I want to focus on writing an effective sales page in this 8th post of my series on how to publish and sell an eBook successfully.
If you haven’t read the previous posts, I suggest you read them before proceeding with this article. If you already have an eBook however and are ready to build your sales copy, you may skip the previous posts and jump right into this article.
Here are the previous posts:
Post 1: How to Research and Create an eBook Successfully
Post 2: How You Can Profit from an eBook & Why You Should Write One
Post 3: How to Research a Profitable eBook Topic
Post 4: A 4,000 Word Guide on How to Create an eBook Product
Post 5: Effectively Pricing and Selling Your eBook
Post 6: Marketing and Promoting Your eBook
Post 7: Establishing an Effective Affiliate Program
An effective sales page, whether you are selling an eBook or anything else, has certain critical elements which I will discuss in this article. The skill of compiling an effective sales page is important because minor tweaks can lead to an increase in conversion rates, which can impact your bottom line significantly.
Consider this example. Let’s say your sales page gets 100 unique visitors a day. If you are currently converting at 1%, you are getting 30 sales each month. Increasing your conversion just by another 1% will result in double the sales. On a $19.99 eBook, this increase can put an additional $600 profit in your pocket each month.
Depending on who you tune into for advice, you will likely find some variation in the guidance but for the most part, the scientific elements are consistent throughout all effective and successful sales pages.
Yes, you read right. Marketing and selling has been studied for decades by experts after experts. The same things that worked then still work today. It is truly an evergreen process that once dissected, reveals the exact science behind successful sales copy that you can replicate and succeed with as well.
With that said, there are marketers who come from a different and relatively “unconventional” schools of thought who apply variations of several sales components / tactics, many of which work.
I have personally adopted some of these methods on some of my sales pages, so don’t be surprised to see different approaches when you examine my sales pages, especially approaches that do not follow conventional wisdom. Understand that many are experiments, and while some are deliberately done that way, others follow the conventional approach to an effective sales page.
So let’s dive into the outline and some of the elements of traditionally successful sales pages. You can always tweak and optimize as you gain more experience selling online.
An effective sales page needs to come out and address the problem your product aims to address, preferably right up front. Pain points or pressure points seem to grab the reader’s attention as they can often relate really well. There is nothing like it if you present the problem in a way that connects with your readers on an emotional level.
One of my most effective sales pages related to a rotator cuff healing guide because I present the problem in a way that connects with my readers emotionally. They “feel the pain” as soon as they see the problem presented. Have a read at this example:
“Are you tired of not being able to do the most basic things at home because your rotator cuff hurts with every hand and shoulder movement?”
Sounds painful and frustrating doesn’t it? Also makes the reader feel helpless, no? This particular sales page of mine converts at nearly 30% – that is unheard off.
Right after presenting the main issue on hand, come out right away and indicate that you know and will provide the reader the solution to the problem. It is not time as yet to provide the solution, but you want to set the scene and provide the reader with an appetizer. Consider this example:
“What if you knew exactly how to fix that problem within 60 days without consulting physicians and spending tons of money on medication?”
Better yet, spruce it up further as most sufferers are concerned (frankly scared) about rotator cuff surgery and its implications.
“What if you knew exactly how to fix that problem within 60 days naturally on your own without any surgery, physicians involvement and spending tons of money on medication?”
Either one of these provides the reader something to look forward to. Something that is very specific to and addresses their problem.
After setting up the stage nicely by providing the problem and a potential solution to it, an effective sales page presents your product (for example an eBook) and explains why it will solve your reader’s problem. This is your first chance to embed an image of your product and create that first impression.
It is important that your product image looks good. If your product is an eBook, consider a three dimensional and high resolution image as opposed to a flat, one dimensional image where the text on the book cover is so small you can barely read it. I discuss the importance of eBook cover design in an earlier post of this series, as well as a few options around how you can reach out to professional eBook cover designers cost efficiently.
Immediately after introducing the product, it is typically a good idea to build your product’s credibility immediately. Nothing builds credibility faster and better than testimonials from real people who have tried and tested your product. Before launching your eBook for sale, reach out to some potential customers and give them a free copy of your eBook or product. Ask them to provide a testimonial that you can include on your sales page in return.
You can reach people interested in your product by visiting forums and blogs that are focused on your product’s topic. You can also leverage classified ad websites such as Craigslist. When all else fails, reach out to friends and family, and ask them if they know anyone who might be interested in trying your product out in exchange for a testimonial.
Social proof works and there is no denying that. An effective sales page provides your potential customers with social proof by displaying product testimonials along with the pictures of customers who provided those testimonials (all with their permission of course). Needless to say that you should only display positive product testimonials.
When displaying testimonials, include a picture, the person’s name (full name preferably) and location. In addition, guide your testimonial givers into providing a testimonial that doesn’t merely emphasize your product’s features, but specifically mentions the benefits and how the user benefited from the product. Specific examples also resonate better with readers.
An important word of caution when using testimonials: Because internet marketers abused the liberty to display testimonials, many marketers fabricated false testimonials and put them on their website. For example, marketers would claim dramatic results from using a product that may not be representative of “normal” results or outcome.
Yet the testimonial would imply that such results are common. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has noticed this illegitimate practice and in recent years released guidelines that govern the practice of obtaining and displaying product testimonials.
Before you obtain and display testimonials for your product, I highly recommend you visit the FTC website and consult with your attorney regarding legitimate practices. I am reluctant to list the guidelines here because the law is quite robust and changes from time to time. The best course of action is to read the guidelines directly from the FTC website.
Finally, whenever obtaining the testimonial and permission to display the testimonial from your customer, always retain the written communication as proof. You never know if and when you may need it.
A Note on Credibility by Association: Another thing you can do to really spruce up your product’s credibility is by showing its association with bigger, more recognized brand names. For example, if you are selling shoes and your shoe was worn by a famous celebrity, show a picture of the celebrity on your sales page and highlight the shoe (circle in a color that stands out).
If you are selling an eBook and your eBook also sells on eBook stores online such as Amazon, include an image showing so. Have a look at this example which is straight out of one of my effective sales pages:
The image not only gives my eBook instant credibility through association with a big, reputable name, but also shows my potential customers the higher price that it sells at outside my website. In this specific example, my eBook sells for $29.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but sells only for $19.99 on my website.
This gives my customer more incentive to purchase from me at a “discounted” price. Remember, when you sell directly, you keep most of the profits. When you sell through Amazon, you only keep 30%. I know it’s ruthless.
After displaying solid social proof, an effective sales page emphasizes the benefits of your product from a first-hand perspective. You will have set the stage for 100% of your reader’s attention at this point.
The most important thing to keep in mind when preparing this section of your sales page is the fundamental difference between a product feature and its benefits. This is where most marketers get it wrong and later wonder why they don’t convert sales as well.
Features can easily be read on a product’s label, but it is the benefits that the customer is interested in. In other words, what can the product do for them? How can it change their life? Think about your own purchasing behavior. Aren’t you always asking in the back of your mind what a product can do for you when deciding whether to open your wallet and spend on it?
Here is a quick example:
“This car has a 600 horse power engine”
“You can go from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds”
The first sentence highlights one feature of the product, in this case a car. The next one takes that feature and answers the question “so what can it do for me?” The fact that the car has that much horsepower means the consumer can rapidly accelerate, which is the benefit.
Here is another example:
“New embedded thermodynamic technology”
“Save up to 60% of your heating bills”
Notice the difference? The first sentence lists a particular product feature. The next one tells the customer what purchasing the product can do for them. The benefit is a 60% cost saving.
Many marketers decide to opt out of presenting the features and get straight into the product’s benefits. However, if you are going to present both, the best way to illustrate these in a sales page effectively is either in a side by side table that lists out the features on the left and then the feature’s benefits on the right.
A clean bullet point format tends to do best in conveying product benefits, and when doing so, make sure the state the biggest and most important benefit. Again, this goes back to the first impression discussion earlier in this post. While listing out the benefits, keep your ideal customer in mind and focus only on benefits that would interest them.
A product may have several benefits, but only highlight a handful of high impact and relevant benefits. The beauty of listing out benefits is that you don’t need to dress them up. How much more “impactful” can you get by telling someone that they will save 60% on their monthly energy bill?
At this point your readers are primed and typically “presold” on the product. You just need to finish the process by telling them what they are going to get when they make a purchase.
Many marketers would include the product features in this section. The longer the list, the more perceived value there is to a product. Therefore it only makes sense to introduce your price after listing out everything that your customer will get when they purchase from you.
And if you already thinking one step ahead, yes, present a higher price which represents the true value of your offer, and then provide a discounted price to make it seem that the customer is getting a bargain. The key here is to keep things realistic, yet impactful. You can read more about my approach to pricing strategy here.
Everyone likes to get something for free every now and then. Even a corporate executive making $3M a year appreciates a free lunch (FYI: that is how you get on their calendar). Similarly, if a potential customer is on the borderline of purchasing your product, you can give them the extra push by providing freebies along with the main product.
This is an optional step because many offers are good as they are and do not need more reinforcement. However in more competitive markets, or for offers that are good but not great, providing freebies can significantly increase your conversion rates and overall sales.
Some common examples are buy one get one free, get free shipping and handling, get something extra for free, etc. Just think of the infomercials you see on TV. It is no coincidence that they all follow this process. When you buy a Tupperware, you can 2 smaller ones for free right? It’s no different online.
To make the offer really solid, some marketers offer an endless list of bonuses, and then tell the customer the total value of the freebies, which sometimes exceed the product value itself. Funny how things work indeed, but they do work.
If you are selling an eBook, consider taking smaller sections from within the eBook and compiling them in a small report or handout that you can give out for free. For example, if your eBook is about building kitchen cabinets, you can pull out the chapter on the common mistakes people make and repurpose it to provide a list of the top 10 most common mistakes to avoid when building kitchen cabinets. There is a lot of room for creativity here, but the main point is to create value.
Finally, when listing out your freebies and bonuses, present them just as you would present your product. Provide a high quality image of the free product, explain how it adds value for the customer, and indicate what the free product is worth if sold separately on its own.
Although a potential buyer at this stage likely has their mind made up, an effective sales page provides a money back guarantee that ads further reinforcement to your offer and provides that one last comfort or safety blanket in the event a potential buyer is thinking “what if this doesn’t work out?”
By providing a no questions asked money back guarantee, you are not only showing full confidence in your product but also at the same time relaxing your customer’s concerns. In the years that I have been selling eBooks online, and for the amount and number of eBooks I sell, I can confidently say that I’ve probably seen a total of 20 returns come through. It’s truly amazing how this works. Also don’t forget that people are generally lazy, and many who would have exercised the guarantee often don’t “just because”.
There are two types of guarantees that you can offer. One is a straight up 30, 60, 90, 120 day or more guarantee that promises to return the customer’s money. If you are selling an eBook and you have 0 cost of production, you might want to add that they can keep the product for free despite the refund.
The other type of guarantee is called a “lose-win” guarantee, which means that if the customer looses, or doesn’t feel satisfied by the product, they actually win because in addition to getting their money back, they will receive something else in return as well. You may be familiar with 150% or double or 200% money back guarantee. This is a powerful guarantee because the customer knows that they can make money on the transaction if they are not satisfied with their purchase.
I have tried and tested both types of guarantees, and cannot really say that I have numbers supporting that one is better than the other. The key is to have a guarantee that provides a level of comfort that your customer is seeking. A 150% or 200% money back guarantee shows you have more confidence in your product and may create a higher perceived value. I am sure this impacts the customer psychology as they go through using your product.
Up till now we have gone through a very specific and scientific method of pitching your product. In the end, an effective sales page must have a call to action as you still have to tell your reader to purchase your product. Contrary to what you and I may think, readers of our offer need hand holding as they are often not very intuitive. You need to tell them what to do.
Make sure you conclude your sales page by providing a clear and concise “call to action”, such as clicking to purchase button. Make sure the button is large, attractive and whenever possible shows images of branded credit cards and safety seals. This goes back to our discussion of perception earlier in this series. Have a look at the example below. Notice how it disseminates professionalism and give you the comfort to purchase.
A Note on Scarcity: You may have come across sales pages that employ scarcity tactics. I refrain from this personally because although it works, I feel that I am misleading my readers. Moreover, there are more recent laws and guidelines that discourage falsely created scarcity.
For example, many sales pages will tell you there are only X copies remaining and therefore purchase today. Others will tell you that the product used to sell for a higher price and that it is selling for the current lower price for only X more hours or days.
Others will tell you that the discount expires at midnight. All nifty and proven tactics, but misleading and quite frankly nothing but lies. But because scarcity truly works, you may opt to incorporate this on your sales page if you truly have a scarce situation on hand.
I’d like to conclude this article by mentioning that optimizing your sales page is an ongoing process, but one that should be focused on only once you have the traffic levels coming that you had planned for.
Without traffic coming in to view your sales page, even your best effort will fail as you will have no one to sell to. To learn about traffic generation, read my articles on search engine optimization and internet marketing.
Once you have the desired traffic levels, you can shift your focus on improving your sales letter conversion rates. Of course this only applies if you have your own website or blog because eBook stores online like Amazon don’t allow you the space for a proper sales page. All you get is a small product description box if you are selling an eBook.
Improving conversion is an art of trial and error. Successful internet marketers are always testing, tweaking and monitoring various components of their sales page. These components involve, but are not limited to, buttons, color schemes, fonts, headlines, sub headlines, benefits conveyed, product images used, order of testimonials, reshuffling content paragraphs and different types of guarantees. Frankly, nothing is off limits. But the key is to remember to monitor results from the changes made so you know what works and what does not.
So there you have it. This article should be all you need to create an effective and successful sales page online for your products and /or services. I’d be happy to continue this discussion and address your questions in the comments section below. In my next article, I will wrap up the entire series on how to publish an eBook and profit from it.
Readers: Are there components of an effective sales page that I have missed in this article? What strategies have worked best for you in converting your readers to customers? Do you have any questions or concerns after reading this information? Have a look at a sample effective sales page here.Previous: 3 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Great Loan
Another great post – thank you
Do you have other examples you could point to? Do you always recommend a very “plain” background without many graphics as the way to go for landing pages?
most of my niche sites have an accompanying ebook Gillian. while I do disclose several niches I am in, I cannot disclose all for apparent reasons. you can view any of those sales pages. I do have some that involve a slightly heavier use of graphics, as the niche calls for it. trial error testing is the best approach because each niche is different. make sure to split test. all the best to you.
Nice Sunil! This is something that has always fascinated me. You provided a very in depth guide. I’ll definitely be referencing it in the future.
anytime. let me know if you have questions. good luck on that ebook. I am looking forward to it.
Sunil, nice write up here. Though i could not read it word for word but i picked somethings from it. IMHO, i guess video sales page are now selling more compared to long sales page. I dunno if it works in all niches but it certainly will work in more niches than text base sales page!
video sales pages are definitely more effective in particular niches. in my experience, text/written sales pages do much better in others, particularly if you are in an area mostly viewed by white collar office professionals who mostly refer to your material during the working hours during weekdays only. these folks make a very good living doing what they like and highly value their weekends. pick your approach based on your niche, and always split test.
You’ve answered it all. “pick your approach based on your niche and always split test”.
So the best is to know whom you are selling to, what they do and the best means they will like be sold to
Great, I like your way to explain it, You always have new something, thank for sharing..:)
most welcome Nakula
Have you ever run ad campaigns for your ebook (Facebook or others) to better gauge interest, test ads and landing pages, and gather perspective buyers emails to qualify for significant discount once ebook is launched?
And must you then launch some form of your product within a certain time period from when you collected these emails?
Thanks a bunch for a great series.
I have, both free as well as paid. tip: if you have a FB fan page, sending leads there from paid ads cost pennies – so much cheaper than directing elsewhere outside Facebook. no urgent need of a product if the readers are getting value. I am also trying something really neat along the sames lines with Twitter – it’s working great so far. will blog about this in the coming weeks. what are you doing these days and how is it going for you?
this was an excellent source of information in respect of creating and selling an ebook – invaluable advice.
I have just created my first ebook and was looking for inspiration to create my sales page…. and you provided it.
I am having a lot of ebooks which I want to feature in a single page website for sales. I bought some and while others are freebies. Please kindly provide me an example of similar websites which I can study to develop mine and your best advice. Thanks.
What an incredible article. I will difinetely implement some of these techniques for my eBooks. Thanks for providing this. I’ve been reading your content the past couple of days. Very good stuff!