Sales letter

How to Write a Sales Letter That Converts | Step-by-Step Guide

No, direct mail isn’t dead.

In fact, it can have up to 1,300% ROI.

Don’t you want results like that?

Then you need to understand how to write a good sales letter.

It’s one of the most effective pieces of direct mail advertising a business can use to reach customers.

However, a lot of businesses piece together a sales letter quickly and mail it out to a huge list but see no results.

Why is this?

Simply because they didn’t format it correctly or write good enough copy.

Let’s avoid that. Follow along as I teach you how to write epic sales letters that practically print money.

What is a sales letter?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s cover our fundamentals.

The definition of a sales letter is the following:

A piece of mail that is sent directly to a potential customer which persuades them to purchase a product.

It’s one of the oldest forms of advertising yet remains very effective.

Often a business will create its own list overtime which consists of their customer base. Promotions are then sent to these individuals via physical mail.

Some companies will purchase lists of existing customers to send their sales letters to, as well.

And that’s the first step…

You need to ensure that you have a highly targeted audience that would convert well when sent your sales letter or you’ll fall on deaf ears.

Presuming you’re at the step in which you have a mailing list at your disposal, we can move onto the next step which is the writing sales letter.

If you’re not, I suggest reading my previous content on email marketing to learn how to generate high quality lists:

  1. The Beginners Guide to B2B Cold Email Campaigns
  2. How to Write a Follow Up Email That Gets Dream Clients Itching to Respond
  3. How to Cold Email Clients [Land Clients Instantly]
  4. The Best Email Marketing Tools That Will Explode Your Subscriber Count

Sales letter copywriting

Direct response copywriting is much different than other forms of copywriting.

It requires precision, research, and experience to write business material that can entice customers to whip out their credit cards on the spot.

Reaching this point takes years.

But, you’re in luck. I’ve already spent years practicing copywriting so I’ll show you the ropes.

Let’s begin with the headline.

Sales letter headlines

David Ogilvy, one of my all-time favorite advertisers, once said the following quote:

David Ogilvy headline quote

You need to look at headlines and titles as getting your foot in the door.

If your headline sucks, nobody is going to read the rest of the copy.

And if nobody reads the copy, you make no money.

That’s why you need to use the following headline writing strategies. Check out my previous guide on headline writing tactics here to learn about these in-depth.

Create a sense of urgency

Some of the most primitive human emotions are scarcity, urgency, and fear.

We can take advantage of this as advertisers by creating urgent headlines.

This strategy makes customers feel like they need to take immediate action or they will not get the opportunity again.

Here’s an example of this technique used on a coupon website:

Urgency headline example

The statement “Don’t Miss Out” directly communicates to customers that they shouldn’t wait before taking advantage of Thegoodstuff’s Cyber Monday deals as they may not be available later.

You can create urgent headlines like this for a sales letter by using the following power words and phrases:

  1. Now
  2. Hurry
  3. Quickly
  4. Don’t wait
  5. Don’t miss out
  6. Today
  7. Fast
  8. Limited time
  9. Limited offer
  10. While supply lasts
  11. Low inventory
  12. Only a few left in stock
  13. Discontinued
  14. Rare
  15. Secret

Don’t be vague, be ultra specific

Vague and generic headlines don’t tell customers anything.

They are boring and will make them want to throw out your sales letter faster than they opened it.

That’s why ultra specific headlines work so well.

You can sum up the benefit of the product you’re selling or promotion within the headline.

This gets the reader interested and diving into the rest of the copy which ultimately leads to the sale.

Check out the headline to this article to see what I mean:

Example of an ultra specific headline

Leaving out that statistic would’ve made their content generic and unappealing.

By stating a specific number, it generates more interest as readers will want to learn more about how this number was reached.

Next time you’re crafting a headline for a sales letter, make it as specific as possible.

State the customer’s pain points

Why do people purchase products? Because of emotions.

They play a much larger role in the purchasing process than most realize.

Products solve problems. It’s as simple as that. And problems typically involve emotions and notable experiences.

This is what sparks a customer to look for a solution in the first place.

You can bring out relevant emotions and thoughts with headlines by mentioning one the pain points of the audience.

The headline used on this website for weight loss pills is a solid example:

Pain point headline example

People struggling to lose weight often have trouble controlling cravings and maintaining improvements.

That’s why mentioning these experiences in the headline before a call to action is brilliant.

It will make the customer feel the emotions related to their problem and the button to purchase the product is positioned as the solution.

The exact same approach can be used for sales letters.

Mention a pain point that the product you’re selling fixes in the form of a statement or question.

Then, add a call to action at the end of the sales letter, whether it’s a phone number, website, or mailing address to buy the product.

Sales letter introduction

So you’ve written a headline that will give any copywriter a run for their money.

Cool.

But your job isn’t done yet.

You need to keep people on the sales page with a solid introduction.

This is where you want to begin with a question or bold statement.

If you go the question route, you need to ask something that the customer is already thinking or relates to their situation.

It can be as simple as this:

Somebody that has been considering going on a keto diet will be saying “Yes” to this question.

There’s also the copywriting axiom in which you want the customer saying yes as much as possible because they will be more likely to say yes to the sale letter.

On the flip side, a bold statement that says something outside the norm can capture someone’s attention easily.

Examples of this could be:

  • “Everything you been told about weight loss is a lie.”
  • “If you’re building backlinks to your website, STOP right now before it’s too late.”
  • “What you’re going to learn today will change you forever.”

After capturing their attention, it’s time to display a unique value proposition.

A UVP is what makes you different or special.

It can be in the form of a headline, bullets, or paragraphs of text.

Explain in detail what makes your product so amazing that they won’t be able to find anything else like it.

Perhaps it contains rare ingredients, secret methods no one else is sharing, etc.

This brings me to my next point.

Sales letter copywriter techniques

With the headline out of the way, you can now begin writing the body of the sales letter.

There are a few copywriting formulas I recommend using which include the following.

AIDA

This acronym stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.

The formula consists of grabbing the attention of the customer, making them interested in reading more, creating a desire for the product, and having them take action.

Attention is created with an awesome headline. Use one of the strategies I just taught you to get their eyes glued to the page.

Furthermore, look at how this sales letter from Popular Mechanics promises a free DIY encyclopedia within the headline to capture attention:

Popular mechanics sales letter

Anyone that enjoys DIY projects would be drooling to learn more!

Interest is then created within the first paragraph by making a bold statement. Using the words “deadbeats” and “rip-off artists” made the writing sound powerful and intriguing.

Focusing the attention toward the reader with phrases such as “Guys like you.” and “let me ship you Volume I FREE” builds up desire.

The rest of the sales letter includes instructions for placing an order which solves the action part of the formula, as well.

Pain + agitate + solve

An absolutely classic.

There’s no copywriting formula used more than PAS.

It’s simple. It’s easy to implement. And it works really damn well.

The general idea is that you present a pain point which customers are experiencing, agitate it, and then position your product as the solution.

This works because it gets customers feeling emotional, thinking deeply about their issue, and then your product is more tempting than the golden idol from Indiana Jones.

Here’s a sales letter example which uses this technique:

Prevention sales letter

PREVENTION was a health magazine that helped their readers live a healthier lifestyle.

The sales letter speaks about noticing the number of chemicals found in foods and wondering what the negative effects are. This is the pain point of readers.

It continues to elaborate on potential threats and dangers to the reader’s health which is the agitation stage.

Finally, it positions the magazine as the solution for combating health problems and making more informed decisions about diet.

Other sales letter tips to keep in mind

Before the end of today’s article, I’d like to offer you these strategies and tips to improve the performance of your sales letter.

Have a clear buyers persona

A buyers persona is an outline of your ideal customer.

It typically covers their demographics, interests, values, feelings, and as much detail as possible.

You can then craft a sales letter tailored to this exact audience which improves conversion rates up to 73%.

Think about it.

If you send out a sales letter to a random mailing list, you’re going to be speaking to random individuals that may not be interested in the product.

However, aligning a buyers persona with both the copy and list will drastically improve results.

Here’s a buyers persona template you can fill out yourself:

Buyers persona example

Just because it’s physical mail doesn’t mean you can’t split test

Split testing is a normal process in all forms of copywriting.

It allows advertisers to find winning combinations of headlines, calls to action, and other elements of their sales letter.

This is why I suggest split testing these components and others like images.

You can send out a few different versions of a sales letter to a mailing list one at a time.

Record the performance of each campaign and determine if one generates more revenue than the others.

If so, you can effectively double down and mail that out to a much larger list to rack in the big bucks!

Take advantage of testimonials

An interesting statistic you may not know is that testimonials impact 67.7% of purchasing decisions.

They act as social proof which builds trust with potential customers.

This is why testimonials can be a great addition to a sales letter for increasing conversion rates.

You must first ask previous customers for a testimonial about their experience with your product and service.

Take these and include the best ones in your sales letter. You can add them after speaking about the benefits of the product to testify its effectiveness.

Some simple reviews like the ones found on this cryptocurrency program sales page are more than enough:

Justify the price

Being able to logically and emotionally justify the price of a product is a huge element of successful sales letters.

As a general rule of thumb, it requires much less justification to market a $10 product than it does for a $10,000 product, for example.

Here’s why:

Someone spending $10 on an item isn’t a huge investment. They can get a refund, and even if they don’t, it’s not going to bankrupt them.

But let’s step into the customer’s shoes.

If I spend $10,000 on something, that better be the best damn thing I’ve ever used in my entire existence!

Don’t you agree?

A sales letter would have to do a hell of a job explaining to us why a product or service is worth that much.

That’s how most people think, so we can reverse engineer these kind of thoughts to land the sale.

The best way to do so is by positioning the price as an investment.

If you sell a course, book, or other product related to business, career, investing, etc, then you’ll be able to do this effortlessly.

Let’s say your program costs $500. You can explain that they will have the knowledge to make thousands of dollars per month in passive income, so the initial $500 is peanuts compared to what they’ll eventually make.

For those that don’t sell financial products, I know what you’re thinking.

“How the heck do I use this?”

You can still apply this principle to supplements, consumer goods, and everything under the sun.

For example, a business selling weight loss pills can say that their monthly plans are an investment for the customer’s health, happiness, and self esteem.

Any talented sales letter copywriter like myself will be able to do this effortlessly if you want to outsource your sales letter writing.

Relieve any objections

You want the customer to flow from the top of a sales letter to the bottom like a water slide.

The more interruptions and hiccups they experience in between, the longer it will take to convert them or you might lose them all together 🙁

You can avoid this and increase how many sales you generate by predicting objections users will have and answering them before they’re asked.

This requires you to understand the target audience like the back of your hand.

You want to know their feelings, beliefs, desires, pain points, and demographics.

This allows copywriters like yourself to understand what their critiques will be, and resolving them along with the page.

Common objections or concerns include:

  • Pricing
  • Refund and return policies
  • Privacy policies
  • Customer support availability
  • Evidence for any claims made
  • How long it takes for the product to work
  • What the end result looks like
  • Exactly how to use the product

If you can clear up questions and objections like these, customers will be able to slice through sales letter like butter and be more confident in what you sell.

Have more CTAs then you can count

Last but not least, you need plenty of calls to action.

These statements and words tell users to take the next action within the sales sequence.

It’s different for every business and product, but it might be to purchase something, add an item to cart, or sign up for a newsletter subscription.

Look how this sales page makes their CTA bold and in your face:

Since customers will convert for different reasons, you will want to place a call to action within every major section of a sales letter.

What I mean by this is what some people may purchase after reading testimonials, but others will after understanding the benefits of the product.

Calls to action are phrases like:

  • Sign up today
  • Sign up now
  • Register
  • Buy now
  • Don’t wait
  • Hurry
  • Claim your discount code
  • Get your free X

Read my guide on calls to action to understand how to use them effectively and for more ideas.

Sales letter template

Phew, I know that’s a lot to take in, so here’s an easy-to-use sales page format based on the strategies I outlined today.

  • Headline that catches the customer’s attention
  • Video sales letter
  • First section explaining your UVP and what the product is
  • Section agitating customers pain points and experiences
  • Benefits of product
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Pricing
  • Money back guarantee and quick explanation of refund policy
  • Justification for pricing

Final thoughts on writing sales letters

Direct mail is an effective and cost-efficient approach to generating sales.

It takes very good copywriting to pull off great results, though.

Writing a sales letter begins with the headline. You need to use urgency, ultra specific statements, and emotion to capture attention.

Then, using a formula like those I outlined earlier help craft the body of a sales letter that gets customers itching to buy.

You need to end every sales letter with a clear call to action, as well. This might be to call a phone number or visit a website, for example.

Doing these things will result in a sales letter that practically generates free money.

What are you waiting for? Start writing a sales letter today with these strategies and watch the cash roll in!

Carmine
Hey! My name is Carmine and I've written for Neil Patel, GoDaddy, Smart Insights, and other popular publications. Reach out to me at any time if you need copywriting services.