Persuasive Writing

Persuasive Writing: The Psychology behind Great Copywriting

Team Script explores how persuasive writing can help you create better prospects for conversions and, ultimately, better sales.

Persuasive Writing

The greatest thing about copywriting is that it is part-art and part-science. Skilled marketers know that there is so much going on behind making high-quality copy besides being a wordsmith.

Underneath neatly structured, eloquent words in every copy lie extensive research that entails not only understanding the products that they want to sell, but also the psychology behind consumer behaviour.

This is because unlike other forms of advertisements, copywriting relies primarily on the power of persuasive writing rather than a visual or auditory appeal. Essentially, your written copy needs to have the power to influence the readers in either one of two ways:

  • Firstly, it needs to invoke strong emotions in your readers to make them listen to your key message and associate your brand with a positive experience.
  • Secondly, your copy needs to convey a strong sense of urgency—mobilizing them to take actions leading to purchase.

Although this may seem easy to achieve at first glance, you need to remember that it would only succeed if your writing comes across as genuine. This is the part where your persuasive writing must bring out elements that resonate well with their experience.

What we mean by this is that your copy needs to inspire your readers to take actions in your favor organically. More specifically, you must know how to subtly pitch your sales through the power of persuasion by employing certain mental triggers. Hence, you need a copywriting strategy that helps you understand your customers’ purchasing behaviors better.

So, what are those mental triggers then? Well, we’ve compiled four psychology-based copywriting hacks to help you create effective copy:

Repetition Technique in Persuasive Writing

The prolific business mogul Elizabeth Arden, once said, “Repetition makes reputation, and reputation makes customers.”

Repetition is indeed a powerful tool at your disposal to increase your market outreach. It can help you instill new concepts and ideas in your customers’ minds easily.

This persuasive technique entails repeating a selected keyword, phrase, or statement not just on your ad copy, but throughout your marketing campaign. If done correctly, these repeated words and phrases can project strong emotional imagery in the subconscious minds of the readers—ultimately influencing them to develop a positive affinity with your brand.

Numerous psychological studies have shown that repetition can influence someone to come to an agreement with an argument or a statement. A study conducted by Cacioppo and Petty in 1989 had concluded that repeating messages at low to moderate levels amplified the public perception of their validity.

Conversely, the study, which involved assigning 102 undergraduates to predetermined sets of arguments, warned of the adverse impact from too much repetition. It showed that a high level of repetition decreased the level of persuasion in given arguments.

So what are the takeaways, then?

Well, we believe that to create impactful copy with this particular technique, marketers must do the following:

  1. Research relevant keywords and phrases that you believe can bring a positive impact to customers.
  2. Strategically place these keywords in your written copy if it is a one-time project, or across multiple collaterals throughout your marketing campaign.

Back Your Claim with Credible Sources

Your customers would likely indulge in your persuasive claims when you can provide credible sources to support them. In social psychology, this psychological phenomenon is called the Yale Attitude Change Approach.

Developed by Carl Hovland and his colleagues at Yale University, this approach to persuasive communications studied the conditions, in which people change their perceptions and attitudes in response to persuasive messages. According to this theoretical model, the success of your communication strategy depends on the credibility of your sources, the quality and sincerity of your message, and how you tailor your message to your market demographics.

Therefore, when you are describing your product in your ad copy, always validate your claims with supporting references. In the case of long-form copy, you can include testimonials, reviews, and case studies to give your readers better insights into your product. For shorter copy, statistics, external studies, and quotes from experts or trusted customers are enough to cement your authority and reliability.

In Persuasive Writing, Every Word Counts

Social Media Marketing Strategy

When writing your ad copy, always be sure that you are able to get your point across succinctly. You must resist the urge to stuff your ad copy with complicated industry jargon that can confuse and intimidate your potential readers. If possible, use words that they use in their daily communication to achieve better engagement.

There are two effective copywriting techniques you can employ to achieve better audience retention to your message; these techniques entail Wordplay and Reframing.

Wordplay

Wordplay, especially rhyme, is a quick and effective method to get the attention of your audience. This psychological effect is part of a larger concept known as Fluency Heuristic, a type of decision-making process where a mind perceives an object to have a higher value if it can be processed by the brain much more smoothly and fluently.

Let’s take a look at the following copy ads by Fazer Café and Arby’s:

Source: Frazer Café

Source: Pinterest

The posters above respectively employ a play on words and rhyming to improve the advertisements’ readability for better audience retention.

More specifically on rhyme, Psychology Today highlighted in its 1998’s September issue that this quirky literary device has the power to influence the way people think—and even to a certain extent, make spurious notions more believable.

Matthew McGlone described this phenomenon as a “Rhyme as Reason” effect. In his study, he noticed that rhymes had a strong impact on the perceived truthfulness of given statements. He found that his students responded more positively to statements that rhymed as compared to those that didn’t.

Reframing Value

Reframing value is another writing tactic you can use to create more leads and generate better conversions. This strategic writing takes advantage of how minds react better to positive values. In the realm of marketing, this includes lower prices, added benefits, discounts, and free offerings. You can employ this technique by restructuring a certain statement to appear more positively to your readers.

For instance, you offer a premium subscription to your service at $600 a year. Although the amount may seem enormous, especially to customers strapped for cash, in reality, the pricing plan is only an accumulative cost for a year. Hence, it appears more reasonable if it is broken down into a smaller variable.

So, instead of placing the price point at its full annual amount, advertise it as $50 per month. Since it appears cheaper and less intimidating, customers may find the offer more appealing.

Reframing the value does not just work on a single product at a given copywriting piece. Additionally, it can work for bundle pricing as well. The reason is that it gives customers the option to obtain more services at a better price point. Bundling also generates better sales since most customers have the mindset that more is always a better deal.

The Serial-Position Effect

Online marketers often use bullet points to improve the readability of their writing pieces. A study conducted in 1997 on readers’ reading behavior online has found that 79% of the readers prefer to scan the page they consume, leaving around 16% of the readers who read word-by-word. Furthermore, the study found that readers respond positively the most to highlighted keywords, short sentences, and bulleted lists, among others.

This study lends credence to another equally important theory in copywriting, Serial-Position Effect. This psychological term was coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist who studied upon the recall accuracy of a human brain when skimming through a list of items.

The figure above shows the recall accuracy of the readers peaks during primacy and recency. Source: Indiana University

The serial-position effect notes that a person has the tendency to remember the first and last items in a series much better than the one in the middle. Psychologists refer to the act of recalling the first few words as the primacy effect. Meanwhile, the act of recalling the last few words is called the recency effect.

To apply the principles of this study, copywriters must make good use of bulleted lists. Likewise, they must strategically place the most salient ideas and concepts at the beginning and end of the piece.

Apply Behavioral Conditioning to Your Persuasive Writing

There are two kinds of behavioral conditioning in social psychology that marketers heavily rely on their advertisement campaign. They are classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning refers to the use of stimuli to create positive associations between the brand and the customer experience. In copywriting, marketers use this type of psychological conditioning to create advertising collaterals, such as brochures and billboard ads. This conditioning empowers your copy by enabling you to use emotive words and, in some cases, auditory or visual stimuli.

On the other hand, operant conditioning attempts to drive change in customers’ behavior through a reward system. The reward—typically offered before and after a product purchase—serves as a positive reinforcement for certain favorable behavior.

For example, a marketer may entice the readers with free coupons if they subscribe to the company’s newsletters.

This is such a clever use of call-to-action, as it has established two objectives. Firstly, the marketer has successfully acquired more prospective long-term customers on the mailing list. Secondly, the customers will likely perform a repeated purchase after the initial purchase using their coupons.

Another popular positive reinforcement that marketers often use is the act of giving away free item after a certain purchase. Offers such as “Buy 5, get one free” are proven effective to drive sales even if such offers are not economical for the customers. The keyword “free” in this instance can activate the reward system in customers’ brains—influencing them to make a purchase.


Are you currently looking for a professional copywriting service that knows how to marry good SEO tactics with good copywriting? If yes, then you are in luck because Script Consultants can help you create diverse copy across all media platforms. Book your free consultation by emailing us at enquiry@script.com.sg!

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