If you have already dealt with copywriting a little, you will probably have stumbled upon some articles with headlines like “Get your audience to buy with just 3 words”. And although we wish that it would be so easy to lead users to conversion, it is almost never done with a mere 3 words.
Because behind a conversion there is so much more than just a so-called “power word” that directly pushes readers to a sale. The communication medium has to be right, as well as the targeting and layout of a landing page. But the most important thing is and remains the way in which you package your message and convey it to your target group: The copywriting!
Copywriting – What is that?
Before we get into the matter, it is helpful to have a common definition of copywriting in which we clarify the meaning of copywriting in order to avoid misunderstandings. Because of the way it is written, copywriting is often confused with copyright, but has relatively little to do with intellectual property rights.
At the same time, there is often confusion when it comes to differentiating copywriting from content writing. You can think of it something like this: Copywriting and content writing may move in the same universe – and may even pay towards a common goal – but they circle on different orbits that can intersect here and there.
The crucial point that separates copywriting and content writing from each other is their purpose: content writing is the art of creating content that is intended to excite, inform, entertain and build relationships with your audience over a longer period of time. In the long term, of course, this should lead to a positive purchase decision.
Content writing also helps you drive more traffic to your website. You can control this through the optimal use of so-called keywords. Ideally, the content – for example, a blog post – is also well written, but it does not necessarily have a use that is intended to seduce.
In contrast, copywriting is all about convincing readers of a specific idea, a specific product, a brand. The focus here is much more on the object itself, whose features and advantages are emphasized. The goal here is not only to convince but above all to move the audience to conversion, the purchase.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover in today’s article: How You Can Use Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion to create influential copy and increase your conversion rate!
The Principles of Persuasion by Cialdini
In 1984 Cialdini published his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, still world-famous today, in which he introduces his 6 principles of persuasion. So if you paid attention in psychology class, the following 6 terms may sound familiar:
- Commitment and consistency
- Sympathy and liking
- Social proof
These are precisely the 6 principles of persuasion according to Robert Cialdini. Nowadays, in times of certain “information overload”, these are of particular importance as they help you to stand out in a world full of information and teach you how to convince people of your product or your brand using the right knacks. And that is exactly why the 6 principles of persuasion are highly relevant for copywriters.
Are you ready? Then we’ll go through each principle individually and explore how you can use it to write effective copy and cast a spell over your audience!
If friends invite you to dinner or a party, there is a high probability that you will not appear empty-handed, but bring a small gift with you. And that is exactly what is behind the principle of reciprocity!
Humans are naturally inclined to want to reciprocate to people that have helped us out or done something good for us. You can easily recognize this in a wide variety of cultural customs: Weddings, friendships in the neighborhood or in business relationships are often based on the desire to repay even small goodwill to the other person.
And you can take advantage of this tendency towards reciprocity in your copywriting.
In other words, you can use the principle of reciprocity to incentivize your potential customers to take a desired action by first offering them something that has some value to them.
You probably already know this from various login pages on landing pages. The main purpose of these is to obtain a person’s contact details in order to later win this person as a customer for the company.
In this case, the principle of reciprocity works like this: You are offered a certain piece of content on the landing page, be it a guide, a checklist or free consultation. That is the value that you gain. And the greater the value that you get from this content, the more likely you will feel the need to offer something in return.
But now back to your copywriting: Think about how you can pack so much added value into your texts that readers cannot help but want to thank you in some way.
Commitment and Consistency
Another desire that many people feel is the need for consistency in one’s actions. If we have already told all our friends that we will definitely take part in a half marathon next year, statistically the probability that we will train weekly and end up doing it is many times higher. After all, it would be embarrassing to give up after you have already informed everybody, would it not?
The principle of consistency is based on the fact that it is often helpful to enter into a certain type of commitment in order to ultimately stick to your promises.
And although it makes little sense in copywriting to force your readers to make the promise to buy your product – who even does that? – with a little skill you can still apply this principle to encourage a sense of responsibility in your readers.
The right tactic here is to encourage your readers to initially make small “commitments” that gradually grow in their dimensions. You can achieve this with the help of questions, for example: They get your readers to formulate a clear “yes” and thus to make an initial small commitment that they would like to consistently fulfill. This little “yes” is the starting point of a journey of further approvals. Because after your reader has made a small commitment, the ease of convincing increases step by step.
Incidentally, the subliminal demand for a multiple “yes” is also a tried and tested tactic from sales and telephone calls.
If you know one of the 6 principles of persuasion according to Cialdini, it is probably that of social proof. Because you certainly come into contact with it almost every day. Before you go out, do you check what people are wearing on the street to decide if a scarf is necessary? Social proof! Looking to buy a new phone, but read some reviews first? Social proof!
So the principle of social proof is all about relying on the opinions and experiences of others to make decisions. Our fellow human beings are a valuable source of information for us and the more we trust them, the more we value their opinions.
And this effect can also be clearly seen in statistics:
97% of all customers claim that customer ratings influence their purchase decision! (Source: Right Time Marketer)
The main forms of social proof are as follows:
And this is exactly why you should fill text on sales pages, landing pages or even in advertisements with real customer ratings, testimonials or any other form of user-generated content! Because this is how you show the interest and opinions of real people about your product, your service or your brand. And there is nothing and nobody that customers trust more than their own kind!
A little tip on the side: Statistically speaking, real or odd numbers seem more credible and increase conversion. For example, 287 customer reviews seem more credible and therefore have a stronger influence than 200 customer reviews, right?
The principle of authority describes the tendency of people to classify an opinion as credible and valid if it comes from a perceived credible expert or an authority figure, in short, from any recognized source.
You can also easily test this on yourself: Who would you trust to diagnose your engine failure? An engineering student who works in a workshop or a librarian?
Back to your copywriting! In order to convince your readers of the credibility of your content and thus also of the product or service you offer, it is essential to offer reliable information and sources.
You can do this by making use of trustworthy statistics from recognized sources or even by offering scientific evidence.
Of course, this is not possible for every industry and for every product. In many cases it is enough to rely on the authority of someone who is perceived to be competent and to insist on his or her personal opinion.
You can even find another example of social reliability on your mobile phone, on Instagram: If an account has a lot of followers and maybe even the blue tick, it immediately appears more trustworthy and this also affects the evaluation of its performance and any purchase decisions.
You probably know the good old saying “You always want what you cannot have”. Or simply the need to buy a T-shirt that you do not really need. But it is the last of its kind after all, so you absolutely have to have it!
The principle of scarcity is not about anything else: the more limited and exclusive an offer appears, the more we strive to be able to call it our own. In other words, it means that we suffer from a certain “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) and consider scarce goods to be desirable. This effect is particularly strong when we are not the only ones who covet this offer, but are in competition with other interested parties.
There are many options open to you to induce a feeling of scarcity and thereby encourage your readers to want a product all the more. Whether you incorporate the information about the limitation into your copywriting, or whether you base entire offers on it, is ultimately up to you.
However, it should be after a real shortage and not an artificially induced one, otherwise the shot can backfire very quickly! Many consultants and online course providers on the Internet have already received criticism in recent years and partly ruined their good reputation in addition to the conversion rate. And that is far more difficult to get back.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate the principle of scarcity into your copywriting:
- Quantitative limitation of your offer
- Time limit for your offer
- Phrases like “X people are currently viewing the same offer” or “Only X spots available”
- Realistic information on the stock or the number of items
- Time-limited special offers
- Special offers for the first X customers
Sympathy and liking
Last but not least, one thing above all must not be missing from the principles of persuasion according to Cialdini: sympathy! Because no matter how good your offer is, without sympathy it does not matter for many customers. In short, the likelihood that we will be convinced by someone depends on that person’s sympathy.
Dies kannst Du in Deinem Copywriting nutzen, indem Du die Punkte hervorhebst, die Dich und Deine Zielgruppe verbinden. Das kann beispielsweise ein Problem sein, das Du überwunden hast, mit dem sich Deine Zielgruppe identifizieren kann.
The most effective way to build sympathy quickly, however, is based on (interpersonal) similarity: People with whom we have a lot in common or at least appear to us that way appear closer to us in a certain way and we quickly build sympathy or even a close relationship with them. That is why the trend towards personal brands and also towards company brand messages is increasing. For example, the CEO’s Twitter account, which promotes the reach of the company account, or the YouTube marketer as the company’s personal brand.
You can use this in your copywriting by highlighting the points that connect you and your target group. For example, this can be a problem that you have overcome that your target audience can identify with.
Another way to arouse sympathy can also be created by the so-called halo effect. This states that conclusions are drawn from attractive external properties to positive values and internal properties. A chocolate bar with an exciting, pretty packaging is often described as tastier than a boringly packaged one.
And while we’re on the subject: A target group is also changing and growing. New trends emerge or the language changes: This is why designs such as logos or packaging (often) change slowly. In retrospect, however, they reflect our time.
For your copywriting this means: Use every way that you can arouse sympathy in your target group!
If you take these things into account, your texts will definitely appeal to your target audience a lot more. But that is far from all. Copywriting could almost be described as an art that involves a deep understanding of the human psyche as well as fluent writing that encourages the reader to “learn more”. And last but not least, it is incredibly important that you know and understand your target group – in every section of the customer journey.
In other words: you have to know when your target group would like to hear or read which content in which form in order to carry out the action that you have defined in advance.
We help you to define and optimize these texts for your website or campaigns. Book a non-binding initial meeting or a mini-workshop and improve your texts in little time.
When networking wizard Bettina is not working on the next big idea, then she is focusing on how to constantly improve workflows, and systemizing the “stuff that is not so much fun but needs to be done”. She believes in giving and that being kind gets you a long way.
You might spot her as a keynote speaker, a guest lecturer at universities, or a mentor at StartupLive or Greenstart by Climate and Energy Fonds Austria.
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