• 4 Essential rules to creating persuasive webcopy


    Here is the painful truth: Visitors do not care about you or your company. They come to your site with different objectives and goals fueled by unique personalities and many times just browsing or surfing the net. So, what can you do to persuade them to take an action?

    1. Know your target market

    Persuasive copy starts and ends with knowing your targets clients. And while much has been written about market analysis, consumer segmentation, and profile creation, the knowledge you need to create persuasive copy goes beyond these concepts all together. The focus of marketing is to understand the ideal target consumers for a product or service. As a result most marketing data creates large generic segmentations of markets which companies target via different advertising methods. Many companies fall into the mistake of taking their marketing brochures and sales letters and putting them online thinking that these tools will work as well online as they do off-line. And the end result is generic copy that attempts to appeal to the masses but fails to appeal to anyone.

    When considering blog writing, we think of the millions of blog posts published every day. Very few of which actually succeed with a strong. Successful blogs are able to persuade their visitors, capture their attention, and connect with the reader thus convincing them to stay longer, come back to the blog, and refer friends to it.

    Of course, creating persuasive copy is a bigger challenge than creating an interesting blog. The knowledge of your target customer would need to go beyond market segmentation into persona creation. The process of persona creation is part art and part science. It is by no means a new concept but one that has been used for years in product development by Fortune 500 companies. What we advocate is taking that concept and utilizing it as an essential ingredient for creating persuasive copy.

    2. Create copy that appeals to your personas

    Now that you have created personas and you are ready to create your copy, your next challenge is to appeal to the different personas with the different traits within the same page. Let us assume that you create four different personas for your website.

    • Joe a 36-year-old college graduates who is an impulsive buyer always looking out for deals.
    • Shelley, a 44 you will your old stay at home mom who is cautious with spending her money.
    • Dave, a 58 year old man who is just starting to use the Internet for online shopping.
    • Garret, 39-year-old small-business owner who is looking for ways to increase his sales

    How do you create copy that appeals to them? Joe is looking for a quick synopsis of what your product has to offer. He doesn’t need nor like to read lengthy copy. He wants to get on your website, check out your product, place an order and leave the website within 5 minutes. Shelley on the other hand will spend hours reading through every little word in your copy. She wants to know that the product will truly help her and she will get her money’s worth. She would like to see product comparison charts, product specs, concerns others had with the product and any warranty information that you can offer. Creating persuasive copy that appeals to both personas is challenging. And it is what makes the difference between a great copywriter and average one.

    3. Beyond benefits and features: are things really that bad?

    Copywriting literature addresses the issue offocusing on product or service benefits as opposed to features. Creating a benefits focused copy is a great first step towards creating persuasive copy. But the problem with focusing exclusively benefits is that everybody else is doing the same thing. Like your competitors, the benefits lay out how the product or service will help customer’s increase sales, cut down expenses, or solve a problem.

    The reason benefits has always been drilled into our minds as the cornerstone to persuasive copy is that there is an underlying assumption if we paint a rosy future, we can convince prospects to buy our products or service. And that is exactly what benefits do, they focus on the positive results your consumer will see when you when they start using your product or service.

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    And while it is successful most times and we advocate benefit usage, do not forget that most consumers resist change and a rosy future alone won’t convince them to purchase your product or service. Many customers need to recognize how painful and negative their current state is in order to realize the importance for change that your product or service will bring about. Now, this does not mean that your copy should play with fears and negative emotions to scare the visitor into make a buying decision. But rather that your web copy and site design must help visitors discover and access their current state. When visitors recognize how negative their present state is, they are more willing to consider future benefits and a brighter “rosier” future.

    4. Choose the right tools to persuade

    How do you help a visitor discover the negative presence they live in? Of course it starts with understanding your own product and service and the true cost if someone chooses not to use them. Your biggest competitors are not other vendors who offer the same solution, but rather the current tools your visitors are using.

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    Let’s say that’s your company designs e-commerce package solution which allow clients to create a fully operational e-commerce website that can easily integrate with different vendors and external systems. What is the opportunity cost if a targets company chooses to go with a competitive solution or build their own custom application? How much time and money would the alternative solution cost a prospect? What are the advantages and disadvantages of all the competing options available in the market place? These are all questions which persuasive copy and design need to address.

    Many think that creating a white paper or a simple product comparison table would help the visitor make a buying decision. That very much might be the case in simple sales transactions. However in complex sales a lot more has to be done to. The more complex your product, the more work you will have to do in persuading visitors to take an action.

Khalid Saleh

Khalid Saleh is CEO and co-founder of Invesp. He is the co-author of Amazon.com bestselling book: "Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Visitors into Customers." Khalid is an in-demand speaker who has presented at such industry events as SMX, SES, PubCon, Emetrics, ACCM and DMA, among others.

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Khalid Saleh

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One thought on “4 Essential rules to creating persuasive webcopy”

  1. You are absolutely right.

    Market segmentation’s value is not in determining large groups of people. It’s in targeting a group across enough variables to reveal their fears, concerns, values, attitudes, and even media preferences and information needs.

    I read many people calling the result of good market segmentation personas. I prefer to call them target market profiles. But whatever you call them, they provide insights into a target market that helps you to understand them enough to relate to them.

    I provide a video on a simple way to create target market profiles at the page linked above.

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