The Definitive Guide to Copywriting by Neil Patel & Joseph Putnam

The Definitive Guide to Copywriting

Chapter Seven

How to Close the Deal with Your Copy

Advertising is salesmanship mass produced. No one would bother to use advertising if he could talk to all his prospects face-to-face. But he can’t.
Morris Hite

We’ve spent the last six chapters discussing important principles for copywriting to teach you how to write copy for your blog or business. This brings us to a very important question.

How do you close the deal with your copy?

This question is important because you can end up writing excellent copy that gets your customers attention, draws them in, and then pulls them down a slippery slope to the end of your copy, but if you don’t know how to close the deal, all of your hard work will be to no avail.

In sales terms this is known as asking for the sale. Every salesman worth his salt knows that at some point you have to ask the customer to buy what you’re selling. If you talk too much, you can talk yourself out of a sale, and if you don’t ask customers whether or not they’re ready to buy, they may never decide to make a purchase.

An important step in any sales transaction is getting to the point where you ask for the sale. It can be as simple as saying something like, “Which option would you like to go with for your first purchase?” or “How many would you like to order today?”

This takes place in a regular, face-to-face sales transaction and is known as asking for the sale. When it comes to copy, there’s something similar — a call to action.

The Ever Popular Call to Action

A call to action is very similar to asking for the sale but in print form. You’ve also likely seen it in one of many ways.

On a sales letter, you may have read a line like, “Order your copies today!” On a website, you may have read, “Start Your Free Trial Now!”

Both of these are examples of calls to action. So what are they?

A call to action is a simple command that directs customers to take some sort of action, whether it be to buy, sign up, or start a free trial. At this point, however, you may be asking another question: “Why are they needed?”

The reason they’re needed is that they’ve been proven as the best way to compel prospects to take action. Even though they may seem direct or potentially smarmy, simple, direct, and clear calls to action are proven to be the most effective way to get your customers to act.

The orange “SELECT A HOSTING PLAN” button is an example of a website call-to-action button.

Another option would be to ask customers to take action. You can say something like, “Would you like to sign up now?” or “Are you ready to sign up for our service?” Both are valid ways to ask for a sale, but neither are as effective as a direct command when it comes to copy.

Whatever the reason, it’s been proven that calls to action are the most effective way to get customers to take the next step in print and online copy, and it’s something we’ll practice in an exercise at the end of this chapter.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

In addition to using a clear call to action, you also want to create a sense of urgency with your copy.

Often, customers are close to making a purchase, but they’re not quite ready to hand over their money. They’re nearly convinced, but they’re not quite ready to buy.

One technique used by marketers the world over is to create a sense of urgency which compels prospects to take action. Some simple ways to do this are by using copy like “buy now” or “order today.”

Both of these short phrases use either “now” or “today” to create a sense of urgency. They’re both subtle, but they help to compel customers to take action.

Another strategy is to find a way to provide a real reason why customer’s shouldn’t wait to take action. These reasons include limited quantities and limited time offers.

Have you noticed how clothing stores always have sales during holidays? They advertise with copy like this:

Macy’s Labor Day Sale: Get up to 50% off this weekend only!

Providing limited time offers is one way to create a feeling of urgency.

Another way is by selling limited quantities, either because the quantities are in fact limited or because you restrict quantities on purpose (although you should never lie about limited quantities to increase demand because that would be unethical). Copy examples include:

  • Get 50% off while supplies last!
  • Limited quantities available! Buy now!
  • Limited edition dinnerware. Only 1000 sets ever made!
  • Free popcorn for the first 100 customers!
  • Limited-time offer! Buy now!

Noah Kagan creates a sense of urgency for his course “How to Make Your First Dollar” by advertising a limited number of available spaces.

All of these examples reveal ways to communicate limited quantities or availability in order to compel customers to take action, and if your product or service is in fact limited in some way, it’s an excellent way to push some customers over the fence who may already be sold but may need a little extra prodding to immediately take action.

Make a Compelling Offer

Another important part of the copywriting process is making a compelling offer. Not only do you need to write persuasive copy that effectively presents your product and clearly communicates the benefits of using it, but you also need to create the most compelling offer possible.

For example, if you’re selling alarm systems for homes, you can advertise your service with copy like this:

This copy is pretty good, but it could be even better. Can you tell how? Yes, it’s by sweetening the deal and making an offer your customers can’t refuse. Here’s some add-on copy that does the trick:

Do you notice a difference? Free installation was added to make the offer more compelling. It’s a tactic companies use frequently with copy such as:

  • Order today and get free shipping.
  • Free shipping on orders over $50.
  • Free installation included with all premium packages.
  • Purchase a TV + internet bundle today and receive a $300 gift card.
  • Order now and get a free carrot peeler valued at $19.95.

All of these copy examples provide something to make the offer more compelling. Potential deal sweeteners include bonus materials, free shipping, free installation, and much, much more.

The question when it comes to your copy is this: How can you make the offer more compelling? What can you do to make what you’re selling more attractive to your customers? Can you include bonus features or free shipping? What about a risk-free 30 or 60 day trial? Is there anything you can do to make your offer more compelling? If yes, make a note of it because we’re going to use it in the exercise at the end of the chapter.

Don't Forget a Guarantee

Another copywriting staple is the tried and true guarantee. Thousands of companies provide guarantees for their products.

But they’re kind of interesting when you stop and think about it.

Nearly every product has a guarantee or warranty. You commonly see copy like this:

  • Try risk-free for 30 days.
  • If you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll give your money back. No questions asked.
  • 1 year limited warranty.
  • Return within 90 days for a full refund.

All of these options make the purchase seem less risky. They also instill more confidence in the product. If a company’s willing to guarantee it for 5 or 10 years, it must be pretty good. And if they’re willing to give your money back in 90 days if you’re not completely satisfied, then there’s no risk to making the purchase.

But how often do customers take advantage of these warranties or guarantees? Not very often.

Here’s an example from right here at QuickSprout:

Over a period of two years, Neil tested the effectiveness of a free trial versus a money back guarantee for the QuickSprout Traffic System priced at $197.
Here’s what he found:

A 30-day money back guarantee increased sales by 21% and only 12% of people asked for their money back. With a hypothetical number of 100 traffic systems sold per month, the monthly revenue would be $19,700 per month without the guarantee and $23,837 per month with the guarantee but before refunds. After needing to give money back to the 12% of customers who asked for it, revenues would go down to $20,976. This lead to a final revenue increase increase of 24%.

What about free trials? What impact do they have?

The difference was quite drastic. Nearly twice as many people signed up for a 7-day free trial that required a credit card up front than for a money back guarantee. If the money back guarantee generated 100 sign ups, the 7-day free trial would generate 200. That’s significant on the front-end conversions, but what about the back end?

Interestingly, the 7-day free trial led to more cancellations. The guarantee had 12% of people ask for their money back, but the free trial offer had 33% of people cancel their order. That means that out of 200 initial sign ups, only 132 remained.

Combined with that, of the remaining 132 people, only 79% had cards that were successfully charged, meaning 29 cards were declined. Yet in the end, even with the cancellations and the declined cards, the 7-day free trial increased revenue by 15% over the money back guarantee alone.

So now what about when both were offered together?

When a 7-day free trial was offered along with a 30-day money back guarantee, the front end conversions stayed the same, and nobody asked for their money back, meaning a 7-day free trial with and without the guarantee generated the same results.

To give you a better idea of the final tally, here’s a list of results for each offer:

  • $19,700 per month for the initial free offer with no free trial and no money back guarantee.
  • $20,976 in revenue when a 30-day money back guarantee was added.
  • $24,428 in revenue when a 7-day free trial was included.
  • $24,428 in revenue when the free trial was included with a money back guarantee.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking: “Wouldn’t it be best to just offer a free trial with no money-back guarantee since revenues stayed the same both times?” In some ways yes, but in other ways no.

The money-back guarantee did increase revenues by 24% over the offer without a guarantee or a free trial. So compared to the original offer, the money-back guarantee offer performed significantly better.

So in this specific example on QuickSprout, the free trial offer performed just as well as the free trial offer that included the money back guarantee which means in that sense the money back guarantee was not needed, but in other cases, this may not hold true. It’s possible that with your product or service a free trial isn’t applicable and a money back guarantee would help to increase sales. In the end testing is the only way to know and universal conclusions shouldn’t be drawn from the test with this one product.

So as mentioned before, you may be wondering what happens if too many people ask for their money back. A lot of companies worry about this, and it’s something to take into consideration. It’s possible that a money back guarantee can lead to a decrease in revenue if a high percentage of people do ask for their money back.

But more often than not, this isn’t the case. As with Neil’s example on QuickSprout, money back guarantees nearly always increase revenue. Only a small percentage of people ask for their money back in most cases. It’s worth testing to make sure this is true for your business, but you shouldn’t be afraid to test since guarantees are used for a reason and that’s because they work to increase revenue for most businesses. At the very least, it’s worth trying it out with your product.

Bringing It All Together

In this chapter, we covered four important ways to close the deal with your copy. We’ve shown you how to increase your sales by:

  • Using a call to action
  • Creating a sense of urgency
  • Making a compelling offer
  • Providing a guarantee

These are four key steps for driving the point home with your copy and closing the deal. Make sure to commit the four tips in this chapter to your memory.

Practice Exercise

Now that we’ve covered so many points related to writing persuasive copy that sells from chapter one to this one, let’s take some time to write our first practice copy. (It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!)

To begin, create a new document titled, “Copy: Draft One.”

Once that’s open, we need to pick a headline. For the sample project we’ll use the last one we came up with since it’s one of the more risky options and bigger risks lead to bigger rewards. Here’s the headline we’ll use: Turn Your Website into an Online Selling Machine. (We changed “Sales” to “Selling” after deliberating a bit more and deciding that “Selling” seems more appealing.)

Next, let’s open up all of the documents we’ve taken notes in. That includes:

  • Product Description — YOUR PRODUCT NAME
  • Customer Research — YOUR PRODUCT NAME
  • Survey Responses — YOUR PRODUCT NAME
  • Copywriting — YOUR PRODUCT NAME

Now, let’s write some copy! (And don’t forget to refer back to your notes and use everything we’ve learned up to this point. You can strikethrough a note or section once you’ve used it in your copy so you know which benefits, features, or tactic you haven’t used yet)

Here’s the example copy from our sample project:

Turn Your Website into an Online Selling Machine

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[Button: Yes, Let’s Turn My Website into an Online Selling Machine]