In the world of internet marketing and, some would say, in the business world in general, the main goal of every form of advertising is to inspire a person to perform an action. Whether we’re talking about purchasing something, signing up for a program or a mailing list or sharing content on social media, it all boils down to one thing – persuading the website visitor to commit. Conversions, sales – however you want to define it and whatever it is that you need, well-written copy is what will help you get it.
Persuasion is influencing a person’s beliefs, intentions, attitudes, motivations and behaviors. All persuasion techniques and tactics can be applied to copywriting. Essentially, there are 6 of them and a copywriter is free to use all or any given combination of these techniques. The 6 persuasion techniques are:
The basic principle of reciprocity is simple – person A provides person B with something, person B repays person A. Now, how does this apply to internet marketing and copywriting? For example, many marketers like to offer free content to their visitors – an e-book, a short video, an article. This leads to the reader feeling obligated to give something back to the marketer, for example purchase an e-book or pay for a course.
2) Consistency and Commitment
Consistency is something we crave. We live in a chaotic world and we are bombarded by, often contradicting, information daily. Consistency is an alternative to that chaos. And it is closely related to commitment. If a person commits to something, orally or in writing, they are inclined to engage in self-persuasion and justify and support their commitment. For example, if you send out a mailing list and people sign up for a program, they’ve already made a commitment to you, and most importantly, to themselves. This is what increases conversion rates. Testing the water with a light commitment, before going all in and asking for a full commitment is something many marketers do.
3) Social Proof
Human beings base their actions and beliefs on what others around them are doing. We hate to stand out, we hate not to fit in, we hate to be left alone, outside a group. This is often referred to as “the power of crowd” and, without a doubt, it works. Copywriters often write about how many people have already signed up for a program or how many people have already bought something that the copywriter is trying to pitch (persuade the reader into buying).
Likeness works in two ways. An individual can like someone for who and what they are or see them as similar. When targeting a certain demographic, copywriters often try to sound like their demographic. They use the same slang that their demographic uses, use similar pop culture references and so on. The point is being liked by the target demographic and persuading the demographic into thinking someone very like them is trying to tell them something.
If an expert or an “expert” says something, we tend to believe that it must be true. Copywriters often quote experts on a certain subject matter or write as if they were experts on a certain subject. This is an incredibly powerful persuasion technique that activates a few different psychological triggers in a person’s mind.
When something has limited availability, people assign it more value. This is what scarcity is. You have probably come across call to action commercial such as “Only 20 left” or any other variation of that. This is because copywriters often use the concept of scarcity to persuade someone into believing something is scarce, so they must do something before it’s too late. Perhaps out of fear of losing their own social proof or simply because they feel the need to obtain something that many people already have obtained.
Persuasive writing is used to strengthen an argument. Simply put, it is writing in which the writer uses words to convince the reader that the writer's opinion is correct or to persuade the reader to perform an action. The techniques we’ve mentioned above are universal and apply to any form of persuasive writing – what differs is the structure. However, the so called traditional structure is most commonly used:
• Narration - statement of facts
• Partition - forecast of topics to be presented
• Confirmation – body of text
• Refutation – discussion of alternatives
• Rhetorical questions – to get the reader to say “yes”
• Peroration – ties the conclusion with the introduction to strengthen the claims made through the copy
It goes without saying that this basic structure is nothing more than that – a basic guideline for copywriting, but advertising copy is usually written that way, more or less, regardless of the topic or the expertise of the writer.