Video Sales Letter (VSL) Copywriter 

 September 11, 2015

By  Gavriel Shaw

In this article:

  • My first Video Sales Letter
  • Video Conversion Funnels
  • Video Sales Letter Length
  • Video Engagement
  • Video Sales Letter Copywriting
  • Multi-Part VSL Launch Sequence

My first Video Sales Letter…

Converting at a huge 8% back in 2008 it was about 12 minutes long and sold an info product on ‘how to get organized’.

You can watch the entire thing if you’d like, right here:

[vooplayer vooid=’NTE1NjM=’ width=’620′ height=’362′]

 VSL Conversion Funnels

The most successful VSLs I’ve been involved with or know about are very simple in appearance, on a very plain webpage, typically with no navigation on the page.

However, sending traffic straight to that VSL page may give you a lower conversion rate than if you send them initially to what’s known as a pre-sell page.

A pre-sell is an article that positions the video to help ensure the visitor has anticipation for the value they are going to receive by watching the video. This often involves highlighting pain points around the topic, such as health problems, or lack of success in the relevant area of life that an information product relates to, such as relationship problems.

‘Top 5 Reasons Why Men Pull Away During Early Stage Relationships”

“5 Causes Of Weight Gain That You Can Avoid Starting Today”

These headline examples suggest the person learning a solution to a problem that is causing them pain.

The pre-sell article then links in multiple places over to the video.

Video Sales Letter Length

Over the past few years the length of VSLs has stretched to 45 minutes or more, particularly for consumer products including information products and health supplements. My approach with VSL length is to consider:

  • The placement of the video (whether it accompanies a full sales later or is part of a piecemeal launch sequence),
  • The sophistication of the market (is it a commodity product in a sea of competition or something unique and special) and
  • Desire of the audience for that particular type of product when they land on the page (why go into extensive background detail and personal story building credibility and riling up their emotions if they are already super keen to buy a product of that type).

Case in point:

The 12 minute VSL for the ‘get organized’ product above. Back in 2008 there was less competition for such information, and my traffic came from people who had searched for terms like ‘how to get organized’. So the product was desired and competition was low. The price difference compared to the alternative of hiring a professional organizer was clear, reasonable and compelling. So 12 minutes was plenty of time to make the sales presentation to a relatively low buyer resistance.

However, if the product is new and unfamiliar with a potentially high perceived price, a full length VSL will generally help maximize sales to the widest possible market.

Here is the introduction script for a full length VSL I wrote promoting an innovative training system for American Football Quarterbacks. If you are familiar with the QB position, you will see how well this matches the dreams and frustrations of a QB, ensuring that they’ll stick around for the rest of the VSL.


(click to open the script)

But how do we maintain engagement through a full 45 minutes..?

 VSL Engagement

It’s generally true that ‘the more you tell the more you sell’.

So… as long as the sales copy is RELEVANT to the audience, then providing you can make it sufficiently entertaining and fast flowing, the VSL can be ‘long’ (45+ minutes) and you’ll hold the attention of your audience and thus maximise conversions.

8% is a very high conversion rate. You may be looking for 2% to make a Video Sales Letter a big success and very profitable. Think about it. That’s just 2 to 8 people out of every 100. So you don’t need ‘everyone’ to want to watch a long VSL. Just a relative few.

The trick to keeping those few engaged is to craft a compelling message.

Here’s an example of an introduction to a full length VSL I wrote for the weight loss market (a massively sophisticated market given the history and level of competition). In this introduction I am to grab viewers attention by immediately calling out the ‘fads’ being marketed in the industry at the time, thereby differentiating this video and increasing engagement.

[vooplayer vooid=’NDY4MDI=’ width=’670′ height=’390′]

I’ll get into that a little lower down, but first we need to touch on…

Video Sales Letter Copywriting

So how do I do it?

My process involves [with more detail coming soon]:

  • Gathering Insight – Take a detailed brief from the client to understand the product and the audience (including where the traffic will be coming from). Watch competition VSLs for related product.
  • Developing a persona or avatar (an ideal customer description) including their major pain points as relates to the product and then write a bunch of potential positioning statements, headlines, and bullet points that speak to the audiences major pains with the promise of the product as a solution to their problem(s)
  • Writing a number of possible creative connections between the product features, the product background (how it came to be), the pain points (this is a copywriters secret sauce)
  • Using a series of best practice points from a template I have pieced together over the years to help ensure I hit all relevant selling points throughout the script
  • Leaving it for a day or so and then starting a ruthless editing process of removing sections that are clunky, boring, confusing, or lack credibility. All the while strengthening what remains by making it conversational, succinct and emotionally gripping

Multi-Part VSL Launch Sequence

A very significant approach to the use of a VSL is to break it down into sections and deliver them throughout a gated sales funnel. The gates may be actions the visitor must take, such as opting in by email to gain access to another segment of the video, or gated by time, as in a drip-campaign via email.

Here’s the homepage video (just 2 minutes in length) to introduce a relationship advice membership program:

[vooplayer vooid=’NTM1NDQ=’ width=’670′ height=’390′]

Hiring A VSL Writer

A VSL Copywriter charges anywhere from ~$3,000 to ~$25,000 for a full VSL script plus royalties.

In a VSL split-test with a $25k copywriter’s original intro against a new intro that I wrote, my version increased engagement by 3 times. But don’t worry, I won’t charge you 3 times his fee 🙂


My new Headline for the replacement introduction copy I wrote to split-test against the original copywriters version.

You can see the new copy here plus the split test result. And see below for details on hiring me as your next VSL writer.

Gavriel Shaw

Gavriel has product and marketing expertise from a variety of roles, including CMO, Head of Growth, Head of Marketing, eCommerce Director, Web Marketing Director, Product Marketing Manager, and Senior Copywriter in various sectors, both B2C and B2B.

Explore further: 

3 Email Copywriting Principles Of An Email Marketing Pro
Video Sales Letter Copy for Weight Loss
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