How To Stop ‘Sales Page Skimmers’ Cold In Their Tracks

Circling back on something I hinted at yesterday:

There are a couple of techniques you can use to keep people from “skimming” your sales pages and emails—encouraging them to read every word instead.

Last week I spent an hour or so watching screen recordings of prospective customers reading one of my sales pages.

Multiple times I watched as the visitor scrolled quickly through the first few screens of text—only to come to a screeching halt when a subheader or pull quote caught their eye…

Then, instead of just diving in and continuing to read from that point forward…

They zipped back to the top and starting over from the beginning—only this time they read line by line.

When the body of your sales copy has this “stop ’em in their tracks” effect, you can greatly increase the number of people who actually read the copy, and thus get exposed to your full sales pitch.

How am I creating this effect?

There are several factors, but by far the most important is the way I’m incorporating a *story* into the copy.

The first third or so of this sales page is a detailed blow-by-blow “riches to rags” story about the early part of my business partner’s career.

It opens with a dramatic near-fistfight between my business partner and a former boss… Then chronicles his slide down a slippery slope from hotshot “golden boy” to desperation and near-homelessness.

The story itself is so interesting that if *any* part of it catches your attention, you’ll almost certainly want to go back and see how it all began.

I once heard master copywriter Gary Bencivenga talk about he deliberately laced his copy with “backwards hooks”—little phrases that actually pushed skimmers upwards in his copy.

So if you jumped in at paragraph 17, he might say something like, “Because of that, you won’t find a blah blah blah.”

Which leads to the question, “Because of WHAT?”

And then you’re tempted to read the preceding paragraph. Which of course has another “hook” in it to something from earlier in the copy…

Stories naturally create this same effect, because of the way that events cascade and build on one another.

You can easily heighten the effect by incorporating the “hooks” approach that Bencivenga describes.

This way you have not one, but dozens of chances to snag your reader’s attention—even if they only intend to “skim” what you’ve written.