Blending sales copy with optimization: Ka-Ching!

Greetings!  Today we’re picking up where we left off last Monday, and transforming our notes for our online content into well-structured web pages that will grab our readers’ attention and convert them with powerful direct response strategies!

First, you need to be clear about what you want folks to do once they land on your web page:  what steps do you want them to take?  Buy your product?  Subscribe to your service?  While it may seem a painfully obvious point, it’s an easy one to miss:  if you want your customers to take a specific action, then you need to tell them exactly what to do!

Ask for the Sale

This simple and amazingly effective sales technique is premised on that age-old saying: ask, and you shall receive.  But you have to ask, not merely hope for.  “Asking for the sale” implies just that: asking your customer, however subtly, to buy what it is you are selling.  You’ve certainly experienced a sales person handing you a pen while sliding the requisite purchase agreement towards you:  that is asking for the sale.  If you think about it, you can probably recall dozens of times you’ve been asked for the sale.

But Don’t Ask for Too Much, Too Soon

A critical caveat to asking for the sale is:  don’t ask for all of your sales at once!  You’ll overwhelm your customer and they’ll switch to “overload” and click off your page! This is particularly true of product/service pages, and this is where structure comes in:  you need to scale down your offerings and guide the customer through the sale.  Help your customer make a choice by narrowing their choices!  If you’ve more than a few different variations on one theme or product, then parse them out according to some organizing principle, such as “top sellers,” or “newest,” or “discount,” something that makes a buying decision more simple and gratifying for your customer!

Pay Attention to Your Tone and Feel

Second, you need to match your message to the customer’s mood.  This is somewhat intuitive turf that defies a “one-size-fits-all” formula — as is the case with most online writing.  It harkens back to knowing your perfect customer, and is geared towards letting your prospects know that you “get” them.

Recall those questions from last week’s brainstorming exercise?  They apply here:

  • What is the likely emotional state of my prospect?
  • What objections do I need to overcome?  How do I best express my value?
  • What benefits are most important to my customer?

Create Headlines that Promise Benefits

Third, tied directly to the last point, you need to convey a benefit to your customer immediately and up-front, in your headlines.  It’s a given that visitors scan (don’t we all?) and research has proven that dominant headlines grab the reader’s first!  Not only that, but the first couple of words determine whether the reader is going to continue reading your message.  So, you have to make them count!

Adding to that is the optimizing power of headlines for search engines.  Keyphrases count here, as headlines are what search engines “see” and weigh more heavily in churning out search results.  So yeah, your headlines are incredibly important!  In crafting your headline, be sure to:

  • Choose the most important keyphrase for the web page and focus your headline around that phrase
  • Convey the immediate benefit/s to your customer to grab their attention
  • Word the headline such that it lends itself to a quick-scan: easy to read and fast to grasp, while containing your main keyphrase

Hope you enjoyed this week’s post, and thank you for tuning in!  Next week, we’ll delve into developing compelling content paragraph by paragraph!  See you then!

Is your sales copy hurting your conversions?

The last week has been a most interesting experience.

My 30-day goal is to buy a new car. This is a big deal to me because (1) I keep my cars forever (like, 20 years,) and (2) I find car salespeople a tad on the challenging side. Imagine my thrill when I realized that I can go through my insurance company, pre-negotiate a deal and be linked to three dealers (thank you, USAA.)

That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of the car dealers have done everything possible (from a copywriting perspective) to push away my business. Here are some examples:

  • Not one car dealership has asked me how I want to be contacted. Yes, I know that “coming in and taking a test drive” is their bread and butter. And they want to actually talk to me rather than chatting via email. But here’s the thing: That’s not what I want. The car salespeople are trying to force their definition of the “next step” (talking on the phone) without hearing mine (let’s chat via email first.)The big takeaway here is: Know that all prospects are different. If you force people to contact you the way you want them to, you may lose conversions as a result
  • Their autoresponders don’t “mesh.” This was the second email contact I received from the dealer – five minutes after receiving their first email (you may need to click on the graphic to read everything).

    First, the signature line in the email correspondence doesn’t match the “from” address – so this looks like an autoresponder. Not a huge thing, but you’re left wondering whether you should contact Amber or Misti. Second, the email doesn’t ask how I would like to be contacted (again.) And finally – there is nothing compelling about this email at all – no restatement of benefits, nothing about special financing offers. Nothing. Benefits sell, folks – and if you don’t clearly tell your customers “what’s in it for them,” they’ll find someone else who will and buy from them instead.

  • The emails I did receive tried to sell me on other (pre-owned) vehicles. Think about this: A prospect comes to you with very specific requirements. She’s ready to do a deal. Do you come back and say, “I know you want THIS – but how about THAT?” Hell no! You take her money and do the deal. If I would have wanted a pre-owned vehicle, I would have asked for one.
  • Remember, people get confused with too many choices. And a person who has spent the time to outline exactly want they want is a pretty motivated buyer. To throw choices at them that they didn’t ask for will overwhelm them at best – and frustrate them at worst.  The takeaway here is to know that upselling is fine (when you do it well,) but offering a completely different choice is not.

Has this process turned me off from purchasing a new car? Not at all. I can (mostly) understand why they’re doing what they’re doing from a sales perspective – there’s just things they could do better. And I have received (non-autoreponder) emails that have addressed my concerns. The big lesson here is – evaluate everything you do from a content perspective. Read every autoresponder you send your prospects. Review every customer relationship management process. Review your content and make sure that it’s informative, benefit-rich and actually answers your prospect’s questions. People won’t tell you things like, “Hey, your autoresponder doesn’t mention any benefits.” They’ll just walk away. And that’s much more expensive than having to rewrite an autoresponder series, Web page or brochure.