10 Ways To Start An Internet Salesletter

By: Ray L. Edwards

The first sentence of an internet salesletter is like a
hook. It must grab the reader's attention and lead them
into reading the entire letter.

According to copywriter Joseph Sugarman, the purpose of the
first sentence of a salesletter is to get the reader to
read the next sentence. And the second sentence? To get
the reader to read the third sentence. This becomes even
more crucial on the internet than in print, since attention
spans are very short online.

There are certain types of letter openings that prove very
effective in pulling the prospect into the rest of the copy.
We'll briefly look at the ten most effective ways.

1. Tell a Story

Stories have been used for ages to relate lessons. From
bedtime stories to the greatest philosophers, we all love a
good story.

A story creates empathy with the reader and helps to draw
him into the sales pitch. This works best if the story
identifies with the problem that the prospect is now
experiencing for which you've found the solution. Some of
the most effective direct mail pieces used this technique.

2. State the offer upfront

If your product or service is well known to your audience
and doesn't need any special introduction, then you can just
state the offer right away. This serves best if your offer
is a very attractive one. In this case the real appeal is
in the offer itself.

A common example is if you have a free offer or deep
discount on products your target audience is already
interested in. Your entire salesletter can then be based on
the offer and not on the product features or benefits.

3. Use a startling quote or statistic

This type of opening is really intended to get the reader to
sit up and pay attention. It should be 'newsy' and have
some 'shock value'.

It should raise a question in the
prospect's mind and build some curiosity to read the rest of
the letter.

4. Make an announcement

This will work best if you have a new product that you are
introducing to the market. This should sound like a press
release. In other words, there should be little 'hype' and
more factual type statements emphasizing what's new about
this product.

5. Ask a question

Questions are very effective in pulling the reader into your
salesletter. This is especially true when the answers to
the questions are very important to the reader. These
questions also force the prospect to think and get involved
with your copy. The questions remain unresolved until you
answer them in the copy. Questions also make the letter
sound conversational and more personal.

6. Write to the reader as a colleague

If your target audience consists of a narrow special
interest group then you can address the reader as such. You
may address the reader as "Business Owner", or "Webmaster".
Right away this qualifies the prospect and saves them
having to read further to know if the letter is of interest
to them. It also serves another purpose: to make the
reader feel as part of a special group-a type of flattery.

7. Offer a free report

This will work best with higher ticket items. In this case
you want the prospects to send for the "special report"
that will further sell them on your product or service. The
report must not be pitched as a salesletter but as
providing genuine information that the reader can benefit

8. Pinpoint the reader's problem

Most products or services provide a solution to a problem.
You can therefore start the letter by stating the problem
that your product solves. This will immediately qualify the
reader and provide a logical transition for the letter in
explaining how the product solves the problem in the next

9. State your strongest benefit

If your strongest benefit has a real striking appeal to your
prospect then you may start by stating this benefit
upfront. This benefit must reach out to the reader's
self-interest and go beyond just addressing a feature of
your product. Copywriters commonly refer to this as selling
the sizzle and not the steak. Just think about it, if your
strongest value you are offering the reader doesn't capture
his interest then the others will fail also.

10. Offer some 'secret', privileged information

You can make an offer that is not open to the 'general
public' but only to a select few. This will work well with
your present customer base who may receive this
announcement ahead of other people. The point here is that
the reader feels special because they are getting the
'inside deal'. This will also work well with any select
group such as new subscribersArticle Submission, repeat buyers or any group
you care to 'invent'.

This list is not exhaustive but shows those techniques that
I find most effective as I create salescopy for my online
clients. If you fail to grab the reader's attention in
those precious few opening seconds then the entire battle is
lost. The majority of online readers simply scan before
they choose to read the entire letter. If the start of the
letter doesn't capture their attention then they are lost
for good.

Sometimes the conversion rate for a website can be
drastically increased by just changing the opening paragraph
for the copy. Use anyone of these ten techniques to boost
your online sales.

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