Should Your Website’s Copywriting be Informative or Persuasive?

“For six months I read all the car ads in search of information. All I found was fatuous slogans and flatulent generalities…If their engineering was as incompetent as their advertising, their cars would not run ten miles without a breakdown.” – David Ogilvy

With magazines and TV struggling to cope with haemorrhaging ad revenue (and competition from the internet), it’s easy to get sucked into thinking that persuasive copy isn’t what people want to read.

Today’s consumer is more cynical of sales messages than ever, and can get annoyed when their attention is wasted on content that has nothing of value to offer.

So does the approach of your website’s copywriting need to adjust accordingly?

Should your content focus on hard facts, product info and objectively written cases studies?

Or does persuasive copy, with its slogans and emotion driving power words, still have a role to play?

Facebook and the rejection of advertising

For years Facebook has been struggling to work out how to monetise itself, and to pluck dollars from its millions of members. But how do you extract money from an audience that hates sales messages and thinks the entertainment should be free?

Facebook’s failure to generate revenue from its ads, despite its massive user base, reflects how people ignore, reject and refuse to respond to blatant sales messages online.

People use the web for information, not advertising, and like having control over what they want to consume. So, an effective way of engaging people with your website is to feed this hunger for informative, useful content.

The benefits of informative copywriting

Publishing useful, informative content on your website offers numerous benefits:

  • Improves your search engine ranking for your keyword phrases
  • Increases traffic
  • Keeps visitors engaged with your business for longer
  • Assists your prospect’s buying decisions
  • Positions yourself as a knowledge leader
  • Builds trust and confidence in your expertise

With so many benefits to choose from, informative copywriting can indeed be effective at converting browsers into buyers (even if we don’t have a quantifiable ROI for it yet).

So, does emotion driven persuasive copywriting still have a role to play? Or will the whiff of a sales message have visitors running for the door?

Why people buy

It’s easy to jump on the anti-advertising bandwagon and think that all people really want to know is the nuts and bolts of what something does and why they should buy. But the fact is  people still make buying decisions based on the same impulses they always have: emotions.

Along with useful info, your website needs to satisfy your prospects’ emotional needs, with a persuasive pitch weaved amongst your website’s words.

Now, this doesn’t mean using hype, exaggeration and fakery to seduce prospects into falling in love with your brand – people hate it when they think they’re being sold a lie.

Instead, your copy should present a clear, logical argument which states the reasons why people should buy your product or service backed up with emotionally charged imagery of what their life would be like if they click ‘buy’.

The strategy of combining useful, informative content with a persuasive pitch is already used by legions of eBook and digital product sellers. Whilst I can’t promise that using these tactics will make you an internet millionaire (although plenty would), combining logic and emotion is a potent mix for turning clicks into sales.

So, should your website’s copywriting be informative or persuasive? The answer is both.

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6 thoughts on “Should Your Website’s Copywriting be Informative or Persuasive?

  1. “Facebook ads,” so annoying and always the same products I am not interested in at all.

    Anyway, to answer your question. Copy should be both. Informative and Persuasive. As I see you come to the exact same conclusion.

    In most cases you don’t have much space so all you can do is to persuade a reader to come to the next, longer piece of copy, and ultimately you present your long sales letter.

    Direct response copywriters have certainly mastered that skill. I agree with you that the long sales letter is not dead.

    John W. Furst

  2. Matt,

    I am enjoying going through some of your past posts. They’re excellent. I take it you’re familiar with Gary Bencivenga’s material as you seem to be right on the button. He too is a great advocate of making your collateral so interesting that people won’t want to throw it away.


  3. Thanks Robert. That’s high praise indeed coming from somebody with your experience.


  4. It all gives me great confidence in you, Matt.

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