Tag Archive | "sales"

The ‘Old School’ Factors that Lead to 21st-Century Sales

When I first started out as a business owner, marketing my freelance copywriting services, I was very aware of my biggest constraint: I was a lousy salesperson. When I was a kid, I had a hard time selling raffle tickets to my own grandmother. And all the books I was reading said that I had
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Ecommerce: Northwestern University study on how online reviews affect sales

Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center recently conducted research into how online reviews influence sales. The Spiegel Center’s Executive Director and Research Center share some of their discoveries to help ecommerce marketers improve conversion in the extensive interview in this MarketingSherpa blog post.
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SearchCap: Sales funnels, search pics & editorial changes

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Sales funnels, search pics & editorial changes appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Learn best practices for mobile search and in-store sales

Today’s consumers research products on the go, using their smartphones to find and choose at which nearby business to make a purchase or eat a meal. Most visit the store they select on the same day. Yet most marketers can’t – or don’t – optimize their digital presence or measure the impact of their…

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SearchCap: Google link warning, in-store sales & more SEM

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google link warning, in-store sales & more SEM appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Google expands offline attribution and launches in-store sales measurement

Google is beefing up offline analytics with more store visitation and sales data.

The post Google expands offline attribution and launches in-store sales measurement appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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3 Tips on High-Conversion Copy from a Sales Page Specialist

"The better you are at addressing your prospect’s concerns, doubts, and objections, the more sales you’ll bring in." – Beth Hayden

I know what some of you are thinking.

You’re asking:

“Do I really need a sales page anymore? Can’t I sell using social media/webinars/live events/blog posts/podcast episodes?”

I don’t know the details of your exact situation, but I will say this:

If you need to spell out the benefits of your product or service in order to make more sales (which you do), a sales page will drive more positive results for your business.

Unfortunately, writing sales pages has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Some people get wildly anxious when they sit down to write one. Or worse, they fill their sales pages with rambling copy that doesn’t persuade anyone to buy.

These days, I’ve developed a specialty as a sales page copywriter — so I wanted to give you three quick tips for improving your own sales pages.

But first, I want to tell you how I fell in love with writing them.

Why I love writing sales pages — and how you can learn to love them, too

About a year ago, I took Derek Halpern’s Sales Page That Converts course, which was a game-changer for me. I studied the course closely, and used that advice to craft sales pages for my next six clients.

As it turns out, I’ve got a knack for it. One page I wrote for a client resulted in a $ 70,000 launch. That one felt good, I gotta admit.

I’ve learned to love writing sales pages by doing it … a lot. I understand what my goals are and what I need to accomplish in each section. I know what questions to ask my clients. And I understand the writing process.

These days, sales pages are like giant puzzles that I get to put together.

You can learn to love writing sales pages, too — you just need practice.

I understand the struggles of facing a blank screen when you’re writing, so here are my three best pieces of advice to jump-start the process for you.

Tip #1: Thoroughly explain your offer

The most important thing any persuasive copy needs to do is give your prospects the information they need to make a decision.

That means you’ve got to clearly explain the features and benefits of a product or service, and why your product or service is different from your competition.

For example, if you’re selling hot air balloon rides, you’ll need to describe the features by explaining how long the ride will last, whether it’s appropriate for kids, the safety measures you employ, and what riders can expect on the big day.

Then you could show one of the benefits of your service by describing it as a potential gift for a loved one. If your prospect gave the ride as a once-in-a-lifetime gift to a spouse, you could describe the joy and gratitude on her face as they lift off into the air on a crisp autumn morning.

Or you could talk about how excited the prospect’s kids would be if they got to go for a balloon ride and how his kids would think he is the world’s greatest dad. You could mention that one of your balloons would be a wonderfully memorable place for a proposal!

You’ve also got to explain why your balloon rides are better (or different) from your competitor’s. Do you cater to people who have a fear of heights? Do you do Disney-themed rides that are perfect for kids? Do you provide longer balloon rides than anyone else in your area?

Whatever your product or service, don’t be afraid to spill all the beans and share all the juicy details of what the prospect gets, why it’s awesome, and why you’re the right choice.

Tip #2: Answer all of your prospects’ questions

One of the most important parts of a sales page is the “Frequently Asked Questions” section. This is the place where you get to address all of the nagging little questions on your prospects’ minds.

When many prospects ask questions about your product, what they really want to know is:

“Is this going to work for me?”

For example, let’s say you’re selling an online program that teaches people how to start their own online hot air balloon ride company.

When your prospect lands on your sales page, she’s going to have some concerns. Almost all potential customers do.

  • If she’s a newbie entrepreneur, she’s worried she doesn’t have enough experience, and she’ll be completely lost in your program.
  • If she has lots of experience with ballooning, she’s concerned there won’t be enough useful material in the program for her.
  • If she’s from some far-flung corner of the world, she’s worried that the information in your program won’t apply to her, because the ballooning regulations may be different in her neck of the woods.

Your job is to address all of these concerns in your “Frequently Asked Questions” section.

Brainstorm every question you’ve ever been asked about your product or service, and then narrow down your list to the 10 most common questions. Next, write down your (honest) answers to those queries in your sales page’s FAQ.

You’re particularly looking for questions that stop people from buying. The better you are at addressing your prospect’s concerns, doubts, and objections, the more sales you’ll bring in.

Tip #3: Don’t be afraid of writing a long page

If you do everything I described in tips #1 and #2, you’ll need to use more than a couple of lines of copy. It’s just a fact.

Don’t fear the long-form sales page! If you need eight pages of copy to give your prospects everything they need to make a decision, so be it.

I promise — you’re not going to content marketing hell for writing a long sales page. (Actually, Copyblogger has always advised that you make your copy as long as it needs to be.)

That doesn’t mean you’ll fill your sales page with pointless fluff just to meet some imaginary word count requirement. Every word needs to count, and every phrase needs to pull your prospect closer to your desired action.

Longer copy sells because it provides all of the right information.

Your sales page can be one of your best business assets

When you write a high-conversion sales page, you create an “online salesperson” that can bring in sales for your business — month after month and year after year.

As you keep practicing, you’ll notice that one day, writing sales pages won’t be scary. Pretty soon, you might actually be crazy enough to enjoy writing them.

Writers: Ready to position yourself for greater success?

Beth Hayden is one of Copyblogger’s Certified Content Marketers. Our Certification training is a powerful tool that helps you learn new writing strategies and position your business for greater success. We’ll be re-opening the program shortly — add your email address below to learn when we reopen to new students.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

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How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales

"Content marketing is broader than email marketing, but your email list remains your core focus." – Brian Clark

When we talk about content marketing strategy, all the discussions of heroes, journeys, and maps can seem a bit esoteric.

What does it look like in real life? And how exactly does it relate to email marketing?

Content marketing is a broader discipline than email marketing, but your email list is the core focus. In fact, the primary purpose of content that is distributed in other ways (social, search, ads) is to begin the email relationship.

So, let me walk you through an imaginary campaign that takes you from a documented strategy to a working funnel. I’ll use my site Unemployable as the stage for this particular campaign.

Please note that the documented portions of the strategy below are much more abbreviated than you would do for yourself. It’s just an illustration that will help you better understand how a documented strategy translates into real-world digital marketing.

Let’s take a look.


Why are we pursuing this?

The business objective is to sell StudioPress Sites to people who want to start a new website.


In the “who” phase, we identify a single persona that we’ll keep in mind as we craft content.

This particular campaign will focus on freelancers looking to slowly move away from serving clients by shifting to a product-based business model. Our persona is a freelance writer named Penny.

Penny was thrilled to break away from the corporate marcom world and start her own business. She still loves the independence and flexibility, but some days the stress of working with clients gets to her. Instead of one boss, she answers to several demanding contacts, each with different management styles and project requirements.

While she dreams of creating her first digital product, Penny dreads the thought of investing her time into something that doesn’t sell. She wants to develop a business based on her passion for cooking, not by teaching people to write. While she still wants to pursue the dream, her doubts about how to get started have kept her from taking even the first step.

Penny is a pragmatic and ethical person who is allergic to hype and incredible claims of internet riches. She is driven by a sense of fairness, and she holds disdain for those who take shortcuts at the expense of others.

Her worldview is that hard work is rewarding, and she often tells herself she should just be happy with the clients she has. Still, she’s willing to work a side hustle to pursue her dream, if only she could find the right path.


In the “what” phase, we identify the sequence of information that the prospect needs to achieve her goal.

Now it’s time to identify the type of information that Penny will need to take action, and the order that will guide her step by step to transformation.

And since we’re trying to convince Penny to purchase a StudioPress Site, we’ll also need to communicate why it makes sense to do business with us over someone else.

Here are some broad considerations that we will turn into specific pieces of content and copy:

  • Penny will need on-point content that addresses her desire to turn a passion into a business.
  • The credibility of the source will be key to overcoming Penny’s skepticism.
  • Given her freelance practice, Penny needs to know that she has the time to make this happen.
  • She’ll need a way to validate her ideas and gain confidence.
  • Penny wants to see specific examples of how people like her have succeeded.
  • As a non-technical creative, Penny must be assured that she won’t be overwhelmed by technology.
  • Finally, Penny must receive an offer that motivates her to take action.

Now we can take these primary information points and map them out as a sequential journey. Or you can simply create a story outline that corresponds with each piece of content in the sequence.


In the “how” phase, we take what we know about our prospect in order to best present the information.

Penny is a creative business person striving to become more entrepreneurial. Her no-nonsense attitude suggests a “just the facts” approach, but her need for case studies and real-life examples opens her up to persuasive storytelling.

Given her potential for skepticism, we’ll walk the line between “yes, this takes work” with constant reassurance that it’s totally doable. Characterizing the entire process as an act of creation will appeal to Penny’s sense of pride as a professional writer.

The tone can be somewhat snarky when it comes to “get rich quick” formulas, especially at the beginning. The goal is to strongly differentiate the advice from the stuff business-opportunity people are looking for, and instead present this as a valid way to build a business that serves others just as it also provides value to the owner.

Here’s Penny’s experience

At this point, we want to summarize how Penny experiences the journey your content is taking her on. We’ve worked to empathetically understand her, and now we want to see the path from her perspective to better refine how we guide her through it.

While taking a short break from a client project, Penny sees an article on Facebook that catches her eye. It’s called Why Now is the Wrong Time to Create a Digital Product. She sees that the post is sponsored, which means that it’s a paid distribution, but the topic is worth the click because it’s so on point to her predicament.

The article confirms her own doubts about creating an ebook or course, which means the content has entered the conversation already playing in her head. She’s nodding in agreement that starting with an idea for a product and simply creating it leads to failure more often than not.

Instead, the article argues that you need to first develop an audience around the topic you’re interested in. The piece goes on to argue that you should do market research by promoting other people’s relevant products first to discover what this particular audience wants to buy.

Penny is stoked, because she feels like the author is speaking directly to her. The end of the article contains an offer for a free course called Building Your Digital Business the Smarter Way.

The landing page is beautifully designed. The copy is abundant, but not obnoxious. She recognizes the author as the founder of Copyblogger, a site she read religiously when she was starting her freelance writing business.

The course is tied to subscribing to the weekly Unemployable newsletter. She smiles at the brand, and figures at minimum she’ll get some solid tips for running and growing her main business.

Penny registers for the course, providing her email address. She’s not naive — she knows there’s something for sale at some point, but this seems like the information she’s been waiting for.

She accesses the first lesson of the course immediately, which talks about validating product ideas by selling other people’s stuff — also known as affiliate marketing. Then there’s an unexpected shift, as the focus of the lesson moves to stories of people who make tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, of dollars a month through affiliate marketing alone.

Just when Penny’s BS detector is about to blare, she encounters the story of The Wirecutter, a gadget review site powered by commissions from Amazon’s Associates program. The business was acquired by the New York Times for $ 30 million in 2016.

That piece of legitimacy has Penny hooked. If she can build an audience interested in cooking, there are all sorts of products that she can promote through Amazon and other affiliate programs. Maybe she doesn’t have to create a product at all.

But how to build the audience?

That comes in the next lesson, which arrives the next day by email. It talks about two vitally important channels for affiliate marketing — email and search.

The lesson advises to write one high-impact article every week, based on developing a documented content marketing strategy (this is getting meta now). But beyond that, the topic turns to content curation as a way to get people on her email list when she’s just starting out and building her authority.

This resonates with Penny. She knows there is so much good stuff out there in the world of recipes and cooking techniques. But she also knows there’s a bunch of junk and sorting through that for people has value. She can use social ads and guest posting to drive traffic to her newsletter, which now has a compelling value proposition.

The next day, her inbox reveals a tutorial on modern SEO — a topic that gives her the willies. She discovers it’s not that scary once you understand how technology can help amplify your great content, which is the most important part.

This lesson is the first time StudioPress Sites is mentioned, just briefly at the end. Penny is intrigued, but not ready to buy.

Next comes the final lesson, which is a piece about WordPress performance and security. Penny understands that you’ve got to have confidence in your theme, plugins, and hosting in order to provide a great experience for your visitors. StudioPress Sites is mentioned again, a little more prominently since it’s the solution to all those concerns.

On the next day, it’s the time for an offer. Penny gets the opportunity to get rolling with her new cooking site without paying a dime for the first month. She jumps on the deal, knowing she can cancel before paying if it turns out that she isn’t impressed with StudioPress.

But the journey’s not over

Now, our customer onboarding at StudioPress becomes part of the journey. If Penny doesn’t set up her site within those first 30 days, there’s a chance she’ll give up and cancel.

Fortunately, Penny does get her new site rolling, using one of the included themes and obtaining a custom logo from a designer she works with. She’s assembled an RSS list on Feedly of all her favorite sources for cooking content and is working up an overall strategy for her original content.

Just then, she’s delighted to receive an invitation to a webinar that will help her document her content marketing strategy and build her email list. It’s actually the next piece of content in the sequence she opted-in to — except it’s a version for people who purchased, designed to increase retention.

An alternate webinar that contains a different offer is provided to those who haven’t yet bought. This is a very simple example of how marketing automation can empower you to personalize the experience your prospects and customers encounter.

Meanwhile, Penny enjoys the weekly Unemployable newsletter, which provides advice related to both her freelance business and the direction she’s headed. She even begins promoting StudioPress Sites as an affiliate in the “do-it-yourself” section of her writing site. And finally, Penny eventually upgrades her StudioPress Site to the Commerce Plan as she begins creating her first natural cooking course.

The adaptive experience

Now, this person and her story are a fiction, right? But the better you know your prospect, the more accurate the experience will be. Once you put the content out there, you can test, tweak, and rearrange until you’re hitting all the touchpoints just right.

Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying with Penny at a very personal, human level, technology can then do amazing things. Your basic linear sequence of what she needs to hear from you can take into account all sorts of variables.

  • What if she doesn’t do the third lesson? How do you get her back on track?
  • What if she clicks on a certain link within a lesson? How does that change how you perceive her state of mind?
  • What if she powers through every lesson, but ignores every offer? What does that tell you about her viability as a prospect?

This is the point where marketing automation becomes magical. Not before you understand how to engage with your prospect on an empathetic level, but definitely once you do. You’re not only creating better content, you’ll have a better understanding as to what behaviors have significance during the sequence.

The clarity comes from “who”

I actually know Penny pretty well, since she’s one of the handful of “characters” I think of when I curate Unemployable and choose topics and guests for the podcast. We also have several different avatars for various use cases for StudioPress Sites.

Having a concrete persona to “talk” to makes things so much clearer. Instead of some vague notion of a funnel, you can actually see yourself as the mentor, guiding your prospect along on the journey, step by step.

And when it comes to email marketing, you’re no longer just “list building” in the abstract.

They say the money is in the list, but that’s not necessarily true — it’s got to be the right list that takes the right people on the right journey.

Have you mapped out your content marketing strategy yet? Let me know about the experience in the comments.

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How to Ruthlessly Cut Worthless Words from Your Sales Copy

how to ruthlessly cut words from your sales copy

When you’re writing sales copy for your business, showing a little personality is a good thing.

It’s also a good idea to use natural language whenever possible, so people know you’re a real person who is genuinely interested in helping your prospects and customers.

I write conversationally when I write copy, and so do a lot of other folks I trust and admire.

However, there are limits to how far you should take that advice.

Are you taking a risk when you use slang?

Unless you have proof that your audience uses slang — and wants to see it in sales copy — you should avoid using it in your persuasive emails, sales pages, and other types of “selling” collateral.

And when I say “slang,” I’m also including alternative spellings, slang abbreviations, and hyperbole.

I know there’s a high probability I sound like an old grandmother shouting at kids to stay off her lawn — but lately I’m seeing this trend more and more frequently in sales copywriting. And I suspect it’s radically decreasing conversions.

Types of slang to avoid in copy

Want to see some examples? These are all words and phrases I’ve recently noticed on sales pages and in emails that were designed to sell me something:

  • BOOM!
  • Pleez (or worse yet, pleeeeeeeeez)
  • OMG
  • LOL

Chances are, you’ve got your own list of words that annoy you when you see them in professional writing. My list could go on for a while, but I’ve chosen some of my biggest pet peeves. I wince every time I see those words in an email from a business.

Why you want to avoid them

There’s a compelling reason to avoid slang and abbreviations like the ones on the list above: they often don’t add value to your copy — and can actually distract your prospects.

When your prospective buyers read your sales page and decide whether or not your product is a good fit for them, you don’t want to distract them for a single moment. You want every line of your copy to flow seamlessly into the next, without interruption.

If you sprinkle your sales page with slang and nonsense words, there’s a good chance you’re going to interrupt that flow.

Keep prospects focused on the action you want them to take

You might innocently include “OMG” in your copy in attempt to sound conversational, but prospects could be distracted by that choice and think, “Wait, why does he say ‘OMG’ in the middle of this paragraph?”

If you’re trying to reach people who aren’t native English speakers (or who come from older generations), they might also ask, “What does ‘OMG’ mean?”

At best, the “OMG” is only a temporary distraction that slows down prospects’ decision-making processes as they read. At worst, the slang and misspelled words will turn off readers so much that they abandon your sales page forever — and you’ve just lost them as customers.

Slang words and abbreviations that belong in text messages also don’t add any value to your copy. As sales copywriters, we must choose every word carefully. Every word and phrase on the page needs to pull its weight — slang and overused exclamations like “OMG” just don’t cut it.

Think I’m wrong?

Perhaps in certain circumstances you’re correct — there are exceptions to this rule, of course.

If you performed extensive research and know for certain your prospects use this type of language — and want to see it in sales copy that promotes your product or service — you might be able to get away with using it.

You should test out these words and phrases to see if including them increases your conversion rate.

If they don’t, I recommend cutting them. Even if your prospect tolerates these words and phrases, they’re probably not contributing anything to your copy.

Get more copywriting tips

If you’re looking for more tips on how to make your copy tighter, more readable, and more persuasive, check out Copyblogger’s free ebook Copywriting 101: How to Craft Compelling Copy.

The 90-page ebook is packed full of helpful advice, including more thoughts on audience research and using your prospect’s preferred language.

Do certain words irritate you when you see them in professional copywriting? Or are there any you’re guilty of using (or overusing) yourself? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Upcoming webcast: How to optimize search, Facebook, and display ads to drive offline sales

How are marketers using online and offline data to understand and optimize the customer journey? And what cross-channel strategies work best to drive offline conversions? Join digital marketing experts from Adobe and DialogTech to understand how marketers are solving the online-to-offline dilemma….

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