The Surprisingly Resilient Long Form Sales Page

Depending on whom you talk to, the long form sales page can generate some of the most heated discussion among online marketers and Internet users. Lots of people (count me in) love salepage to hate this element of the online sales process and are not shy about saying so. What’s there not to love, you ask? How about:

– They’re annoying.

– They’re cheesy.

– They’re obnoxious.

– They’re ugly.

– They have “sleazy used car salesman” written all over them.

Personally, I have never purchased anything from a long form sales page. So what’s the flip side? Why do people use them? There is just one pro to long form sales pages to counteract all the criticism, but it’s a pretty convincing one:

They work.

Marketers have found time and again in testing that long form sales pages consistently outperform short ones. Not exactly what I was waiting to hear, since I had set out to bust the myth that long form sales pages are useful. It turns out that it’s not a myth.

So should you use a long form sales page for your next product launch? The answer is: It depends. What does it depend on?

It depends on what you are selling.

If the product you are selling is not something that people would naturally be looking to buy, then it could probably benefit from the extra explanation afforded by the long form sales page. Think about it: if you are in the market for a table or a toothbrush, you probably won’t need 1,000+ words devoted to convincing you to buy (unless it’s a robot toothbrush), but if it’s an info product that could improve your life or your bottom line in a way that you hadn’t thought of, those 1,000 words just might be what it takes to get you to reach for your credit card.

It depends on whom you are selling to.

Who is going to buy your product? Who is your target market? If you are selling a turn-key system for making money online to total Internet newbies, then your long form sales pages will probably work just fine, and you won’t need to care what all of the techies and bloggers have to say while they’re hating on the LFSP. If, on the other hand, you are selling to a more experience and web-savvy group, you might want to consider another sales tactic. Seasoned veterans of the Internet are the ones who are especially weary of the long form sales page and will quite possibly run away from you and your product as fast as they can the minute they see that first 26-point headline.

It depends on the price of your product.

In general, the more expensive your product, the more objections you are going to need to overcome in the minds of your customers, and the more time they are going to need to decide to buy. For most people, to make the decision to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a product takes some time. Your long form sales page gives people that time, both by talking them into it and by anticipating any objections they are going to have to buying it and meeting them head on. If on the other hand you are selling a $4.99 ebook, you could probably afford to shorten up that sales page by quite a bit.

It depends on your execution.

How good of a writer are you? Many people who hate long form sales pages hate them because they are poorly designed and poorly written. Part of the purpose of the LFSP is to tell a convincing story and to explain to someone who has never heard of you who you are and what you stand for. It is an opportunity for branding where there is not a recognizable brand. Therefore, it is essential that you be able to draw them in with your copy, much like a skilled storyteller would do. You need to tell them the story of you and your product, and also the story of how your product is going to benefit them. This requires a certain amount of writing skill, and if you don’t have it, you should find someone who does and have them write your sales page.

One thing to keep in mind as you make the decision about whether or not to use the long form sales page is this: One of the reasons that they work so well is because ideally, you control the customer’s attention for the time they are on the page. And since it is a linear format, you also control the order in which they receive the information on the page. This means that if you can masterfully set the stage, explain the problem, explain how your product is the solution to that problem, and overcome any and all objections along the way, you have a better chance of convincing them to click that buy button. And you don’t settle for ugly just because it defines the genre; a well-designed, well-written sales page just might be what it takes to keep even those web-savvy users interested in what you have to say.

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