Video Sales Letter Formula
1 – Start Here
If you’ve worked in marketing for any amount of time, you know all about the traditional salesletter. Probably more than you ever really wanted to know…
There’s a reason that marketers have used the long–form salesletter format for generations—it works. However, as consumers and technology continue to evolve, so should the salesletter.
These days, prospects aren’t too likely to read a 15-page document loaded with benefit-rich bullet points and sales–speak. I mean there have never been so many compelling reasons to be distracted, right?
You’ve really got to break out the big guns if you want to grab their attention.
In this report, you’re going to learn how to replace the traditional, long-form salesletter with an absolutely dirt–simple (sometimes painfully ugly) video page that converts WAY better.
What’s more, the Video Sales Letter doesn’t require any scrolling; it fits nicely inside a prospect’s browser window. And it doesn’t even appear to be a sales message at first, so prospects listen to your offer with an open mind.
In the video below, Ryan Deiss, founder of Digital Marketer, introduces the video salesletter concept, and shares some meaningful reasons as to why it has become the ideal method for presenting an offer.
What is a Video Sales Letter?
The video salesletter—or VSL for short—presents the same information you would have typed in your salesletter, but in a new, more engaging format…
One that’s not always pretty.
Okay, we’ll admit it. The first time we saw a VSL, we thought, “This UGLY little site actually makes money?” So we asked the man behind the video, fitness guru Jon Benson.
What he told us actually changed the way we do salesletters at Digital Marketer forever.
Jon had been selling his dieting product on ClickBank for over a year with a long-form salesletter. And that was doing okay. But when he finally got around to testing a VSL, his sales DOUBLED overnight.
Affiliates took notice of his product—it’s called the “Every Other Day Diet”—and it quickly became one of the best-selling products on ClickBank—and it stayed there for a long time.
What did Jon’s page look like? It was simply a page with a blue headline on a white background with a video below. The video was set to play automatically, and it had no controls to skip ahead or rewind.
Not too pretty, is it?
Why You Need a Video Sales Letter
Obviously, we immediately started testing VSLs for our own businesses, and found they frequently outperformed print salesletters—often doubling our conversion rates.
Here’s some more good news: You don’t need to be an expert copywriter to write a good VSL. It’s MUCH easier to convey emotion and enthusiasm in a video format—with speech and images—than in a text salesletter.
Trust us, you can do it.
Plus, VSLs are still a novelty in most markets. People perceive the VSL as content, as opposed to an advertisement, which boosts consumption.
The most important part of the VSL, however, is the fact that it allows YOU to control the sales process.
In a traditional salesletter, prospects typically scroll down to the bottom and peek at the price before they’ve even read the copy. In a VSL, you get a chance to explain the benefits and build up the value before you reveal the price tag.
Now, there are no one–size–fits–all, magic bullets when it comes to marketing. BUT, the video salesletter has tested extremely well for us, in a wide range of different markets.
It’s something that you should absolutely be testing in your marketing, ASAP. In this report, we’ll walk you through exactly how to put together a high–converting VSL of your own.
2 – Build Your VSL
1. Elements of a Good Video Sales Page
Of course, there are limitless ways to format a VSL page, but our testing has shown that there are really only three items that every page must have in order to be a success.
- Gripping Headline–The headline needs to do two things: make a promise and encourage visitors to watch. In short, your headline needs to be both mind–blowing and must-have. One way we accomplish this is we always use the word “presentation” rather than simply “video;” another tactic we learned from Jon Benson. By saying “Free Presentation,” we’re letting visitors know that this video is may be free, but it’s loaded with valuable, stand-alone content.
- VSL–The second necessary component is, of course, the video in which you work your sales magic
- Buy Button–Obviously, the buy button is crucial when you’re asking for a sale.
Each one of these 3 bare essentials can be tweaked and optimized, and we’ll share a few of our favorite sneaky tips and tricks in a later section. For now, let’s focus on a few of the most basic VSL formatting “rules” and suggestions.
1.) Video Length–According to our testing, the sweet spot for VSL length is between 12 and 24 minutes. Any more, you’ll bore the heck out of your prospects. Any less, and you’ll have trouble building up the value and benefits.
2.) Ditch The Controls–This is a big one. Don’t hand over the controls to your sales process. Choose a video player that doesn’t include a control bar. Some people may complain about usability, but adding controls actually DECREASES conversions. We typically make our videos clickable, so a visitor can click to pause the message. But what you absolutely don’t want is to let them skip ahead.
3.) Auto-Play NOT Click-to-Play–Once again, you want to do everything in your power to keep visitors from controlling the sales process. One of the most deadly culprits is procrastination. When given the option, most prospects will save your presentation for another time. Don’t hand over the play button, because it invites procrastination and you’ll LOSE money.
In the video below, the preferred video sales letter page features are covered, including guidelines and suggestions for optimizing the appearance and effectiveness of the overall formula.
2. The 12-Step VSL Template
Here you go: This is the real meat and potatoes of building your VSL. If you don’t craft your VSL offer properly, none of the other elements in this Execution Plan really matter.
These 12 steps—which we’ve distilled from David Frey’s ingenious 12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template—are designed to walk you through the creation process and ensure your VSL builds a strong case.
1.)Attention Grabbing Greeting–Just like the headline in a print salesletter, your first slide needs to grab your viewer’s attention with both hands.
The first slide is the equivalent of your headline. If
you’ve got a tested headline, use it.
2.) Identify Problem (And Promise to Solve it)–Immediately after the greeting, you need to point out a problem that resonates with viewer. Then, let them know that if they keep watching, they’ll learn how to overcome this problem. This does two things: It reassures viewers that they’re watching the right video, and it affirms that you actually understand their problem.
Here’s an example of “identifying the
problem” from a VSL promoting one of
our list-building products.
3. Establishing Video Scarcity–Also, you’ll want to let your viewer know the video they’re watching won’t be available forever.
Once again, you don’t want them to feel like they can save it for another time. At the same time, don’t establish scarcity if you are going to leave the VSL up indefinitely. It will undermine your credibility.
Sometimes ambiguous deadlines are the best.
4. Aggravate the Problem–We sometimes call this “twisting the knife.” And while it sounds kinda gory, it’s simply the step in which we work to emphasize the problem.
Here’s the thing, most people are fairly content to do nothing… to keep on keeping on. Think of this in the context of the weight loss industry. This step is where we would try to motivate the viewer by detailing the risks of obesity.
Here’s a knife-twisting example from a VSL for
one of our forex trading products.
5. Provide the Solution–Once you’ve twisted the knife a little, you need to immediately jump in with the solution (your product). Don’t leave your prospect hanging!
Including a professional product shot in your solution slide boosts conversions.
6. Features and Benefits–In this step, you simply want to present the features of your product and, even more important, the BENEFITS that those features will bring about.
7. Call-to-Action (CTA) #1–This is where you tell viewers what they need to do next. Usually, it’s something like, “Go ahead, click below and order.”
We like to include 3 calls to action in our VSLs. The first CTA should be desire-based, e.g. “You know you want these benefits, click below.” Our testing shows that orange buttons work best.
8. Present Your Credentials–This is where you want to touch on why the viewer should listen to you. Include whatever proof, testimonials, test results, etc. that support your offer. Run the numbers, do the math… whatever you need to do to explain why your offer is logical.
Here’s where we list the logic-building proof elements.
9. Give a Guarantee–This step is pretty self-explanatory. Give your prospect a good, solid guarantee, reassuring them you stand behind your product.
Offer a guarantee that eases your prospect’s concerns about risk.
10. Call-to-Action #2–Your second CTA should be appeal to the prospect’s logic. You’ve been building up to this CTA throughout the two previous steps, so you simply need to say something like, “Based on the results you’ve seen in my risk–free offer, click the order button below.”
11. Give Warnings (Deadline, Scarcity, Guilt)–If there are any deadlines associated with your offer, this is the place to mention them. Sometimes, we may even try to make prospects feel guilty by saying, “Let me ask you a question, if you don’t take action, how can you expect your life to improve?”
Or even, “Like my daddy used to say, ‘The world needs ditch-diggers too, son…’”
If the product you’re selling is going to help your customer change his or her life—and it SHOULD—then why not get aggressive with it?
12. Call-to-Action #3–The final CTA in your video should be fear-based. And if you’ve followed these steps, you’ve already made the case for why action is essential to preventing pain or loss. For example, say something like, “Click here, before it’s too late.
When it comes to buying decisions, there are three major motivators: Desire, logic, and fear.
This 12-step strategy works because it hits on all three of them. What’s more, this sequence harnesses each motive in a way that’s both controlled and systematic.
That’s key to this strategy. These 12 steps are not intended to be a checklist of features; they’re a SEQUENCE.
You may change these steps up a little to suit your offer, but we recommend you not stray far from the order we’ve outlined. That’s because this process is designed to control the sales process, building your arguments, and overcoming objections.
In fact, we recommend beginning your VSL project by creating 12 blank slides in PowerPoint or Keynote (if you’re using a Mac). That way, you’ve got at least one slide for each step.
The Great Debate: Full Sentence vs. Bullet Points–When it comes to VSLs, visuals are surprisingly unimportant. When we set out to conquer the VSL, we felt confident that a bulleted video—one that allowed for a more professional, visually impressive format—would convert best.
To our surprise (and disappointment) videos that literally spelled out the sales message in full sentences, as if the video presenter was literally reading a teleprompter, converted much better in almost every single market.
Why? Our best guess is that this format limits distractions by having viewers listen and read along. The full sentence VSL engages audio, visual, and even internal attention, so it’s almost hypnotic.
So it’s up to you, make your videos more entertaining, or make more money. I’ll let you guess which variation we went with.
In the video below, Ryan Deiss highlights the steps needed to craft the ideal video sales letter offer.
3. How To Record Your Video Sales Letter
PowerPoint–The first thing you’ll need is some type of slide presentation software. At Digital Marketer, all our VSLs begin on either PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote.
We’ve tried using other more sophisticated programs, but we really believe these two—PowerPoint especially—are the best vehicles for your VSL. PowerPoint is easy to use and, because of its simplicity, it promotes a nice, focused presentation.
Screen Capture–Next, you’ll need some type of screen-capture tool. We recommend either Camtasia Studio (for PC) or Screenflow (for Mac users).
These tools aren’t free, but they are the best, most professional tools available. And since you’ll be using these for your business, why not invest in tools that will result in high quality presentations?
Camtasia actually offers a 30–day free trial. It’s the full-blown version, no limitations: http://www.techsmith.com/download/camtasia/default.asp
Microphone–Last, you’ll need a USB microphone. Or, if your computer happens to have a good internal microphone (like a MacBook), that’s fine.
You can go with a more complex, professional recording setup, but in our experience, internal mics have worked just fine. There’s just not enough difference to justify the extra expense and technical headaches.
The Rest is Easy…
• Choose your format (full sentence or bullet points)
• Write your presentation using the 12 steps
• Record yourself giving your presentation with Camtasia or Screenflow
• Export the video to Flash… and you’re DONE.
• Record your practice read-through. It may actually be your best take.
• Read the entire script in one take. Don’t piece it together. Start over if you mess up.
• Know the “hot key” to Pause. Just in case you need to cough or sneeze.
• Have a bottle of water handy.
• Turn off your cell phone, as well as any other noisemakers.
• Close all open apps, especially instant messengers and anti–virus software.
The video below shares an overview of the steps involved in actually creating the video sales letter, including tools and resources that best complete the job.
4. Hosting Your Video Sales Letter
Once you’ve outlined your 12 steps and recorded your presentation, it’s time to get it online so you can start driving traffic to it.
When it comes to hosting your VSL, there aren’t any really good free options out there. Remember, controlling the sales process is the key; and you can’t do that with ads randomly popping up, or with extremely limited time constraints.
Here are our top 3 video hosting services:
1. Viddler–The main advantages to Viddler are that it’s easy to use—uploading and embedding are a snap—and it’s inexpensive. On the flipside, you CAN’T remove the video player controls, a major flaw. Despite this setback, we’ve found that Viddler videos convert better than plain text salesletters. So, if Viddler is your only option, it’s substantially better than nothing at all.
2. EZS3–This service does offer a player with no controls. It also allows for redirects after you video (we’ll explain why this is cool later). Basically, EZS3 is a professional solution with a lot more options than Viddler. As far as downsides, EZS3 does charge a monthly service fee, it’s a little more complicated than Viddler, and you must have an Amazon S3 account to use EZS3.
3. Easy Video Player–This is the least expensive option, just a one-time payment gets you the Easy Video Player script (they do offer a subscription membership, but it’s optional).
Easy Video Player also offers a player without controls, allows for redirects, and has excellent reporting capabilities so you can monitor exactly how viewers watch your video.
On the other hand, Easy Video Player requires that you install a script on your server (it’s not that difficult). It also requires an Amazon S3 account.
Ryan shares tips for hosting your video sales letter online in the video below, allowing you to put it on the Web, begin generating traffic and gain conversions.
5. Architecting Your Video Sales Page
If you like testing, then you’re going to love this section. If you want us to tell you exactly what works in your particular niche… sorry.
Just like everything else in marketing, VSLs are never a one-size-fits all scenario. That said, we can offer up a few ideas regarding what to test on your video sales page.
Variations Worth Testing:
Pretty vs. Ugly–This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be very surprised at what converts best in your market.
In fact, defying all conventional wisdom, pretty designs are actually NOT the winners in most circumstances. More often than not, “ugly” converts better in a B2C or person-to-person selling environment.
See what we mean by “ugly” design?
HOWEVER, there are a few exceptions. This is why it’s so important to test your designs.
Here are few things to consider:
• Price Point–If you’re marketing higher ticket items (over $1,000), pretty designs typically convert better.
• Target Market–”Pretty” also converts better in markets like B2B and tech, where prospects expect a more professional look.
• Traffic Source–“Ugly” design converts better with cold traffic. The more familiar the prospect, the cleaner and prettier the design needs to be. Otherwise, your prospects may think they’ve seen the offer before (familiarity breeds contempt).
Here’s an example of what we would call a “pretty” video sales page,
with lots of options and supplemental info.
Text vs. No Text–This variable may also surprise you. When you’re driving in cold traffic, a long–form video sales page with lots of text can actually LOWER your conversion rates. Short–form versions actually convert much better.
With warmer traffic, the long–form page won hands–down. Why?
We’re not sure, but our guess is that our warm traffic (previous customers and subscribers) felt restricted by the lack of immediate information, like price. Conversely, cold traffic seemed put off by all the reading.
The answer, of course, is BOTH. It depends on the traffic
source. You never know until you test.
Border vs. No Border–Once again, this is a situation where conventional design principles don’t apply. Strangely enough, the borderless video player outperformed the page with a border most of the time. Why?
For some reason, videos with borders underperform.
Our guess is that the video without a border was just more unusual, and didn’t necessarily appear to be a video at first
glance. Thus, it’s kind of a novelty. This effect may wear out over time, but it’s working pretty well right now.
Instead, go with a background that
blends in with your VSL.
The design elements and architectural features of your video sales letter page are covered in the video below.
6. Sneaky Little Tricks
And now… the part we’ve all been waiting for. Here are a few of the sneaky, devious little tricks that can give your conversions a big boost.
The Magic Buy Button–As we discussed earlier, the three elements of your video sales page are the headline, video, and buy button. HOWEVER, some of our highest–converting VSL have only two of these…
The order button is conspicuously absent on this
page… until just the right time.
That’s because we designed a magical buy button that remains hidden until our VSLs reach the first call-to-action. Then, Shazam! The buy button appears.
When there’s no order button present, prospects perceive the video to be content presentation—not a sales pitch. This causes the viewer to keep an open mind and let their guard down.
Here’s the script plus the instructions for our hidden buy button:
Right above the ‘’
put the following code:
Then, whatever you are trying to hide (stated in the code above),
place between here:
Show Print Salesletter On Exit–This is a trick we picked up from fitness guru Mike Geary, the man behind “The Truth About Abs.”
Whenever a visitor hits the “close” button or the “back” button on his sales page, a warning pop–up appears. In this warning pop-up, he asks the visitor, “Are you sure you want to leave? If you’re LAZY and un-motivated this is NOT for you!”
These warnings can be funny, sarcastic, or whatever you think might work. The important thing is to offer them a chance to read a long-form salesletter by hitting “cancel.”
For whatever reason, this prospect wasn’t interested in the VSL, so maybe they’d like something they could read quietly. Maybe they’d like different payment terms, or a free trial.
You can test all sorts of offers, lead magnets, etc. in this warning pop–up. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Dead Time Redirect–When your VSL ends, most players default to a completely blank screen. What a waste! You might as well fill the space with some video content that periodically urges the viewer to take action.
Here are a few ideas:
• Let the video run an extra minute or two, and then offer a discount or free trial.
• In EZS3 and Easy Video Player, you can redirect idle viewers to a lead magnet or an opt-in page.
• You could even redirect them to the print salesletter.
• OR you could just keep periodically razzing them to take action. Have fun with it!
We actually stole this idea from the US Post Office. Imagine that.
That guy on the right actually bugs you about using Priority Mail!
Ryan shares some valuable tricks that can boost conversions and create an effective video sales letter in the video below.
3 – Conclusion
If you’re looking for a way to send your conversion rates into the stratosphere with a minimal financial investment, this is it. Video salesletters have doubled our conversion rates over long-form salesletters in almost every market we’ve tested.
It doesn’t matter if you’re technically inclined, or almost completely techno-illiterate, you can film and publish a video salesletter. And you should.
The best practices in this report will make it easy to build a compelling video salesletter that converts like magic, right out of the box. That doesn’t mean you won’t have to test and tweak your VSL, but you’ve already got a big head start.
We’ve made all the rookie mistakes for you and, more importantly, we’ve distilled everything that’s working right now. Start working on your VSL right away. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll see conversions spike and affiliate momentum shifting to your offers!
4 – Demos
These demo videos show you exactly how to take your VSL from a PowerPoint to a full-blown Video Salesletter.
Getting Your EZS3 Account
Creating Videos in EZS3
Creating Videos in Easy Video Player
Creating Your Video Salesletter Page
Hidden Buy Button Script
Core Training Resources and Tools