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The Benefits of Long Sales Copy on your Website

Written by Brent Kelly on April 1st, 2008.      0 comments

For decades, many direct marketing and advertising greats, such as David Ogilvy, Jay Abraham, Victor Schwab, and Claude Hopkins, just to name a few, have used long copy to achieve incredible results for their clients.

Website sales copy was originally thought to work best if it was broken up into chunks and presented using individual screens or pages on a website. That proved to be a big mistake because every time visitors clicked the ‘link’ to the new ‘screen’ to get that information, a percentage of them were “lost”. That’s because the ‘flow’ or ‘sales process’ was interrupted. They lost interest, focus… whatever, they were gone.

In order to make a buying decision, buyers need information… and lots of it! Would you limit your salesperson to the number of words that he or she could use when talking to a potential customer about your product or service? Not in a million years!

You would want your salesperson to be as comprehensive as possible providing your potential customer with as much information as they needed, to make an informed buying decision.

Your website should be representative of the best sales ‘person’ in your business, providing all your customers with the same quality, consistent message every time, no matter what.

So, let’s look at the process of writing effective long sales copy for the Web.

To prepare, you will need focus on the following:

  • profiles of your ‘target’ customers
  • the benefits your product/service offers them
  • your customers’ goals
  • your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’
  • the ’primary’ & ‘secondary’ objectives for your website.



Know your Website's Target Customer

One of the most important business fundamentals is ‘know your target customer’.

We have already discussed this in planning your website, but to reiterate, your target customer wants to:

  • achieve a goal
  • solve a problem
  • or satisfy a need.

Unless your website is structured to cater to their goals, problems and needs, it will not be useful to them and you won’t get the sales you are online to attract.

From the moment they knock at your ‘online door’, you need to understand them if you want to sell to them. You do this by having a clear ‘grasp’ of what their goals, problems and needs really are.

The better you understand your target customer the better your sales to them will be.

What sort of customers do you want to do business with online? What are their needs, problems and goals? List as many different things as you can that will help define “them”, i.e., what is it that makes these people ‘typical’ of your target customer? You need a complete ‘target customer’ profile.

Try to write one page about your target customer. List all their characteristics and define them in fine detail– the more detail, the better: even if some of these don’t seem relevant this information is vital to you ‘getting it right’:

  • Who are they (characteristics, age, etc)?
  • What do they do during an average day?
  • What sort of jobs do they have?
  • What sort of cars do they drive?
  • What do they like to do to unwind?
  • What sport do they play?
  • What magazines do they read?
  • Where do they eat?
  • What personality ‘types’ are common within your target customer? Is it mixed or is one personality ‘type’ dominant?

And so on.

Sure, you won’t actually ‘know’ all of the above, but by visualising your target customer, you will be able to tailor your messages to appeal to that defined audience, and sell them on your products or services much more effectively than if you didn’t have this snapshot.

If you don’t think this is important, think about this; when presenting your business in the physical world, do you say the same thing to every single customer or prospect, every time? Of course you don’t, because good sales people adapt themselves to each and every customer.

Unfortunately, a website doesn’t afford this luxury… yet! So you are only able to present one key message. So it makes sense to tailor that message to your ‘ideal’ customer!!



The Benefits of Long Sales Copy on your Website (So What?)

This next component is vitally important.

You may have heard – “when selling, present the benefits before the features”.

A benefit is what a feature does for a customer (think, ‘verb’).

A feature is what a product has (think, ‘noun’).

This is a key difference! Why? A benefit demonstrates ‘your’ features being ‘used’ within your customer’s world. Customers want benefits, not features, i.e., “Customers don’t want 12mm drill bits… they want 12mm holes”.


So how do you work out the benefits of your product or service?

Start by listing all your features on a page. Then take each feature and ask yourself (imagining that you are your target customer), “So what? What’s in it for me?“(WIIFM)… and elaborate.

Let’s take a look at some examples:


  • A Content Management System (CMS)

“So what? WIIFM?”

You will be able to manage and edit all your website content yourself.

“So what? WIIFM?”

You won’t have to go back to your website designers whenever you want to update something on your website.

“So what? WIIFM?”

Updating content will be quick and easy. You will save valuable time and money and will be empowered to keep your website continually fresh and up-to-date.


  • Frost-Free freezer

“So what? WIIFM?”

The freezer will not ice-up over time.

“So what? WIIFM?”

You will not have to defrost the freezer on a regular basis.

“So what? WIIFM?”

Your freezer will be more efficient – meaning you save money on your power bill! You also will be left with more time to do the things you want to do.

Be as specific as possible with your benefits. Try to give exact values whenever possible.

You will find that certain benefits keep ‘cropping-up’ again and again. Take note of these benefits because they are the strongest benefits that your product has and are likely to be completely tied into your unique selling proposition.

Now that you have a big list of benefits, put yourself into ‘the shoes’ of your target customer– think about what their goals, needs and problems are.

Make a list of how your benefits will help satisfy those goals, needs and/or problems.

As an exercise, try existing customers that resemble your ‘target’ customers the following question (in your own words):

What is the greatest benefit you could possibly receive from using my product or service?

This is great exercise for establishing exactly what the most important benefits to your target customer are.




Include your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Right, let’s think about what makes your product/service offering unique and better than anyone else’s product/service on the market. Can you explain this to someone? Can you package your product/service so that it delivers more of what your target customers are wanting and less of what they don’t?

Think about your USP and be specific. If your USP is that you are cheaper– then you need to be specific:

  • How are you cheaper?
  • How much cheaper?
  • Why are you cheaper?

When you worked-out the benefits in the last chapter, you will have noticed that certain benefits kept ‘cropping up’ – from different features. This could well be your USP!

Summarise your USP into a powerful, motivating phrase, which will be extremely persuasive and compelling to your target customer.

Work and rework this phrase – polish, polish, polish, until the phrase just cannot get any better!


Customer Goals

Time to focus your attention on your customer’s goals.

What do they want to achieve through the use of your product/service?

Jot down some notes on the following:

  • goal/s they want to achieve
  • problem/s they want to solve
  • need/s they want to satisfy.

From these notes try to narrow-down the list into the most dominant goals, problems and needs of your target customers. This list must be as short as possible to help you focus on your sales copy requirements.

Next …

Go through the list of benefits and features that you produced (in the previous section). Match-up the features and associated benefits to your list of their goals, problems and needs.

You should now have a short-list of the major benefits your product/service would provide to help your target customers achieve their goals, problems or needs.

Are you following this OK? If not, go back and re-read this section because it is absolutely vital you understand the purpose of why you are investing time into this preparatory work.
The list of benefits that you have prepared is what you should focus on when writing your sales copy.

Your USP should be one of these benefits. If it is not, then your USP is very unlikely to attract your target customers! You need to rework it into something that will not only attract them but also help them to achieve their strongest goals, overcome their problems and satisfy their needs.

A really strong USP will contain your strongest benefits, as related directly to your customer’s dominant goals, problems and needs.

To check that you understand your target goals and the benefits relating to that goal try asking some of your existing customers (that fall into that target customer category) the following question (in your own words):

What is the greatest benefit you could possibly receive from using my product or service?

The benefit(s) that they list should match up with your USP and benefit list.



Primary & Secondary Objectives of your Long Sales Copy

What is the ‘primary objective’ for your sales ‘copy’? What would you like your visitor to do after reading the copy? Be really specific!

Is it to get the visitor to hit the ‘buy’ button? Or would you like them to pick up the phone and dial your 0800 number to find out more? Define exactly what your primary objective is for the sales copy.

It’s great to have a secondary objective too. So, what is the secondary or ‘back-up’ objective for your website copy? A common example of a secondary objective is capturing email addresses of visitors via signing-up to an ‘opt-in’ newsletter.

You will need to decide how much of your copy is devoted to your secondary objective – sometimes you will devote a whole section to your secondary objective (maybe in the ‘P.S.’ at the end), and at other times, no copy at all. This is a decision that you will need to make yourself, based on who your target customer is, what their goals are and what you want to achieve overall.




AIDA – the age-old copywriting success formula stands for:


  • Attention

You must get your visitor’s attention. This is extremely important on the Web, as it is so easy to go elsewhere. One ‘click’ and ‘poof’, they’re gone. The most common way of getting attention is through a tight, punchy headline and a strong opening ‘hook’.


  • Interest

You must immediately arouse your visitor’s interest and curiosity. You can do this by telling a story or identifying a problem that your visitor is having (remember your target customer here). Understand the goals of your target customer and identify with those goals here.


  • Desire

Create ‘desire’ in your visitor. This is usually achieved through clear promises that cater to the customer’s goal/s. Focus here on your strongest benefits and outline them clearly and concisely so that they cannot be missed. Maximise your visitor’s desire through good, strong ‘bonuses’ and bold guarantees.


  • Action

Finally, finish with a clear ‘call-to-action’. Make it absolutely clear what actions they must do on your site to achieve the desired outcome.

Topics: Persuasion


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