Copywriting Q&A Answer Time

1. What are all the variables you test for in headlines?

Interesting question! When testing headlines I test the format and then usually wildly different text. For example I don’t want to test “Discover The Secret To Losing Weight” against “How To Lose Weight.”

While that may be a valid test, you’re more likely to uncover a more profitable answer if you test wildly different ideas. So you might test “How A 300lb Man Accidently Lost 115lbs!” against either of the headlines above. Your more likely to find a big winner this way than if you just tweak words.

But the reason I say your question is interesting is because I never gave more than a little thought to testing variables IN the headline. Michael Masterson put forth the 4 U’s of Great Headlines, and they were “Urgency,” “Uniqueness,” “Usefullness,” and “Ultra-Specifics.”

If you use multivariate testing, you could have one headline that reads… “3 Steps To Making $1235 Or More From Betting On Football!”

And you could test every element of that headline.

You could test the urgency (football season comes and gos).

You could test the uniqueness (3 steps and $1235 makes this headline unique, could you find other ways to express it)

You could test usefulness (Making $1235 is useful. But you could test something else, like “Replace your income.”)

And you could test the specifics (”$1235″ is specific, you could try another number. You could test 4 or 5 steps. You could change “football” to this Monday Night’s football game.)

So if you do find a headline that’s a big winner, you might be able to squeeze some juice out of it by breaking down the elements of the headline even smaller. Interesting.

What are the most important variables in headlines?

Again, I’d say Urgency, Uniqueness, Usefulness And Ultra-Specifics.

What are the steps you take to find the hook for a sales letter?

Well you need something that will capture their attention. That can often mean being a contrarian. If there’s a commonly held belief, challenge it in the headline. “Scientists say (it) ain’t so!”, or something like that.

And that’s why it’s important to know the market so well, you can’t say something contrarian if you don’t know what their beliefs are to begin with.

So it starts with consuming a ton of information about your market. 99% of that is done online for me. I search for their favorite forums, I look for their most popular websites, and then sometimes I’ll listen or read the most popular books in that market.

I’m looking for a commonly held belief that somehow, my product can refute accurately.

What is your method for writing the close, or the call to action?

I don’t have it broken down step by step yet. As I approach the end of the letter I usually do a price reveal, which means building up the value of the product to a price much higher than they’ll pay. Then I reveal the price and immediately back it up with a satisfaction guarantee.

After that I employ a Scarcity technique to give them a reason to act immediately. As I’m discussing why they should act now, I repeat phrases like “Click the button below” several times. (Although I try to say it with different words.)

Then I put the order button, and right below it I try to help them imagine what will happen if they do not act now. Then usually in the PS section I’ll remind them of the Scarcity and the satisfaction guarantee.

Instead of giving information about your product on the sales page and asking for the sale, is it better to give less info on the page and then ask the prospect to opt in for more information?

I don’t have a lot of data on this. And I suspect it can depend on your business model. If you direct people to your sales pages through a blog, I’d send them directly to the sales page.

However for most projects I write an opt-in page to go after their email address so that we can follow up. But I also try and test this against sending them straight to the sales page so we can see what the difference in conversion between the two methods and make a better decision.

If you have a sales page for a paperback book, is it ok to now offer the ebook version as an alternative, or would having to make a choice cut down on sales?

In this situation I don’t think having too many choices would be a problem. You’re really only making one decision and that’s if you want the information. Deciding on whether you want the book in print or digitally isn’t a decision that I’d expect to make people procrastinate.

Whereas if you were selling different information on the same sales page it might have that effect. And that’s a “might.”

If your ratio of sales to unique visitors falls between 5-9% most months, is that good enough that you should be thinking about tweaking the sales page vs. testing entirely new pages?

I don’t have a solid answer. 5-9% is quite high and you certainly risk dropping the conversion rate substantially by writing new copy from scratch.

If you’re split testing, I can see why you might try this. But I think it makes much more sense to continue tweaking the page through multivariate testing so you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The way I try and test pages, substantial parts of the letter can change. So over time, the copy may end up looking like a completely different sales letter. With a different hook, a different offer, a different headline and so on.

Great questions everyone. If one of your questions was answered above, leave a comment and I’ll send you a free digital gift.

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