Persuasive Copywriting: 4 Tips for Higher Converting Websites

Guest Author
July 15, 2015

How do you tap into the subconscious mind of your site visitors and make them click that call-to-action button? The moment you get a little salesy, you know they’ll run away before you even realize what happened.

Conversion-Focused Copy
With customers getting smarter by the day, subtlety is the key to success. In simple words, you have to persuade them to complete your conversion goal by making them think that they want to do it, and not because you want them to. Make your visitors achieve their goals first, before you bother them with your marketing goals.

But how do you do that? Some of you have probably heard about the principles of persuasive copywriting, like scarcity, urgency, authority, consensus, consistency, reciprocation, and liking.

Moving beyond the common wisdom of these persuasion tactics, here are some of the lesser-known persuasive copywriting techniques that you can implement on your website to subtly get the odds in your favor and be the proud owner of a high-converting website.

1. Appeal to Your Visitors’ Identity

Tweaking images or language so they relate with the identity of the majority of your visitors is known to have a higher impact in stimulating response from people. This article on psychologytoday.com provides explicit detail into how identity marketing works:

Do you think of yourself as a beer-drinker, or do you merely drink beer? Are you a Volkswagen driver or a Democrat, or do you just drive a Volkswagen or vote for Democratic candidates? The difference in how these notions are worded involves more than just splitting linguistic hairs. Phrases like drive a Volkswagen or vote for Democrats simply describe behaviors that you take part in. But if you assert that you're a Volkswagen driver or a Democrat, you're expressing something fundamental about who you are. Wielding the right language to tap into people's sense of identity, as it turns out, can make for potent persuasion.

Remember the “I’m a Mac,” “I’m a PC” ads by Apple? Try utilizing this concept to come up with an interesting identity-driven headline or value proposition for your website.

2. Give Them a Good Story, Numbers Can Come Later

Emotional appeal works best when you want people to take a desired action. Excitement, urgency ... whatever feeling might inspire them to take action, giving people hard-core data will usually not have the same effect.

A 2007 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University tested response to different appeals for donations for people in dire living situations in Africa.

The first appeal gave elaborate statistics on the dislocation of millions of people, food shortages, and the scarcity of rain in the region.

The second appeal talked about the story of a particular girl who was starving in Zambia. A picture of the girl was sent alongside, and students were requested to send donations directly for her.    

While the fact-focused appeal got students to donate $1.14 on an average, the amount rose to an average of $2.38 for the story-based appeal.

A third appeal that contained both the story and the statistics collected $1.43 on an average.

Persuasive Copywriting

This suggests that the predicament of the African population in general was overwhelming for people and made them see their contribution as only a drop in the bucket, so they were less compelled to help.

Instead of overwhelming your visitors with hard facts, try weaving them into an interesting story and see how they respond. Just be careful that you do not make them feel lost with all the statistics.

3. Show Them Both Sides of the Coin

People are not dumb. If you don’t mention an apparent drawback of your product, it doesn’t mean that your site visitors won’t think about it.

Now this doesn’t imply that you should fill your website with pages of what’s wrong with your product or service. But mentioning 1-2 minor weaknesses can many times favor your case more than hurting your business. Your visitors begin to recognize your brand as honest and trustworthy and may be more inclined to buy from you.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how Amazon shows both positive and negative Amazon reviews of products. But again, you must know how to maintain a balance in the two viewpoints. This PsyBlog article explains how balanced arguments can help in persuasion:

Daniel O'Keefe at the University of Illinois collected together the results of 107 different studies on sidedness and persuasion conducted over 50 years which, between them, recruited 20,111 participants … What he found across different types of persuasive messages and with varied audiences, was that two-sided arguments are more persuasive than their one-sided equivalents.

There's one big proviso to this: when presenting the opposing view it's vital to raise counter-arguments. Two-sided arguments which don't refute the opposing view can be significantly less persuasive than a comparable one-sided argument.

So consider mentioning a potential drawback, but providing a counter-argument. Similarly, encourage your brand advocates and happy customers to leave positive reviews on your site.

4. Open with “Yes” Questions

“Are you tired of manual proofreading?” “Have no time to learn Corel Draw for your designing needs?” Opening with questions that make your visitors say “Yes” draws instant attention, and the lingering effect of that affirmative attitude can carry forward until the purchase.

In one research study, some participants listen to a speech by Barack Obama while others listened to a speech by John McCain. All the participants then watched a Toyota TV ad.

Republicans who watched the John McCain speech were more persuaded by the ad. On the other hand, the effect was just the opposite on Democrats, who found the ad more compelling after seeing the Obama speech. The idea is that people were more receptive to the ad after seeing statements they agreed with.

So, when writing conversion-focused copy, try to open with statements that your target audience would agree with. Present a worldview they identify with when you wish to persuade them to complete your conversion goal.

Settling for a 3-4% conversion rate is plain mediocre. Top retailers constantly A/B test their sites and settle for no less than conversion rates of 10-15%. Now that you’re armed with these subtle persuasion tactics, use them to your advantage and aim higher.

Smriti Chawla is a Content Marketer with Wingify, the company behind the success of Visual Website Optimizer, one of the leading A/B split testing tools in the industry.