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How to write sales copy that sells: your 12-step tutorial

Creating want and need in your sales copy takes skill. Find out how to create sales copy that converts.

Sales copy is a vital component of any effective marketing campaign. It persuades potential customers to take action, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for a service or simply giving you their details.

But not all sales copy is created equal. Some falls flat and fails to generate any results, while others are highly effective and result in increased conversions.

Which kind of copy do you want to create? If you’re looking for tips on how to write a sales copy that sells, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading for our 12-step tutorial.

Table of contents

  1. What is sales copy?
  2. How to write sales copy that sells in 12 steps
    1. Know who you’re writing for
    2. Develop a strong headline
    3. Keep it snappy
    4. Consider your design
    5. Employ your best writing skills
    6. Sell the benefits
    7. Use evocative language
    8. Let your reader know what’s at stake
    9. Tell a story
    10. Make it personal
    11. Use social proof
    12. Show them where to go next
  3. That’s a wrap

What is sales copy?

Website copy - How to write a sales copy that sells - Copify blog

Sales copy is any text you use to persuade potential customers to take action. It may be text encouraging customers to purchase a product or service, or it may simply be a request for contact information so you can follow up with them later.

Online, you’ll usually find sales copy in email campaigns, on landing pages and in digital ads.

Offline, you’ll spot sales copy on product packaging, in brochures and in ads.

Whatever the medium, good sales copy is essential for any effective marketing campaign.

How to write sales copy that sells in 12 steps

If you want to know how to write sales copy that sells, then follow these steps:

1. Know who you’re writing for

A brand is nothing without the people who buy from it. But who are they? Do you know?

The first step is to know who you’re writing for. Ideally, get an image of your perfect customer in mind. What are their needs, wants and desires? What are their pain points? And what solutions are you offering that will address these issues?

The more specific you can be about your target audience, the easier it will be to write sales copy that resonates with them.

2. Develop a strong headline

Your headline is the first thing people will see, so it needs to be strong and attention-grabbing. Think of it as your hook. It should also be relevant to the rest of your content and accurately reflect what’s on offer.

A great headline will make people want to read to the end, while a weak or misleading one will send them clicking away in an instant.

Read More: What is a hook in writing? How to grab your audience from the get-go

3. Keep it snappy

First and foremost, your sales copy needs to get straight to the point without beating around the bush. Customers don’t have time to wade through lengthy paragraphs of text – they want to know what you’re offering and how it can benefit them, quickly.

Work within the confines of space you have. If your sales copy is for a banner ad on a website, it needs to hook your reader in a few words and use excellent branding to draw the reader in.

If you’re writing a landing page, email or brochure, you have more words to play with. But you still don’t want to overwhelm the reader with content for content’s sake. Only use the number of words you need to. You can use images to fill out space, and sometimes this can be just as effective.

4. Consider your design

Beyond smaller paragraphs and lots of white space, the other design elements of your sales copy are just as important, such as:

  • Headings
  • Tagline
  • Lists
  • Block quotes
  • Button text

These important features break up copy and signpost readers to the most important elements of your content.

For instance, you can use text blocks to point out the most important features of a service or product, quotes to highlight glowing customer reviews and button text to prompt readers to convert. If your landing page is longer, you could even include several buttons to capture readers who may be scrolling to different sections.

5. Employ your best writing skills

As with any content, your sales copy should be well-written and free from any grammar or spelling mistakes. It should also be easy to read, using short sentences and simple language.

If your sales copy is hard to understand or poorly written, customers will judge you as unprofessional and unreliable and move on.

6. Sell the benefits

Man using a tablet - How to write a sales copy that sells - Copify blog

Of course, your sales copy needs to be persuasive. It should convince potential customers that they need your product or service and that it’s the right solution for them.

To do this, focus on the benefits rather than the features. Features are what your product or service has, while benefits are what the customer gets from using it.

For example, a feature of a vacuum cleaner might be that it has a five-metre cord. A benefit of this feature would be that the customer can clean a large area without having to unplug and replug the vacuum cleaner multiple times, saving them time.

Read More: The ultimate guide to persuasive online copywriting

7. Use evocative language

Not all words carry the same weight. Put the emphasis on the wrong words and your copy just won’t have the same impact.

It’s best practice to emphasise ‘you’ rather than ‘we’, as this instantly engages the reader and makes them more alert to your message.

Example:

“You can make a difference” rather than “Our customers make a difference.”

Similarly, use sensory language such as ‘imagine’, ‘experience’, ‘feel’, ‘soft’, ‘sweet’, ‘sticky’ and more to evoke memories. This is a quick way to reach your reader on an emotional level.

Finally, choose active rather than passive voice to position your reader at the heart of the message you want to convey. Hemingway App can help identify passive voice in your content.

Example:

“Float away to an oasis of calm with our coconut body wash” rather than “Our coconut-scented body wash is proven to be relaxing and calming”

Other persuasive buzzwords and phrases include ‘free,’ ‘guaranteed’, ‘results’, ‘value’, ‘best’ and ‘save’.

Time-limited offers and language also create a sense of urgency and FOMO, encouraging readers to take action. These include ‘hurry’, ‘limited’, ‘now’, ‘expires’ and ‘today’.

It goes without saying you want to avoid jargon or overly technical language that could alienate your readers, unless your audience is industry professionals who use these terms. Instead, focus on creating content that resonates emotionally and is easy to understand.

8. Let your reader know what’s at stake

Sometimes the easiest way to make an impact is by touching on your customer’s pain points, or the problems they’re facing. This makes it much easier to sell the benefits that your product or service offers.

If this works for your particular product, some words to consider are ‘avoid’, ‘never’, ‘mistakes’, ‘fail’, ‘lack’ and ‘fear’.

Example:

“Never experience fear of rejection again. Sign up to our CV review service and we’ll put you on the path to success.”

9. Tell a story

People love stories. They’re how we connect with each other and make sense of the world around us. So, it’s no surprise that stories are also an effective way to sell products and services.

When you tell a story in your sales copy, you create an emotional connection with your reader that can be hard to resist. Just make sure your story is relevant to what you’re selling and that it has a clear point that ties into the benefits of your product.

For instance, if you’re selling a natural skincare line, you could tell the story of how your grandmother’s homemade recipes inspired your recipes, or how you use sustainable ingredients from your local landscape.

Read More: Once upon a time: 3 storytelling copywriting examples

10. Make it personal

Another way to connect with your customers is to make your sales copy personal. Talk to your readers as if you’re having a conversation with them, and use their language. This will help them feel like you understand their needs, and that you’re speaking directly to them.

Remember though that the language you use needs to also tie into your brand as much as your target audience so find a good middle ground. Being too informal could mean you come across as unprofessional!

11. Use social proof

COVID NHS billboard - How to write a sales copy that sells - Copify blog

Social proof taps into a psychological phenomenon that’s driven by the need to conform and fit in with our peers. It means using evidence of how your product or service is benefiting others.

There are various forms social proof can take, but some of the most common include customer reviews and testimonials, social media posts and case studies.

Whatever you do, never belittle your audience; you don’t want to risk shaming them into buying from you. Instead use positive language and subtle prompts such as “Thousands of people like you are using our service every day” or, in the case of the NHS COVID ad above, “Join the millions already vaccinated”. This gives a gentle nudge that those who aren’t yet ‘customers’ are missing out.

12. Show them where to go next

Finally, it’s important to have a clear journey in place that you want your reader or customer to take. Your call to action buttons will be integral in pushing the reader along this path, so make sure you know what that is.

Simple button text such as ‘Call Now’ or ‘Sign Up’ is a failsafe, and means you don’t have to make your button inordinately large.

But if you want to get creative, you might think about being a bit savvier. Here are some different examples of button text we’ve seen:

  • Try for free
  • Let’s do this!
  • Start a conversation today
  • Discover more
  • Explore your potential
  • Claim your discount
  • Yes, I want more clicks!
  • Shop the look

That’s a wrap

Writing sales copy that sells takes some skill, but it’s one that’s well worth perfecting. By following the tips above, you can create persuasive content that inspires potential customers to take action.

✏️ If you’re struggling to find the right words, a professional copywriter can help.


Header image: Kate Trysh

Embedded images: Szabo Viktor, Towfiqu barbhuiya, John Cameron

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.

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