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The ultimate guide to persuasive online copywriting

by Wendy Woodhead on

Most of us would agree that we want our content to be persuasive. But it’s often easier said than done. In this blog post, we take a look at what exactly persuasive online copywriting entails and how you can learn the skills.

What is persuasive online copywriting?

It might sound self-explanatory, and it is. Persuasive online copywriting is the art of crafting copy that is so compelling and on-target that the intended reader can’t help but take action.

The desired action may be in the form of signing up to receive more information, making a purchase or taking up a free trial.

Persuasive copy doesn’t have to be written perfectly (though it does help), but typically it does need to convey a few technical and stylistic essentials that can tap into your reader’s motivation.

Essentially, at the heart of persuasive copy is conversion.

What is conversion?

‘Conversion’ in marketing terms means getting the reader of your copy to become a customer (or consent to become a part of your database).

Here’s how Wordstream defines it:

“A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. The percentage of total visitors that convert is called your conversion rate.”

The aim of the digital copywriter is to increase the conversion rate, and there are a couple of core principles of copywriting that can help:

  • Knowing your customer, including their pains, their needs, their wants
  • Positioning your product or service’s benefits as the solution

7 steps to mastering persuasive online copywriting

There’s no guaranteed way to ensure your copy persuades, at the end of the day, it all depends on the customer and whatever frame of mind they’re in at the time. But there are a few steps that can help you get close.

1. Have a unique angle

The-ultimate-guide-to-writing-persuasive-online-copywriting-Copify-blog-1-370x493We’re all agreed that content is being published at a faster rate than ever before thanks to the advent of the digital revolution. In turn, this can make it even harder to ensure your angle is unique.

Whether you are creating ad copy, email content, a blog post, article or web page, doing it differently from what’s gone before (and, crucially, your competitors) is a good start. It isn’t essential, but it is a great way to get people to sit up and take notice if your product or service isn’t exactly new or groundbreaking.

Look at your product or service from a different perspective; define your USPs and brainstorm around these. It can help to take a look at some great copywriting samples that have worked for brands in the past.

If you’re not a natural at this kind of creative copywriting, hire someone who is.

2. Hook from the headline

Often considered the most important aspect of your content, your headline, email subject or strapline is the portal into your copy for your reader.

Make sure you follow some tips to make sure your headline is engaging and, above all, persuasive!

  1. Err on the side of short and snappy (around 6-8 words works), though BuzzSumo suggests you can go longer depending on the platform. Just make sure you use those words well.
  2. Make it active – which means position the reader/subject in the doing.
  3. Personalise it – ideal for emails and web copy in members’ areas; this is much easier with digital content being targetted at a database
  4. Invoke curiosity (though not at the risk of sounding like clickbait). For instance, BuzzSumo found some of the top headline phrases for use on Facebook included:
    – Will make you
    – This is why
    – Are freaking out
  5. Listicles also work well – try to use stats or numbers in your headline where possible

3. Write with energy

The-ultimate-guide-to-persuasive-online-copywriting-Copify-blog-4-768x512Once your reader is inside your webpage, blog post, email or other digital content, make sure they find your content irresistible. Write with energy, switch up the pace with shorter and longer sentences and keep your reader on their toes with creative ideas and phrasing.

Confidence is key to copywriting success so think about examples of writing that have managed to persuade you in the past and follow their lead.

4. Know what your reader wants

The best way to persuade your reader with your words is to know what they want from the outset. Remember the age-old formula for sales writing:

Identifying pain points + selling your benefits = conversion

Ask yourself what your service or product does that can relieve the real-life problems of your audience and you have your starting point.

5. Optimise your content

Following on from the last point is ensuring that your content is going to be found by those who need it and having it best presented for them.

Content that includes all the keywords your audience will be searching for is more likely to get onto their radar (by which we mean their search results) than that which isn’t.

From there, your content will need to be presented in the best way for the medium they are viewing it on. Analytics can help you here: do your customers access your digital content via desktop, tablet, smartphone or app (web-based or mobile)?

In short, you’ll want to make sure you content is well-spaced with shorter words, sentences and paragraphs, boosting white space for readability. There are some more tips on writing copy for SEO here.

It’s not just about copy either – optimising the rest of your webpage with the elements that induce trust in consumers is key. For instance, Wordstream found that “using videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86%.”

In fact, Venngage discovered “better performance from articles […] that contain a higher visual to text ratio. These articles tend to rank higher on SERPs and also lead to better direct conversion rates”.

6. Make sure your call to action is clear and compelling

Finally, once you’ve done the important job of making sure your reader gets to the end of your copy, you need to make sure your call to action is clear and engaging.

Choose one CTA and stick with it so your reader knows what is expected. And if you include a link make sure it actually works!

Most people think a call to action is simply a ‘Click here’, ‘Buy now’ or ‘Find out more’ button. But your call to action can also be your final push to convince your reader of why they need to take action.

To this end, you may have seen some call to actions or text reiterating the key USP of the product or service. Something like:
– Simplify your life today
– Become a better ___ today
– Let’s start something great together
– Save __% today
– Yes, I want to receive great discounts!

And then there are the examples that work on negative reinforcement, asking the reader to opt out of the benefits you’ve spent the page selling them:
– No, I don’t want to receive money off
– I’d rather pay full price thanks

7. A/B test your copy

The-ultimate-guide-to-persuasive-online-copywriting-Copify-blog-2-768x513-1Once you’ve got your persuasive copy, how do you check that it’s as effective as it could be?

You could add it to your webpage, emails or blog posts and just wait to see what happens. But what are you comparing it against?

An easy way of knowing what works for your customer is to try A/B split testing by creating two different pieces of copy that different readers can see. The two pieces could have different focuses and benefits, and the one which performs the best gives you the optimum strategy to apply to your content, as Copyblogger explains:

“For example, if you have a landing page that sells a parrot training eBook, how do you decide which headline to use? Should you use Teach your parrot nifty tricks in 24 hours (version A)? Or should you use Your parrot speaks 20 words by tomorrow or your money back (version B)?”

With HubSpot reporting that “only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates” you could be ahead of the competition if you implement this strategy.

How to learn persuasive online copywriting

If you want to learn persuasive copywriting in a way that gets results, you could choose to go to the source of the matter.

Persuasive Online Copywriting is one of the most in-demand copywriting courses and copywriting books on the topic.

Bryan Eisenberg and Jeff Sexton, both renowned figures in the world of website optimisation, teach part of the course which promises “proven methodologies for creating powerful, persuasive online copy. You can apply these principles to increase conversion, i.e., increase sales or leads”.

Of course, there are other ways to learn the skills of persuasive online copywriting. Check out our guide to some of the best copywriting courses out there, as well as our tips on how to learn copywriting skills for free.

At Copify, our digital content writers work with all kinds of businesses to produce copy that informs, engages and above all persuades. To find out more about how to get persuasive online copywriting for your brand or to sharpen your skills creating it, sign up today.

Main image credit: Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Internal image credits: Photo by Mati Mango from Pexels, Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash, Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy Woodhead