17 little-known techniques for persuasive copywriting that will boost your sales

If you’re looking for effective copywriting techniques, you can try them today,…

You have come to the right place.

In this post, I’ll show you 17 of the best copywriting techniques you can use to instantly increase your sales … even if you’re not a good copywriter. 

So if you want to turn your visitors into buyers – without advertising too pushily – read on…

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Table of contents

1. tell stories

2. appeal to emotions

3. stage mental movies

4. speak the language of your buyer

5. convey authority

6. appeal to the ego

7. use triggers

8. use humor to be memorable

9. master the copy basics

10. focus on advantages instead of features

11. use fascinations

12. use framing

13. sell horror

14. use an engagement tool

15. let your buyers sell for you

16. use words of power

17. address (and eliminate) concerns

1. tell stories

“I was 12 going on 13 when I first saw a dead person…”

“People always ask me if I know Tyler Durden…”

If you are a cinema lover, you will recognize all the above quotes. They are famous lines from movies that have become embedded in the memory of the cinema audience.

Films like those mentioned above are memorable – and often significant – not for their ability to entertain, although that is a given. But instead for their ability to move audiences, regardless of age, through the medium of storytelling.

A good marketer can learn a few things from Hollywood.

Take, for example, the men’s shaving brand Harry’s.

There was a time when everyone knew that razor blades were too expensive and over-designed. But only a few companies dared to admit this and stand up to the market leaders…

Until Harry showed up.

Not only did they come to market and agree to everything, but they advocated for better, ergonomic razor blades at affordable prices. 

Like a biblical fable, it was a story that buyers could easily relate to Harry’s David versus Gillette’s Goliath, fighting for the commoner. And although Harry’s has grown to unimaginable heights in recent years, the company has remained true to its “welcome prophet” status.

Storytelling is essential for positioning, but it’s equally necessary for writing good product descriptions.

ThinkGeek, a retailer, specializing in “geek culture,” often combines storytelling with pop culture references in its product descriptions to appeal to potential buyers.

Writing product descriptions with storytelling takes a lot of time. It’s also not recommended if you sell products. But if that’s not the case and what you’re offering is unique, it could be worth a try for your best-selling products.

2. appeal to emotions

If you look at some ads by copywriter Joe Sugarman, you’ll notice something interesting.

At the end of its ads, Sugarman writes, “If you’re not satisfied, you can return your product within 30 days for a fast and accommodating refund.” (Italics mine.)

At first glance, this reads like a regular satisfaction guarantee. And if you thought that, you’d be right to do so. But in reality, there’s more to it than that…

He appeals to the buyer’s emotions with it.

Sugarman describes this strategy in his book, “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.”

The emotion or feeling of this sentence shows that we are a very respectful and understanding company that will return your money in a very timely manner. With very few words, I have conveyed the feeling of being a concerned company that acts quickly… even if the sentence does not make logical sense.

So, the conclusion is that when writing texts, you should remember to sell with emotion but justify with logic.

And as we will explore later in the article, many strategies are built on this fundamental idea.

3. stage mental movies 

You experience the world with your five senses – taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. 

It doesn’t matter if you are reliving a favorite memory, like walking on the beach, or imagining a future desire, like eating a hot fudge sundae – our senses are replaying the experience.

It’s no surprise that savvy marketers often try to create images and even movies in the buyer’s mind to trigger and reinforce certain senses when selling their goods and services.

Bottom line?

Storytelling, as we have already learned, engages readers. Telling emotional stories engages readers on a deeper level. Are we telling inspirational stories that trigger a sensory response? An absolute gamechanger.

4. speak the language of your buyer

An essential but often overlooked copywriting principle is to write as you speak.

But if you want to connect with readers, you need to write the way readers talk.

And that makes sense: if you don’t address the communication that’s already going on in the buyer’s mind, how will they build a relationship with you and buy from you? 

One brand that exemplifies the art of writing for a specific audience is Barkbox.

Like ThinkGeek’s example above, Barkbox uses phrases like “Barkbox is like the joy of a million belly rubs” and “When your dog falls in love with something in the box” to appeal to potential buyers. 

And if you look at the growth from year to year, it works like a treat. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

One of my favorite ways to get inside a buyer’s mind is to browse Reddit.

Go to Reddit first.

Then enter a relevant search term in the search field (e.g., “bodybuilding”).

Next, choose a relevant subreddit. 

Then look at the phrases Redditors use in their posts. In the example below, the author uses words like “hypertrophy” and “progression” to explain how he gained 31 pounds.

Using phrases that your ideal buyers use creates familiarity and, with any luck, increases the likelihood that they will buy from you.

5. convey authority

If you’ve read the very inspiring book Influence by Robert Cialdini, you know that authority is one of the six “weapons of influence.”

However, how to use them properly depends on the market you’re in and the marketing channel you’re using.

For example, if you’re in the health and fitness industry – a market where there’s a lot of window dressing – you may be asking yourself, “How can I show competence when my customer has been tricked countless times?”

If you are a brand like Ritual, one way is to combine multiple sources of authority. On their product pages, Ritual presents the doctors they have consulted to develop their products.

6. appeal to the ego

In the book “Cashvertising” mentioned above, Drew Eric Whitman describes eight natural desires we all have. 

One of the eight desires, “Outperform, Win, Keep Up,” involves positioning your products and services for buyers who want the best of everything.

Whitman writes,

The appeal to people’s vanity and ego is most successful when it focuses on qualities that society considers desirable, such as physical attractiveness, intelligence, economic success, and sexual prowess. 

This could mean asking shoppers to differentiate themselves from others, as Happy Socks does in their email campaigns.

Or, like leather goods manufacturer Bellroy, show a product that appeals to a specific demographic (e.g., wealthy business people):

We all have egos, and your buyers are no exception. Use this information however you want. 

7. use triggers

“A trigger,” writes Joe Sugarman in his book Triggers, “is a tool to influence, motivate, and persuade a potential customer to make a purchase.”

There are 30 triggers in total, and while each deserves its article, there is one trigger I want to focus on: exclusivity.

“Being the owner of something that few others can own is one of the most powerful human motivations,” Sugarman writes. The goal, he says, is to make the buyer feel like they own something special. There’s no better way to achieve that than to offer products with limited availability.

One of my favorite brands that use the trigger of exclusivity in their marketing is MeUndies.

Much of their revenue comes from membership fees. But where they differ from their competitors is in offering monthly designer prints.

The best part is that while they are exclusive, they are also limited.

Read more

9 Strategies MeUndies Used to Grow 1,583% in 3 Years (Case Study)

8. use humor to be memorable

So far, we’ve learned that storytelling is compelling and that it’s equally important to evoke emotions in readers – especially positive emotions – and link those emotions to your offer.

But what about humor? Does making a reader laugh increase the likelihood that they will buy from you?

Not always. But you’re more likely to be remembered longer and with less chance of being displaced by a competitor. And in today’s crowded market, that’s better than nothing.

In one study, subjects were more likely to recall nouns from bizarre sentences such as “The dog rode the bike down the street” than those from common usage “The dog chased the bike down the street.”

So if you’re in an oversaturated market, making potential customers laugh could be the quickest way to their wallets.

With reports in magazines like Adweek, it’s easy to see that they’re doing something right, even if it’s childish.

9. master the copy basics

With an average attention span of only 12 seconds, it’s more important than ever that your copy stands out and grabs the reader by the throat. (Dramatic, I know, but I had to get your attention, right?).

The words you choose play a significant role in holding the reader’s attention, but so does the way you embellish those words.

I’m talking about here explicitly using bold for emphasis and paragraphing for readability.

Take the following product descriptions, for example. Which one are you more likely to read?

A wall of text:

Or a carefully crafted product description with bold paragraphs like this example from Firebox?

The answer is obvious, isn’t it?

Adding bold and paragraphs to your copy won’t make a big difference in orders overnight, especially if you’re starting. But it will increase a reader’s time spent on the page, and that’s a plus for you.

10. focus on advantages instead of features

 Writing a benefit for every product feature may sound very obvious…

… but that does not mean that it is common practice.

A refresher:

A feature describes a product is; a suitcase with an integrated nylon pocket on the front. On the other hand, a benefit explains what a consequence gives you; quick access to essential things like boarding passes.

(A value, if you want to take it a step further, is what the benefit gives you; a sense of appreciation.)

While it’s easy to assume that features and benefits are reserved for tech products, they also work great for more specific, high-value products.

Take mattresses, for example.

Few people know the difference between memory foam and innerspring mattresses. Those who do know can not always explain the advantages of one over the other.

That’s why brands like Herman Miller make sure each feature (“visco-plastic memory foam”) has a benefit (“isolates you from vibration and motion”) and a value (“allows for natural recovery”) to help a potential buyer’s purchase decision.

A good rule of thumb I learned from copywriter Andy Maslen is: for every line in which you describe a benefit, ask yourself, “After reading it, is the reader likely to say, “So what?” 

11. use fascinations

Mel Martin is the most excellent copywriter you’ve ever heard of.

Unlike his contemporaries who relied on upon and overused “how to” bullets in their ads, Martin quickly made a name for himself with his distinctive bullet writing style.

One popular bullet or fascination is “What Never to Eat on an Airplane.”

Buyers couldn’t help but purchase to learn more. Martin brought millions of dollars in sales to Boardroom, the company he worked for.

Fascinations go a step further than enumerating features and benefits, opening an information gap that invites readers to buy to satisfy their curiosity.

Here’s a great example from Digital Marketer. Notice how each fascination cleverly draws you in and entices you to learn more.

Writing intrigue is one of the most complicated copywriting skills to master. But when you start incorporating them into your marketing materials, especially your sales pages, your sales will skyrocket.

12. use framing

Did you know that you react differently to information depending on how it is presented?

While this may sound obvious, it’s much more deceptive than you think, especially when it comes unexpectedly – like on a pricing site.

Take Blue Apron, for example.

Instead of phrasing the offer as per monthly food ration like its competitors, Blue Apron phrases it as food ration per day to make it easier for potential buyers to relate to the cost.

And that makes sense: few people think about their monthly costs when it comes to meals. But if you’re like most people and you’re thinking about ordering food, price is at the forefront of your mind.

Think about how you phrase essential information like the price. Often this is enough to attract potential buyers and influence conversions on the page.

13. sell horror

I’ve written before about “The Life Force 8″, from the book Cashvertising. Specifically about the natural desire to be superior to others, to win or to keep up with the neighbors.

Another natural desire I would like to mention here is the need for freedom from fear, pain, and danger.

“Their goal is not to create new fears,” Whitman writes, “but to tap into existing fears. Either one that is at the forefront of consumers’ minds or ones that take a little pondering to uncover.”

 That’s precisely why brands like Protect America refer to it in their advertising copy.

“Selling the scare,” as Whitman calls it, isn’t for every company. And chances are, it’s not for yours. But if it is, and you’re not already using it, it might be worth playing on the fears that pop up in your customers’ minds.

14. use an engagement tool

Using an engagement tool is my absolute favorite technique for persuasive copywriting.

And it’s a snap to take advantage of them online.

Do you not believe me?

Click here.

If you clicked on the above, you just “engaged” with my article…

This small action would have transformed you from a passive reader to an active prospect if I were selling you something.

Sugarman, who I featured earlier, famously included typos in an ad selling a spell checker. And why? To get the reader involved. For every typo the reader found and sent in, there was a $2 discount on the product.

Ingenious!

You don’t necessarily have to use a popup campaign as I did. But if you want to grow your list or offer a discount, it’s not the wrong place to start.

15. let your buyers sell for you

I have already talked about one of Cialdini’s “weapons of influence”: Authority. Now I want to share another popular term with you, but with a twist.

Every marketing blog has written about the importance of social proof. And we’re no exception. We’ve written about it before (here and here).

So, not to repeat me, let me introduce you to a brand that uses an updated version of this in the digital age.

Fabletics is an online retailer that offers “affordable, high-quality and stylish workout clothes for women.”

However, instead of sharing customer reviews on their product pages – as their competitors do – they use their customers’ Instagram posts on their homepage.

Not only that, they are continuously adding more social proofs by inviting new customers to submit their images:

Embedding tweets and Instagram posts from customers is a great way to reinforce product value. For e-retailers pressed for time, it’s never been easier to take advantage of this opportunity.

16. use words of power

According to copywriter Jon Marrow, Power words are “persuasive, emotional words that elicit a positive or negative response.” He continues,

They can scare, encourage, excite, and make us angry, greedy, confident, or curious. Writers, copywriters, and content marketers use “power words” to spice up their content and move audiences to action.

My favorite words to use when calling a reader to action are “best,” “new,” and “now.”

And I’m not the only one.

Take a look at the following email that my colleague Seray recently received:

Pandora knows that people want the latest and greatest of everything, regardless of price. And they want it now.

So if you have a new product and know it’s the best on the market, tell your buyers – and give them a reason to buy it immediately.

Read more

Nine persuasive words that help you convert your website visitors into buyers

17. address (and eliminate) concerns

Not everyone will buy from you.

That’s a fact, and that’s the reality that you can’t change, even if the marketers want you to believe that. But for those who will buy from you, there are specific objections – price, shipping, etc. – that prevent them from going ahead and making a purchase. 

I’ve written before about dealing with contradictions in reverse testimonials – getting a customer to address a contradiction they had in their testimonial and resolving it for you. That’s one way to do it.

However, a more straightforward approach is addressing and resolving concerns on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

I recently found a great example from Orabrush that addresses a common objection to buying their product:

Don’t think of an FAQ page as a gimmick; it’s necessary when it comes to clarifying and addressing buyer concerns. And it’s something you can’t afford to be without.

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