At the very core of copywriting, within its verbose and descriptive walls, lies persuasion. In other words, the art of convincing someone to see your point of view or do what you want them to do.
And that’s exactly what great copy does — it convinces the reader to act. Click the link! Buy the stupid gadget! Share this shit!
Copywriters are storytellers who lean heavily on persuasive writing techniques. So, you need to be skilled in the art of persuasion if you wanna succeed.
But if you’re utterly clueless about how persuasion works, or you want to up your copywriting game with some f-f-fresh techniques, this, my friend, is the post for you.
So let’s crack on with a look at what persuasion actually is.
Table of contents:
- 1. What is persuasion?
- 2. What is persuasive writing?
- 3. Why learn persuasive writing?
- 4. What are the other copywriting skills?
- 5. Is that all the copywriting skills?
- 6. Persuasive techniques:
- 1. Empathise with the reader
- 2. Incorporate cold, hard facts and data
- 3. Repetition, repetition, repetition
- 4. Use the ‘because’
- 5. Show off your social proof
- 6. Go tribal
- 7. Make comparisons
- 8. Leverage scarcity
- 9. Use ‘you’ language
- 10. Foreshadow like a time traveller
- 11. Address objections
- 12. Flaunt your unique selling proposition (USP)
- 13. Storyselling with storytelling
- 7. Don’t underestimate the power of persuasion as a copywriting skill!
What is persuasion?
“Do you want to come welly wanging?”
Said no one, ever.
Ha, that’s not true. Welly wanging is a fine British sport enjoyed by many, well, maybe not that many. But as sentences go, you probably wouldn’t describe it as persuasive, would you?
In short, persuasion is getting people to say “yes” to what you want them to do.
So a more persuasive approach might be along the lines of…
“It’s a lovely sunny day, there’s cold cider, and we’re going to have so much fun. So, C’mon, let’s go welly wanging!”
See the difference? And don’t you really wanna go now?
The latter sentence uses persuasion techniques that trigger an emotional response in the reader, making them more likely to say “yes” to your request.
Persuasion is the art of changing someone’s opinion or getting them to take a particular course of action by leaning into their emotional triggers.
It’s worth noting here the key difference between persuasion and manipulation.
With persuasion, the person being persuaded is happy that they decided to say “yes.” They feel good about it.
“Fuck, yes! I want to go welly wanging!”
There was no forceful coercion involved. Now with manipulation, that’s a different story.
Manipulation uses underhanded tactics to get someone to do something against their will or better judgment by playing on their emotions. As a result, they might not be happy about it and may even regret their decision later.
And that is never good and isn’t persuasion.
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is the art of writing copy that triggers an emotional response in the reader, making them more likely to take the desired course of action.
It’s a bit like playing emotional chess. You need to know what moves will result in the desired outcome and then make them. But the outcome must be a win-win — an offer so good, they can’t refuse.
With fuck all manipulation!
As a copywriter, it’s your job to outline a specific deal in a way that makes perfect sense to that particular reader. So, first, you need to find out what they’re struggling with— their pain points. Then, speak directly to those needs. Finally, show them that you understand and have the ideal solution for them. Boom! Sales and glory.
You do this by using persuasive writing techniques that make your case as compelling as Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard.
Why learn persuasive writing?
Because it’s a core copywriting skill. Duh! And pretty bloody important when you’re being a writer.
As you’ve seen, persuasion is the beating heart of copywriting. If you can’t persuade people to take action, your copy will flop, and your clients won’t be impressed.
Plus, it’s a skill that’ll stand you in good stead in all areas of your life, not just copywriting. So whether you’re trying to convince your partner to get a pet ostrich or entice your kids to eat their greens, persuasion is a handy tool to have in your arsenal.
But as far as persuasive writing skills rather than general persuasion skills go, it can be the difference between a successful campaign and an absolute shit show.
Blogs that are read and adored, or ones that gather digital dust.
Emails that get opened or ones that get deleted.
Web pages that get visited or ones that get ignored.
You see where we’re going with this?
If you can attract people to your content like bees to flowers AND keep them interested in what you’re saying, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful copywriter. So let’s get stuck in and take a look at some persuasive writing techniques that’ll transform your copy from “meh” to “wow.”
In short, becoming a persuasive writer can help hone your copywriting skills and make you more successful in business. Everybody wins!
What are the other copywriting skills?
Fair question, as it’s not purely about persuasion. Other core copywriting skills include understanding your audience, writing clear and concise copy, and having an eye for detail.
You must also work to deadlines and have excellent communication skills to take feedback on board and make necessary changes to your drafts. In fact, my lovely, there are countless skills you’ll need for the freelance hustle. Here are just a few:
Strong writing skills
It’s numero uno for a reason and critical to freelance writing.
If your grammar and punctuation are anything less than tip-top, it’ll be difficult for people to take you seriously. No one wants to buy from someone who can’t string a sentence together, right?
Investing in a good grammar book, taking online courses, or grabbing a mentor can help you hone your skills and get to grips with grammar rules.
But it’s not just about being able to use commas and full stops correctly (although that’s important). You also need to write clearly, concisely, and creatively.
You might have the best offer in the world, but if your copy is full of errors, rambling sentences, and typos, people will switch off and look elsewhere.
And remember, most of the time, you’re writing for the web. So keep your paragraphs short and easy to digest, and use subheadings to break up your text. AND DON’T WAFFLE! No one wants to scroll through huge chunks of text, no matter how interesting your offer is.
As a copywriter, you’ll have a bevvy of delightful and delighted clients (hopefully!). You’ll need to communicate with them effectively to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.
This means understanding what they want, being responsive to feedback, and asking clarifying questions when you’re unsure about something. And don’t forget excellent listening skills!
You should also be proactive in your communication, offering new ideas and suggesting ways to improve the project. Well, if they like that kind of thing as not all clients do!
No, we’re not talking about being able to code (although that would be handy). We’re talking about understanding the technical aspects of copywriting, such as SEO and Google Analytics.
If you can tweak your content to ensure it’s optimised for search engines, you’re on to a winner. After all, what’s the point in writing amazing copy if no one’s going to see it?
And being able to measure your success is also key. Google Analytics can help you track things like how long people stay on a website, what pages they visit, and where they come from.
This information can be super useful in understanding what’s working well and what needs improvement
Copywriting is all about capturing people’s attention and holding it.
You need to be able to think creatively to come up with ideas that’ll make people sit up and take notice. How? Looking at things from different angles, being open to new possibilities, and thinking outside the box.
Brainstorming is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. So grab a pen and paper and start writing down any ideas that come to mind, no matter how left-field they seem.
You can also try freewriting. Set a timer for a certain amount of time, say, 10 minutes, and write non-stop without taking a break. It can help eliminate any mental blocks and get the words flowing.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, try reading some copy you admire or checking out some award-winning campaigns.
As a copywriter, you’ll often be presented with problems that need solving. Whether it’s coming up with a new angle for a project or thinking of ways to engage with a difficult target audience, you’ll need to be able to find solutions quickly and efficiently.
The best way to approach problem-solving is to break things down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Let’s say you’re struggling to develop ideas for a campaign. Yep, it happens! Instead of seeing it as a whole, try focusing on one element at a time, like the headline or call to action.
It can also be helpful to talk things through with someone, whether that’s someone in a Facebook group, your mentor, or your mum. Brainstorming ideas together can help get the creative juices flowing and give you a fresh perspective.
Time management skills
As a freelance copywriter, you’ll often work to tight or at least set deadlines. So you need to manage your time effectively to ensure you meet those benchmark dates.
You’ll have to prioritise tasks, plan, and use your time wisely. For example, if you know you’ve got a big project due in a couple of weeks, break it down into chunks and set yourself milestones. This way, you can ensure you’re on track and not leaving things to the last minute.
It also helps to create a daily or weekly to-do list. You can keep track of what needs to be done and when. And it’s always satisfying to tick something off your list! I love lists! I find it hard to believe that some folks don’t have multiple lists and lists of lists to help manage the lists! But maybe that’s just me…
Copywriting isn’t just about writing. It’s also about research. After all, how can you write relevant and engaging copy if you don’t know anything about the topic?
That’s why good research skills are essential for any copywriter worth their salt. Whether you’re writing a blog post, an email campaign, or a piece of web copy, you’ll have to hunt down the information you need quickly and efficiently.
You’ll also need to know how to research competitors. After all, you need to be aware of what they’re doing to see if there are gaps in the market that you can exploit.
Google is obviously your friend for all things research. But don’t just rely on the first few results that come up. Instead, use different search terms, filter your results, and dig a little deeper to find the most relevant and reliable information.
Using other sources, such as books, articles, and reports can also be helpful. And don’t forget, you’ll also need to research your target audience so you can understand their needs, wants, and pain points. Only then can you write copy that resonates with them and meets their needs.
Is that all the copywriting skills?
No! But you get the idea! You’ll need to grasp a metric shit tonne of copywriting skills. But don’t sweat. It all comes with time. So let’s move swiftly on to the star of the show, persuasive writing, and all that it entails, well, maybe not all…
1. Empathise with the reader
The golden rule of persuasive writing!
You need to put yourself in your reader’s shoes and understand what they want, what they need, and what their pain points are. Only then can you start to address them in your copy.
If you can build a rapport with the reader and make them feel you understand them, they’re much more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Don’t just dive into explaining the solution you’re offering. One of the most powerful persuasion techniques is first resonating with your readers around their emotional problems. When someone reads a description of something painful, difficult, or challenging that they’re experiencing, it snags them. It catches their attention and readies them to buy into the solution.
When peeps feel like you empathise with their problems and your mission is to help them, they feel heard, understood, and compelled to buy what you’re selling or at least continue reading.
One way to do this is to use relatable and down-to-earth language. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and technical terms where possible. You should also try to use the active voice as much as possible to make your copy feel more personal, friendly, and relatable.
2. Incorporate cold, hard facts and data
Now to the flip-side. The first point was all about empathising with your reader on an emotional level. But it’s also good to back up your claims with solid evidence.
Use data and facts to support your argument and make it more persuasive, particularly to segments of your audience that might be more analytical. And because some stuff you sell won’t be geared towards emotional problems.
Goold old facts and figures strengthen your pitch, no matter what.
What do we mean by evidence? Any figures you can use that speak to your track record and help clients see how you can help them succeed.
- 90% of your clients have lost weight
- 99% of your clients come back time and time again
- 97% of people who use your service are delighted with the results
You get the picture. If you can find evidence to support your claims, use it!
3. Repetition, repetition, repetition
You might have heard that repetition is the key to learning. And it turns out it’s also the key to persuasion.
When you repeat something, it sticks in people’s minds and makes it more likely that they’ll remember it later on.
That’s why persuasive writers often use techniques like alliteration, rhyme, and repetition. Repeating important words and phrases makes their writing more memorable and easier to grasp.
Repetition is a powerful tool. It’s been used in songs, poetry, and some of history’s most moving and memorable speeches, like Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ‘I have a Dream’.
Of course, you don’t want to go overboard with repetition. But using it sparingly can be an effective way to get your point across. And mix it up! Repeat the same word — Fun, fun, fun! Or use a negative-positive restatement — ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ There’s a ton of possibilities.
4. Use the ‘because’
People like reasonable explanations. They like to know the ‘why’ even if it’s complete bullshit.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a psychological study from back in the 1970s. Without boring you with all the deets, it involved asking people to push into a queue for a busy photocopying machine.
Remember, this is the 1970s, and photocopying was an actual thing.
The people used one of three specific requests to ask if they could push in.
- “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
- “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine because I have to make copies?”
- “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
When peeps used the first question, they were allowed to push in about 60% of the time. Compare this to the last two requests that include the’ because’. In both cases, people were allowed to push in over 90% of the time. That’s pretty impressive when considering that the second request is utter balls.
People like to have a reason, even if it’s dodgy as hell.
So remember that when you want people to be open to your way of thinking. Let them know why they should.
6. Go tribal
Humans are social animals. Yep. Sheep. We have an innate need to belong to a tribe or community. And, when we feel like we belong to a certain group, we’re more likely to conform to its norms and values.
This need for belonging drives people to join dodgy cults and vote for even dodgier politicians. Like it or not, we’re just well-developed pack or herd animals. But you can use this power of social conformity to your advantage in copywriting by tapping into people’s desire to be part of a community or tribe.
Phrases like “Join the thousands of happy customers” or “Be one of the savvy ones and experience this ground-breaking new technology” can persuade folks to hop on board whatever fun bus you’re driving.
7. Make comparisons
Comparisons persuade. After all, we do it all the time in our everyday lives.
When you’re trying to decide whether to buy a new car, you compare it to other cars on the market. When you’re choosing a holiday destination, you compare different hotels and resorts. And when you’re looking for a new pair of jeans, you compare the fit, style and price of different brands.
Comparisons help us to understand things by putting them into context. They help us see things in a new light and make more informed decisions.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a new type of toothbrush designed to be extra gentle on the gums. You could compare it to other toothbrushes on the market and highlight the fact that it’s specifically designed to be as soft as an ickle bunny’s ear on your delicate gums.
People with sensitive gums will be more persuaded by this than if you just said your toothbrush was ‘the best.’
8. Leverage scarcity
Scarcity is a powerful weapon in a copywriter’s arsenal. When something is scarce, it becomes more valuable.
Think about it. If only one pair of high-tops is left in your size, you’re much more likely to buy them than if there are ten pairs. And if a flight is almost fully booked, you’ll be more tempted to book a seat than if there’s plenty of availability.
Scarcity creates a sense of urgency and encourages people to take action before it’s too late.
So, if you want to persuade people to buy what you’re selling, highlight any scarcity factors. For example, you could say something like, “There are only a few rooms left at this price,” or “This offer ends at midnight tonight.”
You could also highlight your product’s popularity and how quickly it’s selling out. For example, you could say, “Our last shipment sold out in just 72 hours.”
9. Use ‘you’ language
When writing copy, your audience must feel like you’re talking directly to them. The best way to do this is to use ‘you’ language.
For example, instead of saying, “Our software is the best on the market,” you could say, “You’ll be amazed by how much time our software will save you.”
Or, instead of saying, “Our hotel is the perfect place to stay for a romantic weekend away,” you could say, “You and your partner will love our luxurious suites and our award-winning restaurant.”
‘You’ language makes your copy more personal and more relatable. It also helps you connect with your audience and make them feel you understand their needs.
10. Foreshadow like a time traveller
Give your readers a glimpse into the future. The big word for this is prognosticate. Use your copy to paint a picture of what life could be like if they take the desired action.
Prognosticating helps your audience understand how their life could be different if they take the action you want. It also helps to create a sense of urgency and encourages them to act now.
In this imaginary world, let’s say you’re selling a new type of skincare product that promises to reduce wrinkles and create a glow to rival J-Lo.
You could prognosticate by saying something like, “In just 30 days, you could look up to 10 years younger.”
Or, if you’re trying to persuade someone to book a holiday, you could say, “Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re relaxing on the beach with a cocktail in hand.”
This convinces people to act because it helps them visualise the benefits of what you’re offering.
In other words, if you can convincingly beam your reader into their future selves when using a certain product, you’ll be much more likely to persuade them to buy it. Ker-ching!
11. Address objections
You never want your reader thinking, “Yeah, but …”?
Cos, then your copy hasn’t done its job.
Your job is to take their objections and sweep them aside like so much rubbish. Make sure your copy anticipates what their reservations might be, then tackles them head-on.
Addressing objections directly make your copy more persuasive because it will show that you understand your reader’s concerns. It will also make your claims more credible, as you’ll be able to back them up with evidence.
So, next time you sit down to write some copy, consider any potential reasons not to buy and cover all the key objections.
If you’re selling a recipe app and the reader says, “I don’t think I need an app to help me cook,” that’s an objection. If they ask, “Why would I pay for an app when there are fuck tonnes of free options?” that’s an objection.
But the problem isn’t the objection itself. The problem is how you’re handling the objection in your copy. It becomes a roadblock to conversion if you don’t deal with it. But if you handle it effectively, you can use objections to your advantage and make your copy even more persuasive.
If you bring up the objection first and then discuss how free recipe apps bombard you with distracting advertising or have numerous glitches because they’re free, then the potential objection is now a selling point.
Whereas if the reader raises the objection first, you sound like you’re justifying the problem, which is nowhere near as slick!
12. Flaunt your unique selling proposition (USP)
Your USP is what makes you different from your competitors. It’s what sets you apart and makes you unique.
And, if you want to persuade people to buy from you, you need to ensure your USP is front and centre in all of your copy.
Your USP could be anything that sets you apart. Maybe you’re the only company in your industry that offers a certain product. Maybe you have a specific approach to customer service. Or maybe you’re just really, really good at what you do.
Whatever it is, make sure you shout about it from the rooftops. Don’t get lost in the sea of mediocrity!
13. Storyselling with storytelling
You know what’s more persuasive than a sales pitch? A story.
People love stories. We’ve heard them since we were kids, and they’re one of the oldest forms of human communication. They entertain us, help us escape our everyday lives, and make us feel emotions that we might not otherwise experience.
Stories are a powerful way to connect with people on an emotional level and a powerful tool to persuade people to take action.
You can supercharge their magical powers by incorporating the other super-duper persuasion strategies as you weave a tale. When you do, you’ll be able to craft a story so persuasive that your readers will be begging you to tell them what to do next.
So, next time you write some copy, see if you can weave a story into it. You might be surprised at how effective it can be.
Don’t underestimate the power of persuasion as a copywriting skill!
If you can master the art of persuasion, you’ll be able to write copy that’s so tantalising your readers will be begging you to tell them what to do next.
This post hasn’t even scratched the surface when it comes to persuasion. It’s a fascinating subject! So tell me in the comments if you’ve used these persuasion techniques in your copywriting and how effective they were.
Oh, and tell me what I’ve missed too!
It’s difficult to find experienced people on this subject, but you seem like
you know what you’re talking about! Thanks