Do you want to know the elements of persuasive writing?
A persuasive text is one that presents point of views and aims to get the audience to agree with it. It could be an argument, a discussion, a review or an advertisement.
When writing persuasive content, the writer’s job is to convince the reader to accept an idea and take the desired action. This style of writing is found everywhere from newspaper editorials and advertisements to blogs, reviews and social media content.
To be able to write in an engaging and persuasive way is an art and it can be learned. Read below to find out the key elements of persuasive writing that can really make your content stand out.
1. Understand Your Audience
The most important aspect of creating impactful content is to understand who will be reading it. You cannot engage with your audience unless you try to know their ideologies, desires, dreams, fears and frustrations.
Before you begin to write, think about the majority of people who will be reading your piece. Focus on conveying your message in a way that is relevant and relatable to your audience.
2. Know the 3 Tools of Persuasion
According to Aristotle, there are three fundamental principles that are used in persuasive speech and writing: Ethos, Pathos and Logos. As a writer you need to understand which one would appeal to your audience more.
Ethos – The Ethical Appeal
This is when the writer establishes their credibility and makes their audience trust them. Credibility can come from sharing personal experience, the writer’s expertise, accomplishments etc. The writer also uses language and tone that sounds fair and unbiased.
Pathos – The Emotional Appeal
It’s the writer’s ability to tap into audience’s emotions and trigger feelings of connectedness. As a result the reader sympathizes with the writer and is motivated to think and act in a desirable way.
Pathos can be developed by using emotional tone, emotion evoking examples, vivid storytelling, emotional themes, words and humor.
Logos – The Logical Appeal
Logos comes with clear and logical arguments supported with facts, statistics, historical evidence that provide substance to the writer’s message. Readers feel convinced with the information provided to them as it comes with reason.
3. A Catchy Headline or Title
“On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar,” David Ogilvy.
The most important part of a persuasive article is its title or headline and unless you focus on it, you have wasted all your effort.
There are a number of tricks and techniques that can help you craft the best headlines for your content. You can use numbers, emotional adjectives or make a promise. Some examples of catchy headlines are:
How You Can Remove Stretch Marks in Just 10 Days
7 Harmless Habits That Can Cause Cancer
What I Learned From Losing All My Money
4. Open Your First Paragraph with a Hook
Delight your audience with your opening paragraph because that is what’s going to draw your readers into your piece and make them keep reading.
The key is to keep the opening lines brief and attention grabbing. It should raise questions in the reader’s mind so that they want to read more and find out the answers.
5. Use Emotion to Connect with Your Audience
Most effective persuasion comes from provoking your audience’s emotion. This is especially important in business writing when you want to convince your customers to buy from you.
Concentrate on thinking about your audience empathetically. Use emotionally descriptive phrases to make them believe that you care about their needs and interests.
6. Show Authority
Everyone looks up to authority in any field or subject. If your content contains proof with statements such “experts say”, “research shows” or includes titles like Chairman, CEO, President, it can really influence your readers in to believing what they’re reading.
7. Story Telling
Persuasive content makes use of stories that activates the reader’s brain cells and awakens their imagination. That is to say, readers should be able to see themselves in the stories you tell.
You can even share your personal story to build greater trust among your readers. It could be about your victories, personal challenges and life in general.
8. Be Reader Focused
Your writing should focus on your reader, not you. You have to make them see what you see by paying attention to how they perceive things.
Your reader may or may not have the technical knowledge about what you’re writing. In some cases you will have to explain everything to them in detail. Other times, you won’t have to go into the technical details, rather focus on what benefits they will be deriving from a certain thing, for example a new gadget.
9. Add Credibility to Your Content
If you’re blog writer or a budding entrepreneur, you have to make sure your audience finds your content credible and trustworthy. Therefore, you should link your writing to trusted third party sources, highlight your achievements and awards and use examples and quotes from industry influencers.
10. Focus On Authenticity
Writers that make false promises and give incorrect or biased information will never be able to build a wide reader base. For this reason, show honesty in the message you’re trying to convey or a product that you want to sell.
Think for a moment that if you were in the position of your reader, would you read the content or buy the product you’re trying to sell? If the answer is no, chances are that your readers will also feel the same way.
11. Add Data to Your Writing
It’s easy to write a persuasive article if you can support your claims with facts and studies. It obviously makes your material more believable and the audience will be more inclined to listen to you.
Back up your writing with facts, statistics and even quotes to make your content more convincing. But don’t forget to cite your sources!
12. Predict Your Reader’s Responses
While writing, you should anticipate the questions that will pop up in the reader’s mind as they go through your content. Try to answer them with the flow so that comprehensive information is given to the reader.
13. Use the Right Vocabulary
Your language should be able to excite the readers. Select words that help them create a picture in their minds or take them directly into the message you’re conveying.
Use powerful action verbs, adjectives and adverbs to replace simple, overused words and phrases. Insert sensory and emotional details by use of vivid adjectives that describe, explain and provide details and connections.
14. Ask Rhetorical Questions
Use rhetorical questions that will intrigue the audience. It’s a powerful way to engage the audience as they transition through the text. Some examples include:
Do you really think…?
Is it really worth…?
What would happen if…?
Do you want be part of…?
15. Be an Expert of What You’re Writing About
Be sure that you know what you’re talking about. An expert opinion creates a far stronger impact. You have to demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable in your particular genre, market or industry.
Be honest, transparent and don’t waver. Write with knowledge and authority. You don’t necessarily have to be a specialist in a particular field but your research should be very strong as there’s no substitute to concrete knowledge.
16. Make Your Content Easy to Read
This is especially important for online writers because online readers scan content rather than reading it. Giant block of texts are the easiest way to lose your readers before they even begin going through our content. So break your paragraphs every 2-3 sentences. You can use font variations as well.
17. Present True Benefits
If you’re writing a product review or a copy for an advertisement, state the real benefits of the product. So, be very specific and don’t use unnecessary filler text.
18. Write with a Clear Point of View and Purpose
Persuasive writing requires the writer to present a clear point of view. You have to take a position in order to empower your reader to either stand with you or against you.
Before you start writing, be very sure about your purpose and standpoint. Don’t be nervous to take a particular point of view. Those won’t agree to it or find it flawed, would still discuss it or even write about you. You will still be able to gain attention.
19. Give Reasons Why
Make use of the word ‘because’ to give your audience reasons as to why they should think like you, read your blog or buy your product. People are more likely to comply to requests when they’re given solid reasons.
You can also make your readers ‘imagine’ the desired outcome as a safer or better alternative to their current preferences.
20. Focus More on Benefits Rather than Features
You know your products really well, but your potential customers don’t. They’re looking for specific outcomes, not a list of features that they might not even understand.
Even when you’re putting down the features, tie them with specific outcomes that will benefit the customers. This will generate greater interest in their minds.
21. Give the Most Important Information First
If you highlight the most important outcomes that your product or service can provide right at the beginning, you’ll give your readers a better understanding of the big picture. This is also important because your readers may not even read the entire content.
Think of it as an inverted pyramid (as some writers refer to it). The most relevant points are written first and then followed by details and background information.
22. Add Testimonials
Get the opinions of your past customers, industry leaders and other experts to include in your content as they make your content more attention grabbing and credible.
23. Give a Counterargument
An effective persuasive content also recognizes the counterargument. But you don’t have to attack by simply calling it wrong or silly. Rather explain why you point of view is better, more up to date or makes more sense.
24. Use Familiar Language
Keep your tone conversational and use familiar language so that the readers can relate to what’s written and are able to read it with ease. You should be able to explain even the most complex processes and ideas using simple phrases.
Avoid using jargon or complex terminology as it will put off your readers. If you need to, explain it in simple words.
25. Use an Engaging Voice
You don’t need fancy vocabulary or complex grammar to express your ideas effectively. Persuasive content isn’t technical writing. Develop your own unique voice that is both engaging and enjoyable to read.
26. Be Specific
Whether you’re crafting a catch title or writing the main content, you have to make sure that you are providing specific information.
For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of a new weight loss technique, you should number the benefits. Moreover you can give specific outcomes such as how much weight loss could be expected in a certain number of days.
27. Be Consistent
Your readers should be able to trust you, only then they will tend to agree with you. Being consistent is an effective way to build trust.
Once you’ve taken a position, then proceed consistently and make your case by providing data, facts and proof, all of which ultimately point back to your claim.
28. Give Social Proof
If you tell your readers that others are doing it, they are more likely to believe that it’s the right thing to do and it must work. You can do this by featuring testimonials, favorable reviews and case histories of your best customers.
This is a good approach to making your case. Identify the reader’s pain point and stir it up to make them feel that you understand their problem. Then offer your solution, while empathizing with the reader.
30. Use Humor
Studies show that humor does make your message more effective. Laughter puts people at ease and makes them more likely to associate with you.
31. Add Comparisons
Metaphors, similes and analogies are great to use in persuasive texts. They make your content relatable for the readers and it’s easier to convince them.
32. Address Objections
If you know your subject well, you know exactly what would be some of the key objections raised by the majority of readers. List them down and keep addressing them as you write. The idea is to have most of them covered in your writing. It gives the impressions that you’ve thought the matter through.
33. Show Some Passion
Whatever it is that you’re writing about, you should be able to demonstrate passion for it. Unless you develop a real sense of ownership in your argument, you won’t be able to persuade your readers.
34. Present a Strong Thesis or Point of View
The foundation of any persuasive text is a solid thesis statement and the writer’s position. Your argument will fall flat, lack direction and will not be able to create the desired impact without a strong thesis.
Think clearly about how you’re going to approach the topic or issue, what position you will take and how you will support your claim with consistency.
35. Give Incentives to Your Readers to Keep Reading
Use phrases like “Not only that”, “Here comes the best part”, “So what’s the solution to this?” etc. to make your readers stay hooked to your piece. Keep their curiosity high so that they read through the entire content.
36. Be Repetitive
Repetition is good for remembering anything so if you’ve said it once, you can say it again. It helps you push your point of view. You should reinforce your ideas in several different ways, directly or indirectly, in separate paragraphs.
37. Use a Variety of Sentence Structure
The way sentences are constructed affects the flow of your writing. Keep your sentences varied both in length and structure. Start your sentences in different ways such as by using an adverb, a phrase, an introductory clause etc.
38. Avoid Run-on Sentences
Break up very long, rambling sentences into two or three shorter sentences. Short sentences create balance and increase readability. They make the content more lyrical and enjoyable to read. Read each sentence carefully and delete unnecessary words.
39. Use a Different Paragraph to Express a New Idea
As discussed previously, it’s best to keep your paragraphs limited to 2-3 sentences if you want your content to be read. For every new idea, use a separate paragraph. It makes your content easily digestible and doesn’t bore the reader.
40. Correct Structuring
For your content to be effective, it must have a logical and smooth progression of thought. With this in mind, divide your writing into paragraphs, sub-heads and lists to increase the visual appeal of the text.
41. Your Content Should Be Fluent
Readers should be able to find your content smooth and easy to follow. The headings and subheadings should be logically placed.
Strong sentence-to-sentence connectivity also enhances the flow of your writing. One way to do that is by using of transition words and phrases such as although, on the other hand, instead, nevertheless etc.
42. Be More Engaging By Using Personal Pronouns
By using personal pronouns such as we, us, our, you makes the readers believe you are speaking only to them. You are able to resonate with your readers emotionally and quickly get them involved.
The pronoun ‘you’ is especially powerful to make your readers listen attentively. It makes your content personalized to them and sound more conversational.
43. Bullet Points Are Good
Bullet points are very effective as they’re fast and easy to skim. Most readers would jut scan the headlines and bullet points so spend some time writing them well.
44. Be Careful With Your Tone
Even though you should take a strong position while writing, it shouldn’t mean you start being disrespectful to people who may oppose or be reluctant to accepting your ideas. Your writing should be non-biased and not be offensive to anyone.
45. Unify Your Audience (Selectively)
Give your audience a chance to be a part of a selective group that they want to be in – whether that be wealthy, trendy, healthy, green etc. They would want to get on board while seemingly excluding others.
46. Use Exaggeration to Convey Value
Exaggeration or ‘hyperbole’ is often used in persuasive content to stretch the truth and make your point to the readers. However, it’s important to remember that if you claim to be the biggest or the best, you should be able to support it with proof.
47. Use Influential Words
Words can play a big role in helping customers take decisions. Certain words influence better than others. Some examples of such words are:
People love things that are free. You can give away free online courses, free trials, e-books etc to grab your audience’s attention.
Everyone is looking for instant results or instant problem solving. However make sure you are able to deliver on your word.
If you make your product or service ‘exclusive’ for a certain group of people, more people would want to be part of that group.
Authenticity is a big concern for people. They want to purchase products or services that live up to their claims and give ‘guaranteed’ results.
48. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your USP could be anything ranging from low prices, superior quality, special product features, return policy, guarantees and anything else that helps your readers stay, keep reading and buy from you.
But whatever it is, make sure it’s clearly communicated throughout your text. You can check some good USP examples here.
Predict scenarios and give your readers a glimpse into the future by extrapolating current events. This idea convinces the reader that if present events continue into the future, this is what we they will have to deal with and how you or your product can help them prevent it from happening.
50. Use the Principle of Scarcity
People tend to get drawn to things that are either exclusive or hard to obtain. Tactics such as limited time offers, limited supply or numbers, utilizing competitions are good ways to provoke a sense of urgency among your customers.
51. Tell Readers What They Can Do Next
Include links to your content that can help your readers take desired actions such as ‘Buy Now’, ‘Order Now’ ‘Click Here to sign up”.
52. Conclusion and Call to Action
Restate your thesis and summarize your key points in your conclusion. In addition to it, add a clear ‘call to action’, that is, guiding your readers exactly what you want them to do. Tell them why it’s in their best interest to buy, click or subscribe.
53. Don’t Forget to Proof Read!
Always proof read your piece when you’re done writing it. Restructure if you need to, cut out any excessive words, make your sentences shorter and simplify the text.
Crafting content that influences people does take a bit of practice. If you can understand and master these elements of persuasive writing, you can create more engaging content, improve business communication and better reach your target audience.