Writing Persuasive Web Content

5 Strategies For Writing Persuasive Web Content

Not every business has the international renown and fame of Apple. We’d love for people to line up to buy our products on launch day. But the reality is we need to work hard to attract attention to our products and services.

While Apple may be a vastly successful company with great products, during the past decade Apple has engaged and enchanted us with their persuasive web content. We think that this persuasive copy can be broken down into 5 key elements. These key elements will work for any product…

1 Write for scanners and skimmers

How do web visitors read content? …They usually don’t.

Websites are glanced at, skimmed, scanned, not read.

Research by Jakob Nielsen shows that only 16% of test users read web copy word-by-word and 79% of test users scan a page by picking out individual words and sentences.

It’s easy to write for scanners:

    • Use headlines in large fonts to highlight one big idea
    • Entice scanners with sub headlines before every two or three paragraphs, or even before each paragraph. Make scanners curious.
    • Follow the principle of the inverted pyramid. Start a paragraph with your most important point, followed by less important points. The least important points should be last. So, when scanners read only the first sentences of your paragraphs, they still will get your key points.


Can you see how Apple uses these strategies in the following graphic?
The inverted pyramid rule applies to the order of sentences in a paragraph and to the order of the paragraphs – put your most important paragraph first.

  • The fourth rule for scanners is to write fascinating bullet points. Steve Jobs NEVER used bullet points in his presentations, and it seems his ideas prevent Apple copywriters from using bullet points on web pages, too.

Quick Tips

Don’t waste your visitors’ time. Make your headlines clear. Entice them with provoking sub headings. Provided you are not afraid of Steve Jobs’ ghost, use easy-to-scan bullet points.

2 Write for readers too!

Engaging sub headings convert scanners into readers. Keep your readers reading!

  • Short paragraphs. Feel free to use one-sentence paragraphs occasionally.
  • Short sentences. Short sentences create impact.
  • Simple words. Use words that are short and easy to understand.

Be simple, effective and clear. Save difficult and technical words to impress your reader with detailed and specific product information. Technical details boost your credibility.

As copywriter Joe Sugarman suggests:
“Providing a technical explanation that a reader may not understand shows that we really did our research, and if we say it’s good, it must be good. It builds confidence in the buyer that he or she is indeed dealing with an expert.”

Quick Tips

Use short paragraphs, short sentences, and simple words (unless you’re presenting a technical explanation).

3 Use design to create interest

Reading is more than just the words.

Web design and content strengthen each other. Both impact readability. Both impact the perception of who you are. Both can make your products more desirable.

Several design techniques can be used to create interest and encourage visitors to continue reading:

  • Use whitespace to make content stand out. It prevents the reader from feeling overwhelmed and encourages reading.
  • Alternate images and text – from left to right and from right to left – to create interest. Readers can be lulled to sleep by one long column of text, so break it up!
  • Highlight calls-to-action in a different colour. Apple consistently uses blue for calls-to-action and adds a small blue arrow, too.
  • Use larger font sizes to draw attention to specific product details. The Apple team likes to highlight numbers to add credibility.

Quick Tips
Copywriters and web designers should work closely together. Writing and designing a web page is a collaborative process.

4 High-Converting Copy

Once you have enticed scanners to become readers; You need to entice readers to take action.

    • Use hypnotic words like ‘you’, ‘because’, and ‘imagine’. These words are persuasive because they bypass the critical mind of the reader


    • Overcome objections. If you’d like your readers to buy your products, you need to overcome any reasons they might have to NOT want to buy. Preemptively thwart concerns the buyer might have.
    • Provide proof. When possible, let others brag on your behalf. Even the mighty Apple shows off their awards to enhance credibility. User testimonials are great for this!

Respect the stage of the buying process your visitor is in. He or she may not be ready to buy. For buyers, Apple suggests going to a store or online. But for those not ready to buy, Apple suggests they either compare various models or telephone to ask questions.

Quick Tips

Help buyers justify their purchase with rational arguments, overcome objections and provide proof.

5 Treat each page like a landing page

Your page pages should talk to your readers, engage them and lead them on a linear journey. Don’t distract readers with superfluous information. Your web visitors will all consider the same two things: does your website offer what they’re looking for, and will they find it easily?

With clearly defined page topics and optimised content it is highly likely that a visitor will end up in the middle of your site from a Google search, which is why each web page requires a headline to create interest and quickly tell a reader what you have to offer, a value proposition, and a call-to-action.

Quick Tips

Treat each web page like an advertisement. Get your message across quickly and draw in web visitors to read on. Always include a call-to-action.

The secret

Creating engaging web content isn’t easy. It often takes a lot more than following a few simple formulas. Creating persuasive web content isn’t just about choosing the right words, selecting a readable font, and having nice product pictures.

Combine elegant words and powerful visuals to dazzle your audience. Create desire by appealing to both emotion and logic. Design an experience for your web visitors. Capture your target audience. Turn skimmers into readers and turn your readers into customers.

If you would like to find out more about how your company could benefit from our experienced writing staff, we are always available to connect with you here.