You may be familiar with persuasive writing techniques from your primary school English lessons, but we’re here to teach you the psychological methods that apply to content marketing and copywriting.
Content written using psychological principles can be incredibly influential, often impacting our decisions and actions subconsciously. When crafted effectively, its impact can be so subtle that you may not even recognise its presence.
Writing persuasively in digital marketing is a skill often employed by SEO teams and content writers and is an essential skill in copywriting.
By the time you finish reading this, you’ll have a toolkit of clever tactics to enhance your writing skills and sneakily get into the minds of your target audience.
For more writing hacks and advice on how you can improve your conversion rate, get in touch with our experts.
Why Persuasive Writing Techniques Make a Difference in Content Marketing
Words are powerful, and the language we use can trigger various emotions. All humans use words to drive behaviours, evoke feelings or influence opinions in our daily lives (whether they realise it or not!).
Think about the last time you really wanted to do something, but you had to carefully choose your words to persuade someone of something. It might have been convincing a friend to go to a concert or try a new restaurant. In such situations, we often use persuasive language to effectively communicate our message and accomplish our objective.
Whilst we use persuasion without thought in our daily lives, it is also a powerful weapon in marketing.
Advertising taps into consumers’ emotions to sway them into buying a product or service, and convincing a specific audience is the fundamental core of content marketing.
For a social media team, for example, having the ability to write a convincing ad or social post is crucial to encouraging users to purchase a product or use a service. Without leveraging this copywriting skill to inspire and influence readers, it’s difficult to secure conversions on landing pages.
Understanding the Role of Psychology in Marketing
Psychology plays a huge role in buyers’ decisions, and grasping the concept of marketing psychology (also known as neuromarketing) can therefore help you understand the decision-making process to elevate the way you approach content writing.
When you apply basic psychology studies to marketing, you begin to know the inner workings of your target audience’s minds much better.
By tapping into their desires, needs and the patterns in your customers’ behaviour, you can sell to them persuasively. Rather than focusing on your product and service in hopes of convincing the customer with a list of fancy features, you tune into their emotional needs.
The Emotional Triggers Behind Purchase Choices
People purchase something because they genuinely believe it will solve a problem or improve their lives. That belief comes from a desire for gain (more sales or additional help) or a fear of loss (missing out on sales or being behind in technology).
Neuromarketing is becoming more and more prominent in digital marketing, particularly as technology advances in a way that enables us to learn more about consumer behaviours. This is evident in major platforms like Google and Facebook, where they have created algorithms aimed at enhancing content and ads to boost user interaction.
Interestingly, research suggests that consumers often make irrational decisions when it comes to buying products. A significant portion of buyers’ choices is predominantly driven by their internal biases rather than logical research, resulting in impulse purchases.
Influence Through Words – Apply These Cognitive Biases to Copywriting
You wanted persuasion, and we’re here to deliver. Leveraging cognitive biases has a proven track record and can effectively guide your customers to where you want them to be. Here are just a few you can sprinkle in your copy…
People tend to want validation, even if they’re not aware of it. This need for reassurance is connected to what psychologists label ‘confirmation bias’.
This idea also applies to the brands we like. Once we’ve chosen a brand we trust, we often stick with it because it feels safe and aligns with our initial choice or first connection. Brand loyalty plays a big part in our decisions.
In copywriting, you can use confirmation bias by acknowledging the original preferences of your target audience. By highlighting how your offering aligns with their existing values and choices, you’ll strengthen the connection and make it more likely for them to engage and make a purchase.
Social proof is linked to the concept of herd mentality, suggesting that if a substantial number of individuals have adhered to something, then you should, too.
It refers to the psychological experience where Individuals presume that the actions of others accurately represent the appropriate behaviour in a given situation. Social proof comes in a variety of formats such as:
- Influencer endorsement
- Expert validation
- Word of mouth
Surveys suggest that 98% of people rely on feedback from authentic reviews before making an online purchase. Implementing social proof into your copy and website design is a no-brainer for CRO.
Scarcity creates a sense of urgency in buyers, it brings around feelings of needing something before the time runs out. Psychologically, the ‘mere urgency effect’ encourages people to act before a deadline.
You’ll often see this psychological trigger being used across eCommerce adverts. The usage of ‘act now’ and ‘submit your details before the time runs out’. This clever tactic is how retailers tend to highlight the urgency and limitation of their sales and deals, too. Think about the oversized timers and specified end dates you see during Black Friday Sales, for example.
Loss aversion applies to numerous aspects, from consumer money to time and value. Psychologists suggest that most people tend to feel a bigger impact when they might lose something compared to the excitement of potentially gaining something. This concept comes from the ‘prospect theory’, which looks at why individuals make decisions based on the idea of missing out.
In copywriting, loss aversion can be applied in a similar way to Urgency Scarcity.
The key here is to highlight the perks of your product while hinting at potential losses if not grabbed promptly. Blend loss aversion with Urgency Scarcity to nudge readers to weigh not only what they could gain but also what they might miss out on. It’s about prompting a quick, emotionally driven response to your call to action.
Zero Risk Bias
Naturally, many people are sceptical of entering their details into a form, using free trials and signing up for things they know nothing about. The Zero Risk Bias describes how people ultimately opt for risk-free options. In marketing, this means eliminating any possibility of risk to reduce a person’s nervousness – thus encouraging them to take action.
Using this cognitive bias to your advantage as an online business means making people feel at ease before purchasing from you. Ways you can do this include:
- Clear and comprehensive terms and conditions
- A step-by-step ‘how it works’ section within the content
- Clarification of anything listed as free, low-risk, low-cost or non-contractual
- Lists of benefits to remind users of what they could miss out on
- Provide information on money-back guarantees and refund policies
- Offer reassurance in the language incorporated in your copy (no aggressive or hard sells!)
The curiosity gap is the blurry space between shared information and details that are initially held back. Writers create intrigue by emphasising this knowledge gap, sparking curiosity to fill in the gap and find out more.
Human beings are incredibly tempted by the unknown, we’re always on the hunt to find out more. You’ll usually see this tactic being utilised in page titles, newsletters, PPC ads, TV adverts and more. All of these things create a curiosity gap by withholding the most exciting information but teasing enough to entice.
So, how do you apply this bias to writing?
- Providing a ‘sneak peak’ into an upcoming product or event, causing users to sign up before the release date
- Concealing answers to important questions behind gated content
- Requiring users to click through to a landing page to reveal pricing options
- Writing rhetorical questions before revealing crucial information to persuade readers to read on
When and How Should Psychological Triggers Be Used?
Whilst all of the psychological triggers and persuasive techniques are extremely powerful, remember that your audience is not daft.
An overuse of loss aversion or urgency scarcity can actually become a deterrent for your brand, particularly if your deals genuinely do outlast the deadline you put in place.
Let’s say you claim it’s the last chance to enjoy a 40% discount for one week, but the subsequent week the same promotion applies. What incentive does your audience have to act initially?
You must deliver on your promise, and put your audience’s needs and the brand’s reputation first.
Want to See Your Conversions Soar? Leave the Persuasive Techniques to Our Copywriters
The psychological triggers explored in this blog are the bread and butter of any strong piece of content. However, it takes experienced and skilled copywriters to really use these techniques effectively.
Fortunately, we have exactly that here at Embryo.
Let our content writers experiment with persuasion in a way that really speaks to your audience, your conversion rate will thank you for it!