People always say: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
That’s cute but unrealistic.
The fact of the matter is that how you title your product (digital or real) will affect how many people want to buy it.
I’m here to tell you how to do it right.
Ten years into her copywriting career, Joanna sat down with Teachable’s CEO, Ankur Nagpal, to discuss how she fell into copywriting, ebooks and eventually online courses and gave us some killer insights into how she crafted her own sales page.
Here’s everything you need to know about writing a sales page, all the tools you need to improve and an exclusive interview with the Copy Hacker herself.
What’s a Sales Page
A sales page, or landing page, is the webpage someone lands on to buy your product. I think of it as the digital packaging for my online course.
The entire purpose of your sales page is to get someone to click buy - this is your point of sale. This is where you make money.
Point being, it’s important.
There are a few key things that you’ll find on most successful sales pages - titles, subtitles, social proof, descriptions, images, guarantees. What’s amazing is that Teachable does 90% of the work for you.
This is the sales page layout that we generate for you at Teachable. I’ve simply entered in filler text. Check it out:
We’re going to talk about every element of this page and walk you through how you can optimize it.
To give you background on a sales page, check out this clip of Joanna discussing her tips for your sales page copy.
Joanna's totally lovely and intelligent. If you'd like to watch the full interview where she discusses how she built her career as a digital copywriter, wrote a book and created a course, click on the giant orange button below:
Before we talk about each element, there are four overarching things to keep in mind as you write your sales page.
- Write for the customer - it's about them, not you. Your story in creating this courses isn't half as important as conveying the benefits to your students. Write for the customer, not to tell your story.
- Don’t be afraid of selling on this page - while most of us are afraid of being "salesy", selling is the point of the sales page. This is the one place where you want to be direct, to the point and very blunt about the fact that you're selling a product. "Follow the practices of writing a good sales page," Joanna says.
- Urgency - People need to know why they should buy now and not later, and getting them to this action is key to make sure the sale happens at all. Add a sense of ugency through presales, sales, limited discounts and coupons.
- Benefit > features - On your sales page, explain the benefits of taking your course, not the features. These sound similar, but explaining a benefit takes the feature and asks, “so what?”.
Example: A feature is “data ownership”, a benefit is “You own all content and student data so you can market to your tribe on our platform or others if you decide to leave” (cough cough - true with Teachable).
Try answering the question: "What do my potential customers need?" with a one sentence answer. Then come up with 3-5 of these sentences to use in a bulleted list to showcase why.
Now that you have a good base, let's jump into each individual page element.
Without prompt, when we asked Joanna for sales page advice, she jumped right into headlines.
“Get the headline right. That largely means having to prepare to have multiples sales pages or modify your sales page as the launch goes on,” Joanna said.
So what is “right”?
A good title should convey the general sense of what your course is about (its specific value proposition can sometimes be better in a longer subtitle) and catch the attention of your target audience.
Does your audience refers to a female executive as a “boss babe”? Or a would they say “female entrepreneurs”? Or maybe something more flirty like “mama with the money.” This all depends on metrics like age, income, gender and even more specific preferences that each demographic has.
To get a grasp on who your audience is, I use Dan Kennedy’s audience analysis found in The Ultimate Sales Letter. It’s what I used to name Make Change Weekly - a Friday round up of the best content to make money outside of the 9-5.
Whoever your audience is, the title should be very brief, very catchy and as targeted as possible.
Notice how we picked a title that was gender neutral, age neutral and conveyed the value prop: we'll teach teachers how to make money.
More so than anyone else, Mariah knows her audience and writes to them. With titles like "Webinar Rockstar", "Femtrepreneur" and a frequent referencing of boss babes, Mariah empowers and speaks to her audience in a way that's creative, entertaining and to the point.
Joanna actually wrote an entire post on headlines here: 5 Criteria for Writing Powerful Headlines that you can reference for more detail.
You could argue that the course subtitle is more important than the actually title. While what you name your course is the witty attention getter, the subtitle is the qualifier that tells people what they’re getting.
Anyone who has attended a Teachable webinar has heard us say, a course provides a student a shortcut to an outcome and you know how good your course is if you provide a transformation - a meaningful and measurable change to your students.
What we mean is, if your course is on dog walking, what is the measurable outcome your students get at the end of it: Learn to train an unruly dog to go on a pleasurable walk in 30 days? Trust your dog to be nice to small children in 10 lessons or less?
You must define SPECIFICALLY what someone is getting from your course. This is your value proposition, your promise, and you must convey this in your subtitle.
In this vein, Joanna says, “Write the sales page before you write the course. Know what you’re selling before you get into it. Write a really strong sales page. Write the thing you know will be easiest to sell. Go to town on that sales page.”
When she mentions “the thing that is easiest to sell” - this is your transformation.
Bree gets right to the point that she'll help you make money as a musician. We especially love using Bree as an example since she was able to presell her course using only her Teachable sales page.
This subtitle is a bit longer, but clearly gives three strong, clear and valuable reasons to take their course. Nat and Justin made $48K on their course launch, so we know what they're doing worked.
Enroll Button / Call To Action
“Don’t be afraid of selling on this page - this is the point of the sales page follow the practices of writing a good sales pages” Joanna said.
That is 100% true. The whole point of your sales page is to get someone to buy and to buy they have to click your enroll button.
Your enroll button is what someone clicks to buy your product. Everything on your sales page should be enticing, directing and pointing attention to this button.
The text on the button should be simple, to the point and desirable. Simply “enroll here” works. You never want to say “click for updates” - no one wants updates or “click for an email”, what they may want is “be the first to know when the course is live” or “start learning.”
Honestly, keeping the text simple on your enroll button works. Don’t overcomplicate this step.
If anything, you can do more through design than with text. Make the button pop using colors, shapes and arrows. Our Teachable designer, Allison Haag, wrote a series of posts here: Best Practices for Great Landing Page Design, Create a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Landing Page, How to Write and Design Your Landing Page Call to Action.
Social Proof / Testimonials
I’ve previously written about online marketing - what you have to remember is that unlike physical objects, a course can’t be picked up, examined and potential buyers aren’t talking to you the way they might talk to a crafter at a trade show, or farmer at a market.
You must use testimonials from previous customers to prove to potential buyers that you’re a trustworthy authority on your topic.
As Joanna says: "If you have video testimonials, bless you. It’s much better than not but it’s hard but it’s worth it."
It’s true. If you presold your first module, see if some of your first students will give a video testimonial. If not, go for text.
You can also include any press coverage you’ve gotten. These don’t have to be top tier logos - just logos from outlets relevant to your audience. Example: If my course is on whisky tasting, Business Insider doesn’t make as much sense as the much smaller Whisky Advocate.
Bryan Harris discuss this in depth in this post: How to Build an Email List.
You can (and should) include data on your page, like the number of students you’ve helped, the number of social followers you have if you have a large presence in a channel, or newsletter or blog subscribers.
Check out how Melyssa's testimonial from Krista gives specific numbers, has someone's picture next to it and gives a time in which someone can receive a specific benefit from the course. This is a grandslam testimonial.
Brennan includes social proof in the subtitle of his course. Notice how he says how many he students he has right in the title? That's important!
Know that it’s illegal to use testimonials from a past product on a new product. If you tell people you pulled the testimonals from an old product because no one has seen your new item, that’s ok. Be transparent. Be a good person.
When talking about a sales page, Joanna says: Be sure to demonstrate on your page how this course is going to work.
Since your course is not a physical product - show and tell people what they’ll be getting in the course description.
Your course description should lead with a hook up front, say what the course is, convey the benefits of taking it, and end with a bit of background on the course that gives validity.
Remember that in sales copy words like “you” & “because” are powerful.
“You” forces you to write to your students and empathetically. No one cares if you write “I spent 15 hours on this course and did multiple interviews with experts”. Instead, say “You’ll have access to 15 hours of exclusive interviews with experts that will guide you from start to finish.”
People also respond to the word “because”. For example: “I included bonus coaching because I want to you to really learn this topic” is powerful. For more details, check out How to Write Sales Copy Like Apple by Kissmetrics.
Don’t forget the age old saying, less is more. Keep your sentences short and punchy to create impact.
Also - don’t brand like a big company. You’re an individual - let that shine. Students like learning from a real person who is an authority and willing to help them.
Lauren's quick, to-the-point course description is effective, enticing and adds value. It tells you why this course is valuable and by the end of it, you know exactly what you're getting.
Caleb not only has a great course description, but a quick promo video as well. People love video content so adding a 1-2 minute intro about your course can do a lot for conversions.
Your Teachable page has a space for a large header image to entice your audience. Use this space for an high-quality image that directly relates to your content or brand. High-quality, beautiful images speak to the quality of your course and convey your brand.
Don’t make this hard on yourself and feel like you have to take the picture, simply search for a beautiful image from free stock photo sites. You can find a list of free photo websites here.
Example: MakeFabulousCakes by Darlene Abarquez
Example: FetchFind Academy founded by Jamie Damato Migdal
There is one place on your sales page where you focus on yourself over your students - your author bio.
“When you’re writing the sales page focus on what's in it for them [your students] - the common copywriter way of saying it. Don’t talk about yourself. Only talk about yourself when you get to the point where you present yourself as an authority. You have to sell yourself there.” Joanna says.
While you don’t have to be an expert to create an online course, you do want to convey what authority and knowledge you do have and tell people why you know what you’re talking about and why they should trust you.
A quick 3-4 sentence bio will do just that.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is where all those technical logistic questions come in. Answer anticipated questions here to set expectations and avoid negative or confused feedback.
Tell people what happens when they click your enroll button. Tell them about a money back guarantee (which we recommend giving). Let them know how you’ll be answering their questions. Set expectations.
Many times we’ve seen instructors over extend themselves trying to give so much value to their students, that they can’t deliver. This isn’t malicious, it’s just wanting to do more than one person can. If you can’t answer all emails immediately, that’s fine, just set expectations at the very beginning.
Letter from the Author
While this section of a sales page doesn’t have to be used and isn’t as necessary as the other elements, we do suggest it.
This letter is a mini blog post with a story from the course founder. It humanizes you as an instructor, tells your story, your motivations and ambitions, and connects you to your students.
This is your chance to express yourself as a human with emotions.
Notice how this fully developed letter has a hook, value proposition and explains the value of the course while introducing you to Mattan. He's heartfelt and gives his mission. He also includes social proof with a link to a Mashable article.
If you'd like to watch the full interview with Joanna to hear how she transformed her writing into ebooks and eventually a course that made 10X the profits with half as much work, watch it here.
If you're looking for additional resources to improve your copywriting, check out my list. It's what I use:
Teachable's Copywriting Resources
- Grammarly: Our go-to FREE web extension that edits your spelling and grammar and puts Word’s grammar check to shame.
- Joanna Wiebe's Ebooks: Pure freaking gold. If you check out Copy Hackers - you might even be able to snag one for free.
- Laura Belgray's Blog Posts & Newsletters (I recently interviewed her for Make Change Weekly where you can find a free lesson from The Copy Cure - her course with Marie Forleo)
- Ramit Sethi's Emails - subscribe here for the gold standard of sales emails
- Dan Kennedy's Ultimate Sales Letter - the textbook guide to sales copy that tells you how to make more money on words
- Femtrepreneur (Blog) - Mariah Coz’s blog that’s THE example for writing to your audience
Please let me know what you think the comment section below. Do you have a sales page that's worked very well? Done something that flopped? Let me know with a link in the comment section so we can all share our learnings.