Monday, December 01, 2008

Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content

Writing effective content ...

"In many of my columns, I have touted the importance of persuasive, or influential, content and shared relevant theories and arguments, sprinkling in some practical tips and examples along the way. This column brings together a collection of practical tips, or recipes, for persuasive content. My goal for these recipes is to help anyone who touches content to bake in some influential goodness. Because of my background and experience, these recipes have an English-speaking American flavor, but I think they are a useful starting point for international content, as well.
1. Talk like a person.

Your content needs to sound like a human being crafted it, not like a system regurgitated it. Letting Go of the Words, by Ginny Redish, offers some great tips along these lines—such as using first person. [1] Additionally, I’d like to point out two things you can do to make your content appealing to readers:

* Be polite. Being polite does not usually mean adding a dash of please and thank you to all of your content. Rather, it means ensuring your content communicates respectfully. For instance, if your customers are older or tend to communicate formally, you may want to add the occasional please. If your customers are younger or more casual, they may enjoy sassy or friendly sayings that serve the same purpose. [2] Figure 1 shows an example from Bliss that employs both traditional courtesies and clever sayings.
* Be genuine. Most people find someone who seems genuine more persuasive than someone who seems like a hypocrite. I believe we can imbue content with a genuine quality by maintaining a consistent tone, sticking to a consistent message or focus, and ensuring our content is consistently accurate.

2. Establish credibility.

People tend to find a trustworthy person more influential than an untrustworthy one. B.J. Fogg has done some interesting work on credibility. [3] The following points draw on that work, as well as my own experience:

* Provide specific contact information. Showing a company’s phone number, email address, and physical address reassures customers that your business is legitimate and accountable.
* Show credible affiliations and certifications. If you’ve got them, flaunt them—especially if yours is a new brand or business. Figure 2 shows the scanR home page, which incorporates positive product reviews from well-known brands.
* Make related policies or guarantees easily available. While people often discuss doing this as a way of offering answers to customers’ questions about policies or guarantees, in my opinion, what’s just as important is customers’ seeing you have policies or guarantees. Making them available is a sign of your company’s credibility. Following this tip with the right timing is especially powerful."    (Continued via UXmatters, Colleen Jones)    [Usability Resources]

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