Want People To Read Your Sales Page? Make It Scannable

Want People To Read Your Sales Page? Make It Scannable

Reader Comments (41)

  1. Bulleted lists seem to catch my eye well too.

    I’ve been using the subheadings for a long time (one of the first things I learned about writing for marketing). Once I heard it, I knew I was a scanner and I usually read things backwards subheading by subheading too.

    • So true. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great info scanning pages that just weren’t meant for “scanning.” When the info gets too densely laid out, I just get lost.

  2. YES – scannable — short (!) and (depending on your demographic) printable (add that sexybook for printing). Remember to add an image or graphic, too. *Bolded* text is a must. Nice article -at least I think it is – as I just scanned it 🙂

  3. So true Dave, the subheadings should be able to tell the quick story of the page to the person who is standing 5 feet away from the computer monitor.

    People buying something from a sales page the first time they see it is a myth. Even if a person doesn’t necessarily have the time to read the page right then and there, the basic idea and benefit will stick out in their mind and the page will be mentally “bookmarked” for later.

    I did this with the “how to launch” e-book. I scanned that page I can’t tell you how many times, and now that it’s come time to write said e-book, I wanted to make sure I had all of my bases covered and the “how to launch” book was at the top of my mind.

    Not because of a referral, not because somebody told me to buy it, but because the subheads on the page itself gave me the mental signal of “you’re going to need the rest of the information here sometime”

    In general though, I think once people get over the idea that the first time someone reads their page is the only time they’re ever going to have to make a sale, it will help them write better subheads to get them to “bookmark” the post for a time they’ll actually need the product.

  4. Ahh, tricky! I saw how your subheads told ’em what you were going to tell ’em… but left scanners wanting to read the details! BRILLIANT!

    Love it.

  5. I learned this as the “dual readership path” — the page reads one way for the read-every-word people, and for scanners, there are enough highlighted elements (subheads, boldface, alert boxes, etc.) to give them the flavor of the story and entice them to slow down.

    I really like the way you broke this down into specifics, very cool. Thanks as always, Dave. 🙂

  6. I just saw Frank Kern the other week and he talked about this in detail. He also said you can make your subheaders read like a paragraph and tell the story for people who scan.

    Great job as always Dave

  7. Hi, great article and always nice to have a mini-refresher course. This advice was one of the first my boss gave me when I first started writing copy. She said, in a nutshell, All your headlines and sub-heads need to be benefits-driven, so make ’em only as long as they need to be. Very few people are going to read the actual content.

    This was a new concept for me, b/c I’m one who likes to read everything. Doesn’t everyone, I thought? No!

  8. Excellent article! I’ve used subheads ever since I began copywriting, and they are always successful in attracting readers. And, using that tried and true trick of good copywriting, putting a benefit into your headline, is equally effective in subheads as well.

    Thanks for a great post!

  9. This is so true. I’ve been studying it more lately, and I love the tips you’ve included.

    I will be the first to admit, there are sales letters, blog posts and articles that I start off scanning, but the subheads are so compelling, I find myself scrolling back up and taking the time to really read it.

    I’m now working at getting this aspect down in my own writing.

    Thanks for another awesome post!


  10. I have several hundred index cards stashed in a couple of boxes, each with a single bullet point copied, by hand, from sales pages writen by Gary Halbert, John Carlton, and the like.

    Copying by hand really works.

    • Agreed. Dave’s doing a series for us specifically on sales letters, and it’s especially important to make them scannable because they’re a piece of writing that so many people skim, but all content works best when it’s scannable.

  11. So, if I’m thinking correctly, how I usually do it is the sub-head leads them into the rest of the copy below it.

    Sub-heads should not refer to something ABOVE their placement, right?

    • Really they should do both. Really the ultimate goal with any copywriting is to get people to hang on to your every word.

      If a person is already reading every word, then the subhead would give them a little extra push to keep going and keep hanging on through the next section.

      But if a person is scanning, the subheader should encourage them to go back and read every word, because they may have missed an important point. In the case of sales pages, this is critical, because sometimes it’s the details that aren’t in big bold print that can make the difference between someone being “on the fence” or “buyer”

      • I agree that their goal is to do both. It’s all about transitioning smoothly from one point to the next. This is how a post builds an overarching theme.

  12. Sub heading and white space!

    Nothing makes me click that RED X to close quicker than twenty paragraphs all crammed together with no double spacing or breaks in the paragraphs.

  13. I’ll admit, I am often a scanner when reading other’s blog posts. I even scanned this one – but your sub-headings slowed me down, and they allowed me to absorb the overall message of the post (clearly).

    So I guess I’d have to say your strategy works! 😛

  14. Love coming here, and always will! Having said that, here’s another way to look at subheads…

    If you’re wondering whether your subheads are any good or not, simply COPY and PASTE all of the subheads into Word. One by one. When you’re done, scroll up and read all your subheads from start-to-finish.

    Then ask yourself: does what I’m reading make any sense? Are my subheads a mini-version of my sales page?

    If you’re answer is YES, then scanners will be sucked into your copy. Each subhead sucks them into the rest of the story, but is a story all by itself…

    If you’re answer is NO, then re-write your subheads, silly!

    Ideally, your subheads don’t deliver a promise… they connect promise after promise… after promise. The more you connect your subheads from a perspective of promise + proof (authority, testmonials, use of words, etc. falls under proof), the more easily you’ll write sales pages.

    Like I said: your subheads are a mini-version of your sales page.

    Think about it!


  15. Great to have the scannable copy concept mixed with the writing copy that sells here. It makes for powerful online writing.

    Just as many people will have to read a sales letter several times before taking the plunge, others need to repeatedly hear about the power of benefit-bsased sales copy. Thank you! I’m writing a landing page right now and this will keep me focused.

    Copyblogger is the best resource for writing sales copy ever. I hope you meet Dave, Sonia and the inspirational Copyblogger team at BlogWorld. It’ll blow my mind…. hopefully in a good way:)

  16. Great tips, Dave. I need to work on my headings and subheadings before starting the sales page for my first eBook. I’ll try browsing Reddit, Digg, Twitter and this blog for headings, then writing them out myself to get a feel for them. That’s actually a terrific idea.

    As for scanners, I must confess – I’m often guilty of scanning through sales pages of eBooks or online courses until I hit the price, mainly to determine if the product is within my budget. There have been one or two sales pages I came across in the past that had subheaders so good that I had to stop and read the contents before scanning any further. That just goes to show that headings really do work in capturing a scanner’s attention.

    Now I just have to relocate those sales pages… 😉

    Great post!

  17. That was a wonderfully frustrating post.

    Frustrating because I really wanted to just scan it. Not to prove a point. I just have a lot in the great web world I want to read.

    Wonderful because the subheads forced me to keep hopping back up the page to read every word.

    Brilliant! Thanks!

  18. I feel a great way to emphasize the benefits is to list them all in bullet point form. This is convenient for the reader and it is reader friendly, as it gives the impression that they are reading less, and they can clearly see what information is of most importance.

    Great post all the same! 🙂

  19. Something has peaked my interest when I come to the page. I’ll look at a headline and then head to the bottom, ignoring everything in between. I usually ask myself, “why bother to put something like this up?” I hit the buy button and if I don’t know already check if the price is Ok.

    Sorry I ignore almost all of the page. Good thing others are not like me.


  20. Wow. Tons of great ideas, thanks so much for making this available for us! I tend to be rather… verbose, so this really helps.

    Subheadings do help, I’ve used them for a while now and received more feedback on those posts. I try the methods I catch myself reacting to while surfing as a natural process… a lot of them are mentioned here.

    I like the “sexybookmark print button” idea, need to go add that right now!

    See? Verbose. Sorry!

  21. Great post. One of the big take-aways from this, for me, was treating your subheadings as actually headlines. I often spend a good length of time coming up with my main post title but then don’t put the same thought into my subheadings.

    Thanks, Dave!

    Will Quick

    • Damn, that should have been “actual” headlines.

      Maybe I should start putting some more thought into scanning my comments for typos as well.

      Maybe I should stop watching Supernanny whilst taking notes on blog posts like this.

      Maybe I should learn how to start a sentence without “maybe I should”.

  22. You know, I think this is something that is OFTEN overlooked when someone is setting up their sales pages. I honestly can’t stand most of them… but then again, I AM a scanner and many of them just never catch my attention when I do scan them. Other times… there’s just TOO much content! So… I better recognize that and take some advice when I try it myself… right?

    Great advice on some specifics to help capture both audiences’ attention!


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