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How To Know Your Sales Page Will Bomb

Copywriters battle with a cold, venomous fear with almost every piece they write:

Will it bomb?

Will it be a waste of time and money, and, simultaneously, a deep, jagged insult upon their professional skills?

A sales page is not like an article. It can’t just be an expression of your thoughts or knowledge.

It has to perform.

And what if it doesn’t?

I’m afraid you’ll never know for sure whether or not your copywriting will work. Even the best in the industry say they must test everything they produce, because there is no way to know beforehand. You cannot optimize without data, and data means potential failure.

You can’t know what will succeed.


You can know what will fail…

…most of the time.

Are you writing for your reader, or for yourself?

People — don’t — care — about — you.

And they don’t care what you want to push on them.

They only care about themselves, their family, and whatever already matters to them.

Every single sentence of sales-copy must be relevant to the one who reads it.

Read that last sentence again.

And again.

It’s a very easy thing to forget as you write. And if you do, it could turn your sales page into a catastrophe.

Are you describing what your thing does, or what they will get out of it?

They don’t care what you product or service does. They only care what they will get out of what it does.

You can talk about what it does, but only from angle of the benefit they’ll get from it.

Every single little feature could be turned into a little headline within the ad or sales page. In fact, this is a known technique. List out everything noteworthy about the product, but only from the point of view of the benefit to the reader.

Do you know your audience’s awareness level?

There are five levels of awareness in markets.

  1. The customer knows your product, what it does, and that he wants it.
  2. The prospect knows his problem and that it can be solved by products like yours, but isn’t convinced that yours is the right choice.
  3. The prospect knows that he wants what the product does, and that it’s possible for a product to do it, but he doesn’t yet know of any that do.
  4. The prospect recognises a need, but does not yet recognise that any product could fulfil it.
  5. The prospect is unaware or unwilling to admit his desire or need (without being lead to do so by your copywriting). This, of course, is the most difficult level of awareness to deal with — but the potential upsides are the highest (because you could open up a previously untapped market with no competition).

Do you have a hook?

The narrower the point of a spear, the more likely it will penetrate armour.

You must choose one primary appeal to lead with, because that will be in the headline. It will also inform how you write the rest of the ad.

If you have simply started writing about all the ways you think you product is good, with a headline that confers no specific benefit, you’ve probably written a failure.

Do you have a list of appeals?

Although you want one winning appeal to pull the largest possible number of your target audience through the headline, that doesn’t mean you abandon the other appeals.

Far from it. You want to mention them all!

Your main hook has compelled someone to read, but it might take reading a few other appeals that “land” to compel her to buy.

Reading a few appeals that don’t fully resonate with you will not have a big negative effect. They won’t negate the effect of reading one that lands. So don’t be shy. Cram your copy with appeals.

Have you studied examples of copywriting from the best writers in the industry?

I typically spend an hour a day studying examples of the highest-performing copywriting in history. It’s a long time, because this is my job.

If you’re not a “copywriter”, and you can’t afford one, you can still learn a lot more than most other people out there by scribbling all over printouts of old copywriting swipe files. and are the best sources I’ve found.

As you make notes and circle things, try to read between the lines. Try to figure out why they phrased something the way they did, rather than simply looking at the words they used. There’s no telling how much it will help you to do this with a few old ads.

Minimising Failure

Test your copy on a small group of people before pushing it out to everyone.

Tim Ferriss tested the name of his first book (The Four Hour Work Week) by generating a long list of potential names, and then running Google ads with those names as the headline.

I believe those ads took people to a landing page where they could sign up to a waiting list for the book. He built an email list at the same time as finding a highly compelling name for his book.

If you are unsure about your copy, and you really need to know whether or not it will work, I’m afraid there is no way to know without simply seeing if it will work. So, send it to a small sub-set of your audience, and see how it goes there. Choose a number of people small enough so that you won’t be badly hurt if it flops, but large enough that you get statistical significance.

Define a “fail threshold”, so that if it bombs, it won’t take down your empire with it.

This tip is more for the business owner than the copywriter.

In the book, What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars, I learned a powerful mindset…

Define failure.

It’s sounds pessimistic. In truth, it’s anything but.

Apparently, this is what all long-term successful stock brokers and investors do. They know when they are going to pull out. If a stock tanks, they’re not going to keep on pouring money into it in the hope that things will turn around. They’ll turn their back on it the moment it hits their failure threshold.

Thanks to this method they can take risks…safely.

The great thing about a failure threshold is it puts power in your hands. You get to decide how much you can afford to lose on this venture, campaign, project, or business. And if you look at the cost of failure and it’s high enough to freak you out (and you cannot lower it) then don’t go ahead with the plan.

It might sound like a hyper conservative, playing-it-too-safe sort of attitude, but it’s not.

It turns out, most of the people who look like massive risk-takers only take risks that they can easily bear. For this reason, they can take profitable risks constantly, and never face a catastrophe.

My last big project, the Fearless Human Connection Blueprint, had me concerned. I had to sell something that was hard to pin down, yet deeply important. I really didn’t want to fail, and with copywriting, you can never know for sure.

So I simply put my trust in the process, and — thank God — the sales pages I produced did not bomb. I may write more about that project soon.

If you want more advice, tips, and sage-like wisdom about copywriting, join my mailing list.