Commitments with Copywriting

Getting readers to commit to some course of action, typically a conversion, is not as difficult a process as it sounds if you are familiar with a few basic psychological principles.  The main principle is actually something that everyone is familiar with: commitment.  Copywriters need to be intimately acquainted with the techniques to induce commitments if they want to spur conversion rates

What Makes Commitments So Strong?

There is a strong psychological force that sociologists and psychologists alike agree is a fundamental requirement in any society: consistency.  This means that people are inclined to behave in a way that is consistent with their views and statements, even if the result is not necessarily something in their favor.  How strong is the need for consistency?  Consider the following:

  • Jenny Craig weight loss centers discovered that they could increase the efficacy of their existing plans with nothing more than getting a written commitment from each participant.
  • Chinese interrogators during the Korean conflict were able to turn a number of American captives by asking them to do nothing more than copy communist propaganda from a book to a blank piece of paper, or to read propaganda aloud to a group of fellow captives.
  • Salespeople that set written goals are considered by almost every major sales organization on the planet to be more effective.
  • Many 12-step programs use writing as a powerful tool of commitment.

Why are all of these amazing things true?  Because people that behave inconsistently are viewed as unstable, unreliable, or even crazy in social groups.  Thus, it behooves society to ingrain in its members a tendency to be consistent at all times.  The real trick is, how can you write copy that engages this psychological and sociological principle?

Idea One: Ask Readers to Write

When I was a boy there was a supermarket around the corner from my family’s house that would offer insanely large rewards for those short customer blurbs about why they liked the store.  I later found that this was actually a psychological assault on customers that essentially lulled them into doing something for one reason, but the net result was that they would actually ‘drink the punch’ so to speak.  Even when they themselves made it.

Why did this tactic work so well in increasing customer loyalty?  Consistency.  Customers that praised the store become more loyal patrons in order to be consistent with their previous statements.  Writing has a lot of power, doesn’t it?  You can try this tactic too, and here are a few ideas on how to make this happen under different situations:

  • If you run contests, make sure that they have a public writing element to them.  Instead of just sending a private e-mail to you about why product X or service Y rules, make them post it someplace public.  You actually kill three birds with this one stone, because the writer will be inclined to be consistent, it is further free advertising, and humans tend to believe something if they see it enough.
  • Forum feedback and social media.  Allowing others to add their two cents is a powerful tool, especially if they can be encouraged to do so in a positive way.  Be wary of allowing others to easily have their 2 cents if they are going to be negative as they are just as likely to defend a negative position out of consistency as they are to defend a positive position.
  • Ask viewers to make a commitment at the start of an article, particularly one on paper.  For example, if you plan on selling a service that will take WordPress content and ensure that it is SEO’d then start by asking the users to put a dollar value on that.  Give them some important bullet-point pieces of advice regarding the importance of SEO then ask them to write down what they think a fair price would be.  Then go on to extol the virtues of the service before telling them the price.  By building the readers up, they will probably predict a price that is too high, be wowed by the features, and then go on to convert because they already wrote down what they determined a fair price to be.


Did you get readers to commit?  If so, did you notice a positive change in conversion rates?  Share your story in our feedback section!

Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.


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