Ivan Levison —
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting

How to upgrade your upgrade
Part 1: three ways to improve your sales letter

Upgrade mailings are the cash cows of the software industry. When you mail to your installed base, all your customer acquisition costs are behind you and you're talking to people who (hopefully) love you.

It should be like shooting fish in a barrel but, incredibly, many publishers send out upgrade mailings that simply don't work hard enough.

What a pity! If they sent out mailings that used proven, time-tested techniques, they could increase their upgrade revenues by 20% to 30% or more!

Let's take a look at just a few of the ways you can start increasing upgrade revenues. (There's so much to say about this important subject that I'll deal with it further in my April issue.)

1. Stress the exclusivity of the offer. Your upgrade letter isn't going out to millions of people. (If only it were!) No, it's going out to a special group of people -- members of the family. This means you've got a great opportunity to reinforce the reader's uniqueness and the uniqueness of the upgrade offer. Even though you and I know that you'll probably honor anyone's request for an upgrade, here's your chance to make the user feel that he or she is part of an exclusive group. That's why the first headline at the top of an upgrade package I recently wrote for ManagePro 2.0 reads:

Announcing a private offer
for ManagePro customers only . . .

And why a line in a recent sales letter from WriteNow 4.0 says:

"As a registered WriteNow owner,
you're eligible to receive this exciting
new release for the special Upgrade Price
of just $29.95."

TWO SMALL POINTS: 1. I like the way the writer capitalized "Upgrade Price" to give it more weight and importance. 2. If I were writing the letter I would have written "you're currently eligible" instead of "you're eligible." (It makes the reader aware that this is a limited-time offer and suggests they'll miss out if they don't act immediately.)

2. Start off with a punchy headline that tells the story and states the offer. For example, the headline WriteNow uses is just bursting with personality:

    Just released!
    The "lean, mean writing machine"
    is better than ever,
    packed with hot new features
    you'll really use!

    Upgrade now for only $29.95."

Intuit, on the other hand, went with the following headline for its Quicken 3 for Windows upgrade letter:

    "Introducing new Quicken 3 for Windows.
    Only $29.95! Upgrade today!

(For me this is a little flat -- a no-brainer for the writer. Which of the two do you like better?)

In the headline you can also highlight the offer expiration date or pump up your unconditional money-back guarantee.

3. Don't crowd your letter with new upgrade features. Many publishers make this mistake: they're so excited about the fabulous new features they're offering in the upgrade that they turn the sales letter into a brochure. This is an error. The brochure or flyer is the place to get into all the nitty-gritties, not the letter!

The sales letter is where you announce the big news that the world's latest, greatest upgrade has arrived, tell the reader that he or she is eligible for a special offer, outline a few hot new features in a conversational way, state the guarantee, explain clearly how to order, and close the sale.


© 2013, Ivan Levison & Associates. All rights reserved.