If you’re serious about maximizing your marketing efforts, but aren’t making good use of persuasive language in your copy, it's likely that you're leaving money on the table.
By using language that resonates with your customers, you'll enjoy more consistent leads, higher conversion rates, and greater customer lifetime value.
Conversely, if you don’t understand how to influence your prospect’s decision-making process, you’re going to have a hard time making a sale. Likewise, attracting qualified leads will become more difficult, as will retaining the customers you already have.
Whether you are in sales, marketing, or management at your company, you can benefit from mastering the use of persuasive language in your daily life. The better you understand what makes people tick, the better you can craft your message and get people to see your point of view.
In this post, I’ll walk you through three powerful examples of persuasive language, their effect on how your customers make decisions, and how you can use them to your advantage.
First, let’s take a look at how to identify persuasive language, and what makes it so effective.
To get to the bottom of what makes some words more effective than others, you first need to understand just a little bit about human psychology.
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. It gives us a sense of ordered control over our lives. To convince ourselves of our logical nature, we surround ourselves with spreadsheets, calendars and clocks, and logically arranged city blocks.
The problem is, this sense of rational control is something of an illusion. The truth is that human beings are not purely rational in their decision making.
In fact, we are far from it.
According to Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman, as much as 95% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. This leaves a mere 5% left up to conscious control. That doesn’t exactly leave much room for your business to appeal to your prospects’ rational side.
However, you don’t want to throw out the good with the bad. Although we buy based on emotion, we still justify our purchases using logic.
In short, you should appeal first and foremost to people’s emotions, but also have a logical side to your sales message. This one-two punch of emotional pull and logical explanation is the foundation of most persuasive language.
Now let’s take a look at some specific examples of words and phrases you can use to persuade your customers to take action.
The above is an inversion of the classic excuse for breaking off a bad relationship. It’s also a great lesson in the first rule of writing persuasive copy.
While it’s always a good idea to include the kind of information about your company that builds brand authority, you shouldn’t spend too much time praising yourself.
Instead, remember that the focus of your business should always be on serving your clients’ needs. A simple way to convert this concept into persuasive language is by using the word “you” in your marketing materials.
This simple word can work wonders in making your customers feel understood. It helps you focus your marketing less on what makes your company a super-special unicorn, and more on the real problems that you help your customers to solve.
By putting the spotlight on your customers, you tune into the only station they care about - WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Once they recognize this, prospects will be more than happy to fork over their hard-earned dollars to get the outcomes they want.
If you have the resources, you can take this technique a step further and use the contact’s name in all your correspondence. This is not only a popular technique in email marketing, it’s also a great way to show your customers that you care.
One interesting example of the effectiveness of the word “you” comes from the rock band The Beatles.
In a survey of all of the lyrics in The Beatles’ entire catalog, the most frequently used word was "you". While this says nothing of their brilliance as musicians, it does suggest that this word is a powerful force for inviting others into our world and making them feel welcome.
Of the many choices of persuasive language at your disposal, the word “free” is perhaps the most potent, if used correctly.
In his New York Times bestselling book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely presents a compelling case for our powerful attraction to free stuff. He tells of an experiment where students were first offered a Lindt truffle for 26 cents and a Hershey’s Kiss for 1 cent. The students were evenly split in their choice of discounted candy, with around 40 percent choosing the truffle and 40 percent choosing the Kiss.
However, when each candy was reduced by one cent each, an overwhelming 90 percent of students chose the free Kiss.
The conclusion? According to Ariely, “We concluded that FREE! is indeed a very powerful force.”
While peddling candy to college students may seem a far cry from, say, the world of B2B marketing, the lesson still applies. People just love getting something for nothing, as long as they perceive it as valuable.
This is the key to using the persuasive power of “free” in business: Your prospect must get real value from what you offer.
Let’s say you offer some downloadable content (an eBook, for example) as a lead magnet. If your eBook is chock full of useful information, then your prospects will think highly of your brand and will be interested in continuing on the buyer’s journey.
If, on the other hand, your eBook consists of little more than advertisements for your high-ticket services, then it’s likely going to backfire.
So feel free to use this word to persuade your prospects and customers. Just be sure that you add real value through the free stuff you offer.
People love to know what’s going on in the world. There’s a reason that the Oxford Dictionary recognizes “Google” as a verb: People are constantly looking for answers to their questions.
The fastest way to tap into this innate human desire is by using words that tell the reader that they are about to learn something new.
The first way you can do this is by putting question words in the titles of your content. Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How are sure to increase emotional engagement with your content.
The second way to tap into our thirst for information is through the word “because”. Using this word is like answering a question that wasn’t asked in the first place, but its power to persuade is not to be underestimated.
An article on persuasion wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Robert Cialdini, author of the New York Times bestseller, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In his book, Cialdini cites a powerful use of the word “because” to persuade others to comply with our wishes.
In one experiment, researchers tested various phrases in an attempt to cut in line at the Xerox machine. By merely adding the phrase “because I’m in a rush” to the end of their request, compliance jumped from 60 percent to 94 percent.
Note that it wasn’t the validity of their reason that increased compliance. It was the mere addition of the word “because”.
By giving reasons for events such as discounts, promotions, and the like, you tap into that part of the human brain that justifies using logic. Customers will latch on to the presence of an explanation, especially if it is connected with something of real value.
It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of using persuasive language in your copy.
By tapping into your prospects’ emotions, you are much more likely to convince them to take action than by appealing to logic alone. Three of the easiest ways to make your copy more persuasive are:
By using the word “you” to focus on the customer
By using the word “free” to grab their attention and deliver value
By using question words and the word “because” to tap into human curiosity
This is by no means a comprehensive list of every tool you can use to attract and convert prospects. However, you can make a powerful difference in your marketing efforts just by using these three methods.
If you’ve been struggling with persuasion in your marketing and could use some professional help, hiring one of our dedicated copywriters is a good place to start. A well-rounded copywriter is trained in how to write personable, persuasive copy - a worthwhile investment if you’re trying to increase sales and scale your business.
Ready to get started? Schedule your free consultation today, and put one of our expert copywriters to work for you!
Ian Pettit is a sales copywriter and content writer from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ian brings a diverse background to all his writing, including experience in manufacturing and design, music production, psychology, personal development, entrepreneurship, and green technology. He specializes in writing compelling, insightful copy with a personal feel, aimed at both educating and entertaining the reader at the same time.Hire Ian