What a Web Content Writer can Learn from Aristotle Part 2

The-School-of-Athens-RaphaelIn part 2 of this article I will attempt to explain, how Aristotle can help a web content writer produce the most influential copy in 2012.

Ethos Pathos Logos – The 3 Modes of Persuasion
According to Aristotle, rhetoric is “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion.” He described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos.

Last month we covered Ethos ‘Trust,’ if you missed it – follow the link to check out part 1 and find out how a web content writer can build trust – the Aristotelian way.

2.     Pathos – Emotion
Pathos represents an appeal to the emotions of the audience.  Successful web writing must engage the reader.  We engage the reader by appealing to their emotions.  Firstly we address them directly, as if you were a person talking to someone sat right in front of you.  The use of active voice copy keeps the audience involved and engaged.

A web content writer must appeal to the readers psyche – knowing who they are, what they want and what motivates them?  From this we can use various methods to connect with them.  Whether it’s an emotive headline, a real life story, an inspirational quote, passionate writing, a series of questions, a statistic, you must capture the imagination of your audience.  In order words you need a hook.

Consider great speeches – they are great because they appeal to the emotions of the audience.  Churchill captured a nation when he appealed to our honour, patriotism, sense of history and heritage and our pride.

Find a way to do this through your web copywriting.  A narrative or story is often considered to be the best method to invoke pathos because it’s something palpable and present.  This could be in the form of a case study, or a testimonial, a link/exert from your blog.  Blogs are useful as you can give your company a human voice and therefore tell very real stories.

3.     Logos – Logic
Logos is an argument from reason or logic.  Use logos in your web copywriting, offer a logical argument as to why your reader should use your company or buy your product.  It is more difficult to protest, argue or object to a logical proposition.  Logical arguments also enhance ethos.

Logos is the argument itself – why you should use my company/product/service.  Use numbers, facts, statistics and evidence in your web copy to back up your claims.  Never just state that you are brilliant, you need to provide the evidence of why you are brilliant first.

To form a good logical argument in your web copy, consider both sides.  Anticipate the objections of your reader (or opposing arguments) and address them.  Imagine you are in a debate, how will you persuade your opponent?  Decide what you want to say and provide the evidence to support that premise.

To summarise Aristotle’s web writing rules are demonstrate credibility and build trust, appeal to the emotions of your reader, make logical arguments, provide evidence and proof.

This Aristotelian web copy formula is a surefire way to online success.

Written by