In this post I am going to dive into 19 copywriting strategies that will help you improve your writing skills and persuade your readers. These secrets will empower you to write copy that more effectively entices your prospects to take action and buy what you’re selling.
The good news is that you don’t need to be the world’s foremost grammarian. Perfect grammar and straight A’s in English aren’t required to write copy that sells.
But on the other side of the coin, you do need to be a good writer. You need to be able to write copy that connects with your audience and clearly communicates your message. Sometimes this means breaking a grammar rule or two to get your point across, but if you break rules unknowingly, you’ll lose credibility.
Read my list of copywriting strategies below that will help you to become a better writer and close more sales.
1. Emphasize Benefits Over Features
This happens to be one of the most basic copywriting lessons in the book. Every copywriter learns early on about the need to emphasize benefits over features, but surprisingly, it’s not something that comes naturally.
For whatever reason, nearly everyone has a tendency to write about features instead of benefits. With a pretend Simple Survey Tool product as an example, you might write the following copy:
Sign up for this Simple Survey Tool to get:
- Unlimited questions
- Multiple question formats
- Customizable surveys
- Instant notifications
What’s the problem with this copy? The problem is that it’s a list of features and not a product description that appeals to customers. Features are needed at the right time to show what’s included with the product, but they don’t convince customers to buy what you’re selling. Benefits, on the other hand, are much, much more persuasive at convincing customers to buy your product.
Prospects care more about the benefit provided by the product than by the features included, and they sign up to receive the benefit, not the features. More often than not, features are technical aspects that end up confusing customers. They appeal to a select, hardcore group of customers but confuse the rest.
So when it comes to writing copy, you want to emphasize benefits first. Your goal is to lead with benefits and include them at the beginning of your copy. Then, after starting with the benefit, you can go on to list the features.
Here’s a great example: The folks at Buffer start out by talking about how their app is the smarter way to share. If you’re looking a way to work smarter not harder when it comes to social media, you’ve come to the right place because Buffer can help with that.
Next, they go on to talk about how Buffer will help you to be awesome on social media. Who doesn’t want a tool that will help them to be awesome? The copy continues by talking about more benefits of using the Buffer app: you can easily add great articles, pictures, and videos so they “automagically” get shared throughout the day. Sign us up. We want updates that share “automatically.” Seems like there’s a lot of benefit to using this app.
Then, after leading with the benefits of using the app, they list the features. You can post to multiple accounts, get analytics & insights, and invite all of your team members to use the app. Each of the bold phrases are features included with the Buffer. They aren’t necessarily reasons for signing up, but they explain what you’ll get by using it. Thus, in this example, Buffer leads with the benefits of using the app and then reinforces the benefit by explaining the app’s features.
Here’s what you need to remember: Benefits sell the product and give customers a reason to buy; features explain clearly what they’ll receive by using your product and give customers something to compare against the competition. Features are still needed, but they’re not the primary selling point.
2. Be as specific as possible
The second pro tip for copy that sells is that it needs to be as specific as possible. It’s easy to make general claims about a product, but specific proof is much, much more effective.
For example, a conversion rate optimization company could say that their service doubles or triples conversion rates. That’s great, but it’s not very persuasive.
General numbers and general claims are too perfect to be believable to customers. “Double or triple” is an estimate that’s easy to make up. How often does a conversion rate increase by a perfect 100%? Not very often.
So what should you do instead?
You should be as specific as possible. You should tell customers that your service increased conversion rates for a specific customer by 58% or saves you customers an average of $254 per year. Those numbers are more specific, more believable, and seem less likely to have been made up.
Writing specific copy is way more effective than making general claims. Here are a few great examples:
Example #1: Bidsketch
With this headline, Bidsketch displays the exact dollar amount their customers have earned by using their service. The specificity makes the claim much more believable and impressive. $1,900,000+ wouldn’t be nearly as impressive as $193,654,896. Either their customers have earned that much money, or they’re lying through their teeth. Most customers will believe the former when a specific claim is made.
Example #2: Copyblogger
In this headline example, Copyblogger uses a specific subscription rate increase to get their readers’ attention. They could have used a headline like “How to Significantly Increase Conversion Rates,” but that wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The specific number grabs people’s attention and makes them feel like the advice is proven to be effective and will provide a real benefit.
So as you can see, being as specific as possible makes your copy more effective. Is there anything specific about your product that will help you sell it to your customers? Are there any case studies where customers saved $X number of dollars or grew their business by X%? If so be sure to feature these benefits in your copy.
3. Target Emotions
When it comes to making a purchase, people are heavily influenced by their emotions. We think we make decisions based purely on logic, but really, most of our purchases are based on emotions.
The simple reason is that our emotions are tied more closely to our decision making than most of us realize. Antonio Damasio, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, has studied this extensively and has written about his research in a book titled Descartes’ Error.
In the book, Damasio talks about cases where patients suffered damage to their pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with emotions. The result is that they end up having difficulty making simple decisions.
In many ways, they maintain the same intelligence they had before the damage, scoring well on numerous intelligence tests, but with their emotions impaired, they have trouble making simple decisions like where to eat for dinner or what food to choose. They can list the logical benefits of each option but ultimately have trouble making a decision.
So what does this have to do with copy? Everything, really. If your copy only makes a logical appeal, you’ll miss the most important part of the brain connected to decision making — emotions. You can make a very logical argument only to miss the most important part of the brain you need to target.
Selling a product isn’t just about making a case for why customers need what you’re selling. It’s creating a scenario where people want what you have for sale.
Apple is a great example of this. The logic behind buying an Apple product is quite poor. You end up paying more for a product with worse technical specifications than those from another company. Ten times out of ten you can get more computer for less than when you buy one from Apple.
So why do people pay more for Apple products like a MacBook Pro? The reason is that customers want them. Apple knows how to push the desire button and make people want their product.
Customers line up to buy the new iPhone, not because it makes so much sense to pay the highest price for the latest phone, but because they have to get it before their friends do. They have to get the latest phone because they want it so badly.
You need to do the same with your copy. Instead of just listing features and checking off reasons to buy your product, you need to increase the emotional appeal of using it and create a desire in your prospects for what you’re selling.
Copyblogger does a good job of this with their homepage headline.
They don’t just make a logical appeal. They target their customers’ emotions.
Do prospects want to leave lame behind? Sure they do. Is that a logical reason to sign up for Copyblogger? Not necessarily but it definitely makes you want to sign up for their programs. Why? Because you don’t want to be lame.
4. Leverage testimonials
Pro copywriters know how to leverage testimonials to get the maximum credibility with customers.
The reason is that prospects take everything you say with a grain of salt. When you say, “We’ve got the fastest internet in the universe!”, even if it’s true, prospective customers will assume you’re biased, because, well, you are.
But when you share a client testimonial, you instantly gain credibility. Words from a customer’s mouth are much, much more trustworthy than a similar statement from a business owner or salesman.
You can use testimonials to increase the believability of your copy and to say things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to say. This is the main reason why so many websites use testimonials on their site. They’re leveraging the believability of customer testimonials.
Testimonials can be used anywhere in your copy, but they’re particularly useful when used in the following ways.
Testimonial Use #1: To say things you can’t
Testimonials come in a lot of different forms. One of those forms is an extremely flattering recommendation of your company. Customers may talk about how your service was so amazing that they wish they could join your team, or something else equally flattering.
These are things you can’t say yourself. You can’t say, “We provide service so amazing you’ll wish you could work with us.” Thus, you can use customer testimonials to say things you otherwise couldn’t say.
Here’s an example where a customer provides an extremely flattering recommendation of WP Engine’s hosting service.
Testimonial Use #2: To strengthen key aspects of your copy
Some testimonials are general, but some talk about specific parts of your product or service that you’d like to emphasize within your copy. In this way, not all testimonials are created equal. Some are more strategically important than others.
Your job is to figure out which testimonials match specific parts of your copy. Some of them might talk about how much they love instant notifications. Others may talk about how much they appreciate pre-formulated surveys. The key is figuring out which ones will strengthen your copy the most and to use them at the appropriate time.
For example, if you have a service business, you might have a testimonial that talks about how effective your process is. You may also have a section on your website that describes your proven process. Instead of adding the testimonial randomly somewhere on the site, you want to match it with the section that’s the most appropriate so it strengthens key aspects of your copy.
Switch Video does this on their website. Part of their homepage talks about their proven, 5-step process as seen below.
Directly underneath, they use testimonials that talk about Switch Video’s process as a way to reinforce the copy listed above.
Both testimonials (in case it’s difficult to read them in the screenshot) speak highly of Switch Video’s process and support the 5-step, proven process listed above.
Testimonial Use #3: To highlight key clients
You can also use testimonials to highlight key clients and customers. Often, there are companies you work with that prospects aspire to be like. Maybe it’s a larger company or a well-known entrepreneur.
Your goal is to leverage these testimonials to show off your work for these clients. A testimonial from an impressive, big name client can be worth hundreds from regular clients. Thus, you want to leverage your biggest clients to impress the rest of your prospects.
Neil does this on QuickSprout with the testimonial from Michael Arrington in the sidebar ad shown above. Michael is someone that a lot of people in the publishing and internet marketing community look up to. Using his testimonial not only provides credibility for Neil, but also highlights a customer that a lot of prospects look up to.
Testimonial Use #4: Headlines
Headlines can be used in the three ways mentioned above, and they can also be used as a headline. In doing so, you lead with words from your customer’s mouth which means your headline is extra credible. Instead of seeming like a hollow claim, it will read as a trustworthy review from a client.
Angie’s List uses this technique on their homepage as seen below.
Angie’s List uses a customer testimonial as a headline on the homepage where customers will read it right away instead of saving it for a place later in the copy where customers may not end up reading it at all. This provides a believable, meaningful headline that’s carefully selected to say exactly what they want it to say.
No matter how you end up using them, testimonials are a powerful way to increase credibility, strengthen key aspects of your copy, say things you otherwise couldn’t say, highlight key customers, and capture the benefit of using your product in your customers own words. Even though they aren’t written directly by a copywriter, they’re important pieces of copy that can be placed strategically to achieve the maximum impact.
5. Don’t make it all about you
This may seem counterintuitive, but an important rule for writing better copy is to not focus your copy on yourself. It’s also a rule that a lot of people break.
Most businesses break this rule by writing business-centric copy instead of customer-centric copy. They write about how awesome they are and how great their product is, failing to focus on their customers and selling them what they’re looking for. This is a bad way to write and a bad habit a lot of companies have.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to spot this kind of writing. Company-focused copy uses “we” much more than it does “you.”
Here’s an example of company-focused copy (a style you’ve probably seen before):
Can you see the problem here? All of the copy is focused on the company. It uses “we” and “our” over and over again. Everything is written as a description about the company.
Here’s what’s wrong with this type of copy: customers don’t care enough about you and what you do. They care about themselves and what you can do for them. They care about you in the context of how you can help them accomplish their goals.
Thus, all of your copy should focus on the customer. Everything you write should be something that appeals to them and shows how you can meet their needs. That’s the point of your copy, and that’s really the point of being in business in the first place.
The secret is that you can write about yourself so long as it’s in the context of providing value for your customers. It’s ok to write about yourself if you’re providing information that’s useful to the people who may want to do business with you, but it’s not ok to write about yourself just for the sake of writing about yourself.
Here’s an example of the right way to write customer-centric copy for the same cleaning service described above:
Can you tell the difference? This copy replaces the use of “we” and “our” with “you,” “your,” and “yourself.” This simple change of perspective makes the copy much, much more customer focused. Instead of merely describing the cleaning company, it explains what the cleaning company offers in the context of the customer and how the service helps busy professionals free up more time for themselves.
This version is much more interesting to prospective customers, and it’s exactly how you need to write all of your copy. You need to write about your business in the context of how it helps your customers by focusing on their needs, by using “you” more than “we,” and by making sure your copy explains how you will help the customer instead of only providing a boring description of your business.
6. Write conversationally
The next rule is to write conversationally since that’s the whole point of writing anyway. The act of writing is a conversation between the author and the reader. It’s not the act of getting ideas onto paper; it’s a conversation that takes place after a piece of writing gets completed.
In a normal sales process, a salesman talks with customers in person. He shows up, greets the customer, and proceeds to talk about the product or service he’s selling. The only difference with copy is that it doesn’t take place in person.
Copy ends up being a conversation between your company and your prospective customers. Your company has a message to get across so it’s talking with customers online or in print.
Thus, you want your copy to be as conversational as possible. You should use words and phrases you would use in everyday conversation and write in a very similar way to the way you speak. Don’t feel like you need to sound important or erudite when you write. This will put your readers to sleep and make you seem arrogant and self absorbed. You’ll end up seeming boring and stodgy.
The Digital Telepathy “Hire Us” page is a great example of this. Here’s what the top half looks like:
Here are a few standout points from this copy:
- The section begins with a question: “Are we a good fit for your project?” Asking a question is a great way to start a conversation. The copy that follows answers the question in a simple, straightforward, conversational manner without attempting to use extra big words to seem important. It uses phrases like “bang for your buck” which are very conversational.
- The second headline is also simple and straightforward: “Get in Touch and Grab the DT Playbook.” “Grab the DT Playbook,” for example, is a phrase that would easily come out in an everyday conversation. It doesn’t sounds stiff or formal and adds a touch of personality to the page.
Keep this in mind when writing your copy: Your customers want to have a conversation with you. They’re not interested in talking to a faceless organization. They want to talk to a person. Your copy should make them feel like they are.
7. Create a slippery slide
In addition to writing conversationally, you need to write your copy so that each sentence compels the reader to continue reading until all of your copy gets read.
Legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman called this creating a “slippery slide.” He talked about writing copy so compelling that readers couldn’t stop reading until they arrive to the end. Here’s what he had to say about it:
This rule starts with the headline. You need to write a headline so compelling that prospects have to read the sentence that follows. Next, your first sentence should compel them to read the second sentence, and so on.
Each section of your copy, each new sentence and new paragraph, should work together to draw the reader in and keep him reading until he gets to the end. None of the copy should be unnecessary. Every sentence should function to propel the reader forward.
So how exactly do you write copy like this?
First, keep the reader in mind at all times. Consider things like, “Would the reader be bored at this point? Would he be interested in what I’m saying? Is this sentence confusing? Is this paragraph necessary? Am I going to lose anyone with this point?”
Always consider how the prospect will respond as you’re writing the copy. If it’s boring, she’ll go on to read something else. If it’s confusing, she’ll stop out of frustration. You want to constantly be thinking about the reader’s needs, desires, and interests. You need to always write copy that keeps each and every prospect reading.
Second, only write as much as you need to write and no more. Does your point strengthen your copy and bring your prospect one step closer to buying? Good, then make sure to include it. Or is it tangential, and is there a chance that the prospect will get lost and move on to something else? If so, leave it out.
Copy Hackers provides a great example of this type of copy. Their homepage headline and sub-headline reads as follows:
Can you tell what’s so effective about this headline? It almost requires you to keep reading. After finishing, you pretty much have to continue to find out what comes next. It’s a cliffhanger that forces you to go on. There’s enough information and context to get your interest, but they hold enough back that you have to go on to read the next sentence to learn more about the offer.
That’s exactly how you want to write your headlines and copy. You want to write them so your prospects have to go on to learn more about what you’re offering.
8. Write quickly
This rule may seem counterintuitive to good writing, but one thing you need to learn to write copy more effectively is to write quickly.
The first reason is that when you write quickly, you use more of the emotional side of your brain. Instead of stopping to rethink everything and to rewrite on the spot, you let the copy flow from the way you feel about the subject you’re writing about. This is good for writing persuasive copy that appeals to your customers emotions.
The second reason is that it’s much easier to improve words that are on paper than it is to write a perfect draft the first time around. Rewriting, i.e. editing, improves your copy much more than taking hours to write a first draft. Actually, rewriting is the number one secret of professional writers. They don’t always have the most polished first draft, but they’re excellent at editing their prose until it’s nearly perfect.
Don’t worry too much about your first draft. Take a stab at the copy and get something onto paper. Once it’s there, you can take the time needed to edit it and get it ready for publishing. Most writers consider this to be the most important part of the writing process. The first draft is just a way to get a rough draft that’s ready for editing. The second, third, fourth, and fifth drafts are when the writing gets polished and turned into a gem.
9. Use simple language
The next rule to follow for better writing is to use simple language in order to make sure your copy isn’t too technical or too complicated for your readers.
Here’s one the main reasons: It’s widely believed that the average reading level is between the 7th and 8th grade. It’s likely that the majority of your customers read at this level.
If you end up writing at a level that’s too high, it’s possible that your copy will be lost on your customers. They may not understand your vocabulary and may have trouble with your complex sentence structure.
Take the previous sentence as an example. It could have been written with “diction” and “syntax” instead of “vocabulary” and “sentence structure,” but the former would be understood by a much smaller audience. Some customers will understand, but a large percentage will not.
Instead of showing off your extensive vocabulary and making yourself feel important, it’s better to choose words that reach the largest number of people because you don’t want to write in a way that alienates a significant percentage of your customers.
Writing for a highly educated audience is an exception to this rule. If you’re writing a sales letter to recent Harvard grads, then you have full right to flex your well-defined vocabulary muscles. But if you’re not, it’s better to use words that everyone will understand.
10. Use short paragraphs
This rule works for online copy because shorter paragraphs are easier to read online.
There’s a study from 2004 to back this up. The Eyetrack III study conducted by the Poynter Institute revealed that shorter paragraphs received twice as many eye fixations as long ones. What does this mean exactly? It means that readers read text with short paragraphs twice as much as text with longer ones.
Short paragraphs end up being a lot less intimidating online. We can deal with long paragraphs in print, but online it’s daunting.
This can end up being a hard rule to apply since we were all taught to write longer paragraphs in grade school, but online it just won’t work. If you want to create a slippery slide that keeps readers engaged, then you’ve got to use shorter paragraphs.
If you end up writing a traditional print sales letter, you don’t have to worry about this tip as much. You can write longer paragraphs and not be as worried about losing your readers. But if you’re writing a blog post or website content, remember to use shorter paragraphs to break up the text and make your copy less intimidating.
11. Always get your copy edited
Possibly the most important tip in this list is to always get your copy edited.
Here’s why: It’s nearly impossible for you to find every mistake in your own copy. Even if you’ve put it aside for a few days, which is a great idea, it’s too difficult to find every error in copy you’ve personally written. You’re too close to the copy, too subjectively involved.
But are typos and grammar mistakes really a problem? Yes, they are.
They’re a problem because they erode your credibility. You can get away with a mistake here or there in a blog post, but if your homepage copy or sales brochure has typos, people won’t be able to take you seriously. They’ll question your credibility. If you can’t write an error-free piece of copy, can the rest of the work you do be trusted?
Grammar mistakes cause you to lose credibility with your target audience.
As a general rule, you always want to get your copy edited by someone else. Preferably this will be a professional writer or editor who has experience with proofreading and copy editing. Someone who has experience with editing is much more likely to catch your mistakes.
At the very least, you need to have someone else at your business read your copy over. Preferably it will be someone who has a good eye for clear writing and an understanding of grammar. The simple fact that someone besides yourself edits your copy means mistakes are more likely to get caught. Thus, to avoid having your credibility undermined, you need to make sure someone always edits your copy.
12. 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.
13. Ask people to join
One 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.
14. Display client/customer logos
Another way to make your customers feel part of something and add authority to your copy 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.
15. 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 over 1 million Facebook fans. This gives customers a sense of community and shows that they’re not the only ones to choose a certain product or service.
16. 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:
17. Prove the value of your product
Be sure 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
In this post we talked about 19 copywriting strategies that are critical for your copy’s success. Many of these techniques will help you to write persuasive copy that sells.
Once you begin writing copy, you don’t have to become a grammar genius, but you do need to improve your writing enough to connect with your audience and write compelling copy.
By following these rules, you’ll become a better writer and be better prepared to write copy that is persuasive and will compel your customers to take action.