Copywriting not using this word? You’re missing some serious persuasion power

Persuasion power up this word packs a punch.

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My two-year-old is upping her game on persuasion, and she recently hit upon one of the most persuasive words a copywriter can use to encourage action.


Now, coming from my two-year-old, persuasion sounds something like this:

I want another cracker because I want another cracker.
I want to watch TV because I want to watch TV.

Not very subtle, right? But studies have shown that the reason given actually doesn’t matter as much as the act of giving a reason.

Let me explain.

In the late 1970s, psychologists Langer, Chanowitz and Blank (of the Graduate Center, The City University of New York) ran a language experiment. It centred on a humble photocopier. Simply put, participants in the experiment interrupted someone about to start photocopying, asking to cut in the queue. The results measured how effective different ways of asking were.

There were three approaches:

  1. Request only. “Excuse me, I have 5 (or 20) pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
  2. Placebic information. “Excuse me, I have 5 (or 20) pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?”
  3. Real information. “Excuse me, I have 5 (or 20) pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

When the participants asked to cut in the queue without giving a reason, 60% were allowed to do so. When they explained why they wanted to cut in line, the conversion rate shot up to over 90%.

A quote from the study explains, “If a reason was presented to the subject, he or she was more likely to comply than if no reason was presented, even if the reason conveyed no information. Once compliance with the request required a modicum of effort on the subject’s part, thoughtful responding seemed to take the place of mindlessness, and the reason now seemed to matter. Under these circumstances, subjects were more likely to comply with the request based on the adequacy of the reason presented.”

So a mindless reason only works when the action requires limited effort, such as letting someone make 5 copies but not 20 (which is why Miss 2 often gets another cracker). But when the effort is great, the reason has to be great too.

In either case, the linking word “because” is a persuasion-bomb.

Let’s look at some examples that go beyond the world of a two-year-old.

Order now because we offer same-day shipping on orders before 2pm!

Come and see us in-store because we’re giving away FREE signed copies of the Sanity Saving Guide to Raising Exceptional Toddlers, while stocks last.

And not just for inciting some action. You can use this technique to reinforce the importance of your statement.

These copywriting techniques are essential because they remind you to focus on your reader.

But wait; there’s more!

You can also use explanations to offset negatives by explaining why something doesn’t happen.

Orders cannot be cancelled.
Orders cannot be cancelled because we use express same-day shipping…and they’ve already been sent!

A 25% surcharge is added for urgent projects.
A 25% surcharge is added for urgent projects because we have to bump other projects to complete yours. And that means overtime.

Ahhhh the power of because!

Hopefully you can see how much this word can achieve in your copywriting.

If you find yourself needing to persuade your reader—and as copywriters, that’s our brief—give them a reason to say yes!

The Copy Detective

This is just one of the many persuasive writing techniques I cover in my Copywriting Master Class copywriting course. If you’d like to find out more and be part of the next exclusively small group of students, check it out here.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Belinda, for this awesome article. I thought copywriting is just editing, and making sentences short by removing fluffy content.
    A small reason can change the whole perspective of the reader. When I write, I use “because” whenever I needed to provide an explanation or reason. But I never did for the reason of encouraging someone. This post totally changed the way I’ll write in future. Oh!, I suddenly understand, why giving reason changes the behaviour of other person.
    Thank you again Belinda for the word “Because”.

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