actually follow through with these scarcity scares, or you risk losing precious credibility with your customer base (see, not even you are immune to the fear of loss!).
10. Call To Action
Now it’s time for a lighter topic: actually getting people to buy your stuff!
At this point, the reader has been through a mini emotional rollercoaster. Plus, they understand what you have to offer, and they’re most likely warmed up to buy.
Now it’s your job to clearly direct them on exactly what they need to do to receive your offer. This needs to be as descriptive as possible, yet concise.
For example, if you got a sign-up form with a button, you could write:
Just fill in your details and click the green sign-up button for instant access!
Whatever you write, make sure it’s easily noticed and understood; color the text differently and/or increase the font, for example.
Your Call to Action should say “LOOK AT ME!”.
While you always want the Call to Action at the end of your pitch, you should also place it throughout the different parts of the sales page.
Remember, you’re likely to persuade readers at different points in your copy. Having a button or form available at regular intervals will enable people to convert when they’re hot and ready.
11. Give A Warning
The last two remaining steps are the icing on your delicious copywriting cake.
First up is the warning.
While they’re considering your call to action, hit them with a warning that once again induces a fear of loss. Emphasize the scarcity, and hammer a bit on their pain points.
What would happen if they rejected your offer?
If we use our earlier example in the weight-loss niche, some examples could be:
- Risk losing out on many wonderful years in a slim, healthy body.
- Miss the opportunity of the limited-time bonus offer.
- See others around you fit and attractive while you struggle with the extra fat.
12. Close With A Reminder
At the very end, it’s time to give your reader a final reminder (post script).
Here, you can include a partial or full summary of the benefits of what you’re selling, as well as re-emphasizing any scarcity angle you’ve used earlier.
And that’s it, you’re done!
If you use the 12-step template we’ve outlined here, you should be able to write effective copy, even if you’re a beginner.
Copywriting Cheat Sheet
Here’s a list of what we’ve been through, so you got a nice overview you can write down:
- Get their attention.
- Identify their problem.
- Provide the solution.
- Present your credentials.
- Show them the benefits.
- Provide social proof.
- Make your offer.
- Give a guarantee.
- Inject scarcity.
- Call to action.
- Give a warning.
- Close with a reminder.
Refer to these 12 steps the next time you’re working on a sales page or other promotional material.
As mentioned, if you haven’t used this full template before, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a boost in your conversion rate.
To end this lesson in copywriting, check out this sales page for the high-converting weight-loss offer, “Old School New Body”.
See which of the 12 points you can detect in the copy.
Great stuff, right? And that’s just the first part.
Now get to work and write some sweet, sweet copy — there are sales to be made!