Use Your Words Wisely: How to Write Persuasive Web Copy
Designed to Increase Trust & Sales
As business owners, one of the greatest challenges we face is the act of really selling our products and services. I mean, let’s be honest — a pushy salesperson can be downright cringeworthy! I wouldn’t even blame you if reading the word ‘salesperson’ just now made you wince. After all, we’re all too familiar with that awkward moment when you’re browsing your favorite store at the mall and, BAM! Suddenly you’ve got an overly-interested shopping partner perched on your shoulder, keen on parroting the qualifications for every discount and pointing out every new product.
The thing is, when you run your own business, you’ve got skin in the game. It’s personal! So as business owners, especially those fueled with heart (which defines the vast majority of us), we’re petrified over making that same uncomfortable impression on our potential clients and customers. But the reality is that our products and services can’t just sell themselves, so the question then becomes, how do we sell without being pushy?
The answer lies in your copy, and the motto is this: Use your words wisely.
Thanks to a little something called consumer psychology, we’ve been able to learn a lot about what inspires a person to invest in a product or service. And while your ideal client avatar may be different from mine, these insights offer brilliant tools and strategies for selling subliminally -- no matter who your ideal client is.
Strategy #1: Write Only for Your Ideal Client
You’ve likely heard it before, but I’ll say it again: Your number one job in business is to understand your ideal client like you understand your spouse or best friend. Being in tune with their wants, needs, pain points and personality enables you to speak their language. And speaking their language enables you to gain their trust, because you get them. You really, really get them. And when I say speak directly to your ideal client, I mean both figuratively and literally! You should be using words like ‘you’ and ‘your,’ because they’re trigger words that establish an emotional connection with the reader… and they’re also proven to yield better results.
Take another look at your site copy and work in these strategies:
Change the narrative and make sure that you’re talking to your visitors, rather than at them.
Identify with your ideal client by expressing an understanding of their wants and needs, which will remind them why they’ve visited your site in the first place (be careful not to be pedantic here).
Speak their language literally, too! Write in a tone of voice that resonates with them and captures their attention.
Strategy #2: Always Write Assumptively for Your Audience
If you’ve ever taken a class in sales, you might be familiar with the good old “assumptive close,” or the act of speaking to your prospective client in a way that “assumes” the sale has already been made. This is a tried-and-true method that still works wonders, and there are a few ways you can work it into your site copy without coming off like a used-car salesman.
Here are a few of my favorite strategies for writing assumptively:
Use the term “we” in reference to you and the potential client whenever possible. (i.e., “During your project, we’ll…” or “Need xyz? We’ll work together to…”)
Eliminate the word “if” from your vocabulary, and replace it with confident statements. Instead of saying “If you need…,” go with something like “You need xyz,” and then explain how, together, you can accomplish their goals. Find every instance of the word “if” in your site and email copy (as it pertains to your client) and see if you can figure out a way to reframe the statement more confidently.
Write like they’ve already hired you, using phrases like, “when we,” or “we will,” and so on. Not only will this establish a sense of camaraderie, but it’ll also drive the trust factor home.
Strategy #3: Ask Leading Questions in Your Site Copy
Leading questions are questions that lead the reader to the answer you’d like them to choose. So, with a prospective client or customer who lands on your site, your goal is to guide them down the path that leads them to hiring you. Right? By asking leading questions, you’re priming them to do just that!
There are two different ways to use leading questions to your advantage:
Positive leading questions: A positive leading question is one that encourages the reader to agree with your perspective. The idea is to tap into what you know about your ideal client’s needs and challenges, and to ask questions that inspire them to give you a mental ‘yes!’ (i.e., “Let me guess: You’re sick of juggling the 9 to 5, and desperate to take your side-hustle full-time. Right?”). By sneak leading questions like these into your site copy, you’re priming the reader to agree with you -- more than once. By the time you hit them with an ask, such as a call-to-action or an offer, saying ‘no’ will feel even more counterintuitive because they’ve just spent the last 5-10 minutes agreeing with you. Don’t you just love psychology?!
Negative leading questions: Conversely, a negative leading question is one that encourages the reader to give you a ‘no’ answer that is ultimately favorable to your offering. Let’s say, for example, that you’re a tax accountant. Examples of potential negative leading questions for you might be, “Stressing about taxes isn’t very fun, is it?” or “Looking forward to tax season?” Questions like these work in your favor by reiterating why the potential client visited your site in the first place: because deep down, they have a hunch that they need what you have to offer. It’s your job to remind them of that, every step of the way!
Strategy #4: Predict and Overcome Objections
Another one from the Sales 101 toolbox! Don’t wait until someone’s contacted you with questions to tackle their objections. Instead, nip them in the bud by predicting and overcoming objections through your site’s copy. Write down a list of reasons why your ideal client might feel apprehensive about hiring you or purchasing your product, and work them into your narrative. Your goal should be to refute as many objections as you can think of, as tactfully as you can, throughout your website’s written copy.
Here are a few subtle ways to approach objections:
Call them out directly with a leading question or a statement, and then refute the objection. For example, “I know what you’re thinking. I don’t even have a steady stream of clients yet. How can I justify investing in brand design services? But without clear, cohesive design and strategy, your brand will never align properly with your ideal client... [etc]... So my question to you is, how can you not?”
Address objections indirectly instead of mentioning them overtly. Continuing the example above, a brand designer might address financial objections by saying something along the lines of, “Brand design is an investment that pays for itself tenfold, because...”
Strategy #5: Frame Negative Statements Positively (A.K.A. Positive Reframing)
This strategy also focuses on ways to overcome objection, and is a good rule of thumb to follow for all facets of your business! Every time you find yourself writing or responding to a negative statement or objection, stop and ask yourself, “is there a way that this could be reframed positively?” Positive reframing techniques can be powerful tools both in negotiation and in daily communication with clients.
How to use positive reframing in your writing:
Shift the emphasis from differences to common ground, or from “negative” to “positive” light. Instead of focusing on the problem or negative perspectives a potential client might have, focus on the solution and the positive experience the client will have with you.
Rephrase the objection. Whether you’re predicting an objection by working it into your site copy or addressing an objection brought up by a potential client, rephrase it in a way that uses positive instead of negative verbiage.
Here’s an example of positive reframing in action:
“I don’t recommend partial website re-designs because they can make the final product look messy and disorganized.”
→ “I typically encourage my clients to invest in a full re-design because a clean slate ensures that your brand is represented cohesively across every touchpoint.”
See? By shifting the negative language to positive language, you’re still sending the same message, but you’re framing it in a positive light and reminding them why working with you (or purchasing their product) is a good idea.