You’ve heard me talk about how important an effective, authentic sales page is. But have you ever wondered what, exactly counts as a sales page?
Someone asked me that question in a recent webinar – so in this post, I want to talk about my answer, and why the definition matters so much.
If the answer to this question – a page from which people can buy something – seems obvious, bear with me.
There’s no one true definition of a sales page (any more than there’s one true definition of any word – even the dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive!) Different people define the term differently.
For example, one person on the webinar I mentioned above asked whether ALL web pages could be considered as sales pages. And the answer, in short, is yes. You could, if you wanted to, define a sales page as “any page on the web”. But doing so isn’t really that helpful: it makes the term somewhat useless.
And “any page people can buy something from” isn’t actually that much better. Why? Because people can sometimes buy stuff from pages that aren’t sales pages. And I’d argue that there are some sales pages where people can’t buy anything too.
So let’s explore examples of those situations, and we’ll get to my definition (and why it’s important) as we go.
If you think you can only buy online through a sales page, think again.
Firstly, many commercial websites include an ecommerce shop that lists multiple products. Often the only information you’ll have about each product is its name, price and maybe a photo. However, if there’s a “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button next to the listing, you can purchase the product directly from that page.
These pages are like interactive product catalogues, and most people would agree that they don’t count as sales pages.
Secondly, smaller businesses and solopreneurs sometimes showcase specific offers on their homepage or blog – again with a “Buy Now” button. However, you can take several other actions on the page, and offer descriptions are likely to be short or non-existent. And again, this usually doesn’t count as a sales page.
So what it is it that makes these two examples “clearly not sales pages”? Your mileage may vary, but my answer would be:
If you think someone needs to be able to buy something for a page to count as a “sales page”, you might be defining the term too narrowly.
For example, think of an opt-in signup page. You’re probably familiar with the idea of an opt-in gift. You might even offer one yourself. In many ways, your detailed sign-up page can be considered a sales page.
After all, it needs to do everything a sales page does: explain who the opt-in’s for, why your reader would want it, how it will help them, and what to do if they want it. The only difference is that no money changes hands for the reader to get your gift.
Or what about a donation page? A web page from a non-profit like the Red Cross or Médecins sans Frontières soliciting donations to help with their work needs to do the same kinds of things. It has to explain why those efforts are needed, show the results they’re achieving, help the reader to understand how their donation makes a difference, and then tell them what to do if they want to help.
Money’s changing hands here, but the reader isn’t “buying” anything.
And how about an online petition page? Again, to get someone to sign their petition, the page owner needs cover off similar points. They need to explain why the petition is needed, show the benefits of whatever outcome they’re petitioning for, and tell the reader what to do if they want that outcome.
In this case, no money changes hands, and the reader isn’t getting anything tangible from doing as the web page asks… There are still similarities though – the page still “sells” the petition’s intended outcome.
Each of these situations involves a sales page. Why? Because unlike the online catalogue or homepage examples:
Wondering why I’m so hung up on how to define a sales page? It’s not because I’m a word-nerd, I promise. (Well, OK, it’s not JUST because I’m a word-nerd!) Instead, it’s because there are certain elements that need to be present in a sales page for it to be effective.
If you try to jam those elements into a non-sales page that people just happen to be able to buy from, it won’t work. You’ll probably just confuse and frustrate yourself.
Meanwhile, if you have an opt-in page (or a petition or fundraising page) that you don’t think of as a sales page, you might ignore the need for those elements altogether. Result? You probably won’t get many people taking the action you want them to.
Want to find out what those elements are and how to incorporate them into your web page copy?
A quick, affordable 30-min “Get My Sales Page Working” review consult can help.
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