Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Long-Form Sales Letters Work

Have you ever gone to a web site and realized that its nothing more than a one page sales letter? You scroll down only to see about 50 paragraphs full of rhetorical questions, descriptions, testimonials, subheaders, and postscripts. You may ask yourself - "Why in the world would someone develop their web page like this?"

Joel Comm, an online marketing expert, recently wrote the following article about Internet sales letters in the October 2008 issue of Feed Front Magazine:

For years now, the standard sales tool for Internet marketers has been the long-form sales letter. These can go on for thousands of words, offer testimonial after testimonial, sub-heading after sub-heading and postscript after postscript.

They’re enormous, often repetitive and it’s unlikely that anybody has ever read one all the way through to the end. So why do marketers still use them? The answer is simple: they work.

In one test conducted by the Marketing Experiments Journal in 2004, longform sales letters consistently outperformed short copy, sometimes by as much as 400 percent. In my own experience, I’ve seen upsells and one-time offers produce conversion rates as high as 70 percent.

That doesn’t happen often – but I’ve never had it happen with any other sales technique. The reason they work is that a well-written, long-form sales letter will do two things.

First, it will push every sales point and answer every objection from every member of the audience. That’s something that’s always going to take up a great deal of space. But it’s also why marketers don’t expect the audience to read all of the copy.

The sub-headings are meant to provide easy entry and exit points for readers. Different readers will have different objections and they’ll be persuaded to buy because of different benefits. As readers scan a sales letter, the format of the page will naturally help them to notice the points and arguments that are most likely to persuade them.

Of course, they’ll also miss a lot but that’s important too. The Internet is the ultimate comparison shopping tool. More information about a product and more products that do the same thing are never more than a click or two away.

By providing readers with an overdose of information, marketers keep truly interested buyers on the page. If they can’t even finish reading the information in front of them, they’re less likely to feel a need to look for more information elsewhere.

It’s why a common reaction to a long-form sales letter is “Okay, I get it. How much is it already?” When you can make a lead ask that question, you really should be able to turn them into a buyer.

Long-form sales letters need top quality copy. They need careful testing and tweaking. But when the information and the words are right, they’re also surprisingly effective.

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  1. Mujiba Salaam ParkerOctober 18, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    Great information Dante! I have applied this knowledge to my website so that visitors can easily see why they would want to buy my books and motivational CD.

    Mujiba Salaam Parker

  2. This is a great article! I have always been curious to why I was always attracted to those basic pages with a whole lot of text. When I look back, the headings really captured my attention and made me want to believe what I was reading and ultimately wanting more information. I like how the format of the pages were explained and that headers throughout the body of the text were like entry and exit points. I am definitely going to use this knowledge the next time I write a squeeze page.