LESSON #51: How to Create a Sales Letter

In the previous lesson we talked about the basics of copywriting. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the art of crafting a sales page, including the elements of a successful sales letter…

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

Note: In the video I go into a lot more depth for each point.

  • Long copy vs. Short copy

    – The reason marketers use long copy is because it works.
    – Traditionally, long copy has almost always outperformed short copy, but things are changing.
    – Online sales letters are moving toward personalization and interactivity.
    – Read The Death of the Salesletter, by Michel Fortin
    – A new free tool to see how visitors interact with your sales letter is Visitor Spy

  • AIDA = Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

  • Here are 17 elements of a successful sales letter (please see video for many details):

    1) Pre-headline

    2) Headline

    As mentioned in video: Clayton Makepeace headlines webinar | PDF of webinar

    3) Deck Copy

    4) Greeting

    5) Opening paragraph (hook)

    6) Who are you and why should they listen? (credibility)

    7) State the problem

    Key: You want them to FEEL the pain.

    8] Give the solution to the problem (your product)

    Key: Benefits listed in bullet points.
    Key: Proof.
    Key: Overcome objections.

    9) Testimonials

    -Be aware of FTC rules.

    10) Make the offer

    -It should be an irresistible offer.
    -You need to have a “reason why” it’s so irresistible.

    Keys: Urgency and Scarcity

    11) Reiterate the value and state the price.

    12) Throw in some bonuses.

    13) The money-back guarantee.

    14) Ask for the order. (Call to action)

    15) Order box.

    16) Closing/Signature

    17) P.S.

  • Tips for formatting and structuring your sales letter:

    – Use subheadlines. (Important! Must stop scrollers in their tracks)
    – Use Johnson boxes.
    – Leave a lot of white space.
    – Black text on a white background.
    – Use a simple clear font.
    – Do some text stylizing but don’t overdo it.
    – Keep the background basic.
    – Use Some Graphics. (Recommended: Ecover Engine)

  • Advanced Tip: It is possible to do the sales letter first then outsource the product based on the sales letter.

    Recommended Resource: The Copywriting Pack

    Action step:

    1) Write your sales letter (unless you’re outsourcing it).

    Optional: Do a video sales letter. See lesson #41 for video info.

    Salesmanship is key! See also resources listed in lesson #12.

    In the next lesson we’ll talk about outsourcing sales letters and other writing tasks.

    As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below.

    Have a great day!

  • 101 comments on “LESSON #51: How to Create a Sales Letter

    1. Ben

      Can you give you thoughts on video salesletters and whether they work better than the written word and if they are the future of the net.

      Thanks,

      Ben

      Reply
    2. Ryan

      Hi Eric,

      Videos and other interactive media may be taking over but long copy writing won’t be going away any time soon. Instead of sales copy, it’ll be called a sales “script” for the video. You’d still need to grab attention, draw them in and call to action. It’s an excellent skill to learn.

      Thanks always for these high quality lessons.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

      Reply
    3. David Abel

      Great Video on the techniques involved in creating a salesletter, you really could sell this video! (glad it’s free though! šŸ˜‰ )
      Can this format also be used for creating autoresponder emails?..obviously they would be shorter!

      Keep up the good work!

      David

      http://www.107tofreedom.com

      Reply
    4. Dan

      Thanks Eric, great stuff as usual! Here some of my thoughts about details …

      Bonuses can be disgusting. These days bonuses make me think that the actual product is crap and the bonuses only are reason to buy. There are $27 products with $1997 in bonuses. If you download all these bonuses and read them you forget about the actual product and never read it or apply it. Outdated stuff most of the time anyway, I just click away when I see too many bonuses, distracting stuff worth nothing most of the time, given away for free all over the ‘net anyway.

      Even worse affiliate (guru) competitions in huge product launches. Why should should somebody buy from Superaffiliate A instead of Superaffiliate B? Because of the damned bonuses. Not affiliate competitions anymore, but bonus competitions. Would take you 6 months opening bonuses and gifts: what did I actually buy here, by the way? Somehow perverted, as if you only can sell 4 tires when you give away a new car with it …

      Reply
    5. Sujit

      So fine is it, too much interesting, please inform me wether excepting copywriting pack, is there any other copywriting software.
      hope reply.
      Sujit

      Reply
    6. Dennis

      Have just read your Lesson #51, which I found extremely helpful. I learned a heck of a lot of things in this and yet I reckon I am an experienced copywriter! Keep up the good work – I shall be reading all your past editions
      Dr Dennis Coote

      Reply
    7. Doug

      Thanks for the lesson Eric It’s a lot to absorb in one sitting so ill listen again and again and again or just outsource it naw that’s not me thank you again.unless you know of an inexpensive freeleancer that could does this.

      Doug

      Reply
    8. Eric Post author

      Video sales letters are already outperforming written sales letters in some niches. And I do think that video will continue to become more prevalent for many more years.

      However, I do not think think video will replace the written word as “the” future of the net.

      For one thing, they are too linear. People are moving faster and faster (ie. twitter), and a larger percentage of people will refuse to sit through a lengthy sales video.

      With a written sales letter, at least they can scan and scroll.

      So for now and into the near future at least, I think a combination of written word and video will be effective. This could mean both video and written word integrated into the same sales page, or it could mean different sales pages to reach different segments of your market (those who prefer video and those who don’t).

      So now the question is… what comes AFTER video in the evolution of the web? I don’t know the answer, but we must be ready to jump on that wave because it will open the online sales floodgates just like video did.

      Reply
    9. Eric Post author

      You can use some of the techniques for autoresponders, but it’s a little different. With autoresponders you really want to come across as not selling anything. You want to make friends by providing helpful information.

      Then when it comes time to sell something you merely send them to your sales letter, you don’t try to make the sale in the email.

      The exception would be followup emails to prospects who are interested in a certain product. In that case, you would want to remind them of their pain (problem) and remind them of the pwoerful benefits of your product.

      I’ll do a lesson on autoresponder/followup emails.

      Reply
    10. Eric Post author

      I totally agree about the competitions. I’ve told some of my “guru” peers that I’m sick of the bonus war, and most of the time I refuse to participate in it. I’ve refused to promote most of my friends products lately because I know there are other marketers promoting with huge bonuses. It’s to the point that you have to make it a part of your business strategy if you want to compete.

      Fortunately that mainly applies only to products that are being promoted by gurus and ones that are heavily promoted by affiliates on clickbank. So there is still a world of products for affiliate marketers to promote without having to get into the bonus war.

      The things that’s tough about it for me is that it does work. The guys giving the biggest bonuses are often making $10k to $100k from promoting one product launch. It’s become a fact that he who has the biggest bonus (and a relatively big list) will make the most sales. So it is a legitimate strategy, albeit an annoying one.

      Reply
    11. Eric Post author

      There are some inexpensive freelancers, so watch the next lesson and then you can make your decision.

      Reply
    12. robert

      good lesson. but i have a question thats not relative to this lesson.if you already have a word press blog can you incorperate it into your hostgator reseller account?i’m using my reseller account to set up my sites and need to know is this viable?

      Reply
    13. Eric Post author

      Yes you definitely can.

      Reply
    14. rajeev

      all tactics mentioned in above videos already all marketers know. there is nothing new
      dont we see tons of sales pages daily showing bonus,testimonials,money back gurantee,tricky headlines.scarcity,percived offer .
      eric plz note to whom we trying to sell products knows everything what u mentioned in above video.
      these may be hard words from my side but this is true.
      do you really think we dont know or doing things what u mentioned in videos
      in short even u implement these ideas you can increase sale only maximum 1% and no more
      moral of the story all internet marketers knows these are gimicks to increase sale s.

      Reply
    15. Marty

      Hi Eric,
      I’m interested in your ideas on how to effectively encourage my free subscribers to upgrade to a new monthly/yearly subscription service. Up until now I’ve given everything away (videos, patterns, e-letter ideas, etc)with the goal of building a customer base who would buy from my online store. So far it has worked fine and I have some loyal customers. But now that my email list has grown to almost 3000 I would like to generate steady income and provide them more than what I’m currently giving them for free. My concern is losing a lot of subscribers. Any ideas or things I should watch out for?
      Thanks much,
      Marty

      Reply
    16. Jeri

      From my point of view, a buyers view, I dont have time to read a long drawn out story about a product. If there is a video, I will watch the video, (video on how to use the product) read the bullets points of What is Included or What You Get and the bullet points of Features. What I would like to see included is also a list of FAQs. These should be all on the same page. And if I have a question that is not answered by the FAQs, I would like an email at the bottom of the page where I can submit my question. I also like to see a few Testimonials, maybe 5 or 6 and not by other marketers. The bonus only helps if I have already decided that the product will be beneficial for me to purchase. It seems easy enough, but 8 out of 10 sales pages seem to be missing my few requirements, so guess what, no sale. This goes for the Upsells (backend products) too. I dont know how many will agree with me, but I dont buy until I am satisfied.

      Reply
    17. Angela

      Fabulous, Eric! I love your newsletter. – Great information.

      Reply
    18. Angela

      I’m fairly new at all of this, but my understanding is the bonuses are pretty much a necessity for e-products, largely because internet searchers are used to getting things free.

      I wrote what I think is an excellent ebook for writers (I think it’s even better after reading a lot of other e-books – I’m a download addict!) and I’m still offering bonuses to support it.

      Testimonials encourage sales, too – but, most of them are obviously phony and anybody who is inside the e-product trade knows how things go and that testimonials don’t tell you much about the real usefulness of the product.

      From the buyer’s end, I think I’d be more enticed by bonuses! That’ stuff is kind of fun!

      – Angela

      Reply
    19. rudolf

      Hi Eric.

      Thanks for your teachings.
      I need to have a way to overcome my credit card issue which is needed for my paypal account.
      So, i mean how to add a “buy now” button to my website.
      Please try visit and tell me your opinion.

      regards

      Reply
    20. Eric Post author

      I will be covering this topic in lesson #53 and 54 šŸ™‚

      Reply
    21. Avis Williams

      Do you think a short sales letter with video converts better than a long text base sales letter? The reason why I am asking is that as a buyer/customer I dont really read the whole sales letter..only the key points and whats contain in the product and price is what am interested in.

      I think a video with short keypoints about the product with a short sales letter is better..at the end of the day people want to buy the product…not read about your life story.

      Reply
    22. Eric Post author

      Good question. I think you are on the right track, as you say you want to “provide them more than what Iā€™m currently giving them for free”. This is the key.

      Instead of making it sound like you are suddenly charging for what they were previously getting for free, you position it as something much bigger and better (even if much of what you’re delivering is the same stuff you were previously delivering for free). In other words… if you liked my free stuff, you’re going to LOVE this because it’s 10X more powerful.

      Then keep providing a small amount of free info to your old list to keep them involved and you shouldn’t lose many subscribers.

      If you’re using Aweber it is easy to segment your lists. You can continue to send small amounts of free info to your old list along with offers to join your new paid program, and those emails will NOT go to your new paid list. When someone joins the paid list, you can have them automatically removed from the free list. Your objective is to move as many people as possible from the free list over to the paid list. And then just overdeliver and provide lots of premium info to your paid list (most likely via a membership area).

      Reply
    23. Eric Post author

      In many situations I think a shorter sales letter with video integrated effectively will perform better than a long copy sales letter. However, it is something that needs to be split-tested for each situation.

      And remember, a long copy sales letter is not merely about giving them “your life story”…
      A well written sales letter that effectively targets its audience WILL engage its readers.

      Reply
    24. Matt

      Eric –

      Oh what a wonderful debate! Short vs. long, pain vs. pleasure, bonus vs. take-away…in our experience the style that works best is (drum role please…) ALL OF THEM!

      We have used all sorts of sales letters from time to time. We find that having the flexibility to shift as needed is our greatest asset.

      Matt
      “Let Your True Colors Show!”
      http://www.TrueColorsTest.com

      Reply
    25. nes

      hi
      loved the video very much
      one small qustion
      what is behind the i agree check box

      Reply
    26. Rachel

      HI Eric,

      Can you recommend a checkout/payment gateway. What are your thoughts on the wp-ecommerce and google checkout system?

      Thanks Rachel

      Reply
    27. art P

      Love the video. Its really through and gives great tips and insights into the sales page process, only thing is its over an hour long! Im not a tech guy but is it possible to break the video and audio apart, so that I can consume more of your product from my ipod, on my way to work?
      Sitting here at my computer just isnt an option all the time.

      thanks

      ArtP.

      Reply
    28. roy

      hi Eric; please don,t stop sending lessons; been tied up for month an half but i been saving all lessons. sorry i missed sending something for mission trip,can i send something next time with prepayed debit card?

      Reply
    29. Eric Post author

      Sure thing. I’ll send out an announcement again for my next trip, which will be in Spring 2010.

      Reply
    30. Eric Post author

      Not at this time, but it’s a good idea. I will definitely put it on the development list for the (hopefully) near future.

      Reply
    31. Eric Post author

      Good question. The reason to put a checkbox at the top of your order form (or even earlier throughout your sales letter) is because it causes the reader to take an action. It is a known sales tactic to lead the prospect to say “yes” and agree with you as much as possible. Those small yesses will add up to one big yes at the end (you make a sale). The checkbox is a simple way for them to take an action without feeling like they are fully committing to something. Yet, checking the box will then make them more comfortable with clicking the order link. It’s sort of a sales psychology thing.

      Reply
    32. Eric Post author

      I will be addressing this is in more depth in lesson #53. I do see you are using clickbank, and that generally IS my recommendation for low priced information products.

      Reply
    33. Angelina

      Thanks Eric! It’s wonderful how you have included almost everything I need to know about writing a salesletter. This one-hour lesson is worth more than the books and tutorials I have to read in order to write a really good salesletter!

      Reply
    34. Chris Qie

      Very Useful,thank you Eric.

      Reply
    35. Ajaiye

      A very good day to you Eric,

      I’m a new member from deaf memeber from Nigeria who really enjoys reading all of your educative, informative and profitable tips on online business articles.

      Due to my hearing loss, I cannot hear all ocf your videos and so I suggest that you should please help me to caption your videos so that I can read all of the spoken words of the speakers in your videos to be able to understand what’s said!

      I just cannot find Nigeria on the list of countries your programmes can reach. I would like to know if you offer your services too Nigerians.

      I would really love to start making money online right away so please let me know if you render your services to Nigerians.

      I very much look forward to hearing from you soon.

      More powers to your elbows!

      Ajaiye Meretighan

      Reply
    36. Colin Noden

      Half way through my shower, I REALIZED YOU ARE A GENIUS!

      OK, I was splashing away, wondering how the new G.caffeine standards would work and how to capitalize on them. Then I thought of this blog. Your video, followed up by text summary is perfect.

      OK that is out of my system. Now for another comment.

      “Reputation”

      I’ve bought several of your products (under your name or aff link or pseudonym) because I trust you. Also, every time I mention that I like you in a blog, there is someone else who chimes in and supports what I say.

      If you email me and suggest something, I will take time to seriously look at it.

      As the internet expands, so too does the search for trusted sources. A good reputation may be the best marketing advantage.

      Yes there are and will be the Hit&Run marketers. But how about the Tried and True?

      Is it worth it to develope a reputation like yours? Do people buy more from trusted and tested sources, or is it simply shrewd copywriting, broadcast to the masses?

      Reply
    37. Jason

      Great lesson Eric,
      Thanks again for all the useful info!
      All The Best,
      Jason

      Reply
    38. Zack Lim

      Hi Eric,

      I have been following your video series since video number 1.

      This video on lesson #51 is simply wonderful. I can’t believe that you are giving way this kind of quality information for free.

      The concept that you have mentioned in the video can also be applied when writing email messages or articles.

      Cheers to you for sharing. I am looking forward to your next series of videos.

      Zack

      Reply
    39. roy

      hi Eric; is every thing ok? this is last lesson i got…

      Reply
    40. Faithson

      Thanks for the efforts to prepare the topic that I’m trying to looking for all these while. Thanks again.

      Reply
    41. Pingback: Outsourcing Copywriting - How to Outsource Sales Letters | Eric's Tips

    42. Eric Post author

      Sorry for the delay, lesson #52 is posted now.

      Reply
    43. Eric Post author

      Thanks Colin, I appreciate it šŸ™‚

      to answer your question, I think both can be “legitimate” business strategies.

      Some of my peers are hit and run marketers and some of them make more money than me.

      However, I think you have a better chance of long term success if you do build your reputation. And of course some of us care about integrity. So yes I think it’s worth it.

      It also depends on your niche. Here in the IM niche, the shrewd copywriters can come in and make a killing selling a product under a fake name, with zero reputation.

      But in some niches, you would need to be a trusted source.

      When in doubt, take the high road šŸ™‚

      Reply
    44. Eric Post author

      For now at least you can read the notes under each video. But when I am done with all the lessons, I will be releasing the transcripts as well.

      Reply
    45. Ken

      Eric, thanks for sharing. I just found this site and it is refreshing to see someone willing to extend thier knowledge and time to help others. I will go back and review the lessons and get caught up.

      Reply
    46. RAMESH.G

      Hi Eric , Thank u again for keep sending Valuable lessons.indeed your lessons are more helpful to me

      Reply

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