If you want to generate more leads at a fraction of the cost, increase your conversion rates, and grow your bottom line, the video sales letter, or VSL, can be a powerful tool to add to your marketing arsenal.
Video tends to be more engaging than text and is fast becoming the preferred medium for consumers to get info on a product before they are ready to buy.
That’s why Foundr brought copywriting and VSL-creating expert, Arman Assadi, into the studio to share his best tips for creating an effective video sales letter.
As the co-founder and CEO of Project EVO, he’s uncovered what works by testing his VSLs in the real world. And the man knows how to get world-class results.
In fact, he holds the world record for the most successful crowdfunded planner of all time—raising more than $1 million!
In this article, Arman shares his secrets for creating a high-converting VSL, a tactic that has helped him to generate tons of leads, convert browsers into buyers, and get even the coldest traffic excited to pull out their wallets and buy.
Editor’s note: This article was originally written by Rob Allen but has since been updated by Nathan Chan who is highly experienced in consulting. Nathan ran his own private consulting firm before starting Foundr Magazine and is an expert in the space.
Ask Yourself: What Purpose Will Your VSL Serve?
One of the biggest mistakes Arman sees people make is just saying, “we need a video!” without understanding the purpose behind a VSL.
There’s no doubt that video is a powerful tool for businesses to use in their sales and marketing. But it’s only powerful when done with a specific aim in mind. Just turn on your camera and recording the first 60 seconds of whatever comes to mind will not give you the next-level results you want from the video.
In fact, Arman says a bad video can actually be worse than bad copy. Because unlike bad copy that consumers can still skim and overlook the flaws, you can’t unsee bad video or unhear a bad script.
That’s why he tells all his clients to first consider the purpose of their VSL.
Does it need to do all the selling? Does the video need to supplement the copy on the page? Does it need to push users who just took some action to do something else?
If you’re stuck, Arman says there are three main functions a VSL serves:
- As a supplement to the copy on the page. If your product would really benefit by a demonstration or is a physical good, you might want to have a video in addition to text. This is because people might really need to see the product or watch a use case before they’re ready to buy it. For example, if Shamwow had just relied on text, I’m not so sure the same message could have been conveyed what their famous commercials did. The text can support your message. But the video can help you demonstrate your product or inspire people to read on.
- As a replacement for the copy. Sometimes, it’s better if you have no text at all and just rely on video. For example, if you need a prospect to see a full presentation before you can make your offer, so they can truly see the value of what you have, you may want to avoid text altogether. This is why you will see a lot of information products presented and sold through a webinar or strictly video. They don’t want you to be able to scroll all the way to the bottom of a page, see a price tag, and bounce away. The presenter/seller needs you to experience certain things before they make the offer. Because when it comes to information and digital goods, you have to really sell the value. It’s not always inherent in the product.
- As an additional touchpoint after some action has been taken. One of the best times to introduce a VSL is right after a user has taken some action, like opting into a list or purchasing a product. This can serve as a pattern interrupt and a way to engage with users directly in a more personal way.
How Do You Know Which Is Right For You?
“Test!” says Arman. He encourages every business to test different variations of the above three categories of videos. But the key is to never start a VSL without knowing which of these you are setting out to create.
Because a video that supports copy is very different than a video that needs to stand by itself. And both of those are vastly different from a video that acts as an additional touchpoint.
Decide your video’s purpose from the start and then you can move on to the scripting, filming, and more.
How Long Should My VSL Be?
The biggest question everyone asks Arman about VSLs is “How long should they be?”
And the answer is, “It depends!” Arman says, “The length of your VSL depends on the difficulty of your decision.”
For example, if you’re asking someone to download a free report or video, you don’t need a 50-minute video.
In fact, a shorter video would be a lot better. Arman recommends 3-5 minutes or shorter for anything that’s free.
As you move up the ladder in price, you need to lengthen your video accordingly. So a $1,000 product will require a much longer video than a $200 product, and so on.
One of Arman’s specialties—and something he encourages newer VSL creators to try—is writing mid-length VSLs for tripwire products.
What’s a tripwire product?
It’s a low-priced product (typically between $7-$49) designed to entice customers to pull out their credit cards and buy.
It’s considered a conversion-acceleration tactic because it can help you create lots of buyers for a lower-priced item and then sell them things later on.
The Tools and Equipment You Need to Record a VSL
Arman always cautions people to not be intimidated by the glossy production you may see with other videos.
“The biggest thing you need to get right is the script. If you nail that, your VSL can be simple. You can do slides, screencasts, just use your computer webcam. Or even just turn on your smartphone camera.”
Many webinars have done in excess of seven figures with nothing more than text and slides.
The point is, don’t let budget and tools intimidate you, especially if you don’t have them. In fact, Arman says that being authentic and genuine is way more important than the props you include.
That said, if you have a lot of resources and a big production team, you can certainly use copywriting techniques to make your big-budget VSL even better.
Tips for Scripting Your VSL
After writing VSLs that have generated 7+ figures in sales (many times over), Arman has discovered some simple tips that allow you to create high-converting VSLs faster. Here are seven of his quick tips and tricks:
- Repurpose sales page copy. When you’re writing a VSL, you don’t have to start from scratch. In fact, the best copywriters will often use the copy that’s already on the sales page (or in the product) to get the bones of a VSL script done. This allows you to create videos faster and focus on making it sound authentic and genuine and not just writing from scratch.
- Give an exact CTA. The biggest mistake people make when writing VSLs is not telling people exactly what they need to do. If you leave it to chance, it will never get done. So if you’re selling a product, tell them to “click the yellow button beneath the video and enter payment details on the next page.” In other words, walk the prospecting step by step through exactly what needs to happen. Arman says being explicit in a VSL is an instant way to get a boost in sales.
- Get the prospect of future-pacing (imagining themselves in the future). When you’re writing VSLs, you want the viewer to imagine themselves enjoying all the benefits of your product in the future. That’s why Arman recommends using phrases like, “How good would it feel to ____?” and “Imagine what it would be like to no longer have to think about _____.” These phases future-pace the viewer and make them think about a life that’s better with your product in it.
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- A nod to a transformation. There’s a reason weight-loss companies always include before and after shots in their marketing. They work! People love to see examples of dramatic transformations. So the more you can include examples of transformation—in the form of stories, testimonials, or demonstrations—the better.
- Be specific. You never want your copy to be vague. It should be so specific that the reader can’t NOT visualize it in their mind. So don’t say “learn how to get a job” in your video. Instead, say something like “wake up to an inbox flooded with job offers.” One falls flat. The other brings images to your mind.
- Remove risk. Even though consumers rarely use them when the product is high quality, guarantees are an important part of any VSL because nobody wants to feel like a fool and make a bad decision. Instead of letting that fear stop people from acting, you should communicate the fact that there is no risk to your customers. Pro tip: Demonstrate how easy it is to take advantage of the guarantee in your VSL.
- Clear out objections. The job of a VSL is to push people to take action, but inevitably there will be things that hold people back. Those are called objections, and a well-crafted VSL will answer them. Some of the most common objections are around time and money, but others will be specific to your product. So you should identify the most commonly asked questions, and answer them in your VSL.
Those tips and tricks are why people like Neil Patel, Lewis Howes, Jason Silva, Lori Harder, Timothy Sykes, Gerard Adams, and more put Arman on the shortlist of copywriters they turn to for their own launches. They work wonders.
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VSL is the secret behind some of Arman’s biggest campaigns. And if you want to generate more leads, customers, and profits for your business, VSLs can play a big role in any sales plan. Use these tips and tricks to create your first (or next) VSL today.
Have you written VSLs before? How much of a difference did it make over text? Got a favorite VSL we should check out?
Let us know in the comments!