Copywriting is deceptive. It may look easy, that’s not always the case.
It’s more than “good writing” or choosing “snappy” words to grab your audience’s attention. Copywriting also involves understanding your audience’s psychology.
To write copy that gets results (you know, like sales) you need to trigger emotional responses in readers’ minds.
After all, our emotional responses drive our actions.
If you can tap into your audience’s thoughts through copywriting, readers will be more convinced that they need your product or service.
In other words, your copy will sell better.
That’s the goal, anyway.
Here’s the thing, though:
If you’re not sure, don’t worry. This article is for you.
It explains how to use copywriting to sell directly to your audience’s minds. You’ll also get examples of how psychology can amplify your copywriting.
These tactics will ensure that your copy works, meaning you’ll be able to sell more on a consistent basis.
Ready to get started? Read on to find out more about the strategies to make your copywriting directly spark buying behavior in your specific audience.
Table of Contents
As you already know, the goal of copywriting is to persuade your reader to take action, i.e., buy into your idea.
Whether you want them to buy a product or service, or sign up for an email list, many people know what copywriting does…
But very few know how to do it well.
Understanding your reader’s psychology is a great way to improve your copywriting.
If you learn what motivates people to buy, and why, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
Think about it this way: when you’re being sold something, you immediately find yourself on-guard, right?
Don’t worry, it’s not just you. Everybody’s like that. Even me.
That’s because it’s baked into our human psychology. It comes from our instinct to survive.
People are reluctant to give away their precious resources, such as their time, money, and attention. And if you do, the return better be worth it, right?
So what are some reasons why you willingly spend your resources?
What has convinced you what you get in return will be worth it?
It’s hard to come up with specific examples right away, isn’t it? After all, you just act the way you do, right?
But underlying psychological impulses are working in your mind whether you realize it or not.
It may sound a bit spooky, but it’s quite fascinating, I’ll explain more down below.
Here are 7 consumer psychology tricks you can use in your copy for better conversions.
Even though we homo sapiens have been around for some 200,000 years, our brains are still quite primitive. Mine, yours, and your customers’ as well.
To put it simply, your brain is composed of its youngest, middle, and oldest functions.
The youngest part of your brain, the neocortex, involves your most recently developed and advanced cognitive abilities. This includes rationalization, critical thinking, and decision-making.
The middle part of your brain is responsible for your feelings. It’s called the limbic system, and it fires off emotional responses when you have to make a decision, receive new information, or interpret meaning.
The oldest part of your brain, the reptilian brain, is the most primitive. This area is called the basal ganglia. Its main concern is your survival.
Another priority of the reptilian brain is avoiding pain and gaining safety and comfort. That means it’s less complex.
And yet, because it’s the oldest part of your brain, it’s also the most powerful. Especially in the way it influences your motivations and decisions.
Think about when you crave a snack. If you’re given the option between a bag of chips or a fresh banana, you’d most likely go for the chips, wouldn’t you?
(There’s no shame, by the way, and you’ll see why soon).
Even though the younger, more rational part of your brain knows that the banana is healthier and more nutritious...
The older, more primitive part of your mind wants to be satiated. Now. With delicious crispy carbs drenched in salt, fat, and oil.
Here’s another example: why is it such a struggle to go out and exercise?
The rational part of your brain knows exercising it’s good for you. And that it’ll benefit you in the long run...
But again, your primitive mind resists discomfort. Exercise is exhausting. Your brain would much rather have you lay down all day and binge TV shows.
So how does this knowledge relate to copywriting? Well, it actually simplifies things for you.
Now that you know what goes on inside your audience’s heads whenever they make decisions, you can use copywriting to tap into their minds more effectively.
Down below, I'll show you examples of how to incorporate psychology into your copywriting.
These strategies will make your audience realize that they need your product or service. More demand means more customers.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Let’s get into them now.
As you’ve already learned, humans seek pleasure and avoid pain.
So how can you convince your audience to exchange their precious resources for your product or service?
To start, demonstrate how your product or service directly benefits your customer. How can your offer improve their lives?
Does it fix a problem they’re having? Does it bring them relief, comfort, or joy? Does it reduce, mitigate, or prevent a negative part of their lives?
One key thing to remember is that benefits and features are not the same.
A feature is a fact about your product or service, i.e. what it is, what it does, and what it has. A benefit is a positive outcome that will happen after your customer uses it.
To start, narrow down your specific benefits, think about what your customers’ pain points are. What are they lacking? What are they having trouble with? What do they wish for instead?
Imagine you’re in the healthy snack industry. What do you think your customers want?
Right off the bat, you can say they want a satiating snack, yet doesn’t contain all that addicting processed sugar, salt, and fat conventional junk food has.
So how can you provide value to them? What kind of snack can you produce?
After considering all their concerns, you come up with a genius snack idea: banana chips! (Yes, this relates back to the primitive brain and cravings example from above).
Instead of grabbing a conventional bag of chips from the vending machine, your customers can grab banana chips. That way, they can recharge with nutritious and wholesome food that’s both satiating and healthy.
But don’t just list out the features of your banana chips. Sure, bananas contain high levels of potassium and fiber. But it’s more effective to demonstrate how the snack itself will improve your customer’s lives.
You see, the point of answering these questions is to clearly understand how your business can provide comfort, security, and satisfaction for your customers. In other words, how can it satisfy the reptilian part of their minds?
If you can do that, your copy will be much stronger and effective.
A great way to illustrate the way your product or service fits into your customers’ lives is through storytelling.
Our brains love stories. Stories help us connect, share information, and make sense of the world.
Through stories, you can visualize scenarios you‘ve never imagined before.
And you can incorporate this into your copy as well.
Now that you know exactly how your product or service can benefit your customer, help them imagine using it through storytelling.
All stories are created with these elements:
Think about your customer as the protagonist. What do they want? What event makes them begin their quest?
What obstacles will they have to go through? You want this to be a happy story, right? So how is your product or service the obvious solution for them?
It may seem a bit intimidating now. Especially since you have to do so much in such a short amount of time.
But it might help you to see how these storytelling elements play out… and to try them out yourself.
Think back on the banana chips example. How can you help your customers visualize your product fitting into their lives?
Well, try starting with their pain points. This is an excellent way to begin because you’re presenting a relatable situation to your customer. They can easily imagine themselves as the protagonist of your story.
Then, set the scene. Imagine an office worker is going through a typical mid-day slump. We’ve all been there, right? So they go to the vending machine for a pick-me-up snack.
They’ve tried every single chip, candy bar, or other “healthy” alternative it offers. But each day, the office worker doesn’t feel recharged. In fact, they often end up feeling worse.
Enter in your banana chips. The office worker’s company starts providing them for free one day. Your protagonist sees one of the suppliers carting the boxes into the staff room with a smile.
Your protagonist is skeptical at first. After all, they tried everything, and nothing seemed to work. But after seeing their coworkers really enjoy the snack, they decide to try it, too.
When your protagonist glances over at the counter, they see that there’s only one chip bag left. So, they race to grab it as quickly as possible.
After taking a bite, suddenly, their face lights up. Your protagonist is more energized throughout the day. And, they make better decisions in their lives.
You can see them ace their deadlines, go to the gym, and happily spend time with their friends and family. All because your snack made them feel great.
That’s a compelling scene, right? Who doesn’t want to be that protagonist?
Bottom line: if you can hook your audience into a story about your product or service, they’ll imagine themselves as the protagonist in the story you’re creating,
They’ll feel like they’re living out the obstacles in their journey. And your product or service is just the answer they need.
So focus on making your audience identify with your brand and offer.
Use this complete persuasive storytelling guide for better copywriting.
Another reason why storytelling works so well is that humans love suspense. Or rather, we hate uncertainty.
Think about the Stone Age before society and civilization developed. People didn’t know when they’d get their next meal. And they didn’t know if a saber tooth tiger was waiting to make a meal out of them.
Even though we don’t have these same worries now (thankfully), these impulses are still strong in our minds. Our brains are wired to want to know what will happen next.
That’s why cliffhangers are so effective. They build up suspense for the audience. And when the climax is unresolved, we have a huge emotional response.
We feel agitated, outraged, duped, frustrated, unfulfilled… you name it.
But most importantly, it makes us want to see more. As soon as possible.
It’s why it’s so easy to binge a whole TV series in one day. Your brain wants to see how the story plays out. That’s exactly how TV shows and movies are written — to hook viewers.
You can apply these same elements that screenwriters use into your own copy. Make your reader want to read more and see how the story ends...
Let’s go back to the banana chip scene from above.
The protagonist is someone your audience can relate to. Since your audience goes through similar situations of the midday slump and not finding the right snack, they’re more likely to be invested in that character.
If they’re invested, that means they care. Which also means they want to see how the story plays out for your protagonist. (Ideally, a happy resolution).
The scene from above also does a good job of presenting and answering the question of, “What next?”
Remember how the protagonist tries every snack in the vending machine?
They tried eating conventional chips, but it didn’t work. They tried eating candy bars, but that didn’t work, either.
So what’s the protagonist going to do? How will their problem be solved? How will the situation be resolved?
With your banana chips, of course.
And what happens after they eat the banana chips? Their work performance improves, their lifestyle is healthier, and their social life is thriving.
This is a great example of how to build suspense and provide a resolution your audience wants to see and identify with.
Another great way to appeal to the reptilian mind is creating a sense of scarcity in the reader.
This relates to making them imagine a pain point in their lives and then demonstrating how your product or service can help them.
Again, the more primitive side of your brain is concerned with survival. That means being sure it has enough resources to weather the inevitable storm.
If you can create a sense of scarcity in your copy, it’ll make the reader feel like they’re missing something essential in their lives. And if you can present your offer as the thing that’s missing, they’ll be more likely to buy it.
Going back to the banana chips example, your protagonist is initially reluctant to try the banana chips, right?
But they see their coworkers are enjoying them. And they notice that their work performance has improved as well.
This gives your protagonist a sense of FOMO, a fear of missing out. They don’t want to lack something that makes others successful. They also want it for themselves.
This impulse motivates the protagonist to try the banana chips. And lo and behold, they work! Your banana chips were just the thing they needed.
You see, if you can help your audience identify with a sense of scarcity, it’ll compel them, even more, to consider your product or service as a solution.
Before you start using scarcity in your copy, there’s one thing I need to stress: It’s important not to be duplicitous on purpose.
In other words, don’t prey on your reader’s sense of fear for the sake of selling.
That’s not only disingenuous… it also toes the line at being immoral.
(We don’t tolerate that kind of stuff at DCG.)
Plus, it makes your brand look like it focuses too much on negativity. That can harm your reputation with your customers and within your industry.
It’s more important to focus on how you can help your customers. In other words, emphasize the positive outcomes they’ll experience after they use your product or service.
That will make your copy much more genuine and appealing.
Creating a sense of urgency in your copy is another great way to convince your reader that they need your product or service.
It’s similar to the points about scarcity from above. But it’s different in how it motivates your customer to act.
Whereas scarcity compels your audience to act, urgency urges your customer to act fast and now.
As humans, it’s our way of responding immediately to a threat or seizing a window of opportunity.
Some ways to tap into your reader’s sense of urgency through copy range from promoting a discounted price for a limited time, emphasizing limited supply, or using current events to entice them to act now.
Let’s revisit the banana chip example from above.
After your protagonist is more convinced to try the banana chips, they suddenly see that there’s only one bag left.
(This is also another great sign that the banana chips are working since they’re so popular).
In this scene, we see your protagonist grab the last bag as fast as they can. That makes them want to try it right away.
You see, this example shows how a sense of urgency amplifies your sense of scarcity. When both are triggered, it creates a reflexive impulse to do something. And fast.
Remember, your brain wants to solve problems as quickly as it can so it can return to a sense of safety and comfort.
Tapping into your audience’s sense of urgency will help you convince them to act on your offer right away.
Learn the copywriting strategies every business leader needs to know here.
Now that you know why and how you need to sell to the brain, your copy should be better at…
Even though the psychology may be a bit complicated, these concepts can make your job easier.
Since the reptilian side of your brain often overpowers your more rational side, it’s important to trigger these innate responses in your audience. After all, emotions drive sales.
Once you incorporate this knowledge about your audience’s psychology into your copy, you’ll know exactly how to get readers to buy into your offer.
Writing for your audience’s brains will also show that you understand them on a deeper level — like you’re providing something they didn’t know they needed.
Once you’ve got these tactics down, you can sell to your audience more effectively and reliably.
It’s a win-win situation for both you and your customer.
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