how to write sales pages

Freebie Friday continues!

If you missed the last few weeks’ editions, then check out Getting Great Testimonials and Training People To Be Trained By You and Clear, Not Clever Titling.  (We’ll wait.)

This week’s release is Using Transitions To Boost Sales Page Conversion, which is a particularly helpful guide to keeping people interested in reading your sales pages all the way to the end.

For those new to Freebie Friday, we are sending out samples from our BIG LAUNCH class (opening up in late December) so you can get a feel for what’s inside.

These freebies are what we call the “Launch Multipliers”, which are 108 tactical training modules that come with the class and are designed to boost your conversion during a launch.

So! Without further ado, let’s get to today’s lesson.

(We have links for you to download the audio or written version below, followed by the full text of the lesson.)

 

Using Transitions To Boost Sales Page Conversion

… or, read it below!


Using Transitions To Boost Sales Page Conversion

Hello, and welcome. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz and you are listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers. This track is called Using Transitions To Boost Sales Page Conversion.

The wonderful thing about sales pages – and really, this could be said about marketing in general or even life in general – is that there are so many avenues you can take to “up your odds” of success.

Essentially, that’s the core concept behind all of these launch multipliers – you don’t have to just make big changes to see results. There are just so many vectors of approach that can make a difference, even if it’s something as simple as changing the color of a headline or adding the word “now” to a buy button. Little changes can make a significant impact on the number of sales you make.

And in this multiplier, we’re going to talk about one of the subtlest, most effective devices you can use to increase your chances of making the sale: effective transitions between different sections of copy. If you can nail that – if you can get good at this one little thing – you can measurably increase the percentage of people who read your sales page all the way to the end.

So, let’s talk about transitions.

Specifically, transitions that you’re already familiar with outside of sales pages.

In commercial fiction – which is different than literary fiction in that the word “commerce” is involved – authors, agents, and publishers are VERY invested in getting you to finish the book you bought. They want you to tear through that book and finish hungry to buy another novel – whether it’s from the same author or from another one – but they want you to devour the pages. Literary fiction may win awards, and maybe even change hearts and minds, but commercial fiction is all about the commerce.

And because it’s all about the commerce, the authors who succeed are the ones who master the art of transitions. They are the ones who write in such a way that it’s never a good time to put the book down.

Think about that for just a moment. You can remember those times when you weren’t able to put a book down, when you lost track of the time, when you told yourself that you were just going to finish up this one chapter … but you couldn’t resist. You went right into the next chapter anyway, even if you knew you were going to hate yourself just a little bit for it later.

That didn’t happen by accident – and it didn’t necessarily happen because the writer was particularly gifted or good at writing. There are plenty of bestselling novels out there which are, frankly, terribly written, but they fly off the shelves, and each of their sequels fly off the shelves. The secret is in the transitions. Here’s why.

When you have a good transition, an open loop is created in the mind of a reader that must be closed.

The reader has to know what happens next. The most dramatic of these is the cliffhanger, that age-old literary device where a massive open loop is created that leaves you desperate to know what happens next.

Every season finale of a television show has one of them, because it’s their way of getting you very excited about tuning in once the next season is ready for prime time.

Now, just because every television show has a cliffhanger, doesn’t mean it’s a good one. If you kind of suspect you know what’s coming next – for example, they left it unclear whether a main character is going to live or die, and you’re 100% confident that they’re going to live, it’s not exactly an open loop. It’s not that effective.

But if a much-loved side character’s life is in danger, that might be a great open loop. There’s a fair chance that they might not have a future on that show, and you care about them. So you want to know what happens next. The same thing happens with plotlines – if there’s a big mystery on the show, and you get a cliffhanger that makes you believe all will be revealed later, you’ve got that open loop. You’re hooked. You want to know what happens next.

That’s the most dramatic example – and that’s why it tends to be reserved for the season finale of a show. You can’t do that every week. You can’t do it in every chapter of a novel, either. But you can do subtler versions of it. You can open smaller loops for the reader.

In novels, this is effectively done through plot and subplot. There’s the primary plot, which is the big story everyone wants to see unfold, and then there are subplots, which are smaller plots relating to the characters within the novel. As you move through each chapter, you advance the plot and subplots by closing one loop and opening another.

So, if you were reading a mystery novel, you might see the hero finally catch up to the bad guy, only to find out he’s not the bad guy, but working for someone else. The plot advances. One loop closes, and another loop opens. You get some satisfaction at the closed loop – the hero catches up with Bad Guy Number One – and your curiosity is activated by the new, open loop – Who is Bad Guy Number Two? You just have to know.

When an author can consistently close one loop and open another, they create a situation where there is never a good time to put the book down, because it is always exciting, always stimulating, always capable of sustaining your suspense and curiosity. And you move right through the book from beginning to end without needing any external motivation to continue reading.

That transition from one scene to the next, that cycle of loop closing and opening – turns an ordinary book into a page turner, even if the book itself isn’t exactly award-winning material. As long as one interesting thing is resolved at the same time another interesting thing is opened up, you have a page turner on your hands. That’s the secret of successful storytelling.

Now, let’s take that familiar storytelling concept and translate it into something that will help you make more money in your launch.

See? I did a transition right there. I closed one loop and opened another. Granted, now that I told you about it, it’s probably lost its effect, but we’ve been doing it to you for months. That’s why you’re still here. Anyway, moving on …

In your sales page, the way you handle transitions is no different than how you would handle them if you were writing fiction. You set up a story arc, or a path “from here to there” that will make logical sense to the reader as they move down your sales page.

There’s no magic formula for how to do this any more than there’s a magical formula for writing a novel, but there are some general guidelines that you can go by to help you find your own way. We’ll walk you through one way you can do this and if it works for you, fantastic. If it doesn’t, you can modify it to fit your working style.

You could simply start by grabbing a handful of index cards and writing a few words on each about what each section is about. For example, you might have cards that say “Opening copy”, “Product summary” “Product details”, “Bonus details”, “User Testimonials”, “Guarantee details”, “Closing Recap”, and “Call To Action”.

These would be the different sections of your sales page, and if you need some guidance on sales page structure, take a look at the templates in Month 3′s Class Pack and you’ll see a few different examples of what the sections of a sales page could look like. But you basically make a card for every section of your sales page, and spread them out on the table.

Then you can look at each card and put them in an order that makes logical sense. Like the scenes in a novel, you arrange them in an order that would make sense to the reader and preserve flow. Basically, what order would you need to put them in to not make it feel like you’re jumping around from one topic to the next? What feels like the most natural flow? That’s your story arc, as it were.

Now that you have that arc …

Your next step is to make sure that each section has a sub-headline that creates a promise of what’s in it that’s compelling enough to create an open loop. These don’t have to be masterpieces to start with, they just need to be decent. So instead of “Product details”, you’d create a sub-headline like “Take a look at everything you’ll get when you order this widget.” That’s creating an open loop, right there in the sub-headline.

Do that for each section, and treat each sub-headline as carefully as you’d treat your main headline. Get them curious, and promise to deliver something very specific and very interesting to the potential buyer in that section of copy.

So now you’ll have sub-headlines for each section, each of them opening a loop and promising to deliver something relevant to the reader.

At this point it’s a good idea to look over you current arc to see if it still feels like it has flow. Now that you’ve fleshed the page out with sub-headlines, you may decide that one section should be moved if it feels like it would create a more natural progression for the reader.

Imagine you knew nothing about the thing you were selling and someone else was describing it to you, section by section. If they said “Ok, next I’m going to tell you about X,” would that “X” feel like a natural thing to move on to, or would you be a bit confused because you were wondering about something else instead? If it feels natural, that’s a good sign you’ve got flow under control.

Once the flow feels right to you, it’s time to move on to the general writing of the sales page.

This is the part where you create your first draft, or second draft, or however many drafts you want to create, and you make sure that you cover everything you need to cover in each distinct section of copy.

You don’t need to think about transitions at this point – just write your copy so that each section delivers on the promise you made in the sub-headline you’ve created. Read it over and over again until you are 100% sure that you’ve covered what needs to be covered. You want to take special care here that there’s nothing in that section of copy that’s confusing or unclear, and you want to specifically make sure you don’t accidentally open loops you didn’t mean to open.

When we refer to accidental loops, we’re really talking about two things. The first thing is when there’s something that’s not explained well enough to close a loop. That happens when you give part of the information that the reader needs to know but not enough of it to make them feel like they understand what’s going on.

A simple example might be giving the dates of an event but not the times. Or saying an ebook is downloadable but not explaining whether that means PDF or Kindle. If there’s a nagging question, that’s an open loop that’s going to be stuck in their head and break their flow. So you’ll want to check for that.

The other kind of accidental loop is when you get people thinking about things that are tangentially related. This happens a lot when the thing that you’re currently talking about makes someone naturally think of question that doesn’t get answered for a while.

A simple example of this would be if you were selling a class, and at the beginning you mention that it’s 10 weeks long in one section but don’t mention when those ten weeks happen until two-thirds down the sales page. So the reader is reading along thinking “This class sounds good, but when are they going to tell me when it starts?” As long as that loop is open, they’re not really paying as much attention to what they’re reading, and that kills your flow.

So look at those two things in each section of copy and make sure you aren’t opening any loops that you don’t intend to. If you find loops like this add a little bit of descriptive copy where it’s needed to pre-answer these internal questions so you can preserve flow.

Ok, once you’ve done all of this …

… when you’ve created your arc, you’ve written solid, promise-based sub-headlines and your copy does a good job of delivering on that promise and closing each loop, then you get to the final step – creating the perfect transition.

Generally, this can be as simple as closing a section with “Now that you have all the details on X, let’s talk about Y.” You wouldn’t want to use that exact script on each section because it would look repetitive, but you can create variations on it. And all those variations can open up a new loop that keeps people reading.

A very good way to do this is to simply look at the next sub-headline you’re moving to on the page. You have to come up with a credible sentence or two that segues from the section of copy you’re in to the next one. It can be helpful to imagine you’re in a real-life conversation where you’ve just finished talking about X and you have to move to Y. How could you make that feel seamless?

Frankly, one of the best ways to do this is to read other people’s copy, whether you’re looking at sales pages, blog posts, or articles in magazines. Watch the way writers move from one topic to the next, and get a feel for what seems like it’s really doing the job of closing one loop and opening another.

As we’ve said over and over in this class, the main thing you want to accomplish in a sales page is to make the reader forget they’re reading a sales page. To make them feel there’s never a good spot to put the book down, as it were. Close loops, open loops, and make the transitions as invisible as you can, and you’ll get a lot more people reading all the way to the end – and clicking that buy button of yours.

So that’s what we have for you today. Thank you so much for being here with us – you have been listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers, Using Transitions To Boost Sales Page Conversion. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz, and I’ll talk to you very soon.

If you liked this Launch Multiplier, make sure to check out our other freebie lessons:

And hop on our newsletter if you want updates on additional Freebie Friday lessons as they’re released. (You’ll also get some free marketing courses for doing so.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Seek advice from people who aren't like you

When you start getting your feet wet in an industry – any industry – you tend to gravitate towards people who are a lot like you.

This makes perfect sense. People who have attitudes, outlooks and approaches that feel like they’re a good fit for you are the easiest to relate to. If you’re in a learning space, then paying attention to “your kind of people” is likely to ease your learning curve in the beginning.

After a while, though, you run a risk of becoming too insular for your own good.

Soon you’re only taking marketing advice that come from within your industry, from people who have remarkably similar tastes and preferences to you. And that’s a limited number of people, with limited experience and limited scope.

Soon you’re only making business decisions based on the current culture of people that you’re paying attention to. Doing something different, diverting from the status quo starts feeling a little weird.

This works against you in two ways. On the one hand, it makes you afraid to try things that go outside of the scope of what “your kind of people” are doing. On the other, it vastly limits the number of options you let yourself see, because your eyes are only on a small subset of people, and you begin to define “marketing” as “what everyone else is visibly doing”.

That might present a problem, no?

Marketing is marketing, regardless of what industry you’re in.

We’ve occasionally joked in our classes that you can succeed at marketing without having to become a used car salesman.

But maybe there’s a lot to learn from the competent car salesman, if we can get past the stereotype.

  • They’re extremely good at follow-up.
  • They do an expert job of taking cues from potential customers.
  • They practice their sales pitches until they sound as natural as dinner conversation.
  • They’re not afraid to hear no, and they don’t take it personally.
  • They can be extremely friendly while not losing their focus on business.
  • They have the confidence to pursue cold contacts.
  • They’ve likely invested in training for direct selling techniques.
  • They set sales goals and don’t rest until they’ve met them.
  • They focus on revenue and not just activity.
  • They are always on the lookout for new sales strategies.
  • They make custom deals when the customer requests them.

From a marketing perspective, there’s probably a lot they could teach anyone, in any industry, if we’re willing to look past how “different” they are from us.

Your marketing improves exponentially when you learn from people who are nothing like you.

If you’re a bubbly, sparkly hippie life coach and you are hiring a general contractor to give you advice for how to replace your roof, are you going to look for a contractor with a bubbly, sparkly, hippie website?

Or are you going to look for someone competent, regardless of bubbly-ness? Are you going to trust that their expertise exists independently of how well you personally relate to them?

Maybe the same can apply to your marketing strategies, too.

There are a lot of competent sellers of things that do things differently than you’re accustomed to. Restricting your business education to coming from people just like you is like only being willing to hire a coach who grew up in your home county.

Here’s some homework for you.

Think of three industries that are not even close to the one you serve, and look at how they market. Read through the advice their industry’s business and marketing experts give. Consider how it would work for you.

Birds of a feather flock together, they say.

While that might have its advantages, it’s probably a good idea to peek around outside your flock every now and then for business advice.

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Giving Away The Farm

(Have a topic you want us to cover? Head on over to the Request Line.)

“Dear Naomi –

I’m a coach, and I’m struggling with what to write about on my blog. I have a lot of ideas, and there’s a lot I can write about, but I’m worried about giving away the farm. If I tell people how to solve their problems or explain my system, why would they hire me? I’d just be giving them the same advice as I do on my blog! How do you balance good content with not working yourself out of a job?”

This is a good question. Content marketing can sometimes be trickier than people tend to let on because there’s a limit to how much you can say over time without saying, well, everything.

However! There is still much you can do. Let us discuss.

Here’s what you need to know about content marketing to potential clients.

Clients are not like regular information seekers. Not remotely.

Your typical information seeker wants to fire up their favorite search engine, type in something like “How to retouch a picture in Photoshop” or “How to write a good tagline” and just mill about until they find the answer they’re looking for. They find their answer, and they just do it. End of story.

Clients are different. They don’t really have an “end of story”, because their problems are not as easy to take care of. Simple answers won’t do it. The typical person who is in the market for a weight loss coach knows they should be drinking water, eating better and exercising, but that hasn’t solved their problem. Something else is in the way.

So content for clients is different than content for information seekers.

  • The latter are looking for something concrete and easy to define. Taking red-eye out of a photo is concrete and easy to define.
  • The former are looking for someone who can help them solve a sticky problem they haven’t been able to solve on their own.

So content that increases your credibility as someone who can solve sticky problems is going to be more meaningful to them.

Clients do not come to coaches because “they don’t know the answers”.

Chances are your clients know all the answers already, because they’ve been reading books and taking courses and spending more than a few sleepless nights thinking about the outcome they want and the obstacles that are in their way.

Sometimes the obstacle is that they don’t know why the regular advice won’t work for them. Sometimes they’re having difficulty sorting and choosing and figuring out where to start and what options to take. Sometimes they do know and they just need handholding to get started.

So what clients need, more than anything, is to know that the human on the other end of the transaction can help them.

That said, here are three things you can do from a content perspective.

Item the first: Go granular. The deeper you go on a particular topic, the less you have to cover all the bases that you’d cover in paid coaching or products.

The “Why things work” kind of post is a good one for this. So if you’re that weight-loss coach, instead of talking about what to do (“For God’s sake, drink more water!”) you could write about how water affects the weight-loss process. We cover a lot of buyer psychology here for that reason.  It’s easy to go granular, and it’s always worthwhile for the reader.

Item the second: Discuss a weird case. This one is pretty straightforward – imagine someone who would have difficulty following your typical advice and write about what they should do instead.

We ran an email series a few years ago talking about certain kind of businesses that shouldn’t really use SEO at all. They were the “weird case”. If you can address someone else’s weird situation, your clients will gain confidence that you can solve their weird problem. There are enough weird cases that you can write on them forever.

Item the third: Give away the farm anyway. This one takes some guts, but it still works.

No matter how much information you give away, the kind of person who wants to hire a coach still needs more, or they need custom advice, or they just want a person with more experience than they have to help them implement what you’ve taught them. And if you take this route, you’ll be the person who looked the most competent on your subject, which generally makes closing a deal easier.

Remember, coaching clients are not regular information seekers.

Getting people to want to work with you is not a matter of holding the keys to the information kingdom. You could potentially solve just about any problem in your life with the information you’d get from Google or a stack of books you ordered from Amazon.

And chances are you’ve tried just that route yourself – you’ve perused the internet, and you’ve read the books, maybe even taken a class or two – and still you just wish that there was someone you could talk to one-on-one to get some personalized, custom attention from the authors, who seem to know everything.

That’s how your clients feel, too.

Except you’re the author in this case.

It would probably help to be the author they’ve read the most.

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.