Breaking Down Effective Sales Letters That Work (Plus templates & Examples)
So you've got a product to sell eh?
Well now you've got to put that product online and sell it.
Typically you'll post it on what's known a "Sales Letter" (or a "Sales Page" if you're old-school).
A "Sales Letter" is just a webpage that tries to convince someone to buy a product.
There's many pieces a great sales letter needs, so block out about 7 minutes and read through my friend.
Let's get started.....
The Psychology Behind A Great Sales Letter:
There's many ways you can get someone to buy something:
You can scam them into buying (bad).
You can pressure them into buying (bad).
You can offer a product they really need (good).
You can offer a product they really want (good).
You can offer a product that makes their life easier (good).
You can offer a product that solves a problem they've been having (good).
You can offer a product that can possibly make their future much better (good).
People generally don't like being over-sold or pressured into buying something they may regret later.
The reason Used Car Salesmen and Time-Share Property Salesmen have a bad reputation is because they're known to use high-pressure sales tactics and typically try to push for a sale even if it's not in the best interest of the buyer.
For example, if you were a sales page trying to sell a crappy "Work-From-Home And Make A Million Dollars A Day" product that doesn't actually work.....then you would probably end up using scammy sales page tactics:
However if you are selling a legitimately great product, then the goal of your marketing should be to EDUCATE the customer.....not JUST trying to just sell them!
Before we get any further in the article, just remember this:
If you're selling a product, the best way to sell is to EDUCATE your customer.
Now that we've got that down, let's get into some common questions about sales pages:
"How Long Should My Sales Letter Be?"
Don't think about a sales letter in terms of length. This is a rookie mistake.
What you're trying to do with a sales page is install the "reasoning" someone should buy your product....into the customers head.
If your product is simple and obvious (like a t-shirt), you don't need much copy.
If the product is expensive and not-very-obvious (like an advanced sales training program), then you're going to need a lot of space to explain this.
Tattoo this on your brain:
Long copy is ok. Long-winded copy is not ok.
Say that with me one more time: "Long copy is ok. Long-winded copy is not ok" So how long should your sales letter be?
Sales letters are long if you have to convince people of a lot of things:
If you're trying to sell an inexpensive and common item then you don't have to do a lot of selling. For example, if you're selling a pair or scissors in a store, THIS is essentially all the "marketing" you need:
(Just display the damn scissors)!
The scissors displayed in the package is ALL YOU NEED to sell this item because it's a cheap item, and it's commonly known what scissors do.
However, let's say you're trying to sell something more expensive and less obvious what the benefits are.
As an example, Derek Halpern from Social Triggers has a product he releases a few times a year called Blog That Converts. It's an expensive ($1,000+) and time intensive (3+ months) product, so naturally there are A LOT of questions people have about the product, and it takes a fair bit of explaining to do.
For the product Derek created a super-long sales page because there's a lot that needs to be explained before people drop $1,000+ on the product.
The sheer length of this sales page made it a nightmare to even grab a screenshot of before he took it down!
I estimate it's between 75 and 110 pages long. The only reasonable way to show it was make a gif and scroll it:
The sales page is actually quite beautiful in the fact that it's SUPER SIMPLE LOOKING. In fact, there's essentially no design whatsoever to distract from reading the text. This way customers focus JUST on reading, not on fancy page elements.
This sales page is unapologetically long, but also really effective. And it needs to be pretty long because of the amount of explaining it takes to get people to understand the value.
While this sales page may seem dauntingly long, it's actually relatively simple if you break it down into it's components. For example, I went through Derek's whole sales page and broke it down into 30 different sections:
Breakdown of all 30 sections of Derek's sales page:
[Video explaining product]
[3 testimonials from former students]
[Personal story about Derek getting started]
[Info on how to build an audience on current platforms]
[Show his personal results]
[Show 3 more student results]
[3 secrets to viral blog content]
[3 more student results]
[How to promote your blog without sounding promotional]
[2 student results]
[Common student questions and answers]
[Video testimonial from past student]
[Introducing the Blog That Converts program]
[Qualifying questions to see if reader is correct for program]
[Experience level breakdown of former students]
[Disqualifying people who are wrong for the program]
[Explanation of Module 1, 2, 3, 4]
[Explanation of Bonus 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
[Explanation of the two different membership levels]
[1st Buy Button]
[Explanation of Advanced Membership + Buy Button]
[Explanation of Standard Membership + Buy Button]
[Video testimonial from past students]
[Chart with both memberships side-by-side + Buy Button]
[4 video testimonials with past students]
[Frequently Asked Questions]
[Chart with both memberships side-by-side + Buy Button]
[Legalese in footer]
When broken down into its individual pieces, this sales page isn't that complicated. However when you slap together these 30 pieces of content, it looks long and impressive.
This is the thing about a sales page, it's just a bunch of small pieces of content threaded together. Simple!
The Elements Of An Effective Sales Letter:
There's not a singular "correct way" to do a sales letter, but there's some generally-followed practices. Here's roughly the way most sales pages are structured.
In fact, if you just take the elements in the blue box below an outline and fill in each section, you'll instantly have a great sales page!
[Bold statement showing what can be done]
[Show why they need it.]
[Show what will happen if they don't have it.]
[Justify the price]
[Show the pricing options]
[Justify the pricing]
Write an outline before starting your sales page:
If you just start writing a sales page out all willy-nilly, it turns into this unwieldy monster. It also makes no sense and has no "flow."
A good movie producer doesn't "just start filming" without planning.
A good author doesn't "just write some junk out" without planning.
A good copywriter shouldn't "just start writing a sales page" without planning.
It SUCKS to spend 3 days writing a sales page, then realize it's too damn big to re-organize and weld together.
This means you should write out an outline first.
It will make your life way easier!
I generally try to do this in a simple text editor so I can see it all in one place, rather than have to scroll.
You just make a high-level outline, and then fill in the sections, and BAM! You have a full sales letter!
This is how I would make a sales page outline for a fake product called "GoogWord." (btw....I would totally love if someone built this piece of software)!
1.) Make a high-level outline of different sections:
2.) Make sub-sections for each section:
3.) Extend out the copy for each sub-section:
4.) YOU'RE DONE WITH ALL THE COPY FOR YOUR SALES PAGE!
When you break it down into simple steps like this, the idea of writing a huge sales page becomes much less daunting.
An entire page can be outlined and written in a simple text-editor. This actually helps make the copy really strong because you're not relying on a "pretty page" to make the sales letter look good....but rather focusing strongly on the content.
SaaS Company Sales Pages:
My faaaavvoorriittee types of sales pages to make are for Software As A Service (SaaS) companies. It's because instead of writing a bunch of copy, you can just SHOW THE PRODUCT IN ACTION!
100% of the time for a SaaS sales page I suggest using either a video or .gif's to show the product in action.
People buy software-type products because the program or service does exactly what the customer wants.
If you can quickly show the product will do what customers want, you don't need to take 10 pages of text to explain WHY they should buy it. They're looking for a solution, so shuttup and just show them your software is the answer!
For example, MemberMouse.com can spend 5 pages of copy describing how their membership software works, OR they can just a show a video like this:
Also when you're dealing with a SaaS product a lot of times people are buying BECAUSE of certain features....so list them out!
You don't need to be that creative with this, just look how MemberMouse does it.....just a big-ass list of features:
If you were looking for software like this, you'd want to see this big feature list to make sure you're getting what you need.
What mediums to use on your sales page:
There's .gif animations.
You can get distracted with all these shiny objects to put in your sales page, but ultimately you are trying to just communicate information in someone else's brain:
These different mediums can help install information in different ways:
Text = Best to tell stories. Best to show testimonials.
Video = Best to show software in action. Best to explain complex problems.
Audio = Best to have long audio testimonials they can listen to in the background.
Images = Best to convey information like statistics or screenshots. Use images to supplement text.
.gif Animations = Best to show quick features that don't warrant an entire video. .gif's are awesome because it's like a video without having to rip people away from the sales page experience (especially on mobile devices).
The basis of a good sales letter is always the copywriting (unless you have a SaaS business, then a close 1st place is the video).
Supplement your copy with with images, graphs, tools.....but don't just try to add them for the sake of adding them. Use them to strengthen your sales pitch.
Educating customers is the best sales tactic...even ugly Amazon.com pages are good "sales pages":
Every page you land on for a product on Amazon is a sales page. These pages definitely aren't "pretty".....but that doesn't matter. First and foremost these pages need to be INFORMATIONAL.
Amazon gives you all the info you need about a product. For example, on this Dyson Vacuum page, notice how much info is given!
It's got all the elements we've talked about:
[Name and type of vacuum]
[Price of vacuum]
[Related Products to make this vacuum better]
[Description of the vacuum]
[Benefits of this vacuum over other vacuums]
[Images of vacuum doing cool things]
[Vacuum details (weight, voltage, etc)]
[Dyson Vacuum Q&A]
[Vacuum reviews and testimonials]
Basically the entire point of these Amazon "sales pages" are to inform the customer of what the product can do for them. This is what your sales page should convey also. It shouldn't be about pressuring a customer to buy, but rather demonstrating all the reasons they should buy......by educating them.
On AppSumo pages this is how we positioned the sales pages also. We would at minimum put 70% of education, and at maximum 30% of sales:
A well-informed customer is a much better customer than someone who was pressured into buying.
Make it stupidly simple so they KNOW what to click:
Usually on a sales page you'll want them to take ONE ACTION.
It might be filling out a form.
It might be clicking a buy button.
It might be signing up for something.
Whatever it is, everything on your page should get them to do that ONE ACTION.
The above drawing shows two pages......the left page is complex and has tons of things to click. It's unclear what a visitor will click when they land on this page because there's so much.
The right page however has ONE THING for the visitor to do, and that's click that big "Buy" button. It's unmistakable what someone will do on this page: They'll either leave the page or click that big button.
Pricing Breakdowns On A Sales Page:
I'm assuming since you're writing a sales page you're trying to sell something. Well sometimes there's different levels of what you're selling.
You might be selling three different versions of a product:
Basic Package: $29
Advanced Package: $179
Professional Package: $697
The Three Tiered Pricing Technique is by far the best way to position this on a sales page. Anymore than 3 options and you might start confusing people.
Having three pricing options makes sure to get price sensitive customers to still buy, but also allow people willing to spend more to buy a larger (and more expensive) service from you.
Here's a pricing breakdown from Social Triggers:
Here's a pricing breakdown from (I dunno actually....I took this screenshot from my swipe file but forgot where it's from):
Here's a pricing breakdown from the Zero To Launch sales page by Ramit Sethi:
Here's a pricing breakdown from another place I have no idea where I took a screenshot from in my swipe file:
Here's a pricing breakdown from Wishlist Member:
Using these principles, I hope this helps you better understand Sales Pages & Letters!
Download this entire Sales Letter post for your own files: