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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

Persuasive Copy: Use Active Verbs To Engage your Prospects

By Mariel Bacci
November 21st, 2012

Persuasive Copy Writing Is Still Important

For the past month, we here at FutureNow have been trying to arm you with some basic design knowledge so you could start thinking about how you you want your prospects to perceive your site, image and brand.  Today, we are going to remind you of something that The Grok has stood for from the beginning: persuasive copy writing.

To write persuasive copy, there are 3 things that are most important to remember (ignoring proper spelling, grammar, and tense):

1. When you are writing, imagine your site visitor as your audience.  Speak directly to them with your copy as if you were having coffee with them.

2. Avoid We-We copy.

3. Use Active verbs.  They are notoriously more direct and persuasive.

What Is An active Verb?

Active and passive are verb voices. Active voice emphasizes the doer, the agent of the activity.  Today we are going to remind you how to use active verbs properly so you can profit from them by adding life and persuasive momentum to your copy.  An example of a sentence with an active verb is:

Alex is playing the french horn.

The passive voice shifts the focus of a sentence away from the doer. The emphasis in the passive voice is always on what is happening, not who is doing it. Sometimes the passive sentence mentions the agent, sometimes not, but there is always an implicit or explicit “by whom”:

The french horn is being played. (Who is playing the french horn?)

The french horn was played by Alex. (The sentence is about the french horn, it is not about Alex.)

Passive constructions aren’t always immediately obvious:

Driven with Confidence. (What is driven and who is it driven by?)

Standing by to take care of your every need. (Who is standing by?)

Your broken leg should be looked at. (Who should look at your leg?)

Passive voice has its uses, but in copy that is meant to persuade, motivate, sound accountable and credible- nothing beats the active construction.

Practice Using Active Verbs

Here are six sentences written in the passive voice.  Take this opportunity to rewrite them in active voice.

1. This cat food should  be sent to a different cat than the one named on the label.

2. The lemon’s peel should be washed by the chef after it sits in the refrigerator for a day.

3. To quickly provide a solution to your request, you will be contacted via email or by telephone by the first available specialist within one business day.

4 .Your phone number has been updated by our Records Administration staff.

5. I apologize for the frustrations experienced by you recently with Zappo’s Support team.

6. A suspension system that is both tough and intelligent, designed to respond to the slightest movement of the rider.

You’ll find the answers below.





1. Send this cat food to a cat who isn’t named on the label.

2. The chef should wash the lemon peel after it sits in the refrigerator for a day.

3. The first available specialist will contact you via email or by telephone within one business day to quickly provide a solution to your request.

4. Our Records Administration staff has updated your phone number.

5. I apologize for the frustrations you recently experienced with Zappo’s Support team.

6. We design a suspension system system that is both tough and intelligent, and responds to the slightest movement of the rider.

You can now edit some of your copy for active voice and activate your conversion rate as well. Do an A/B test.  You can start perfecting the content on your site to be as persuasive as possible.  Do you feel confident that you know exactly who you are trying to persuade?  If you need help understanding your guests, and optimizing your site to help them to convert, you can always call us.

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Comments (39)

  1. Thanks for the great write-up, Mariel!

    I’ve found that usage of active verbs proves to get more response.

  2. Thank you for posting about this! Passive voice cripples the writing of many. Way back in the day, my AP English teacher forced my classmates and I to eliminate passive voice from our writing completely. I remember my classmates moaning, groaning, and struggling to write in the active voice. As an adult professional now, I am so very thankful to her. Consistent use of the active voice has truly transformed the impression my writing leaves on others. The world needs more bloggers like you and more English teachers like mine.

  3. [...] Pinterest-Look nachahmen könnenShoppable Videos – Schneller kaufenThe holiday sales rush is onUse Active Verbs To Engage your ProspectsWie viele Conversion Rates braucht eine Website?Hier finden Sie auch alle früheren Lesetipps der [...]

  4. am using active verbs after reading this article……

  5. I need to check in with doing this, as a budding author and content writer on my own site you’d think i’d have learned this by now!

  6. Thanks for the information. I am planning on actively using the tips after reading this blog.

  7. Reading them together like this, passive verbs always seem a lot more awkward than active as well.

  8. Thank you for the helpful article Mariel, it has spurred me to take another look at my own writing which at times is sadly remiss.
    I could do with an active critique!
    Your point #1 is essential in communicating one’s message; keep it personal, as if advising a friend or family member and the use of active verbs helps in this regard keeping the message direct.

  9. Thank you for sharing this tips. You have opened my eyes to see why some of my sales pages have a little response. I have to fix it up.

  10. Simply great Mariel. Its a nice way to write straight forward rather than writing here and there.And active verbs are more useful in understanding the story.

  11. Many people still don’t realize that simpler is often times better. If people have to sort through clutter to find what they’re looking for, many people just don’t have the patience in this day and age.

  12. very nice article and it would be useful for all people – wish they were made to read it even before making a website. I’ve come across all these problems more than once and it’s really very annoying, and if there is any alternative would certainly leave such site

  13. I really liked this post! It’s interesting to note that the active voice is way more interesting than the passive voice, never thought about that before. Thanks for the insights.

  14. I have always noticed in the blogs that stand out all talk to the reader as if they were the only one, like you say, as if you having coffee with a friend. They need to be warm and friendly and written for people, not search engines to engage audiences.

  15. Seems like more of a psychological aspect of writing and reading. Nice post Mariel.

  16. Thanks for this reminder.I find that active voice is a lot inspiring to get the visitor into action.We all like things to be all about us.Active voice emphasizes just that to the visitor.

  17. Great article, although I’m not a native speaker still sometimes struggle with copy writing…

  18. I am new to E-Commerce and having written all of my content quite quickly it is great to have articles like these to use as tools to refine my content.

    The passive voice can certainly be disengaging to an online audience.

    Thanks for bringing my attention to the fact I probably have a lot of We we speak in my content.

  19. Thank you for posting about this! I´m not an English native speaker but my English teacher eliminates passive voice from our writing completely.

  20. These are good tips we can do to give better services for our prospects. Thank you,Mariel!

  21. Active voice emphasizes just that to the visitor.
    Thanks for the insights.
    I really liked this post! It’s interesting to note that
    the active voice is way more interesting than the passive voice,
    never thought about that before.

  22. I just learned to use active voice in my English class. Looks like I’ll be using it more

  23. I am a copywriter and i must say i am really impressed with the details you have given here.Grammatical skills are definitely a prerequisite if you want to pursue writing be it web or print.

  24. I think having a professional copywriter to go through the copy-writing is definitely worth the money.

  25. I like it, engage with active verbs. I will have to try it. I am looking for new ways to engage audience.

  26. Isn’t it weird how just using different verbiage conveys such a different reaction in people? Good article and I’m going to begin implementing these tactics on my site.

  27. Thanks the great writeup. I definitely am doing some editing. It’s time to use active voice!

    Thanks again.

  28. Spot on! Conversion Optimization is really catching on and it´s about time. Just changing a few words of copy on a page can increase conversions by multiples.

  29. I heard the term “Active verbs” for the first time. Well written tips how to attract the readers

  30. Thanks for the advice. My posts will make much sense with the Active Voice. Applying this to my future posts.

  31. Thank you for this very informative post, I can definitely utilize this when writing my future articles

  32. Yes, I can see the persuasive difference from using Passive Voice to Active Voice. It is very subtle, but very effective.

  33. Interesting article Mariel. I love the little details that go into improving conversions.

  34. I teach my students that writing in active voice makes one more credible and demonstrates great respect for the reader, in particular the writing is shorter, tighter, more direct, and it includes important details of who is responsible for the action, as noted in this blog entry.

  35. Your important point is true for writing in general! Not only use an active, natural voice…but cut down on adjectives that muddle and slow a reader’s responsiveness.

  36. Who knew that active voice would have such an importance on verbiage and attracting attention.

  37. The passive voice is a way for speakers to avoid taking responsibility. Remember a former president saying, “Mistakes were made”?

  38. I have learned a lot since the last time I read this article, just thought I’d drop by again and say thank you! :)

  39. Seems like more of a psychological aspect of writing and reading

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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