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How to Write the Web Site That Sells
Your Web site has a single motive:
To 'ignite' your visitors to take action.
This prime motive is behind every element of your Web site design and content. Start with the idea that you have one chance to reach your customers. They will never return to your site unless you make it worth their while, and they will not buy unless you encourage/force/ask them to.
This will impact the 5 prime elements working together in any excellent Web site — the mechanics, content, interactivity, design and optimization. Right now, let's focus on the mechanics of writing content that sells.
Here is a simple template for a Web site that sells which you can readily adapt to meet your needs. Use it as a jumping-off point for your income-generating Web presence.
You'll find it goes against the current vogue online for the single-page, long-scrolling salesletter on the home page leading to an order form. But think of it this way:
Your home page can be like an interesting magazine index, or magazine cover listing provocative headlines. You should offer enough compelling information here so that any visitor is forced to go deeper into your site. They've got to click through. They just can't hold themselves back.
A good home page should be a clear call to action. But it also can't go on for too long or you will put your visitors off. Go ahead and use different benefit subheadlines and link phrases that pull readers to your sales page. Start with...
I. The Benefit-Rich Headline
A strong, enticing headline is the single most important element of your Web marketing copy. It is the opening statement and first impression you make.
Because Web pages load from the top down, place your headline right at the top of the page so it can be read while the rest of the elements fall into place. If you have a lot of graphics that need to load, your headline should give your site visitors enough reason to wait.
Imagine your Web page is a blind date for every first-time visitor who comes to your site. Your headline MUST make the right first impression immediately, or new visitors will want nothing more than to click away as fast as they can.
Obviously your headline cannot be all things to all people (and you wouldn't want to date everyone either...), but it can and should speak directly to those people you most want to reach.
Your headline has these tasks: to ARREST the attention of your target market. To GRAB your reader by the collar so they have no choice but to read on.
If your target market is 'doctors', then use the word 'doctors' in your headline. There's a funny saying:
"Enough about you... let's hear about me."
That's your site visitor talking. These words tell you everything about how to craft your headline, and the more specific and targeted you make it, the better.
Your headline should serve as an ad for the rest of your Web copy, clearly delivering a 'distilled' version of what they are about to discover in the body of your text.
Did you know?
o Only one out of five people get beyond the headline to read the rest of the Web page
o You have 30 seconds or less to make a positive impression, or your site visitor will click away
o The right wording in your headline can increase your sales conversion rate by 1700%
It's true! Studies show the right headline can increase response to an offer exponentially, which is a good reason to test different headlines until you find your 'killer'. Once you've got it, it's the key to your success. So spend the time to make your headline work. Here's how to find the right headline:
Tell your target audience the single most important benefit you are offering them.
State a powerful benefit in your headline that clearly enhances THEIR LIVES, using power words such as: 'Discover'; 'Announcing'; 'Breakthrough'; 'Facts'; 'New'; 'Now'; 'Yes'; 'Sale' - all words that are active, grab the attention of prospects, and promise them something (the two words of most value to your customers are 'You', and 'Free').
Finally, keep in mind that your customer is never buying a product or service. They are actually buying a key benefit that will make their life better.
II. The Value Proposition for Your Customer
Immediately after your headline comes the opening salvo of text on the page - the value proposition. This 1-3 paragraph section is all about your target customer. Either it states their current situation, and 'ain't it awful', or it reveals a dream they have about what their life could become: 'If only...'
To write it, go back to the roots of the product or service you are offering. Why does it exist in today's world, and what good does it do your target customer? Ask yourself why you sell it, and perhaps why you got involved with it in the first place. Be idealistic. The proposition section of your home page sets up a kind of vacuum, which you are about to fill with...
III. The Benefits You Deliver
A benefit is anything that will make your customer's life better by using your product or service. This is the payoff, and the crucial section of your home page where you must deliver the goods. Take a good look at what you are promoting, and then...
Write down each and every benefit you can, with no thought about which is the most important. You'll order them later. Write down everything that can possibly do your customer some good. Everything.
After finishing this 'brain dump', go back and prioritize. Don't prioritize as you go, because that will inhibit you. List first, order second. (NOTE: consider using a powerful benefit as a text link leading to your sales letter.)
On your home page you will clearly state the top benefits you deliver, but you'll expand upon them in...
IV. Your Benefit-Rich Sales Letter
The benefit-rich sales letter always closes the sale. It builds upon what you have promised to deliver on your home page, answers any objections or questions your readers may have and fully justifies the price you ask. On this page longer copy will outsell shorter copy, so make a complete sales pitch from start to finish.
Here are 10 key formatting tips that will keep your prospects reading so you can close the sale.
1. Break the copy of your sales letter up into short copy paragraphs. A single-sentence paragraph can make a striking point.
2. Use headlines and sub-headlines.
3. Use bullets, numbers, and dashes to further break up copy, allowing plenty of white space to make reading your offer even easier on the eye.
4. Use arrows, boxes, color or shading, graphics, indentations, bold lettering, CAPITAL LETTERS, italics, and punctuation!! Note: use a light touch here, rather than the 'HIT them over and over 'til they beg for mercy!' approach.
5. Give customers premiums. Over-deliver on the offer that first interested your prospective customer any way you can. The goal is to give your customers far more perceived value than they actually pay for. Premiums can add tremendous value to your offer without substantially increasing your cost of delivery.
6. Emphasize the word FREE wherever it applies.
7. Use fast-loading graphics that actively support your message. Avoid generic clip-art 'success' graphics if you can.
8. Provide testimonials. If you don't have them, give your product or service away and gather some immediately. It's a suspicious world, and you need other people to validate your offer.
9. Urge 'Immediate Action'. State a time limit to your offer (note: many marketers offer their premiums only if prospective customers buy within a window of 3-14 days).
10. Make an iron-clad guarantee. Do what you can to over-deliver in this area, too - a guarantee that is better than your competitors offer is a powerful selling point.
Finally, here is the progression people actually follow when they read:
a. The Headline
Which means, spend the time to buff and polish each of these elements for your target audience. The better you know these people and 'how badly they hurt', the more sales you will make.
About the Author
o article by Scott T. Smith of Copywriting.Net. Scott partners with Web developers and business professionals to generate MORE Web sales. For a free writing consultation visit http://www.copywriting.net, or call Scott at 1.406.586.4112.
Tags: E-commerce and Internet