How to Become the Most Persuasive Copywriter on the Planet

Copywriting, when compared to other forms of writing, is a different kind of animal.

It’s not necessarily about writing well.

It’s about writing persuasively.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class wordsmith or a literary genius.

If you can’t effectively move readers through the proper sequence of steps and ultimately convince them to buy, your conversions are going to suffer.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest writer.

You probably won’t see me publishing a novel anytime soon.

But I’d like to think I’m good at copywriting, which, in its simplest form, is “the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”

In this post, I’d like to provide you with a straightforward formula you can use to become a highly persuasive copywriter with the end goal of maximizing conversions.

I’ll explain both the basic structure and the specific techniques you need to use to become more persuasive.

Start with a killer value proposition

Research from Nielsen Norman Group found that you have a very small amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your page.

In fact, you usually have a max of 20 seconds.

Your first order of business is to make it abundantly clear what your value proposition is.

Now, there are several ways to go about this, but I believe in keeping things simple.

Getting too complex tends to dilute the message and confuse prospects.

What I’ve found to be most effective is keeping my value proposition short, sweet, and clear.

Like this:

I think the Moz homepage does a really good job at this as well:

Don’t make them guess what you’re offering.

Let them know in a split second what you are offering with your crystal clear value proposition.

To accomplish this, try to condense the essence of your product down to just a few words.

Swiftly move to the benefits

“What’s in it for me?”

That’s what most visitors are thinking after hearing your value proposition.

But here’s the thing.

Most people have a tendency to emphasize features over benefits.

But it should be the other way around.

Just look at this Venn diagram from ABC Copywriting:

Notice that benefits are valued over features.

Of course, you need to explain how your product works. But you can elaborate on that later.

What you want to do first is explain how the product fulfills a need or desire.

In other words, explain how your customers’ lives will be better after they buy your product.

Here’s a great example from Moz:

See how prospects instantly understand the benefits of using Moz?

It will save them time and make things more efficient.

They also don’t have to worry about deciphering complex data because Moz takes care of this for them.

When it comes to describing benefits, there are three main types to cover:

  • Tangible
  • Intangible
  • Commercial

This illustration from ABC Copywriting explains these various types of benefits in more detail.

As they point out, “Benefits need not be unique, but they must be compelling.”

Keep this in mind when deciding on an angle.

I personally find that it’s best to highlight the benefits before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the features.

That way prospects should be more receptive and willing to wade through the details.

But if you go the other way around and cover the features before the benefits, you’re probably going to lose a sizable portion of your leads.

Just sayin’.

Now explain the features

“What’s in the box?”

That’s what Brad Pitt’s character David Mills wanted to know in the closing scene of the movie Seven.

While the contents of the box were quite grisly (his wife’s severed head), this question demonstrates the importance of promptly telling your leads what they’ll get by making a purchase.

In other words, let them know what’s in the box.

They already know what you’re offering and what the benefits are.

Now it’s time to succinctly break down the features of your product.

Again, I feel like Moz pulls this off flawlessly, so I’ll use this as an example:

I prefer breaking features down into bullet points or concise little sections like Moz does.

“Digestibility” is huge, and you want to present your product’s features in an easy-to-absorb, intuitive way.

You also want to touch on specifics to distinguish your product from competitors and to add a sense of value.

Here’s how I did this with Quick Sprout:

Keep it simple, but include a few key details that explain why your product is the bee’s knees.

CTA

By now, your prospects should understand what your product is, how it will benefit them, and what the features are.

Your final task is to tell them what to do next.

In other words, it’s time for your CTA.

You can liken this to battling a boss in the final level of a video game.

It’s arguably the most challenging aspect of the process, but if you’ve done what you were supposed to do in the previous steps, you should see a reasonable conversion rate.

Once again, simplicity reigns supreme, and I see no reason to complicate your CTA.

Here’s how I approach it on Quick Sprout:

And here’s what it looks like on NeilPatel.com:

Notice that it’s very clear what action I want prospects to complete.

As always, I strongly recommend doing at least some basic A/B testing on your CTA to see what works best.

Some specific elements to test include:

  • button style
  • button color
  • wording
  • positioning

Being hella persuasive

Okay, now we’ve covered the basic structure of well-crafted copywriting.

The general structure of a landing page should be roughly as follows:

  • Value proposition
  • Benefits
  • Features
  • CTA

But how do you ensure you’re hitting all the right notes and being highly persuasive?

Obviously, the value proposition and benefits will offer some motivation, but here are some other things I’ve found to be impactful.

Make your content scannable

I’m not going to launch into a huge sermon about the importance of creating scannable content.

You probably already know people read online content differently than they do offline content.

But if you want to efficiently get prospects from Point A (your value proposition) to Point B (your CTA), it helps to make everything in-between easily scannable.

Luckily, the formula for scannable content is quite easy.

Just include headers, bullet lists, and a considerable amount of white space along the way.

Apple, being the savvy marketers they are, do this perfectly on their MacBook Pro landing page.

Here are a couple of screenshots:

It’s seamless.

Persuasive words

An article on Business 2 Community talks about the three different brains we have:

  • the new brain
  • the middle brain
  • the old brain

According to the article,

the old brain is the part that controls decisions, and it also happens to be the most primitive. In this way, the words you use to market to the old brain will often be the most direct, simple, arresting, visual words you have.

So if there was ever a copywriting hack, it’s using highly persuasive words that make the “old part of the brain light up.”

Here’s a list of those words:

And according to research, the five most persuasive words in the English language are the ones in blue, which are:

  • New
  • You
  • Free
  • Because
  • Instantly

Peppering these words throughout your copy in key locations should have a noticeable impact on conversions.

Social proof

This is my last point, and it’s a biggie.

Incorporating social proof into your copy is the icing on the cake.

This was actually one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion,

which maintains that people are especially likely to perform certain actions if they can relate to the people who performed the same actions before them.

I’m not going to go into all the gory details of social proof here.

You can learn about it from this Kissmetrics article.

But I will say that testimonials are usually your best bet, pound for pound.

Here’s how I incorporate them into my landing page on NeilPatel.com:

You can also use things like:

  • ratings
  • media logos
  • subscriber counts
  • social connections (your number of followers)
  • clients you’ve worked with

Just be practical, and provide whatever type of social proof you think would most persuade your prospects to take action.

Conclusion

The way I look at it, there are two main components of effective copywriting.

The first component involves properly structuring your content so that it’s presented in a logical, sequential manner.

This means explaining your product in a way that makes sense to an average person and systematically covering your value proposition, benefits, features, and CTAs.

The second component is weaving in persuasive elements to quell fears, clear up any misunderstandings, and ultimately motivate prospects to take action.

By appealing to people on these two different levels, you can create very persuasive copy and crush it from a conversions standpoint.

What do you think is the single most important aspect of persuasive copywriting?

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Comments

  1. With all due respect to you and Moz, you could have come up with a much better example of benefit copy.

    Save time and streamline your workflow is too generic to be effective. Just about everyone can claim it, and there’s no context. If it saves me 3 seconds that’s a true statement, but do I care? Does that justify the investment? Probably not.

  2. This is what I was looking for, thanks

  3. J. Ustpassing :

    Again – I love seeing someone cover Value Propositions.
    People should be aware that they may want to change the primary VP depending on their campaign. Different ad/social campaigns may target different audiences, and the main motivator/trigger for the different groups may vary (so test!)

    That said, a few things seem to be missing 😉

    Persuasion is a form of rhetoric, a mechanism for communication.
    It traditionally consists of 3 methods;
    Emotion, Logic and Authority (Pathos, Logos and Ethos).

    You covered Ethos with Social Proof and Testimonies, but you missed out “research” and “reference” (which you do rather well).

    Logos was completely missed. People are emotionally based (mostly). We sell to their emotions, and then provide them a way to justify the decision/cost.
    This is when we appeal to the intellect and present information that eases the choice – such as being cheaper, having better warranties, reinforcing fiscal/economic benefits etc.

    Pathos was mostly missed as well. Emotions is the primary method of motivating a decision, or exploiting a need/desire. From a sales perspective, this was traditionally done via “pain points”, then later through “personality points” (you pitch for saving money, saving time, reducing costs, speeding up processes … or by pushing the go button, because they deserve the extravagance, because others will envy them etc.).
    .

    A term you missed that closely relates to Pathos is “emotive language” – we often see it in rag-journalism – the use of words like “menacing”, “horrendous” etc., used with the sole intent of provoking/evoking a specific “feeling” from the reader.
    Similar can be seen in certain forms of advertising, either when describing the benefit for the end user, or when comparing to competing services/products.

    Whilst looking at words, people need to look at “hedge” or “weasel” words.
    These are words that distance the writer from consequence, or that negate responsibility etc. They can be an instant turn off, reduce authority/credibility (ethos) etc.
    .

    A final pointer is Objection Handling.
    Everyone has concerns, questions or doubts. The more of those you can “handle” in your initial copy, the lower the abandonment, the faster the conversion etc.
    But you don’t want to directly address them – openly challenging objections may result in a negative (people are suspicious, and will question why you are raising such points so early!).
    Instead, try to subtly include them in your pitches (when writing a benefit+feature pair etc.).
    .

    There, throw that lot in with the detailed points given above, and it’s pretty much covered from every direction 😀

  4. Emenike Emmanuel :

    Hi Neil,

    Copywriting is indeed a fun thing going by the way you took time to explain it. Yeah, how else can one make an ad convert if not through copywriting. Thanks for sharing.

    Emenike

  5. Shantanu Sinha :

    Hello Neil Sir,

    This is something in-depth post about the pro’s and con’s of the copywriting. Although it has always be fun
    doing copywriting. You have explained it so well that it had clear all my doubts over this topic.

    Thanks for the share
    Shantanu.

  6. Jewellery Services :

    Hello Sir,

    Thanks Share very useful tips for writing a Blog content. Creating article or post is very important. I review again and Thought many Keyword For SEO Blog Post article.Iread Your article is most.

  7. Hi Neil,

    This is very informative. Please continue to share more of this. Thank you for this great article!

    Jean

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