Traditionally, direct response focuses on benefits: Pile on the benefits, and you can convince anyone to do anything.
But that’s not exactly true.
Benefits make features more relevant to your buyers, translating “it does this” to “it does this for YOU.” But without solid proof, these promises more likely to set off your visitors’ BS alarm than drive action.
Today’s consumers aren’t looking for more benefits. They’re looking for credibility. So before you can get them to take action, you need to earn trust.
The evidence box is your persuasive power tool
When trust is the bottom-line factor that determines whether you’ll make the sale, there’s power in gathering all your evidence into one easy-to-find place.
I call it the “evidence box,” and it’s a concise way to prove your promises and increase the credibility of your offer.
But what exactly is an evidence box?
It’s a box, whether in-line or as a sidebar, that gives extra proof that supports your claims.
Why is it necessary? Effective sales copy doesn’t only make promises. It proves those promises, layering the evidence in such a way that people can’t help but believe that you deliver everything you say… and more.
Why in a box instead of in the text?
Take a look at these two sales pages…
The sales page at left has call-out boxes, sidebars, and other elements that make proof elements stand out. The sales page on the right has all the same elements, but they’re written into the text.
Here’s the problem: For people who don’t have time to read every word, much of that persuasive power gets lost in the body copy.
The reason evidence boxes work is that they are as visual as they are informative. So your right brain and your left brain can read them, making them doubly effective.
And by piling your proof into a box, you make it easy to absorb in a single glance.
Let’s take a look at options for doing this.
Simple Sidebar: Bob Bly
Bob Bly uses a simple sidebar as his evidence box. Running the entire length of his long-form sales pages, the evidence box contains two important bits of information: his bio and a seemingly endless list of testimonials.
Here’s a partial screen shot to give you an idea of how it looks:
Notice that the sales copy follows traditional direct response format. It’s broken up by subheads and uses bullets to list benefits. It’s completely focused on solving the reader’s problem.
But at whatever point the reader needs additional information about Bob or proof that his products are valuable, it’s right there in the sidebar.
This is social proof at its best, and it lends significant credibility to Bob Bly’s promises.
How you can do it:
This style of evidence box doesn’t have to change your writing style. Simply structure your page with a sidebar and fill it with your bio and testimonials from satisfied customers.
Inserts throughout the sales page: NatureCity
Product details, studies, testimonials, and other proofs gain traction when they’re presented alongside the promise being made. So as soon as the reader begins to ask a question or raise an objection, the proof is available.
Take this sales page by NatureCity:
This is a long-form sales letter, so I captured different sections to show you how they do it. Notice that they don’t use one long sidebar like Bob Bly. Instead, evidence boxes are placed at random points throughout the sales page.
One may provide information about the product’s main ingredient.
Another may share testimonials of happy customers.
And still another may explain how NatureCity’s products are different from the competition.
These boxes don’t interrupt the flow of the sales pitch, so readers aren’t compelled to wade through heavy research or streams of testimonials.
But because proof elements are set off in colorful boxes, they catch the eye and invite interaction. And because they’re placed at the specific points that readers may be looking for this information, they can shoot down objections at the points those objections are raised.
How you can do it:
After you write your sales page, read through it with the eye of your ideal customer. What promises seem unbelievable? What questions come up? Where would you like to see more detailed information?
Mark these points. Then find the information that could answer these concerns. Craft evidence boxes that offer the proof your readers need, then lay them out visually to attract your readers’ attention.
The secret to making them work is detail. Don’t give vague, generalized information. Give specific, useful information.
Full-page proof: Rodale
To understand the full value of the evidence box, you need to study Rodale’s marketing.
They’ve done a good job of digitizing the traditional direct response sales letter, creating four-page microsites that break up long copy into bite-sized chunks.
In most of these microsites, one page is dedicated to evidence. For example, on the sales site for the Flat Belly Diet, the second tab brings up this page:
As you can see, this isn’t a simple evidence box. It’s a full page of proof that their claims for this diet book can work.
It includes facts, testimonials, and benefits, all laid out like a magazine page. It’s visual, colorful, and it leads your eye from one proof to the next, so any doubts you may experience are quickly answered.
In this screenshot, for example, you see:
- A testimonial, printed in a “hand printed” font so it seems more personal.
- A second testimonial from another success story. (They call her a “winner.”)
- A checklist of benefits you can expect on this diet.
- A picture that illustrates the weight loss, which engages the right brain.
- Highlighted in yellow, a reminder that you can try it FREE, which addresses most people’s initial reaction to a diet program, “What if it doesn’t work…”
And it’s just one of several evidence boxes that pile on the proof.
How you can do it:
Rather than formatting your long-form sales copy as a digital letter, try breaking the copy into different sections, each with their own page. For example:
- Your front page presents your short sale pitch. Include pictures, benefits, and your offer.
- Two or three other pages provide additional information: FAQs, why it works, free gifts, etc. Treat one of them as a full-page evidence box.
- Then include a call to action on each of them that links to your order page.
The bottom line
These days, if your sales process doesn’t incorporate trust-building elements, it won’t result in sales. So you need to create a presentation that doesn’t set off your readers’ BS alarms.
Taking time to prove your claims is a simple way to do that.
Consider making the evidence box a normal part of your sales presentation — and pack it with as many proof elements as you can. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Credibility boosters, such as back-story, information about your founder, training or experience.
- Reality boosters, such as pictures of your product, its creator or its development.
- Social proof, such as numbers of happy customers, testimonials, and pictures of people using your product.
Anything that builds trust is fair game.