Skip to content

Should you be persuasive or clear in your copy?

Ever asked yourself this question?

I still do, even after years of writing. It’s part of my subconscious self-editing checklist.

It’s an important question, because most of us are unlikely to try to convert cold leads into customers.

So informing people on what you do, how and why it’s unique, is critical. Then you can think about persuading. Or actually, let me rephrase that…

…being clear and informing is the first step to persuading people.

You wouldn’t want to educate them (you’d probably be writing to the wrong audience – that is if we’re talking about conversion copy), but you have to be clear, concise and make your point. Make a point.

Even at the MECLABS Institute they say “Clarity trumps persuasion”.

But why?

I like to think one of the reasons comes from software engineering.

Ever heard about “negative engineering”?

From an article I recently read:

“Negative engineering is the time-consuming and sometimes frustrating work that engineers undertake to ensure the success of their primary objectives…. You might think about negative engineering like auto insurance. Purchasing auto insurance won’t prevent you from getting into an accident, but it can dramatically reduce the burden of doing so.”

Same with clear copy.

It won’t necessary make the sale, but it prevents readers from asking you (and themselves) questions. It’s their insurance against doubt, confusion, and anxiety. It’s your insurance against the friction that all of these inevitably introduce.

And it’s true that this negative engineering of clarity comes at a cost to you. It is time consuming to edit for clarity and conciseness. But it’s work that pays huge dividends and compounds over time.

Bonus, if you can be clear and consistent. All over the media you use.

It’s the way you create your “read thread” for people to follow.

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up, clarifying and injecting persuasion elements lately for a client with their onboarding email flow. You’d be amazed at how much this clean up work is valued and needed after a while.

Need help with getting some clarity on a page or email sequence? You can book a quick audit and get some actionable ideas based on years of research and practice with this stuff.

Book it here.

brain dump?

Every day (yes!) I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.