Web Audit for the Rainforest: Is my sales page too long?

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Watch the video summary of our very first Website Audit for the Rainforest (January 2020)

Transcript (lightly edited)

What is a Website Audit for the Rainforest?

Hi, it’s Sabine at From Scratch, and this is our first free-of-charge Web Audit for the Rainforest.

This is a new initiative that we’re launching to support protection of the Australian rainforest. And this is how it works. Organisations, brands, NGOs working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can apply for a free audit of one of their web pages — that’s one URL — in exchange for support for protecting at least one square metre of rainforest through our partnership with B1G1.

About Live More Offline, whose webpage we’re auditing

And the first one to take advantage of this offer was Alessandra from Live More Offline. Live More Offline is a company offering talks, workshops and retreats to help people detach from their digital devices, find a healthy balance in how they use their devices and, as the name says, live more offline. We shouldn’t be addicts or victims of the online world, constantly glued to our screens. And Alessandra’s company helps people with that.

So the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) that she supports with her work is Good Health and Wellbeing. A great one to start with, especially at the beginning of the year.

The page that she asked me to look at is the sales page for her Digital Detox Retreat.

What do you get when you book a Web Audit for the Rainforest?

I’m first going to show you what the audit looks like that I did for Alessandra. Then I’ll talk you through all the different things that I found in a kind of summarising fashion. Finally, I’m going to show you how I’ve rewritten the crucial bits on that page to make it perform better — because after all, this is all about conversion.

What is “conversion copywriting”?

Conversion copywriting is about getting people to take action. It could be about buying something, like booking the retreat, or it could be signing up to the newsletter. Or it could be as simple as adopting a new thought, a new belief, a new idea. All of these are examples of conversion.

In Alessandra’s case, we have the application for more information about the retreat as the action that we want people to take.

Let’s dive in.

This is what Alessandra will see when she clicks on the link: a mirror image of her existing web page with the one difference that we have this line here, this bar at the bottom where you can toggle between browsing mode, which allows you to click any of the links and buttons — or comment mode, which brings up all of these blue bubbles. Each one of them can be clicked.

“Two places remaining”: use scarcity with care

So, for example, this one, number four, if I click that, I get this side bar here where it says “this use of scarcity — two early booking places remaining — may be effective, but it should be used very sparingly.”

That’s just a general comment whenever I see scarcity like this. On the one hand, I know it works. On the other hand, there are some ethical concerns attached to that. So I just want to raise awareness for that fact.

Alessandra will be able to also use this button for all twenty comments to display. So if I go on “back” here, I can work my way through all of them. You can see the exact screenshots that the program took when I left my comment, just in case something changes in between. The comments can be resolved. Alessandra can leave a reply and walk her way through all of these different comments. But I don’t want to distract you with all of these different comments. I just want to walk you through the page.

Most sales pages are not long enough. How about this one — is this sales page too long?

One of the questions that Alessandra had for me is, “isn’t it too much copy?”

Let’s quickly scroll through it.
So this is the very top of the page. Apologies for this logo being a little bit blurry. It usually isn’t. It’s really just when I import the website into this program.

Yes, there is copy. It’s not a short, short page, I would say it’s probably a medium-length page.

But my answer to you, Alessandra, if you’re asking this: “should it be less copy,” is: it should not.

If anything, the page doesn’t have enough copy to really make a convincing sale.

I think a lot of people think that short always equals good. We’ve been trained to believe in concision, in short messages. And while I totally agree that we shouldn’t waste a single word, I think a lot of the copy here would benefit from being expanded a little.

It would benefit from

  • going a bit deeper,
  • showing more empathy with the reader,
  • really pulling out all the detail and
  • talking about the experience in a way that makes every detail of what you’re designing here sparkle.

That way you will really get that emotional resonance with people. People will see themselves already taking their retreat while they’re reading it.

And then at the end of the page, they’ll think, “oh, this was a nice thought experiment. I really want to book this now” — because they’ve already felt everything that they want to feel when they’re actually there.

This is how our brains work. You know, that’s one of the secrets of good storytelling: all of the elements that we pull in from the real world, all of the the feelings: how did it feel in the body? All of the descriptions of nature, for example.

All of that really works in our brains as if we were in that scene, as if we saw the trees, as if we heard the birds, as if it was our stomach rumbling, as if it was our shoulders tightening. All of these things really work in our brains to create that holistic experience.

And so that’s a powerful thing to do on a sales page to really let the person experience the beauty of the retreat you’ve designed for them.

That’s more of a general comment. Let’s have a look at what that means in practice, starting at the very top of the page.

How to make your headlines pull their weight

The first thing I would say is, the headline is a very good description of what this page is about. But it’s also very matter of fact: the headline “Digital Detox Retreat” doesn’t really sell the experience to me.

Because it’s not about me. It’s not about my goals that I want to achieve with a retreat like this.

It’s not about the pain that I’m experiencing at the moment. It doesn’t really relate to me and my life as the person that you want to book on your retreat. It’s fine to use “digital detox retreat” in your headline or even as eyebrow copy above your headline, or as a subhead underneath your headline.

But do choose a headline that is really evocative and makes me want to read the entire rest of the page.

This comment applies to a lot of the copy decisions Alessandra made in putting this together: it’s often very matter-of-fact, very rational. 

How people make purchase decisions

But we need to remember that when people make a buying decision, it’s not a decision they make with their heads. As Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman explains, they may say they make their decisions rationally, but they never do.

Decisions are always made emotionally and then backed up rationally. So you need to talk to both their hearts and minds, get them through all the sensory details, through all of the evocative language, through tapping into their experience of their everyday life.

That’s how you create that emotional bond.

And then give them the facts that they need for their rational mind to also feel satisfied that there are facts to back up why this is such a good choice for them.

Structuring a sales page with PAS or DAS

Right. Moving on, we have one little sentence here, starting to build a little bit of a burning platform, tapping into the pain of the person who this is perfect for. I think it’s not quite enough. You should really dive a bit more into the pain of the person who you want to book this.

So take a couple of paragraphs, if you will, or at least three to five sentences. Think of the pattern that we often use in copywriting, which is called PAS: pain, agitation, solution.

So before you offer your retreat, which is the solution, you first want to really show them that you know exactly what their pain is, or their problem. And how do you show them that you really understand it? Well, by poking around in the wound a little bit (ethically).

By showing them: what does this mean in practice, if I’m constantly connected to email, digital and social media, and it takes its toll on my well-being?

What does that mean in practice? Does it mean that I spend dinner looking at my phone, and my significant other keeps complaining about my lack of attention?

Does it mean that I forget important things because I’m just not listening? Because I’m actually checking Instagram?

What does it look like, and how does it feel? Really dive into that. 

Allow yourself a little bit of play with that before you offer your retreat.

Sometimes, I know, this feels heavy and it feels unfair as well, you know, making it feel even worse than it already does. If that’s you, then maybe just flip it. Don’t talk so much about the pain. Talk about the desire instead — use DAS.

Start your whole page with a “what if” sentence. If you are uncomfortable with “what if”, you may want to just write it at the top, then write all of your copy and then see if you can rephrase it at the end.

But it’s a really useful tool in imagining: what do they actually want? What’s the desire that drives the purchase? So allow yourself either some space for exploration of pain or exploration of desire before you offer your retreat.

How to use evocative imagery in your retreat sales page

The other thing I just want to say about the header is you’ve got beautiful images here. Some of them are a bit low resolution. I would recommend not using a sliding gallery like this because it doesn’t allow me to dive into the image and really experience the beauty of what you’re showing me here.

I would recommend just having individual images. Either after this header or as part of the header, maybe even as a background picture behind your main headline or just peppering them throughout the page — but having them really big and in line with the text, not as little bits that that displace some of the text and make the reading experience a little bit awkward.

Because my eyes have to do this meandering thing now.

All your text should be aligned to the left of the page except for the headlines, because they can be centred to attract a bit more attention and structure the page.

How to use a “Find out more” button in your hero section

I wasn’t sure about the “find out more” button. When I click it, it makes me skip a lot of information and takes me straight to the cost.

That means there’s no opportunity for me to take in what’s so great about the retreat. I have a little bit of information and then immediately, bang, there’s a cost. That’s not necessarily a smooth sales argument.

So I would recommend leaving off the button and just removing it.

Or if you want to keep it, because people like to have a button in the hero section, then have a picture underneath the “find out more button” and just skip — not until the very end of the page, but just until the next paragraph. Just skip one picture.

Then you can see how many people want to find out more in your analytics. And it won’t break the experience. They will still get all of the information.

What to do if you’re worried that your sales page might be too long

If you’re worried about having too much copy on your sales page, just remember this one thing.

If you structure the copy really well with good headlines, with subheadings, with some of the text being bold to pull out what it’s about, people are clever. They will skim the text, they will skip sections, they will find what they’re really interested in.

They will be able to scroll to the bottom of the page and take action.

If they’re already fully sold on the idea, you’re not really going to lose a lot of people just because your page is too long.

If it’s structured appropriately, if it doesn’t look like hard work and if — main thing — it’s written so it’s fun to read. You want people to feel this is pleasurable and not hard work.

That’s really the key to writing a good long page: thinking about how you can make this a pleasure to read.

Instead of worrying about the length of your page, start worrying about the length of your paragraphs

Part of that is breaking up text like this.

This is a big chunky paragraph that’s very difficult to read because the lines are very close to each other. The sentences are quite long, the paragraphs are quite long.

You’ve got five lines here. I would recommend trying to stick to maybe two or three lines at most. It’s totally fine online to just have one line of text and then a line break and a new paragraph.

Totally fine.

Why?

We have more difficulty reading long bits of text on screen, so it has to be broken up into smaller bits for the eye to be able to stick to the line of text.

Another thing that’s useful is increasing the line spacing.

I think this is just a singular line spacing, but if you make it 1.5 or ideally 1.8 or even twice the size of your current spacing, then it’s much easier for the eye to follow the line of text and to read it comfortably.

Please don’t underline any text on a website that isn’t clickable because it’s just a convention. For thirty years, anything that’s been underlined on websites was always a link. So this was getting me there for a moment because I thought I could click this.

Use fascinations to make your copy sparkle

Fascinations are bullet point lists that are really designed to make something stand out, to add a little bit of sparkle and curiosity to what you have to offer.

So I rewrote those on Alessandra’s page. Let’s have a look at them.

I think we should start with the headline. We already know it’s a retreat. But how can we make this a little bit more tangible?

“Five days with the power to transform your digital habits.”

Now I learn it’s five days. The word “power” is a really powerful word. “Transform” is a really powerful word. Use words that are evocative in this way to add a little bit of oomph to your headlines.

Yeah, and then the original has this bit here: “in this retreat, you will work with digital wellbeing coach Alex”.

“Work” sounds a bit like… work.

Is that really necessary? Or can we make this a little bit more practical, a little bit more inviting?

Here’s how I rewrote it: “learn” — using an imperative form, almost like a call to action —

“Learn how the way we use digital technology can impact every aspect of our lives, from our time, ability to focus, sense of purpose and connection to the quality of our sleep and relationships.”

This is very much like what Alessandra already had there, just tightened up a little bit.

And then the copy says what the retreat includes. But we can make this more focused on the person reading this by using another imperative, namely:

“Look forward to an exciting digital wellbeing programme that will inspire you with knowledge and tools including…”

And then you have these bullet points here. They could really use a little bit of extra secret sauce. So, for example, starting right away with something secret:

“The secret design techniques used by tech companies to make apps and devices more addictive.”

Alessandra had this as the second point. But the first point and the last point should always be particularly compelling. That way you’re more likely to make the sale.

So that’s why I chose this as the first one. First of all, because you’ve got something secret and because this is about this addictiveness, it’s also telling people: “it’s not my fault. I can actually forgive myself for this.”

Here are the other fascinations I wrote:

“How to make sure the time you spend with digital tech truly supports your goals and intentions.”

“Proven tips and strategies to help you reclaim your time and attention”

“The key to breaking unwanted habits. (This also works with habits in the offline world.)” — Just adding these little bits that make it transferable. “Proven tips and strategies” is a really good one to reuse from time to time. You can make things bold or colourful in here just to draw the eye to one of them.

“How mindfulness is a key to changing our digital habits.”

Then one about family life: “How to convince your kids that there’s more to life than YouTube and games.”

“Why we pay more attention to our gadgets than to each other.”

“The exact way to reduce that permanent feeling of being on call 24/7.” — You’ll see how I expanded a lot of the things that were already inside your copy to just make it a little bit more tangible, a bit more everyday life.

“How to find out whether you whether you or someone you love may be addicted to your phone.” — I don’t know if that’s actually part of the programme, but I just thought it might be an interesting one.

“How to endure the feeling of not having easy access to digital devices for an hour a day or even all of the five days we spend together.”

How to elegantly tell your personal story on your sales page

This is the final one in the series for a simple reason: you can then lead into speaking of life without access to digital tech. Now, Alessandra can elegantly tell her story of her walking the Camino del Santiago.

(That’s what Alessandra actually did before she had the idea for Live More Offline: she did that walk. She spent a lot of time without easy access to digital tech.)

I think that story brought in at this point can really help set up this feeling of: “She’s done it, she’s going to be my coach. I want to learn how she did it, what she learnt from this.”

And also, it’s going to help people to get to know the person guiding them through the experience. Plus, it’s a natural flow to why you’re in a remote countryside setting:

Why is this even in Spain? Of course, the Camino del Santiago is also in Spain. So this is a nice way of bringing that personal story and features of the offer together into a compelling whole.

Just a few more comments.

How to present the daily schedule for your retreat on your sales page

I think it would be great to have a more expansive schedule.

We have a sample daily schedule here, but there’s always a “digital wellness session” here, which is kind of cloudy. There’s not a lot of information about what that might entail.

If you already know the themes for the different days, I would recommend putting the entire schedule there, saying, “OK, Tuesday is the first day, and the theme is ‘our relationship with our phone’. On Wednesday, the theme is family life.”

Then people can really see how every day applies to them. They will read this and think, “I want to know this, I want to know that. I’m curious about this topic.”

And that will really help them feel like this is worth taking time off for. This is worth paying money for. And taking the risk. Because, of course, they’ve never met you. You’re offering this retreat. At the moment, it’s kind of cloudy and kind of fuzzy as to what’s exactly included.

But if you really expand it, there’s no perceived risk anymore because they feel they know everything they could possibly know about why this is beneficial for them.

What call to action is best on a sales page for a 12-person retreat?

Another question Alessandra had for me was:

Is it fine to ask people to get in touch about the retreat, or should she offer them a booking page?

At the moment there is a booking page, but people only get access once they’ve gotten in touch with Alessandra.

I think it’s perfectly fine to do it like this. The only thing I would recommend is not to have “next steps” here, but to make it a call to action and say “apply for your spot on this retreat”.

Tell people that you want to hand select the right group of twelve people, max.

You want to make sure people will get on with each other and that it’s a well-balanced group. That’s why you want people to get in touch first.

You’ll be able to share all the information in a personal conversation on the phone, in real life, via Zoom or Skype, or however you want to do it.

This has two benefits.

  1. It allows you to find out what what questions people have and then add a little bit at the bottom with FAQs. And then you can offer them another button to apply, which is really useful in setting up the sale and closing it.
  2. The other thing is that it gives it the flair of exclusivity. And with twelve people, it is a really exclusive event. And a lot of the success of that retreat will depend on whether people are the right mix of people. So I think it’s completely fine to ask people to apply and go through a little bit of a conversation with you.

You can then answer any open questions they have. You can counter objections. If they have any objections, you can help them work through whatever’s holding them back and really build that personal relationship before they sign on for the course. Because five days, it’s a long time if you’re with the wrong people.

Apply for your own Website Audit for the Rainforest

So, yeah, that’s my audit of Alessandra’s retreat page. If you’d like your own Website Audit for the Rainforest, you can apply here.

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