To the untrained eye, sales letters can come off rather sleazy.
Their simplified use of language, length, and general (yet, tactical) repetition can easily be taken the wrong way.
Every single shred of research conducted when writing a sales letter is true. You're simply writing a very long letter to entice people to sign up or purchase your product.
A sales letter:
That's more in line.
But with a sales letter, your main focus is the CTA. Everything is all about that "Sign Up" or "Buy Now" at the end...
And you use emotional pulls, and consistent teasing throughout to entice people to click that button.
Which means that depending on your industry, sales letters might just be your bread and butter. If you're in anything from finance to travel, sales letters are probably a daily event.
But that doesn't make them easy ― not by a long shot. With their intricate sales techniques tucked behind simplified language, they can throw even experienced copywriters for a loop...
So, if you've been looking to up your game on how to write a long-form sales letter that converts, this is your resource. Let's dive in.
The key to ticking all the boxes in a sales letter is to use a proven formula. A framework that hooks the reader from the start, trickles out information at a comfortable pace, and entices your customers.
Take a look at the one we use around here, internally.
Think of a big, bold statement surrounding your offer. It should convey something that your customers genuinely want.
"Stop Worrying About How You'll Pay for Life... and Start Enjoying It Instead..."
"If You Invest Your Money in These Key Companies, You Can Earn up to $75,000 in the Next 5 Years - Invest as Little as $100 to Secure Your Earnings."
Notice how these two examples lead with benefits. One of them even makes a direct appeal to the customer problem: worrying about living expenses.
You can approach this in a variety of ways, but above all else, this part should captivate attention. If it doesn't, your entire sales letter goes to waste.
This is where many get it wrong: they jump right into their big promise without a lead-up.
Remember, this is a letter, after all. Greeting your prospects, and informing them you have something risk-free for them is going to set you up as a helpful authority figure, rather than just sales-hungry and pushy.
Even the simple act of teasing can help build rapport. That way, when the big promise is delivered, it has context behind it. People know exactly why it's valuable.
Here's a good example:
"Dear Sports Car Enthusiasts Reader,
Our team of seasoned experts and car aficionados has been hard at work on something that will help you make the best car-buying decision you've ever made...
Including complete details on the top 10 stylish cars that offer the most value for money upfront.
And we'd like to send you this new, comprehensive guide for free. I'll share all the details you need to know to obtain your free copy of this one-of-a-kind resource in just a minute.
But first... I'd like to introduce you to just a few of the tempting sports car features you can get in any budget."
Consider this to be the point of origin for the sales letter or the overall "problem."
For instance, if there's suddenly a financial opportunity you want prospects to take advantage of, then something caused that possibility to exist in the modern market. What was it?
If you're writing about a retirement opportunity, you'd need to explain the logic behind it as well. What social and economic factors have made this one particular place a magical retirement paradise?
But don't just list the details matter of factly. Try to weave a compelling narrative. Who is already reaping these rewards, and how did they get there?
What led them to make their choice? And most importantly, how did they learn about the social, economic, or tech advancements that made it possible?
The more human you can make this section, the better.
Think of this as the prelude to the solution. It should provide hope ("But not everything is lost"), raise awareness ("There is one area of the market that is flourishing"), and make the solution seem easy ("This information can put more money where it belongs").
Another approach to this is to use established authority.
For instance, if you're a seasoned travel writer and real estate agent who makes a living selling retirement homes abroad, and you've been in the field for 20 years, you can use that as a mechanism.
It establishes rapport and makes people listen. When you say something hopeful or positive, they'll take it seriously.
Here's a pro-tip: stories sell. You might have already known that, but it bears repeating. Stories are the single most powerful sales tool you could ever have. And so if you present a solution with a narrative, it will be much more impactful than just stating it by itself.
Look at the example below to see what I mean:
"Retirement shouldn't be filled with money woes and stress. It should be a time to reap the rewards of all your hard work. Get your free Fancy Name Retirement Report for free now, and start planning ahead."
"Joe and Linda brunch on the balcony of their luxurious beachside villa, without a care in the world. After a lifetime of working long, mindless hours, penny-pinching, and struggling to get by, they can finally enjoy the light at the end of the tunnel.
They're living like royalty, enjoying the pleasures life denied them for so long... And you can do the same. All you need to do is claim your free Fancy Name Retirement Report."
At this point, you're going to want to go into the figures. And, obviously, this is all relative.
If you're the travel blogging real estate agent, you should dive into the prices of everything related to your offer. Maybe a house abroad is beyond cheap compared to an American home.
Or maybe you can get by without a car in a certain location, reaping the savings of not having to pay for things like gas, auto insurance, or repairs.
Whatever you choose to share, your goal here is to prove that your offer is valuable, yet affordable.
This section is all about humanity. The goal is to ensure you express your genuine concern for the reader's wellbeing. You want to help them. And so you're presenting them with something they simply shouldn't refuse.
It also helps to point to someone else, a loyal customer maybe. Someone who is living proof that you can help.
And finally, circle back around with the sentiment you'll be carrying throughout the letter: "I want the same for you."
Look at your offer and consider...
Are there several powerful arguments that create a compelling and cohesive argument?
Assuming your offer is valuable and easily checks off these boxes, this is the section to shine.
Your readers should feel like they fully understand why your offer is so relevant, important, and...
And remember, good arguments are not only factual ― they're beneficial.
Remember our mechanism from earlier? Well, if you opted to use your credibility and authority for it, you can still circle back around to it here. And if you haven't used it yet, you can really set the stage here.
Think back to what you've done that qualifies you as an authority figure. Maybe you've sold enough properties, worked in the same field for 3 decades, or helped hundreds of people achieve something relevant and substantial.
Whatever your story, make sure you present it in the best possible light, and relate it back to your prospects. What can you do for them?
At this point, another story is more than welcome. Remember, they sell. So, focus on a story that displays someone or something to point the finger at.
For instance, if you're suggesting people retire in Thailand, then you should explain why America is not the best to retire in. Is it because of all the political chaos, the rising cost of living, or both?
This one is pretty simple: you open what's called an "open loop," which serves as a way to tease readers. It builds tension by setting the stage and presenting something, without actually revealing the details.
Here's an example:
"In just a moment, I'll explain everything you need to know to retire in paradise... for a fraction of the cost of American prices. But first, we need to discuss something crucial to your retirement success."
Learn how to grab attention with open loops in copywriting here.
We already pointed the finger at something, so now it's time to build on that. What details can you provide that further explain the situation?
It should hit your customers on an emotional level, preferably presenting their problem as something out of their control. They aren't to blame, they're victims.
Now, this isn't an excuse to talk down to your prospects. Despite being layman's terms, this section is more about making the sign-up/buying process seem super simple.
It should lay things out step-by-step, clearly and effectively. The readers should have no questions or doubts about what is required from them.
Now dive into the offer. Why is this offer so unique, and how exactly does it all work? For instance, if you're talking about a specific place in the world to retire, say Thailand, then you should explain more about the country.
Why is it cheap, why is it safe enough to retire in, and what can ex-pats expect during their time there?
The more detailed you can be here, the better. The research will come in handy.
If there is something particularly important about your sign-up or buying process, state it here. So if your offer is only available for a limited time, then let your prospects know.
At this point, it's time to dive in a little more on the topic at hand. Whatever it is you're selling, whether it be an object or service, there should be a certain level of detail to share.
So if you're talking about Thailand, explain what people can expect. Will they need a car? How much is rent or mortgage? How much can they expect to pay for groceries each week?
Whatever you explain, make sure it backs up your claim: that this is their best solution.
Then go back to the offer. If you're selling a report or access to a newsletter, let people know...
But don't dive into detail. Tease and open another loop by asking a question (ex. "Have you ever imagined how different things would be if you didn't have to worry about money?")
This section is all about repeating the outline, or framework, so far, without rambling. It's the simplified summary, just to hit the point home and tease your readers. It helps in a project like this, where length is the name of the game.
Now that your prospects have a good idea of your offer and what it entails, it's time to pack on the value.
Why should they convert? What are you offering for free, and what can't they get anywhere else? Be as specific as you can.
As the name suggests, this section is all about the price. Use real figures, and highlight the discount. If your item is valued at $250, but you're selling it for $99, let people know. It creates more of an impact, thanks to that comparative price tag.
Again, sales letters are long. So recapping the full offer in a light, breezy way is the best thing you can do before the end.
It reminds people of why this offer matters, what you're offering that no one else is, and it keeps prospects focused on the selling points.
Do you know how the less quantity of a product there is, the more valuable they become? Well, the same applies to sales.
When prospects find out you're only selling a certain number of items, or that a sale is only going to last for so long, they're much more inclined to convert.
Then it's onto one of the most important parts of your entire sales letter ― the guarantee. This helps reduce risk, which in turn, makes prospects feel more comfortable about parting with their hard-earned money.
And finally, last but not least, the CTA. While you should have been providing CTAs throughout your copy, here and there, this is the last time prospects will have a chance to convert.
So, make it count. Add in some urgency, a price anchor, and let them know what they can expect. Will their problem be solved?
Whatever you do, keep it short, informative, and simple.
Learn how to write stronger CTAs here.
Here's the thing about online writing:
There's a specific way of formatting it. Use it to boost readability and get more conversions.
Clean, easy-to-read fonts are key, sure, but the most important thing is to size the font to 16px. This is the go-to size font for all online writing, as it's easy to see and read for most people.
You see, sales letters are all about simple writing. They don't use big words and sound like they're trying too hard. Their sole aim is to appeal to the audience and tease them just enough to want to convert. Roughly 40-80 characters per sentence works perfectly.
Think about it this way: if all you have is 3-4 lines to make one cohesive point in a paragraph, then you won't have time to ramble on and get side-tracked.
These short paragraphs are designed to keep you focused on what actually matters.
Plus, it helps to smooth flow and keep your prospects engaged. There's no real-time to zone out or glaze over entire rambling sections.
Putting it bluntly, sales letters are rather long. You're looking at roughly 5k words, going from point to point, section to section. So, it can easily turn into a giant wall of text if you're not careful...
And that's daunting to stare at, let alone read.
Instead, use lists (bulleted), big quotes (scannable), and images, tables, or graphs to break up the text. This keeps walls at bay, while also providing visual interest that keeps people engaged.
Now, we've been mentioning scan-ability, and it's in no way about to end with font sizing, short paragraphs, or vibrant images. It's also crucial that you break information up every 2-3 paragraphs with subheadings.
What this does is give you up to 3 paragraphs to get your point across, before connecting it to another idea, point, or action. It keeps the pace flowing smoothly, and prevents stagnation.
Learn how to use conversational copywriting here.
If you thought that was all there is to sales letters, you're wrong. There are still some additional tips that take a sales letter from decently good, to high-converting.
It's no secret that psychological triggers play a huge role in sales. Using the right tactics can boost your conversion rates and build you a loyal customer following.
But did you know that impactful wording is considered a psychological trigger?
Words like "imagine" immediately get readers to visualize a situation. But other words, like "broke," or "depressed and miserable" trigger an emotional response.
They'll likely think of their current issue, the one you're solving with your offer, and dream about the day they no longer need to suffer.
Meanwhile phrases like "Steal my X secrets" imply value. Prospects may want your secrets because it helps their business, or their beauty regimen, or their health ― you name it.
If you've clicked around on this blog, read a few posts, or read my social media posts, then you know how important stories are. There's nothing quite as impactful as a story ― period.
Because when you tell a story, you present visualization to the readers. You have them imagine (power word) something.
The only thing better than that is having the story relate to them rather than you.
In other words, what is their problem and what does that look like? What do they want, and what does that look like?
So, hopefully, it's clear by now...
Sales letters are lengthy, simple, teasing, and compelling. But most importantly, they're essential if your goal is to explain an offer in detail.
If you can keep your sentences short and clear, the imagery vibrant and engaging, and the overall offer informative, you'll find that your sales letter converts better.
Because remember, unlike other mediums (emails, landing pages), sales letters are less about listing features and benefits, and more about establishing a solid, emotional, human connection.
It's about being able to tap into the minds of your prospects, and planting the right imagery and combination of feelings.
And if that sounds too complicated, don't worry. Tons of business owners feel the same way and hire outside help instead. Professional copywriters are always in demand, crafting compelling stories that actually resonate with audiences far and wide.
Want higher conversions on your landing pages, sales letters, emails, or ads? It might be time for you to work with an expert copywriter. I’ve driven tens of millions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of clients over the past 10 years — including some of the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America.
Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.
High-converting direct-response conversion copywriting for America's largest B2B companies and disruptive digital brands.
📍 Los Angeles, California