Drafting great copy requires creativity. But, there is more to it than that alone. In the realm of business content, sales letter copywriting appears more like a well-oiled machine than a creative work of art.
Well-oiled machine? What creativity is there in that?
Let me explain. Well-written sales letters first and foremost require:
But, the art of persuasion and visual appeal drag creativity into play. Telling a story or painting a picture (with the above four characteristics in mind) engages the reader and compels them to take action. Think in terms of a snapshot that draws you into the bigger story.
To achieve this dance of precision and art requires skill. There is simply no room for stray words, content rabbit trails or flowery descriptors. Instead, power words strategically linked give every sentence focus and purpose.
Why such need for concise content? Consider the time in your average day to read emails and the like. Most often, you skim for valuable content and the brief, yet informative earns your attention. The visual may attract you, but the long-winded turns you off.
To create such content, honed writing and editing skills get the job done. And, done well. Time taken to develop such techniques proves well spent. Check out these strategies for sales letter copywriting which convert.
Write With Enthusiasm
Before editing takes place, a draft must be created, obviously. A few methods ensure a quality content piece which eases the editing process. Be aware that modifying, adjusting and detailing does not occur during the initial writing. The goal is to simply write.
To begin, compose the sales letter in the heat of enthusiasm. This allows anticipation to build as a result of your excitement. Quickly turn out a draft with includes an introduction to your product or services, the second paragraph of details or a specific promotion, and an action step.
Three paragraphs. Done. For insight on this process, consider the hints below.
Think Like a Buyer
All copywriting requires knowing your audience. After all, if you write for your liking or your employer’s preferences, you miss the mark with readers. In a sales letter, go beyond knowing your audience to become one of them. Like an actor assumes a role, embody your listener.
In doing so, create a picture of their ideal product or service, and list the features of it. Apply these concepts to your letter or series of letters. This act brings relevant, interesting content to your readers.
- What the consumer wants.
- How you will give it to them.
While researching and becoming your audience, unveil your unique selling angle.
- What makes your product or service stand out to your customer?
- What need do you meet that competitors miss?
- How will your product or service change the life of the buyer?
Be Honest and Accurate
Gone are the days of the hyped-up sales pitch. Consumers want honesty and authenticity. They want to know that you care about them rather than simply making a pitch and earning a sale. Accurate, consumer-focused information speaks this language to your audience.
As you write, make sure the information is accurate. Be certain you can honestly apply your words to the product or service. Any exaggeration or misinformation leads readers to throw out your ideas and breeds distrust. And, as may be obvious, this strategy fails to earn sales or build long-range, loyal customers.
The idea is to persuade readers that any price is worth paying for the product. But, this anticipation building must be based on the physical facts of the product. Otherwise, you simply create a false reality, a dream which bursts when the consumer wakes.
Round Out the Picture
Pictures speak a thousand words, so the saying goes. And, research backs up this trite phrase as does our experience. Images paired with information see a 65 percent retention rate over three days where text alone garners only 10 percent. And, four times as many consumers prefer video over text.
Visual content draws more attention and proves more memorable. Adding images, infographics and video links to sales letters encourage greater engagement. And, isn’t this the reason you write them?
Placing visual content in sales letters creates a literal picture which sticks with consumers. And, this attention is worth getting. Remember again, that all content, even photos and videos must be relevant to the reader and connect to the material. An image for image sake fails at its mission.
Create Reader Urgency
Writing with enthusiasm begins to build urgency. But, greater intent is required. Sales letters go beyond a simple call to action. They include specific language so the reader feels pressed to respond at once.
But, in keeping with honesty and authenticity, sincere, trustworthy reasons as to the urgency prove important. Even if an imminent price hike is the reason, making this clear without being pushy is vital. Try the following ideas:
- Set a time limit for an offer.
- Explain supplies are limited.
- Announce a price increase date.
- Use words to indicate time constraints.
- Include a postscript (P.S.)
For concrete examples, check out HubSpot’s article, 9 Sales Email Templates to Inspire Urgency in Prospects.
And, be certain that the urgency is real. If you state a price increase, follow through on it. Unsubstantiated limits breed distrust or, at minimum, lull consumers into inaction. Quite the opposite of the desired endgame.
Go The Extra Mile
Creativity also comes into play with added extras which promote engagement or keep you in the minds of readers. As previously mentioned, visuals do so. But, other tactics exist as well. Encourage readers to walk with you by:
- Making the outer package interesting and attractive.
- Placing a teaser on the envelope to encourage opening.
- Personalizing email subject lines and messages while creating a hook.
- Giving buyers a product-based reason to keep the letter such as “10 Tips to Organizing Your Space” for home goods services.
- Including an incentive such as a discount or special offer.
These extras demonstrate to consumers that you care. You are willing to go the extra mile. And, being more than a notch on your sales belt appeals to modern generations.
Edit With a Cool Head
While your initial draft writes well with emotion and enthusiasm, editing requires a cool head. More time spent in edit-mode reaps rewards. Reading, reading again, reading aloud and wrangling another set of eyes to edit prove useful in this process.
Typically, editing is thought to be grammar and spelling checks. And, this understanding proves true with sales letters as well, in part. Errors send readers sprinting for the competition. So, be sure to edit with writing basics in mind.
However, there is more to editing a sales letter or any copy for that matter. Several passes over a letter reveal issues with purpose, focus, relevancy, brevity and clarity. Therefore, be sure to write far enough ahead of a deadline to spend adequate time editing.
Consider the following editing practices:
Set It Aside
Stare at any written word for too long, and your brain convinces you that it is misspelled. Focus on any content piece too many hours, and you will be certain of its poor quality whether true or not. To prevent this all-too-common syndrome, walk away.
Let a sales letter sit for an hour or a day to clear your mind. Even a jog around the block is enough to break your concentration. Then, revisit the content with an objective eye. Seeing the copy fresh accomplishes two purposes.
- Errors and needed modifications jump to your attention.
- Quality reveals itself more fully.
While procrastination and looming deadlines tempt you to forgo this step, DO NOT give in. Allowing yourself breathing room is vital to an efficient and productive writing process.
Mine for Purpose
On one of your read-throughs, it is important to ask the question, Why does it matter? Who cares? Everything you write serves a purpose in a sales letter. Remember, time is precious in getting your point across to consumers. If anything fails to meet the purpose, modify it or delete it.
Take into consideration the following in regard to content and purpose:
- Eliminate anything extraneous to your purpose (no matter how good it is).
- Use facts and figures to back claims and statements.
- Include testimonials which support your purpose.
- Tailor headlines to express your focus clearly to readers.
- Keep what matters to your audience in mind as you edit.
Check for Relevancy
Again, consumers want content which is informative, relevant and honest. And the editing process dictates that you modify or delete any information not meeting these criteria. Also, in reading aloud, be certain the information connects the reader to the primary focus of the letter.
Ask these questions as you edit:
- Does this subject interest my intended audience?
- Is useful information presented clearly to the reader?
- Does all content reflect the focus of the letter?
- Can I back the copy with data?
- Are there any exaggerations or stretches of the truth which need removing?
As mentioned, time is of the essence in the business world. Long-winded sales letters find themselves in the trash whether next to a desk or virtual. Editing to keep words concise and length brief proves powerful in attracting readers.
- Break up long sentences.
- Shorten paragraphs.
- Use bullet points.
- Craft skimmable content.
- Eliminate excess.
Another way to promote brevity is by selecting one critical point and focusing your letter around it. Additional points can be added in supplemental pieces to avoid cluttering the letter and the reader’s takeaway.
In writing briefly, issues of clarity may arise. Word selection becomes key in creating clear messages with fewer words. As you edit, consider how to rework the text into tighter, more concise language.
Some suggestions include:
- Cut jargon and industry speak.
- Choose stronger, visual-producing verbs.
- Eliminate weak adjectives such as really, very, etc.
- Avoid run-on sentences.
- Focus on key points to avoid confusion.
Again, keep your audience in mind as you read. Better yet, be your audience. If you were not familiar with the subject, would it make sense as written?
Strengthen Your Voice
Editing also asks you to note the voice used throughout the letter. You want the piece to be professional and yet, conversational or human. Furthermore, the language and flow need to represent your brand well. In other words, does it sound like you?
Consider your brand and the voice of other marketing pieces when editing for:
- Consistent imagery.
- Consistent person i.e. first or second person.
- Conversational style.
Using a consistent voice and style across your brand becomes familiar to consumers. As you develop this presence, your company and its materials will become recognized by their sound and feel.
Review Your Look
Also contributing to the feel of your overall marketing campaign is the look of your content pieces. A sales letter may get less attention in terms of appearance as you concentrate on the text. But, this oversight proves a mistake. (Consider the power of visuals mentioned above.)
Take time in the editing process to consider the:
- Overall attraction factor and audience appeal.
- Consistency with the look of your brand.
- Professionalism of the graphic design.
- Presence of quality, relevant images and videos.
- Fit of the look with your target audience preferences.
A formal looking sales letter may work with higher education audiences but fails to reach Millenials. And, cutting-edge designs may deter older segments of the population, generally speaking. But, all populations appreciate clean, well-done layouts and copy.
Help With Sales Letter Copywriting
Did you find useful strategies in this long list of possibilities? (If so, please comment below, and let us know what was beneficial to you.) Did you find gaps in your editing process?
Sales letter copywriting teaches much about the process of editing across marketing applications. And, with practice, you will soon be doing the tango of the pragmatic coupled with the creative.
However, if you lack the desire to dance or simply lack the time to learn the steps, give us a shout. Our sales letter copywriting skills are ready to go to work for you.