Persuasion Techniques in Copywriting

Part of learning to be a successful copywriter is learning how to be more persuasive. To do this, it’s necessary to dig into psychological ideas and understand what makes people tick, and how to motivate them to take action.

Being persuasive isn’t immoral or bad – it’s part of everyday life and how we interact with people. Becoming more persuasive in your copywriting will be an eye-opener, a look into the world of salesmanship and, more generally, how to be persuasive in everyday life.

The power of rhyme

Ideas that rhyme are more persuasive. For example, it’s more persuasive to say, “This product is made from great grapes.” Is more persuasive than “This product is made from amazing grapes.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be speaking poetically all the time. It does mean that sprinkling in rhymes at key moments of copy can be powerful.

The power of reciprocity

A great way to persuade people to buy from you is to be the first in providing value. This is the principle that content marketing is based off. If you can first solve a small problem for someone, they are more likely to come to you later and pay you to solve a bigger problem.

For example, they come to your website to learn how they can clean their car in half the time, they then come to your website to buy car insurance. You’ve solved a small problem, they feel that they need to reciprocate by paying you for something, so they buy car insurance.

The power of oddness

Things that are bizarre and unusual are more compelling than something bland and ordinary. For example, the tagline “Our laptops are like spaceships for your mind,” is more memorable than, “our laptops are fast and good for web browsing.” Again, this doesn’t mean everything needs to become ridiculous, but as an occasional tool to grab attention and be persuasive, it works.

The power of authority

If someone in a position of authority publicly approves your product, the more likely others are to buy it. Ideally, this is someone who is a leader in the field, has qualifications, and a great reputation – all of these things will make their opinion more powerful. When you show this person likes your product, your copywriting becomes more persuasive to the customer.

The power of your peers

As well as people in positions of power, people are largely affected by what people in a similar position to them are doing. The most powerful example of this is when all your friends are doing something, you want to do that thing as well. Practically, you don’t know what the friends of the reader are doing, but you can address people in their demographic.

For example, if you know most of your clients are 20-25, you can say “20-25-year-olds love our products,” then readers in that age range will think “I’m in that demographic, maybe I’ll like it too.” This is the power of belonging and group identity. Use it mindfully and your copy will be more persuasive.

Take responsibility for negative experiences

It might seem counter-intuitive but being able to take responsibility and own up to a failure will actually make you and/or your business more compelling. Of course, you don’t want to create a reputation for being incompetent. But occasionally taking complete responsibility and being able to say “sorry” correctly will help your business to be more persuasive because it is better perceived.

Share learning experiences with your audience

This is similar to the preceding point. Creating a public image of a business that is human and humble will make it more appealing.

People don’t want to buy from a brand that seems to always be perfect because they know the real world is messy and no one or thing is perfect. A business that takes responsibility, apologizes when appropriate, and makes its learning experiences public is better perceived by its clientele.

Be specific with promises

When selling a product or service, it helps to be very specific in the promises you make. For example, it is better to say, “Lose 6 pounds of fat in 6 weeks with our product” than it is to say, “Lose fat with our product.” Specific promises are easier to grasp for the customer and they’ll feel more confident in the product. Grey, fuzzy promises are less appealing. Make promises as specific as possible, and also make downsides as specific as possible.

For example, minimize the downside by saying “there is a 30-day money back guarantee” rather than “we have an excellent returns policy.” The former gives a clear, definite promise to the customer that they can feel confident in, the latter is less appealing because the customer is more unsure what they are getting.

Get emotional

People buy when they have their emotions stirred. You want the reader to feel excited by what the product will give them – you want them to feel the crushing downside if they don’t get the benefits you are promising. Do everything you can to push the potential customer to feel strong emotions and push the upside hard whilst antagonizing the customer’s fears.

Newness and novelty are powerful

Differentiation in the marketplace is a powerful way to make your product seem better than the competition. If it’s the first in the product, that’s fantastic. If it isn’t the first, make it different, better in some definitive way. Always think about how you can present something as being better and newer. Also, don’t be afraid to focus on the unusualness of the product. 

Use testimonials

This comes back to minimizing risk. No customer wants to take a risk when they buy a product. So, the more you can ease all their worries, the better. To do this, have multiple, excellent testimonials throughout your marketing.

If in doubt, discount

Emphasizing the cost savings of a product is always a great move. People love a deal. There is nothing new here. Consider the positioning of the product or service in the marketplace. If you have something more premium, perhaps make the price an afterthought. If the product or service is deliberately priced to be competitive, make this prominent in the sales material.

Sell time

As well as cost savings, customers are trying to save time. Therefore, when positioning a product, focus on the ways in which it will save time for the customer. Everyone wants to save time – it’s perhaps the most valuable commodity humans have.

This means that you’ll want to focus on how fast the product is to take effect, and how little time is needed to put it into place. Think “6-minute abs”. In this example, “6 minutes” is such a small-time investment it makes the sale a lot easier. We can all imagine finding 6 minutes a day to work out our abs – pushing this aspect of the product makes it highly desirable.

Start and end strong

When you are listing a series of benefits to a customer, it is helpful to start and end with the best. This is so you get their attention initially and push their emotional state at the end, so they choose to buy.

This applies to any form of sales text, whether it is an email, article, or landing page. There has to be a hook initially, and there has to be a clear, strong push at the end.

Test what works for your brand

Every brand will have some persuasion techniques they currently rely on more than others. Take note of these and then begin to integrate new ones and add new creative directions for the sales copy. However, you don’t want to be doing this in the dark.

The best way to proceed with a campaign is to measure results and then double down on what is working. Do A/B testing whenever possible. This simply means trying one mode against another and then choosing the mode that sells more.

For example, create two different sales emails to send to your email list. Have one focus more on time savings and the other focuses on cost savings. Send these emails out and then track which email has the best results. You now know which persuasion tactic is better suited to the brand and where to focus in future. Always be testing. Find what works. Do more of that.

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