Bullet points are a critical, yet often underutilized element of creating sales copy that converts. Bullet points allow you to make your sales copy easier to read and can help you draw attention to the best aspects of your offer.
Credit to Ray Edwards
I wouldn't feel right typing another word about bullet points without first giving credit for much of what I know about bullet points (particularly the 21 bullet types I'm about to share) to one of my marketing idols, Ray Edwards. Ray's book, How to Write Copy That Sells, changed how I viewed bullet points.
Bullet points were no longer an afterthought in my sales copy and my sales improved as a result. I highly recommend you shell out $12 and get a copy. Every page of the book is worth its weight in gold, but if you want to jump straight into the section on bullet points, flip to chapter 5 (page 62).
We are in an increasingly competitive battle for our reader's attention and bullet points help us make sure visitors have a better understanding of our offer before they decide to leave the page. Using bullet points properly helps reduce the mortal copywriting sin of losing potential customers because we confused or bored them.
Bullet Points Are Like Eyebrows
A sales page without bullet points is like a face without eyebrows. It just doesn't look right AND it's harder to decipher what someone (sans eyebrows) is saying. Eyebrows are an important part of communicating emotions just like bullet points are key to communicating benefits.
In this post I'm going to share some best practices for using bullet points in your sales copy and show you 21 different types of bullet points you can use immediately. Everything I'm about to show you applies to both print and digital advertising but my personal experience is in the digital realm.
Bullet Point Best Practices
The following are best practices for crafting and using bullet points in your sales copy. As with all rules, they can be broken but you need to understand them before you can venture into bending them.
#1 Keep Your Bullet Points Short
Remember, the point of bullet points is to quickly make your point. Yes, you can expand on your bullets but be careful not to over do it. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your bullet points shorter than a tweet.
When writing sales copy, bullet points shouldn’t be longer than a tweet. The goal is to use them to quickly get your point across to the reader.— Nate McCallister (@entreresource) January 2, 2019
If you want to be a rebel and expand on bullet points, do something to make the most important part (the first sentence) stand out from the rest of the text. This can be done with a simple bold, contrasting color, highlights, a different font or by using ALL CAPS.
#2 Keep your bullet points symmetrical if possible.
Great copywriting isn't just about the words used but how we position them on the page. Symmetry in our copy refers to the structure and length of your bullet points and how we place them within the sales page.
One piece of symmetry is bullet point length. If your first bullet is 30 characters, it will look goofy if your next bullet is 200 and the one after that is 20. Will it cause you reader to vomit and leave your page in disgust? No, but it will help your chances of getting your reader to your call to action.
Now, don’t sacrifice substance and clarity for structure but when you have 105 bullet points to choose from (more on that in a minute) you should be able to make the bullets aesthetically appealing. Aesthetic appeal doesn’t sell products but it does help us keep the reader on the page so we can get them to read the content that does.
Another aspect of symmetry is how we group our bullet points together. It is highly recommended that you try to use 3-5 different groupings of bullet points throughout a traditional sales page. This seems to be the golden number.
Instead of having fifty bullets in a row, I would break that up into five different lists of ten bullets each, using different bullet types in each of those sections of your copy, breaking that up with different subsections of your copy and paragraphs so the flow stays even.
Spread your bulleted lists as evenly throughout your sales copy as possible. Don't sacrifice relevance for perfect balance but you should strive to keep a nice flow to how you break up content with bulleted lists.
The image above is just a broad example and your own sales copy may have additional elements like testimonials, videos etc. Aim to balance your elements accordingly so that the reader doesn't get bored.
#3 Remember that bullets (like headlines) are not necessarily sentences
Don't get caught up on making your bullet points complete sentences. This isn't 4th grade english class. Get the point across and forget the formalities. Spelling always matters but you can use fragment sentences, slang and bend any rule that makes your bullet points easier for your reader to digest.
Your bank statement is your new report card.
#4 Bullet Points Can Be Numbers
It’s not the symbol that sells, it’s the substance. The structure is what helps draw attention to the substance so use whatever symbol or number helps draw the readers attention best. There are actually four ways to create bullets.
- Default "circle" bullets. These are what come to mind when you hear "bullet points" I'm sure.
- Custom icons. You can use unique icons that give even more clarity to your bulleted points. Site builders like Clickfunnels and Thrive Themes make this easy.
- Custom images. This is a very unique method that can have the same impact as a bulleted list when done properly (see image below).
I'm sure many will argue that the image above isn't technically a bulleted list, but I say, "who cares?" It has the exact same impact as a bulleted list. It draws the readers eye, breaks up monotony and quickly highlights important features and benefits.
#5 Write More Bullets Than You Use
I recommend (and this is a direct steal from Ray Edward’s) that whenever your writing an important piece of sales copy that you write a minimum of 5 bullet points for each of the 21 types I’m about to show you. That leaves you with 105 bullets to choose from. Unless you’re selling real estate on Mars, you won’t need the persuasive power of all 105 bullets.
#6 Groups of Three Are Ideal in Emails and At End of Sales Pages
Three seems to be the perfect number for bullet points within email marketing campaigns because it allows you to make your point without getting too long winded. Studies show that readers tend to prefer groups of three and are more likely to read them all compared to longer lists. Using just two bullet points looks odd because we are taught in school that bullets should only be used for lists of 3 or more items. Even though sales copy bends the rules of traditional grammar and formatting, this is one rule I always abide by.
#7 TESTING IS THE ONLY WAY TO REALLY KNOW IF YOUR BULLETS ARE WORKING.
I'm going to share some bullet styles you can use but it's up to you to test what works best for your audience. There is no "best type of bullet point." Every market and product responds differently. A/B test and find out what works best for your audience.
Note on Testing
Bullet points are important and they are getting their well deserved moment in the spotlight in this article, but they are still not the most important element of your sales copy. So, if you choose to create A/B tests, this means that they shouldn't be the first things that you test. The first thing you should test is your main headline. Then your call to action. Then your sub headlines. THEN you can work on bullet points. Good copy is a work of constant improvement and your writing is never "done for good," it's just "done for now."
#8 Start Drafting Bullets Before You Create Anything Else (Even Headlines)
The first thing a good copywriter does when they sit down to a blank page and blinking cursor is write out all of the features and benefits of their offering.
Your final copy will obviously start with a headline BUT a great way to craft a headline is to start with the bullet points. Doing this will help you realize everything the product has to offer and you can use this new found awareness to craft a headline that crushes.
21 Bullet Types You Can Use Immediately
Ray Edwards outlined the following 21 different bullet point types in How to Write Copy That Sells. I've created a downloaded excel workbook that you can use to create these bullet point types for your own products. Download it below!
1. The “Wrong!” Bullet
This bullet involves contradicting a common assumption. The power here is that your reader's curiosity will be piqued because you're saying "what you thought was true is false." It's human nature to be intrigued when someone tells you you're being lied to.
You can do this in different ways but the underlying formula is: Common Assumption --> Unique Contradiction.
"You think 'X'? Wrong! The Answer is 'Y'"
The example above comes from the sales page for a book called "The Renegade Diet" (which I haven't tried and am in no way promoting). They state 5 "myths" and contradict them with 5 "facts."
Obviously, you don't contradict assumptions just for shock value. That's no better than the tabloids in front of the checkout at Walmart claiming Oprah, Joe Biden and Barack Obama are caught up in a love triangle. Don't wrongfully contradict common assumptions unless you have proof. Don't worry though, there are enough misconceptions out there in every niche. You won't need to force it.
2. The “Themed Sequence” Bullet
Themed sequence bullets could be something like, "The 5 Deadly Sins of Pay Per Click Advertising" or "The 5 Secrets of Growing Muscle." You'd present the secrets or sins (or whatever theme you use) in numbered bullets. The bullets can be as clever as you want as long as they are in line with the theme.
3. The “Two-Step” Bullet
This bullet point starts with a benefit and then offers a parenthetical elaboration on it. You use this type of bullet point to heighten the reader's curiosity. Only when they purchase your offer will they get the benefit and avoid any negative consequences that could be caused if they don't.
Example (Affiliate Marketing Course): What to never do when sharing affiliate links and why. (If you get this wrong you will lose trust and may even face legal action!)
In the example above, the reader must buy the product or live with the fact they might not ever know why they are possibly setting themselves up for lost trust and possible legal action.
4. The “Giveaway” Bullet
The giveaway bullet involves dropping free information on your readers. This does two things.
First, it establishes your authority. If you provide new information, readers will see you as more credible. More credibility means more sales.
Second, if you give away great information for free, the reader will have to ask himself, "If this is what they give for FREE, what do I get if I pay?!?" For this reason, you shouldn't be afraid of giving away some of your best information upfront. Don't giveaway all of your secrets but don't be afraid to give some upfront.
5. The “Reverse Hook” Bullet
This bullet starts with an interesting fact and follows it with an unexpected benefit that leverages it.
Example (SEO Course): Nearly 2/3rds of all search engine clicks go to the first 6 results. Learn how to turn "dead" content into serious sources of organic traffic by making a few small changes to crack into this important zone.
The example above shows an interesting fact and then elaborates on how it relates to the offer.
6. The “Naked Benefit” Bullet
This is one of the most straightforward bullet points. It highlights a benefit that would be achieved once the customer purchases your offer.
Example (Private Mentorship): How to ensure that you are always working on the right things and never wasting time, effort and money.
7. The “Transactional” Bullet. Simple transaction:
This is one of my favorite bullet points because it quantifies the value of the offer beyond money. This is formatted as:
"You give me 'X'? and I'll give you 'Y'"
The value that you exchange will always be exponentially greater than the cost to the customer.
Example (Outsourcing for Bloggers Course): Give me 2 hours to teach you how to outsource your content and I will have you focusing only on what matters most, writing killer content.
This bullet reassures the potential buyer that his investment (time, money, effort, etc) should see massive returns. Be careful with promises though. If you make a promise of results, be prepared to support it with a money back guarantee or you could risk a lawsuit.
8. The “If… Then…” Bullet
This is similar to the transactional bullet. Instead of the potential buyer investing something (time, energy, money etc.) we highlight a qualifier that they likely already fit. This is formatted as:
"If you (simple qualifier) then you can (large result).
Example (Learn Piano Course): If you have 10 minutes per day, you can learn piano in just 3 months.
The example above makes it clear that the course requires minimal effort from the buyer. Everyone has 10 minutes to spare.
9. The “Truth About” Bullet
This bullet point plays off of controversial issues in your market. This type of bullet is polarizing and will draw the attention of readers regardless of which side of the issue they fall on.
Example (Keto Diet Program): The truth about fats. - Hint: you've been lied to.
10. The “Single Most” Bullet
This bullet should be used if you have a superior solution that can be proved. Do you have the fastest method? The easiest? The most affordable? Whatever it is, if it's superlative, this bullet point works.
Example (YouTube Marketing Course): Learn the single most important aspect of creating viral videos.
11. The “How-To” Bullet
This bullet is extremely straightforward. Since nearly all marketers are using these bullets, you should set yours apart by "dimensionalizing" the end result. This means you state the how but also paint a picture of the end result.
Example (SEO Course): How to improve SEO and 2x organic traffic in 90 days.
12. The “Number” Bullet
Another straightforward bullet used when you have a specific number of techniques, solutions, problems, etc. to share.
Example (Affiliate Marketing Course): The three big reason your affiliate sales aren’t where you want them to be.
Adding numbers makes a single bullet point hold more value since it technically represents more than one benefit.
13. The “Sneaky” Bullet
This bullet point is used when you want to imply some form of conspiracy. It should affirm the readers suspicions that there is something going on behind their backs and you can help resolve it.
Example (PPC Course): The sneaky way Google charges you more for ads than they should.
14. The “Better Than” Bullet
Use this bullet if you want to show how your offering is even better than something that is already pretty good.
Example (Outsourcing Course): Learn the methods that can bring results better than hiring a costly professional content marketing company.
Be very careful with this bullet if you're in any health-related market. Make sure you’re following the rules of compliance with the FTC, the FDA, and any of the other relevant regulatory agencies.
Another way to use the better than bullet is with this formula:
"Better than 'x': Fact showing why"
Example (Athletic Greens Supplement): Better than juicing: Less work with more nutrients.
15. The “Simple Fact” Bullet
Another straightforward bullet point. Use this bullet if you can present worst case scenarios or problems that your product solves or prevents.
Example (Advertising Agency): Many, MANY influencers aren’t making a fraction of the money that they easily could. We make sure that doesn't happen.
16. The “What” Bullet
These are the easiest types of bullets to write. You just state what your offer solves.
Example (Personal Training):
- What exercises to do
- What weights to use
- What foods to eat
This would be a simple example of the "what bullet" used in a way that would quickly answer the question, "what does the training provide." These bullet points can typically be expanded on and combined with other types of bullets if you'd like.
17. The “What Never” Bullet
This is just the negative form of the "What" bullet.
Example (Productivity Couse): What never to spend your valuable time doing, (this will save you hundreds of hours a year!)
18. The “Do You?” Bullet
This bullet is used when you think your readers are doing something wrong and your offering can solve it.
Example (Fastlinqs Software): Do you open spreadsheets or word documents to grab your affiliate links when you need them?
Side note, Fastlinqs is my own software and you should definitely go check it out!
19. The “Reason Why” Bullet
This type just hints that you know the reason why someone is experiencing a difficulty. You don't state it, but you allude that it will be answered. This instills curiosity in the reader.
Example (Blogging Course): The reason why your affiliate sales suck and your traffic bounces.
20. The “Secrets Of” Bullet
If you have a unique solution, device, tactic, or method, then you can use this bullet to build curiosity.
Example (Outsourcing Course): The secret of delegating tasks without losing your unique voice!
Ever since Russell Brunson released his popular marketing book "Dot Com Secrets," it seems everyone and their brother is using this tactic. Be careful not to over do it.
21. The “Probing Question” Bullet.
This bullet point encourage the reader to ask themselves a question. We don't know the answer but we use this bullet when it will likely make our product more desirable in some way.
Example (Content Marketing Agency): Do you worry about trusting someone to help grow your blog?
This sort of bullet point can lead the reader to an "a-ha!" moment. It can also help them see that you understand their needs and desires.
Other Bullet Points
The 21 themed bullets above are of course not the only possible bullet types you can create.
Don't be afraid to do what works. For Athletic Greens (a company that I believe succeeds because of their marketing and not because of the true benefit of the product) just stating the facts works for them. The example above states very "matter of fact" details about the product and the company that makes it without diving into benefits. The benefits of "10,000 loyal customers" or "10 years of intense research" are easy to infer. They sacrifice long windedness for simplicity and I think it works.