Copywriting isn’t an easy job, but it’s something anyone can do with enough practice and dedication.
Over time, writers learn the ins and outs of branding, tone, and attention-grabbing, resulting in some of the most persuasive writing you’ve ever seen. All without being pushy or gimmicky.
That explains why fancy wording is rarely idolized in copywriting. Seasoned writers understand that it’s not about how intellectual you sound, so much as it is about being clear, direct, and compelling.
Those starting out might rely on a thesaurus to get them by, but their more established counterparts will understand that flowery language can muddle the point being made.
So, how do you effectively get your point across? What kinds of strategies can you employ in your writing to become more persuasive, without bordering on sleazy?
Let’s look at the top 8 advanced persuasive writing strategies that every seasoned copywriter swears by.
#1 Specifics Sell
Have you ever read something that states it’ll have a “significant” impact or will “double” your earnings? Oftentimes you unconsciously discredit those claims because of how vague they are, and how easy they are to make up.
Compare those claims to specific proof, like multiplying earnings by 253%, or having a 97% stronger impact on average. The only way you can state-specific numbers like that is by either lying or crunching numbers, and most of the time we assume that those numbers are the truth since it’s harder to lie with specifics.
Those general claims just sound too good to be true and are too easy to fake on the spot to be believed, whereas specific proof is incredibly convincing because of the effort that goes into calculating it.
Here are some ways you can add specific proof to your copywriting:
Use the average savings amount your customers can expect
Use social proof, such as testimonials, reviews, tagged content, and social account buttons
#2 Benefits Are More Convincing Than Features
It might sound nice to have a list of your product’s awesome features front and center, but it’s more convincing to write about what your product can help customers accomplish rather than the product’s bells and whistles.
For example, let’s say you manufacture a product, maybe a phone. Instead of mentioning all of the specs and technologies involved, write about what you can do with that phone. Instead of mentioning the high-resolution screen and face scanner, write about what that high-resolution screen and face scanner does to help you.
Take a look at Apple’s commercial below for reference:
Notice, it keeps things super simple. It’s only 40 seconds, and 2 lines (the same line): “Even easier and more secure than Touch ID.” The rest of the video is just an immersive experience that shows you just what that translates to in day to day life…
Which in this case means being able to enjoy a quiet, relaxing nap. You no longer need to pick up your phone and unlock the screen and reply, you can simply look at the screen and know what your friend needed.
Now, sure this is a video, but the same principle applies to copywriting. Taking the time to write out a story, to immerse the reader in a scenario, it all pays off. The best persuasive writers are the ones who have a background in creative writing for a reason: people love a good story.
Of course, a list of features should still be included, but make sure it comes after the benefits. You draw people in with the applications of your product, and then hook them with the feature list if they care about that. Nobody cares about the high-resolution screen itself, but everyone cares about the benefits of that screen. Technicalities can just confuse less savvy customers: listing features front and center might appeal to a small group of hardcore, technical customers, but other customers couldn’t care less and might be turned away towards something that gets the point across.
#3 Always Use Testimonials
Everyone knows that testimonials are convincing, but many people don’t recognize just how convincing they can be.
All copywriting is tainted by the fact that the writer has at least some bias towards what they’re writing about. Because of this, many customers will take anything you say, regardless of how objective it is, with a grain of salt. Testimonials help circumvent this by showing proven results and being much more believable.
Of course, knowing how and where to use them is what sets you apart from the competition. For example, you should always use a testimonial when you want to say something that you can’t, like something that’s absurdly self-promotional, e.g. “You won’t find better service anywhere in the U.S.!”
A business can’t say that because of the bias involved, but a customer saying that provides at least some degree of believability.
Additionally, sometimes the content of the testimonial matters less than the source of the testimonial. Someone working at Google is inherently worth much more than a random no-name developer, regardless of the content or subject of the testimonial.
Use your best judgment with this, and when in doubt, remember this checklist:
Is this testimonial actually insightful and helpful to others who might be interested in converting?
Does it bring up valid points that I didn’t think to write about?
Does it flatter my brand in a way that I can’t?
Is it written by someone super inspirational, important, or otherwise recognizable?
Does it showcase the various locations of established customers?
Does it give an identity to an otherwise faceless business?
In the same vein, does the identity provided further help to build the brand’s established identity? For example, if you run a sleek California brand, do the people writing these reviews look like they adhere to the lifestyle themselves?
Does the review help to stomp objections?
Is there an element of emotion involved?
Is there a trend trigger? Is the testimonial proclaiming that everyone should try it?
#4 Keep Your Writing Focused on the Customer
Like most entrepreneurs, when you finally sit down to write about your business, you’ll likely focus on yourself. You’ll write about “what we do,” and “where we are located,” and “how good our services are,” but forget to mention “you” anywhere.
But customers don’t care about your business, they care about what the business can do for them.
Instead of writing from a first-person perspective, and essentially putting your business on a pedestal, write about your customers. What do they love, and what can they expect? Why should anyone do business with you? Descriptions of the business alone are boring, but customers tune in on all of the benefits they could be reaping.
What tricks can you use to keep focused on the customer? Here’s a list:
Replace most instances of “we” with “you”
Write about the benefits of your product or service instead of the features
Emphasize how important your product or service is; encourage the customer to buy into it
Keep your copywriting simple and to the point
Ask questions and immediately answer them
Use non-text sources of information like pictures and videos
Avoid using industry jargon
#5 Have a Conversation
Talking to a person is always a lot more involved than interacting with a robot, and copywriting is no exception. Imagine a salesperson that simply stated facts upfront and didn’t give you a chance to ask any questions.
Obviously, that wouldn’t be a very good salesperson.
Copywriting is intended to sell products and services, so it makes sense that it should be all about questions. It should be highlighting the answers to common questions you receive all the time, and even some very niche questions you’ve received in the past. The more information you can provide, the more approachable you can be, the better the readers will feel about converting. Any doubts or concerns they might have would be answered within your copy.
One way that you can potentially accomplish this is to simply write quickly.
Of course, that sounds like a bad idea, but there’s a reason it works: writing quickly means that you’re writing in a way that uses everyday vocabulary and sentence structure. This will, in turn, be more engaging to the average reader.
Additionally, writing quickly means you’re using your gut feelings about what to write, which is inherently more emotional than thinking every single word through. That emotional writing will be much more persuasive than purely logical writing could ever be.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t edit your work afterward. This is just to say that a first draft that is written quickly will have more emotion packed into it than a first draft that is painstakingly written while overthinking every word in the process. Obviously something that is written quickly will more than likely have problems, but you can fix those later and you might find that that first draft sounds better than you expect.
#6 Keep Your Writing Brief and Compelling
With online writing, people can get lost in big walls of text. And because they don’t want to deal with it, they typically ignore the text entirely.
Obviously, that’s not what you’re aiming for. Alienating your audience is never a good idea. Big text walls are intimidating, and even though that’s the writing style that we’re taught to use in school, it doesn’t work well for keeping your readers engaged.
Additionally, when you’re keeping your writing short and sweet, you should also have it entice the reader. You want anyone who starts reading your copywriting to read it until the end, so you need to write something compelling.
Start off with an attention-grabbing headline and make sure every paragraph from that point on is interesting and clear. Ideally, you hold back just enough information that the reader has to keep reading to find out what they’re looking for, but not too much so that people are frustrated or uninterested.
Also, add in visual elements that further highlight your points, but break up the copy. Use images, graphs, and charts, diagrams, infographics, or even video. If it is a prime example of the point you’re making within the copy, use it.
For instance, if you’re writing about your latest product launch, add in a video of the product itself, such as a review, or demonstration.
My own guides follow each and every one of these points when they’re relevant. Let’s take my Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing as an example:
I start off with a series of questions and statements that are begging to be answered, drawing readers in.
This pattern is continued throughout the entire article and compels readers to keep on reading until the end.
I use small paragraphs and occasional single-sentence paragraphs to keep the text clear and easy to read.
I break up my sections with relevant pictures that, again, make the text clearer and less intimidating.
I include links to outside sources that explain details whenever an explanation might be necessary but don’t force explanations on veterans of the industry that already understand.
I occasionally use bullet points or numbered lists for situations like this where I have a “list” of sorts and bullet points make it easier to follow than a big paragraph.
#7 Focus on Emotions
Decision-making is tied to our emotions. When someone purchases a new clothing item, it’s not about how that clothing item meets a need, such as warmth and protection from outdoor elements. Sure, to some degree it is…
But ultimately it’s about some level of vanity. If it’s designer, if it’s a popular brand or a trendy item, it becomes a symbol of status. People buy those things to feel a certain way, whether it’s successful, or accepted, or secure, to name a few things.
So when a copywriter develops a purely logical argument, such as “This iPhone is rated IP67, for a maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes, making it revolutionary in the tech field,” that’s fine, but…
It’s not emotional. It doesn’t tell people that because the iPhone is splash, water, and dust resistant, they can rest assured the safety of their device is handled at all times, even when they’re busy living life to the fullest. It doesn’t tell them that next time they’re in the pool with friends, they won’t need to worry about being pushed in while holding their phone. It doesn’t make them visualize anything that makes them feel something.
Instead of trying to argue for why customers need your business, create a situation where people want to use your business.
Another thing you can do is to create a sense of community in your writing. When people feel like they belong, they’ll go much further to keep that sense of belonging than someone who’s only vaguely attached.
Additionally, someone who isn’t a part of a group may want to join in if they find it enticing. Offering memberships, or asking customers to join is often enough. The more you can drum up interest, the more likely it is people will want to join in. Just make sure there’s some sort of benefit to it. Maybe exclusive insider knowledge, or access to discounts, for instance.
This is usually accomplished over time, but if your brand has an identity you can push on others, it’ll be much easier to do.
For example, a controversial example would be the claim that Apple products aren’t relentlessly pursued due to their quality, but because they’re trendy. Once someone buys one, they’re an “Apple person” and need to buy Apple products to continue being one. These products have a certain consistency in their style and function that lets people feel like they’re a part of the Apple group when they use them.
#8 Proofread and Have Someone Else Proofread
Sure, proofreading and editing is common practice, but when you don’t do it, your copywriting suffers immensely.
Mistakes directly damage your credibility, and if you aren’t credible, your copywriting isn’t accomplishing its job. You won’t be taken seriously, and the few people who stick with you will be less trusting of your words.
So yes, everyone proofreads their writing...
However, not everyone gets someone else to proofread their writing, which is the most important part. We can’t catch every mistake we ourselves make. Some of them might escape us entirely, out of sheer lack of knowledge and experience. Others might just be easily missable.
A professional editor is trained in looking for these types of mistakes and will be much more likely to catch them than you.
Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but when you’re actually copywriting, you might find yourself falling into the fallacies that are mentioned here. It’s obvious information, but the amount of professional writers making these mistakes is alarming.
Additionally, while we might recognize that something should be better in theory, we’ll end up doing something else because of the ease of writing or some other reason, and thus the copywriting suffers as a result. As long as you’re keeping a checklist of sorts and keeping these strategies in mind while writing, you’re already one step ahead of most copywriters and will have better writing as a result.
Anybody can be a copywriter with practice, but it’s not an easy job. Just keep in mind that a “good” writer is not the same as a “fancy” writer. Follow these persuasive writing strategies, and you’ll be pumping out much more persuasive copywriting in no time.
Oh, and if you need help with any of this, maybe due to lack of time and energy, for instance, you might want to outsource your copy. If that’s the case, maybe start by taking a look at our consulting page.
Do you have any strategies you’d like to add on to this list, or any extra information for one of the strategies already here?
Let us know in the comments! Your feedback keeps us ticking!