In Part II of How To Be Effective In Your Persuasive Writing we will explore how to make your writing more persuasive by voice, tense and more to increase your sales conversions even further.
Now that you have established a benefit to your reader, you have to persuade the reader to believe you. There are a number of ways to engage and persuade with your writing.
Facts and evidence
Your next challenge is to establish credibility and provide evidence. In the earlier example of the energy drink with the greatest caffeine content:
- You can simply lay out the facts, e.g., create a chart of the most popular energy drinks and report the caffeine content (and possibly the calorie content or whatever else makes your brand superior).
- You may want to explain why caffeine is a better stimulant than the sugar, herbs or enzymes that other manufacturers use in their drinks.
- If you worry that readers may think you have too much caffeine in your drink, you might want to quote the Food Standard's Authority's or FDA's recommendations for safe levels of caffeine for consumption in a single dose.
Depending on your product, you may want to establish yourself as an expert in order to assure people that your advice is credible. If you sell professional grade construction tools, you may want to say that after 25 years in the construction business, you know which tools trades people rely on to get the job done.
In our earlier office supply example, you may want to quote a study (if there is one) that discovered that even though there are 400 types of pens available on the largest office supply sites, most offices typically purchase one to five types consistently. Your site captures those preferences to save the purchaser the trouble of wading through all of the options to get to their preferred models.
Customer ratings and testimonials are a wonderful form of evidence about the value of your product. You can say that your approach saves office managers time in the ordering process but the impact is greater when Doris from PQR Industries says, I cut my ordering time in half by using ABCs preferred purchaser system. Always use the original testimonial from your customers, you can take snippets from the original testimonial to portray a summary of the testimonial, thus reducing the amount of text your customers have to read.
Your writing style is a very important element of producing good copy. There are some easy and some not so easy ways to make your language pop for the reader.
Try to keep as much of the writing as possible in the present tense. Instead of saying, The research showed say The research shows. The past is dull; the present is interesting and more vibrant.
Speak to your reader as much as possible, as long as it makes sense. That means using you and your instead of the or other impersonal references. The same goes for references to you or your company. Talk about we or our to make a more personal connection with your reader. For example, in the phrasing above, The research shows, if it makes sense, say Our research shows. Instead of saying, ABC Company is committed to customer satisfaction, try All of us at ABC Company commit to keeping you satisfied. Or, if that is a bit too much for you, try We are committed to satisfying our customers.
Active vs. Passive Voice
Many, many writers revert to passive language and in doing so; reduce the impact of their writing as well as adding unnecessary words. Passive language makes content sound like a dry technical treatise. For example, instead of Research has shown that 95% of ABC Company's customers were pleased with their purchase try 95% of our customers say they are satisfied with their purchase.
Hit the nail on the head with language
This approach is sometimes difficult for people and it really does take some time and thinking to get it right. When you are writing, do not settle for the most convenient verb or adjective when there is something better or more to the point that you can use. For example, is the finish yellow or canary yellow? Does your new foam pillow let you sleep just better or more peacefully or soundly?
Resist the temptation to jump off a cliff with this technique. It makes good sense to use a thesaurus to look for more fitting words but do not choose the most esoteric just for show. In fact, if the best fitting word is very esoteric, it still may not be the right word because too many people will miss the meaning.
Do not sensationalise
Lots of exclamation points and words like killer features or best on the Web can be credibility busters unless you can in fact prove that you are right. Best on the Web, for example, is a pretty tall order.
Say it with a twist
Try to use interesting and unusual ways to make your point. If you have a teen audience and you want to describe how much better your calculator is than anyone else, you can say, You will be able to calculate the trajectory of a projectile way faster than your physics teacher. Awkward! maybe but mostly way cool.
With all of these rules and guidelines, you may find it hard to even begin to sputter any words out. Pause for a second, and try to think about your audience and what they need to hear to understand the benefit of your product and business. Dive in and write something. Now step back and begin to compare what you have written to the advice, piece by piece. Do not do a massive rewrite.
Instead, change passive to active words. Then challenge the verbs and adjectives to see if you can do better. Remove any sensationalising language. Change impersonal language to personal language and so on. Once you have done that, step back and see if you have accomplished your goal. Even if you are not 100% there, you will be a lot closer to producing persuasive copy.