5 Ingredients for Truly Persuasive Website Writing
Raise your hand if you feel like “connecting” with your readers through your copy is more a byproduct of luck than anything deliberate.
You’re trying hard to write copy that your visitors will want to read (and want to act on), but what tumbles out onto the page is hit or miss. And even if you feel like something sounds good, how do you know if that means it’s going to be effective and persuasive, too?
That’s a lot of uncertainty to deal with.
Here’s some good news: you don’t have to guess. You can actually follow a simple process for giving your copy a persuasion makeover. And that is exactly what we’re going to tackle in this post.
Curated from my days as a copywriter for small businesses, here are 5 ingredients that, when mixed up in your copy, will make your visitors stick. And buy. And come back for more.
Step One: Get Their Attention
You can’t be persuasive if no one is paying attention. Your first step towards copy that makes things happen is getting people interested in what you have to say, right from word one.
Grabbing reader’s attention doesn’t have to be about gimmicky headlines or tricky phrases. You need to establish genuine interest in your topic – interest that will serve the purpose of getting your visitors hooked in the first place, and then keeping them interested as your copy progresses.
Here’s an incredibly simple tip for transforming your copy into words your visitors will stick to:
1. Pull up a page of your copy (you could try this out on your About page)
2. Delete the first 2 or 3 paragraphs
This is a bit of an oversimplification, given the fact that I haven’t seen your exact page of copy. But here’s the lesson: we often take a little while to “warm up” when we write. Those first few paragraphs tend to rely on generic or simplistic information while we get our creative juices pumping. Then, after we’ve cleared out the cobwebs, the really good stuff starts coming out. THAT is the copy you want to start with at the top of your page. Those are the words that will get your readers to pay attention.
Here’s an example:
On About pages, you’ll often see a pretty standard intro that goes something like:
“Thanks for checking out my digi home. I’m _____ and I’m a _(insert profession)____. Here are some basic personal facts about who I am and a few things I love about what I do.”
There’s nothing wrong with this information, but it’s not exactly thrilling either. After giving their basic introduction, most About pages will then build some momentum talking about how they help people, who their ideal client is, and the outstanding success they’ve created for their clients. That content is what your visitors want to hear. So skip the warm-up copy and put the exciting stuff right at the top.
Step Two: Create a Connection
Getting people interested is one thing – getting them to actually buy into what you’re saying is another. Creating an emotional connection is what pulls someone across that line.
Building a connection is all about making your visitor feel understood. They want to feel like you’re talking to them. Just them. Not a dozen web surfers – but them.
What do you know about your ideal client? What are they going through in their life? What are they struggling with? What are they trying to achieve? What about your life and your story helps you understand and serve your client better?
Dig into this connection. Have a heart to heart with the person on the other side of the screen. Make them feel known, appreciated, and understood. Be very specific. It’s OK if some people don’t relate to your copy. You’re looking to form a connection with a very specific person: your ideal client. Don’t worry about the rest.
Step Three: Tell a Solution Story
When it comes to creating copy that will convert readers into buyers, the Solution Story is vital.
Here’s why: people don’t want to buy your service, program, or product. Spending money on one more thing isn’t up there on their to-do list, and your offer in its practical, actual form isn’t that interesting to them.
What they WILL buy? What they absolutely won’t hesitate to throw their debit card at? That would be the solution you’re creating for them.
It might be a feeling.
It might be an indulgence.
It might be confidence.
It might be a little slice of happiness, or relaxation, or a piece in the puzzle of the life they are trying to build for themselves.
That is what sells.
So tell them the story of the solution you are offering. What will their life look like after working with you? What are you going to help them achieve, let go of, get more of, or start doing? Tell the story of their life with your thing (whatever it is that you’re selling) in it.
Step Four: Offer Proof
One amazing thing about the world of online business is that anyone can do it. If you have a desire to be your own boss, some guts, and a talent for something (plus a big dose of persistence because let’s be honest, being your own boss isn’t as easy as the average Facebook ad makes it seem) – you can build a business and make a living.
One of the problems with the world of online business is that anyone can do it. Whether or not they have credentials (the “official” kind or the real-life-learned kind), a track record, or even a legitimate knowledge of what they are trying to sell.
The reality of this means you run across a lot of people promising a lot of big things and you have to wonder “is this for real?” Is the person behind the screen legitimate, or a scam?
If I’m thinking that (and you’re probably thinking that), then your prospects are thinking it, too.
This type of discernment among online shoppers can play to your advantage, though, when you apply this one simple, powerful antidote: proof.
Serve up some evidence that you can do what you say and that you really know your stuff. Testimonials from past clients are one of my favorite ways to do this.
In addition to testimonials, track the results you get for your clients and create case studies. If you sell products, gather photos of your product being used in everyday life by customers. Build social proof by sharing content on social media and engaging with your audience.
In the end, don’t just say that you’re good at what you do. Prove it. Whether that’s via testimonials, endorsements from other professionals you’ve worked with, or real data or measurements from projects you’ve worked on. Be creative – show or tell the story of real people using your products or benefitting from your service. Highlight the opportunities you’ve participated in. Show that you’re dedicated to what you do and that you show up to make things happen.
Step Five: Make Action Easy
This little part of the persuasive copy puzzle is probably the easiest, but also one of the most neglected.
I know it seems like after all the work you’ve done to be interesting, create a connection, tell a solution story, and prove you really know what you’re talking about, that anyone who’s interested will automatically jump to a purchasing decision.
But, it turns out, a lot of them won’t. Making a decision to purchase something is an emotionally taxing process. If you leave your reader without a clear next step, they may assume they should just think it over. Or that they’ll remember to come back and decide tomorrow. Or after they’ve remodeled the bathroom. Or maybe never.
You’re responsible for making the Next Step as easy and painless as possible.
For starters, make sure you have an obvious and quick way for people to buy (like a “Buy Now” button that lets them pay online).
In addition to that, make the process easy by answering common questions and concerns with an FAQ section. Give potential customers all the info they need to make a confident decision that doesn’t feel risky or ambiguous.
And finally, make it easy for people to contact you. If their questions and concerns weren’t cleared up in your FAQ, give them a quick form or an email address through which they can get in touch with you. And in your follow up, make sure to repeat the process of making the purchase easy and straightforward if they decide to buy.
Creating meaningful connections with people in the digital world doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Mix up these 5 ingredients with your own personality, and you’ll have a recipe for addictive, persuasive copy in no time.