I am constantly bombarded with all sorts of advertisements, single-page sites, and sites offering very little real content but some wonderful new "product" or "service" for sale that purports to make its customers wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.
For the purposes of this article, let's refer to AmazingFormula.com as an example of such a site. (Note: I have never purchased this product and can make no claim, verification or guarantee one way or the other as to its effectiveness. The sole purpose of my mentioning this site is as a study of the ad copy within.)
There isn't very much in terms of "content"; the marketing of the "bribes" is confined to a single page, with a hyperlink to "testimonials" which may or may not be legitimate. Yet, this site has been around in some form for nearly four years, according to The Internet Wayback Machine, with the same basic "content" and no significant updates. Why? Because it works.
What makes this website and others like it profitable, even without a significant content update in 4 years? The sales copy. The sales copy of this page uses simple, but effective techniques to trigger the user into buying the product, in this case a CD-ROM indicating how to sell anything to anyone at any time. Let's look at some of these techniques now.
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- Short paragraphs.
Users traditionally don't wish to read long blocks of text. They like information concise, simple, and to the point.
- "You" words/second-person perspective.
This is arguably the most misunderstood and underrated aspect of copy writing. When reading sales copy, users are looking not for general information on the product. They want the answer to one simple question: "What's in it for me?" Using words such as "you", "your", and "yourself", while being generic in nature, go a long way toward establishing a website rapport with your customers.
- Bold, Underline, Italics.
Highlighting important phrases with bold, underline, and italics allows your customer to quickly scan and decipher the nature of your copy and the key elements of it. Bold, underline, and italics can be used in conjunction with colour to further distinguish vital elements of your marketing message.
However, it is strongly advised that you use bold, underline, and italics sparingly in order to ensure that only your most important points are receiving the full attention of your customers. This paragraph is entirely in bold text to illustrate one of the potential pratfalls, which may occur as a result of excessive use of highlighting. Which portion of this paragraph is the most important? And why is this entire block of text more important than the rest of the page? It's too difficult to tell. Use bold, italics, and underline sparingly for this very reason.
- The colour coding of important words, and the selection of those colours.
"Cool" colours such as Blues and greens are traditionally used to relax the user and put him/her in a positive mood conducive to sales; and "hot" colours such as reds, yellows and oranges are meant to incite the user into making a purchasing decision.
- Headings and subheadings.
Headings and subheadings should be used to break up long blocks of text into shorter and easier-to-read sections. In the case of the Amazing Formula website, graphic headings are used to break up the content; however, for search engine reasons, you may wish to consider text-based headings to split up your content into sections.
- Bullet lists.
These lists can be numbered, as this one is, or they can be unordered, as the Amazing Formula ones are. There doesn't seem to be much difference in either event, as long as the copy for each bullet remains concise and to the point as in point 2; although the unordered list bullets can be stylized with graphics, as the Amazing Formula website has done.
A call to action.
What do you want your customer to do? Where would you like them to go next? Give your customer at least one clear and understandable path to follow to make the appropriate action.
In the case of the Amazing Formula site, there are not one, but 2 "Click to order via our secure server!" buttons as well as an order hyperlink in the menu on the top of the page. The garden path, albeit a very short one in this case, is clearly laid out for the customer to follow.
Adam Senour is the owner of ADAM Web Design, a leading web design and development company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.