10 Persuasive Writing Techniques to Make Your Copy More Profitable (Without Being Pushy)

The world of sales is no less cutthroat today than it was decades ago. Following the post-war boom in manufacturing and the advent of the pushy deal closer who employs persuasive writing techniques – sales has become associated all of which is typified, accurately, in the play-turned-film Glengarry Glen Ross (starring Alec Baldwin). 

The film depicts New York real estate agents persuading potential buyers to commit to a sale. They deal with internal politicking and brinkmanship that still characterizes the function of marketing within a firm. 

But today, most consumers are pretty savvy when it comes to being ‘sold’ to. You’re not going to be persuasive if your copy comes across as deceptive or coercive. Like all copywriting techniques, of course, persuasion has its merits and does not necessarily need to be replaced. 

There are ways to persuade while remaining helpful to the consumer through transparency and authenticity.

The ability to persuade readers to take a specific course of action is an art that you can learn. We’ve outlined 10 persuasive tactics you can use for your own writing that are very far removed from the pushy used-car salesman vibe people reel from. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Being Persuasive Versus Being Ethically Persuasive

how-to-use-ethically-persuasive-techniques

There’s being persuasive, and there’s being ethically persuasive.  The former leverages coercion and fear tactics to sell an idea while the latter encourages respect and truthfulness above all else. An article published in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics advances a new 5 principle test called the TARES test to judge how ethical a persuasive piece is. 

Here’s what the researchers had to say about this ethical persuasive techniques test:

Truthfulness of the Message 

The first principle is truth. The test dictates that the persuasive message not only be true, but truthful. Misleading and false information is a social misdemeanor, and deception takes power away from the audience and transfers it to the persuader. 

It’s possible to deceive without lying. This principle states that along with the persuader’s message, the persuader’s intention must be not to deceive. The intent of the persuader must be to provide others with factual, truthful information that is beneficial to their audience.

Authenticity of the Persuader

The principle of Authenticity applies to the persuader and not the act of persuading. When using persuasive techniques, the persuader must be sincere and genuinely believe in the value and benefits of the product, service or information that they’re providing to their audience. 

Additionally, persuaders using persuasive techniques must be true to themselves – to hold respect towards their work and remove themselves when loyalty to a client or employer conflicts with their obligation to truth and social welfare.

Respect for the Persuadee

Not only must persuaders respect themselves, they must also respect the persuadee. The TARES test states that persuaders must treat their audience as humans worthy of dignity, truth and respect. 

Respect for the persuadee when using persuasive techniques always trumps self-serving interests or client/employer-serving purposes. Adequate knowledge of rules, regulations and guidelines for e-commerce, marketing and other forms of persuasion must be adhered to.

Equity of the Appeal

When using persuasive techniques, the TARES test requires persuaders to be fair to persuadees. It considers whether or not the persuader has been fair to the persuadee in their application of persuasive techniques. Persuaders are made to question if their execution of persuasive appeals is manipulative or unjust. 

This includes not targeting vulnerable audiences or using persuasive techniques to exploit their audience’s knowledge gaps. The audience must be on a level playing field with the persuader and if not, the persuader must do their best to ensure that their audience be brought up to speed.

10 Persuasive Writing Techniques and Tactics

Now that we’re equipped with knowledge of what principles being ethically persuasive requires, we can get into the actual techniques! 

You don’t have to resort to fear mongering or deception to persuade your audience, and besides – who would want to? You can equally persuasive if not more by giving your audience the respect, clarity and trust that they deserve when they’re listening to what you have to say. 

 
The 10 Persuasive Writing Techniques We’ll Cover
  • State what benefit your product/service provides
  • Follow up with features
  • Know your consumer’s pain points
  • Tell a story
  • Use social proof
  • Reverse course tactics
  • Evoke an emotional response
  • Write how you speak
  • For CTAs, take advantage of Fear-Of-Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Use the Rule of Three
1. State what benefit your product/service provides
persuasive-techniques-and-how-to-use-them
Mattress company Endy makes it abundantly clear what they're offering and how a customer can get it. (https://ca.endy.com/pages/endy-mattress-trial)

That’s right, start by answering the customer’s first thought – “What’s in it for me?” What benefit does your service or good provide to the future buyer?  Lead with, Your free guide to… or a similar attention-grabbing headline; be sure you can back it up in full.

 

Endy displays what they can provide prominently on their website, ensuring that consumers aren’t mislead or misguided. 

2. Follow up with irrestible features
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Hard, empirical facts are always more persuasive than space-filling adnouns and adverbs. (https://www.hubspot.com/customer-satisfaction)

Avoid adnouns and adverbs and lead with facts, figures and data. It’s more convincing. 30 step-by-step instructions included in your no-risk trial offer sounds more convincing than “sign up for a free trial.”  

Hubspot uses raw data and numbers to establish authority and act as a reputable source of information. It’s more than about selling a product or service – it’s about selling your business.

3. Know your audience’s pain points
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Mario Badescu's product descriptions are short, concise and straight to the point on what they can provide for their customers. (https://www.mariobadescu.com)

A lot of companies simply dive into explaining their solutions. A more persuasive tactic is to start by resonating with your readers around the problems they’re dealing with. Once you have them hooked, you can follow with offering up the solution to their problem in the form of your product or service.  

Mario Badescu’s line of beauty products directly advertises what they can do for their customers. Without diving too deep, Mario Badescu knows exactly what their customers wants and uses this to their advantage. 

4. Tell a story
using-persuasive-writing-techniques
Steven Pressfield's "War on Art" tells a story featuring his audience as his protagonist. (https://stevenpressfield.com/)

Stories are memorable and poignant. Create a vision in their mind’s eye of a narrative unfolding that’s relevant to your product and service. Address their pain points as well –  say you’re selling an eBook on building financial wealth. 

Begin, perhaps, by saying, “You could be as rich as John who said…” or “John stared at his mounting piles of unpaid bills. He had hit rock bottom….” A story allows the consumer to place themselves in the character’s shoes, making the situation relatable, and your solution more enticing.

Steven Pressfield, an American author who likens writing to a military engagement uses this technique to persuade his audience to purchase his book to hone their writing talents. 

5. Tell a story
ethical-persuasive-techniques
Computer security firm Avast provides their services to 400 million users, signalling tthat many of their clients enjoy what they offer. (https://www.avast.com/en-ca/index#pc)

While the Glengarry Glen Ross office would be a most interesting case study in power dynamics, try to avoid shouting (both literally and figuratively) about how amazing your product is. It’s far more convincing to offer evidence. 

A great source of credibility is using happy client testimonials who can offer an endorsement or quote. It can even be social proof in the form of how many people have used the product or service. If the majority of people are using a product or service, your customer will want to try it too. Write something along the lines of, “thousands of people are satisfied with our software.”

6. Social buttons/ feedback
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Orabrush's reverse course tactics has led them to become viral through great content generation. (https://www.orabrush.com/)

Adopting less pushy, persuasive copy is the process of reverse marketing. This process focuses on building trust and letting the customer come to the brand. You can do this by offering help, advice and great content that informs and positions you as an expert. 

Perhaps you have a YouTube channel and a blog. The more you write and create other content that is not selling anything at all, but showing you are industry expert, the more consumers will trust you. Customers will feel like they’re purchasing from a brand that knows what they’re talking about.

Toungebrush company Orabrush created a series of great content on YouTube which quickly became viral. Consumers didn’t know much about the product itself, but they were drawn in by the fantastic content that they produced. 

7. Evoke an emotional response
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Clothing retailer Everlane gets personally into detail about their factories and workers to tell their stories. (https://www.everlane.com)

Try asking questions and having your reader respond, yes, yes, yes! For instance, “Are you tired of being tired? Does it seem like no one understands you?” This might trigger an emotional response and an action. 

Let’s say you own a dog shelter, and you’re writing a Facebook post with the hopes of gaining donations. Craft a story:  “Rex was skin and bones when we found him. He would surely have died if our team had not nursed him day and night. With your support, we can continue to save animals like Rex from the streets.”  In this scenario, you’ve brought to life a real case-study, pulled at people’s heartstrings and lead them to a call-to-action, to donate. 

Fashion and garment firm Everlane proudly display their ethical business practices by doing in-depth case studies on the various factories that they own throughout Southeast Asia. Portrait pictures of workers and what the company has done for them transform their consumers into advocates. 

8. Write how you speak
using-ethical-persuasion
Soap company Bath and Body Works keeps it cool by keeping it casual. (https://www.bathandbodyworks.com/)

Should you see or hear copious adverbs, words ending in -ly, it may be time to write like how you speak in a conversational style. This will not only streamline your copy, but simplify your messaging. Don’t give people any reason to tune out. 

By utilizing a casual, conversational tone, soap company Bath and Body works establishes a sense of familiarity and closeness with their audience. 

9. For CTAs, take advantage of Fear-Of-Missing Out (FOMO)
ethical-persuasion-writing-techniques
Amazon's lightning deals incentivize customers to purchase with low prices and limited supply of products. (https://www.amazon.ca)

FOMO is something we all deal with so take advantage of it. Signal scarcity and exclusivity of your product/service in your call-to-action. Readers are going to miss out on this unique, one-time offer unless they commit now. 

To trigger FOMO and also hint at exclusivity through the words in your CTA, try:

  • One-time offer
  • Limited supply
  • For 48 hours only 
  • Flash sale
  • Free trial
  • Special offer
  • Last chance
  • Ends tomorrow
  • Limited time only
  • Expiring soon
  • One-of-a-kind
  • Unlock

Amazon’s lightning deals exploit customer’s fear of missing out on great deals by offering limited supply offers on hot products. 

10.  Use The Rule of Three
using-ethical-persuasion-techniques
Clean. Bold. Impactful. Logitech's use of the Rule Of 3 helps deliver their marketing message more memorably and effectively. (https://www.logitech.com/en-ca)

FOMO is something we all deal with so take advantage of it. Signal scarcity and exclusivity of your product/service in your call-to-action. Readers are going to miss out on this unique, one-time offer unless they commit now. 

To trigger FOMO and also hint at exclusivity through the words in your CTA, try:

  • One-time offer
  • Limited supply
  • For 48 hours only 
  • Flash sale
  • Free trial
  • Special offer
  • Last chance
  • Ends tomorrow
  • Limited time only
  • Expiring soon
  • One-of-a-kind
  • Unlock

Amazon’s lightning deals exploit customer’s fear of missing out on great deals by offering limited supply offers on hot products. 

Key Takeaways for Persuasive Writing Techniques

Transparency, integrity and respect for your audience shine as essential elements of ethical, persuasive writing techniques. The world of sales may be as cutthroat as it was decades ago, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Here’s our 3 key takeaways for writing persuasively; ethically: 

  • What problem are you solving for your customers? What solution does your product or service offer? Target their core issues and connect with them emotionally. 
  • Trigger scarcity and exclusivity around your product or service. It’s human nature to find something much more attractive when we’re told that something is unique or about to vanish. 
  • Your readers might be persuaded by what you’re writing, but they might leave not knowing what they are supposed to do with your ideas. A short, succinct CTA using persuasive words as listed above will help lead consumers to purchase. 

For other persuasive writing tips, check out how to be funny in your content to grab people’s attention.

Terry Say

Written By Terry Say

Terry's the lead editor and SEO strategist for Advesa. There’s nothing content and SEO he won’t get involved in. We tried, he just always finds a way to put his hands on things! Aside from work, Terry calls himself a ‘stand-up comedy connoisseur’, and enjoys watching intense tournaments in the world of E-sports.