Getting the Click: The Eight Elements of Persuasive Writing
If potential customers don’t go to your website, you can’t sell them anything. Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can get your site listed first on a results page, but people still have to click on your link. Likewise, your e-mail campaign is useless if it doesn’t entice anyone to click through to your site. What’s the secret to getting your site or e-mail noticed in the ocean of internet ads? Crisp, clear writing that excites customers by promising to solve their problems if they “make the click.” Here’s some tips for writing fresh, persuasive content that turns potential customers into believers and gets the click whether you do your own writing or get help from freelance writers for hire.
Copywriting guru Robert Bly offers eight elements of persuasive ads in The Fundamentals of Persuasive Writing. These include:
- A headline for search results, or subject line for e-mail, that gains attention with a startling fact or promised solution to a problem. If people ignore your headline, you’ll never get the click.
- Content that focuses on the customer, not your company or product. Don’t tell them how the watch was made, show them the watch!
- Content that stresses the benefits customers will see from your product, not just the features. Don’t say that a new skin cleanser contains anti-aging elements (boring feature), tell them it will leave their skin gleaming (exciting benefit)!
- A product or service that is somehow different from your competitors, whether it’s new, quirky, or just comes in more varieties, to name a few.
- Customer testimonials or study results to prove your product works.
- Credentials, such as company expertise, to establish customer trust.
- Information to show your product provides “super-charged” value that exceeds the price.
- Most of important of all, a “call to action” that asks the customer to do something – for an internet ad, that’s usually clicking on a link to buy something, get more information, or print a coupon.
For search results, it’s not possible to include all these elements, so focus on crafting a compelling SEO-friendly headline and meta-description (the lines printed below the search result). With a little practice, you’ll be amazed at how much information you can convey in one or two sentences. If you searched for “anti aging cream,” which of the two results below would you rather click?
- ABC Anti-Aging Cream. Our new ABC anti-aging cream contains all sorts of unpronounceable ingredients proven to slow the aging process. (Boring)
- Look Naturally Younger with ABC Anti-Aging Cream. 92% of women who used our new ABC anti-aging cream saw firmer and brighter skin in only four weeks. (Exciting)
For e-mail, you have more room, but it’s still important to keep things short. If someone opens your e-mail you’ve got their attention, but not for long. If they have to scroll to get to the good stuff and the call to action, you’ll likely lose the click.
Eileen B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.