Basics of Sales Copywriting for the Web

Traditionally, sales copywriters worked in the print world—primarily advertising. Today sales copywriting has migrated quite well to the web and may be successfully applied for an ever-expanding vocabulary of purposes.

The basics:

People do not like to be told what to do. Prospective customers are not ignorant yutzes—they are smarter than most marketers and sales people give them credit for.

Learn that and you’ll be well on your way to avoiding one of the biggest mistakes commonly made in sales copywriting- trying to force feed prospects with advertising as if they have nary a brain in their heads.

Any time you are going to write web copy intended to sell something, give something away, or otherwise impel a person to take action, be cautious how you lead them. In fact, “lead them” may be the antithesis of the strategy you really want to map out—leading your reader by the nose and telling him he must do this thing is typically a poor tactic for sales writing.

Instead: give your reader – already pre-qualified from a search query or link from elsewhere—the information he or she needs and then allow him to make up his own mind.

Here’s an analogy: many of the world’s martial arts disciplines—karate, jujitsu, judo, kung fu—are so effective because the skills make efficient use of an opponent’s balance with the basic principle being that you can, with little effort, use an opponent’s own momentum to your advantage--quickly pull or push him off-balance to gain the upper hand, so to speak. Furthermore, in disciplines like these size makes no difference. It’s not a matter of brute strength, but using your opponent’s own momentum to your advantage. It’s the same in sales copywriting.

Sound simple?

Urgency + Bigger, Better, Richer…Happier

Website sales copy comes in many different formats including:

Hurry…Supplies are limited!

The real skill or talent lies in subtly weaving into your “informational” copy a sense of urgency and the necessary verbiage that makes a product or service incredibly attractive to your audience. They should want the product or service simply based on what you have to say about it—the proof you provide for its effectiveness, the images visual or verbal you “paint” for them. Their conclusion can only be: this will so greatly enrich my life—more money, cash flow, beauty, better health and vitality, better sex, big muscles, youthful, stronger, faster, richer, HAPPIER.

Can you write happiness between the lines? If you can, you are onto the secret for great or successful sales copy.


Headlines are one of the most critical components of any piece of sales copy. Its purpose: to hook your prospective client so he or she can’t help but read the copy. You’ll find successful copywriters touting many different “recipes” for successful headlines and swipe files abound. But don’t be tricked into thinking these work in every instance. Headlines “recipes” have in some cases been run into the ground to the point that they no longer provide any “POW!” Test, test, and test some more.

Call to Action

What is a sales letter without the Call To Action or CTA? This is the point in your sales piece where you ask the reader to do something—buy, opt-in, complete a form or survey, enter their email address, etc. The CTA may occur once or multiple times depending upon the type of copy/piece.