8 Simple Tips to Make Your Video Sales Letters Convert Like Crazy

Remember when the phrase “watching a video” meant either renting a movie or watching footage from your camcorder?

In the grand scheme of cultural progress, it really wasn’t long ago…

But today, most people carry small computers in their pockets on a daily basis. And “video” has become a much more egalitarian concept that’s available at the touch of a button.

Already, 60% of people prefer watching online videos to television. And — here’s where it gets interesting — 72% prefer learning about a product or service through video.

All of which leads to one conclusion.

Using Video to Sell Isn’t a Choice — It’s a Requirement

It’s easy to understand why video sales letters (VSLs) are one of the hottest types of video in digital marketing…

It’s because they flat-out work. If you’re looking to increase your conversions, this is your format. Video gets an impressive 12% more conversions on average than written sales letters do.

Video is also more memorable than a written sales letter. Sixty-eight percent of viewers remember video — but only 10% of readers remember text. Think about it… a massive 90%(!) of your readers forget your copy after they walk away — but only a third will forget your video.

VSLs are great for developing a bond with your audience in a way a written sales letter can’t. Your viewers get to hear your tone (or your host’s) and are exposed to your personality in a way that just isn’t possible with written sales materials. As a result, they feel like they know you. Then they start to like you, and your relationship starts to grow.

If you do any affiliate marketing for other people, these types of videos are a great way to do it. You just set up a webpage, post your VSL and let it bring you money passively. The sales processing and fulfillment are dealt with by the party whose offer you just sold. All you have to do is collect your commission!

From Idea to “In the Can”

Even if you haven’t written a VSL yet, for most marketers and many entrepreneurs, it will just be a matter of time.

So… how to get started? Here are a few tips for a VSL that engages and converts:

Make It Viewer-Friendly.

First, make it only as long as it needs to be. Yes, there are some VSLs that last an hour or more, but that’s the exception more than the rule. Thirty minutes is a good ceiling, and something in the 10-minute range is even better.

Of course, the price of your offer will play a big role in determining the length of your VSL. More expensive offers tend to require longer videos because they need to explain a lot in order to justify the price.

Regardless of the length of the video, give the viewer some control over what they’re watching. You don’t need to give them a fast-forward button, but a pause button is a good way to mitigate constant interruptions.

To be even more user-friendly, include a settings button that allows viewers to control the speed of the video. And most of all, for your audience members who don’t like video, include a transcript as an alternative.

Grab Your Viewers’ Attention Immediately

Tell them a story, share a shocking statistic or do something else that will pique their interest right away.

You may have heard by now that humans have an attention span of eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish. With so many things competing for people’s attention, you need to earn your viewers right away. If they’re not into it, they’re not going to spend additional time sticking around to see if the video gets any better! So make a point to stand out right at the beginning of your VSL.

Establish Relevance and Authority Quickly

The highest-converting VSLs don’t aim for a small percentage of sales to a broad audience. They instead generate lots of sales to a much smaller audience. So target your VSL carefully and be sure to convey to your tribe early on why this is going to be important to them.

You’ll also want to qualify the person appearing in the video (whether it’s you or someone you hire) as an authority on the subject. What credentials or experience makes them an expert worth listening to? This needs to come out quickly too… Otherwise your audience just feels like they’re watching some random person standing on a soapbox. And they’ll turn your video off.

Make Watching Your Video a Good Use of Their Time

Add some value to your VSL. Yes, most people recognize this type of video as sales video. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add some content to give your video some substance.

And indeed, you should. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more value you give away to people, the more likely they’ll be to buy. But even if they don’t, you want to give value no matter what. Not only is it a way to thank them for investing their time in you, but it’s also a way to build your relationship with them — and possibly gain a loyal customer later.

Write a Script

Where a traditional sales letter may not require much besides you and your laptop, VSLs aren’t made in a vacuum. This type of video can involve a number of people besides the writer — like an expert or camera talent, a graphic designer, a camera operator and a number of people for approval from the product team, legal team and so on.

Of course, not all VSLs will be large-scale. They can be as simple as PowerPoint slides with a voiceover. But either way, you can — and should — prepare ahead of time.

That means writing a script. This will save lots of time, effort and negotiations, both while planning your VSL and during the shoot itself. Get it approved ahead of time so there’s no thinking about it or waiting on decisions during the shoot.

Bonus: Clients love efficiency — and they love saving money.

Keep in mind that writing a script is different from writing a regular sales letter. It requires a lot more visuals, and it often calls for different word choices as well. It might help to picture your VSL in your mind being acted out like it will be when you shoot.

3 More Guidelines for a Successful Sales Script

1). Include all the details. Remember, you really want to get it right the first time because there are so many moving parts. So write out everything that’s happening, not just dialogue. Is there a change of scene or wardrobe? Are there cutaways to other footage? Are you including any props or graphics?

Put all these things in the script. Use different fonts or formatting to differentiate the dialogue from everything else so that it’s easy for your presenter(s) to know what they’re supposed to read.

Your goal here is total clarity. In theory, a total stranger should be able to direct your script without asking for any clarification.

2). Make people sound human. You want people to sound conversational, not formal or stiff. Would someone say, “You do not want that”? It’s possible… but it’s far more likely they would say, “You don’t want that.” The first version is awkward. The second one flows.

Again, don’t think of what you’re working on as something people will be reading. Think of it as something they’ll be saying. If you can’t imagine someone saying your words, change them.

Just do it before you start shooting the VSL. You don’t want to be ad-libbing your script.

3). Read aloud as needed. You might’ve seen that coming next. Sure, it’s a good idea to read everything you write out loud — but with a VSL, it’s nonnegotiable. You’ll want to read it over and over multiple times yourself before you ever share it with anyone else.

Sound Simple?

It is.

Writing a good VSL follows some straightforward basic rules, just as written sales letters do. It’s comforting, right? There’s always a place to start from. (By the way… these tips will serve you well in your other videos too.)

So you’ll ultimately want to stay organized, plan ahead and stick to conversational copy. The result? Tight, engaging video sales letters that keep your audience’s attention — and keep on converting.

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Candice Lazar is an award-winning direct response copywriter and marketing consultant. She writes primarily for information marketers and has also worked with a number of financial publishers and B2B companies. Her background as an intellectual property lawyer gives her a unique perspective on using proof to create a strong “case” for her clients’ products and services. Candice can be reached at www.candicelazar.com

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