Persuasive Online Copy

Fundamentals of Persuasive Online Copy

Are you interested in making your website more effective? No matter what type of website you’re involved with, there are lessons to be learned from becoming familiar with the nine fundamentals of writing persuasive online copy.

Copywriting is the art of using words to promote a person, business, product, or idea.

Although you may not realize it, almost every website is selling something. Even bloggers are selling in some respects; they’re hoping to “sell” their blog to new readers!

No matter what type of content you’re producing, becoming familiar with these fundamentals can only help you as a writer.

Grab Readers’ attention

You may have come across the copywriters’ mantra, which is to simply to get readers to continue reading the next line. This is key because no matter how captivating your copy, if no one bothers to read the words they will have little effect!

Bly identifies numerous methods for grabbing readers’ attention:

  • Add captivating images, which draw the reader in and encourage them to read on;
  • Be specific: “saves $399.00 per year” rather than “saves money”;
  • Special, discounted offers almost always grab attention; or
  • Ask a provocative question.

Focus on Consumer — not Yourself, Product, or Company

Even when writing an “about” page, it’s important to focus on what your company, site, or product can do for the reader.

Many copywriters advocate addressing the reader as “you.”

Take a look at your own website. Are you noticing a lot of “wes” and “Is” rather than “yous”? Of course, sometimes “we” and “I” statements are relevant and necessary, but be sure to always consider bringing your copy back to what what’s in it for your client, company, or visitor.

Focus on the Benefits

There is a substantial difference between features and benefits.

Features are technical specifications, such as “30 gigabytes of memory.”

Benefits explain what the features bring to the client, such as “allows you to store over 600 songs on your MP3 player.”

Make sure you’re focusing on the benefits because it’s the benefits that get people excited.

Explain how You’re Different From the Competition

Explaining how you’re different is often referred to as expressing your unique selling proposition (USP).

Even if there are hundreds of vendors or professionals who offer the same product or service, there must be something that makes yours unique. Even seemingly minor differences, such as never missing deadlines, can become your USP.

Identify what makes you different and draw attention to it.

Prove Your Claims

The above two fundamentals (focusing on benefits and explaining your USP) encourage you to make claims about your business, product of website.

But claims only work if you can back them up!

Statistics, testimonials, and client lists are some ideas for helping you “prove” your claims.

Establish Credibility

Readers want to know who you are and why they should trust you.

Bly offers a number of ways to establish credibility:

  • Show a photo of yourself, your physical factory, or your office;
  • List awards;
  • Post testimonials; and
  • List credentials and experience.

Build Value

If you’re selling something, your reader or visitor must feel that the price is worth it. “It’s not enough to convince prospects you have a great product […]. You must also show them that the value of your offer far exceeds the price you are asking for it. “

End With a Call to Action

You’ve got a website, but what is it that you’re trying to accomplish with it?

If you’re explicitly selling something, then the answer is simple. You want to make a sale!

But, for some, the goal (or “call to action”) is not as obvious. Perhaps you’d like users to sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your RSS feed.

Whatever your goal, make sure you’re funneling readers toward that end goal.

Explain why it’s Important to Act Now

Bly suggests offering incentives in order to get readers to act on the “call to action” immediately. He cites numerous examples, such as offering limited-time offers.


No matter what type of website you write for, it’s important to consider these fundamentals of writing persuasive online copy.

Of course, not all of these fundamentals will apply to all websites, but once you’re familiar with these fundamentals you’ll recognize when their use is appropriate.

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