7 effortless ways to make website copy truly persuasive
Good website copy convinces your target audience of the value of using your business – by getting under their skin.
If you get under the skin, you’ve engaged them emotionally. And you do this by being persuasive.
What is persuasive copy? Good copy sparks a conversation and connection with a reader. Persuasive copy moves them to do something actionable.
Call, subscribe, join, submit, purchase or complete something. And it doesn’t always mean instantly.
Persuasion is the domain of marketers and copywriters (geez, it’s part of my business name). I love the word, yet understand its bias. We use our words and structure our sentences to enhance this craft to persuade. But any writing is looking to do this.
Where does it fit into your website? The ability for people to go further into your pages and be convinced of your value is what good copy should do.
I believe when a user comes to your website and reads, listens or views your content, it should convince them that you are the real deal and have something for them that makes their lives better.
There’s already the weight of crap out there vying for attention, therefore the website copy you display has to hit a person between the eyes and on their level.
Persuasive copy requires a unique juggling act of precision, engagement, and conversion. You need to know the nuances of your audience well enough to speak to them about what they need help with.
There’s plenty of resources out there that focus on just the tactics of conversion.
But I wanted to go further and look towards the copy not only converting customers but having them return because of what you say and how you say it.
Here are seven ways you can make your website copy truly persuasive:
1 – The rhythm and momentum of the copy
There’s an energy and smoothness in how your copy sounds that helps readers stick around and take the next step. Your words should work together as a team, and flow through to the end without stumbling the reader.
This rhythm helps any user go through your website content like an open road, no cars stopping you at the front and none coming up behind you.
The momentum, however, is your copy’s snowball effect; it starts off small but picks up pace as it heads down the mountain.
For example, say a small tour operator is talking to young wannabe backpackers at a travel expo about taking up their awesome travel trips to Europe.
Would they be reserved, low-key and formal? Lord no, they’d be full of energy, positive and give easy answers to the questions asked of them.
That sense of potential, of getting out to explore the world, would spill out of their presentation. Their rhythm and momentum convincing the backpackers to choose their packages, by speaking directly to the audience’s sensibilities.
The same should apply to the tour operator’s website, although it doesn’t need to be as highly charged.
Intrepid Travel (who I’ve discussed in a previous post) take these two elements seriously. It’s persuasive copy is aimed at a unique audience looking for alternative travel experiences. The words work as a team, and flow easily from one to the next.
This pushes the momentum along, convincing the reader to go further into their site for deals and resources.
Worth noting: A reader should be surfing your content wave right onto the beach, and not realise how easily they’ve arrived there.
2 – The types of words that persuade?
Well, there’s a host of resources on the interwebs that have lists of the most persuasive words for copy – take a look at John Morrow’s 317 power word list and Copyblogger’s post. But what I’m talking about here is words that match your reader’s mindset.
You need those words sprinkled throughout the copy to help users arrive at a conversion point.
Persuasive website copy shouldn’t waste a word, yet still break open a conversation with its words. Like I mentioned before, it’s a balance.
The selection must be understood by your reader, so they don’t stumble or have to look up meanings or definitions in your copy.
They may know the technical jargon of your industry, but if you use a word like agile in your copy, they might have to look that up.
Which is goodbye to that connection.
The persuasive words chosen should be easily understood by your audience but not too simplistic. So some research into your competitors and online communities here can help you whittle down this list.
They also should be actionable. These words should be present or future tense, not past tense. To give that feeling of getting future success.
3 – Having an emotional heartbeat
Persuasive copy should get an emotional response.
A book called Neuromarketing talks about the different sections of our brains that affect our emotion and decision-making skills. They are the new brain, middle brain and old brain.
The old brain, our oldest and most primal part of our brain, holds our decision-making abilities. It’s also quite selfish when making these decisions and needs some convincing to do so, especially when there’s something significant at stake.
But it also runs on the emotional responses it gets from information.
Marketers use words built around fear or negative consequences, like mistakes and avoid, because of the return rates on them. Not surprisingly, negative words have an edge over positive words in terms of conversion but use them wisely.
I feel stoking the fear in your copy can give you cheap wins to start but be detrimental to any potential ongoing relationship.
You can hit the right emotional chords and still be positive.
For example, Sydney Story Factory website uses persuasive copy for positive rewards. They do free creative writing workshops for children aged seven to seventeen in the Sydney region, and look for funding, donations and people power to continue their work.
The copy is simple, creative and positive, including new stories from their students and the ways you can help.
The donate page is just fantastic, telling you what your donation goes towards ($30.00 covers a place for a child in their one hour workshop while $250.00 pays for a child to attend one full term of after school workshops).
An emotional heartbeat to the persuasive copy can make any old brain decide.
4 – The layout of your website
Apparently we’re all time- and attention-poor yet still spend hours looking through YouTube or Facebook feeds (oh yes, I’m including myself here).
It also means people will not take things further if your content layout is hard to read or follow.
Web users scan content and note the first and last sentence of any paragraph. So you have to make your copy as easy as possible to scan.
Breaking up paragraphs into a couple of sentences or having sentences sit by themselves can help readers scan the content.
The easier the layout is to view, the easier it is to connect.
A good example of content layout is Outbrain. It’s a content marketing service that promotes client’s content to a wider audience by sending it on to big media authorities.
When you’re on their homepage, you’ll see there is not a lot of copy. It’s placed into segments as you scroll down, so there’s no issue with crowding or being difficult to read.
But what the copy says sells the value of using their service in short and sharp grabs. They ‘capture your target audience’s attention to drive better results for your business’ and talk about its unique products as ‘driving success for all business types’.
There’s a maximum of two sentences to each blurb, yet it leaves you wanting to go further into the services offered.
5 – Video, audio, images and copy
Okay I’ve been talking about writing here but the choice of words you use in video content, podcasts, infographics or through social media channels is important too.
Video has its own challenges because of the fluidity of the conversation, whether it’s an online training video or Snapchat story, they don’t lend themselves to succinct language.
But like an elevator pitch, persuasive language used at precise times, be it at the start of finish of a video, can drive action from potential customers.
The rules here aren’t hard and fast but a good example of video content placed alongside website copy is Entrepreneur Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich website.
Sethi’s a great communicator and he talks about the recurring pain points of starting a new business or job and how do deal with them. His style is blunt but extremely effective. He tells stories of people succeeding using his training courses and persuades in a very conversational way.
The videos are a masterclass in making video reach out to potential students, all next to his persuasive website copy. His site also has links to podcasts he’s done and videos from successful graduates using his online course.
He knows exactly how to win over his target audience and get them contacting his team.
6 – Personalisation
I’ve talked about personality in content before but I think it’s essential for good persuasive copy. Persuasive copy needs personality to work.
And when I talk personality, I mean as informal as you think you can get away with.
A human connection comes from a relationship through conversation. No-one trusts someone or some business they just met without vetting them.
Using the tips above and saying it your way makes the persuasion so much easier.
Joanna Wiebe, creator of Copyhackers, puts this personality into her content like eggs to flour. They work together and rise into something worth your time. Her content output is high and the copyhackers site is full of her musings that pull in a large entrepreneurial audience.
The style is formidable without you noticing its power.
I think it’s down to the personality she puts into the website copy on top of the interesting articles she publishes. It’s worth noting the other content writers who assist with this content output, yet they keep to this personality mantra in their writing.
Again, she is a copywriter by trade so it’s no wonder the copy lights up the screen.
7 – Reciprocity
People want to return a favour or gift if they’ve been given one.
The nature of reciprocity has worked so successfully for human society and cultures since we became self-aware. Although we have been ruled by kings and queens, the community aspect of humans makes us want to give something in return to another when someone gives something to us.
It makes total sense, and a more socially attuned community.
Persuasive copy can work the same way. If you have an ebook or video training segment that you give away for free, people are more willing to supply their email address to you. Because they are returning a favour for the gifts you’re giving out.
Robert Cialdini talks about this at length in his book. He even lists examples of nations who may be worse off financially than the countries they are giving money to, simply because that country had helped them out before.
That sense of good will and obligation is a powerful driver in our minds. And if used well in website content, can convert so much better.
Persuasive copy isn’t tactics at all. It should be about convincing.
From the types of words chosen to the ideal length of your headlines, your copy should open up a conversation with a customer, and go towards your end destination; the conversion.
Sometimes short and upfront is needed. Sometimes sharp and flexible. Always actionable, in one way or another.
What other essential things do you believe are needed for good persuasive website copy? Why are they just as important?
If you’re wanting great website copy but lack the time to do it the way you want then connect with me today. To convert the right people over to your business.