persuasion

Here are fourteen persuasive writing techniques that will trigger a response from your visitors.

Have you ever wondered why nobody is responding to your offers?

Why do people read your landing pages and then leave?

Why do people see your ads and keep scrolling?

You have a great product. You are offering an in-demand service. So why does nobody seem to be interested?

The answer boils down to psychology. Simply put, you aren’t being persuasive.

You aren’t managing to trigger that little thing in your visitors’ brains that snaps them to attention, gets the heart rate pumping, and compels them to keep reading.

14 Persuasive Writing Techniques That Trigger A Response

Today, we’re giving you a handful of tools that marketers and advertisers have been using for decades to captivate audiences and compel a response.

1. Focus on resonating with emotional problems

Everyone has problems, and your product or service is designed to help people solve one or more of those problems.

A lot of businesses simply dive into explaining their solutions. One of the most powerful persuasion techniques, however, is to start by resonating with your readers around the emotional problems they are facing. When people see someone describing something “painful” they are experiencing, it pulls them in and prepares them to buy into the solution.

Another word for this is “empathy”. People want to feel like you empathize with their problems and that it drives the mission of your business.

US President Barack Obama once said this about empathy:

You know, there’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this – when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers – it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.

That’s how empathy works. When you put yourself in your readers’ shoes and let them know you understand what they are going through, they’ll be more inclined to listen to you. When you resonate with them on their problems, they will resonate with you on your solutions.

For instance, let’s say you want to write copy to sell a tool that solves the problem of content managers having to host their marketing tools on several different platforms. You could make your copy all about that problem and then introduce your tool in the end.

Here’s a great example.

Persuasive Writing Techniques That Trigger A Response: Focus on resonating with emotional problems

In this example from Entrepreneur Alliance, the product is a monthly subscription to a group where real entrepreneurs help each other out. As you can see in the copy above, which appears just below the fold, the company quickly addresses some of the common pain points many new entrepreneurs experience when trying to get started. They also address the frustration people feel when they are constantly assaulted by new people trying to sell them something.

If you are reading this copy and you too have experienced this frustration, than you are far more likely to be intrigued and even compelled by the solution that the Entrepreneur Alliance then proposes to you.

Of course, in order to legitimately resonate with your audience’s pain points, you have to first understand your audience.

Understanding Your Audience

Michael Port offers the FESP model for understanding an audience that you will perform for or write for:

  1. How does the world look to your audience Financially?
  2. How does the world look to your audience Emotionally?
  3. How does the world look to your audience Spiritually?
  4. How does the world look to your audience Physically?

In our example above, the marketing person may see the world like this:

  • Financially, she’s spending too much on multiple tools.
  • Emotionally, she’s struggling to manage a “Mississippi of tasks.”
  • Spiritually, she feels obligated to deliver value from these expensive tools.
  • Physically, she struggles with the stress of managing content effectively.

This FESP copy should speak to her needs right out of the gate.

In the context of a landing page, it’s usually best to dive into these needs and problems using your value proposition or immediately following your value proposition.

2. Incorporate facts, data, and other analytical information

While point #1 is very emotionally driven, selling isn’t all about emotion.

  1. Certain segments of your audience might be more analytical.
  2. Certain products or services aren’t geared towards emotional problems.
  3. Even when you can utilize emotion, backing it with hard data strengthens the pitch.

One of the best ways to sell is to demonstrate “irrefutable” evidence that your solution is the best possible option for the prospective customer.

Legendary advertising creative director William Bernbach once said, “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” In the digital age, “truth” looks like facts, statistics, case studies, etc.

We employ this in our own marketing here at Conversion Sciences. We can talk about our experience and expertise all day long and even resonate with the problems our clients have dealt with, but at the end of the day, what prospective clients really want to know is:

  1. Have you had success with past clients?
  2. Aka do you have the track record to prove you will succeed with my business?

Since we drive an average conversion lift of 15 to 25% with our clients and have a 90% retention rate, we like to include that information in our copy whenever possible.

Persuasive writing techniques to boost conversions: The Conversion Catalyst

This is about as soft as it gets in terms of analytics, but since it is true, it serves as a powerful signal to clients considering our services, demonstrating that we aren’t just talking about AB testing. We are actually getting results.

Do the same in your own copy as often as possible.

3. Demonstrate social proof at key junctures

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

In other words, monkey see, monkey do.

When we are making a decision, we want to know that other people consider it to be the right decision. Who are these “other” people?

  1. Specific people we respect
  2. People who are in a similar situation to us
  3. Large quantities of random strangers

In 2017, social proof often takes the form of influencer recommendations, customer testimonials, and social share count.
For example, CoSchedule asks visitors to click TRY IT FOR FREE on their homepage. Visitors are then taken to a page that contains a testimonial and highlights the company’s most recognizable customers.

Demonstrate social proof at key junctures | Persuasive writing

Be specific in your case studies and testimonials

Customer stories and testimonials have been shown to improve sales online. Customer stories work best when they are specific. See how Unbounce does it on of their pages:

Testimonials are more compelling with details. Unbounce persuasive writing techniques.

Testimonials are more compelling with details.

The best customer stories and testimonials will offer the customer name, company, title and a picture. When appropriate, add the city and state of the speaker as well. Also consider things like age when appropriate.

Favor testimonials that avoid judgments, like, “We loved working with this company!” Instead, focus on a specific result. The more specific your numbers are, the more believable they are.

These stories answer the question, “What did people like me experience?”

4. Use tone to add emotion and keep things interesting

What does it mean to use one’s tone in writing? Basically, it means writing like you would talk in real life. Your tone can breathe life into your copy. It can make your writing a lot less boring for prospects to read.

David Ogilvy once said “Tell the truth but make truth fascinating. You know, you can’t bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them in buying it.”

When I asked Sam Hurley (founder of OPTIM-EYEZ) to share his number one advice on persuasive writing techniques, he said, “It has to be tone. A sentence that equates to the same meaning can be written in 10 different ways…Each variation will evoke 10 unique reactions — and the difference can ultimately mean conversion or exit.”

In other words, you can rewrite a sentence in several different ways using your tone to effectively pass your message across to prospects and make it sink in their minds.

Take this post from Derek Halpern, for instance:

Tone is as important as meaning for persuasive writing.

Tone is as important as meaning.

See what he did there?

Derek used three different sentences to ask just one question: “Do people read long sales pages?” Why? He wanted to sound like a normal person in his tone; not a company trying to sell something.

If he was going to ask the same question in a real life setting, he wouldn’t just ask Do people read long pages?, would he?

No, he’d naturally ask follow-up questions just like he did in the example above. And those (follow-up) questions will mean the same thing as the original query. But they’ll make his message sink in his readers’ minds.

Your tone is important. It helps you talk like a fellow human being, not a business trying to make sales. It helps you build trust. And because your readers are also humans, they can very well relate with your tone when they see it in your copy.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”― Robert Frost

In other words, people react according to what they see in your copy. If they see you shedding tears, they’d be moved to tears. If you crack jokes, they’ll laugh (or at least give you a smile). And so forth. That’s how it works.

Be careful with your tone

Can anyone actually insult their prospects (or readers) deliberately? I’d love to answer that question with a no, but it happens. I recently found this while doing research for one of my clients:

Does it really pay to call your prospects mediocre?

Does it really pay to call your prospects mediocre?

This form saying I’m a mediocre content marketer if I don’t sign up for the whitepaper. It that true?
But does that slur really convert better than being polite? Did it get me converted? Heck, no! I actually got pissed off! I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I see Calls to Action like this.

There are several polite words that you can use to persuade people to do something. This CTA, for example, got Career Advice 261 sign-ups within 24 hours from a single guest post on The Muse:

This button copy is probably too safe. "Submit" is a tone-def word.

This button copy is probably too safe. “Submit” is a tone-def word.

Yet, it contains no word that could potentially insult anyone.

5. Take time to bring up and cover objections

You should never begin writing copy with a pre-determined word count. It doesn’t matter if your copy ends at 400 or 3000 words. What matters is that you say everything that needs to be said.

More specifically, what matters is that you cover all the key objections.

An objection is an argument that tends to come up from the customer’s end to justify saying “No” to your pitch.

For example:

If you are selling me a productivity app and I say, “Well, I don’t think I need an app to be productive,” that’s an objection. If I ask, “Why would I pay for an app when there are 30 other productivity apps that are free?” that’s an objection.

In an interpersonal sales meeting, the power of the objection goes to whoever brings it up first. If I ask you about all the free apps and then you respond, it tends to sound like you’re justifying a problem. Since I brought up the objection, and I think I’m pretty smart, I give it more weight than your response.

On the other hand, if you bring up the objection first, you win. If you introduce the cost and then immediately begin talking about how free productivity apps either utilize distracting advertising or have a low budget and thus numerous technical problems, both of which defeat the purpose of a productivity app, suddenly that potential objection has now become a selling point.

With online copy, the customer never speaks, so you have time to address as many objections as you feel is necessary. There may be just a few or there may be numerous objections that need to be covered. The important thing is that you give yourself time to cover them all.

6. Draw attention to your points with rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions draw attention. They’re not meant to be answered, which means that they shouldn’t have an answer. If your question can easily answered with a “yes” or “no”, it won’t invite the visitor to read on.

Instead, pose questions that make the reader think, “What does this mean?” or, “How will you do that?”

What if we had one single solution that can perform all these functions?

Life would become extremely easy for content marketers, right?

We had a significant increase in leads for one of our addiction center clients using the rhetorical question, “Are you ready to stop lying? We can help.”

Of course, I didn’t expect answers to them. But if you’re a content marketer, you were probably answering those questions in your mind, agreeing to my point of view that an all-in-one tool is the best option for content marketers.

That’s how rhetorical questions work. They pull attention, get readers’ attention and lure them to keep reading your copy.

7. Use hyperbole to communicate value

Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration to make your point to readers. Hyperbole should be used carefully. If you claim to be the biggest, best, or leader, your persuasive copy must deliver proof very quickly.

For example, take Contently:

Really? Does the world’s best content marketing actually run on Contently?

Really? Does the world’s best content marketing actually run on Contently?

There are certainly other companies out there that get more ROI from content marketing than Contently’s customers. But, their exaggeration is immediately backed up with the logos of some of the biggest companies in the world, the implication being that they use Contently to run their content marketing.

Another example here is Campaign Monitor’s “Send email your customers can’t ignore”.

The headline makes us ask, "How do you do that?"

The headline makes us ask, “How do you do that?”

In this case, the hyperbolic claim makes the reader ask, “How do you do that?” Will all customers read your emails just because you sent them using Campaign Monitor? Probably not.

Unfortunately, the hyperbole isn’t backed up by proof. Only more claims are offered. This page goes on to invite the visitor to watch a video to get the proof.

The link between the hyperbolic claim and the proof is stretched thin, requiring the visitor to watch a demo.

The link between the hyperbolic claim and the proof is stretched thin, requiring the visitor to watch a demo.

The longer the distance between your hyperbole and the proof, the more tenuous your persuasive argument becomes.

But you get the message they’re trying to pass across, right? Campaign Monitor helps you send emails that get opened and replied.

8. Open your first paragraph with a hook

Once readers move past your headline, the next phase they’ll be meeting with is your opening paragraph. It tells them if they should keep reading your copy or head out to somewhere else.

There are a couple of ways to create a hook in your copy. You could start with a question like this one:

Open your first paragraph with a hook
That very first line (After all, that’s the dream, right?) will spring up a question in the mind of most readers. They’ll start wondering what the dream might be. And they know they have to keep reading to find out. That’s the hook right there.
Another way to create a hook would be starting out with an eye-catching phrase. This could be anything that has the potential of making your readers pay attention. For example:

Starting out with an eye-catching phrase.

9. Start small and utilize escalating agreements

Avoid hitting the nail on the at once­­––especially when you’re writing on a complex topic or for an audience that’s pretty tough to persuade. Begin by beating about the bush a little and give your readers simple valid points to agree on before they get to the complex parts of your copy.

This will help you persuade them to read your copy with ease no matter how complex the topic is and have them nodding their heads in agreement as they read on.

For example, calculating the Net Present Value of a sum of money is mostly a complex topics for folks who aren’t finance-savvy. I mean, it was pretty much a really tough topic for me in my first year studying finance in University. But see how the guys at Maths Is Fun made it look so simple by implementing escalating agreements:

Persuasion technique: utilize escalating agreements
See how they start their exegesis with a set of simple, valid opening sentences that virtually anyone would agree with? Notice that when readers agree that money now is more valuable than money later on, they’ll mostly move to the next line because they agreed with the previous sentence? That’s escalating agreements work. And that’s how to use it to persuade readers.

 10. It’s OK to use technical details

Part of resonating with an audience is speaking in their language. When you use relevant jargon or communicate in technical terms only your target segment understands, you help position yourself as an authority in your space and build a community of people who use the same terminologies as you.

So how do you write with simplicity and still use jargon to show that you are a guru?

See how Apple uses a mix of both waffles and plainness in their copy for iPhone 7:

“iPhone 7 dramatically improves the most important aspects of the iPhone experience. It introduces advanced new camera systems. The best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone. Immersive stereo speakers. The brightest, most colorful iPhone display. Splash and water resistance. And it looks every bit as powerful as it is. This is iPhone 7.”

Notice how all that contains no single jargon even though the copy is about a technical product? Yes, that’s simplicity. Virtually anyone would understand it.

Now see how they used technical terminology on the same page––after enticing readers with jargon-less copy:

Apple's use of jargon to build credibility.

Apple’s use of jargon to build credibility.

Now some readers might not know what an optical image or f/1.8 aperture means. That’s certain. But they’re most likely going to stay with the copy because it’s interesting to read and not stuffed with too much technical mumbo jumbo.

Veteran copywriter Robert Bly said the following in a recent newsletter:

“…almost without exception, virtually every successful direct response promotion is written in clear, concise, conversational copy. It’s the style used by John Forde … Clayton Makepeace … Richard Armstrong…Ivan Levison…Paul Hollingshead …Steve Slaunwhite…and just about every top six- and seven-figure copywriter I know. Why? Because it is plain English that virtually always gets the best response — proving that when it comes to communicating, simple writing is the best writing.”

11. Use short and to-the-point statements

Short, concise statements can be memorable, fun and persuasive. They help to reduce cognitive overload, the need for an excessive amount of mental effort to understand things.

See how the folks at Fiftythree do it on their jobs page:

It's difficult to condense messages into persuasive bites, but it can be very rewarding.

It’s difficult to condense messages into persuasive bites, but it can be very rewarding.

Copy doesn’t have to be wordy all the time. Just straight to the point and you’d have passed your message across in a split second.

12. Focus your headline on the biggest benefit you’re offering

Irrespective of how many benefits your offerings can provide, you need to figure out what your biggest benefit is and make your headline focus on. Too many websites “bury the lead.” This means that the most powerful point of the page is relegated to a subhead or the body of the copy.

A typical example here would be SumoMe. They offer several tools but the biggest benefit they provide is traffic and customers:

SumoMe doesn't "bury the lead."

SumoMe doesn’t “bury the lead.”

Traffic and customers are what SumoMe’s prospects care about the most, so they put that in their homepage headline. David Ogilvy once said this about headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”

13. Tell stories

There has been a great deal written about stories. This is because they are proving to be so effective. Stories suck people’s attention into your copy. They make even the busiest people pay attention to whatever you’ve got to say or sell.

As an example, see how MAG International uses the art of storytelling to describe the havoc that landmines wreck:

Stories quickly help the reader relate to a situation

Stories quickly help the reader relate to a situation.

Stories are most effective when:

  • Readers don’t know about the problem.
  • Readers may know about the problem, but haven’t considered finding a solution.

Stories may not be effective for readers that are frequent buyers or are very familiar with your solution to their problem.

14. Flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Of all these persuasive writing techniques, this one is the most effective in our tests. Your unique selling proposition (USP), could be anything that entices visitors to stay and read. It can be that you have low prices, superior quality or anything helps your readers rationalize reading on. For an eCommerce company, the USP includes your positioning, return policy, shipping policy and guarantees.

First, your selling proposition often doesn’t necessarily need to be unique. It just needs to be communicated. Rug Perfection offers hand-made rugs made of natural materials. They offer free shipping and pay shipping for returns as well. Would you know that from the copy on their website?

Rug perfection doesn't flaunt its amazing story or its fantastic shipping and return policy.

Rug perfection doesn’t flaunt its unique value proposition, such as its fantastic shipping and return policy.

Your USP doesn’t have to be complex. Persuasive writers are able to summarize your place in the market in just a few words. This is true of Kissmetrics.

Kissmetrics clearly defines their unique position in the market by referencing Google Analytics.

Kissmetrics clearly defines their unique position in the market by referencing a competitor.

If calling out your competitor like Kissmetrics seems a little too aggressive for you, you can simply flaunt your unique value without mentioning any rival’s name. See how GoDaddy displays their unique 1-month free trial on their homepage:

The free trial is unique to the hosting industry.

The free trial is unique to the hosting industry.

There’s virtually no other web host provider that allows a month free trial. So that’s a USP for GoDaddy.

Check out more value proposition examples here.

Start Using These Persuasive Writing Techniques

People are getting smarter year-by-year. Each time we want to shop for anything online, we mostly prefer to check out a number of options and choose who we’d like to do business with.

So a smart move you can (and should) make now is to ensure your web copy and content is focused on enticing, engaging and ultimately persuading prospects to pay attention to your brand and offerings.

Co-authored by Victor Ijidola

Victor Ijidola is a content marketer and freelance business writer. He runs Premium Content Shop where he offers premium writing services that drive leads, and has been featured on sites like Inc.com, The Next Web, Kissmetrics and many more.

Mary Rose Maguire is the managing partner (with her husband) of Maguire Copywriting. Before she began her own copywriting agency, she produced copy in various corporate industries for over 25 years. The bulk of her copywriting experience has been produced for businesses selling to other businesses (B2B).
She found that her clients had a terrible time with contemplating the concept of emotional copy, much less understanding how to use emotional triggers in a way that generated conversions.
“I’ve been trying to tell them that even though they’d like to believe that their buyer is making the purchase based on logic, they (the buyer) are really are making their decision with their heart. Therefore, even B2B copy needs to be emotional on a website.
She went on to detail the specific emotional triggers that have proven successful for her clients’ conversion goals:
“Some of the emotions I’ve slipped in (when I can) are: frustration, fear, greed, and powerlessness. I also used a headline that addressed uncertainty and instilled doubt. These are NOT the emotions that a security administrator wants to experience!
“I did this for my former employer years ago in an email that ended up bringing in four new security projects (our list was small, around 700). Keep in mind that this was a new approach that I took to an email list that in the four years I worked there, never converted.”
Mary Rose concludes that based on her strategy, she successfully found that emotional triggers do work. It was all simply a matter of addressing the pain of the prospective buyer.
Mary Rose’s company website includes flames in the background. This is an emotional trigger that was added on purpose. She wants her prospects to absorb her branding strategy. Specifically, she wants her prospects to know that her copy…sizzles!
Yes, logic might have led your prospects to your website, but make no mistake: Their emotions finalized their decision that led to your conversion. Likewise, you can’t count on your product or service features and benefits with doing the heavy lifting. Instead, lean on the most effective, most easily-tapped into strategy: Emotion.
As a marketer, you’re launching campaigns of your own. You’ll want to use every reasonable weapon in your arsenal to convert prospects into leads, or sales. It should be no surprise that most purchases actually come from an emotional place. Knowing this, you’ll understand the power that emotional triggers can have on your online revenue?
Let’s take a look at some successful emotional triggers that will allow you to start converting like a military general.

Why Do Emotions Trump Logic On The Road To Conversions?

Hubspot author Emma Snyder quoted Steven Pinker in trying to explain why people ultimately make emotional buying decisions. He goes on to explain what it all comes down to:
“Choosing which to focus on depends on your buyer’s personality (what will resonate most with them?) and your offering (what most closely reflects your value proposition?) Once you’ve determined which emotional lever to pull, use the following tips to create a tear-jerking, heart-stopping, chest-puffing presentation your prospect will never forget.”
Now, let’s take a look at winning conversion campaigns that implemented the use of one or more emotional triggers.

Altruistic/Philanthropic Trigger

Toms Shoes has an altruistic trigger

Toms Shoes has an altruistic trigger


There will always be consumers who shop consciously. They care about social causes, and they want to ensure that they’re directing their money towards companies who practice social responsibility. One such company is TOMS Shoes.
TOMS Shoes practices social responsibility by donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchase that a consumer makes. We all imagine that there are places in the world where many children lack shoes, and it can feel overwhelming for a first-world consumer to do something significant to address these needs.
This is why TOMS uses the tag-line “One for one” on their websites. In their logo above, you’ll see that they lead with a philanthropic trigger, stating that “It starts with one”. You might notice that they’ve also used the encouragement emotional trigger.
When people feel overwhelmed about an issue, it’s human nature to avoid it altogether.  TOMS addresses this conversion obstacle by encouraging prospective consumers to start addressing the issues of children living without shoes by completing one manageable task: Just purchase one pair of shoes.
The implication is that the consumer can certainly purchase one pair of shoes, and yet that single purchase could make all the difference in the daily lifestyle of a severely-impoverished child. When the message is framed this way, the prospect has no choice but to think to themselves, “I can do this! And, maybe I can purchase more than one pair of shoes, too, so that I help out even more children!”

Fashion Forward/Sense Of Belonging Trigger

Old Navy appeals to your sense of belonging by being trendy yet accessible

Old Navy appeals to your sense of belonging by being trendy yet accessible


Old Navy is known to be a family brand of clothing that’s at once fashion-forward, and approachable. It’s the type of casual fashion brand that promises to make families living on Main Street, USA feel that their sense of style can compete with the clothing styles of people living in New York or LA.
This is why Old Navy has approached its fall consumer prospects with the tag-line “Fall’s Favorite Denim”.
The implications are obvious. If the prospective consumer wants to gain a sense of belonging with those who are on point with seasonal fashion trends, then they’ll purchase a pair of trendy-yet-affordable Old Navy jeans.
This is an efficient emotional trigger to use when you clearly understand your brand, who your targets are, and what their inner motivations are.

Inspirational/Self Actualization Trigger

Udemy is a platform where adults can take courses for professional development or personal improvement. The company understands that converting prospective students takes a lot more than presenting them with a catalog listing of course offerings.
They realize that they’ll vastly increase their chances for conversions when they appeal to a prospective student’s aspirations. Notice how they spur the prospect’s actions by addressing their inner thoughts.

Taking a course with Udemy can lead to self-actualization

Taking a course with Udemy can lead to self-actualization


The copy leads you to an affirmative decision by urging you to “Say yes to success!” You’ll also notice that the logo further impacts the prospect’s emotions by setting the copy on a bright and cheerful yellow background.
The copy and the color scheme on the yellow ad were carefully choreographed to illicit an immediate positive response, but you might also notice a different trigger if you look closely.
There’s the use of shame as an emotional trigger, too.
While the tag-line “Say yes to success!” is at first glance inspiring, it also addresses the reader’s inner insecurities about taking steps to become more successful. If you don’t get started with Udemy, are you saying “No” to success? What type of person chooses to buy a pizza, a tee shirt, or a pet hamster over investing in their future success?
Udemy is betting that the type of prospect who cares about becoming successful would rather invest in a $15 course – and gain a sense of personal pride – than live in the shame of knowing that their usual frivolous purchases were more of a financial priority.
Udemy trends even deeper with the self-actualization angle in another ad.
By now, only someone who has no personal goals or ambitions could say no to these CTAs

By now, only someone who has no personal goals or ambitions could say no to these CTAs


Be aware when using shame as a trigger. Shame is best left in the hands of the highly skilled or talented marketer. No one loves being shamed, so we usually avoid shame at all cost. Having prospects avoid your website or your landing page is the opposite of what conversion is all about, so if you must use shame, then apply it with a very gentle hand. It usually goes down better with a heaping dose of encouragement, as Udemy has done.

Pride/Self Actualization Trigger:

L'Oreal's famous tagline

L’Oreal’s famous tagline


Anyone who came of age in the 1970s and beyond is familiar with L’Oreal’s now-famous tag-line “Because You’re Worth It”. The phrase was coined in 1973 by a 23 year-old female copywriter who was tasked with capturing the emotional energy of the times.
Specifically, the brand wanted to appeal to the sensibilities of the new woman, the type of woman who took pride in her abilities of juggling career and family. More to the point, the tag-line appealed to women who were finally realizing the ability to earn their own discretionary income instead of asking their husbands or fathers for a spending allowance.
In 2015, women take it for granted that they can self-actualize themselves into the career and lifestyle of their choosing, yet they still struggle with placing the needs of their families, friends, and employers above their own. They still need to be reminded that they’re allowed to spend discretionary income towards their beauty goals simply because they hold intrinsic personal worth.
The message is loud and clear. L’Oreal was and still is a brand for the woman who takes pride in her personal appearance, and her personal brand. This is the cosmetic product of choice for women who want to feel actualized, smart, and proud of themselves.
The product line is the choice for ladies who unapologetically want to look and feel beautiful, on their terms. According to L’Oreal,
“…we know that an astonishing 80% of women recognize and respond to this positive phrase and powerful sentiment.”

Wow! [pullquote]Think of your conversion numbers if 80% of your visitors were able to emotionally identify with your message![/pullquote]

Urgency Trigger

Save the Children's landing page and CTA promote a sense of urgency

Save the Children’s landing page and CTA promote a sense of urgency


This Save The Children landing page features a boy from a third-world country who is seemingly so overcome with hunger, he can only bury his anguished face in the palm of his hands. Is there anyone who views this photo who could say that they aren’t the slightest bit moved by the image of a young child who has given up all hope of a satisfying meal, let alone a happy, satisfying life?
Certainly, the average person who reads this landing page can’t begin to wrap their mind or emotions around the possibility of a child suffering with hunger on the same level as this child.
As if the image doesn’t do its job of creating urgency, Save The Children goes a step further in it’s verbiage:
“Refugee children are frightened, homeless, and many have witnessed unspeakable horrors. You can help them,” (emphasis are mine).
Save The Children informs you of other reasons why this boy is burying his face in his tiny hands. Further, the organization plainly lets you know that there are immediate steps that you can take in order to make the boy’s pain and suffering end, immediately.
But, in case you’re still unclear about what to do, there’s the bright red button that reads:
“Donate now.”
Save The Children has operated as a non-profit since 1919. They’ve had almost a century to perfect their strategy of winning over the hearts of their prospective donors. Barring personal poverty, there’s no way that any prospective donor can look at this landing page and not feel the slightest tug of their heart.
There’s a great chance that this sparse yet highly effective landing page will convert readers into organizational donors.
Win your prospects heart and minds with emotional triggers, and you’ll find yourself winning marketing campaigns where logical arguments haven’t succeeded.

About the Author

Terri Scott headshotTerri is a five-year content marketing storyteller and editor. She loves writing marketing and entrepreneurship stories during the day while dabbling in culinary and creative arts at night.
You can view her work at terriscott.contently.com, and she’d love to hear from you @Positive_Twist.

Companies will typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, but only $1 to convert them. Traffic is only half the solution to a successful online business.
If you’re putting 90% of your effort into driving traffic to your site, and minimal effort into optimizing your site for conversions then you may as well throw off the lab coat right now.
Like any great scientific experiment, you need to include the right elements to create a winning formula. And when it comes to a winning conversion formula, nothing screams “Sale!” more than a good call-to-action (CTA).
On paper the equation looks easy. Create a clear CTA for a product that delivers, and you’ll achieve sales. [pullquote]So why is it that 47% of websites don’t have a CTA that can be found within 3 seconds or less?[/pullquote] You shouldn’t expect a customer to take action if you haven’t made it abundantly, painfully, overwhelmingly clear what you want them to do. This is one reason many sites are losing the precious visitors they’ve struggle to bring to the site.
Take a look at these smart calls-to-action with tips on how to use them effectively – from the homepage – right through to the sale.

#1. How to get people to sign up for an account: Basecamp

Basecamp's CTA

Basecamp’s CTA


Basecamp is a product that has enjoyed amazing online success year after year. Look at the Basecamp homepage and notice where your eyes are drawn first. Yup, it’s the call-to-action. It stands out like a sore thumb.
The minimalist design of the page really makes the sign up button pop. It’s a huge block of color, surrounded by white space. The key here is that the dark color of blue isn’t used anywhere else on the page, so it is the most visually “important” thing on the page.
Your pages should make it visually clear what path the visitor should take in order to move to the next step in their journey to conversion.

#2. How to get people interested in your product: MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike


Smart CTAs even transcend language barriers. You don’t have to speak Germany to understand what it wants you to do.
As soon as you jump on the MyOwnBike homepage, you are invited to start designing your own bike via some persuasive writing techniques.
Again, a minimalist design is centered around the product image with a prominent call-to-action begging the visitor to click. And once clicked, the visitor gets to design their own bike and watch it transform in front of their very eyes – making it fun and engaging.
It’s a no-nonsense approach that relies solely on design to show the visitor what they should do next.

#3. How to push people to the product page: Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos


Sometimes, the CTA need only put the visitor on the right path. The CTA on the homepage of Asos does an excellent job of getting the visitor into the right part of the site. Visitors are split into two, males and females. To tackle this problem, Asos features two huge CTAs that lets the visitor pick which gender they would like to shop for.
This is a smart and simple way to move shoppers through to the category pages, where they’ll hopefully refine their search further and find exactly what they’re looking for.
The usual principles of a strong call-to-action apply, of course. The page uses liberal amounts of white space. Branding and navigation elements are black. This ensures the ‘View Women/View Men’ buttons clearly stand out in a vibrant blue color.
[sitepromo]

#4. How to push people to the checkout: Amazon

Your CTAs shouldn’t compete. One CTA should is ideal, but you often need to add more than one CTA. This is where it becomes a little trickier to refine your CTAs. Competing CTAs cause confusion and friction. A secondary offer on the page may cannibalize conversions from the primary, more desirable offer.
The Amazon product page uses color and position to achieve this on its product pages.

Two examples of Amazon's primary and secondary CTAs

Two examples of Amazon’s primary and secondary CTAs


When a shopper is debating whether to buy they have two options:

  1. Add to bag/basket – the primary CTA
  2. Add to wishlist – the secondary

The clear option is for the shopper to add the product to their basket so they can checkout. But if the visitor is hesitating, the ‘add to wish list’ button gives the visitor a back up option. Rather than losing that visitor to a competitor, Amazon chooses to provide a lower-commitment option.
The color and button size of the primary CTA sends powerful signals about what a visitor should do. And if you look at the contrast between the primary and secondary calls-to-action, you can see how much more attractive the primary option is.
The key here is to use a clear visual hierarchy with your primary and secondary CTAs, to push them towards the sale.

#5. How to make the sale: BarkBox

Once you click ‘get started’ on the BarkBox homepage, the journey from the product to the checkout page is simple, clear and most importantly, engaging.
First, using fun illustrations you select the size of your dog.

Barkbox's visual tactic leading you to the sale

Barkbox’s visual tactic leading you to the sale


The call to action here is “Select Dog Size.” It is not presented on a button or link.
The next step asks visitors to select a monthly plan. Notice how the most expensive plan is highlighted as the best value.
Barkbox's monthly plans

Barkbox’s monthly plans


You’re then given the option to treat your dog to a toy. Notice how the ‘Yes Please’ option is highlighted automatically.
Barkbox's upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.

Barkbox’s upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.


In general humans are reluctant to say “No,” so the negative call to action, “No, thank you.” may actually reinforce the primary call to action, “Yes, please!”
The site then asks for an email address.
The call to action is "Create Your Account"

The call to action is “Create Your Account”


By clicking on, “Next,” you’ll be taken to the shipping and payment page. This page is crucial to closing the sale, and as you can see from BarkBox, they really hit the nail on the head. They don’t ask for more details than necessary, and they don’t include any hidden charges – a reason why 70% of shoppers on most sites abandon their carts.
The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale

The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale


The key takeaway here is that calls to action rarely stand alone. The process of purchasing is a series of calls to action, each of which may or may not be a button or link.
Top tip for your checkout page: If you need to use a multi-step process then use a visual progress indicator like a progress bar so customers can manage their expectations regarding how long it will take.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see from these powerful examples, the CTA is clear, each standing out clearly on the page, and each having an intended purpose. By using contrasting colors, on a clean and simple web page, you’ll make your CTAs stand out and guide your visitors to the sale.
Looking for more awesome ways to supercharge your website? Download this eBook for 10 ways to convert shoppers into buyers.

About the Author

Bryan Robinson is a Digital Business Analyst in charge of Marketing for the Commerce division at Spark Pay. He specializes in Lead Generation, PPC and SEM, while also overseeing content production for Spark Pay online store. He has also started and flipped his own eCommerce websites for over 10 years.

As content writers, we’re trying to persuade others to see our point of view – to agree with us. Regardless of whether it’s to click on a link or to purchase a product, we want our writing to influence others in a positive manner.

To write in an engaging and persuasive way is an art form – it’s elegant, refined and exercises discernment. And it’s worlds apart from the distasteful, strong-arm tactics employed by spam marketers.

Crafting content that influences isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take a bit of practice. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at five key elements that contribute to successful and persuasive content writing.

1: Be an Expert

Few things are more influential than the opinion of an expert. Why? Because true experts know what they’re talking about. It’s clear in their authenticity and transparency. Experts don’t use fluffy filler material in their persuasive writing, and they don’t try to distract the reader with gimmicks.

If you want to establish yourself as an influencer in your niche, you need to be the premier expert in your field. You don’t need a degree or years of related experience, but you need to demonstrate that you’re a specialist. You want to be so knowledgeable in your particular market that your content is oozing with confidence and certainty.

Note the word specialist.

Experts don’t try to cover all the bases, and they don’t pretend to know everything remotely related to their topic.

They specialize in one particular aspect or angle, and by sharing their knowledge they become an authority. And authority bestows persuasion.

La Carmina, a very successful travel blogger self-describing her approach as “spooky-cute”, embodies this idea to perfection because her success is not the result of trying to be all things to all travelers. Her advice? “Be niche. Don’t be afraid to focus on a specific topic or audience…” Read more of her suggestions for being a specialist on the Huffington Post.

La Carmina. "Welcome to my spooky-cute world of travel, tv and fashion. Busienss inquiries: gothiccarmina@gmail.com

La Carmina Travel Blog specializes in “spooky-cute” travel.

2: List the Most Important Information First

Writing persuasive copy for web pages is similar to that of writing news articles. That is, the most important information comes first – which is quite different from writing an essay or a short story. Journalists refer to this method as writing in an inverted pyramid, and it starts with the most relevant points which are then followed by related details and background information.

In this manner, you have the opportunity right at the start of your post to motivate your readers to continue on to your benefits, features and call to action.

By highlighting the outcomes that you or your products can provide at the beginning, you’ll give them a clear understanding of the big picture. Don’t wait for the conclusion of your piece to deliver the vision they want, because they’ll be long gone.

Gregory Ciotti at Unbounce gives a great example of this idea in his post on how research can affect the way we write copy. He captures the essence of his entire topic in the second sentence, leaving no doubt in the readers’ mind about whether reading the post will be beneficial or not.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

3: Give Your Readers Reasons Why

Written or spoken, few words are more persuasive than the word because.

In her book Mindfulness, social psychologist Ellen Langer clearly demonstrated that people are more likely to comply to a request if they’re given a reason via the word because. Even if the reason is redundant or doesn’t make sense!

Another persuasive word to work into your copy is imagine – asking your readers to imagine their desired outcome is a safe alternative to asking them to take action. It’s make-believe, so their inner gatekeeper (the voice in our head suspicious of others’ motives) won’t be inclined to object. And getting your prospects to imagine themselves in happy situations is a powerful influencer.

At Enchanting Marketing, Henneke shows us how to master this element with the words ‘because’ and ‘picture’ right in the introduction of her post (picture being a synonym of imagine). She first suggests we may be making a mistake in our web writing, then gets us to picture a client clicking where we want them to and finally shows us ‘why’ we’re making the mistake – with the word because.

You can’t help but continue reading, and for web content, that’s a big deal because, as Henneke says, you are writing for people who probably aren’t going to read what you write.  People don’t read articles all the way through online like they do in print.

Picture your customers as wild animals when you write copy suggests Henneke Enchanged Marketing

Picture your customers as wild animals when you write copy suggests Henneke Enchanged Marketing

4: Benefits First, Then Features

This point may seem a bit counterintuitive, but only because you know your products or services so well – still, you need to remember that your prospects don’t. Keep in mind that they’re looking for specific outcomes.

It might help to think of the benefits as the outcome they desire, while the features are part of the solution to their problem. For example, “You can look like a supermodel in two weeks with our Magic Pills – no need for diets or exercise!” The benefit is looking like a supermodel in two weeks. The features are no dieting or exercising.

By succinctly outlining the benefits first, then the features, you’ll generate greater interest in your clients’ minds.

Brian Clark shows us how to successfully highlight benefits, and to differentiate between benefits and features, with the ‘forehead slap test’ in this great post on Copyblogger.

5: Write for Scanners

It’s important to remember that most online consumers are scanners first and readers second. To persuade your prospects actually to read your content, use some of these eye candy elements to draw them into your article:

  • Headings and subheads, relevant and on topic
  • Bullet lists to highlight benefits and features
  • Font variations, bold, italics, and colored links
  • Short sentences and short paragraphs, each with one idea only
  • Images and infographics
  • Memorable captions

Case Study

Alex Turnbull at Bufferapp expertly includes all five of these elements in his post on research-backed content.  You’ll notice that:

  1. He establishes himself as an expert on writing persuasive content with solid research, and results, to establish his status.
  2. The most important information is listed first. The graph shows us that a headline that includes research received a +40% increase in click throughs.
  3. He gives us the reason ‘why’ in a big way – right there in the first sub-header: “why you should write research-backed content”.
  4. The benefit is shown in a graph demonstrating the increase in click through rates.
  5. The post is easily scanable. Lots of relevant subheads, graphs, images, bold and colored fonts. And the sentences and paragraphs are short and concise, with a memorable caption: “ROI is about the MECHANIC using the tool.”

With a bit of practice in applying these key elements, you’ll be successful at writing persuasive content that your readers will understand and appreciate – and that’s a winning situation for everyone.

What is The Conversion Scientist reading this week?

Neuromarketing – A Simple Hack That Makes You MUCH More Persuasive

If you love the science of persuasion like we do, you should definitely be following my friend Roger Dooley’s blog.
Here’s a great example of how he uses research to deliver actionable advice to marketers and business owners like us.
read more
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[forfurtherstudy]
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Perfect Landing Page Webinar · Formstack

This is a great overview of Landing Page best practices complete with examples. You’ll find a lot in common with our
Chemstry of the Landing Page

    presentation.

    1. Headlines and Ad Copy
    2. Clear and Concise Headlines
    3. Impeccable Grammar
    4. Trust indicators
    5. Call to Action
    6. Buttons
    7. Lose the Links
    8. Visuals (images)
    9. Above the Fold
    10. Always be testing

read more

Landing Page Examples: Untapped Secrets and Sources

We just can’t get enough info on landing pages. We love them.
This article helps you design landing pages for three kinds of visitors:

      1. Cold visitors (no they don’t live up north)
      2. Warm visitors (not necessarily friendly)
      3. Hot visitors (don’t necessarily got it goin’ on)

How do you address these different visitors? Read on.
read more
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10 Ways to Convert More Customers | Infographic + eBook

If you enjoy studying the psychology of persuasion the way we do here at Conversion Sciences, you’ll love this infographic from the folks at Help Scout.

A Unique Home Page Split Test Experiment on TimeDoctor.com | Biz 3.0

In my book Your Customer Creation Equation I talk about the two conversions that online services have:

  1. Conversion from visitor to trial
  2. Conversion from tryer to buyer

I recommend that online services find ways to get the visitor started as soon as possible. Online services have the advantage that we can try the product right there online.
This article is further proof that getting the visitor engaged with questions is a more effective way to find more tryers and buyers than the typical home page.

Want to get Brian’s For Further Study posts delivered right to your inbox? Click HERE to sign up.

PPC Help: Improving your Landing Page | Trada

Sep 28, 2011 08:39 pm
I’ll say it again: If your SEM company isn’t INSISTING on helping you with landing pages; if they are satisfied to pick any page on your site as a destination for your expensive PPC marketing; then you are being taken to the cleaners.
Most of what you need to know is right here in this article. Contact me if you still have questions.
Tags: PPC help landing page landing pages
read more
Like PPC Help: Improving your Landing Page | Trada on Facebook share on Google Buzz share on Twitter

How To Implement Rel=Author

Sep 28, 2011 10:36 am
Google+ is affecting search rankings for authors on the web, so we need to make sure we’re playing the game. This article from @AjKohn of tells us how to establish ourselves as the masters of our content in the eyes of Google using the “rel” attribute in our links.
Tags: google seo rel=author google+ author
read more
Like How To Implement Rel=Author on Facebook share on Google Buzz share on Twitter

Fiber One Sparks Up Boomer Love With Cheech and Chong | ClickZ

Sep 26, 2011 05:35 pm
It is always tough to market to a specific target. Here Fiber One is clearly targeting boomers, and a particular brand of boomer. No doubt this will hurt their sales to conservative families. There will be some backlash. But, we all must be creating content for more and more specific markets, and walking away from the others if we’re going to grow our businesses. Hat tip to Fiber One: may your bravery be rewarded with sales and market share.
Tags: content targeting Boomer Fiber
read more
Like Fiber One Sparks Up Boomer Love With Cheech and Chong | ClickZ on Facebook share on Google Buzz share on Twitter

Language, context and conversions: thoughtful prose from the pros | SEO Copywriting

Sep 26, 2011 03:19 pm
“The Internet isn’t passive. When you search online, you plan to do something:  buy, learn, play, find.  As soon as you go to Google, Yahoo or Bing, you’re on the hunt.”
There are those among us who have a true command of words and their use. I marvel at them. It is a power that is critical to persuasion, conversion and selling. Gabriella Sannino clearly sees it as a power to help people solve their problems. What better brand experience can you deliver than to help someone find answers to their questions?
Tags: writing copy seo conversion
read more
Like Language, context and conversions: thoughtful prose from the pros | SEO Copywriting on Facebook share on Google Buzz share on Twitter

Your conversion marketing practice is actually a “stack” of disciplines each of which you will have some level of capability with.

Business Goals

Knowing exactly what you want your Web site to do for your business.

Visitors

Understanding the best visitors needs, the reason they are visiting today and the information they need to feel comfortable taking action. Touchpoint Personas are the important tool at this stage.

Content

What content will you create for these important visitors? Will it be articles, video, or audio? These are important considerations made easy from your touchpoint personas.

Channels

How do your visitors want to hear from you? Where can your visitors be reached? Your choice of channels may include webinars, email, social media, blog posts and more.

Measurement

Putting the analytics and processes in place to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. This often means designing your online presence differently to enable tracking of visitor behavior.

Optimization

Testing your assumptions is the only way to achieve the high conversion rates that make you seem invincible to your competitors. This is how you reduce the cost of all online marketing efforts.

Don’t Worry

This may sound like a tall order, and it is. However, if you are marketing online, you are involved with conversion issues by definition.
The good news is that the folks at SiteTuners.com, lead by the always brilliant Tim Ash have put together the Conversion Conference.
The attendees will be leading the online charge in each of their industries.
I can think of no better way to get up the many learning curves that your conversion practice needs than this two day conference.
Topics at Conversion Conference include:

        

  • Using Headlines, Copy and Graphic Design to Lift Conversion
  •     

  • Split Testing, Multivariate Testing and Google Website Optimizer
  •     

  • Segmentation, Personalization, and Persuasion
  •     

  • E-commerce, and Lead Generation Conversion
  •     

  • Landing Page Principles
  •     

  • Optimizing Social and Mobile
  •     

  • Design & Usability Mistakes

You’ve likely read books written by some of the Conversion Conference Speakers, like Landing Page Optimization and Web Design for ROI. There’s no question that the speakers at this conference are the folks you want to be learning from. Check it out. You can even save $250 if you use promo code CCE650 when you register on the Conversion Conference website.
If you won’t be there, I pray that your competitors won’t be either.
P. S. I do a complete writeup on the Conversion Stack in The Quintessential  Marketing Automation Guidebook, Conversion  Stack: Marketing Automation for Performance Marketers. It is free and you should find it enlightening.

“Your market research with an attitude, your analytics in a skirt.”

Personas are fictional representations of your customers designed to help you understand what to say to prospects and how to deliver content to them.
There is no better predictor of conversion success than the availability of personas.
So, why do so many marketing departments have trouble turning personas into actionable marketing gold? I believe it is because traditional “buyer personas” are too broad in their definition.
In my most recent Content Marketing Institute post, I introduce you to Touchpoint Personas and identify the key components of them.
Read The Anatomy of a Great Web Persona.
Contact Brian Massey
P. S. Get fullvaccess to the Lab when you join The Conversion Scientist email list.