Skip navigation
newsletter signup

Opening Sentences That Close the Sale

October 25, 2006


It's one of the best pieces of copywriting advice I've ever been given.  "As
often as possible, start your paragraphs with sentences that hook readers
and drive them deeper into the copy."  Why?  Because -- after the headline
-- the first sentence in any paragraph is what gets read most often.  After
that point, customers usually skip to the next section unless they feel
compelled to keep reading. That means your job, as the copywriter, is to
entice them into each segment so they will consume as much of your copy as
possible.

Take your cue from Reader's Digest.  They crank out -- issue after issue --
exceptional opening lines for their articles that engage then hook readers.
What happens next?  The reader is pulled into the story full force.  Here
are some examples.

     It was a horrific display of irreverence.

     By the way she dressed, you would have never guessed she was only 14.

     As he reached into the box, something inside it moved.

See?  Those sentences boost your curiosity.  They make you wonder what
happens next.  They cause you to visualize a scene that might be taking
place.  You can do the same thing from a marketing perspective when you
write your copy.

For instance, rather than starting the copy for an email to Australian
hotels like this:

“You may be aware of www._______.com  – we are an Australian-owned and
-managed online hotel booking service.“

Really capture their attention with an opening sentence that is specific to
them like this:

“Now you have the opportunity to affordably position your hotel in front of
approximately 6,000 travelers every day that are looking for accommodations
exclusively in Australia.“

For an Australian hotel that depends on the Internet to generate
reservations, that sentence gives them many reasons to keep reading.

Here are some other before-and-after examples of opening sentences.

==============

BEFORE: Hello and welcome to our website.  If you are looking for [enter
product name here], you are at the right site.  (In this case, the example
is from a wedding photographer's site.)

AFTER:  We don't take pictures.  We capture precious memories that you can
enjoy for a lifetime.


==============

BEFORE:  Our site has been online since 2000, and this marks our 6th year
online providing designer-inspired sunglasses.

AFTER:  How do you get the latest designer-inspired looks without paying
outrageous prices?


==============

BEFORE:  Our cruise website offers unbeatable rates and a diverse array of
travel services guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating
vacationer.

AFTER:  Just imagine yourself on the white sand beaches of Honolulu, hiking
through the balmy rainforests of Belize or whisking down a powdery,
snow-covered mountain in Aspen… all at up to 50% off!


==============

BEFORE:  Thank you for shopping for your corporate gifts at _________.com.
We hope your shopping experience is delightful.

AFTER:  When you truly impress your clients with distinctive corporate
gifts, they remember you longer, feel a closer relationship and are more
likely to reward you with increased sales.


==============

See the difference?  The "before" sentences are dull, average and
unflattering.  The "after" sentences are intriguing, imaginative and
enticing.

Don't stop after you create inviting headlines.  Keep the momentum going by
writing intriguing opening sentences, too.  When you do, you'll help convert
more site visitors into paying customers.

Karon Thackston

Marketing Words, Inc.