Detecting a sales page that will convert: 5 essential questions to ask yourself

By Kim Ross
Detecting a sales page that will convert: 5 essential questions to ask yourself


Put your hand up if you’re not a fan of long sales copy…

Now keep your hand up if you have purchased a product after reading its long sales copy.

That’s what I thought.

No matter how much some of us just don’t like long sales copy, we can’t escape the truth that good long copy actually works – and it works well.

So how do you take this seemingly conflicting knowledge and apply it rationally when choosing affiliate programs to promote?

Gravity ratings can be excellent indicators, but they’re only one  of many metrics that determine a program’s potential and there are times when they don’t come in handy – such as new product launches.

Or you may find yourself promoting products that you have no personal need or desire to purchase. For example, if you are an affiliate looking at promoting a golf product with no interest and minimal knowledge of the niche, you’ll likely find it hard to relate with the market. This makes it much harder to gauge the effectiveness of the sales copy, because you can’t simply test it on yourself.

In order to quickly gain an informed perception of a sales page’s ability to convert, here are the top five questions you should be asking:

1) Do the headlines, bolded, and highlighted text paint a cohesive story on their own?

Are you able to understand what the product is, and why anyone should feel compelled to buy it by simply skim reading the eye-catching headlines and copy?

Value is key here – you should be able to instantly identify the product’s value and see how it justifies the price point.

2) Does the copy provide enough detail to thoroughly explain what benefits the buyer will receive from this product?

This is important - the copy needs to thoroughly describe the product but this description must be benefit-focused, NOT feature-focused.

Example feature description:

“This product can do XYZ, which makes it go whiz-bang, really fast!”

This may be impressive to the product creator, but why should the reader care that it can go whiz-bang really fast?

Example benefit description:

“This product can do XYZ, so you can cut your research time in half and instead spend more time doing the things you love.”

This is, of course, a very general benefit description - better copy would identify the ‘things’ the reader loves, and capture their attention with those. This brings us to the third question you should ask yourself…

3) Does the copy correctly identify the buyer market and speak directly to them?

Take a closer look at the benefits stated – are these appealing to those who the product is intended for?

If the copy fails to engage the reader, they will stop reading and not purchase – simple as that.

4) Does the copy create a sense of trust?

No matter how legitimate and well-intending the merchant is, if they are unable to establish a relationship of genuineness and trustworthiness, you can bet your bottom dollar the sales page won’t convert.

Trustworthy copy will be scattered with testimonials – from short in-text references to case studies. These should be a mixture of success stories and endorsements from other, relevant businesses. Testimonials from high profile businesses bring extra credibility because readers can easily identify with them.

Be sure to consider the claims made by the copy too. Alarm bells should go off at hyperbole. Are the claims believable?

While impressive, it would be an extremely tough job to convince me that you drastically improved your golf handicap so much that you went from worst player to best player at your club in less than 24 hours… would you be convinced?

5) Does the copy create a sense of urgency?

If it fails to give explicit reasons why the reader needs to purchase the product right now, then they won’t purchase it immediately.

They may be close to being sold on the product, but without a sense of urgency they’re likely to leave the page and have a think about it, and probably purchase a more convincing product in the meantime.

If you can answer yes to these five questions when assessing sales copy, then you’re looking at a sales page that has the ability to convert well.

What do you look for when assessing a merchant’s sales page? Share your tips with us in the comments below.


Kelvin Ng 13 years ago
Yes, if one is actually really genuinely in the product, most of the time he will take the time to read up to 80% to 95% of the sales page... at least that's what I always do most of the time before deciding whether to buy something at all
James Foster 13 years ago
These are great tips for a newbie! Thanks!

Andrew Fields 13 years ago
Yes. Trust and Urgency. And, this stems from understanding the buyer, identifying with them and expressing genuine empathy in the copy. Thank you. These are 5 essential rules, not only for copy, but for every business striving to building personal or company brand and loyalty.
A Fields
Azad Shaikh 13 years ago
I had seen slowly video sales page are replacing long sales pages. But combination of both video and text sales page can be a killer.
Rachael McNaught 13 years ago
Yeah, great advice once again.

If I am serious about buying a product I want to know as much as I can about it and its creator/author and how much bang for my buck I will get.

One thing that does start to annoy me though is the increasingly popular use of video that the reader can't control. If I can't fast forward the blah to get to the meat of the deal, or rewind to listen to a particularly interesting part , or can't even see how long the video is, then I close the page down and won't go back.
Kim Ross 13 years ago
@Chris72 I couldn't agree more, I actually had a rant about that here: - if they're going with video sales copy, the least they can do is provide their affiliates with a written summary of their video!
Khairul Anwar 13 years ago
Love the #2nd point. Now I have a sticky note beside by computer with "What's in it for me?"...and focusing on writing about things that would benefit the reader instead of writing about how awesome the product is.

Paul Van Giel 13 years ago
I know exactly what you mean when you say we all buy products because of the quality of the salespage. I recently bought a product that claimed to get me a flood of traffic for free until I tried it. I should have known better and look for this scam on the reviewforums first. It's a part of the learningprocess I guess.
Renuka Shrestha 13 years ago
My comment is: Those 5 points are for sure to be checked before making a Sales Page.
Which will focus the buyer to buy the products. I will see that these points are not overlooked
while making a Sales page for a product.
John Rey 13 years ago
Nice advise but for those marketers that are not good sales copy writer then it is hard to do this, or you can had someone create the sales page of your website? how much does it cost then?
mike griffin 13 years ago
I seldom read more than a few lines at the top of long form copy.
Julius 13 years ago
Thanks for this nice article. Actually I am looking forward to improve our site by putting a sales page or landing page.
Patrick Connolly 13 years ago
I agree with @kim and @Chris72 about video. In fact, the only video I like is the type that shows how to use an interface or the occasionally well-done PowerPoint type of video. I'm not exactly a speed reader, but I can read a lot more quickly than anyone can speak (intelligibly).

I can see that it's attractive to a merchant to use video. While it's quicker to read text, it's slower to get it down, so they use the way that's less effort to them.

I have a technique that others might find useful, particularly for those videos that don't allow any control. I let it rave on in one tab while I do something else. When I see that network activity has stopped thereby indicating that downloading has finished, I save the temporary flash file into another temporary directory where I open it with VLC. The annoying tab can then be closed or simply click the back button.

The most interesting bit is usually at the end so I go there and see what the story really is. Unless you have a slow connexion, you save at least 75% of the time you'd waste if you let it ramble on.

Jenal Harris 13 years ago
I love the advice given on this blog especially about detecting a sales page. I have also noticed how the sale pages are using less text and more videos. Great concept indeed. As a beginner with affiliate/online marketing I have some great ideas to share as well,
I look to visit your blog again soon.
mark keeler 13 years ago
Long sales copy bores me. I usually speed read the fluff or skip it altogether. The long sales copy does not influence my buying decisions. On the other hand, user experiences do influence me!
Peter 13 years ago
Whether copy should be long or short really depends on how much you need to talk about products you're selling. Good alternative to written copy is video copy which is much more interactive.

The most important element of copy is headline. It's only job is to capture attention. If headline doesn't work then rest of the copy will fail too. It's common sense... the more content you force reader to read the better you can sell.

When you write copy try to imagine how would you sell in person. After all that's all what copy is...salesmanship in print.

Provide readers with strong benefits and place them in the copy in order of importance. You can easily convert features into benefits for example like this. Let's say you sell 200 page e-book. You can say this e-book has 200 pages which means that you can get deeper understanding of the subject.

You should also create sense of urgency by saying something like: only 30 downloads left, or soon price will increase. When mentioning price, utilize contrast principle. Say high price first and then mention lower (actual) price. By comparison this real price will be percieved by reader much better.