The Definitive Guide to Copywriting by Neil Patel & Joseph Putnam
5 More Secrets for Powerful Copy That Convinces Prospects to Buy
A copywriter should have an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward themGeorge Gribbin
In chapter four we discussed 4 persuasion secrets of professional copywriters. We learned to:
- Emphasize benefits over features
- Be as specific as possible
- Target emotions
- Leverage testimonials
All four of these are techniques you can employ to write persuasive copy that sells.
In this chapter we’d like to talk about five more secrets of powerful copy that convinces your prospects to buy. These secrets will empower you to write copy that more effectively entices your prospects to take action and buy what you’re selling.
Secret one Make people feel like they belong
You may not have noticed it before, but most people want to feel like they belong to a group of some kind. Everyone, in some way or another, is looking for a group to belong to and that gives them a sense of community.
Universities in the U.S. are a great example. Attending a university makes you feel like you're part of a larger community. Everyone who attends becomes a “Longhorn” or a “Red Raider” or a “Titan.” The longer you're there, the more you identify with the community. You start to wear the same shirts and say the same things like “Hook ‘em horns” and “Wreck ‘em Tech.” You feel like you belong. You feel like you’re part of a community.
Interestingly, the same thing happens with brands. People purchase a product, and then they feel like they’re part of a community. They feel like they’re part of a larger group who uses those products.
Mini Cooper owners, for example, are known for identifying with the larger Mini Cooper community. When you buy a Mini, you aren’t just buying a car; you’re joining a community of Mini owners.
Apple products are the same way. People continue to buy Apple products, not solely because they are superior to other products (which is true in some cases and not in others), but because they become an Apple person. Their identity is tied to Apple. They can’t buy a PC because all of their other products are from Apple.
Whenever possible, you want to create a sense of community or belonging with your products. You want people to feel like they’re a [enter your company name here] person and not a [enter your competition’s name here] person.
So how do you do this? Here are some ways:
#1: Ask people to join
The first way is to use words like “join” or “become a member” on your website or sales material. This gives people a sense that they’re joining something larger and won’t just be carrying on by themselves.
Buffer does this on their blog. The copy above their sign-up form says “Join over 10,629 other good looking people who receive free e-mail updates.”
Instead of using the standard wording to ask customers to sign up for an e-mail list like “Sign up to get free updates,” they add a sense of community to signing up for e-mail updates. They also use “Join Us” for their call to action instead of a more standard “Sign Up Now” button.
We don’t have any statistics on this, but it’s our guess that they’re using it because it’s more effective.
#2: Create a community
Another way to generate a feeling of community is to create an actual community. Shocking, we know.
Copyblogger does this with their membership community. At the top of their page, they have a “Member Home” link which offers a community for people to be a part of.
Another option would have been to just create courses and offer them for students to take, which is one way to do what they do, but it doesn’t create the same sense of belonging that a community provides.
So building a community is one way to give customers something to belong to.
#3: Display client/customer logos
Another way to make your customers feel part of something is to display logos from your top clients or customers.
Here’s why: the logos create a group of companies your clients can join. By signing up to use your service, customers can use the exact same service that [enter big company name here] uses. If the company logos you show are for industry leading organizations, then new customers can join the ranks of these leading organizations and use the exact same tools and services they’re using to get ahead.
The internet is full of examples of companies displaying their clients’ logos, so feel free to look around to get some ideas. Here are a few examples to start you off:
#4: Show off social media numbers
Still another way to create a sense of belonging is to show off your number of social media followers. By displaying a large number of followers, you’re showing people that they’re not the only ones using a product or service, and that they’re joining a community of users by doing so.
Appliances Online from the UK does this on their homepage. They show that they have 1,209,622 Facebook fans (as of the time this chapter was written). This gives customers a sense of community and shows that they’re not the only ones to choose a certain product or service.
So how do you apply this to the copy your writing?
First, open your document titled “Copywriting -- Simple Survey Tool.”
Next, add a section titled “CREATING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY” underneath the headline ideas, and then add some copy suggestions for implementing this tip. Here’s what ours looks like:
And there you have it: a simple way to generate a sense of community on your site and to make customers feel like they belong.
Note: You’ll want to keep the copywriting document open because we’re going to use it throughout the rest of the chapter.
Secret two Create a feeling of exclusivity
Another persuasion secret copywriters use is to create a feeling of exclusivity. The goal is to make prospects feel special by being part of an exclusive group.
This is one reason why phrases like “secrets” and “insider information” work so well. They make people feel like they’re part of an inside group that knows information other people don’t have.
It’s also why companies frequently use phrases like “exclusive offers” or “become an insider.” They want you to feel like you’re part of a special, exclusive group by signing up.
We’re suckered in because we like to feel like we’re on the inside getting offers and information other people aren’t getting. There’s just something in our nature that makes us want to feel part of an exclusive group.
JCrew and Banana Republic both use this technique on their sign-up form copy for their e-mail newsletters. JCrew’s says, “Like being first? Then get our can’t miss style news before everybody else.” Banana Republic’s says, “Sign up for emails and be the first to hear about covetable new arrivals and exclusive promotions at Banana Republic.”
Here’s what their sign-up forms and links look like:
Let’s go back to our copywriting document and make notes about how we can apply this tip.
Underneath the section we just created, add the heading “CREATING A FEELING OF EXCLUSIVITY,” and then add some notes on how you can apply this point. Here are ours:
Voila. We’re now making people feel like they’re receiving something exclusive.
Step three Prove the value of your product
The third persuasion secret is to prove the value of your product because customers nearly always want to get a good deal or at the very least feel like they’re spending their money wisely.
So one of your main goals is to prove the value of your product. Your job is to show prospects why they’ll be getting a good deal when they buy what you’re selling.
The good news is that there are a few proven ways to do this.
First, you can make a comparison to a similar product or products. You can show prospective customers what they’ll get with your product and what they’ll receive if they purchase from the competition. This allows them to make a feature to feature comparison which they can then compare against the prices for each.
CrazyEgg uses this on the homepage to show what you receive by using CrazyEgg, ClickTale, and Google Analytics. Here’s what it looks like:
Another way to prove the value of your product is to compare it to something similar that isn’t a direct competitor. This provides a different benchmark against which customers can compare the value of your product.
Digital Telepathy, for example, does this on their “Hire Us” page. The price for their service is $20,000, which is a lot of money, but not when you compare it to hiring and managing your own team of designers and developers.
With one sentence Digital Telepathy proves the value of their service by comparing it with hiring in-house designers and developers. That makes $20,000 seem like a bargain compared with paying salary and benefits of an in-house design team.
CrazyEgg also does this kind of comparison with their homepage headline. It reads as follows:
In this headline, they compare heatmaps with eye-tracking technology. The former is a significant bargain compared to the thousands of dollars that eye-tracking technology costs. This headline helped to show the real value of using CrazyEgg and assisted in increasing conversion rates by 30%.
When it comes to proving the value of your product, you can do it in one of two ways:
- You can compare it with your competitors’ products to show how yours is a good deal, or
- You can compare it to a similar product that’s not a direct competitor to show how your product in comparison is a good deal.
Ultimately, the goal is to show your customers that they’re spending their money wisely while changing the conversation going on in their head. You want them to debate whether they should pay for your product over the competition and not whether or not they want to pay $X for your product.
Once again let’s go back to the copywriting document. Create a section titled “PROVING THE VALUE OF YOUR PRODUCT,” and make some notes about how you can prove the value of what you’re selling. Here are our notes:
Secret four Establish yourself as an authority
Are you an authority in your field? What about someone on your staff? Are they an authority in the subject matter you work with?
If yes, you should use some of your copy to establish yourself as an authority because people have a tendency to look up to experts in any given field. The more authoritative you seem, the more seriously your customers will take whatever you have to say.
Here are a few ways your company can establish itself as an authority:
#1: Highly trained staff
Does someone on your staff have a PHd or are they highly trained in your field? If yes, that’s one way to establish your authority.
Cream.hr is a great example of this. One of their co-founders, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, is a clinical psychologist who has done a lot of research with modern personality tests. He’s also taught as an Assistant and Associate Professor at Harvard, which is quite impressive.
Since Cream’s company is based on personality tests that evaluate potential employees, it makes sense to emphasize Dr. Peterson as an authority in clinical psychology in order to gain more credibility with potential customers. They do this on their About page with a detailed bio of Dr. Peterson.
#2: Experienced staff members
Another way to establish authority is to highlight the experience of your team members.
For example, have any of your employees worked in an industry for a long period of time or worked for top companies within the industry? Both can be used to establish authority.
This is a technique that’s used a lot. You’ll frequently see signs that say things like “15 years experience as a tax accountant” or “25 years experience as a trial lawyer.”
Copy Hacker does this on one of their sales pages. They describe one of their consultants, Lance Jones, in this way:
This short segment of copy helps to establish Lance Jones as an authority in CRO which in turn establishes Copy Hackers as an authority since he’s one of the co-founders.
#3: Company history
Another oft-used way to establish your business as an authority is to stress the number of years it’s been in business. Companies frequently use phrases like “established in 1941” or “Serving our customers for over 100 years.”
John Deere, for example, is an iconic American business and has been around for over 175 years, but you can’t find that stat on their homepage (although they probably use it elsewhere). It would make sense to display copy such as this: “We’ve been proudly building farm products for over 175 years” (or something along those lines).
These are three easy ways to establish your company as an authority in its field.
Let’s go ahead and take some notes on how you can apply this for your company. In the copywriting document add a section titled “ESTABLISHING AUTHORITY,” and make some notes underneath. Here are ours:
Note: The Simple Survey Tool was not founded by ex-Googlers because it’s not an actual a company. However, the fact that it’s a fictitious company means we can make up really cool facts like this that make it seem like an extra special company.
Secret five Provide “reasons why”
Providing “reasons why” is another way to write powerful copy that convinces prospects to buy.
Robert Cialdini, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, is famous among copywriters for his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s had a significant impact on how copy is written.
He also talks about the effectiveness of giving people a reason why when we ask them to do things. Here’s what he has to say about that:
A well-known principle of behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.
He goes on to discuss a study where participants were asked to cut in line to make copies at a Xerox machine based on one of three scenarios.
- Scenario 1: The participants were instructed to cut in line and to say, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine.”
- Scenario 2: In the second scenario, the participants were instructed to provide a reason for cutting by saying, “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I am in a rush.”
- Scenario 3: In scenario three, the participants were instructed to provide a nearly meaningless reason for cutting by saying, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies.”
Which do you think was the most effective?
Not surprisingly, the second scenario led to the best results. 60% of people allowed the participant to cut in scenario one while 94% allowed the participant to cut in scenario two. That’s an increase of 34%.
But it gets really interesting in scenario three. Even though a nearly meaningless reason was provided, 93% of people still allowed the participant to cut, which is only 1% less than when an actual reason was given.
The conclusion from these results is that people are conditioned to comply more frequently when a reason is given, even if the reason is basically meaningless. The fact that a reason is provided is enough to convince more people to comply with what you ask.
So how do you use this for copy? You can use this by making sure you provide reasons why people should use your product or service. Below are some examples.
Example #1: Harry’s
Harry’s is a purveyor of high-quality razors for men. They have a beautiful website and impressive copy.
But Harry’s faces a significant challenge: How do they convince men to switch from a more traditional razor like Gillette that they’ve been using for years? Should they focus on price, quality, looks, or all of the above?
They do all three, but quality ends up being one of the most persuasive elements. On one of their pages, they have the following copy:
The copy is simple, but it provides a reason why you should buy their razors over someone else’s. This reason alone is enough to make some customers make a purchase who otherwise would not.
Example #2: Portola Coffee Lab
Portola Coffee Lab is a high-end coffee shop based out of Costa Mesa, CA. They’ve earned the distinction of being one of only a handful coffee shops with higher prices than Starbucks.
Any idea why they’re able to get away with it? If you guessed that they provide a reason why they’re coffee is worth more, then you’re correct.
The answers rests with the lab portion of their name. The Portola Coffee Lab charges more because their coffee is “scientifically prepared” to a higher standard. Their baristas wear lab coats and are coffee preparation “scientists.”
One could argue that there are other reasons why they’re able to charge more, which there are, but a significant part of their ability to raise their prices is justifying the reason they charge more with the fact that their process is scientifically founded. And apparently it’s working because they seem to be doing quite well.
Once again, let’s take some notes in the copywriting document. Create a section titled “REASONS WHY,” and make some notes on why people should pick your product or service over someone else’s. Here are ours:
Bringing It All Together
In this chapter we discussed five more secrets to persuasive copy and took notes for each that will eventually help us in our writing our first copy draft. We learned that copy can be used to:
- Make people feel like they’re part of a group.
- Convince people they’re receiving an exclusive offer.
- Prove the value of your product.
- Establish your company as an authority.
- Provide convincing reasons why customers should choose you over the competition.
Each of these techniques will help you to write persuasive copy that sells.
In the next chapter we’ll discuss four tips that are critical for your copy’s success and that will empower you to close the deal with your copy.