If the words “sales copy” make you think of popular Mad Men character Don Draper and other advertising stereotypes, stop right there! The truth is that every website “sells” something, whether you’re vending physical products, trying to capture leads for an offline business or even just trying to convince people to follow your line of thinking. And since we all “sell” online, we all need to be concerned about making the sales copy found on our websites as effective as possible.
There’s no doubt that the specific words we use on our websites have a dramatic impact on how effective our online sales processes will be. So if you have the sneaking suspicion that your site’s copy may not be as effective as it could be, check out the following process for improving your website’s sales process through the use of “words that sell.”
Step #1 – Identify areas of sales copy on your website
If you run a long-form sales letter style website that sells a single product on a single page of text, identifying the specific instances of sales copy on your website should be easy – it’s your entire page!
However, if your site structure has multiple pages, determining which areas of your website are functioning as sales copy may be more difficult. For example, on an informative website, the heading text you use to convince people to stick around and read more of your content could technically be considered “sales copy” – even though the only thing you’re asking people to do is pay attention.
In general, think of any area of your site where you’re asking people to take a specific action as “sales copy.” Again, this could be the text you use to convince people to make a purchase, or it could be the language used in your headings, your opt-in boxes or your subscription request forms to encourage readers to follow through on some defined activity.
Step #2 – Analyze the impact of your current sales language
Now that you’ve identified these specific areas of sales copy on your website, it’s time to start analyzing how effective they are in terms of achieving your website’s goals. There are a couple of different ways we can do this…
- The “gut check” – Isolate the sections of sales copy you identified on your website in Step #1 and look at them with a fresh set of eyes. Do you feel compelled to take action based on this standalone sales copy? If not, it’s safe to assume that your readers won’t be motivated as well.
- Statistical copywriting software – If you have a little extra money to invest in your sales copy writing process, tools like Glyphius or ScribeJuice provide an automated way to compare the effectiveness of your sales text against algorithms based on past successful advertisements. Although these tools aren’t cheap, they can be an easy way to quickly analyze and uncover opportunities for strengthening the weak spots in your sales copy.
Step #3 – Revise your sales copy using proven copywriting principles
Chances are you’ve uncovered at least a few areas for potential improvement within your website’s sales copy. With these weak spots in mind, brainstorm a few potential variations according to proven copywriting principles.
Keep the following guidelines in mind as you create these unique versions:
- Good sales copy uses “power” words. Certain words – for example, “achieve,” “discover” and “secrets” – have the power to capture attention and encourage action. For more examples of these motivational power words, check out this list of “50 Power Words to Juice Up Your Sales Copy.”
- Good sales copy encourages urgency. While you don’t need to resort to artificial scarcity tactics (i.e. – “This offer good for a limited time only!”), it’s best to encourage your reader to take action right away. Things that aren’t urgent priorities are rarely accomplished!
- Good sales copy focuses on benefits, not features. Don’t just tell someone that the TV you’re selling has a 32” screen or 1080i resolution. Make them viscerally feel how much better their favorite TV shows and movies will appear on their new TV, as well as how jealous their friends will be after viewing content on such advanced technology.
- Good sales copy is easily understood. Leave out the big words and jargon. Since most people only scan webpages for content that interests them, your sales copy must convey both the action to be taken and the benefits of doing so quickly and clearly.
- Good sales copy focuses on a single priority. Although your website might have multiple sales goals, each instance of sales copy on your site should focus on a single desired action. Mixing your priorities can cause confusion in your readers, preventing them from completing any of your established goals.
Step #4 – Test different variations to improve your sales results
At this point, you should have a few different variations for each instance where sales copy appears on your website. And now – as you might expect – it’s time to test them using A/B split testing!
Split testing refers to the process of serving up two or more different versions of a page randomly to website visitors in order to determine conclusively which variation results in the most conversions. For example, if your goal is to make more sales on your long form sales letter style website, you might create two different versions of your webpage to test, with each variation featuring a slightly different headline in order to find out which introductory line is more effective at keeping visitors on your site long enough to make a sale.
Once you’ve created your different web page variations, you’ll need to upload them into a split testing program that will serve up each version randomly and return the results of your split test. Google’s Website Optimizer is a great free program that provides this functionality, although there are plenty of other third-party software programs that offer these features and more.
The one crucial piece of advice to keep in mind when it comes to split testing is that you’ll need to run your split tests long enough to determine that your results are statistically significant. If you only gather data on a few conversions, it will be difficult to tell if the results you achieved can be attributed to a handful of people, or if they can be applied to the population as a whole. For this reason, it’s a good idea to run your split tests until you’ve received at least 100 conversions. With active testing, you’ll find the best copy for your site.