August 6, 2020 | Sean Foo
Persuasive & informative ads aim to influence people to change their behaviour – usually to buy something.
Persuasive ads do so by focusing on emotional appeals, while informative ads do so by educating the audience with facts and figures – laying out a logical argument.
However, the best ads today blend elements of both to stand out from the flood of advertising flooding our world today!
To create such winning ads, we need to understand the basics of each first.
Persuasive ads rely on emotional appeals to get their message across.
They are the most common type of ad we see on billboards, social media, and many b2c landing pages.
Some effective techniques they use are:
Let’s dive deep into each of them!
FOMO is the most common technique used in persuasive ads.
It makes the offer feel scarce, so people would not want to miss it!
This is used in direct-response ads, which aims to drive immediate actions like sales or sign-ups.
Rue La La email shows how this is done.
To keep their subscribers engaged, Rue La La asks them if they want to continue receiving their emails.
Rue La La explicitly evokes FOMO by making subscribers fear missing out on their mails which could feature awesome deals, so subscribers choose to stay subscribed.
This allows the brand to have loyal subscribers and readers of their future advertising, allowing for higher and more consistent sales!
When people deal with topics they’re uncertain about, they defer to authorities.
These can be people with “Dr.”, “Ph. D” titles, industry experts or celebrities.
People defer to authorities as searching for information themselves would take too much time and energy – we are all lazy in some way!
BeachBody’s landing page shows how this is done.
To win the trust of the audience, BeachBody uses the authority of celebrity trainer Autumn Calabrese.
Having trained millions of people in nutrition and fitness, people are more likely to trust BeachBody with her around!
This makes the audience more compelled to sign up for BeachBody’s program with confidence.
People feel compelled to follow what others have done, it’s part of the herd mentality we all share.
After all, if it works for someone else, it will probably work for me – and that means less risk!
Social proof can come in all sorts of forms, like:
Take Monday.com’s landing page for instance.
To showcase the value of its platform, Monday.com shares testimonials from satisfied customers.
The testimonial shown here is specific in Monday.com’s benefits:
This appeals to B2B consumers who are also thinking of making their workflow smoother too!
This testimonial is also from a noteworthy authority – “Senior Director of Operations, Hubspot”.
This gives credibility and weight to the testimonial, so consumers are more likely to trust it!
Informational ads may use techniques of persuasive ads, but they focus more on facts and figures.
They aim to build trust in the audience by educating them!
To do so, the information they rely on needs to be:
So the audience can fact-check the information should they wish.
Let’s look at some awesome examples to draw inspiration from.
Companies may present themselves as better than their competitors by raising selective figures.
This gives consumers an easy comparison to make a choice!
(Though the choice favoured will naturally be the company’s own offering…)
Miller Lite’s tweet offers an example.
This tweet by Miller Lite shows how their beer is healthier than Bud Light’s.
Being cheeky in nature, the ad is meant to be a comeback at Bud Light’s making fun of their Super Bowl ad.
This nutritional information cannot be falsified – in fact, Food & Beverages (F&B) companies are required to release such information by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
So Miller Lite takes a clear win here when it comes to appealing to health-conscious consumers!
To let consumers know of their new product, a company may do a product launch – an informational one!
This attracts buzz and hype from the media, allowing the company to quickly gain sales momentum.
The article shares about what Front App does, and educates readers on how it will benefit them.
It does so by walking the audience through the experience of Front App, from set-up to daily use plus how they can collaborate with their colleagues on requests in real-time!
They lay down logical arguments and conclusions allowing readers to understand that by using Front App:
They no longer have to send flurries of emails back and forth to each other & just have to drag and drop the request to the relevant department (e.g. Sales, HR etc.) to start a
Sharing all these key information in the article is key to spur interest for readers to give it a try.
According to Front App’s blog, the TechCrunch article did bring them traffic:
This shows the potential effectiveness of informational product launches!
Now we know what each type looks like.
What role does each play?
Let’s say you decided to sell a new brand of toothbrush called Teeth Shine.
Informational ads build you “primary demand” – demand for toothbrushes in general.
They do so by educating your audience on the importance of brushing your teeth!
These ads may talk about how:
Plaque builds up between teeth (educational)
Tooth decay occurs, and how to prevent it (educational)
You may be toothless in your 60s if you don’t start now (emotional – pain)
Persuasive ads then build you “specific demand” – demand for Teeth Shine toothbrush only, instead of other toothbrushes in the market.
They do so by laying emotional appeals thick!
These ads may go like:
Teeth Shine brings you confidence! (emotional – pleasure)
Even Tony Robbins uses Teeth Shine! (emotional – authority)
Buy two to save 50%, before they’re gone! (emotional – FOMO)
Understanding this difference helps you decide when to use each.
Let’s look at more specific scenarios:
Both informative and persuasive advertising plays a role at each stage of the sales funnel…
…but whether you should lean more towards persuasive or informative depends on where your audience is at in the sales funnel.
The stages of the sales funnel are as follows:
Attention – Gaining the audience’s awareness
Interest – Piquing the audience’s curiosity to learn more
Desire – The audience feels that the offering is good, and starts to want it
Action – The audience may buy from you
Together, they form the AIDA formula for persuasion!
When people don’t know your offering, they want to be made aware of it and its benefits first.
Only after then, would they open their mind to your persuasion via emotional appeals!
This is why in the Attention and Interest stages, informative advertising plays a larger role…
…while in Desire and Action stages, persuasive advertising plays a larger role.
Take Sunkist’s orange juice for instance.
In the 1900s, the concept of “Orange Juice” didn’t exist.
People only ate oranges. They never drank oranges.
So when an adman Albert Lasker figured he wanted to sell more oranges by introducing the concept of orange juice…
He came up with this ad.
The ad describes how orange juice aids digestion for those who overeat, and is suitable for everyone – from babies to adults!
This was how the American public (and eventually the whole world) started drinking orange juice.
By learning towards informative advertising, Lasker created a whole new product that lasts even to this day.
Now, think of Coca-Cola.
Everybody knows Coca-Cola (or referred to as Coke).
Most have drunk a Coke in their life.
As people have already experienced (hence understood) Coke, all that Coca-Cola’s advertising needs to do is to invoke the experience of drinking Coke again.
There’s no need for Coca-Cola to let people try Coke again, or educate people on the benefits of drinking Coke (if there’s even any health benefits!)
This is why Coca-Cola leans more toward persuasive advertising.
The more complex your offering is, the more the audience needs to be educated on it first.
If you’re selling space rockets, no one would just blindly trust you with their money (and life)!
Interest needs to be nurtured through education – sharing about your offering benefits, backed by numbers, and why they work.
This way, you earn your audience’s trust first before you attempt to go for the sale.
Take SEMRush’s landing page for instance.
SEMRush is a marketing tool that helps users with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Given the nature of SEO, it would take SEMRush too long to explain its features to get prospects interested!
That’s why SEMRush presents hard numbers that matter to the audience instead:
All these help to convey to the audience about SEMRush’s effectiveness in a fast, easy-to-understand manner.
McDonald’s, however, needs little explanation.
Is there any more to learn about McDonald’s burgers?
That’s why McDonald’s ads can be simple.
$2 for a burger – as exemplified by two dollar-coins!
McDonald’s ad requires less educating as its offering is less complex.
B2B offerings tend to be more complex than B2C offerings.
For a single B2B offering, there can be tons of features to deal with, making it hard to make sense of!
This is why informational advertising is preferred to educate users on the B2B offering benefits.
Take Taskworld for instance.
Taskworld is a project management platform that helps teams collaborate on multiple projects.
It offers many features to help users do so. Like:
There are however competitors in the market like Trello, which offer similar services.
To help users make sense of (read: choose) Taskworld over other offerings, Taskworld lays a side-by-side features comparison with its main competitor Trello.
This informs users where Taskworld may be superior, hence consider choosing Taskworld!
B2C offerings, however, are much simpler.
Consumers need less educating, hence persuasive advertising may be preferred.
Take Panasonic’s nose hair trimmer billboard ad for example.
The billboard ad makes the audience’s problems clear – having long nose hair which is hard to trim.
The power lines used as nose hair emphasizes how cutting nose hair can give consumers a shock, as the nose hair may be sensitive!
This way, the audience can almost feel the pain of cutting nose hair – through persuasive advertising that targets emotions (with a pinch of humor).
The best ads combine elements of both persuasive and informative ads to boost their impact!
Having clear, valid information gives the audience substance to trust the ad with.
Adding emotional appeal pushes the audience to finally take action!
In fact, you can take these elements and apply them to your web pages and landing pages as well.
Ahrefs’s landing page shows a great example of how this is done.
Ahrefs blends both types of advertising here to push what most wouldn’t dare – a paid trial.
Most Saas (Software as a Service) companies would rather give a free 7-day trial instead!
Ahrefs does this through the powerful use of both data and social proof at the same time, by stating:
”+2,871 users joined us in the last 7 days”
Who could refute Ahrefs’ paid trial value with that?
Hard, specific data was provided – “2,871 users”.
The social proof is undeniable too – if so many others have done so, why not you?
This instantly builds trust, while reducing fear in the audience’s minds.
Not to mention these “users” are not just any hobbyist.
They comprise marketers from globally-recognized organizations – like Facebook, Adobe, LinkedIn, Netflix and Uber!
Through raising the big names that work with them, Ahrefs uses authority to build its emotional appeal.
Not to mention Ahrefs provides further informational resources for users should they want to learn more too.
They use persuasive + informational copywriting here to hook the reader into finding out more about their free resources – putting the reader’s education front and center rather than blatantly pushing for a sale.
As one scrolls down the page, a few starting guides are made available.
These guides range from SEO guides to keyword research and back-linking tactics.
This is how Ahrefs blends elements of persuasive and informational advertising together to form a potent mix.
Knowing the difference between persuasive and informative ads now will help you choose the right one for your business.
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