Sales Pages With Style – Create Quality Sales Pages With CSS

Sales pages, to be effective, must immediately catch the attention of even a casual web surfer. The sales message contained in the sales page needs to be both easy to read and understand. If the content-display styling is well-crafted, the sales message can be absorbed with just a rapid page scan. An interested reader will re-read the page for the details.

Sales copy provides the content which entices the reader to move deeper into the page towards the “Order Now” button.

The job of a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), is to

  • facilitate page navigation,
  • improve readability, and
  • call attention to important content.

There are lots of articles and ebooks available on the Web about *writing* profitable sales copy. You can easily find them with a quick search. This article focuses on *styling* the sales page and its content with CSS.

There are several advantages to using CSS for display styling. One of the best reasons is that it frees the copywriter from initial concerns about page formatting. Using very basic HTML code, such as that allowed for submissions to EzineArticles, the page content can be written with any basic text editor without concern for special content formatting.

Before any CSS styling has been applied, the sales page would not convert any prospects. At this stage, the HTML document contains all of the *content* that will be used. Text and images will typically be positioned on the page in roughly the order these elements will be used in the final sales page. CSS will make everything *pop* and *sizzle* when it is applied to the page.

After the sales copy is written, important page elements (identified through HTML tags) and content (information between HTML tags) can be identified and linked to the appropriate CSS formatting code, contained in separate CSS text file, for browser display. A previous article of mine, published at ezinearticles, explains how the HTML content gets linked to the CSS file. Briefly, the HTML-CSS link is done through the HTML “link” meta tag and content is identified through class and id tag attributes and through the use of the HTML span tag.

Content-specific styling includes special text formatting, such as highlighting and quotations, and the placement of items such as images and forms within the page.

I like to display the content in roughly the middle half of the monitor display and use a line length of about 60 characters. I also like to use a large enough font size to make blocks of text easy to read.

Because the page layout is so important, I use a fixed table design for the content: the content is placed in the center of the display and is framed in by wide right and left margins and narrow top and bottom margins. If the width of the browser page is narrowed by the reader, the right and left margins will narrow equally but the content area will remain the same width, and thus the content layout remains the way it was designed (i.e., not “liquid”).

Essentially, my basic page layout consists of 4 nested “boxes:”

  • HTML Box — demarcated by html tags and contains all other boxes.
  • BODY Box — demarcated by body tags and contains the table and main-content boxes.
  • Table Box — demarcated by table tags and contains the main-content box.
  • Main-Content Box — demarcated by div tags and contains the sales-page content.

The HTML box includes the entire HTML document (except for the document-type declaration). The Body box contains everything visible to the reader. The Table box contains the sales page. The Main-Content box, as the name implies, includes all of the visible content of the sales page.

A sales page requires both global and content-specific CSS styling. Global styling includes such considerations as the page background, default font and line attributes, and page margins. Here is the global code I include in my CSS text file for sales pages:

body {

font-size : 62.5%;

font-family : Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, SunSans-Regular, sans-serif;

color : black;

line-height : normal;

background-image : Specify the image URL here;

}

#main_content {

font-size : 1.6em; /* this sets the default font size for the sales page and will display at 16px */

margin : 5%;

}

h1 {

font-size : 2.25em; /* will display at 36px */

}

h2 {

font-size : 1.5em; /* will display at 24px */

}

h3 {

font-size : 1.25em; /* will display at 20px */

}

h4 {

font-size : 1.125em; /* will display at 18px */

}

table.sales-letter {

width : 60em;

margin-left : auto;

margin-right : auto;

table-layout : fixed;

background : #ffffff;

}

The body code above sets the default for the document’s font size to 62.5% of 16px or 10px (px = pixels). This is too small for my sales page, and I adjust it in the #main_content section. The CSS body code also sets the font color to black, the line spacing to normal, the font family to sans-serif (with Verdana as the first choice), and specifies a blue background image used for the body background.

I use the #main_content code to set the actual base font size I use for the sales page text. All other font sizes in the sales page are sized relative to this base. Unless otherwise specified, all text in the sales page will be 1.6em or 16px. I use the margin attribute to provide content spacing between the content and borders around content.

The “Hn” tags set the basic header sizes and are calculated based on the font size I specified for the #main_content. As an example, since I will be using a default font size of 16px for the sales-page content, the H1 font size would be 2.25x16px or 36px. The “Hn” tags can later be modified with additional attributes, such as color and centering.

The CSS table attributes I use place the sales page in roughly the middle half of the full-size display page (1024×768 pixels). The width of the table, 600px, is just right for the line length I want to use. Since the table-layout attribute is “fixed,” the table layout in the browser will be preserved at all times.

Since all of the font sizes are relative to the font size I set in the #main_content section, all sizes can be made larger or smaller by changing just the one value. For more information about the use of ems for sizing, I would suggest a visit to a blog post by Richard Rutter.

After the global formatting is applied page now has some nice-appearing structure.The content now lies between attractive borders and the content is contained on a “page” with adequate margins and on a background of choice.

Below are 12 additional tips, including the CSS code, you can use to stylize specific elements and text in your sales pages.

(1) I want my headline to be big, bold, red, and centered. Here is the CSS code I use:

h1.headline {

line-height : 1.5;

color : #cc0000;

text-align : center;

}

(2) I use a smaller, blue, bold, and centered sub-headline.

h2.subheadline {

line-height : 1.5;

color : #1b356e;

text-align : center;

}

(3) I use a small font size for the spider text and copyright. I position the spider text at the top of the page for the benefit of search engines.

#spidertext, #copyright {

font-size : 1.2em;

}

(4) I use CSS code to position my photo so that it “floats” to the right and any text to the left flows around the photo.

.photo {

float : right;

display : inline;

}

(5) If you want to center section headings and color the text red or blue, here is usable code:

h3.red {

line-height : 1.5;

color : #cc0000;

text-align : center;

}

h4.blue {

line-height : 1.5;

color : #1b356e;

text-align : center;

}

(6) I change the font type for quotations. Using Courier New sets the quotes apart from normal body text.

.quote {

font-family : “Courier New”, Courier, monospace;

}

(7) I use an unnumbered list for my benefits list. The list can be customized to use a custom bullet and extra space between list elements. The CSS code to accomplish my custom list formatting is as follows:

li {

list-style-position: inside;

list-style-image: Specify the image URL here;

list-style-type: none;

margin-bottom: 1em

}

(8) You can highlight important text with a yellow background.

.highlight {

background-color : yellow;

}

(9) You can emphasize text by making it bold.

.bold {

font-weight : bold;

}

.boldred {

font-weight : bold;

color : #cc0000;

}

.boldblue {

font-weight : bold;

color : #0000ff;

}

(10) I like to make sales-page testimonials special by framing them and using a pastel background for the text.

.testimonial {

display : block;

margin-left : auto;

margin-right : auto;

background : #fffacc;

padding : 1em;

border : double;

border-width : thick;

border-color : #999999;

}

(11) The purchase form is a very important component of the sales page. I use a red-dashed border for the form.

.purchase-form {

padding : 1.5em;

border : dashed;

border-width :medium;

border-color : #FF0000 ;

background : #fffac6;

}

(12) If you use an image and associate a link with it, you will want to turn off the border or you will get a distracting blue border around the image.

a img {

border : 0;

}

After all CSS styling has been applied, the sales page now has some *snap* and *pop*. The colorful headline immediately catches the attention of even a casual web surfer. The sales message contained in the sales page is now easy to read and much easier to understand. The well-crafted content-display makes it possible for the sales message to be absorbed with just a rapid page scan. After a preliminary scan, an interested reader will more than likely re-read the page for the details.

Understanding Online Wine Buying Regulations and How To Order Wine Online

In our continuing effort to provide online wine consumer education, included in this segment is a break down of different wine shipping state classifications. We also have included wine delivery tips to ensure your bottle arrives as if it came right from the warehouse.

Buying Wine Online – State Shipping Laws and Delivery

Reciprocal States: Forming strategic alliances, many states now allow incoming and outgoing wine shipments to consumers from member states. Bills passed in these states ensure that consumers and retailers can ship between their borders for the common benefit.

States that form this reciprocal agreement include: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Limited States: These states can receive incoming wine shipments, but are still under regulation. Common limits include a maximum quantity allowed and the exercise of extended taxation.

States with limited wine shipment include: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wyoming.

Prohibited States: These states may require a special license for receiving wine deliveries. Depending on the state laws, receiving wine from carriers may be deemed a misdemeanor or a felony if note a special permit holder.

These states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah.

International: Using air freight shipping, many stores now offer international shipping. The most common and compatible international destination is Japan.

But I live in one of these states and these laws haven’t affected me?

As with any relatively new industry, retailers are finding ways to effectively skate around the law. By utilizing middlemen and coming to warehousing agreements, retailers are finding new streams to get your order to your door the safest way possible. Utilizing multiple warehouses in multiple states provides the retailer the option to accept more orders and comply with differing state legislations. Even though you order from a store in Pennsylvania, your product could be shipped from a partner or subsidiary warehouse in California to comply with laws.

Third party logistic companies are a growing trend to satisfy the markets shipping needs. A prime example is New Vine Logistics who can legally ship wine to 43 states.

Another reason to the lack of uniformed shipping policies on retail sites is the means in which they transfer ownership. The most common phrasing seen on most retailers Terms & Conditions is similar to:

Title to, and ownership of, all wine purchased on this site passes from ‘retailer’ to the ‘purchaser’ in the state of ‘retailer’s state.’ The purchaser takes all responsibility for shipping the purchased wine from ‘retailer’s state’ to his/her home state. By arranging for transportation of the wine, ‘retailer’ is providing a service to, and acting on behalf of the ‘purchaser.’ By using transportation services from ‘retailer,’ the purchaser is representing that he/she is acting in a fashion compliant with his/her local and state laws regarding the purchase, shipping and delivery of wine.”

This allows them to say they sold the goods to you in their home state and helped you arrange a shipping service to mail the wine. A purchase is recognized when they charge your credit card in store, which is prior to the item being packaged and shipped. This allows them to pass title and ownership of the wine to the purchaser in the retailer’s state. Using these terms allows them to bend the current wine shipment laws, by attempting to release themselves from any association to the goods once title is transferred and they are in the courier’s hands.

Please note however that not all sites are worded like this. Some retailers adhere to the strictest shipping and sales standards. Using a service such as this makes the good transferable upon receipt at your location. For example Wine.com, recognizes the legal transfer of goods once you sign and accept the package. They handle any courier discrepancies or insurance claims directly. Shopping through their site may limit your range of shipping options and product availability to your area, but they maintain policies to keep in accordance with local laws.

We have compiled a list of authorized online retailers and the states they will ship to at ClassicWines.com.

Common carriers that ship most online wine orders are FedEx, UPS and DHL. By law, alcohol cannot be shipped to PO Boxes nor APO/FPO Addresses. Standard practice for these authorized shipping companies is to require and adult over the age of 21 to sign for the package with photo ID required. Couriers will not leave packages unattended at your location for any reason. Package comments such as “leave at front door” will be ignored as these couriers are specially trained to handle alcohol deliveries.

Aside from age and signature verification, the shipping process is the same as with common goods. In the process, as with UPS and FedEx standards, your courier will provide three (3) separate delivery attempts on consecutive days. After this time, packages are held at your local distribution plant while the courier will research its status with the sender or receiver.

On day five (5) the package will be marked as ‘Undeliverable.’ This means the shipment will be returned to sender. Upon return, most retailers will pass the return shipping expense to your credit card on file as is customary in most online ordering policies.

Don’t fret there are ways to avoid this route.

1. Try having the packaged shipped to your business or another residential location where someone over 21 can receive the package.
2. Use the online tracking tools available by your courier. These can help you make sure someone is available to receive the on the date estimated by your provider.
3. Go express! Express delivery services can guarantee what day the item will be at your door. Specialty services can even guarantee a time frame at which they will arrive.
4. Even though a delivery attempt failed, most packages are sent back to the distribution center in the early evening.

These locations can be found on the shippers website and most are open and staffed until later in the evening. They welcome walk-ins, but make sure you bring the tracking number and any documentation left by the courier at your door.

Many sites offer more than wine, such as stemware, accessories and gift baskets. Any shipment that contains wine adheres to these shipping policies; however, other items can be shipped to virtually any location.

Buying wine is similar to any other web purchase. Being an informed consumer will help ensure your online shopping experience is fun and secure.

The Sameday Courier Business

MODERN-DAY EQUIVALENT OF MYTHOLOGICAL MERCURY

There’s just something about these bicycle-riding guys with elbow pads and safety helmets, roller-bladers with the same safety bands, and those skate boarders criss-crossing the streets, weaving through cars and pedestrians that tell you they are not there for fun. The ubiquitous pouch bag slung around their shoulders gives them away-they are couriers. In their faces, you could see the urgency, and the seriousness they give to their jobs, they are employees of Sameday courier service outfits.

There is a growing demand for this service with the pace businesses are going nowadays. UPS, DHL, Fed-Ex, or even the good old US Postal Service just could not equal the kind of service these package delivery outfits provide-mostly they follow a set schedule of pick-ups and deliveries. With local courier service, all you have to do is call them and in a flash (not unlike Mercury), they’re there to pick up your parcel to be delivered to your intended recipient.

A typical day-to-day delivery of these couriers range from such items as small as letters, documents, to large envelopes and briefs; flowers, foods, to small packages or boxes for medical items, and even pets. It is not unusual though that local courier services also handle transmittal of large bulk of items or commercial freight shipments that are to be delivered to airports.

PUTTING UP YOUR OWN SAMEDAY COURIER SERVICE

First thing you must have is a mode of transportation. A van would be good; a dependable bicycle actually would be a better choice if you work downtown. You may also use your car if that’s the only thing you have. What we’re talking about here is that you must have a vehicle to ensure that you deliver packages fast-that is what Sameday Courier Service is all about. If you don’t want to “smear” your van or your car yet with painted advertisement of your services, you may use magnetic signs. It is important that you place your company name, address, telephone number, city, and most important of all, the nature of your business. This will help you get more clients, and this will help you assume an “official business” identity (this would also work wonders in getting through strictly guarded gates.)

Another thing you have to carefully consider are the type of items you will pick up and deliver as a Sameday courier service. These items will then guide you with a list of clients based on the type of industry or business they belong, e.g., for simple parcels, or documents, you may wish to contact trading centers, business offices or legal offices. The latter have a lot of transmittal that need to be delivered or claimed on a daily basis and they would always need the services of a Sameday courier outfit. You may want to expand to specialized clients like hospitals, factories, etc. You will be surprised with the numerous transmittals they would require that could not be handled by their own car pool.

There are also the requirements that you have to take care of when putting up your courier venture like business permit, bond, and other licensing details that are required by the different departments of your local government. Even if you intend to operate your Sameday courier business by yourself at first, it would do you good if you would have a business photo ID that you could take anywhere. Nothing beats dealing with someone who is properly identified. A set of business cards would also help expand your business.

Shipping Supplies – Getting Familiar With Bubble Mailers

Did you have bad experience with your courier service where some goods you are sending were all messed up or broken? Indeed, no recipient would be happy to receive items in bad form or shape. Well, if you must really evaluate further, it may not totally be your courier’s fault. Somehow, your choice of shipping envelopes or any other shipping supplies has something to do with it.

Indeed, we can never do without shipping supplies when we need to send out something with the use of a courier service. When ordinary envelopes can’t do, the sealed air mailers or bubble envelopes can certainly do better.

Bubble envelopes or sealed air mailers are special shipping envelopes. They usually have the self-sealing characteristic and are padded bubble wraps or cushions on the inside. They also help keep or maintain the shape and form of the transported item; which is the reason why they are also known as protective mailers.

A lot of individuals also know them as cushion mailers. Why they are called such is already self explanatory. Just to name a few, photos, books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and electronic components, we need to safely place them in these cushion mailers padded with plastic bubble wraps for some real cushioning.

Since they are only special shipping envelopes that are padded with plastic bubble wraps, the use of bubble mailers, should not apply to all items. There are materials that are breakable or fragile that should be better packed with other shipping supplies.

Fragile materials should use other forms of shipping supplies, instead. For example, we can use shipping boxes with bubble wraps inside to wrap and cushion the fragile material really well. Therefore, we can only use the bubble envelope or sealed air mailers for some light or standard cushioning.

It is generally recommended that we stock up on bubble mailers rather than having to buy them in singles. Just like anything sold online, we can definitely save more if we buy in large quantities.