Writing a sales letter that converts can be frustrating.
In fact, in a time when heroes like Hercules were still battling the Hydra and cleaning out the stables, I was frustrated at why my own sales letters did not convert. It was during this period that I decided to become a serious student of direct response copy.
Now that I’ve survived this, perfected my copywriting skills and now consulting others to help improve their sales letters, there seems to be a recurring theme of mistakes that I see.
And that’s what this post is all about.
However, I made it a point not to include copywriting 101 mistakes, because those are easy to find anywhere. Instead, I’m going to reveal to you the mistakes that very few people actually think about.
Some of which, when fixed, can turn a complete loser into a cash cow.
So lets get into it.
There’s Not Enough Strong Proof
It’s easy to make claims. I would know. However, to convince anyone of anything, you need proof. And not just any proof, but strong proof. Predictably, many people always opt for the “soft” kinds of proof such as social shares, testimonials, and more. Everyone loves these types because they are easy to get and they do work.
But if you want to really make a dent in your prospects decision making process, then you need to go for the heavy-duty approach. Demonstrate your product to me, show me some case studies, give me scientific data that proves your methods…etc
A good rule of thumb is that the stronger your proof, the more persuasive your sales letter will be.
You’re Not Getting The Right Traffic To It
Surprisingly, this is something very few people talk about. I’ve gotten into a few “virtual street fights” because of this little simple, but often overlooked fact. Unfortunately, there are those who think that copywriting is an ancient magical skill that will fill the coffers of any business owner who can wield it, but that’s not true.
Brian Kurtz said one time in a webinar with Kevin Rogers (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you give the right offer to the right list, but have horrible creative, you will make some sales. However, if you have the best creative, but don’t have the right list or offer, you won’t make any sales.”
In other words, before you can worry about if your copy is good, you need to triple check if the right people are seeing your offer in the first place. No amount of sales copy will change that.
There’s A Disconnect Between Sales Messages
I remember when I repeatedly used to make this mistake myself. For a while, I didn’t get it, but now it’s the first thing I notice.
You see, people are arriving to your sales letter from different places. It may be through email, a blog post, a Facebook ad, or anything else used to drive traffic. Each of these sources of traffic “pre-frame” your prospect.
In other words, they’ll be expecting to see whatever it is you talk about on the other end of the stick.
I see this mistake happen a lot to people using ads. To fix it, just makes sure that your ad and your landing page is congruent. This includes both the same message and color scheme.
Your Customer Is Too Sophisticated To Believe You
The more competitors you have, the harder it is to advertise your product because it becomes a game of who shouts the loudest.
Right now, ads that sell virtual reality products basically say “hey, this is virtual reality stuff. You’ll love it. Buy now”. They can do that because there’s practically ZERO competition.
However, compare that to P90X3, with it’s basic sales pitch being “Get ripped in just 30 minutes a day using this breakthrough secret called Muscle Acceleration”.
They need to do this because fitness is one of the most competitive markets in the world.
Fail to understand the difference between these two pitches and good luck trying to sell anything.
You’re Not Paying Attention To Your Customers Awareness Level
Imagine trying to sell someone the solution to a problem they didn’t even know they had.
Now imagine giving a 60-minute sales pitch to someone who just wants you to take their money right then and there, but you’re not letting them.
In both situations, you’re screwing up the potential sale because you didn’t bother to understand your customers awareness level.
If the copy in your sales letter is not congruent to your customers awareness level, you’re going to make it exponential harder and more stressful for your prospect to buy from you.
You’re Trying To Target Everyone
Whenever I ask someone who they are trying to sell to and they tell me anything that resembles the word “everyone”, I die a little inside because it means they have no idea what they are doing.
It’s ridiculously hard to sell something to everyone using the same exact sales pitch.
Every segment of the market has their own fears, problems, and frustrations as well as their own dreams and aspirations.
Fortunately, the fix is simple. Focus on having different sales pitches to different segments of your market. The more niched your sales pitch, the more it’ll relate to that segment of the market.
The result? More sales.
You Allow People To Leave The Page
Imagine spending all this time, effort, and money to finally get a prospect to your sales letter. Then, like a puppy who gets distracted by the slightest thing, they see a tab on your navigation bar, click on it, and leave the sales letter.
You just lost a potential sale their, my friend.
And all because you gave your prospect the option to get distracted and leave your page.
So do yourself a favor and remove anything that allows for your prospect to leave your sales letter. This means that navigation bar has to go and while you’re at it, remove any links within your copy.
Either your prospect reads the sales letter or they X out. There is no in-between.
The Design Is Atrocious
I will always pick great copy with ugly design over great design and horrible copy.
But why choose one when you can easily have both?
The truth is, good design builds instant trust and improves consumption of your copy. Both, of which, are directly related to more sales.
So if you’re page looks like it was made in the 90’s and is covered with yellow highlights, then trash it immediately and either hire someone to design you something decent or sign up for any of the well known page builders out there.
There’s Nothing Special/Different About Your Offer
When I started out, one of the questions that was drilled into my head by my mentors was:
“Why should someone buy your product over everyone else’s?”
Back then, I was always annoyed because it was such a difficult question to answer. Today, it’s one of the first questions I ask myself and anyone I consult with.
This is also the main reason why I write all my sales letters BEFORE even making a product.
I don’t care what it is. A lower price, a new “ingredient”, a more tailored solution…etc. It has to be different in some way to your intended audience or you’ll lose.
There’s No Clear Instructions On How To Order
Fear of the not knowing what to do is something everyone experiences, but very few ever actually talk about. That’s because not knowing what to do can be nerve-wrecking since it can mean danger or awful repercussions.
Side note: This is also why people look to others in unfamiliar situations so they can mimic them to “fit in”.
If you don’t give your prospect very simple and clear instruction on how to order, they will develop anxiety and eventually just drop off entirely.
This may even mean telling them, “Hey, you with the nose. Click that big, orange button below that says “order now” and it’ll take you to the order page…”
Of course, I said that a bit tongue-in-cheek but it’s basically how you have to look at things.
You’re Not Hitting The Right Emotions
Facts tell, but emotions sell.
I’m not sure if I got that from somewhere or if my genius made it up on the spot, but it’s 100% true.
Your target market is coming to your sales letter with specific emotions about the topic at a specific hierarchy of importance.
Clayton Makepeace calls this the dominant emotion.
If you try to sell to that market using an emotional appeal they just do not care about, you will not be able to connect with them.
There is a BIG difference between trying to sell something to people who are in absolute fear of the future versus those who are looking for comfort and community.
You’re Focusing Too Much On Hype And Too Little On Persuasion
Hype is easy, persuasion isn’t.
One big mistake a lot of people make is that they think filling up their sales letters with exclamation marks, power words, yellow highlights, and red font will make their sales pitch more attractive.
This is beyond wrong.
Now, I’m not against hype in any way. Hype works, particularly in situations where you have little time to acquire someone’s attention, but it’s only persuasion that sells.
For example, it’s knowing that you need to agitate your prospects problems that will make more sales rather than making the grandest, most clever sounding claim.
You’re Telling People They Are Wrong, But Not Telling Them What Is Right
Typically, in a good sales letter, you want to start off by talking about your prospects problems and frustrations. From there, you basically get into talking about how their old beliefs led them to having the problems they are having now.
This is a critical part of the sales letter because it builds rapport.
When your prospect reads that section, he/she must be able to say “Oh, that’s exactly what happened to me”. Your prospect just wants to be understood.
The problem, though, is when you go from their problem straight to your product. You don’t want to do that.
Once you tell them what’s wrong, you want to follow that up with what is right and THEN present them the solution that uses was built to deliver that “right answer”.
The Prospect Hasn’t Seen The Offer Enough
This is a big mistake that a lot of the hardcore direct response guys miss.
The truth is, the sale is almost never made on the first go around. That’s because we are basically raised to say “no” even when things seem good.
In fact, there’s that age old saying of it being necessary that your prospect makes 7 or more “touches” with your business before they will consider buying anything.
This is especially true if what your selling is expensive. Even in a direct response environment, your prospect will probably need to visit your sales letter a handful of times before deciding on buying.
The takeaway? Frequency of exposure matters.
Your Offer Isn’t Irresistible Enough
Besides WHO is reading your sales letter, the next most important thing is the offer itself.
And one of the core problems that many sales letters have is that the offer is nothing special. It’s just like anything else out there. There’s nothing about it that makes me feel, “wow, I need to get this right NOW!”.
Infomercials are famous for their focus on the irresistible offer.
“But wait, there’s more!”
“If you order right now, you’ll get a 2nd one for FREE!”
“You can get all of this right now for just 3 easy payments of 39.95!”
They do this because it flat out works, so you need to learn from them.
You Did A Bad Job At Pre-Selling Your Product
The one problem with focusing on your sales letter is that it can make you forget about how your prospect got their in the first place.
It’s important to remember about your customers entire journey to purchase.
And this is why stuff like content and email marketing are so important.
They help sell your product, before they are actually being sold too. They also educate people to want your product when just a few days ago, they didn’t even know they had that problem.
A system that effectively pre-sells your product makes selling it much easier.
You Are Charging Too Little
You can’t be a high-end brand by charging low prices, period.
Pricing is directly related to the positioning of your brand and product. Furthermore, even if you’re not positioned as a high end business, higher prices can still have a positive affect on number of sales.
In fact, I have seen split tests where people tested selling an online course for something like $27 versus $47 or $67.
These split tests have seen an increase in sales when their product was being sold at a higher price point.
So while this is not true all the time, especially since most of the time lower prices does lead to more customers, it is something to test.
You’re Trying To Make The Sale At The Headline
Every part of a sales letter has a job to do and selling with your headline isn’t one of them.
At that level, there is not enough information to make the sale even if it’s a really compelling headline. Persuasion takes time.
So with the headline, you want to do just one thing really well: acquiring someones attention. It’s only when this happens that you can do anything else.
Your second objective? To get them to read the next line.
You’re Making Your Prospect Feel Too Anxious
Buying stuff is actually a very scary thing to do.
Just think about it.
You’re a hardworking person and you’re getting paid an ok wage by the hour. You’ve got base expenses like rent and utilities. And during this whole process, you’re being bombarded by businesses trying to sell you products.
You see big claims being made left and right.
And then when it comes time to buy something, you’re not really that sure if you should buy that thing and from who. You’ve worked hard for your money and it’s really easy to spend it.
Worst, you may not even know if it’s safe.
All of this leads to a very anxious buying process and not negating this through things like guarantees and privacy policies makes it hard for people to buy your stuff.
Your goal should be to make your customers feel safe and smart when making their purchase.
You’re Not Giving Your Prospect Enough Information To Make A Decision
What’s better, long copy or short copy?
The truth is that it’s not a very good question.
The real question is, do they have all the information they need to make a good decision or do they not?
But based from what I’ve seen, chances are that you are not telling them everything they need to know.
This is why direct response marketers and copywriters are so adamant about long copy. When you give your prospect all the information they need to make a decision, you’ll make more sales.
You’re Not Painting A Picture For Them
Think of regular fiction novels.
All of the good ones aren’t just blocks of texts on pages. You’re not just there reading stuff and seeing the same exact sentence in your head.
Instead, a great story practically forces you to imagine every detail. It’s not just the overall situation, but the sweat dripping down from Henry’s cheek after running across the longest bridge in Brooklyn trying to finally burn off that embarrassing pocket of fat around his nipples that made him look and feel like more of a girl than the 30 year old man he actually was.
This is what you need to mimic with your copy.
The difference is that you are focusing on your prospects pains, problems, and frustrations as well the solution rather than just sharing a fictional story.
The natural first reaction from many people when they see their sales letter not converting is to panic. I know this because it used to happen to me and it’s happened to just about everyone else I know who sells anything using a sales letter.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
So while this post is not meant to be the end all, be all resource to why your copy isn’t converting, it will help you in super tight spots when you’ve tried “everything” and you still don’t see a positive ROI.
So go through this list, find what is causes your low ROI, and then go fix it.