This is 369th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. And today Kira and Rob talk in depth about writing sales pages. They share their formulas for writing, how they landed their first sales page assignments, and the best ways to improve your skills when it comes to writing sales pages. You definitely don’t want to miss this episode.
Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
As content writers and copywriters gain experience and work on different types of projects, many of them express interest in doing less content work like blog posts and more sales copy work. There are a lot of reasons for this. One big reason is that sales pages are closely tied to the sale of the product or service you are writing about, so it’s easier to justify charging higher prices for the work you do. The sales page leads directly to the sale, where a blog post or case study may be a couple of steps away.
Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, my co-founder, Kira Hug and I are talking about sales pages. How we approach them. The research we do. The formulas we use to write them. And our secrets for making sure they work as promised. If you write sales copy or want to write sales pages in the future, you may want to stick around for this one.
But first, this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is brought to you by The Copywriter Underground. It is truly the best membership for copywriters and content writers… let me just give you an idea of what you get for $87 a month… first there’s a monthly group coaching call with Kira and me where you can get answers to your questions, advice for overcoming any business or client or writing challenge you have. There are weekly copy critiques where we give you feedback on your copy or content. There are regular training sessions on different copy techniques and business practices designed to help you get better. And we’re adding a new monthly AI tool review where we share a new AI tool or a technique or prompt you can do with AI get more done. That’s on top of the massive library of training and templates. And the community is full of copywriters ready to help you with just about anything… including sharing leads from time to time. Find out more at thecopywriterclub.com/tcu
And with that, let’s go to our discussion for some of what we’ve learned over the past few weeks.
Kira Hug: Well I think it’s exciting that we are talking together twice in a row back to back. We’ve never done that on this podcast. Usually it’s like 1 podcast for the 2 of us and then maybe ten later we get back on together.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s definitely been a while, if it has happened at all. I’d have to go back through… I mean it’s probably because you and I talk to each other a lot, but we don’t record those and share those as podcasts. So.
Kira Hug: This is the first. It’s never happened.
Rob Marsh: Maybe we’re opening up the doors a little bit to some of our personal conversations here, I don’t know, but hopefully people will enjoy what we have to share today.
Kira Hug: Well, it’s also snowing here in Maine. It’s the first snow of the season. Okay it slowed down. It stopped, but it was snowing all morning. It’s absolutely beautiful and it put me in such a good mood, like you just can’t bring me down right now.
Rob Marsh: Do you have a blanket and hot chocolate anything by the fire?
Kira Hug: I’ve been I’ve been making stew and just drinking hot water. And I’m so ready for the holidays I just drink hot water…
Rob Marsh: Wait… You’re drinking hot water, like not tea?
Kira Hug: I just drink hot water. So I stopped drinking caffeine since London when I got sick because I felt awful anyway. So anytime I get sick, I’m like, “Well I may as well cut out some of my vices because I already feel awful.” So I’m not drinking caffeine. And I drink a good amount of caffeine. So now I just drink hot water throughout the day with chia seeds which gives you some energy.
Rob Marsh: Ah, sure I haven’t tried that. I mean I’m not I’m not criticizing it, it’s different. So yeah, giving up caffeine like that’s my one vice and that would be—I don’t know—I have done it before you know where I’ve gone months or whatever.
Kira Hug: That’s hard.
Rob Marsh: I know I can do it, but I also just like having a Coke Zero. It’s kind of my treat during the day.
Kira Hug: Yeah, it’s hard because I enjoy drinking a latte or coffee or tea. I enjoy that process, the ritual. I enjoy going to coffee shops. But also you can go to coffee shops and get a decaf. So that’s why I’m drinking hot water. I’m trying to stay hydrated.
Rob Marsh: Awesome! Well I mean it’s funny you mentioned that because as we were putting together a few ideas of what we should talk about today, I put in 3 questions that are warm up questions—getting to know Rob and kia questions. I pulled them from an email newsletter that I just found recently called Content Prompt. It’s a substack and it’s a really useful tool if you write daily emails. It lists a bunch of stuff, like what happened on this day in history, or what this day is like National Taco Day or whatever, and then it also has a bunch of questions you can ask yourself. It’s for anybody who writes newsletters and who might find themselves really struggling with that. So I just pulled a couple questions and one of those questions was: “Do you have a ritual to start your day?” And talking about drinking hot water is that a ritual?
Kira Hug: I gave away the whole ritual. That’s all it is. Why don’t we kick off with you and your morning ritual.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, so my normal ritual is: I get up at 5 and I go for a run. And a couple of days a week I don’t go for a run, I’ll get up and lift weights. I’m not like a huge heavy weight lifter. But just want to kind of stretch my muscles and keep them strong. Haven’t done that since London because as I shared on last week’s podcast, I’ve hurt my neck. So I’ve been doing some physical therapy to get back to health where moving my body or running won’t send shocks of pain down my spine.
But my normal ritual is to get up and exercise. Then I shower, dress, and try to read a little bit before I start work. That’s usually what happens and I’m hoping to get back to that soon, because I definitely miss it when I wake up an hour later because I’m not getting up to run and it’s just different. I miss the exercise.
Kira Hug: Wait… you shower a shower every morning? I don’t shower every shower every morning.
Rob Marsh: Yes of course. I don’t want to stink. Otherwise I would stink especially because I run an exercise first thing in the morning. So yeah I don’t want to sweat and not smell good.
Kira Hug: Okay, that’s fair. I run a lot but I just don’t really care if I stink.
Rob Marsh: Okay, so showering isn’t your morning ritual. What is your morning ritual?
Kira Hug: So my morning ritual shifts frequently because of the little ones that inhabit my house. For a while I was waking up at three thirty A.M. Since August which was intense, which probably. Is why in our previous podcast I talked about burnout and getting sick, Since then I have shifted the time because I’m trying to be less pushy and militant with myself and I’m trying to be slightly more gentle and kind to myself. So I have pushed my time from three thirty to Four forty five A.M. maybe 5 A.M. Then there are days where I’m like, if I want to sleep until the kids get up around six fifteen, I’ll do that. So I’m listening to my body a little bit more. But once I get up, I get my hot water from the kitchen with my chia seeds and Apple cider vinegar and I go into my library (my kids call it the TV room) and I yplop myself on the sofa with big blankets because it’s cold here in Maine. And set the fire stove on to get the fire going and I meditate for 4 minutes because 4 minutes seems to be a right amount of time where I’m like, okay I’m all right? That’s enough. I think I’m done. Then I start my deep work time which usually involves writing or thinking or working on a big project that I need some brain power that I can’t typically do in the afternoon. And I get a little bit of time before and my kids get up —they get up so early now. That’s why I was getting up at 3:30, because there’s just not as much time in the mornings as before. Like the family routine and the family rituals start. But I get a little bit of time. So I’m happy if I get anything before everybody else wakes up and then we start that routine to get all the kids out of the house. The last one, Homer, is out of the house by 8:30 and then I start my workday.
Rob Marsh: So when you say you write as part of that, is it like morning pages or journaling or thinking about business emails? What are you writing?
Kira Hug: I would like to say it’s journaling—and I will say that I have started journaling in the last week because I was so inspired by John Biakovic and who was a guest presenter at London IRL. He journals all the time. He told us, “I write down everything that happens and then I always have content.” That’s why he’s able to write a daily newsletter. And I was so inspired by that. I’m so hungry for that. I’m also forgetting so many details in my life that I want to capture so the goal is to ease into that. But no, what I do now is usually like… what email do I need to write for The Copywriter Club? Kr do I need to write copy for my clients? That all happens in the morning or I can’t really fit it in elsewhere throughout the day.
Rob Marsh: Okay, that makes sense. I should do more writing as part of my ritual. But right now, it’s mostly exercise and a little bit of reading. I forgot to mention before I go run, I usually sit in my chair that’s here in my office, and spend 2 or 3 minutes just kind of meditating. I’m not sure that meditation is the right wordm but just trying to free my brain of any ideas and just focus on my breathing for a couple of minutes. It just kind of relaxes me. So we do that similarly as well.
Kira Hug: Yeah I would like to expand that from four minutes to ten minutes at some point, but that’s kind of where I am right now. Four minutes is where I get antsy.
It’s pretty good for me to do… maybe my brain just doesn’t work the way that Zen Monk’s brain would work.
Kira Hug: Yeah I mean I think the important thing for me right now is just being flexible which is hard. My morning routine might just disappear if Homer’s not sleeping, which he hasn’t been sleeping well since I got back from London, and so he gets up 4:30 or 5:00 AM and so you have to adapt. But I do like having some type of ritual clearly that’s important to us.
Rob Marsh: Okay, one more question for for the getting to know you… I’m going to ask you what sound annoys you the most? It’s kind of a weird question.
Kira Hug: That’s such a great and weird question. I hate the sound of any type of bouncing ball in my house, like a basketball or a soccer ball in the house, because that’s the sound I hear all the time. There’s always someone kicking a ball or bouncing a ball. It drives me insane. Also my boys are really loud. I do not like loud things. I like quiet. So both of my boys annoy me because they’re so loud. And then the last one is, Henry, my eight year old, started this thing where he flips a water bottle to see if he can get it to land straight up. Ao he’s doing that constantly. It’s just like constantly hitting the table. And he’s so proud of himself. But I’m just like I can’t… just stop. And its’ driving me nuts. What about you?
Rob Marsh: That’s awesome. It’s funny you mentioned your boys are loud. When my kids are all home, my house gets very loud. My kids are 18 to 25, and they’re very funny. They all get along relatively well. So when we’re together playing games or even just talking and joking with each other, things get really loud. We’re a loud family. Part of me feels like we should be quieter. But also it just kind of works. I love being with my kids as adults, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s loud I think if people were in our home, they’d be like, “Holy cow, you guys—typical american loudmouths.” Trying to yell over each other and it’s not anger. It’s just yoyously loud.
Kira Hug: Yeah, that’s good though. I like the Joyous loud. That’s good. I think some of the loudness in my house is not joyful. It’s like kids fighting. I like the joyful.
Rob Marsh: That’s a little kid thing. I think they grow out of it. But as for the sounds that drive me crazy… I was thinking of a couple. One that absolutely drives me dots is running water at night. If I wake up and I hear running water, I think, did a pipe break? Do I need to check? Is the basement flooding? Or did somebody leave a sink running? Usually it’s just the sprinklers kicked on or something. Or maybe it’s raining and I can hear the dripping, but I hate it. It wakes me up. If there’s running water and I’m dead asleep, I will hear it and wake up.
Kira Hug: That’s so weird because Ezra has the same issue with running water, where he just freaks out because he thinks there’s something leaking. He has this fear of leaking water because of the damage it can cause, and I’m just like what… it sounds relaxing.
Rob Marsh: Then another sound that I really don’t like and I almost hate to admit it, but crying babies—newborns are cute, they have that cute squawk cry, but once they’re you know three or four months to five years old or whatever, the crying baby sound is—obviously it’s supposed to be annoying—we we evolved to make sure that that noise gets attention. It’s bad and when I see parents struggling with kids that are crying I feel bad for them.
Kira Hug: True.
Rob Marsh: II hate that sound. I hear it. It’s like oh somebody… somebody… take care of that child.
Kira Hug: So if you’re on an airplane and there’s a crying baby near you, are you the adult who’s just kind of like the passenger who’s just kind of rolling your eyes, or are you empathizing with them? Or you just like, I can’t stand it.
Rob Marsh: I have been that parent before. So I definitely empathize. I have noise canceling headphones, there’s a reason those are invented. I always travel with noise canceling headphones for that very reason, because it drives me crazy.
I feel so bad for those parents that are struggling with it. I know there’s nothing you can do in that situation. Your child’s not going to respond. So yeah, I empathize. I feel so sorry for them. But that doesn’t mean that the noise doesn’t just drive me crazy.
Kira Hug: I’m usually the one who’s like trying to help the mom because I know how hard this is—like let me help you?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, that’s hard. Okay, well, that’s maybe enough about us. Perhaps we shouldn’t do too many warm up questions. We’ll see how how people respond to that.
Kira Hug: It’s too much about us, that’s just too much information about us.
Rob Marsh: Today we want to talk a little bit about sales pages. We’ve interviewed a lot of guests—copywriters—who write sales pages. A few of them have shared some of their secrets. Some of the things that they do. But you and I have never talked in depth about our approach to sales pages. This is something that you and I write quite a few of, for our clients and for the Copywriter Club. It’s one of the main things that we write. Maybe email is the thing that we write the most, but I thought it might be interesting for us just to jump in and talk a little bit about our approach. How we do it and maybe start by talking about how we land these kinds of projects. When you started out, Kira, how did you land your first sales page?
Kira Hug: Oh my gosh. My first sales page was through a another copywriter who handed me the project because she didn’t want to work on it. And I didn’t even understand what a sales page was. It was my second project and I just needed to make some money. So I was hungry for it. It was a long form sales page and I had no structure to it. No formula for it. I had no idea what I was doing. I think it was okay. I also wasn’t paid very much, so I don’t feel that bad about it. But I had no idea what I was doing. So it was through a referral from another copywriter. What about you?
Rob Marsh: I’m not sure that I can remember. I’ve written a ton of sales copy. I didn’t launch as a freelancer. I was in-house for more than ten years—almost fifteen years—before I really took on my own business. So I had written all kinds of sales copy for clients. Magazine type ads. Television copy. My first freelance project like that, I think it came from a pitch. I think I pitched the client. I probably started with writing some content and then they also needed sales copy and so I pitched them on that and started writing.
Same as you… everybody has their first sales page, and it’s really hard to know exactly what to do without a formula, without having done several of them. I certainly knew what sales copy was supposed to do, so I don’t think it was awful. But I guarantee if I were to pull that page up, if I had it somewhere, I’d be embarrassed by it. I think there’s a lot of growth that happens as you start to write them, as you start to learn about persuasion. But there’s a pattern I see when I look at other sales pages that they tend to follow—a formula.
It’s not the same thing all the time and there are different ways to start sales letters out. There’s different ways to intrigue, whether you agitate a pain, or whether you build excitement, and curiosity. You know, you’re introducing some kind of an idea. You’re introducing a product, and you’re asking for a sale, ultimately, throughout the page.
Kira Hug: What is your process like today, when you sit down to actually work on a sales page.
Rob Marsh: So there’s a few things that I do. On research, and this is something that we’ve outlined in our Copywriting Mastery Course, is the 4 areas of research. What the product is. Specifically, what it does. I try to get a copy of that—if it’s a course, or if it’s software, or whatever, I want to get in and play around with it and experience it, so I can see how it works. So I do some research on the product itself. I want to know more about the person behind the product, or maybe it’s a company or a brand or it’s an expert. I want their story. So looking at that person as well. Obviously you want to talk to, or learn more about the customer that you’re selling it to, so that’s area number 3. If I can, I’ll do a survey to buyers. I want to talk to people who have used the product. Sometimes if it’s a new product that’s not possible so you need to do some guessing, and trying to suss out who that audience is. There are certainly ways to do that without doing things like surveys. Then the fourth piece is looking at competitors, if there are competitors. There usually are. I want to understand how other people are going to market so that I don’t become a me too message. You need to be able to stand out. So I start with that kind of research and then I follow a couple of formulas.
You know when I sit down to write—I think you probably do something similar—there are a couple of formulas that have been floating out around the internet… one is by Clayton Makepeace. It’s on a pdf that’s… it’s out there on the internet. A lot of people have referred to it. I actually saw Clayton teach a slightly different version of that—an outline that I that I really like. I’ll just kind of go through the the different steps, and then share my version that’s a little bit shorter.
Clayton would would teach that you want to grab attention with the headline. And it should be benefit-driven or a surprising idea or a really big idea. A big promise. You want to support that headline with some kind of a subhead. There might be some bullets that help intensify that idea that you’re talking about in the headline. Then you’ve got your copy. You need to open with a bang. You need to continue that idea or that promise that you made in the headline. You start to tell a story or you add the facts and figures. Whatever that is. You want to make sure that you’re telling that story in a way that your prospect can actually see themselves in the copy that you’re writing. Then if you can, you want to bribe your reader. And this is something that actually I don’t think a lot of people do in sales pages. I’ve been rethinking this as I’ve written a couple of pages recently. How can we make the actual sales page valuable for people?
This is something that came up at the Copy Legends event that you and I were at. Give people a taste of the thing that you’re selling, rather than just teasing it. You don’t necessarily have to do that, but if you can, make the information you’re giving them in the sales page valuable to them. Give them something that will help them. If you’re writing about a health supplement, give them some ideas of what they can do to improve their health. Even if they don’t buy the product that you’re selling, they can take it and benefit from it. So you give them a taste that you’re going to give them that in the letter and give them a reason to continue reading.
Then you introduce the expert. And maybe that’s your personal story if you are the person offering the product, or your client, or the brand, and why they are the person that’s perfectly positioned to offer the product. There might be more story or introducing the product at this point, where you’re starting to provide proof. And you’re resolving objections that might come up. Then you’re going to add all of that up. This is the big conclusion of why you need the product that you’re introducing. You make the offer. You show the price. If there’s a discount or if you can compare it to other solutions to minimize that price, you want to establish a value. This is that value stack that we often see—here’s all the stuff that you get and how it how it will impact your life.
Then a guarantee or some other way of removing the risk for trying. And if there’s anything you can add to the page to sweeten the deal. Like, there’s this one other final bonus that really just makes it an easy “yes” and then you want to add the urgency and sum up that idea, and make that last call to action.
So that’s how Clayton Makepeace was talking through this in the seminar that I went with him.
My approach is a little different and slightly easier. Again, start with a big idea or big promise headline. Then a subhead and bullets that you know create intrigue. Then I like to talk about the problem. I want to agitate that problem just a little bit so that the reader understands how it’s showing up in their life. How it’s impacting them. What the problems are that causing pain for them. I don’t do that to make them feel bad. You need to make sure that this isn’t saying to your reader, you’re a horrible person because you haven’t done this. Rather it’s so you can empathize with them. It’s not your fault that this is happening or, this is a new thing that you didn’t know about, so there is a solution that you might not be aware of. We’re empathizing rather than agitating. Then I like to introduce the solution, talking about what it is, how it works. This is a good time to talk about the unique mechanism if there is one, or a selling proposition. Then I introduce the expert. Explain why they’re the person… I’ll add a little bit more detail on that solution… proof… objections… like what I just said on Clayton’s template
And then I minimize the price. Offer a guarantee and add some urgency, then that final call to action. So mine outline’s a little bit simpler. But I oftentimes will refer to that first template just to see if there’s something I could be doing to make my page a little bit more persuasive. Or is there information that I haven’t added. That’s a lot. That’s a long answer. But I’m curious how does your process differ from that?
Kira Hug: Yeah, I was using Clayton’s outline as well for a while. Then kind of moved away from it more recently because we’ve been studying with Todd Brown. I really like his E5 model and how he lays out a sales page. But now that you’re sharing Clayton’s, I was like,”Oh yeah, what I did love about Clayton’s is that he bribes you to stay on the page, and there is that payoff.” So I may think about how I am actually doing that now with my sales pages and really delivering on that payoff and teasing that payoff to get people to stay. But anyway now with the new model I’m using, it’s not dramatically different. I’d say the difference is that I introduce the unique mechanism really early in the sales page. And I introduce the offer after that, so I really want to get the reader excited about the unique mechanism. I want them to fully understand the unique mechanism and I even introduce the face of the brand, because for a lot of my clients it’s a personality led business or brand, and so that story is really important. So I’ll tease a unique mechanism early and then introduce the story of the founder and then deliver on the unique mechanism and break it apart and talk about what it is so it’s really clear. And once I do that I’ll address all the hesitations that someone might have about that unique mechanism.
There are tons of questions you could pull together to address those hesitations one by one, ultimately so that the person reading is like, “this unique mechanism sounds amazing and I believe this could work for me. I believe this is what can solve my problem.” And once you do that and you’ve addressed all those hesitations, that’s when I’ll introduce the offer. And the unique mechanism is just a piece of the offer. It’s how you deliver that solution but the offer becomes much larger.
There are many components to the offer that I can then dig into. There might be a community element or there could be coaching calls and there could be a vault with different master classes. So then I can really lean into the offer, and at that point it probably is really similar to the Clayton structure that you’re using, or the one that you just shared with us where it’s about hitting them with a guarantee that’s believable, and the bonuses, and just making sure that the offer stack when you show the value that that seems believable and it’s not hype. That’s where with a lot of my clients, I’ve had to kind of tone it down and recommend to them that we really look at the numbers we’re sharing because some of them seem so outrageous that it’s like you’re losing my trust here because you’re telling me this one bonus is worth $20,000 and it’s not believable. So that’s the piece that I focus a lot of attention on. That’s roughly the process so not dramatically different from what you shared.
Rob Marsh: So I want to ask you about that value part because I’ve heard this rule, that the full price or the actual value should only be no more than 10 times the price that you’re paying for the thing. I actually had a conversation recently with somebody else who mentioned that even that 10x number feels too high sometimes. So how do you think about that actual value, versus the price you’re paying, so that it is a believable number? And i know there are rules like: if you couldn’t actually sell it for $20,000 you shouldn’t say you sell it for $20,000. If you have a bonus that you have sold for $70 or $700 or whatever that is, that’s fair game, but like you said… I’ve seen offers where it’s like you get $38000 of value today for $78 and that’s not right.
Kira Hug: Yeah, it triggers the skeptical mind to wonder… this seems off. I don’t mind if it’s a big number as long as the math adds up and if I can break it down line item by line item.
It’s got to make sense to me. I think I think we could actually spend a lot more time on this portion of the sales page and even add more context below. It’s just a line item and it’s like this value you’re getting it for. But if we could even build out it section by section to make an argument for why it’s actually valued at $10,000, people will read it and then they’ll understand the scope of it and how much value is in the larger offer. So I think it could use more attention. We probably move through it too quickly. And just assume the person will trust the numbers we’re throwing out there.
Rob Marsh: Yeah that’s a really good point…. moving through it too quickly. I think this is really important because we do this on sales calls. We do this anytime we’re talking about money. Oftentimes we want to skip that hard discussion. You know it is what it is, and we’ll just skip over it, and offer that quick guarantee. But I think there’s a lot of value in taking the time to address why the price is what it is, maybe comparing it as Dan Kennedy taught about making comparisons between apples to oranges—if you’re selling a course you want to compare the price to coaching, because it gives you a more beneficial frame for the value that you’re getting. That’s not always the right thing to do, but by comparing it to something that makes the price really understandable, that minimizes the investment—not in a manipulative way but in a way so that people can really understand the value that they’re getting. I agree we probably skip this… looking at my own pages, it’s usually only a paragraph or two where I’m talking about pricing and I don’t go into it much more than that. There’s probably some value in going deeper.
Kira Hug: Another example is one where a client has a coaching certification program and it’s top notch, it’s credible. And the value if you get certified as a coach… there is a value there that certification is worth money. There is a certain average salary that is associated with having a certification in a first year salary for a business coach or any type of coach. It’s a real number and it’s like traditionally first year business coaches make this much and annually that’s a stat you could bring in to say this value is here. It’s actually $38,000 because that is the traditional amount most coaches make in their first year. So this is what that certification is worth in that line item. So I think maybe we just need to pull in more research and more stats so we back up everything else with claims and we’re so worried about citing everything with research but then we just skip over it in that section. So I’ll have to pay more attention to it too.
Rob Marsh: I’m also curious… Do you think about the different stages of awareness? I think my preference is to only be writing to you know one particular audience, but sometimes you’re writing a sales page, or maybe it’s a web page that’s also functioning as a sales page, and you have to address more than one audience. Maybe there are ready buyers but there are also some people who need some more convincing. Or they need to understand the problem better. So how do you address those different stages of awareness when you’re writing a sales letter?
Kira Hug: I think when in doubt I’ll just go with pain and agitating pain to start just to kind of make sure I cast a wider net to pull people in, in case they maybe aren’t as aware but they’re feeling the pain. I feel like that’s safer and because I feel pretty good about the way I talk about pain, just the same way you were talking about it. I love talking about pain points. I love agitating pain because I think that’s the biggest opportunity to make people feel less alone in this world. So it’s like if you care about people, you’ve got to talk about pain and talk about the hard things to make them feel understood and less lonely, less ashamed, and so if I have any chance to talk about pain I’m going to do it. I rarely will skip over unless it’s like, we’ve covered that it’s ridiculous to talk about that again. We got to move on to the next phase of awareness.
Rob Marsh: I feel like objections or the portion of the sales page where you’re offering proof and objections is another place where you can address different audiences through those kinds of objections. Somebody who is maybe problem aware versus solution aware may have slightly different objections and that’s another way to talk to the different audiences in different ways. Not always, but you know a good place to address those different audiences. Ultimately we ought to be recommending to our clients that they segment those audiences and talk to each one differently. You know somebody who is product aware and ready to buy probably doesn’t need a 10,000 word sales page, but somebody who is solution aware or problem aware, may need that, so rather than showing up as that order taker—the copywriter who’s just going to do the thing and the client says I need a sales page for this—instead really diving into who you’re talking to and if there are different audiences maybe taking an opportunity to recommend to your client, “hey we have two or three different audiences here and they really ought to be getting different messages.” And whether we set those up as separate sales pages or we use technology to add blocks of copy depending on who they are and how they’re segmented or tagged in a system, either way could work, but there’s an opportunity there to help our clients talk to the right people in the right way.
Kira Hug: Yeah I think most of my clients aren’t quite at that stage where they’re able to do that logistically on the back end to set that up. I think it’s a good direction to go and for anyone whose clients are at that level, if you can come in and make those recommendations and even set up segmentation for them, I think it would go a long way. Part of it is just knowing your client base and knowing if that’s where they’re at or not. For me, I look at the email sequence as the best way to reach those different levels, because if there’s someone who’s ready to buy, you can make sure you really speak to them in the first few emails and then maybe speak to the person who’s more skeptical in an FAQ email and speak to someone who really cares about social proof and fomo in a different social proof case study packed email. I think it’s great when you can write both emails and the sales page because you can really address all the types of buyers in your email sequence and not feel the pressure to have multiple versions of the sales page if you can’t quite do that.
Rob Marsh: Yeah I’m I’m glad you mentioned the email because oftentimes they go together. You know we need to drive traffic to the sales page and oftentimes we’ll use email to do that. There’s a little bit of a debate whether you should use emails to sell or you should just like get the click and then use the sales page to sell. Having read a lot of your emails, you seem to be somewhere in the middle, like where you sell a bit with the email, but also then click over to the page. Do you think about that any differently?
Kira Hug: I think I just want to sell in an email. I don’t want to waste a second with you clicking over to the page if I can sell you in the email. But I also realize I used to try to do everything in one email which I think a lot of newer copywriters try to do. It’s like we want to hit a guarantee and we also want to have social proof so we’ll share some testimonials and we also want to talk about pain points in one email. Now I break it apart so we’re only tackling one idea in each email. There’s an objective for each email. Let’s address the top three hesitations. So I think that it makes it easier to use email as a sales tool when it’s more focused rather than dropping everything into it. But I’d rather be more aggressive with email and get them really excited and ready to buy. But I know other copywriters have a different approach and just want to get them to the page.
Rob Marsh: Yeah I think the opposite approach is that quick click and there’s an email template or or formula that I’ve heard other people talk about it’s D. I. C. You know… a quick idea that disrupts the pattern or that catches attention. That’s the D. Ah, the I is for intrigue. So you have a sentence or two that creates intrigue around whatever it is that you want them to do. And the C is for Click. You get the click that takes them over to the page. That’s usually with a blind link where you’re not really talking about the product. You’re just trying to get people interested enough to hit that link, that click, and then let the sales page do the work. The other approach then is to really sell in the email and then the sales page almost acts as a second person on the team to back up the messaging you’ve just sent out in the email.
Kira Hug: Yeah I’d prefer that path. I don’t know, it feels a little safer to me to do it that way.
Rob Marsh: I’m not sure I have a preference. I think I kind of do both. it just really depends.
Kira Hug: I mean it’s always good to try the path that you’re not on, so as you’re saying, I should probably try the blind click and tease it a little bit more because it’s just not my go to strategy.
Rob Marsh: Okay, so do you have any secrets when it comes to sales pages that you like kind of hold to yourself? Something you don’t talk about that you can reveal for our audience?
Kira Hug: I saw that question and I was like I don’t have secrets. I think one for me is that I’m quite aware of now is just trying to appeal to different—not even different buyers but just different types of brains—different types of people and thinkers in the world and understanding all the different types of intelligence that exist and trying to appeal to different thinkers. Whether it’s like Neuro divergent thinkers…
There’s so much research now available that I think there’s a big opportunity to make sure that a sales page or an email sequence is really speaking to those different segments of your audience in a way that really connects. So if they’re more of a visual person really maybe using more visuals on the sales page. Or maybe if there’s someone who really needs a lot more research, pulling it more stats. Really thinking about it that way. That’s something that’s not new to me but something I’m more interested in doing more of and experimenting with. I don’t know if that’s a secret or not, but I think that’s the biggest opportunity with sales pages and any type of sales sequences.
Rob Marsh: I don’t know if mine is a secret either. But I don’t hear many people talking about this, and I think it’s one of the most helpful things that I do when I’m writing a sales page. That is I want to actually record or sit in on a sales call for my client. So I actually listen to my client selling the thing to an actual prospect. I want to hear how they talk about the features. How they contextualize those features into benefits. I want to hear the objections that the person on the sales call raises ,and how my client talks about or overcomes those objections. I want to hear how they present the offer, because if they do it well, and obviously if our clients have proven the product by selling it to real people, that language will also work on a sales page. If I can’t sit in on them, I ask my clients to record two or three sales calls. And then I will transcribe those. I will sit and watch them and hopefully find some language that I can pull from the way they’re selling it. You know if they can sell it and close a sale on a call, that language will work really well most of the time on a sales page.
Kira Hug: Yeah, that’s a really good point and that actually makes me think of something useful that a client shared with me recently. One of her team members was selling over an email exchange with a potential with a prospect. She’s a very patient person, the salesperson, and the email exchange went back and forth over probably ten emails. It was with a prospect—an ideal prospect—the one who has all the questions and every hesitation. She was smart enough to share that whole email sequence with me so I could see how that played out all of her responses. It was gold for the sales page. It was amazing to drip that out into different emails where it made sense. So think that’s something that we can definitely advise our clients and ask them to share. Ask them to share that with you: can I watch a recording of a sales call or just be there live with you, or can you start to save some of your sales emails with your customer service team. So I can see the back and forth and understand how you address some of these questions. That was so helpful. We can definitely do more of that.
I was also thinking—this one again doesn’t feel like a secret but it’s something I did not do for a long time and I’m really pushing to do it now—to interview people who did not purchase who were close to purchasing but didn’t make it across the finish line. It’s not always easy to get those interviews because sometimes those people are sheepish about it. They might feel guilty. They might feel bad depending how the sales conversation went, they didn’t jump in and join. But if you can book those calls with those people, that information is golden because then you have not just messaging but you have insights you can share with your client, like hey maybe if we changed the offer slightly and we added this and maybe did a less of that and talked about this differently, we could get people like this person—who we know is qualified—to join this program, or to pay for this product. All of us have the opportunity to do that. Not just to talk with the star students. I’m really less interested in talking to the best student or the best customer. That’s helpful, but it’s it’s less helpful now than it used to be. I really want to come in and I don’t just want to do the sales page. I want to advise clients ideally on, let’s rethink the offer. Let’s rethink how you’re creating the experience and come in at a deeper level.
Rob Marsh: Yeah I was recently writing an abandoned card sequence for a client and after the 3 reminders… hey you left this in your cart, and last chance to get this at this price, those kinds of things, the last email in the sequence doesn’t ask for the sale, rather it was, hey, hit reply and tell me why you decided not to buy. I don’t expect that that email is going to get a ton of responses because they’ve gone through an abandoned cart sequence and not purchased. But even three or four responses to an email like that can be gold because it uncovers objections.
Clearly we were not able to tackle either on the sales page or in the abandoned card sequence and so those responses can be incredibly valuable. That’s something that people can add, not just to an abandoned cart sequence, but if you’re able to tag people in your system via email. You know they’ve checked out the page. Maybe you see them show up on your site because you’ve got that tracking in place and you’re able to reach out to them with that kind of a question just, tell me why you didn’t buy? What kept you from buying? Like you said, it’s amazingly useful for reworking and repurposing sales pages.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and one other idea that seems pretty simple and obvious but didn’t do it for a long time, we’ve started doing this with The Copywriter Club, if you’re selling a course or any type of program… this doesn’t really apply to products necessarily but you could apply this to products in a different way… it helps to show what people are going to experience, what they’re going to get visually. This is like appealing to the visual minded people in your audience who may resonate more with a visual. So, for example, in our group programs like the one we’re launching right now—the annual planning offer—in the sprint we have calendar images that you can see on the sales page where you can see here’s when it starts, here’s when there’s a group kickoff session, here’s when the first sprint exercises are, here’s when I have some time to complete that, here’s when I have the seven day followup sprint, and then here’s the final session and it’s all plugged into a visual calendar, color coded to show this is what the experience is. This is when things are happening. I feel like it makes it more tangible for people who are interested, but maybe just need to really believe like this is happening. And they need to feel that urgency, this is coming up soon. It also helps for planners who want to understand how this is going to fit into their busy life and their schedule.
I think for a lot of programs where there are moving components and lots of different calls and deliverables coming out at different times, it’s helpful for people to understand and to be able to grasp it. If you can create that calendar—it doesn’t take a lot of time—rather than just sharing the text which is what we typically do. It’s like a bullet of all the dates and times. Well great. Do that too. But then also pair that with a visual side of it. So um, so it feels real and I can fit it into my life.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, there’s a lot of things I think we do differently visually on our sales pages that as copywriters that we don’t usually consider. Obviously there are designers who specialize in sales pages who are good at this stuff, but it would be useful for many of us to just be more aware of how we’re communicating visually so we can give those kinds of ideas to the client or the client’s design team. Whoever it is that’s putting that together. We do that sometimes when we’ll build a wireframe. We can say, an image of this would be useful here, but even more specific like, how does the program flow go is a great idea. Great addition.
Kira Hug: That’s a great opportunity for us as writers to do but I think there’s still a huge gap from my experience with designers and writers where like the designers I’ve worked with who are great at what they do, most of them still do not understand long form sales pages. Number one they’re usually overwhelmed by the amount of copy I send to them so they’re usually defensive right away because they’re like “Whoa. What am I supposed to do with this?” And then they don’t really know what to do with it. So if we can step in and lean more into the visual side, it’ll make their job so much easier. That could be something that maybe we create as a training. Like what else we can do visually, not necessarily wire framing, but what how can we turn the sales page into visual components that are key that we can add as copywriters to strengthen the page.
Rob Marsh: That’s great idea. We should add that to The Copywriter Underground at some points in the very near future. So another question because obviously the best way to get better at sales pages is to actually write them and then get feedback possibly from a coach or a mentor.
Kira Hug: Yeah, yes.
Rob Marsh: Client feedback can be useful, but clients oftentimes don’t understand what we’re really trying to do either. So that’s not always the best place to get feedback. But do you study sales pages? How do you improve your skills? What are you looking for so that you’re staying on top of your game?
Kira Hug: That’s such a great question and it probably is more triggering for me because I’m like, oh shoot there’s more I should be doing. So when I hear that, I’m thinking, “Okay I just finished a couple sales pages over the last six months. Why am I not having one of my mentors look at it?” I have access to some mentors that might look at it and critique it. You’re right, my clients love it and then they share the stats and did it perform well? Okay, yeah, it performed pretty well. But that’s all you get back. So for me, it would be that critique that I’m looking for. That’s what that’s what I’m hungry for. Tell me from someone I trust whose experience like rip this apart? It is funny that I haven’t asked for that recently. Why haven’t I you know?
Well there are many reasons why I haven’t but to me that’s more helpful than anything else. Yes, staying aware of what’s happening in this space I would love to study more. That’s probably not where I have capacity right now. But critiquing would be most helpful We do critiques in The Copywriter Underground. So anyone listening has an opportunity if you don’t have a mentor. We could be that. Rob does it every week. You could get your copy—doesn’t have to be a sales page—critiqued in The Copywriter Underground.
Rob Marsh: Yeah I love studying sales pages. I love reading them. There’s a little bit of a danger because some of them are so good that as you’re studying them, you’re thinking, “Oh I actually need this. I want this.” But those are actually really good sales pages to study because you can take a step back and say. “Okay, why is this sales page working? Why is it making me feel this way? What is the writer or what is the expert here doing that’s prompting me to want to purchase this? What are the needs that they’re identifying or how are they resolving my objections?” So I think it’s really useful to be open to that. When an offer drops into your email, click over to the sales page and just take a look at it. How does it make you feel? Does the headline make you curious or are you clicking away within the first minute or two? Why did you click away? Why was it boring to you or why did it not catch your attention? Just understanding the structure and what’s happening on a sales page can be immensely useful. I know some people talk about handwriting sales pages to learn the language or whatever. That never worked for me. It just made my hand hurt. I’m not sure that copying did the same thing as evaluating does and trying to understand what’s going on on a sales page, but I do think that it’s a useful practice if you want to write sales copy—even emails—sales emails is to look at the thing that you want to write and evaluate. Is this working on me? And if so why? And if not, what I do differently? And really understanding that will also help you become a better writer, if that expert coach or mentor isn’t available to you right now.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and just know yourself too. Know how you work best because for some people like me, if I see a lot of offers, I get really overwhelmed with all the different routes I could take, and strategies, and it causes me to freeze. So for me I would probably save them. Put them in a folder and then maybe once a month you give yourself time to review them and audit them and ask yourself those questions. Or maybe it’s even once a quarter, if that’s the best approach for you. Just know how you operate. Maybe it is getting critiqued and that’s the best way you learn, by getting that feedback. But handwriting—I’ve heard so many people on our podcast recommend it, and I think it’s great if that works for you. It’s worked for many copywriters to handwrite sales pages and I don’t want to take away from that. But anytime I hear that advice, I’m like you clearly don’t have 3 kids. You’re not speaking to the right person. I am not the right target audience for that offer. I cannot comprehend that, so just know what you’re capable of at the time, how you learn best.
Rob Marsh: One audience that it might actually work for is anybody who’s struggling with the language, like English is a second language. Obviously writing the way that a great writer does translates from your hand into your brain, and that might be helpful.
Kira Hug: Yep.
Rob Marsh: But like you, I just I feel like the handwriting or the copying isn’t the thing that makes it work for me. It’s understanding what the sales page is doing. Trying to deconstruct the persuasion that’s going on so that I can understand that better and possibly learn from it.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and even stepping further back. What is one thing you can do every time you work on a sales page or if you’re not even working on sales pages yet, but you want to, what is one thing you can do to improve this month? Break it down to bite size so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming because there are millions of sales pages you can study and Rob and I just shared two different approaches to writing sales pages. There’s so many different ways you can do it. But what if you just focus on the value stack part of my sales page is typically pretty weak. We talked about it today. I’m gonna just strengthen that, or I’m just going to strengthen the guarantee. I don’t have a great guarantee, so how can I focus on that part of my page? So for future projects, I’ve got a really good template I can use and that’s my win for the month.
Rob Marsh: I’ve got a download folder with probably 1,500 sales pages saved into it. They’re they’re not all winners. I get the email, I click over to the sales page, and I’ll save it as a PDF or save it as a TIF so that I can go back and look at it later. But having a resource like that when I get stuck and I’m thinking, “I want to reword my guarantee in a new way.” It can be really useful to look at the way other copywriters have done it, and say maybe I’ll try this approach. You know, maybe there is a way to word a guarantee that doesn’t actually trigger the response, “Wait a second. Why do I need a guarantee? Is this thing not actually going to work the way that it should? which is a valid objection when people say, “…if it doesn’t work., we’ll give you your money back.” We just spent 5000 words telling you how great it is and how it works. Why would you plant that idea in my head? So anyway, there’s all kinds of things that we can learn by studying what other people are doing. It’s best if you know that the sales pages actually work and sold the product. But that’s not always the case and we can still learn from the way that others are ideating and coming up with copy for the products that they sell.
Kira Hug: You should share that file in The Underground. That would get me to join.
Rob Marsh: Maybe I’ll spend a weekend organizing this stuff. But I mean I’m not joking when I say I’ve probably got 1500 of them in my download folder because I save everything. I love them.
Kira Hug: Well, it’s so valuable for people like me who are not as great at organizing and saving those files. That’s so valuable to know that that’s somewhere where I have access. So I think that would be a great addition to The Underground.
Rob Marsh: I could add it to The Underground or possibly to our Copy Course. We’ll see. Okay any last thoughts on sales pages or advice for people who want to move into writing more of them, Kira?
Kira Hug: Yeah I did have some other thoughts. We didn’t get to the big one in the space that I work in. We talk to a lot of copywriters and we talk to a lot of business owners, so I feel like I’m pretty open minded and have decent exposure. I still feel like it’s hard to find a really good long form sales page copywriter. I know they’re out there. I’m not saying they aren’t out there. But it’s a lot harder than finding an email copywriter—and I’m also an email copywriter so I’m not trash talking email copy. It’s important. But it’s so much harder to find a long form copywriter who understands everything we talked about today, and has their own formula and ideas and is testing and studying. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to specialize in, to come into the room and be the only one who’s like, “Yeah this is what I do. This is my ead product. This is my signature package. This is what I obsess over.” That’s kind of how I got started, just saying. That’s what I want to do—sales pages. That’s it and I think there’s not much has changed even though there are so many copywriters working today. There just aren’t as many really good ones who understand the long form sales page. It’s hard.
Rob Marsh: Long form is hard. Yeah I mean carrying an idea through six thousand or ten thousand words is not easy. It’s a skill. So if you can develop that skill, if you can provide that service, it is incredibly valuable. And we didn’t we didn’t mention this earlier when we’re talking about landing these projects but because the sales page is so closely tied to the actual sale of the product, it’s often really easy to justify higher fees for sales pages than it is for say top of funnel content like case studies blog posts. There’s three or four steps between the blog posts that prospects read and the product that they buy. Not so with sales pages. This is the last thing they see, other than the purchase page, before they make that purchase. So it can be really easy to say, “hey your product is selling for $2000. I can increase your sales by 10%.” Obviously I am pulling these numbers out of my head, but I can increase your sales by ten percent if we do this and this. Now what you might have sold for $3000 or $4000—a sales page—you could easily justify three, five, ten times more because of the multiple of what that number looks like in your client’s business. Obviously that depends on the products that you’re selling and the audience you’re selling to, but it can be a lot easier to justify higher prices for a sales page.
Kira Hug: And it makes it so much easier to write an email sequence . It’s harder for me to write an email sequence for a launch if I have not written the sales page, or I’m using someone else’s sales page. It’s so much trickier. But if I have my own then I’m just pulling pieces of it into the email sequence. So It makes the job so much easier. I Guess all that to say, there’s still so much opportunity with sales pages. And if you’re already doing them, great. There’s so much opportunity for all of us to get better at them and try something new and add something new to those packages.
Rob Marsh: Definitely a product worth adding to your business If you’re a copywriter who wants to write sales copy.
Kira Hug: Maybe we should have one more get to know you question before we jump. What did you eat for breakfast today?
Rob Marsh: That’s actually embarrassing because I’ve been trying to skip breakfasts just to be a little healthier. I usually start off my day with some protein at noon but I made chocolate chip cookies last night, so I had 3 chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and they were phenomenal.
Kira Hug: Wow. Busted. I had some toast. Not as exciting as you. If I had chocolate chip cookies in the house I would have had them. I did have Nutella. I had Nutella on my toast. First it was just butter, and then the Nutella was out and I was like, “Oh this would be so much better with that, so we both got our chocolate today.”
Rob Marsh: I might have to go have another cookie and add some nutella that sounds delicious.
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