NEW! Listen to the article
Persuasion is both art and science.
There are many data-driven strategies for successfully creating persuasive communication. It’s science. Likewise, there are just as many techniques for conveying the words, ideas, and data that persuasion often requires. Knowing and mastering these techniques is art. And, like science, art can be learned.
So today I want to share five key characteristics of persuasive blog posts and a single five paragraph template to create your own persuasive blog posts.
Five characteristics of persuasive blog posts
There are countless books and articles on how to write more persuasively, but I’m going to share the features I’ve found most effective based on 30 years (ouch, I’m old) of persuading people. using blog posts and other content marketing tools.
The most compelling blog posts are…
1. Based on logic
Far too often, we let our emotions color our style. Passion is great, but in written communications, passion often obscures, hides and replaces the facts. To convince the skeptic, strip your posts of emotional language and pleas entirely.
2. Data Driven
Writers fall back on emotional language because they lack meaningful data to back up their position. Sometimes the data does not exist. But more often than not, the lack of data is because the author is too lazy to do the work to find the necessary supporting data.
The truth is that it’s much harder to argue with data than with opinion, so find the most compelling data and include it in your posts.
3. Proven, not told
In a great scene from some good men, Tom Cruise’s character tells Demi Moore’s character, “It doesn’t matter what I think, only what I can prove.”
Never were truer words spoken. When trying to persuade the “other side” to share your point of view, build your case using logic, facts and evidence served as bread crumbs. You want the reader to follow the breadcrumb trail down a logical trail that you think will lead reasonably intelligent and logical people to your desired point of view.
We live in an ADD world. While I disagree that human attention spans have shortened, I categorically believe that human attention spans are paramount. Don’t force your reader to browse War and peace. Make your point, do it well, and move on.
5. No lines drawn in the sand
At some point, your blog post will venture into the land of opinion: the viewpoint you champion and encourage your reader to take. If possible, don’t state it as a black and white decision. Instead, give the reader permission to acknowledge the point without having to agree or disagree.
Soften the landing with phrases like “the data seems to help you do X” or “research suggests doing Y leads to positive results.” Softening words, such as “seems” and “suggests,” give readers permission to draw their own conclusions instead of having to grudgingly accept yours.
It may seem like nothing, but this small change can often be the difference between successful and unsuccessful persuasion efforts.
Did you see what I just did there?
A template for writing persuasive blog posts
Now that we’ve hopefully agreed on the characteristics of a persuasive blog post, let’s get to writing them, faster and more efficiently.
Whenever I’m looking to speed up a creative process, I look for role models. I’m a big fan of templates because they help clarify your thinking and focus your writing by keeping you on point and reducing or eliminating the tangential rants that often end up in persuasive writing.
In my 30-year career, I’ve had to write a lot of persuasive content: letters, memos, sales presentations, white papers, and, of course, blog posts. While this template is designed for writing better, more persuasive blog posts, it also works extremely well for creating all of those other forms of persuasion.
Although this model is not perfect, it works for me and hopefully for you.
1. Don’t bury the lead
In the first paragraph, summarize what you are going to tell the reader. Explain the current condition or problem you are trying to change. In broad strokes, define the change you seek. Then, offer a vision for the future if the reader adopts your point of view.
If readers are already inclined to agree with you, your job is pretty much done. But if they’re not so inclined, you’ll have to work a little harder. So let’s get to designing the actual persuasion part of your blog post.
2. State your case in one line or a short paragraph
Tell them what you want them to believe. Do not cover. Use simple, clear language with no vague words or phrases.
3. Use three paragraphs to present three arguments
Why only three paragraphs? Because, believe it or not, there is real science supporting the Theory of Threes with compelling arguments.
Use the first sentence of each paragraph to make a persuasive argument. Use 2-4 additional sentences to provide relevant supporting points or data that you can link or reiterate. And, yes, ideally include three pieces of supporting data for maximum effect. I call this data triangulation.
If you have more than three arguments, that’s fine; You can include them. But ask yourself if you really need it to succeed in convincing the reader. As they say in sales, once you’ve made the sale, shut up. The same can be said for writing.
4. Use the last paragraph to reiterate your point and suggest that the supporting data supports your case successfully
If you’re trying to spur the reader to action, give them a Easy next step or action to take. Far too often we mistakenly assume that the lack of action on the part of the reader is the result of too little persuasive fuel, when in truth there is simply too much friction associated with the action. requested.
* * *
And that’s all. A simple format of five or six paragraphs to quickly and easily write your next persuasive blog post. Try.
More persuasive writing resources
Three deceptively simple (but powerful) tips for writing a persuasive landing page
Your B2B Website Power Page: Seven Must-Have Ingredients
Can you really create persuasive sales copy from scratch?