The Very FIRST Thing Your Visitors Ask (In Their Minds) About Your Sales Letter Is...

21 replies
Hi Folks

As copywriters, we know about the importance of GRIPPING our visitor's attention right away, and NOT LETTING GO of that grip until they've whipped out their credit card and are itching to get the product.

But I'd say there's something even MORE important (or at least AS important) as getting their attention, because, by virtue of them being on your page in the first place, you usually HAVE their attention already... at least, for a short time.

But the moment they hit your page, there's a question they DON'T have the answer to, right away... which they want, above all else.

That question is...

"Is this RELEVANT?"

I'd suggest that is the FIRST thing your copy needs to do - answer THIS question in their mind! (Or at least, if not the first thing, then very, very quickly!)

Think about it. Let's say someone is searching for "dog pooping examples" in Google, and your page happens to come up third. (I hear this is a steaming hot niche, by the way )

That person will scan the Google listing, and if they think your page is relevant to them, they will click the link to determine if it IS, or not.

The first thing they want to know when they hit your page is, "Is this RELEVANT?"

If you don't answer this question for them, they could well press the "Back" button in their browser, and continue to the next search result, to find a site that IS relevant to their "dog pooping examples" query.

Even if they're clicking from an advert, or an affiliate link, the question still applies. True, you might have more curiosity and intrigue (assuming your ad HAS aroused their curiosity), but in the back of their minds, I'm willing to bet they're still asking, "Is this RELEVANT to me?"

So my question is, how do you answer that question for the reader?

Personally, I like to include a pre-headline, that makes it clear to my target audience that they're in the right place, and what's to come is RELEVANT to them, ie.

If you're a writer, ghostwriter, copywriter or article writer...

... or something like that. So how do YOU do it? Do you believe that answering the question is the most important thing, or not? Is it more, the same, or less important than getting their attention? (Don't we already have their attention for the first few seconds, anyway?)

I'm asking because I'm hoping to write a blog post at CopySnips about this, so I thought I'd get some Warrior copywriting input beforehand.
#letter #minds #sales #thing #visitors
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
      Originally Posted by Kelly Verge View Post

      Yes. However we've all been sucked in by great copy on pages that aren't relevant.
      @Kelly... too true. What do you think did it? What sucked the reader in?

      @Matt, I agree that's a vitally important question. I'm curious, when you search on Google, let's say (perish the thought) it was "dog pooping example". What would be your frame of mind from that search? Is it a good idea to spell out to a "dog pooping example" searcher what your product has for them, if they weren't initially looking to buy anything?

      @la dominatrix, I agree that is an important question in the reader's mind. Doesn't that imply that you know instantly that a product is being sold, in the first place?

      Admittedly, I can usually tell I'm being pitched a product, because a lot of sales letters have that "look", don't they ... but do you think it's a good idea for a sales letter always to make clear that a product is being sold?
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      • Profile picture of the author nontemplates
        Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

        @

        Admittedly, I can usually tell I'm being pitched a product, because a lot of sales letters have that "look", don't they ...
        Yes they do. You are the first copywriter on this board I have seen admit this. Thats what I really like about some of the older direct marketing mail pieces I've seen. Some of them had that news article feel that drag you into the piece without the pitch feel of power adjectives and red headlines.

        Thats why I think alot of peoples first question is "what the blank are they selling and do I want it?"
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  • Profile picture of the author la dominatrix
    I think............

    my that is some talented copywriter, but does the product deliver what I need?


    La dominatrix
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    This is why I like "Here's How" and "How To" type of headlines.

    I talked to a recent client and he gave me permission to use his sales letter as an example, the site is Backlinkflood.com... (This is just an example, I'm not trying to sneak in traffic or anything...)

    So, we've got the pre-head...

    SEO 2.0: The Game Has Changed
    That tells the reader, right off the bat, that this has something to do with SEO, that it's something different, and hopefully arouses a little bit of curiosity, like "what the heck is SEO 2.0?"

    And then the main headline...

    Here's The Exact Blueprint An Underground Link Ninja Used To Rank Multi-Million Dollar Corporations For EXTREMELY Competitive Keywords, And How You Can Do The Same Starting TODAY...
    Without coming right out and directly saying, "hey, this guy knows his stuff, he's made a lot of big companies a lot of money, and now he's willing to show you how he does it" that's basically what it's saying.

    And then in the sub-head and the lead into the copy the first thing I talk about is how this product can make you money, and why it's different than similar SEO products on the market.

    So, in the first 100 words or so, I try to get people curious, tell them at least a little bit of what the product is about and what it does, differentiate it from the competition, and give them a hint or two about how valuable the product can be.

    On my site the pre-head is "World Class Copywriting That Converts"...

    And digging through a lot of my stuff I'm noticing a pattern, I tend to use a lot of pre-heads to give people an idea of what the sales letter is about.

    Now, this brings up something interesting for discussion... There are a lot of copywriters that do this sometimes, but I'll use Joe Sugarman specifically.

    He believes that the ONLY purpose of the headline is to get the reader to read the sales copy, and I tend to agree with him for the most part...

    His headlines where rarely benefit based, a lot of them didn't even make sense... "Pet Plane", "Magic Baloney", "Hungarian Conspiracy"...

    And he'd often go on for a long time without even mentioning what the product is, he'd start with a story to get the reader on the "slippery slide" and only disclose the actual product after he had them hooked.

    Talking about online copywriting I don't think the Sugarman approach would work, people are just moving too fast to be bothered to read much to find out what it is you're selling.

    So it's tricky. And the trick is to let them know it's relevant, to strike that spark of curiosity, to get them excited, and to get them involved in the copy, all in the first 100 words or so.

    It's not easy...

    In fact, there's a really good copywriter, I can't think of his name, who uses a "10 Second Timer" analogy referring to this exact scenario and how to overcome it

    That's my take.

    -Scott Murdaugh

    P.S. Keep Copysnips.com going, I've read a lot of your stuff and the new blog is coming along nicely.
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    Over $30 Million In Marketing Data And A Decade Of Consistently Generating Breakthrough Results - Ask How My Unique Approach To Copy Typically Outsells Traditional Ads By Up To 29x Or More...

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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
      Great analysis, Scott.

      Originally Posted by scottspfd82 View Post

      And digging through a lot of my stuff I'm noticing a pattern, I tend to use a lot of pre-heads to give people an idea of what the sales letter is about.
      Yes, I do the same so the reader knows what they're about to read is relevant to them.

      Talking about online copywriting I don't think the Sugarman approach would work, people are just moving too fast to be bothered to read much to find out what it is you're selling.
      I guess it depends on the context. Sugarman's approach might be more suited to pre-sales material, such as a blog post for regular readers, which leads smoothly into them clicking through to the actual sales pitch.

      So it's tricky. And the trick is to let them know it's relevant, to strike that spark of curiosity, to get them excited, and to get them involved in the copy, all in the first 100 words or so.

      It's not easy...
      No, it isn't easy You've also got to overcome their initial skepticism, and knee jerk reactions they might have in their mind such as "Yeah right", "It sounds too good to be true", "I don't believe you", "I've heard this all before" type of thoughts.

      In fact, there's a really good copywriter, I can't think of his name, who uses a "10 Second Timer" analogy referring to this exact scenario and how to overcome it
      That copywriter sounds very wise. I would buy EVERYTHING from such a copywriter, without hesitation. That would just be the smart thing to do.


      P.S. Keep Copysnips.com going, I've read a lot of your stuff and the new blog is coming along nicely.
      Thanks. One day it will be a bigger and better blog than Copyblogger. You heard it here first
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  • Profile picture of the author Clyde Dennis
    "Does this answer the question I have about XYZ..."
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidO
    I think your headline should establish relevance. Some people think they have to come up with some awesome, award-winning headline but the fact is, as you point out, that if someone's just landed on your page you have their attention.

    But you'll lose it quickly if you don't establish relevance so the most obvious place for that is the headline (and subhead).

    After that I think you have to establish credibility. That's more than a one-sentence job but you need to start in with it right off.

    After relevance (or maybe even equal to relevance?) the visitor is thinking "is this writer the real McCoy or is he/she just another scamster trying to sell me something?".

    Establishing credibility goes hand in hand with building your rapport with the visitor.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jo_Shua
      Before I start to reply to other people's comments...

      Is it possible, if your prospects are coming from Google or other search engines... To create a headline that is the exact same as the searched term?

      User searches for: 'dog pooping example'

      Headline: Dog Pooping Example

      Granted, this would only work well for those coming from search engines. But if you knew majority of your prospects were SEO traffic, then would it be ok to do this?

      And, for those that come to your site by a different means, then is it possible to show them a regular headline instead? Maybe there is a script out there that can do this...?

      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      @Kelly... too true. What do you think did it? What sucked the reader in?
      Possibly it is relevant to the reader.

      After the initial intrigue and curiosity grabs them, the reader still looks at the sales letter and asks the same basic question: 'What is in it for me?'

      If a copywriter can answer that question for the reader, then from that point on -- the sales letter IS relevant to the reader.

      I believe this question arises within that first 10 seconds, and as a WISE copywriter once noted -- you must keep resetting that 10 second timer throughout the sales copy.

      So, this leads to a more pressing matter...

      Once determined relevant by the customer, is always determined relevant? Or, must we continue to remind the customer of HOW this is relevant to them?

      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      ...do you think it's a good idea for a sales letter always to make clear that a product is being sold?
      Good question. My not so simple answer is YES and NO. Let me explain.

      For pre-sales material it does not always have to be seen that you ARE selling something.

      In example, blog posts. Blog posts that provide excellent content and cleverly weed in links to relevant products in my mind is not seen as directly selling something.

      Your blog copysnips.com does a great job with that Pual.

      However, for a direct sales letter... whether you try to make it obvious or not, subconsciously I believe the reader will always know something is being sold -- even if the product is FREE.

      Just my opinion.

      Originally Posted by DavidO View Post

      After that I think you have to establish credibility. That's more than a one-sentence job but you need to start in with it right off.
      I agree. That and rapport.

      Originally Posted by Scott Murdaugh View Post

      P.S. Keep Copysnips.com going, I've read a lot of your stuff and the new blog is coming along nicely.
      Ditto.
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      • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
        Hi Joshua

        Originally Posted by Joshua Collins View Post

        Is it possible, if your prospects are coming from Google or other search engines... To create a headline that is the exact same as the searched term?

        User searches for: 'dog pooping example'

        Headline: Dog Pooping Example
        Yes, and in fact, one marketer tested this and found that his "keywords" headline outperformed what he considered to be good, creative headlines!

        I wrote about it in one of my reports, I'll try and fish out which one and the link to the blog post of the marketer.

        Granted, this would only work well for those coming from search engines. But if you knew majority of your prospects were SEO traffic, then would it be ok to do this?

        And, for those that come to your site by a different means, then is it possible to show them a regular headline instead? Maybe there is a script out there that can do this...?
        I image the script would be easy enough to write. First, it would detect if the visitor came from Google (possibly from the referrer variable).

        If they came from Google, the script would then strip out the keywords from the referrer tag, convert them into a human readable headline, and print this headline.

        If not, it would print your regular headline. I'm just too lazy to write this myself at the moment

        After the initial intrigue and curiosity grabs them, the reader still looks at the sales letter and asks the same basic question: 'What is in it for me?'

        If a copywriter can answer that question for the reader, then from that point on -- the sales letter IS relevant to the reader.
        I agree. I'm just not completely convinced the VERY first thing a reader asks him or herself is, "What's in it for me?"

        Or maybe that's just the wrong question. I guess it depends what's on the visitor's mind. I think Frank Kern gave this example of someone searching for "stop baby crying".

        The ONLY thing on this searcher's mind at this moment is to stop the baby from crying! They don't care for our product, they are looking for an immediate solution to stopping their baby from crying.

        Frank's suggestion was to give her the solution, i.e. "5 Tips To Stop A Crying Baby", and only once she'd got results in advance... THEN sell something directly related, i.e. the Complete Baby Mastery Course

        Of course, that's a little outside the scope of "copywriting", because it involves some smart pre-selling, in this instance what Frank Kern calls "results in advance".

        Once determined relevant by the customer, is always determined relevant? Or, must we continue to remind the customer of HOW this is relevant to them?
        Yes, I'd say this is a continual thing... just like ATTENTION. There's no guarantee we'll keep their attention once we have it.

        However, reminding them of the relevance is really about relating the product directly to them, i.e. showing the benefits to THEM, and appealing to their "core desires". When we do that, it automatically becomes relevant to them.

        Good question. My not so simple answer is YES and NO. Let me explain.

        For pre-sales material it does not always have to be seen that you ARE selling something.

        In example, blog posts. Blog posts that provide excellent content and cleverly weed in links to relevant products in my mind is not seen as directly selling something.

        Your blog copysnips.com does a great job with that Pual.

        However, for a direct sales letter... whether you try to make it obvious or not, subconsciously I believe the reader will always know something is being sold -- even if the product is FREE.
        I agree, but I also like to create the element of doubt. That's why I usually use, "Special Report by Paul Hancox" in my IM sales letters. It's ambiguous, in that the reader isn't entirely certain whether my sales letter is the special report or not
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  • Profile picture of the author J. Barry Mandel
    I always use preheads to qualify my website visitors so they can see if my offer is relevant to them.

    My pre-head usually always starts with

    ATTENTION:

    Followed by...

    Whatever statement will most broadly catch the exact audiende I am looking for for that product/service I am offering.

    So a prehead for this post might be...

    ATTENTION: All internet marketers who want to immediately capture the interest of your website visitors...

    "THEN YOUR HEADLINE GOES HERE!"
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    You guys are totally off the chart, it's actually, "What would Obama do here?"

    But yeah, I usually go with a pre-head. Not always.
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  • Profile picture of the author colmodwyer
    "What would Obama do here?"
    That's easy, increase the national deficit.

    As far as reader relevancy is concerned, Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher tested using eyebrows such as...

    "ATTENTION: If you're a 40 year old man etc..."

    Increase in response was quite significant as far as I can remember.

    Specificity is quite important for increasing response here I think.

    Colm
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    @Mike, great article.

    @Colm... on the specificity thing, what if the prospect isn't a 40 year old man? I know you were just using an example, but is there a danger in being TOO specific of disqualifying certain segments of the audience?... unless the product IS aimed only at 40 year old men!

    Originally Posted by nontemplates

    Yes they do. You are the first copywriter on this board I have seen admit this. Thats what I really like about some of the older direct marketing mail pieces I've seen. Some of them had that news article feel that drag you into the piece without the pitch feel of power adjectives and red headlines.

    Thats why I think alot of peoples first question is "what the blank are they selling and do I want it?
    I agree, and in fact it surprises me that more copywriters don't seem to want to attempt that approach - or at the very least, split test it for their clients.

    If you look at magazines, this is done all the time. Advertisers often try to mimic the article formats of the magazine, which is only given away by the small word "ADVERTISEMENT" at the top, which I guess the magazine insists upon.

    This is a core problem for many Internet sales letters. They telegraph, simply by their look, "Hey, I'm selling something!!!" (sometimes literally WITH those exclamation marks!)

    Of course, sometimes its good to be upfront. For instance, one of the headlines I wrote for someone who sells a physical service to do with cars, talks immediately about saving 30-50% on garage costs. I do that because most visitors already KNOW a service is being sold, by the nature of the site. So I get straight down to the biggest benefit, in that case.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    I don't know what you're talking about, Paul, no one is swiping your stuff. Hey, look over there behind you! *Secretly swiping away faster than a ninja and runs off into the darkness* Great stuff.
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