The first sentence of an internet salesletter is like a hook. It must grab reader's attention and lead them into reading entire letter.
According to copywriter Joseph Sugarman, purpose of first sentence of a salesletter is to get reader to read next sentence. And second sentence? To get reader to read third sentence. This becomes even more crucial on internet than in print, since attention spans are very short online.
There are certain types of letter openings that prove very effective in pulling prospect into rest of copy. We'll briefly look at ten most effective ways.
1. Tell a Story
Stories have been used for ages to relate lessons. From bedtime stories to greatest philosophers, we all love a good story.
A story creates empathy with reader and helps to draw him into sales pitch. This works best if story identifies with problem that prospect is now experiencing for which you've found solution. Some of most effective direct mail pieces used this technique.
2. State offer upfront
If your product or service is well known to your audience and doesn't need any special introduction, then you can just state offer right away. This serves best if your offer is a very attractive one. In this case real appeal is in offer itself.
A common example is if you have a free offer or deep discount on products your target audience is already interested in. Your entire salesletter can then be based on offer and not on product features or benefits.
3. Use a startling quote or statistic
This type of opening is really intended to get reader to sit up and pay attention. It should be 'newsy' and have some 'shock value'. It should raise a question in prospect's mind and build some curiosity to read rest of letter.
4. Make an announcement
This will work best if you have a new product that you are introducing to market. This should sound like a press release. In other words, there should be little 'hype' and more factual type statements emphasizing what's new about this product.
5. Ask a question
Questions are very effective in pulling reader into your salesletter. This is especially true when answers to questions are very important to reader. These questions also force prospect to think and get involved with your copy. The questions remain unresolved until you answer them in copy. Questions also make letter sound conversational and more personal.
6. Write to reader as a colleague
If your target audience consists of a narrow special interest group then you can address reader as such. You may address reader as "Business Owner", or "Webmaster". Right away this qualifies prospect and saves them having to read further to know if letter is of interest to them. It also serves another purpose: to make reader feel as part of a special group-a type of flattery.