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6 Universal Copy Principles that Guide Someone to Yes

Megan Martin


Website copy isn’t the same as other types of writing. It isn’t meant to simply entertain or inform. Website copy is all about conversion. A quick Google search brings up the definition of conversion:

con·ver·sion /kənˈvərZHən/ noun

  1. The process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another.

Website copy is meant to cause a change in your customer. The change from a state of not knowing who you are, what you do, who you serve, how you do it, and if what you offer is right for them.

The change is in the yes. Booking you. Buying from you. Completing whatever mission your website exists to get them to complete.

There’s a lot that goes into getting to someone to yes with your website words to connect with your ideal customer, compel them to keep reading and moving through the customer journey, and convert on your goals.

This post isn’t a one-stop guide to website copy. What we’re gonna cover today is about the extra little triggers you can employ throughout the pages of your website to support and boost your conversions.

6 universal conversion copy principles that guide someone to yes that you can use right on your website from Dr. Cialdini - Influence the Psychology of Persuasion

The Psychology of Persuasion

If you read, Influence the Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, you’ll learn about the 6 universal principles that guide someone to a yes. (And you’ll quickly start spotting them from a mile away!)

The book is fascinating and you should really read the whole thing, but to introduce you to the concepts within, let’s take a look at these 6 triggers you can employ in your website copy to get your potential customer to yes:

6 copy triggers to get to yes

01. reciprocity

In a nutshell, reciprocity means if someone does something nice for you, you are very likely to want to return the favor. While I don’t think every kind gesture in business is a sales ploy, you definitely see reciprocity played out frequently. Ever see a biz owner give hundreds of Starbucks free dollars away right before a big launch? Whether or not it was intentional, this is a form of reciprocity. Humans are hardwired to be more inclined to say yes when someone has done something for them!

Freebie opt-ins and Resource Pages are prime examples of Reciprocity in use on your website.

02. Commitment and Consistency

This one has a lot to do with how humans view themselves. People often seek to make their outward actions in line with their inner values and beliefs.

It’s why when you make a promise, you feel urged to fulfill it. It’s also why when you’re in a webinar and the speaker keeps asking little questions like, “Are you tracking with me so far?” or “Do you agree with that?” and then they prompt you to “Say yes in the comments if so!”

Those yesses? They are tiny little commitments. They establish a level of consistency in belief and liking with the presenter and the content they are sharing. Every time you give a “Heck Yes!” you are making a public statement of your inner mental beliefs which are very powerful influencers for that inevitable pitch at the end!

Call to action buttons with strong personal active language like “Yes, Sign Me Up!” puts commitment and consistency to use right on your website!

03. social proof

Simply put, humans naturally replicate the behaviors of others. See that gal you follow on Instagram wearing the perfect polka dotted off-the-shoulder top and then you go buy it? That’s social proof at work.

Testimonials are also powerful forms of social proof for your website. They work even better if your customer can see an actual picture of the person sharing all that praise. They work best when positioned right before an ask (aka that “Buy Now!” button!)!

04. authority

People are much more likely to trust someone with authority. Someone with a platform. Someone with big numbers to flash.

That’s why no matter how hard we try not to judge someone based off their Insta follower count, we still get that tiny inkling that she must be good at her job if she has that coveted k behind her number. It is just human nature! That’s why celebs are always slingin’ those sponsored deals… they are a big deal and when social proof and authority combine… practically everyone jumps!

Sharing the numbers like how many clients you’ve served or how many subscribers you have on your list displays authority right on your website.

05. liking

You’ve heard this beforePeople buy from people they like, know, and trust. That’s why we take the time, care, and attention that we do during the awareness and interest phases of the customer journey! And it is why branding and messaging are paramount to the success of your business.

06. scarcity

The more limited a product or offering is, the more enticing it is! Scarcity is one of the most powerful forms of influence. Just look at Black Friday! Those limited-time sales drag shoppers out in the middle of Thanksgiving to wait in lines by the droves!

Countdown timers are huge visual conversion boosters when there is urgency or scarcity along with the offer you are selling.

While I think a combination of these principles are at work throughout the entire website journey, they get kicked into high gear at decision-making time.

Many times people need a little extra nudge to get to the purchase. A high-authority testimonial or mention that the product will only be sold to a limited number of people or only on sale for a limited time can be the extra bit of oomph your customer needs to purchase.

Just be careful to only employ these triggers for good. I know you wouldn’t try to swindle someone, but it needs to be said! No one likes to feel taken advantage of and sadly these triggers can be used in unethical ways. Dr. Chialdini’s whole book is actually written to help you spot these triggers so you won’t get taken advantage of.

This psychology nerdy girl loved every page!

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