13 Persuasive Business Writing Techniques That Drive Action

July 26, 2020 | Sean Foo

Want more people to say “Yes!” to you?

We all do!

More “Yes!” gets you results in business – sales, partnerships, investments.

More “Yes!” brings you closer to your dreams – nice houses, travel, having the freedom to spend time with your family etc.!

The only question is… how do you make it happen?

Whether you are running a blog, writing landing pages or crafting an investor email, your aim is to persuade people.

The better you align your offer to their interests, the closer you get to results and your dreams!

Doing this is a matter of applying the right persuasive techniques in your message. Techniques that anyone can apply immediately.

Here are 13 persuasive writing techniques to help you drive action, and get what you want.


1. Use Specific, Benefit-Driven Headlines

Everyone is busy.

Your prospects, potential partners and investors all have a hundred-and-one things occupying their mind.

To catch their attention, you need to make your headlines glaring – short, to-the-point on what’s in it for them.

So they’ll go, “Hmm… this might be worth my time!”

According to the grandfather of advertising and copywriting, David Ogilvy,

“When you have written your headlines, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

While these figures might not be exact, the importance of clear headlines cannot be understated still.

Beach Body’s landing page gives a clear example of how headlines should be written.

Beach Body’s headline and sub-texts give readers clear, specific expectations about results they can get and time needed.

The headline gives readers a clear timeline of 21 days to expect results.

It tells readers what results they can get – losing up to 15 pounds in the time frame they give!

If you’ve been plagued by stubborn flab, and someone told you a sure-fire way to burn them away, how would you feel?

At the very least, you’ll be compelled to hear him out!

If so, the headline would have achieved its purpose – to catch your attention and get you to read the message.

Want to write clear, specific headlines that catch attention?

Here are 27 tried-and-tested headline formulae you can use for articles and ads!


2. Tease with the First Sentence

After your headlines have caught your audience’s attention, the first thing they read is…

…your first sentence! (Duh…)

But what’s the purpose of your first sentence?

To get your audience…

…to read the next!

And your second sentence gets them to read the third.

And so on.

According to legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman, your aim is to get readers down a slippery slope from your first sentence to your offer.

You want your audience to read the first sentence. 

And then the next.

Until they can’t help but read finish your entire message!

This allows the big guns in your message to strike them hard, so they feel compelled to take action.

Intentional Blog’s landing page shows how this is done.

Intentional Blog’s first sentence catches readers’ attention, leaving them curious.

The first sentence,

“You’ve waited too long to do this.”

Is precise enough to nail the audience’s sentiments, while short enough to keep it interesting.

It leaves the readers half-agreeing while wondering why it might be true!

This makes them read the next line, which describes their concerns and what holds them back.

Which makes them read the next line for answers.

And so on.

Until they end up clicking the “Sign Me Up” button. 

Or they continue reading the rest of the message, until they feel compelled enough to click on another “Sign Me Up” button placed along the way!


3. Start with a Small Premise

When you start off with a big, hairy idea (e.g. “Your phone is going to blow up.”), your readers may hesitate to agree.

When you start small however (e.g. “We tend to leave our phones charging for a long time.”), your readers will accept your idea more easily!

Getting the readers to accept a smaller, starting idea helps you build bigger and bigger ideas for them to agree to.

“We tend to leave our phones charging for a long time.”

“We may end up overcharging our phones.”

“The phone’s battery may bloat from overcharging.”

“If the battery bloats too much, it may explode.”

“Your phone is going to blow up.”

This allows you to help them realize problems they were unaware of, or the need to find solutions…

…which is where your offer can come in!


4. Ask Questions to Provoke Engagement

When your audience opens your message, they may just glaze over the words placidly.

So even if they read to the end, nothing gets through. They may just pass on your Call-To-Action, defeating the purpose of your message.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this before, reading articles while you’re tired… right?

Throwing in a question stops them in their tracks, and forces them to think – even for a split-second.

This split-second is enough to pull back their focused attention, so they engage with your message!

Neil Patel provides an example with his article.

Neil Patel’s article uses questions to engage readers.

He starts off with a question.

“Do you struggle to bring people to your website?”

This makes readers think, and relate to the feeling he wants to evoke.

A few lines down, he throws another question.

“So, what’s the secret to server-crushing traffic?”

This makes readers try to figure it out, and get curious along the way.

Which leads the reader to engage with the rest of the article!


5. Empathize with the Reader’s Pain

It hurts to send out tons of emails, and get not a single reply.

Doesn’t it?

Ever wondered what’s that missing gap that leaves you hanging?

Sometimes, it’s empathy.

Readers want to know you understand their pain before they listen to you!

This means describing their experiences with gut-wrenching details, almost making them live through the pain again…

…to show you “get” them.

Stop Fighting Food’s landing page does this painfully well.

Stop Fighting Food’s landing page describes the audience’s pain with excruciating details.

Ever wondered how it’s like to struggle with an eating disorder?

To some, it can feel like they’re losing control of their lives.

They gain weight, lose themselves to their impulses… to the point of fearing food. 

Which this page describes the experiences painful enough for the audience to relate.

This lights up the audience’s minds, and make them feel,

“Ahh…! This person knows her stuff!”

Making them trust the page, and continue reading to find out more!

Want to “get” your readers, down to the excruciating details?

Reddit is a goldmine for finding out how people feel.

Simply type in your niche, and browse the threads and comments!

Reddit is a goldmine where strangers pour their deepest sentiments freely.

Map out what you find in an empathy map, and you’ll be good to go!


6. Relate with Stories

You’ve probably heard many times the power of storytelling, and how they can move people.

Well, it’s true.

Stories make anything more relatable instantly!

Take Productize’s landing page for instance.

Brian Casel shares his story to relate to and build a relationship with his audience.

Productize’s founder Brian Casel shares his story to relate to his audience.

By showing that he has experienced what his audience is going through, he shows that he understands them.

By sharing how he managed to transform his service-based business into a product-based one, he also gives his audience hope that they can do it too!

This motivates his audience to enrol in his course to learn how.

Want to tell a powerful story? Here’s a guide to help you do so.


7. Use Simple, Concise Language

Simple, everyday words help readers digest your message easily.

This helps them slide down your message, like pudding sliding down your throat to your tummy! (Ahh…)

Complicated terms, however, confuses readers.

They are hard to swallow, like fish meat with lots of tiny, spiny bones! (Urgh.)

Wix’s landing page shows how to make great use of simple language.

Wix’s landing page uses minimal, simple words to express the ease at which users can create their own Wix site.

Wix’s landing page is pure elegance.

It uses minimal, simple words to describe each feature.

Accompanied by pleasing fantasy-themed graphics, this makes scrolling through it a smooth experience…

…which is exactly how they want to convey the ease of creating a Wix site!


8. It’s OK to Use (Relevant) Jargons & Details

Yes, you don’t always have to remove all jargon from your messages!

Appropriate use of jargons helps to show you’re part of the readers’ “in-group”, and an authority figure even.

This is especially so for more technical audiences, like software programmers, engineers, accountants, and doctors.

Check out Ahrefs’ landing page for SEO professionals, for instance.

Ahrefs uses occasional jargons to connect to their technical audience.

Not every term used here is meant for the layman.

Terms such as “Site Audit” can seem foreign to SEO industry outsiders, but are bread-and-butter terms for SEO practitioners.

These terms show Ahrefs know their stuff and will help SEO practitioners get results!

Notice how these terms are sparse in the copy though. 

Jargons and complex terms are great for signalling to readers that you understand them. 

However, their use still needs to be strategic and not abused.


9. Paint Pictures of Alternative Future Scenarios

When you’ve described all the benefits, it’s time to make them real in your audience’s minds.

Describing their future with your offer in vivid details helps them feel as though they are already experiencing the benefits…

…such that rejecting your offer would feel like they’re losing something they already own!

According to psychologists Kahneman & Tversky, people feel twice the pain of losing, than the pleasure of gaining something. 

This is called “loss aversion”.

By painting your audience’s future with your offer, you trigger their “loss aversion”.

This makes them feel pain if they don’t accept your offer!

AWAI’s lengthy sales page offers a brilliant example of how this is done.

AWAI’s sales letter helps readers experience the freedom they can get should they buy AWAI’s copywriting course.

AWAI’s sales letter targets people who want to be copywriters.

It does so by painting a picture of “the writer’s life”…

…of escaping the 9-5 monotony, and having the freedom to live however they like!

Doesn’t that appeal to you too?

To amplify your audience’s pain, consider painting a bleak alternative future too should they feel like rejecting your offer.

Of how their lives would be the painful same. 

Where they face the same problems repeatedly, and how unbearable it might be!

By doing so, you place your audience on a crossroad – one where accepting your offer brings great relief while rejecting it brings persistent pain.

Which do you think your audience will choose?


10. Incorporate Facts and Figures

As you rile up your audience though, be sure to back your claims up with facts and figures.

People are smart. They don’t like being taken for a ride – where you provoke their insecurities, yet provide no credibility… 

…making them feel they’re being played with!

People want a promise of certainty, after being made to feel vulnerable.

Invescpro’s home page backs their claim of being “better” by throwing in hard numbers.

Invescpro’s home page showcases hard figures to show they’re “better”.

Invescpro’s home page showcases their number of delighted clients and industry success rate – facts that none can dispute.

These figures impress on the audience that Invescpro is indeed “better” than the competition.

They also reassure the audience that Invescpro does indeed live up to their words, instead of being another baloney blower!


11. Bring Up & Address All Potential Objections

Every time you make a claim, people’s instinct would be to question it. (e.g. “Huh, really?”)

When it comes to money, people will naturally be defensive. They are scared of making a bad decision.

And their minds would come up with all sorts of reasons to reject your offer!

“What if this is not for me?”

“What if I don’t like it?”

With all these doubts nagging in their minds, they won’t hear (or digest) a word you say.

The only way to quieten them down is to answer these doubts one-by-one!

Zoma Sleep’s landing page does this by having a separate section for FAQs.

Their landing page includes a FAQ section to address potential objections.

Spending over $300+ online can be an intimidating experience.

To address the audience’s fears, Zoma Sleep’s landing page answers their potential questions one-by-one.

This eases their fears, so they’re more open to considering buying from Zoma Sleep!

Another great thing about bringing objections up is that it builds trust.

Shoelace brings up their drop-in results to investors in their update email.

By bringing up and addressing concerns first, Shoelace showcases that they have nothing to hide.

This saves them time answering further questions from investors.

It also ensures that the investors will trust them and stick by, even if rocky times are to come!


12. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

If you’re writing to inspire and drive action, you need to pound in key points into your readers’ minds throughout your message that include:

  • The key benefits of your solution
  • The challenges or problems facing your reader
  • Social proof (evidence of why you or your business or idea is credible)
  • The opportunity at hand

So how do you do that?

By repeating them over… and over… and over!

Use facts and figures.

Anecdotes, quotes… anything!

People won’t remember things unless they’re repeated at least thrice.

The first time, to make an impression.

A second time, to make the idea more concrete.

The third time onwards, to nail the idea in!

Once your audience has grown familiar with your points, they will naturally feel compelled to take up your offer.

Wordstream’s article shows how you can do this.

Wordstream’s article nails the importance of intent through repetition.

To emphasize the importance of keyword intent for content marketing (why people search for a given keyword), the article mentions “intent” not once…

Not twice…

But thrice in a row!

By sharing 3 same bullet points instead of different ones, the article flips readers’ expectations on their heads too.

This serves to further emphasise the importance of “intent”!


13. Provide Social Proof

You’ve given all the logical reasons & emotional appeals.

You just need one final push.

Social proof can do the trick for you!

People are compelled to do something if others have done so before.

Basecamp’s landing page uses exactly this.

Basecamp’s landing page showcases testimonials from satisfied clients, to present themselves as a safer, tested choice for the audience.

To reassure the audience that Basecamp will help ease their workflow, Basecamp’s landing page cites the many satisfied customers they have.

The page shares testimonials showing the customers’ real names, profile, and the specific benefits each got from the software.

This makes the audience feel Basecamp is a safer choice, as others have tried it already!

Starting from scratch and don’t have much credibility to start with?

You’re in luck!

Here’s a guide to building your authority and credibility online from ground zero.


Adding the Perfect Final Touch

No persuasive message is complete without impeccable grammar, tone of voice, and spelling.

These 3 hallmarks of clear writing lend credibility in your message and signal respect for your readers.

To do so, you may write your message over and over again.

Your first draft will likely be imperfect – that’s okay!

Editing your draft will allow you to consider where to strengthen your claims, or cut excess words away.

Even after rounds of editing, your message may still not drive results yet. 

But by consistently applying these persuasive writing techniques, you will eventually get there!

You might just be one well-written message away from your dreams!

psst! want more powerful tactics to supercharge your writing?

Here are 6 forbidden techniques to use with caution (just don’t let it backfire!).

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