Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In business, there are few things that can guarantee your success as much as a persuasive sales letter. It can make all the difference between success and failure. Seriously. They do. And if you’re among the very small minority in this world of copywriters who can write highly persuasive sales copy, you’re likely very rich. It’s true. The people who’ve mastered this area in business are usually the proverbial cream of the crop.
Westend61 | Getty Images
Now, if you’re just sitting down to write an effective sales letter, you’re probably wondering what some of the best copywriting tips might be for getting the point across and clinching the sale. While there are hundreds of potential tips, there are only about 15 that matter the most. However, these tips don’t come from me. I’ve garnered them from two legends in the copywriting game.
To me, the two best copywriters in the world are Frank Kern and Dan Kennedy. These are two individuals that I admire most. Not because of what they’ve achieved. But, because of this skill that I hold near and dear to my heart. The ability to write compelling and killer sales copy that will sell anything is so vital in business. Some get that. But, most people don’t.
However, when you step away and analyze things, you’ll realize that it’s all in the copy. Your ability to drive traffic, engage customers, move them through your sales funnels and to ultimately clinch the sale is all in the copy. If it’s not compelling, you’re wasting your time.
Now, you don’t need to be the world’s best copywriter to make money online. But, you do need to follow some copywriting tips that will help you convince the prospect to buy whatever it is that you’re offering. After all, that’s what marketing boils down to. If you can do that, especially in the beginning, you’ll be far ahead of the proverbial curve.
Related: 10 Marketing Influencers That Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From
What are the best copywriting tips?
I’ve thought long about this. As an agile writer, I’m often tasked with writing in different capacities. Sometimes I’ll write product descriptions for my ecommerce businesses. Sometimes I’ll write articles to help drive organic search traffic. And other times, I’ll write email sequences and sales letters. Stepping back, I had to look at it all and think about the best tips that have helped me write killer and persuasive copy.
But, to really do that, I had to go back to my roots. No, not to Dave Ogilvy. To Kennedy and Kern. What were they doing in their copy that was so compelling? After picking it apart, and delving into my own, I found 15 of what I look at as the core tips for writing the best copy possible.
1. Keep it simple
There’s a tendency to complicate when you write. However, if you’re serious about winning over your audience, you have to keep it simple. Not dumb it down. There’s a difference here. Keeping it simple means that the core concepts that you get across have to be delivered with clarity.
You can’t persuade people to buy from you when you make things too complex for the audience that you’re serving. Give it to them in bite-sized pieces that they can understand. Don’t use long run-on sentences. Be succinct and to the point. Use adjective-rich sensory copy that invokes sights and sounds and smells even.
Related: This 14-Year-Old Founder Explains How to Market to Teenagers on Social Media
2. Do your due diligence
If you’re writing copy, you need to do your due diligence. Depending on the overall subject matter, you need to understand what you’re talking about. What makes your products or services better than your competitor’s? What are some research studies you can reference?
Imagine this like mining for gold. You need to drill and excavate and blast through a tremendous amount of rock before you can find veins of gold. Once found, you chip away, uncovering more and more. Do this until you have carts full of fine gold you can polish and present to your audience. The more tenacious you are as a researcher, the better you’ll get at copywriting.
Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan
3. Use sexy subject lines
Don’t be boring. Don’t be boring. Don’t be boring. Yes. I said it enough times. But, how many people follow this credo? If you want people to open your emails or read your sales letters or watch your video sales letters, you can’t be boring. Instead, you have to present sexy subject lines that will grab the reader’s attention and keep them there.
How do you do that? You do it in a number of ways:
- Pose a question that might pique their interest in your product or service — “Did You Know That 15,000 Break-Ins Have Happened In Your City This Past Year?”
- Create a list-style subject line like “8 Reasons Why Your Marketing Efforts are Failing (and How to Fix It)”
- Use a comparison subject line to create an us-versus-them scenario — “See How Our Product Compares To The Leading Consumer Choice In Pet Food”
Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free
4. Play off the reader’s fears
People will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. Sometimes, you have to invoke pain by inciting fear. Sure, you’re playing off the masses. But, the goal is to make sales right? That’s why we create compelling sales copy, isn’t it? When you play off the reader’s fears, you’re inciting the potential for pain against what they hold dearest.
What does your reader fear the most? Is it bed bugs? Maybe it’s the IRS? Maybe it’s some other calamity like being in debt or having their house foreclosed or dissapearing from Google’s search engine? Maybe something else? Figure it out. To do that, you need to implicitly understand your audience. What keeps them up at night and what drives them during the day?
5. Ensure that it solves a pain point
If you want to create compelling copy that sells anything, it has to solve a pain point. How well you solve that pain point is going to be indicative of just how much your product or service or information succeeds with your audience. Focus on the one thing that your product or service will do for them to solve that pain point.
For example, maybe you’ll teach them how they can become a digital nomad without running out of money. Maybe you’ll teach them how they can start a side hustle without quitting their day job.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
6. Weave in any secret language the audience might have
What’s your audience’s secret language? I know that if I’m talking to people about SEO, I’m going to be talking about SERPs and website-folds and on-site optimization, for example. I might reference link-building strategies and content marketing and other secret language that my audience knows about.
What’s your audience’s secret language? How much are you using that language to convey your point? The more you do this, the more they’ll feel just like you. And that’s important. Keep in mind that people often buy things from other people that they like and relate to. Not simply because they love the product or service.
7. Leverage the vehicle of a story
Use your back story and parables to convey powerful messages that will compel people to buy. How can you use stories from your past to help convey important lessons? How can you use those stories to help compel those people to buy from you?
Think back to your past and come up with two or three solid stories that you can use in your copy. If you don’t have your own, you can borrow stories from your customers or from other people. Just be transparent about it.
8. Don’t use the passive voice
Avoid the passive voice. Stay in the present. For example, don’t say, “The customer was cured by the medicine.” Instead say, “The medicine cured the customer.” The passive voice isn’t persuasive at all. Not when you’re writing emails. Not when you’re writing articles. And especially not when you’re writing sales letters.
9. Make it an irresistible offer
If you want to compel people to buy, make the offer irresistible. How do you do that? By adding enormous amounts of value. You want the consumer to feel like they’re getting an insatiable deal. Not that they’re being taken advantage of. Add as much value to the offer as possible.
This also includes adding complementary products or services that will help the consumer. Because, at the end of the day, you can compel people to buy as long as the offer is something they don’t feel like they can pass up. Remember, most people buy on emotion. Not on logic.
10. Ask questions that solicit small commitments
People like Frank Kern and Dan Kennedy understand that they need to answer questions that will solicit small commitments. This boils down to the science of persuasion and influence. These aren’t complex questions. Just small and simple queries. That’s all it takes.
If you can get the prospect to agree and make those small commitments, you’ll have someone who’s hot and ready to buy whatever it is that you’re selling.
11. Have a clear call-to-action
What’s your call-to-action (CTA)? Make it clear. Do not make it ambiguous. If you want to them to click something, say it. If you want them to go to a particular page and fill out a form, say it. Make it very, very clear. I can’t stress this enough. Most people ignore this simple concept and their marketing fails because of it.
You should also play around with colors and verbiage when using your CTAs. Split test the variations and see what works better.
12. Make the tone conversational
Kern is a master at striking the conversational tone. He makes himself highly relatable and easy to understand. It’s like he’s speaking to a friend. And it’s as if you’ve known him forever. His old persona was the lazy surfer. Yet, Kern is the furthest thing from lazy. In fact, he’s one of the hardest working marketers out there. So is Dan Kennedy.
In your own marketing, think about how you can be conversational. Do this by being transparent. That’s crucial. But, also pretend like you’re talking to your best friend. Use things like “Dear friend” to open the letter and even “P.S. at the bottom.” Yes, this stuff really does work.
13. Use the power of testimonials
Testimonials are huge. When you’re writing copy, focus on testimonials. If your product or service hasn’t helped other people, you need to ensure you do that first. Get the testimonials. And get them on video if you can. If not, just get them to send you their experience and ask to use their name and their image in your marketing materials.
14. Use urgency or scarcity with a deadline
You need to compel people to take action. There needs to be some sort of impending deadline. When will the offer expire? How many seats or items are there left? Is this is a limited time sale? What’s the urgency or scarcity behind this? You absolutely must use this in your copy.
15. Read it out loud
Read your copy out loud. What does it sound like? Read it over and over again if you have to. When it comes to sales letters, this is bar none one of the most important things that you can do. And you should do this fresh. Not after you’ve just finished it or toiled over sentence structure and grammar.