How to Use Statistics, Facts and Quotes to Craft Compelling Copy
Copywriting isn’t just about writing snappy headlines and persuasive emails. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself writing long-form content that serves multiple purposes for a company. The most common is something like a long landing page, with sections broken out and repurposed elsewhere to create a cohesive sales funnel.
For many copywriters, long-form content is a nice change of pace from the short, to-the-point sales copy they’re used to.
The core theme of long-form content is to persuade readers. To do that takes a compelling message—one that convinces them to act by the time they get to the end of the page.
Unfortunately, in the world of long-form content, emphatic, emotional appeals only go so far. To be truly compelling, you need an appeal to logic and reason (logos). To make that appeal requires proof of concept—namely, statistics, facts and credible quotes.
What is a logos-based appeal?
In the classic appeals triangle (ethos, pathos, logos), a logos-based argument is an appeal to logic and reason. It relies on structure to convey a factual message and it derives support from irrefutable resources: data, studies, statistics and other evidence-based findings. A logos-based appeal wraps all of this into a well-structured, highly-convincing model that reinforces your core appeal. Here are a few examples of simple logos-based arguments:
Where to find facts and stats
To make a convincing appeal to logic and reason, you need facts and statistics that prove your argument. You can’t just say “most people prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla” and not back up your statement. First, it might be false; second, without proof, it’s easy to dismiss.
But where do you find facts and stats? It used to be that you needed to find news sources, comb through encyclopedias, and reference public-domain data. Today, the Internet makes it a whole lot easier to find and source data.
The best way to find it is to source from the top down in terms of credibility. Start with the strongest, most reliable source and work your way down the chain of firsthand citations until you start getting secondhand sources. A primary resource is almost always better than a secondary one.
Let’s look at an example. Say you want to source United States employment data for the sake of a logos-based appeal. Here’s a top-down hierarchy of where to look for that data and how to source it in a credible way:
Evaluate the validity of your data
The further you are from the origination point of the data, the more suspect you should be. For example, if a blogger cites data but fails to provide a viable reference, you should be wary of sourcing that data. Why? Because if it’s wrong, your entire logos-based appeal falls apart! You lose all credibility in the eyes of your audience.
Think of it in simpler terms: a bad-faith argument with inaccurate data gives readers no reason to trust you. Whys should they believe anything you say when what you’ve already said is proven to be false? Logos-based arguments need to be airtight, and that starts with airtight, accurate, credible data.
Find credible experts and cite them appropriately
Just like data and statistics, an expert voice can make a big impact on the credibility of your appeal. Your argument suddenly has a strong advocate behind it—someone people trust and will pay attention to. These people are generally relevant within the realm of whatever you’re pitching—a doctor for health products, for example.
A credible expert has two things going for them: reputability and relevancy. If you’re writing sales copy for a new pair of shoes and you cite Jim Potter as saying, “these shoes offer amazing arch support and all-day comfort,” it doesn’t do much in the way of bolstering credibility. Who’s Jim Potter and why does his opinion matter? Why does your audience care what he has to say? Now, reattribute this same quote to Jim Potter, Ph.D., Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Washington General Hospital. What a difference it makes!
Suddenly, you have a reason to care about what Jim Potter has to say—after all, he’s at the top of his field in a profession that directly correlates to your product (shoes).
Finding credible experts is one thing; citing them is another. The biggest problem with quotes is that they can be taken out of context or misattributed. When that happens, it has the same effect as bad data: it nullifies your argument. Even worse, it could land you in legal trouble if the person you’re citing sues for misappropriation of their words.
To cite someone appropriately in your copy, look for quotes in the public domain and use them in the context they’re provided. If Jim Potter said, “these shoes offer amazing arch support and all-day comfort” but he wasn’t talking about the shoes you’re selling, don’t use that quote! However, if you’re selling shoes with amazing arch support and comfort, and Jim Potter is quoted as saying “the two most important things in a shoe are arch support and comfort,” there’s room to work there.
The absolute best way to leverage credible experts into your content is to consult with them directly. Most agencies will secure a quote or citation and have copywriters finesse it into the verbiage. Other times, you might need to reach out to someone to get a quote, such as for a press release. The key here is to ask pointed questions and maintain the integrity of the quote you’re given.
How to structure logical appeals
Structuring logical appeals takes a lot more work than slapping some data and expert quotes together with a value proposition. You need finesse! Good copywriters will connect the dots between a value proposition and a logos-based appeal using stats, facts and citations that prove their point.
Depending on the nature of the piece you’re writing, there’s a cadence to be aware of. Often, that cadence is a dance between fact and value proposition. Here’s an example of an outline that a copywriter might develop as they seek to structure their appeal:
Notice that even in this bare-bones, basic outline, there’s a natural flow. When a copywriter begins to flesh out the outline into a long-form appeal, the structure of the piece will naturally guide readers from one point to the next, building credibility naturally over time.
This outline is also just one example of many opportunities for a logos-based appeal. Some copywriters might choose to introduce facts and stats first, as the premise for justifying each value proposition.
Other copywriters have a talent for finessing data directly into their benefits-driven copy. However you present your logos-based appeal, each component needs to build toward a compelling call to action.
Create an irrefutable piece of content
Authority is the hallmark of a great piece of compelling content. Readers shouldn’t be able to poke holes in your data or brush off your statistics—these facts should make a real impact in their perception of your message. If it seems irrefutable, there won’t be any reason to argue against it!
Combining facts, statistics, data and credible voices into a compelling piece of content is something every copywriter will need to learn at some point—whether you work for a company selling insurance products or a brand with a wacky, zany marketing approach.
Being able to communicate your message with authority means being able to persuade your audience in a meaningful way. As the old saying goes, “you can’t fight the facts!”