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Toilet roll sales letter pages

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday May 12, 2007 )

You’ve probably seen these; sales letter and landing pages that usually start out With Some Very Long Heading With Each Word Capitalized And Making Incredible Claims. They they launch into a spiel that starts with “Dear Friend”, followed by dozens of screens of text in differing font sizes and colors and copious amounts of spin in an attempt to get you to buy.

While some sales letter pages convert very well, many copywriters take the formula to the nth degree and render the strategy useless.

My prompting for this post was a sales page I came across a few minutes ago that had used the tried and tested formula – but it was applied under the influence of crack it would seem.

The *real* sales letter formula works something like this:

– Attention grabbing headline in a large font
– Current date
– From the desk of (Author) or similar wording
– The “Dear Friend” salutation (brrr)
– Pose question/s
– Offer a solution, describe it, hype it, order links
– Testimonials
– Bonuses
– More testimonials and blurbs about the product
– Special offer, limited time
– Order now link/button
– Signature
– The “P.S” Money back guarantee

The approach is mostly used for information products. Some marketers have made a mint from the approach, especially those who used it wisely, but the sales letter I just looked at will be lucky to generate a single order, for the following reasons:

– It was 27 screens long before the first order link
– The testimonials were just so over the top, they weren’t believable
– The sites owned by the testimonial writers were garbage and the product was related to making money online.
– The description was 99% hype and really didn’t even come close to alluding to what the product actually was.
– Way too many font size, type and color changes.

This type of sales letter is becoming increasingly common on the web, particularly in relation to information products touting get rich quick schemes to budding online entrepreneurs.

I’m making special mention of this because it is such a popular format used by people wanting to sell information products and some marketers will try to lead you to believe that such a toilet roll, hyped-out approach will actually work for you. Some will even charge you big bucks to teach you this drivel and I’d like to save you that money :).

Long pages are fine, but bear in mind that different people will want to purchase at different stages during the sales process.. by making a page so long, you can lose their attention, or they may read something that changes their mind about purchasing. Place noticeable order links every screen length or so. Make your copy believable – otherwise you’ll be finding you’re refunding a lot of the orders you do get. Extol the virtues of your product by all means, but I’ve always liked the saying: “under promise, then over deliver”.

Also, I’m immediately suspicious of being addressed as “Dear friend” in any marketing spiel – I equate it to someone saying “I’m about to con you”, and I suspect many others feel the same. Why take the chance of setting up a negative impression from the outset?

While sales letter landing pages do have their place in marketing, I feel it’s a strategy you should approach very carefully to avoid being labeled a snake oil salesperson. My guides to creating effective landing pages and crafting marketing copy have some further tips that you might find useful as they are very applicable to the sales letter format.


1 comment for Toilet roll sales letter pages
  1. Smart marketers will continuously test their sales pages. If they are optimized AND they still annoy you, then you are probably not their target market :)

    Comment by Peter Koning — November 25, 2007 @ 12:47 am

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