Some people have asked me to give a few tips and tricks they can start using right away to apply some of the strategies I wrote about in my “Death of the Salesletter” report, without resorting to audio or video, or fancy scripts.
Aside from the various technology you can start applying to make your sales experience more dynamic, there are some very simple things you can do to your salesletter, right now, to improve its readership. And ultimately, its response.
It's easy, it's fast, and it's proven to increase results.
It's adding pictures, photos, clipart, and content-relevant graphics to your salesletters. Particularly, one near the top, around the headline. (For an example, check out our latest product, “Marketing E.S.P.” (both the optin page and the subsequent sales page).
Headlines are part of the most important element of any salesletter: the “A” in the AIDA formula, which is to grab people's attention and to get them to start reading. If you don't get people to start reading your copy, it doesn't matter how good your copy is.
They just won't buy.
Better headlines have been proven to increase readership and response by as much as 700% in my own split-tests. But adding photos and graphics near the headline have equally boosted response as well, sometimes even more.
I'm not talking about graphic headers. I'm talking about pictures within the body copy.
I personally do most of my own graphic work. But when I choose to outsource, the one artist I use the most is DesignGuruRyan.com. If you're interested, Ryan also offers a terrific information product on how to use graphics and images to improve conversion.
My friend Brent Turner, branded as the Design Frog, has an amazing package, too. If you prefer a more toned-down and subdued graphics package, eCovers Lab offers a package, too — and I recently bought it without batting an eyelash.
Many packages include arrows, callouts, stars, frames, order buttons, and so forth, as well as various formats, including the Photoshop native .psd format, so for those amateur designers, you can change them to your liking if you wanted to.
Vic Kally, who is a brilliant graphic designer and direct marketer whom I talked about on this blog before, offers a brilliant solution and alternative to his highly hated “mega-headlines” by simply turning them into short animated ones.
For copywriters who still wish to retain their wordy headlines (I'd still try to edit them down as much as possible), Vic suggests a cool trick. Use animated headlines, where portions of the headline transition from one to another in seconds, like a slideshow.
This way, if you wish to retain your bulky 80-word headline for example, you can break it down to 3-4 shorter, less wordy headlines that transition from one to another.
(Also, using this tactic you can also apply the element of curiosity by adding half-finished sentences or ideas that force readers to watch the remainder of the headline — or, better still, to get them to start reading the salesletter — to get the rest.)
I don't believe we should resort to this, however the use of animation is a cool aspect of making the web page a little more dynamic, other than video, which you can test with your salesletters if you must use wordy headlines. (I am testing this, too, right now.)
But headlines and graphics aside, an important element you can add to your salesletter, particularly near the headline, is of a photo or picture. I have found that some pictures do increase response, particularly if the picture represents:
- The author of the letter.
- The product being offered.
- The major problem suffered without the product.
- Something that represents the main benefit.
- Before and after pictures showing the results.
As for #4 and #5, I have found that they work best with targeted or pre-qualified markets.
Similar to the fact that newsworthy headlines seem to outpull benefit-laden ones these days, graphics that show a benefit can be counterproductive with generic, unqualified audiences. Obviously, testing is the only way to know.
Nevertheless, here are some examples. For #1, the picture is a simple photo of the person who authored the letter. It's the same as some newspaper or magazine articles, in the article's byline, where the picture of the author is shown.
Better yet, if you can add a picture of the author in action, particularly if the person is speaking to an audience, speaking on stage, writing on a whiteboard, delivering the product or service, or working with a client, they outpull traditional studio photos.
For #2, this is a photo of the product itself. The best ones I've found are photos of the product in its entirety, and if possible while in use. They boost credibility because they show that the offer, the author, and the product are real.
When I write salesletters for information products, I often ask the business owner to send me a copy. What I often do is display the product on a white bedsheet or kitchen table, then take a photo of the entire package and add it to the salesletter.
(Some of my top-marketing friends have even added pictures of them pulling out the product from the box when they receive it in the mail. It's a great proof-generator, since it shows exactly what people are getting and how they are getting it.)
For #3, an example is when I wrote the salesletter for an anti-spam software, where I added a picture of a person pulling out his hair staring at his computer screen, which donned a picture of a can of Spam (i.e., the sandwich meat one).
An example of #4 is, for copy I wrote for a “dating guide,” I put up a picture of a happy couple in loving embrace. We also see this style of photo with “get rich” salesletters, where the author is posed alongside his luxury car, or holding up money, etc.
The premise is that any picture that represents the ultimate benefit or result of the offer is good. There are many creative ways to do this, if you put your mind to it. Think of how you want the reader to visualize themselves after applying or using your product.
For #5, it's almost a combination of #3 and #4. And it's probably the most powerful. Before-and-after pictures represent comparisons between before using the product and after doing so, and therefore showcasing the contrast between the two.
You often see these with weightloss products, muscle-building products, or makeup products. But they are not limited to cosmetics or beauty.
We did this with a salesetter I wrote for a company selling special daylight-mimicking “lightbulbs” that created warmer, richer lighting, using less energy than most bulbs.
What did we do? We took a picture of a room with regular 60-watt lightbulbs. We then took another of the same room but with this company's bulbs.
The before-and-after pictures, set side by side in a single graphic placed at the top of the salesletter, increased response. (Looking at the pictures side by side, you can instantly see the obvious difference the lighting made in the room.)
We also added a caption — and captions really do increase response — that indicated the photos were unretouched and unadulterated. It said that the pictures were taken at the exact same angle with the same camera, and were not modified in any way.
In fact, add captions to all your photos. Captions are powerful as they're almost always read. It's not only a great opportunity to describe the photo but also one to add some interesting fact, tidbit, or benefit related to the picture.
(Add something you want readers to remember or appreciate.)
If you don't have any pictures, you can certainly use stock photography. I do when I add post icons at the upper-left corner of my blog posts. Some stock photo sites include iStockPhoto.com, BoxedArt.com, Photos.com, SXC.hu, and BigStockPhoto.com.
Vic Kally also gave a remarkable tip: stock cartoons. Cartoons are fabulous because they are great attention grabbers, offer a bit of humor, and communicate problems and solutions in themselves in a direct, poignant, and memorable way.
Anyway, hope this helps. What other suggestions do you have to add more “eye gravity,” proof, and credibility to your copy? I welcome your feedback.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.