Some products are just so universally appealing, they practically sell themselves – like a case for your smartphone, or a blanket with sleeves.
Not everybody has it so easy, though – and if you want to make sales online, you need to work for it! Your sales page is one of the most important parts of your website, and you should invest in doing it right.
That’s why I put together this guide to the ten most important elements of a successful sales page. Check out the secrets to how some of the web’s most successful entrepreneurs drive profits, and you can pump YOUR next sales page full of mojo your readers won’t be able to resist!
I know the truth hurts, but ya gotta face it – not everyone is going to read every word of your sales page, no matter how well-written it is. They just won’t! They’re busy, they’re looking for answers, and they don’t necessarily need to hang on your every word to distill the essence of what you’re saying.
That’s why you need to write for both readers and skimmers. While every last syllable of your sales page should serve a purpose, you should also design your page so that people don’t HAVE to read every syllable.
Headers and subheaders are one of the most effective ways of doing this, because they guide the reader through the page and help them find the parts most important to them. Take a look at this example from app developer Nathan Barry:
This page could just as easily be written as one long pitch about the handbook he’s marketing, but that wouldn’t be skimmer-friendly. Instead, the page is broken up into sections, and each section is clearly defined by a subhead that shows the reader what they can learn about there. It’s the perfect way to guide people to EXACTLY the information most relevant to them, which makes the decision to buy a lot easier.
All this talk about dividing up your sales page brings me to the next totally crucial element:
Boredom leads to bounces – simple as that. If you can’t keep your reader’s attention throughout a sales page, they’re gonna hoof it on outta there before they even get to your offer! That’s why it’s mega-important that you keep their attention from one section to the next.
You know who does a GREAT job of this? I’ll give you a hint: he’s blue, he’s furry, and he’s got a hand permanently stuck up his rear – I’m talkin’ about Sesame Street’s very own Grover!
Back in 1971, Grover starred in a tale called “The Monster at the End of This Book.” Grover has learned that the book he is in has a monster waiting at the end – and being afraid of monsters, Grover spends every page imploring the reader NOT to continue reading.
Grover’s attempts to convince the reader to close the book become increasingly desperate – so of COURSE you can’t resist turning the page each and every time! (Spoiler alert: It turns out that Grover himself is actually the monster at the end of the book – he had nothing to be afraid of after all!)
Grover, it seems, would be a deviously good marketer – because even though he doesn’t want you to keep reading, he knows just what to say to make you turn that page! Just like every page of the book makes you excited to read the next one, every section of your sales page should make the reader want to keep going. Creating a logical flow from one section to the next and building momentum as you go is the key to keeping your reader interested until they make it all the way to the bottom!
Why does someone need what you’re selling? Here’s a hint: your reader might not even realize that their life could be better. Check out this example from Ramit Sethi:
Kinda makes you think twice, doesn’t it? You might not consider on a daily basis that you’re underpaid, but WHAT IF YOU ARE? (Bum-bum-buuuuuuuuum!)
Your product or service exists for a reason: to fix your reader’s problem. When you show that you can identify and understand the problem, you can more easily demonstrate that you know how to fix it. Here’s a solid example from Neil Patel:
Neil gets his reader’s problem – they’re sick of wasting money on plans that don’t increase their bottom line. He uses that to sell a plan that promises real value while also pointing out that this sets him apart from other specialists in his field. He advertises a solution to the thing that pains his reader. And when you can make that pain go away, you get to the fourth thing every sales page needs…
There’s a life your reader wants – a life that comes AFTER the bull that they’re dealing with is all settled and out of the way. They have desires and ambitions. You can bring those to life. Here, let’s take another look at Neil Patel:
That’s a pretty powerful image, and for a few reasons. First of all, this is a real life example – he’s talking about work that he’s done on an actual website to help that site reach its goals.
Second, he uses visuals to really illustrate success. That graph drives his point home more effectively than rattling off a bunch of stats. And third, he uses a few key details to make it all the more real – “30% growth in 6 months” makes this success very tangible. It’s practically screaming “This could be you!”
Appealing to fantasy is something that marketers do alllll the time, whether on a sales page like this or in commercials for weight-loss shakes starring spokesmodels with 100-pack abs. You can give your reader a better life – show them what that life would look like.
And what, exactly, is preventing your reader from enjoying that better life already? That’s what you need to address in the next mucho-important element:
Remember when I talked about pain points? When you talk about those, it’s important to show that you are on the reader’s side. Nobody wants to feel like they did something wrong – and while that sort of “tough love” approach might work when you’re training marines, it isn’t so great for making sales.
Your reader isn’t experiencing pain and frustration because they did something wrong – they’re experiencing those things because they don’t have what they need. (And what they need just so happens to be what you’re selling!) Here’s an example from my old friend and B-School co-founder, Marie Forleo:
Marie’s mission isn’t to CHANGE you – it’s to help you realize the potential that’s already inside, and to use the talents that make you special just the way you are! She’s on your side, and she believes in you.
Think back to the example I gave from Ramit Sethi under pain points – it isn’t your fault that you’re underpaid! You’re underpaid because outside forces are conspiring against you, and Ramit wants to give you the tools to get what you deserve.
In fact, both Ramit AND Marie specifically talk about the things you deserve on their respective sales pages – and there’s a reason for that. A person might not necessarily want to spend money on what you’re selling, but they’ll spend money if it means getting the things they are already owed – that is, the things they deserve. Show your reader that you can get them what they’ve earned.
And how, exactly, do you get them what they deserve? Why, with the next thing that belongs on your sales page!
Okay, this one’s obvious – you’ve gotta showcase the actual thing that you’re selling on your sales page. Here’s another example from Nathan Barry:
Nathan lays it all out there for you, so you can see every little thing you get – this sales page goes on to break down and list all of the interviews, videos, and resources, so you can even more easily visualize the total package (and just as importantly, visualize USING it).
Here’s another killer example of visualization, courtesy of AppSumo:
This visualization really sells just how easy it is to use their product – they make it literally as simple as one, two, three! There’s something else that they’re doing super-duper right, too – they know how to sell benefits instead of features.
Your product or service does stuff. And that stuff is great! But your reader isn’t interested in the stuff that it does – they’re interested in the stuff it does FOR THEM, meaning the benefits. In AppSumo’s case, the benefit is more traffic and more customers. Who wouldn’t want that? Figure out what benefits your reader would get from using your product, and put those benefits front and center.
Of course, not EVERYONE is the perfect fit for your product – and that’s why your sales page needs to lay a few ground rules with #7:
Every club needs a bouncer to make sure that only the right people get inside – and your sales page needs one to do the exact same thing.
Check out this example from Ramit Sethi:
This is one friendly bouncer – he’s pretty much thrown the velvet rope in the dumpster and is letting everyone into the club. It’s a great strategy for collecting opt-ins, because it’s so inclusive – just about anyone reading this page can identify with at least one of these bullet points. For a look at the opposite approach, we’ll turn back to Neil. Look at how he starts the same section on HIS sales page:
His strategy is to tout his own exclusivity – if you want to work with him, you’ve gotta EARN IT. On the one hand, this approach can fire up your reader, because they want to show that they’re capable and deserving of high quality services. On the other hand, it can turn them off or even make them feel a little insignificant – so be careful if you go this route.
Neil can take this approach because he’s a huge and hugely sought-after name in his industry. If you’re just starting out, on the other hand, you might not want your bouncer to be too strict. Either way, make sure that your reader can identify who your target customer is – and whether they fit that mold.
Once a reader identifies that your product is a good fit for them, though, there’s something they’re gonna want to know, and that’s the next thing your sales page needs.
If you want someone to buy something, they’ve gotta know how much it costs. When it comes down to brass tacks, keep the price in perspective, because ROI isn’t limited to dollars and cents. Here’s AppSumo again:
Check out the pricing under the “Buy Now” button – they’re selling this thing at almost a $400 discount! By putting the price in perspective, they make it seem a whole heckuva lot cheaper.
The thing is, though, we independent entrepreneurs can’t always compete on price alone – even when we put it into perspective like this. That’s why you have to keep in mind that ROI goes beyond cold, hard cash. Here’s an example from Marie Forleo again:
Here, Marie shows the emotional reward of enrolling in B-School. This testimonial doesn’t promise the reader that B-School will bring them massive profits and a rabid fanbase, but it suggests a deeply rewarding emotional payoff that results in newfound confidence and a sense of purpose. When you talk about prices and ROI, just remember – there’s more than one way to make it clear to your reader that what you’re selling is worth it.
How many times have you added something to your Amazon wishlist and then never, EVER actually bought it? How often do you see something advertised, think, “Oh, that looks cool,” and never think about it again?
Your reader needs a reason to pull the trigger, and they need it now. If you don’t give them a reason, they can procrastinate until the end of time. Here’s AppSumo again, taking this challenge very literally:
They set an actual deadline for making this purchase at the listed price – if you dilly dally, you’re gonna regret it! Neil Patel takes a similar approach:
Is there REALLY only one spot available? You have no way of knowing – but is it worth it to wait and find out, or would you rather just nab a spot for yourself while you can?
Of course, an approach like these isn’t always an option. One alternative is to make an emotional appeal – to suggest to the reader that they’ve waited long enough, that there’s no time like the present, and that the sooner they start, the sooner they get the results they want.
Closing on an emotional note like this is a great way to remind the reader about the pain points they’re dealing with and the positive future that awaits – IF they take the plunge and buy what you’re selling.
There’s one more important thing that every sales page needs – in fact, it’s actually one of the most important things of all:
Your sales page has to look good. Like, really, REALLY good. And how do you KNOW it looks good? It’s actually easier than you think.
You need two things: a professional designer, and an A/B test. (Never heard of an A/B test? I’ve got a beginner’s guide for ya right here.)
First of all, a professional designer doesn’t just make your sales page look pretty – they make it work hard to guide people where they need to go. Sometimes, you look at a sales page and don’t even realize that there are visual cues telling you what to do! Here’s an example from Neil Patel ( circled the important parts):
In just about the first third of his sales page, we’ve already found FOUR arrows guiding you from the top to the bottom – you don’t always consciously realizing that it’s happening, but these visuals are sending signals to your brain that say, “Keep scrolling!” (What’s funny is that Neil himself has written about how visual cues candirect your vision on a web page.)
While a professional designer knows how to create visual selling machines, you still need to perform an A/B test, because you can’t always predict what will resonate the most with your specific audience. Here’s an example from my own business:
Could we have predicted which button would be more popular? No way – but because we ran a test, we learned how we can make that page more consistently successful. Start by launching two significantly different versions of your sales page– for example, one long page and one short one. See what’s more successful over time, and stick with it – you might be surprised!
So there you have it – the ten most important elements of a successful sales page! Does every sales page need everything on this list? Of course not – but you should ALWAYS keep these elements in mind when you start planning.
Got any questions about building a sales page of your own? Any particular strategies you love – or absolutely HATE? Speak your mind in the comments below!