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The 10 secrets of writing persuasive copy

Writing persuasive copy may seem like something that only advertising agencies need to master, but actually, it’s a skill that most of us need. Whether you’re asking for a favour by email, writing a bid for funding, or a public information film that hopes to change public opinion or behaviour, understanding how to influence and persuade remains at the heart of what you need to do.

Here are Oxygen’s top 10 tips on writing persuasively.

Know your target audience – You have to start by understanding exactly who you’re trying to convince and what their concerns are.

Make it about ‘them’ – Remember that this isn’t a platform for you to talk about what you want or need them to do, but an opportunity to show your client or customer that what you have to offer is of value to them.

Present the problem – This is not about being nasty but rather showing them that you understand what they’re going through. It’s also an opportunity to show them that you know what you’re talking about and to get them agreeing with you.

Spell out the benefits first – Offer your product/service/information as the solution in terms of the difference it will make to their life.

Describe features in order to convince them further – Once you’ve made the benefits clear, elaborating on features will convince the reader that your product/service really does what you’ve said it will.

Add evidence – This can be in the form of facts, anecdotes and stories, statistics, guarantees, testimonials, certification from a governing body, award or other mark of excellence. Be specific in your assertions and back them up in order to build credibility. Convince your audience that you’re right.

Remind them that others have said yes – People tend to feel safer committing to an offer where they know others like them have said yes and benefited. You can make them feel that it would be foolish to say no… Another way to do this is to present what you’re offering as a way to be part of a group your target audiences wishes to enter e.g. wealthy, green, trendy, attractive, healthy etc.

Have a conversation – Even within companies, people buy from people they like and trust. Copy should be natural and conversational, even if that means breaking the rules of good grammar every now and then.

Grab your customer’s eye – Increasingly, readers scan copy rather than reading it in full. You need to provide things that catch their eye to stop it sliding away to something else. You can do this with images, captions (which are read almost as frequently as headlines),videos, subheads, lists of bullet points, short paragraphs and by using boldface to highlight keywords and important concepts.

Use a narrative structure – People learn best via stories. Stories can be very effective if you’re drafting long copy, because they get the primitive limbic system in the brain going. But if you’re not, use narrative structure by making sure your copy builds in a logical fashion from a strong start to pique their interest (a good headline) and through further peaks (using subheads and bullet points) to the climax of your argument where you present your call to action. Make it easy for them to take action by giving details of just how they should do that and how easy it is.

And if you’re still having trouble, give Oxygen a call on 0845 2606 255. We’ll show you just how effective well written copy can be for your business.


Steve Lodge :Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.

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