Can a computer write you a persuasive sales letter or an engaging landing page? Last October, the American copywriter Neville Medhora asked this question on his blog. Yes up to a point according to him …

In the United States, the Phrasee startup specializes in the automatic writing of email headings based on artificial intelligence.

Company salespeople say their emailing rates are up to 47 times higher than those whose headlines were written by humans. Unfortunately, this result is unverifiable.

The only thing we have available on this product is a landing page made by humans who offer to contact a sales representative of the company.

phrase landing page

For those who are concerned with writing a quality value proposition and convincing landing pages, you know that this type of landing page is not not persuasive enough. The lack of evidence gives rise to a doubt which is difficult to overcome at the time of conversion.

The following article will give you the elements that make the difference between clearly automated basic sales pitches and a salesperson and copywriter skill that an artificial intelligence is not yet ready to match.


Since 2016, the company, Indix has been selling a copywriting product based on an artificial intelligence. If this solution does not allow to write complete emailing in the first person singular, it is already used to write product descriptions from catalogs and comments on the web.

Here is an example with a 15 inch screen from DELL. Just enter the product title and Indix finds the rest of the information. This is a huge time saver for distribution companies who update hundreds of product sheets daily.

example indix

What an AI-written sales page might look like

Will web entrepreneurs soon have only to put 3 words, an image and identify a target to be offered a dozen landing pages and mailings all more convincing than each other?

After all, the structure of a good sales page or successful mailing is known.

computer effort
nickel it leaves tomorrow

In SEO, the company 1.fr has developed an assessment tool that tells you if your writing is optimized for search engines. An artificial intelligence program gives you the avenues for improvement. Here is an example with a page from my blog.

1.en example
Assessment of missing words for better referencing – 1.fr

1.fr notably won the Lépine 2017 competition.

1.en example
Assessments against the standards of a good SEO

Copywriting is essential to stand out

However, can copywriting and copywriting be done by computers?

In an interview given to the Reputation Lab podcast, Jérôme Dumont, head of the agency One More Thing Studio and co-author of the book the 25th hour makes it clear:

[…] It is not enough to write a web page or an application. Or even to put a slogan and respect each step of onboarding or conversion using using sentences like “We offer you the best version of yourself” as in your example of sports coaching […].

The determining skill today in our profession is copywriting. It is this skill that highlights what you and your product have in particular to tell. It is through this copywriting that a client will identify you and differentiate you from your competitors.

Otherwise, you may have the best of products, you will be the only one to know.

Jérôme Dumont – Extract from the Reputation Lab podcast of September 26, 2018

Do web writers and copywriters have any worries?

teut teut, we don't touch anything anymore

So, with these new tools based on artificial intelligence, do quality agencies or copywriters have any worries?

Not at the moment in any case, the software mentioned above requires the processing of very large amounts of data. It takes several million product sheets and comments for Indix to produce very basic results.

These constraints greatly limit the scenarios where this type of tool can be used (basically companies that update hundreds of entries in their catalog every day).

Likewise, if 1.fr proves to be very useful at the time of correcting your content to optimize its referencing, it will not write this content for you.

But we can imagine that a drop in prices and the evolution of Artificial Intelligence technologies will make this type of solution even more efficient and more accessible.

And since the parameters of a good sales page are partly measurable, we can imagine that even writing can be automated up to a point.

My bet is that such a situation will make the challenge of customer conviction in a sales page more demanding. But the human is not ready to be replaced …

AIDA “Attract attention and maintain interest”

aida ha ha
zero block

A.I.D.A. is a narrative model used in sales and that you need to know when you want to write good sales pages or letters.

lewis

The model A.I.D.A. was formulated in 1898 by the advertiser Elias St. Elmo Lewis in the review “The Western Druggist ”.

Legend has it that Lewis came to this formula by observing the techniques of persuasion of Freelance traders who crossed the cities of the Wild West by offering lotions and remedies to cure all types of ailments.

In fact, this legend is too beautiful. Lewis’ contribution to the sales and marketing profession has always been solidly supported by sociological and psychological studies and years of practice.

The AIDA formula which means:

  • Attention: Attract the prospect’s attention;
  • Interest: Generate interest;
  • Desire: To awaken desire;
  • Action: Commit to action.

The formula is very explicit and I will avoid defining each of the points in an academic way. I will rather take an example from a letter written by a great marketer to illustrate how it works.

Before we get there, here are a few more things Lewis said about using the AIDA model.

The first rule for composing an advertisement is the same as for composing a photograph. We must find the point on which we will focus the reader’s attention. All other parts of the advertisement will be subject to this point.

Elias St. Elmo Lewis – Printing and Publicity Problems, ” The Inland Printer, Flight. 19

Today we are at the dawn of a new era in advertising education. Manufacturers are reaching out to the masses who refuse to be subjected to the cries and harangues of the past. Ads must create desire in the minds of cautious people and sales forces must be organized and educated to address this desire and collect their money directly.

Elias St. Elmo Lewis – Trade – An Independent Weekly Journal for Merchants, Vol. 18, August 16, 1911, p. 12

In Lewis’s mind you can see this mechanistic spirit. According to him, there is a way of selling automatically “to the masses” thanks to a statement that would systematically satisfy human desire.

This ambition of a desire fulfilled in a mechanistic way is found today in this idea of ​​an AI will one day exceed the human spirit. We could be convinced by machines since, deep down, we ourselves would be automata determined by psychological biases.

The seller’s dilemma: How to sell to the greatest number while avoiding treating prospects like sheep

Computer hypnosis

At the same time, Lewis contradicts himself. For him, desire is an aspiration for change and people do not want to hear the same speeches always, especially when he speaks of “harangues”.

This Lewis contradiction actually sums up the dilemma of all sellers: “How to reach out to as many people as possible and get sustainable income while avoiding considering that prospects are sheep. “

Fortunately, the AIDA method has proven to be more flexible and less authoritarian than its creator.

Between 1898 and today, the method has been greatly enriched, at the same time as the profession of marketing and sales have fleshed out their experimental approach. This is what allows good marketers to overcome this apparent contradiction between an individual’s desire and the collective automatisms from which Lewis had not managed to extricate himself.

On closer inspection, AIDA is a fairly universal communication tool that goes beyond sales. It is found in advertising, film, in professional relations, on Tinder, etc.

But let’s stay in sales and marketing by studying a letter from Copywriter Gary C. Halbert, from the book “The Boron’s Letters”.

The exemplary sales letter of a prisoner in the midst of an existential crisis

Portrait Halbert

Gary C. Halbert is an American copywriter from the 80s. His sales letters are frequently cited today as an example for anyone interested in copywriting.

A very common exercise in learning copywriting is to rewrite the sales letters he has written throughout his career.

Here is one often cited as an example: “How to collect social benefits at all ages in your life”. It is translated in a post presented below, I will come back to it.

Gary C. Halbert

Here is another letter written in prison. This is one of the most interesting precisely because at first glance, it does not directly concern the sales profession.

Mon cher fiston,

Il y a maintenant plusieurs années, mon ami Dennis Haslinger m’avait prévenu que les plus grosses erreurs que je ferai dans ma vie viendraient d’un souci d’égo. Cela s’est avéré être vrai. J’ai pris de très mauvaises décisions en étant centré sur mon égo. Quelques-unes avec des femmes et beaucoup d’autres concernant l’argent. Certaines m’ont même mis en danger, physiquement. J’essaie maintenant d’éviter de telles erreurs. J’espère qu’en t’écrivant au sujet d’un incident que j’ai vécu récemment, cela t’apportera quelque chose. Il y a quelques jours, j’écoutais du rock à la radio allongé sur le lit de ma cellule. Alors que je baignais complètement dans le son de ce rock, j’ai pris conscience du fait que quelqu’un hurlait mon nom. J’ai donc coupé la radio et je me suis aperçu que l’un des détenus de ma cellule me criait dessus en me demandant d’être plus respectueux vis-à-vis des camarades. Il menaça même de détruire ma radio la prochaine fois. Comment réagir à ça ? Un silence de mort s’installa dans la pièce et j’étais sous le choc. Plusieurs pensées défilaient dans ma tête. Je voulais lui dire que j’étais désolé et que je n’avais pas réalisé que je dérangeais tout le monde. Mais en même temps, d’autres pensées opposées me venaient à l’esprit. Je n’étais pas contre un “trip macho” où je l’aurai menacé de lui casser la gueule si jamais il ne la fermait pas. Je me voyais également lui expliquer de façon apaisée qu’il lui suffisait de me prévenir que le son le dérangeait et j’aurai de moi-même éteint la radio. Mais je n’ai rien fait de tout ça. Je suis resté silencieux à manger une pauvre petite tarte aux pommes. Tu sais quoi fiston, j’ai pris la bonne décision. La première raison pour laquelle je n’ai pas été voir ce type, c’est que j’avais peur. Ce gars est costaud, et j’ai beau être en mesure de lui répondre physiquement, une bagarre aurait pu me blesser. La deuxième raison, c’est que je l’aurai moi-même très certainement blessé. Enfin, et c’est probablement la raison principale, une bagarre nous aurait envoyé tous les deux dans une prison de haute sécurité dans laquelle nous aurions perdu la possibilité de profiter des “bons moments” auxquels on a droit ici. Sans parler du rallongement de peine. Mon père m’a toujours conseillé d’attendre au moins 72 heures après une émotion forte avant de prendre une décision importante. Cette règle simple m’a toujours préservée de pas mal d’ennuis […] Et toi, dans ces cas-là, sais-tu ce que tu dois faire ? Exactement ce que j’ai fait : Écrire, courir, marcher, discuter, etc. Tu vois fiston, le contenu de cette lettre n’est pas ce qu’il y a de plus important. Ce qui compte le plus, c’est l’acte physique d’écrire et c’est pour moi la meilleure des thérapies. Alors maintenant ? Je pense qu’il serait bon maintenant de parler un peu de lettres de vente. Voici comment certaines de mes affaires fonctionnent. Je m’intéresse généralement à la meilleure façon de vendre du papier et de l’encre, c’est à dire des contenus qui règleront des problèmes pour des personnes inscrites sur une mailing-list. Voici quelques titres qui te donneront une idée de ce que je fais : “Comment accroître le QI de vos enfants avant même leur naissance” (à destination des femmes enceintes), “Comment réparer votre voiture de façon à gagner 50 km de plus par plein” (pour les propriétaires de voiture à essence), “Comment bénéficier d’une couverture sociale jusqu’à la fin de vos jours” (cette lettre m’a rapporté 800 000 dollars). Une fois que je me suis fixé sur la bonne liste et le bon public, je trouve une idée de produit et j’en parle à mon banquier. Ce dernier me prête 5 000 $, ce qui me permet d’éditer les premières lettres, d’acheter une première liste de prospects et de faire un premier test. […] Cette étape est primordiale et c’est à ce niveau que la plupart des vendeurs commettent une erreur. Tu dois D’ABORD trouver ton marché et ensuite te concentrer sur ton produit. Retiens donc bien les étapes à suivre : Étape 1 – Trouver un marché “chaud” (mailing list).
Étape 2 – Trouver ou créer un produit à vendre à un marché .
Étape 3 – Créer un mailing de promotion qui décrit le produit et ses bénéfices (1000 à 5000 lettres)
Étape 4 – Faire ton test auprès de ce public de 1000 à 5000 personnes.
Étape 5 – Analyser les résultats.
Étape 6 – Si les résultats sont bons, envoyer la lettre de vente à un public de 20 000 à 100 000 personnes.
Étape 7 – Si les résultats sont toujours bons, poursuivre en envoyant à encore plus de monde. Si tu fais preuve de bon sens, tes chances de réussite seront excellentes. Je conclurai sur une discussion que je viens d’avoir avec un ami qui est ici avec moi en prison. Il est venu me solliciter il y a quelques heures car il a mis au point un gadget qui te permet de fabriquer des objets en bois à partir d’un modèle de la même manière qu’une machine duplique des clés en utilisant du métal vierge. Je ne suis pas sûr d’avoir bien compris d’ailleurs, mais ça n’a aucune importance. Il m’a demandé de l’aider à corriger ses lettres de ventes. Je lui ai dit que j’en serai ravi tout en l’alertant sur le fait qu’il avait commis l’erreur du débutant, c’est-à-dire qu’il avait mis au point son produit avant de trouver son marché. C’est casse-gueule. Tu dois toujours trouver ton marché d’abord… et seulement après tu te concentres sur le produit! Le marché foisonne de produits. Un bon produit, ça a son importance, mais c’est nettement moins important que de trouver le marché “chaud”. Laisse-moi te dire ça : Un gars qui a créé un nouveau produit n’est pas sûr de trouver un marché “chaud” où il pourra le vendre. Par contre, un gars qui a trouvé un marché “chaud” dont le besoin est ignoré par les autres pourra toujours créer un produit pour satisfaire le besoin de ce marché. Je t’aime fiston,
Bonne chance.
Papa

Automate what is predictable … but in Albert’s writing, nothing is

Most pages are poorly written today, it’s no secret. Spelling and syntax errors, poor treatment of vocabulary, broken structures. So why not imagine robots tomorrow that would fix these careless mistakes or prepare sales pages that don’t require any special persuasion, like that of a Dell 15-inch screen. In short, correct everything that can be predicted.

But when we read Garry Halbert’s page, we realize that the sale is not limited to that. It’s not just about grouping a set of words that trigger this AIDA sequence. It is both a question of restoring an experience, yours, and of projecting a new one, that of your target.

As such, this letter is remarkable. Halbert uses the form of the sales letter to persuade his son to become a copywriter in turn.

An AIDA storytelling

And that’s why, it uses storytelling in AIDA mode to explain the foundations of successful copywriting.

Sample persuasive sales letter boron letters

We find the AIDA structure of Lewis:

  • Attention: it is captured by a general principle, bad decisions can lead to catastrophic consequences and make you insecure. The recipient of the letter is Halbert’s son, so the question of his father’s safety in prison will necessarily attract his attention;
  • Interest: Halbert uses here a classic method of copywriting and storytelling, the story of his own experience. He will thus explain the points that caught the attention of the recipient;
  • The desire: It is formulated explicitly in the third part: How to stay safe in a world where the consequences of harmless acts can have catastrophic consequences. Here, Halbert draws an analogy between the need for security in prison and the need to reduce risks in business. It is this discrete analogy enables him to advocate the action;
  • The Action: The method that Gary C. Halbert’s son will have to put in place to become emancipated and become a successful entrepreneur.

Importantly, before taking each step, Halbert takes care to return to his son by calling him out, to better accompany him to the next step (sentences circled in orange in the text).

Also note that Halbert embraces three different stories to better “bring” the action he recommends:

Story 1 / His mishap with his fellow prisoner;

Story 2 / His daily life as a prisoner who reads, writes and plays sports;

Story 3 / The mistake made by his friend “inventor” who is with him in prison.

The second story is very short, but very important. Halbert gives proof of what he says and does since his son reads a letter which is also a sample of the experience his father had, as a prisoner and as an entrepreneur.

Last point, Halbert connects all these points by making an analogy: he parallels the prudence of a prisoner who wants to regain his freedom with the prudence that an entrepreneur must show when he thinks he has a good idea.

The analogy between two situations is a writing strategy, but there are others, starting with the most basic of them: cause and effect as in the social security letter which I will discuss below.

But also a personal letter

Beyond these structural explanations, each word, each line is a discovery.

Indeed, we are in the 80s and Gary C. Halbert may be a recognized advertiser and marketer, but he is in prison in Boron penitentiary for having sold books by mail that his buyers never received. He has a hard time living away from his family and his teenage son in particular.

He is aware that a father imprisoned for a scam is not the easiest thing for a child of this age to live by and he has an obvious concern for transmission.

It is by the clarity of his intentions that he seeks to to persuade his son that he is not a bad father and that he wants to help him build his future.

It therefore comes back to the fundamental value that he applies to his profession and in his daily life as a prisoner, his ability to learn, analyze and correct his actions. It is this same value that will be useful to his son in the business of entrepreneur if the latter takes this path.

Of course, a psychoanalyst would rightly explain to us that Halbert father has a serious dissociation problem with his son and that this letter may weigh too much for young Bond Halbert.

boron letters

The fact remains that Bond Halbert, son of Garry C. Halbert, has become a reference copywriter in the United States. He is notably known for having edited the letters sent by his father during his confinement while adapting the advice given to the web profession.

This work, The Boron Letters is considered today as one of the three reference works for the copywriting profession.

A sales letter demo written by a computer

So, could a computer write the same letter as Gary C. Halbert? In any case, after a vigil it is difficult to find a convincing demonstration in French.

Here is what the Fauteuiltronik site offers us as soon as we propose the theme “Improve your conversions”.

Améliorer Ses Conversions

C’est essentiel de faire un nettoyage de sa mailling list pour optimiser sa stratégie d’email marketing.Je recommande Captain à tous mes clients, c’est un service indispensable.Responsable Marketing dans une société spécialisée dans le fichier Excel du budget global de votre projet d’application mobile.Vous aurez alors : le coût de développement de votre projet mobile.Or, il est difficile de fournir un devis pour votre site.
Statistiques : le nombre de pages vues, le volume du trafic du site internet… Où ?
Vous vous ouvrez à l’international, c’est parfait pour votre business.Cependant, avez-vous réfléchi aux contraintes réglementaires et légales qui pourraient survenir avec votre application mobile ?Déterminer quels problèmes votre application mobile et vous fournisse un devis cohérent.[… ]

Humans still have room 🙂

Me the robot

When will computers and robots be able to write quality sales letters? If we look at the very relative success of spelling and lexical correctors assisted by artificial intelligence, it is not for tomorrow. Or for ten years from now.

In fact, what a computer or robot lacks is its ability to say “I” and to know that “you”, “she” or “he” can recognize himself in this “I”.

persuasive sales letter

It’s one of the themes that runs through Isaac Asimov’s Cycle of Robots as well as Alex Proyas’ film “I, Robot” with Will Smith and inspired by Asimov’s work.

In the book as in the film, robots are at the service of men and they are subject to the three laws of robotics.

  • First Law: “A robot cannot harm a human being nor, remaining passive, leave this human being exposed to danger. “
  • Second Law: “A robot must obey orders given by human beings, unless such orders are in contradiction with the First Law. “
  • Third Law: “A robot must protect its existence insofar as this protection does not contradict the First or the Second Law. “

However, the film begins with a murder committed publicly by a robot in violation of the first law. The policeman played by Will Smith does not believe that the robot is the real perpetrator of the murder, despite the evidence.

Like him, the viewer continues to see the robot as an instrument of a more complex scheme orchestrated by men. The robot remains a simple object.

However, the evidence eventually prevails. The robot took the initiative for the murder. The director then stages the change in the way men look at this machine.

The robot ceases to be an object and its words acquire a new meaning for those who listen to them, whether detective or spectator.

persuasive sales letter

The robot says “I” and the policeman finally recognizes that this “I” is another “him”. This is how he manages to solve the complex conundrum of this murder, by listening what the robot has to say, the same way it would listen to an individual human. In the title of the film “Me, Robot ”, what matters is more the word Me than the word robot.

In the end, what is in I (u) is listen. It’s what will make your reader recognize the value and evidence that you present to them. And that’s why a marketer should spend his time experiment rather than writing it “address a desire and let him cash his money directly ”.

Improve your sales writing

If you want to improve the writing of your sales letters and make them persuasive, the most effective exercise is to rewrite a proven sales letter. Do this by identifying their AIDA structure and how the author deals with their prospect’s potential objections.

You can start by rewriting the translation of Gary C. Halbert’s famous sales letter “How to benefit from social benefits until the end of your days” . Rewrite it without looking at the answers. Then do more afterwards.

This exercise will take you twenty minutes a day and will greatly improve your writing after a week.