The standard Internet sales page has evolved over the years from long blocks of text broken up by images and testimonials to shorter blocks of text. In many cases, text has been completely replaced by video.
There is an ongoing debate regarding whether or not the long form sales letter is completely dead, but one thing everyone can agree on is that in order to generate sales, your copy needs to be effective.
So why is it that many businesses have sales pages that describe their products and services so perfectly, but they don't see many conversions? The truth is that writing effective sales copy has nothing to do with accurately describing your product, and everything to do with persuading people to buy it.
Here are the three most common reasons sales letters fail to convert, and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes:
1. Your target market is poorly defined
If you write sales letters before knowing your target market, you may as well drop them into a vast canyon and cross your fingers.
Before you write any copy, you need to know who your target market is. And the reason most people fail to do this properly is because they want to define their target market rather than allowing their product to define their target market.
Defining your target market based on who you want to sell it to is like insisting on sticking a square peg in a round hole. Your product naturally has an optimal market and it's your job to investigate until you find it.
For example, women make up 85 percent of the weight loss market, but many people selling general weight loss plans and products insist on marketing their products mostly to men. They want to be inclusive. And they wonder why they don't get many sales. It's not that men aren't interested in weight loss - they are. But unless you're selling a niche product made just for men that is marketed in a specific way, your general weight loss product already has a target market made up of 85 percent women. Ignoring this fact will only lead to failure.
While GNC heavily promotes its supplement lines to men (example above), it does offer the chance for visitors to self-select what they're interested in so that messaging becomes more relevant with each click.
Your copy should also deter non-qualified people
An article titled the 80/20 rule of search points out that it's important to use your Web copy to discourage non-qualified consumers who are not interested in your product or service. This makes sense because while you could try to sell your products to the whole world, not everyone's going to be a match.
If you're not sure about your target market, then dig deep and do some research. Crazyegg.com has a comprehensive guide that can help you uncover your target market, even if you're starting from scratch.
2. You didn't hire a professional copywriter
Writing your own sales copy sounds easy enough. Why should you pay thousands of dollars for something you can do yourself? Besides, nobody knows your product like you do, so hiring someone else won't really capture the essence of what your product does. Right? Wrong.
Truth be told, if you're trying to make sales, capturing the essence of what your product does is the last thing you want your sales copy to do. Effective sales copy doesn't explore the features and benefits of your product - it reaches into the visitor's life and persuades them to buy your product based on what they really want.
Professional copywriters get persuasive and personal
If you're selling a microwave, you could market it to people by telling them they can heat up food quickly and conveniently. Plus, it eliminates the need to wash extra dishes. That sounds wonderful, but a good copywriter will go even further to target the specific ways a microwave can make someone's life more convenient. Like telling parents it's a way to empower their kids to make their own meals so they don't have to be at everyone's beck and call.
If you want to upgrade your copy and start making sales, hire a professional copywriter. And if you're not sure how, this article has a thorough explanation of what to look for and where to find good copywriters.
3. You have bizarre phrases in your copy
Believe it or not, there are websites that say things like, "We accept Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal in order to make our product more enjoyable." Phrases like this don't make any sense and stick out like a sore thumb. Why would offering different payment options contribute to the enjoyment of a product?
These types of statements are a typical component for many sales pages that just don't work. If you've got disjointed phrases like this on your website, it may sound cute but it's probably killing your sales.
Marketing is more than placing a message in front of specific people
Successfully marketing your product requires more than just putting your message in front of people and hoping they'll buy it. You need to tailor your sales copy to address your market's specific needs. So, if your sales pages aren't working as well as you had hoped, take the time to go over your pages with these tips in mind.
Consider your sales pages worthy of investing your time and money because they could bring you sales for years to come.
About the Author Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he's also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on