Every day, Facebook users consume 2.5 billion pieces of content. A thick wall of text just isn’t enough to attract attention in 2017.
Gone are the days of the soft art of copywriting. Marketers can now judge writers based on pure metrics. Did this article boost traffic? What was the effect on sales? Online text is as much about brand identity as it is about conversion rates.
Because copywriting plays such an important role in digital media, people are really starting to push the envelope. Being one of the few things tying PR, social media, editorial content, and SEO together in a meaningful way, simple writing tricks just don’t cut the mustard anymore.
What does persuasive copy actually look like?
Let’s cut to the chase: you want clear data and psychology. Luckily, these things are the bread and butter of modern copywriters. The following list will look at the most effective, serious techniques to improve conversions.
Speak with your audience:
Back in 2015, Randy Garner created a study on the effects of similarity and persuasion. Sending out surveys to strangers, he found those signed with a name similar to the recipient’s were almost twice as likely to be returned.
People subconsciously invested more trust in someone they thought was similar. Even if it was just a name, they were more willing to go out of their way to help them.
So, what does this mean for copywriters? It’s easier to persuade people if they feel a connection with you/your brand.
Because you can’t change your name for every reader, your writing has to make them think: “this is a person like me”.
Write like you’re having a conversation. Readers are spoilt for choice with websites that read like business textbooks. It’s easier to imagine a human on the other end if you can imagine them speaking.
Did you know humour lowers our resistance to influence? Studies have shown we’re more comfortable being led by people that make us laugh. Writing is no different.
Because it relies on a shared understanding, humour is the fastest way to create familiarity with readers. Couple this with a simpler, more flowing writing style, and customers will feel like they’re talking to an old friend.
Give something back:
Getting your audience to like you is one thing. If you’re not offering anything worthwhile, even your new best friends won’t stick around.
Whether your writing is simply designed to get people to the checkout, or you’re actively looking for regular readers, credible, quality content is what creates value.
Psychologically speaking, we’re inclined to feel indebted when receiving gifts. It creates an imbalance we feel we should do something about. Marketers can use this to their advantage by giving out valuable, free content, knowing it will generate significantly more conversions.
But if you’re not giving away free stuff, can this still work? You’re giving away free knowledge. Even if we’re accustomed to receiving free content, well-researched, intelligent articles go a long way towards making people feel appreciated.
Speak with authority:
So, you’re likeable, you have the data, and you’ve started using phrases like “insanely effective” in articles about marketing. Why aren’t customers converting?
Writing authoritatively could be the missing bridge from mediocre copy to great copy. At the end of the day, people need to buy what you’re doing before they buy your product.
Authority covers style and fact-checking. Tonally, striking a balance between an encyclopedia and best friend can be tough. Veering too far from the standards of authoritative writing and littering texts with colloquialisms can have a negative impact on copy.
Although people enjoy being spoken to as equals, they enjoy learning from someone smarter than them even more. The student-teacher dynamic can work in your favour if you’re being genuinely informative. Provide your audience with unique, relevant, and accurate information.
Being authoritative is more than playing a part. It means bringing value to the table in a way that sets you apart. Google algorithms will actually reward content for being unique. Try this:
• Add genuinely helpful product descriptions
• Write blog posts about niche subjects
• Engage with readers in comments
Because, because, because:
What does persuasion basically involve? Giving people a reason to do something.
Back in 1977, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted an experiment on the power of reasoning. She got her assistant to cut in line for a photocopier to test people’s responses. The results were surprising, to say the least:
• When given no reason beyond asking to use the machine, 60% of people complied
• When given the reason “because I’m in a rush”, 94% of people complied
• When given the reason “because I have to make copies”, 93% of people complied
Even in the third option, when the reason supplied is weak/nonsensical, there was no significant drop in compliance when compared to solid reasoning.
What does this show? The word “because” is more powerful than actual explanations. People give the word power because of what it signifies.
Increase conversions by using it more.
Tell stories to your customer:
Storytelling means injecting enough detail and emotion into content for people to connect with it. When we engage with a narrative, our brains release oxytocin – the chemical responsible for empathy.
Beyond generating interest, higher oxytocin levels make us easier to influence. This ties back into the idea of liking our writer. If they can make us feel emotions, they must understand something about us. This humanises brands.
Narrative content is more memorable and gives us more to connect with. Whether you’re inventing scenarios or including real testimonials, linking real people with your brand is an effective form of social proofing. Here’s an example:
Not only is this true, but consider how much more impact this point has with a narrative. The reader imagines ‘B2B marketers’ as real people, the statistics lend credibility, and there’s an emotional element to their opinions. These people are putting forth their idea about something you’re interested in.
Ultimately, persuasive copy is about connecting with people on a personal level. While it’s impossible to tailor content for each person, you can certainly use psychology to your advantage. With quantifiable effects on business, modern copywriting must be effective. Let your writing work with your brand, rather than against it.