By Nick Usborne
Thursday, January 20, 2005; 2:00pm EST
In a previous article I talked about a few similarities between writing direct mail packages and writing web sites. In short, I concluded that as online writers we could learn a lot from direct marketers.
In this article I?m going to take a look at just one of those similarities: both direct mail packages and web sites lose almost all of their readers before the ?task? is completed. Both media struggle with conversion rates that typically hover around the 2% rate.
Most of us throw out or recycle direct mail pieces almost every day. And most of us know how many of our site visitors leave before buying, signing up, registering or completing some other task.
Now for the difference. Direct mail copywriters work extremely hard to minimize the number of readers they lose, at every stage.
How hard do you work to keep and convert your readers?
Here are three tips taken from the world of direct marketing:
Make a promise
First, your homepage should make it very clear what you do. As in the statement, ?We sell printer cartridges?.
But also make a promise. As in, ?You?ll never run out of printer cartridges again?.
The statement is about you. And it?s useful in letting people know they are in the ?right place?.
The promise is about them. And there is a real benefit stated there. This may be copywriting 101, to lead with a benefit, but it?s surprising how many sites don?t follow this simple and proven principle.
Make an offer
This is standard in just about every direct mail package. This isn?t the same as a promise. An offer is when you give someone something extra, at no cost to the buyer. Maybe it?s a free calculator. Or a better price if you subscribe for longer. Or 30 days free. Even a free serving of garlic bread with your pizza.
Try to do the same with your web site. With a free report. Free shipping. A free download. A free consultation. A free gift. Or free gift wrapping.
Direct marketers know that buyers are often nervous about buying over the phone or by mailing an envelope. So they wrap everything up in a guarantee. Be delighted or get your money back.
Online we also know that many people feel nervous about parting with their money over the Internet, particularly if it is the first time they have bought something at our site. But where are our guarantees? Too often they are found in the small print somewhere, qualified with all sorts of legal nonsense.
If you want to make your prospects and buyers feel secure, make the guarantee bold. Say it loud. Have it jump out at people. Let them know that they are protected if they choose to buy.
These are just three of the ways direct marketers try to increase conversion rates. They keep people reading with a strong promise, an attractive offer and a cast-iron guarantee.
About the Author
Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author and speaker. You can access all his newsletter articles on writing for the web at his www. ExcessVoice. com site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at www. FreelanceWritingSuccess. com.