Web Copy That Sells: Summary & Review

web copy that sells book cover

Web Copy That Sells is Maria Veloso book on web copy-writing. I found it to be a treasure trove of great insights.

Bullet Summary

  • Editorial copy usually beats sales-style copy
  • Present the best benefits of your products in three different formats
  • Always test your assumptions

Full Summary

The Three Rules

Maria Veloso has three rules to writing copy:

  1. Don’t make your copy look like an advertising (editorial style always beat sales-letter style in all her tests)
  2. Stop readers in their track
  3. Capture email addresses (people rarely buy the first time)

The First Screen is Paramount

What users see first when they open your webpage is paramount. Therefore, make sure your headline is visible on the first screen and don’t make the mistake many do of putting a big logo on your page.

Questions Instead of Statement

Questions are often more powerful because they get the reader to answer themselves instead of spoon-feeding information that is often rejected or not believed.
For example instead of saying:

This diet will easily help you shed 10Kg

What if you could lose 10Kg in the next one month?

When you ask a question, the reader is filling the canvas with his own colors, which is much more powerful.

Early Testimonials

Put the testimonials early in the copy as it helps made all the rest sound more credible.

Make Your Copy Look Good

Only 16% of readers read word for word (!).
Make your copy look “scannable” to the eyes by using bullet points, paragraphs, bold words, caps, underlining and pictures.

Also: present one idea per paragraph and use the “inverted pyramid” concept where you put the most important stuff on top.

P.S.: the P.S. is the second most read part of the copy, so put important stuff there.

Creating the Blueprint

First of all, you should identify your target audience. Once you know them well, the blueprint is the story-line that your copy should present. And you can develop it answering the following questions:

  1. What’s the problem
  2. Why the problem hasn’t been solved (you can dig deeper in the history of the issue and why past remedies are not ideal)
  3. What’s possible? (open the world of possibilities of what could happen for the prospect once the problem is solved)
  4. What’s different now? How will things change for your prospect? (explain how your product is the new and best way to solve the problem and give the prospect the world you painted in step 3)
  5. What should you do now (buying your product, signing up to the newsletter etc.)

Fleshing Out the Blueprint

  1. Inject emotions (does it frustrate you that… ; do you suffer from feelings of…; don’t you just get mad when.. )
  2. Add bullets, bonuses, guarantee and trial closes
  3. Credibility-building elements (testimonials, facts, quotes, case studies, stories)
  4. Psychological and involvement devices
  5. Replace rational words with emotional ones

Maria Veloso lists a whole two pages of emotional words you can use in Web Copy That Sells.
Final tip: replace the word “when” instead of “if” when describing what prospects will get, which assumes the sale.

The Price

Maria Veloso says that if you’re going for the editorial style you should never introduce the price before you have stated your offer.
I’m personally not sure this would work well for non-editorial sales pages.

Then she describes a few techniques to introduce price, such as dividing the price by 365 and stating the price per day, or by first mentioning a high price to anchor a high number and then positively surprise the prospect with a lower number.

Email Opt-In

Veloso says that the old “free newsletter” doesn’t work as well anymore and you should instead offer something for the visitors to give you their precious email.

Headline is Your 80-20

The headline is the most important part of your copy and the part where you should spend most of your time.
Write 40 or 50 headlines before you pick one, then narrow down to a few and let it sit for a day before you go back.
Your headline should answer the following question: what’s in it for me?

Veloso has an awesome example. For a discount club, instead of highlighting the savings, she would write:

Discover How to Give Yourself a 20 Percent Pay Raise— Without Having to Squeeze a Single Cent from Your Boss 

Some More Ideas

  • Make a promise in the beginning that you’ll reveal a big secret to make the prospect read everything
  • Use a drop letter in the beginning of the copy
  • Use multiple pricing structure
  • Try to make your promises different (ie.: increase sales by 20, 30 or even 50%)
  • Use a well-designed question to open your copy

It can’t be too long; only too boring

Zeigarnik Effect: Only One Path to Sales

When we see too many interesting stories and links we are not satisfied until we explore them all. But this also means that we will not give enough attention to any of them.

You want to avoid it by making a clearer, simpler path to the action you want your prospects to take.


The author also gets a bit into NLP and hypnotic language.


I wonder how quickly you are going to buy this product


What will you do with your extra 2.000 Dollars of income?

Linguistic Bind

While you’re sitting there reading this page, you understand why you can’t afford to waste anymore time

The first part is obviously true (sitting there reading this page), which lends credibility to the second part of the sentence.

Leverage Consistency

Ask a question in the beginning of the copy, such as:

If I showed you a way to double your sales, would you be willing to invest 1h to learn the system?

At the end of the copy, after you tell them how it’s possible to double their sales, you can remind of their initial commitment writing something like:

Now that I’ve shown how you can undoubtedly double your sales, it’s time for you to take action

You can read more here on the consistency principle.

Cyrano Effect & Emotional Satisfaction

The author says that what buyers really want is emotional satisfaction during the sales process. The benefits of your product actually become secondary.
She says that when you can give a lasting emotional experience during the sales process and you can get the buyers to like you, they will most likely be satisfied with the product almost independently of the product itself.

You can give an emotional jolt by either stirring pain or letting them imagine a pleasurable future.

Trifecta Neuro-Affective Principle

The best way to change your prospect’s mind is to approach it from different angles. Usually, three is the best number.

You want to coalesce your idea or sales proposition to the essential three elements that must cover the following:

  1. Emotional resonance
  2. Redefinition (make the prospect see the problem in a new light)
  3. Resistance (identify the objections and address them)

Then present them in three different channels so that you can cover all possible prospects’ personalities.
For example you will use:

  • Narrative
  • Quantitative arguments
  • Logic
  • Aesthetic
  • Humors
  • Visual

The trifecta can be a stripped down copy you can use when you have little space and time. Otherwise, you can add and flesh out even more benefit when longer copy is needed.

Always Test Your Assumption

Finally, the author says that just because something worked for her or for clients of her won’t guarantee they’ll work for you.
You need to do your own testing.

And always test your assumption about your target audience.
Ask for feedback why they bought the product and what they liked about it. And then adjust your offer to reflect what the audience want.

Some More Ideas

  • Make a promise in the beginning that you’ll reveal a big secret to make the prospect read everything
  • Use a drop letter in the beginning of the copy
  • Use multiple pricing structure
  • Try to make your promises different (ie.: increase sales by 20, 30 or even 50%)
  • Use a well-designed question to open your copy

It can’t be too long; only too boring

web copy that sells book cover


  • Dated (in a funny way)

Even the second edition by now is clearly dated in a world that advances and changes so quickly.

Myspace at 240 million users and Facebook at 100 million is all you need to hear to know it’s basically a lifetime ago :).
However, that doesn’t change the great wisdom of this book. The environment changes, but the human mind is still exactly the same.

  • Trifecta a Bit Confusing

The idea of the trifecta seemed very powerful, but it was a bit confusing to me.


Overall Great
I have difficulties at pointing out all the great ideas I got from Web Copy That Sells because they were simply too many.


I haven’t read that many copy-writing books yet.

But of all the books and resources I have consumed on this topic, Web Copy That Sells is my favorite.

It opened my eyes on several copy-writing topics and I changed much of this website as a result of reading Web Copy That Sells.

Therefore, I can’t do much else but recommend it.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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