What makes persuasive copywriting persuasive?
Have you ever thought about that? To a lot of people, persuasion equals hype. But it doesn’t have to. Most of the time, truly influential copy is unique and catches the attention of the site visitor or shopper because it offers something they haven’t already read a hundred times before.
You can see what I mean here. Which one do you find more persuasive?
Number 1 uses a couple of words/phrases that might make an impact, including:
- Sure to turn heads
But mostly, it’s made up of pretty common language that doesn’t make you sit up and take notice.
Number 2, however, keeps your brain active with verbiage like:
- Withstands the test of time
- Genius design
- Endlessly durable
- Support a heavy load
- Your best tote
Have you figured out the difference? Frequently, persuasive writing elements — persuasive words — come in the form of distinctive adjectives and adverbs.You don't have to scream. You don't have to end every sentence with 4 exclamation points. You don't have to use all caps. Persuasive writing for websites, Amazon listings, ecommerce stores, blogs, or anything else is about creative descriptions.Click To Tweet
Let’s take a look at several snippets of persuasive copy that I’ve found online over the last few days.
—> Snackable copywriting course
This unique adjective is not normally attributed to education. Usually, snackable would be associated with food. But this person took the concept and applied it in a new way. What is a snack? Something quick. Something small that doesn’t take long to finish. Those aptly describe a short course that you can go through at a rapid pace, a little at a time, right?
—> Bite-size WiFi
What do you think of when you read “bite-size”? A nibble. Consumed in one bite. An Internet provider chose to use this adjective to describe its service that provides short bursts of online access during emergencies.
—> Deliciously soft
I really didn’t plan for all the examples to use food references, but that’s the way it goes sometimes! Using a taste adverb to describe touch conjures all sorts of images. What do you think when I say “delicious”? Something that’s over-the-top good, right? I love the way this company connected that heightened sense of beyond good to the way a fabric feels.
—> Shockingly sweet
The adverb “shockingly” used in this example describes the emotional response, not the taste of the food. When talking about “shockingly sweet tomato sauce,” it means the sweetness was unexpected, not sugary. A clever way to use the word.
—> Curiously strong™
Since the early 1990s, Altoids™ mints has long used the slogan “curiously strong” to describe its peppermints. And what a curious way to explain the unexpected intensity of this candy. What do you think of when you hear the word “curious”?
The definition states: peculiar, unexpected, unusual, eager to know or learn. And, I must say, the first time I put an Altoids mint in my mouth it was indeed unexpected!
—> Ruthlessly sharp knife
While it does make use of an overflow of exclamation points, this Amazon listing uses some clever adjectives, including “satisfying heft “and “unrivaled performance, ruthlessly sharp.” The word “satisfying” leaves me with a calm, gratified feeling, while “ruthless” evokes a knife that is merciless in its ability to slice right through practically anything.
—> Hungry eyes
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These two words wouldn’t seem to go together until you realize that it is all about our eyes having a strong craving or desire for beauty. This song from the classic movie Dirty Dancing uses the unique adjective “hungry” in its title.
—> Unappreciated travel destinations
This is what the late Anthony Bourdain wrote about Uruguay. Unappreciated? That suggests something (or in this case somewhere) that is misunderstood or unrecognized for its worth. He goes on to describe the culinary focal point as “vast wonderlands of meat and sausages.”
Wonderlands? Everything you could ever hope for all laid out on a grill 😊 Do you see how his writing draws you in, keeps you interested, and is filled with persuasive words?
But what makes them persuasive? Why do we respond the way we do to these particular types of words?
Why would using a word like snackable (for instance) be considered persuasive copywriting? Because it causes your brain to wake up. You might have been cruising along through a web page or blog post, gobbling up words right and left. And then — WHAM! — you’re hit with “snackable copywriting course” or “ruthlessly sharp.”
It’s unexpected. It’s different. It’s highly descriptive and often causes an emotional reaction.
How to Create a List of Persuasive Words
1. Keep notes! When you come across descriptive words that light up your brain, jot the term down, and include how it was used. These can pop up anywhere: in writing, on TV, in a podcast… you name it.
One of my favorite speakers incorporates an unexpected answer to situations in his presentations. Heck… he does it in his natural language, too. Paul will be chatting along about how he has not been pleased with his body lately and how he had been watching everything he put into his mouth. “It took what seemed like a year,” Paul might say, “but I finally managed to gain back those 10 pounds I lost.”
That type of conversation is unexpected and enlightening. It’s also dang funny 😊
2. Ask yourself “What else?” When you find yourself about to write “hotter than blue blazes,” stop! Ask yourself: What else is dumb? Do you know anyone (real or fictional) who is dumb? Maybe it’s hotter than:
- One of your favorite celebrities (Matthew McConaughey)
- A news event (a Hawaiian volcano)
- Something else that is extremely hot (ignited jet fuel, a Death Valley summer, molten steel)
- Something culinary that has a high heat factor (ghost peppers, curry)
Can’t think of anything? Look it up! Search for “foods that are hot” or “10 hottest actors,” etc., and you’re sure to find plenty of examples.
If you stay as observant as Sherlock Holmes, you can accumulate a list of persuasive words to use and begin to perfect your ability to engage, delight, and persuade your readers.
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