There are two types of sales page readers: those who faithfully read every word, and those who skim until they get to the end.
Since you want to sell to both of these groups, you have to know exactly how to capture and hold the attention of each — and doing so in the same sales page is no small feat.
The good news is, you can use the same writing strategy to get each group to engage with what you’re reading … and ultimately to buy what you’re selling.
One very simple way you can increase the “scannability” of your sales page is by making effective use of subheads.
Subheads are a sales page’s best friend
If you blog at all, you know the power that a good set of subheads commands over your readers. You take special care to make them stand out, capture attention and intrigue your readers — and most important, to give those people who give your post a quick “once over” a reason to slow down and read every word you’ve written.
Sales pages are no different. Good subheads allow your readers to stay grounded in the context of what they’re reading, while building a sense of anticipation of what’s to come.
So let’s talk about a few subhead strategies you can use to make readers sit up and take notice.
How to strengthen your sales copy with promises
We’ve talked before at Copyblogger about how a good headline delivers a promise to the reader that makes them want to read further into your sales page.
But if you don’t deliver on that promise quickly, readers can lose interest and either scroll down to the end or give up on your copy entirely.
This is why you want to set up each subheader to include a smaller promise — a taste of what’s to come in the next few paragraphs, if only they will continue reading.
For each section of your copy, ask yourself:
What result will my reader be closer to after reading the text in this section
When you find the answer, build that into the subheader text. (If you can’t come up with something, that’s a sign you need to improve that section.)
Want an example? Look at the subheader above. I just did it.
Why benefit-based subheaders get your readers to stick
Naturally, readers want to know what’s in it for them. Here’s where you tell them how the promise you’ve made can make their business (or their life) better.
To figure out the positive changes that will happen after they take you up on your offer, look at the promise and ask yourself:
How will things be different for my readers after they take in this information
This works so well because it makes the reader hungry for a specific outcome. Where a promise simply hints at a basic result, (“You will be more successful”) the benefits speak to the experience that people will have after they get that result (“You will double your current income in two weeks”).
Tapping into the desire for a specific experience does two things:
- First, it forces you to tighten up your copy so that it delivers on the promise.
- And second, it triggers your readers’ motivation to read every word of it.
After all, that’s what happened with this section, isn’t it?
How I used story elements to hit the front page of Digg (and how you can too)
When I first started learning about copywriting, I found the most popular headlines from places like Digg and Copyblogger and physically wrote them out by hand so I could get a true “feel” for what went into making a compelling opening for my blog posts.
The act of writing with pen and paper made the copywriting lessons stick in a powerful way, enabling me to hit the front page of Digg six times. And as I talked to others who used this same technique I realized that it wasn’t a fluke — it’s an important part of learning by doing.
It’s so important, in fact, that my first Copyblogger guest post was about this exact subject. It’s opened the doors to many guest posts since then.
That’s my story — which, interestingly enough, you’ve just read to the end.
Keep in mind the story doesn’t have to be about you — it can be the reader’s story (for example, “How you’ll get twice as many people to read to the end of your copy”). In some cases this can be even more compelling than a story elements that refer to you or your customers.
Look at the subheader above and see how I’ve included the idea of story, a promise, and a specific benefit to keep you from clicking away. When you do the same, you readers will appreciate it.
Why solid subheadings stop scanners in their tracks
Now, all that we’ve talked about so far explains how to keep interested readers moving from section to section of your sales page — but what about the “scanners” who quickly scroll their way down to the price? How do you get them to stop and read what you’ve written?
Well, as I said at the beginning, the techniques that keep those interested readers reading can also make scanners feel like they’re missing out on something — a key motivator for taking their finger off of the scroll wheel. If your subheaders are heavy on promises and benefits, and have an element of story to them, scanners will notice them as they move down the page.
As the subheaders “stack” on each other, with promise after promise, benefit upon benefit, and a story that just won’t quit — just as I’ve shown you how to do above — scanners will decide that they’ve just got to slow down and really listen to what you’re offering them, because they’ll be convinced the rewards are just too good to miss.
(And just in case you scanned your way down here, that last sentence was for you.)