How to Increase Sales Letter Conversions
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How to Increase Sales Letter Conversions (Without changing a single word)

Here’s the problem…
There are two types of readers that will encounter your landing page copy:  the true reader, who will read most of what you write (this guy’s a rarity), and the skimmer, who will breeze over your copy stopping to read only what grabs his attention.
The rule of thumb is that BOTH of these types of readers must be addressed.
This simple copywriters trick will move readers through your copy… making it easier to consume.  AND, more importantly it will sell the person that is skimming and scanning your copy.
Smart marketers address both types of reader using something called the dual readership path — a style of writing that takes into account both the true reader and the skimmer…
but most get it wrong.
The truth is that ALL of us are skimmers.  We all scan pages to see what matters to us.
People don’t read every word unless they are motivated to do so by the copy you’ve chosen to cosmetically enhance.
That’s why cosmetic enhancements (formatting) are so important – because we’re all really skimmers.

Here’s How Skimmers Are Reading Your Page

  • They focus on what hits them over the head.
  • They focus on what’s EASY for their eyeballs to see.
  • They do not focus on what’s buried in plain text.

And perhaps what’s even more important (especially if you think you already know how to execute the dual readership path but are making the same mistake most people do), skimmers do not read words or phrases that look visually the same as all the other words or phrases on the page.
In other words, if you cosmetically enhance important stuff, you can’t also cosmetically enhance non-essential copy right next to it or ALL is lost on the skimmer.
Skimmers focus on:

  • Bolding
  • Underlining
  • Color
  • Font Size
  • Capitalization
  • Italics
  • Bullets/Numbered Lists
  • Boxes/Circles
  • Shading/Background Color

Your copy will be skimmed… plan for it.
Here’s what I mean — most marketers think their reader sees the landing page on the left… they’re wrong.
What Skimmers See on a Web Page
But cosmetic enhancement is ineffective if the RIGHT words aren’t enhanced.

How do you know which words to enhance?

It’s all about phrasing.
Let’s take a look at this example of the dual readership path gone wrong:
Example of Dual Readership Path Done Wrong
I love this example because it shows you that just one false move can ruin your attempts at getting attention.
Overall, they’ve made some wise choices.  But take a look at just the first paragraph:
Example of Double Readership Path Done Poorly
If you just skim and don’t read anything that’s in plain text, this is the info you gather …

  • Maximum Purchase Price Calculator
  • Buying
  • Holding
  • Selling
  • Repair costs
  • Maximize Profits
  • Minimize Risks

What?  That doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Here’s the deal —  when done properly, the dual readership path will enhance words and phrases that convey… the point, the benefits, and the offer to elicit a response from the skimmer. 
The example above may not seem like its that bad.  But less is more.  There’s so much bolding going on in that first paragraph that the eye gets overwhelmed and tunes out… and that’s the opposite of what you want.
You want skimmers to get excited enough about what you’ve chosen to enhance to start reading every word on the page.
Here’s another example (that actually hurts my eyes):
Example of Writing For Skimmers and Scanners
Once again, imagine that you read ONLY the text that’s cosmetically enhanced and nothing that’s plain.  Here’s what you’d gather:

  • We Buy Houses
  • Professional Image
  • Best Brand
  • Real Estate Investing
  • You
  • Rise Above The Competition
  • Have You Seen Signs That Declare “We Buy Houses”?
  • We Buy Houses
  • You
  • We Buy Houses
  • Big Fish
  • We Buy Houses
  • We Buy Houses
  • We Buy Houses
  • We Buy Houses
  • We Buy Houses

What?  Do you understand the offer?  Do you understand the benefits?  Are you compelled to read more?  Are you compelled to buy?
I think not.

So… let’s talk about how to do this right

Remember your goal is to convey the point (of the page), the benefits, and the offer.
Here’s a really simple example of a well-executed dual readership path.  See how the point, the benefits, and the offer are made clear to the reader?
Double Readership Path Done Correctly
This is bolding that makes sense.  And we gather the pertinent info to make an informed choice about whether or not we’re interested …
Why Get This Book Now?
#1- It’s FREE
#2 – It’s a Best Seller
#3 – It’s a  MUST READ for all Real Estate Investors
Here’s another example from  The graphics on this page lend professionalism to the overall appearance, but the same principles are used.  Your eyes are drawn to the read the big important points and benefits.
Writing for Skimmers and Scanners
And just to make sure you’re really getting the lesson here, I’ve reformatted some of that We Buy Houses nonsense from above.
Using Bold, Italics To Highlight Text
Ahhhhh… much better.  Now my skimmers can see the point, offer and benefits.

Now here’s the real test to see if you’ve got this concept down…

Try this 3-step process — it won’t take more than 15 minutes… I promise:
Step 1 – Copy and paste your landing page/sales page copy into a Word doc, make it all plain and unformatted.
Step 2 – Highlight, bold, underline and otherwise enhance ONLY those words and phrases that convey the point, the benefits, and the offer.
Step 3 – Delete the rest of the text.
Will the text that’s left on the page get the job done?
If not, go back to the drawing board and enhance what you MUST convey to the reader.
Don’t be afraid to enhance entire phrases if that’s what’s necessary.  Often times, highlighting or bolding single words is a recipe for over stimulating readers with visual noise.
Make sure your cosmetics are purposeful and you’ll engage many more readers and sell a lot more.
So, what do YOU think?  Write me a comment below let’s talk about it. 🙂

Julie Boswell

Julie Boswell

Julie operates a copywriting and consulting business she cofounded,, a company dedicated to providing a second set of eyes for business owners.  Their focus is on teaching the fundamentals of direct response copywriting, reviewing and providing feedback for improvement, as well as providing done-for-you copywriting services.

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