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Does Your Web Site Beat The Clock?

By Paula Morrow
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Tick, tick, tick. That's the sound of those all important 10 seconds slipping away - the average amount of time a visitor remains at a web site before clicking on.

That is, unless you give them a reason to stay.

Take a good hard look at your web site - is it optimized in your favor? What does a visitor first see when they arrive? Does the headline make them screech to a halt? Does your sales letter's first paragraph hook them in? Tick, tick, tick.... remember, 10 seconds is all you have.

If your conversion rate is telling a dismal tale, it's time to make some changes. And, as unglamorous as it may be, it all comes down to your sales letter. If your sales are nonexistent, now's the time to act. Fast. Before your business becomes one of the 95% that fail.

Here's the infamous 'Top 10' checklist - does your sales letter do the following?

1) Does it engage the reader on a personal level? Write like you're talking to your best friend, your grandmother, whomever your target market is. If it's not personal, it's useless.

Use the words 'you' and 'your' whenever possible - try to forgo the words 'I' and 'me.' After all, it's not about you -- it's about them.

2) Try to incorporate your target market into your headline. If you're going after car enthusiasts, say 'Car Enthusiasts Usually Disagree... Except On This One Thing.' If you're going after dog lovers, it would be 'Dog Lovers Usually Disagree...Except On This One Thing.'

Do everything possible to make your reader identify with the subject matter, to hook them into reading more.

3) Always use the KISS principle when writing (Keep It Simple Stupid). Don't get lost in your own words - this is not the time to impress with your astonishing vocabulary - write for the common man/woman. Don't bore them into clicking away.

4) Do you use stories to illustrate your point? Ever notice how CEO's and politicians always use stories in their speeches? They're communicating through mental pictures, to get their ideas across in another way.

Everyone has a different frame of reference - try using a personal story to produce that 'yes! they're talking about me!' reaction.

5) Break it up with bullets. For those readers who are into skimming, organizing your most important points in bullet form helps to communicate the benefits FAST.

Put your most important points at the top, in case the person doesn't make it to the bottom. And there's no rule that says you're only allowed one bullet list - put one close to the top of the letter, and perhaps another towards the bottom.

Test, and keep whatever converts best.

6) Use benefits over features. Always. They don't care that the refrigerator has a big vegetable bin or automatic icemaker. They want to know that it keeps their vegetables from drying out, and their beer/lemonade refreshingly cold on a hot summer's day.

7) Write in your own voice. We're not talking 'Masterpiece Theatre' here. Formality is out; friendly is in. And I give you permission to start your sentences with 'And' (note how this sentence started!) and 'Because.'

When writing for the real world, write like you speak.

8) How long are your paragraphs? If longer than 2-4 lines, break them up. And keep sentences short - even 2-4 words are ok. Like this. Short, quick 'eye bites' communicate faster when you're racing against the clock.

9) Focus on one product/service per sales letter. Period. No exceptions.

10) And, finally, watch the grand, sweeping statements. Using 'Earn $1 Million In Two Days While You Sleep!' won't help build your credibility. Or conversion level (click!).

If you incorporate these ideas into your sales letter, you're bound to beat the clock and begin building a better conversion rate.

About the Author
Paula Morrow heads ( She specializes in public relations, information marketing and creating cashflow systems. Her newsletter, IDEALProfits, is now read in 12 countries. Subscribe and receive 5 BONUS ebooks! (


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