The three keys to six figure sales pages

Back in March 2016, a friend who is new to online business asked me to review a sales page. He offered to pay, and asked what I charge for a critique.

Honestly, I was just thrilled he was making so much progress. And I was pumped that he put the effort into getting a sales page together, which as you may know, is not an easy task.

The fact he was willing to pay — even though he was a friend — showed that he was serious about this. So I told him to send it over. Don’t worry about paying or anything.

Big mistake!

Not even 10 minutes into reviewing everything, I sent this to Marc Aarons — GrowthLab’s resident copywriting coach.

You see, it’s one thing to review a fellow copywriter’s work. It’s a totally different beast to take a non-copywriter’s stuff and turn it into something that can really move the needle on sales.

Reviewing my friend’s work was one of the hardest copywriting projects I’ve ever taken on. It took me way more time than I expected and I wasn’t sure how to explain certain concepts.

So Marc and I went over all the common problems we see with first-time sales pages.

We distilled our findings into three key lessons that cover 99% of the mistakes Marc has seen in years of teaching business owners to write copy. Follow these, and you can hit publish knowing you have a great page.

Lesson #1: Big words chase readers away

I’m going to tell you about a secret that people whose writing makes money know, and no one else seems to get.

Big words don’t make you look smart. They just make things harder to read.

People are busy. If your writing is difficult to understand they aren’t going to take the time to puzzle out what you’re saying. They’re going to close your website and get on with their day.

That’s why the first thing you should do after writing a sales page is check something called the Flesch-Kincaid score, or F-K score for short.

Basically, it shows how readable something is. If a document gets a score of 5, it reads at a 5th grade level. If it gets a 10, that means the writing is at a 10th grade level. And anything above 12 reads like the tax code, or a research paper. Way over everyone’s heads!

The best sales pages have F-K scores of less than 8. In fact, I worked at a company that relied on sales pages to build their $500-million business. And they actually threatened to fire writers who couldn’t get their F-K scores below 8. The lower the better was the mantra.

So if you can write at a 6th or 7th grade level, you’ll be money with your sales pages.

Here are 4 tactics to make sure your writing hits that range:

1. Keep your writing conversational with the bar test

Picture this: You’re at a bar with friends having a few drinks and sharing a plate of sliders. You start talking about your business.

Would you say, “Our collective mission is to implement the integrated social sharing platform to increase the likelihood of future business and higher CLV.”?

Heck no. They’d think you’re crazy. And the people next to you would slowly drift over to the opposite corner of the room after that buzzkill.

You’d just flip your coaster on the bar, plop your drink down, and say, “We’re trying this new social media strategy to boost sales.”

Everyone would probably want to know more after that. It’s the start of a conversation!

At GrowthLab, we use the bar test on everything we write. If you can’t picture yourself saying it to friends, don’t write it.

If you can’t decide whether or not something passes the bar test, try reading it out loud. If it feels unnatural to say, or you stumble through a section, that’s cue to make it more conversational.

2. Use lines instead of paragraphs to avoid scaring readers away

This will drive your former English teachers crazy, but it’s crucial if you want to turn casual lookers into engaged readers.

Paragraphs are okay in books, because only avid readers buy them. But people on the web come from all walks of life.

The intro paragraph as a dense block of text. Intimidating!

Huge blocks of text scare people away. Their eyes glaze over before they even start. Do your readers and your business a favor. Hit “enter” every 2-3 sentences.

3. Short words and sentences make writing memorable

Take a look at these quotes:

  • “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

These are the kinds of quotes that come up when you’re sitting around with friends late at night and things get philosophical. And what do they all have in common? They’re simple and to the point.

A line from your sales page won’t be quoted for generations to come. But using simple words and short sentences will go a long way. It’ll help your readers remember what you have to offer.

Simple and clear crushes complex any day.

4. Use “in words” strategically to show you’re part of the crowd

So far, I’ve told you to write like a 6th grader at a bar with friends. A lot of business owners will object at this point.

  • “Business is supposed to be serious stuff.”
  • “I need to sound credible and smart!”
  • “Isn’t this unprofessional?”

That’s why it’s important to know when to use “in words.” Every business, industry, or hobby has their own set of buzzwords and phrases. Saying them automatically proves you’re part of the crowd.

For example:

  • Marketers say, “Here’s what we did to get more opt-ins.”
  • Skateboarders might ask, “Do you ride regular or goofy?”
  • A blogger will say, “We boosted traffic without blackhat tactics.”

If you know your audience, these words will fall into place naturally. But if you try to cram them in, you’ll come off like a politician who rehearsed something to show they “get it.” Plus, it’ll bump up your F-K score for a double whammy.

Your turn: Check your sales page F-K score with this nifty app here. Or use the built-in tool on Microsoft Word.

How did you do? If you scored high, which of these 4 tactics would help bring you in the 6-7 range?

Lesson #2: Stop talking about yourself so much

In the past, tech companies have come to me because they were too close to the trees to spot the forest.

I’d clean up the language using many of the tips above. And, I’d also make the reader the focus of everything on the page. The product was rarely mentioned at all.

A couple days later, they’d come back to me and say, “This says almost nothing about our awesome product…we want people to see how great our technology is!”

Then they’d change everything back to the way it was before they hired me. And I’d bang my head on the desk.

Just talking about your product is the second mistake business owners make. I mean, have you ever seen one of those company blogs that only ever posts press releases about their next software update? Nobody reads those things. It’s a surefire way to keeps sales in the gutter.

I’m sure that you, and your product (or service), are great. Your mother is very proud and would love to read about it. Nobody else cares. People only buy to solve a problem or to feel good about themselves.

Don’t believe me? How many people bother to learn how fuel injectors in a car engine work? Or how many know the difference between disk and drum brakes?

Only mechanics and a few car nuts. Here’s what everyone else says when they talk about their car:

  • “The gas mileage saves me a ton of money!”
  • “So reliable. Haven’t had to take it to the shop besides regular oil changes.”
  • “The Bluetooth system lets me take business calls while I’m on the road.”
  • “I feel good knowing my kid is safe in case of an accident.”

The technology in a car is just a way to solves people’s problems or make them feel good.

Which is why, on your sales page, you want to sell the benefits you can give people. For example, here are some IWT products and their high-level benefits:

  IWT Course     What we’re actually selling  
50 Proven Email Scripts How to connect with VIPs. How to save time, money and minimize back and forth with emails.
Find Your Dream Job How to find, not just any job, but one that you’re excited to wake up for and pays you well. And how to identify that job even if you don’t know what it is right now.
Earn1K How to find a profitable idea and make $1k on the side using the skills you already have.
Zero to Launch How to go from no website and business, to your first online product that makes you money while you sleep.

Our sales pages show how we can help readers. We rarely mention ourselves and the product until much further down on the sales page.

To measure this, I counted how many times we wrote the words “you” (or “your”) versus “I” (or “we”) on these sales pages…

  • 50 Proven Email Scripts: 159 vs. 114
  • Find Your Dream Job: 585 vs. 361
  • Earn1K: 838 vs. 96
  • Zero to Launch: 781 vs. 587

Many of the “I” uses were quotes from past students in testimonials and relevant personal stories (more on that later). But we always related everything right back to the reader.

These sales page have generated millions of dollars. Some of them have been used since 2009 and they’re still producing good results. That’s what reader-focused copy that sells benefits can do for you.

Here are some great reader-focused examples that I grabbed from different sales pages along with my analysis:

Product: Amazon Kindle

Analysis: This is a tech product with many features like touchscreen display, light weight, a good battery, 3G and wifi connection, and “black ink” font.

Amazon could’ve simply listed these and left it up to the reader to figure it out, but they didn’t. They jumped right into how everything helps readers: easy on the eyes, one charge lasts weeks, and comfortable to hold in one hand.

Product: ListBuilder WordPress plugin on AppSumo

Analysis: Just about every other sales page you come across says, “Easy, Fast, Simple…” The folks at AppSumo could have done the same, but instead, they include specifics saying that “it only takes 1 minute.” Then they get right into the benefits.

Product: Crazy Egg (eye-tracking software for websites)

Analysis: This is sophisticated technology that shows heatmaps of where visitors are looking on websites. Crazy Egg could have easily filled their pages with jargon on how it works, but they knew most website owners could care less. So they get right into how it can help people.

Product: Crazy Sexy Juice book by Kris Carr

Analysis: What I love most here is that Kris sounds just like a friend recommending something to you. She avoids over-the-top claims that many health sales pages are guilty of. In just a few lines, she’s able to cover a ton of benefits: feeling great, getting healthier, saving money, enjoying delicious juices, and doing it all even if you’re busy.

Your turn: Count how many times the word “you” or “your” comes up. You might be able to get a massive boost by putting the spotlight back on the reader and selling benefits.


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Lesson #3: Every great sales page has 5 parts

Want to know the difference between a good sales page and a great one? A good sales page gets your regulars to buy.

A great one, on the other hand, gets your regulars AND people who were on the fence to take out their credit cards. Once you understand this, you can start setting sales records for your business.

Let me explain.

Certain customers randomly find your site. They might love your product, but not know much about you and your site. They go to the sales page and wonder:

  • What will my spouse or friends think if I buy this?

  • Is this really different than a book on Amazon?
  • Am I getting ripped off?
  • Is this really worth the price?

Then they click out and tell themselves “they’ll look into it later,” which hardly ever happens.

That’s why it’s important to give people everything they need to make a decision on the spot.

Here’s the secret: People who have a problem or need will always be interested and excited to know more.

  • Career advice is exciting to someone in the job market.
  • New parents, all of a sudden, want to know about the best preschools.
  • A grandparent with arthritis would love to read a new joint pain study from the Mayo Clinic.
  • The skinny guy who wants to build muscle is devouring every body building forum, book and article he finds.
  • Diamond rings are interesting to a guy looking to “pop the question” soon.

If your sales page is interesting, informative, rich with benefits, and features similar people, your audience will devour every single word. The more questions you answer, the more likely they’ll buy.

I’m going to show you the 5 core elements you need to assemble a page that does this.

Core element 1: A headline that grabs people’s attention

This might be the most important part of the sales page. It goes at the very top and includes any sub-headlines.

The headline’s only job is to get attention and move people to read the next line. That’s it.

(See my article on crafting amazing headlines here.)

Core element 2: A hook that engages casual browsers

After you have their attention, the next line needs to hook the reader in. You want to write something to capture, sustain, and intensify a reader’s interest.

Think of it like the aroma from a kitchen or restaurant. It makes you hungry before you even see the food.

Here are some starter ideas for great hooks:

  • Paint the dream: What does your customer’s new life look like after using your product? Show them in vivid detail.

  • Twist the knife: Address the problem head on. You want to show you understand your audience’s needs here.

  • Great discovery: Everyone loves a good story. If you have one about how you came up with your product — whether it was scientific, trial and error, or accidental — tell it here.

  • Unspoken truth: You might have some strong or unconventional opinions about your industry. If you believe it’s something people need to hear, this hook might be the way to go.

  • Incredible story: This is something that’s designed to make your readers stop and say, “Wait…what?” Careful not to go too over the top here. You want to trigger curiosity, not skepticism.

Core element 3: An irresistible offer that people want to jump on

A great offer can make up for mediocre copy, but the reverse is never true. Luckily, this is the easiest part to write.

Just say what you’re promising your customers, the product, and the high-level benefits.

In fact, here’s a temple you can follow:

Here’s how it might look like for an IWT course:

Introducing 50 Proven Email Scripts, the email playbook for ambitious professionals who want to get noticed and get ahead.

Buy now and get:

  • A 155-page guide with word-for-word scripts to connect with VIPs
  • 7 strategies for writing emails that get noticed
  • 10 commandments to save you time and get better results faster

Core element 4: Risk Reversal

If your readers have made it here, they like what you’re saying. But hesitations will naturally come up.

Is this too good to be true? Is this person a scammer? Sounds great, but what if I buy and don’t like it? Do I really want to spend this much money on it?

Risk reversal takes the objections going through customers’ heads and stomps them.

This is where you want to include any testimonials or guarantees.

Continuing with our 50 Proven Email Scripts example, we can just add a few lines:

Introducing 50 Proven Email Scripts, the email playbook for ambitious professionals who want to get noticed and get ahead.

Buy now and get:

  • A 155-page guide with word-for-word scripts to connect with VIPs
  • 7 strategies for writing emails that get noticed
  • 10 commandments to save you time and get better results faster

Buy now for $197. Comes with my no-questions asked, 60-day money-back guarantee.

What students are saying:

  • “Ramit, I used your networking email script and it worked! All of it felt completely natural and honest. People seem relieved that I am up front, have no angles, and understand that they are busy. And they seem to enjoy being useful, so we all benefit!” -Andrea P.
  • “I used one of your Closing the Loop email scripts during the chat and had an answer with an invitation in my inbox by morning.” -Laura M.

Core element 5: The Close

A recap of everything you just went over. Don’t put any new ideas here. You’ve already made your case. Just get people to click the buy button.

Now, you have everything you need to make a great sales page.

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