June 26, 2013 Jaclyn Bickerton
It can be a real challenge to create compelling content and copy, but having an organized structure to follow can make all the difference. Without structural guidelines, you end up leaving out necessary information to your case or promotion. There are many popular writing structures out there. There’s the inverted pyramid, a journalistic approach in which you lead with the most important point, but this allows your reader to stop halfway through and miss your call to action. There’s also the AIDA structure (attention, interest, desire, action) which dates back to the early days of mass media advertising. While AIDA is useful, it leaves some with too little understanding of what each component is intended to include.
Persuasion requires a different structure. This structure was brought to my attention by an article on getresponse.com “The 4 Ps of Persuasive Email Copywriting” written by Jack Price. This structure consists of promise, picture, proof, and push instead of the elements of attention, interest, desire, and action in AIDA. The 4 Ps provide more expansive elements then AIDA, which makes it a favorite of many top copywriters and also why I felt the need to share. So let’s take a look at what each of the 4 elements requires you to deliver to the reader:
To get the reader’s attention, think of something they want and promise it to them. Finding out what your readers want comes down to knowing your audience. You must be clear on who you’re trying to reach and do some research to find out what interests them. Then make your promise, but remember that you have to keep that promise.
The goal here is to get the reader to create a mental image of what you describe. Don’t just use descriptions of “excellent service or beautiful assortment” as these words don’t convey a vivid image. Instead, describe specific details that make your assortment beautiful, or give tangible examples of your excellent service. The more specific your description is, the easier it is for the reader to picture it.
In this part of your copy you’ve got to back up your claims with supporting proof. Studies, graphs, charts, statistics, testimonials, and a demonstration that the features of your product deliver the benefits you’ve promised are all part of your proof section. While your relationship with the reader hopefully carries trust and authority, asking people to accept your statements without supporting evidence is an easy way for your writing to fail.
This element is more than just a call to action. It’s where you connect the dots for your reader so that your big idea makes as much sense to the reader as it does to you. During the push stage, you must tie the beneficial promise and the vivid picture to solid acceptance and concrete action. Be absolutely specific about what the reader should do next. So how do you ask for the sale? A great technique is to provide dual conversion paths:
– Provide a “Buy Now” button for those who are ready to go.
– Place “hesitation text” underneath the button for those who aren’t quite ready to buy.
This hesitation text may consist of a link to download a fact sheet, an invitation to call for further info, or an email sign up form to receive additional info via email. This text will give you one more opportunity to persuade the reader.
Persuasion is all about understanding, as understanding leads to acceptance when the product is relevant and the idea is sound and well-targeted. You can’t assume that people will understand it on their own – you’ve got to educate your readers and cut through the clutter. Be warned though, even with the right structure, your copy can fail to persuade. You need a great list and a great offer for the copy to close the deal.
Jaclyn Bickerton, Social Media, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville & Toronto, Ontario, June 2013