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Increase sales with Nick Usborne's "Buy" button techniques

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As your final call to action, your "Buy" button is crucial for response yet often generic and uninspiring. Nick Usborne, author of Wordtracker's Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy, explains how to increase response by making your "Buy" button an extension of your headline.

After taking a huge amount of trouble to optimize a sales page on our sites, all too often we finish the page with a button which says, "Add to Cart", "Add to Basket" or "Add to Shopping Cart". Is that really the best we can do?

Think for a moment of those pieces of direct mail you receive from time to time.

Does the pre-paid response card simply say, “Add to Cart” or “Charge my Credit Card Now”?


If, for instance, you are being sold a magazine subscription, it might say something like, “Yes, please start my 30-day free trial of Online Copywriting Today.”

<img src="/attachments/Web-Sales-Copy-skyscraper-white-ebook-buy.png" alt='Nick Usborne's "Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy"'/>

Your page has to keep selling, from beginning to end

Let’s assume you have started your online sales page with a strong headline. You have a compelling value proposition, and have left your readers with the belief you can give them something they want.

You then write some great body copy which builds on the promise in your headline, builds confidence and dissolves any hesitation they might feel.

By the time they get to that “Buy Now” button, they are almost ready to commit to the purchase.

But as we all know, to our cost, there is a big difference between being almost ready, and being ready.

Use that “Buy Now” text to tip them over

When you lead someone by the hand all the way down the page, you deliver them face to face with a barrier. And that barrier is the final call to action...the link or button that will take them to your shopping cart.

It is not enough to simply take them as far as the barrier and then turn around and abandon them.

To say “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” is like shrugging your shoulders and walking away. They are such generic phrases. Too passive. Devoid of promise or specificity.

Your call to action is the tail of the headline

You need to add a little flick to that final call to action. And it needs to underline and reaffirm the basic promise of your page.

That’s why it’s the tail of the headline. It is connected to the headline, and gives that final flick to get people into the shopping cart.

The power of the flick depends on how well you can connect it back to the headline and the promise of the page.

Of course, the challenge here is to write a line that achieves this connection, but in very few words.

As an example, let’s say you have a headline that says something like:

Try our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans, with a FREE 4 ounce sample.

At the end of the page, instead of the button saying “Add to Cart”, try:

Get your FREE sample Now...

The line is a little longer, but it does tie back to the central promise of the headline.

Does this apply to every online sales page?

No. Online retail stores are a little different.

It can make sense to say something generic, like "Add to Basket", or "Add to Cart" when you have a large online store and are trying to get your visitors to buy more than one item at a time. People are very familiar with the process. You also run into problems with products and models which have long names, like "Add Cuisinart DCC-2000 Coffee-on-Demand 12-cup Programmable Coffeemaker to Basket".

The "tail" approach works best with pages selling subscriptions, memberships, events, special offers, services, downloads etc.

Concluding thoughts...

As writers we tend to develop some blind spots. We pay a lot of attention to some areas of copy, like the headline and body text, but then tend to just write the “usual” for functional elements of text, like on the "Buy Now" button.

Try testing some different text on those buttons, and track clickthroughs and conversion rates.

<img src="/i/keywordexpert/nick-usborne-white-500x90px.png" alt='Nick Usborne's "Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy"'/>

About Nick Usborne

Nick Usborne is a leading authority on the subject of writing for the web, and has been since 1995. As a speaker, trainer and consultant he has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, including Yahoo!, J Paul Getty Trust, Intuit, Walt Disney Attractions, Merck & Co, the National Cancer Institute and many more.

In addition to writing and copywriting work for his clients, he is the author of numerous articles, programs and books. He also coaches freelancers who want to build a bigger and better business. You can learn more about his work on writing for the web, and freelancing, at