Persuasive Essay On Film Techniques In Saving

People don’t read online; unless they’re about to spend money—then they scrutinize each word.

Design, SEO, and advertising can only get you so far. If you want to accelerate sales online, you need persuasive copy. According to Harvard Business professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decision occurs in the subconscious mind. Most marketers ignore how our brains work and fight against human psychology.

With a few persuasive writing techniques, you’ll be able to write compelling copy and sell more products.

“The principles of psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you learn about them.” Claude C. Hopkins

This is a mammoth post, so I added links to sections for you TL;DRs out there.

  1. Use Repetition To Make Your Claims Believable
  2. Use Maslow To Match Search Intent
  3. Turn Shoppers Into Buyers With Benefit-Focused Copy
  4. Use Forum Research To Get Inside Your Buyers’ Mind
  5. Use Sensory Words To Connect With Your Buyer’s Subconscious
  6. Use Scarcity To Boost Sales
  7. Use Micro Commitments To Turn New Customers Into Big Spenders
  8. Use The Blemishing Effect To Increase Trust
  9. Amplify Your Top Pages With Power Words
  10. Improve Ad Performance by “Borrowing” from Tested Copy
  11. The Disrupt and Reframe Technique (DTR)
  12. Use Buyers’ Words to Build Brand Preference
  13. Use the Endowed Progress Effect To Build Customer Loyalty
  14. Sway Buyers On The Fence With A Rhyming Sequence
  15. Be Ultra Specific
  16. Use Social Influence To Lift Conversions
  17. Use Mini Stories to Fascinate Readers
  18. Improve Message Recall with The Serial Position Technique
  19. Use The Priming Technique to Make Your Marketing Their Idea

1. Use Repetition To Make Your Claims Believable

Repetition is one of the easiest persuasive writing techniques. The more someone hears your message, the more believable it is.  This psychological concept is known as the ‘illusion of truth‘.

This technique is most effective when people are least attentive. Since the average online attention span is 8 seconds –  you better be repeating your benefits throughout your product page.

Step 1: Determine The Biggest Benefit Of Your Product

Hopefully, you’ll take me up on Tip 3 and create a feature/benefit list for your product. If not, don’t overthink it.  Go for the most obvious benefit.

The most obvious benefit for a jacket is weather resistance.

Step 2: Repeat The Biggest Benefit 3-5 Times

Most people will scan first before reading. So make sure you include your #1 benefit throughout your page layout. Include it in your headline, intro, subheads, bullet points and conclusion.

Macy’s is using the illusion of truth and the serial position technique to make their product page persuasive.

Take a look at this Calvin Klein jacket. Macy’s wants you to believe this jacket is weather-resistant. The product page gets the point across, without mind-numbing repetition.

2. Use Maslow To Match Search Intent

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from college? Maybe you forgot because you didnt get enough good sleep. Every time your prospect uses Google search it’s out of a deep psychological desire.

Your job as a marketer is to understand that need. Your copy will be much more persuasive, and it will rank significantly better in a Google search.

Step 1: Determine The Psychological Need Of Your Product

Your job here is to address the primary psychological need behind a search for your product. Some products can meet two. But we want to keep it simple and actionable, so pick one.

  • Are you selling make-up or jewelry? Esteem.
  • Are you selling organic food? Physiological.
  • Are you selling antivirus software? Safety and security.

Step 2: Use Words Suited For That Mental State

Tone matters a lot in writing. Once you are through with step 1, add some words from this article to your product page.

Step 3: Anticipate Questions About Your Product

Use the keyword research to find questions about your products. This will help you match search intent from a potential customer.

  1. Plug Your Product Page Into Google Keyword Planner
  2. Include When, Where, Why, What and How As Required Words
  3. Look for Concerns You Can Address On Your Product Page

People have questions about cleaning leather jackets.

Your goal with step three is to find concerns related to your product that you can address on your product page. If you still can’t find real product questions try this Twitter research trick from Ann Smarty.

Step 4: Connect Questions to Product Features

Some shoppers might be concerned about cleaning a leather jacket before buying.  Your sales page should briefly address that concern. The solution is easy. Add a simple bullet that turns the question into a benefit.

Ex: “Top-grain leather that cleans easily with a microfiber cloth.”

Your updated page meets psychological, emotional needs and overcomes objections a buyer might have. Sounds like a slam dunk to me. 🙂

3. Turn Shoppers Into Buyers With Benefit-Focused Copy

No matter what product you are selling, the benefit to your customer is a better version of themselves.  This is why it is so important to understand who your ideal customer is, what questions they have, and how you can help them. You’ll be wasting your time if you jam persuasive tricks into your copy. Even worse, you might come off like a manipulative idiot.

Here is a 3-step process to write benefits-focused, persuasive copy.

  1. Make a list of your product features.
  2. List actual benefits of using the product.
  3. List out how those benefits make your customer’s life better OR avoid problems.

Here is a real example of a “boring product” (metal fuel cans) that I am working on

Henneke Duistermaat has an entire ebook that goes into more depth about writing benefits-focused sales copy.  You can grab a copy .

4. Use Forum Research To Get Inside Your Buyers’ Mind

Would you be able to sell more products if you knew someone’s thoughts before they buy something? Of course you would!

You don’t have to do exhaustive primary research to find the right words to use, but you do you need to find out why people buy your product and use that language on your product or category page. Here’s how:

Step 1: Find Conversations about Buying Your Product

There is an online forum for just about any topic. A lot of times you, can find people who just bought a similar product, and you can see who they are and what they are chatting about. Type the following searches into Google.  Just replace  “keyword” with your product and “niche” with your industry.

  • “keyword” OR “niche” “just bought” inurl:forum
  • “keyword” OR “niche” “should I buy” inurl:forum
  • “keyword” OR “niche” “should i buy” “because” inurl:forum
  • “keyword”OR “niche” “just bought” “because”  inurl:forum
  • “need help with” “keyword” OR “niche”

The search term, “racing tires” “should I buy” inurl:forum surfaced 455 car enthusiasts talking about buying racing tires. This is like eavesdropping on a conversation between friends. No focus group needed. How’s that for marketing research?!

 Step 2: Read The Threads and Create a Quick and Dirty Persona

In this step, your goal is to create one (yes, only one) buyer persona.

  1. Open up a forum thread from Google search.
  2. Click on a commenter’s profile link.

If you can’t find info about their age, location, hobbies and profession take an educated guess. Your persona should also have a name.

We’ve learned a lot about James from researching forums.

Step 3: Collect Answers To The 5 Questions Below:

As you research the forum threads copy and paste answers to these questions.

  • Why did they buy?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What concerns did they have before buying?
  • What is important to them when buying this product?
  • What do they use the product for?

Step 4: Update Your Pages

It’s easy to forget that you are writing for a person when writing on the web. Understanding the mental state of potential buyers is the most powerful market research you’ll ever do. As you update your product pages, keep James Holley in mind. He is probably anxious to burn some rubber after a long week selling insurance.

5. Use Sensory Words To Connect With Your Buyer’s Subconscious

I’m not talking about fluffing your copy up with phony adjectives. Meaningless words like “high quality” or “state of the art” send your reader’s brain into glazed state. Sensory words describe and create a feeling.

Our subconscious collects sensory data (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch). When information is registered, sensory areas of the brain are activated.

Step 1: Observe Your Product And Create A List Of Concrete Words

Create a table in Excel with sound, sight, touch, smell and taste as headers.  Observe the sensory details of your product. Don’t overthink this. If you can’t imagine it, it is not concrete. You don’t need to appeal to all five senses, and you don’t need a mega list.

After two minutes of examining the Crocs on my feet, I came up with these sensory words. Not brilliant, but it’s a start.

Step 2: Read Customer Reviews To Find Sensory Words

In this step, you are looking for words that describe your product and the environment of how it’s used. While reading reviews, I noticed people use Crocs at the beach and inside their house.

You don’t have to make this a grind. To combat information overload, sort the reviews by most helpful. Spend a few minutes on this step, no more.  After reading the first two pages of product reviews, you’ll be able to add some words that you hadn’t thought of.

Step 3:  Add Sensory Words To Your Product Description

When you tackle this step, give context to the words you use. For example, “blisters” is a very concrete, sensory word, but it is also negative. So your copy could say  “A flexible sole helps avoid foot pain and blisters from walking on hard tile floors.”

Compare our quickly crafted sentence with Kohl’s product description: “Crocs shoes are great for outdoor adventures.” (Yawn). No one buying shoes is looking for an “outdoor adventure.”

Abstract marketing words like “Croslite” don’t engage the brain.


6. Use Scarcity To Boost Sales

Cialdini’s principle of scarcity states that desire to obtain something increases when there is a perception of limited availability. Research shows that scarcity increases impulse buying.

Don’t burn bridges like CoffeForLess with fake scarcity. Use this technique when you actually have a limited time offer or limited quantity.

Step 1: Create A Time Sensitive Sale

Select high margin or popular products. Install a countdown timer plugin, email your list and run a sale. There are a lot of plugins that can do this. Here are a few of them:

Scarcity Works Best When Someone Is Already Interested In The Product

Step 2: Add A Limited Quantity Alert On Product Pages

Use a plugin to show visitors a message when your inventory is low.  Phrases like “Hurry! Only 1 left!” can help move customers to action. People get a thrill when they snag the last one. I know I do 🙂

If you like this jean jacket, you better buy it now. There is only one left!

Never pressure people to PUSH them into purchasing. Instead, use pressure to PREVENT them from procrastinating. There is a fundamental difference between the two. – Michel Fortin 

Thinking about using scarcity tactics on your product page?  Check out this in-depth article and be sure to take a non-scuzzy approach.

7. Use Micro Commitments To Turn New Customers Into Big Spenders

A high dollar sale on the first visit can be a big ask. Instead, use theprinciple of commitment and consistency. People want to be consistent. Once someone commits to something small, they are more inclined to continue the process.

How can you use this to increase sales?

Step 1: Ask New Customers if They Are Likely to Buy from You Again

Customers love getting an order confirmation emailed to them. Turn it into a marketing opportunity. Use automated email software like Klaviyo to add this question to the bottom of the order confirmation email:

“Are you likely to buy from us again?  Yes    No.”

Make the responses “Yes” or “No” hyperlinks so you can track if they are clicked.  You don’t want to set up a complicated survey, work it into your regular workflow and make it as easy as possible.

Step 2: Send a Coupon/Promo Code 

Customers who responded positively to your first email are likely to follow through with their original commitment. Incentivize them to be consistent by sending them a coupon to save $10 when they spend $150. The actual numbers will depend on your store. The goal is to turn them into a big spender.

You can even word the email like this:

A few weeks ago you said you would like to buy again from We wanted to send you a quick thanks for your recent order with a promo code to save on your next purchase. You can save $10 when you spend $150. Here are some of our most popular items (show images of products over $150). Promo code is good for 30 days.

When someone publicly declares they will do something, they are likely to carry through with that statement. This is also called the “mere-measurement effect.”

Tip: Send the same email to people who also said no. Just remove the first sentence.

8. Use The Blemishing Effect To Increase Trust

Trying to hide the negative features of your product? Researchers from Stanford suggests you shouldn’t.

Customers can tell when you write a product description that’s 100% positive fluff. Adding in a small dose of negativity can make your product more attractive.

We find that as long as the negative information about a product is minor, your pitch [to a consumer] might be more persuasive when it calls attention to that negative, especially if consumers have already learned some positive things,” –Baba Shiv

9. Amplify Your Top Pages With Power Words

A lot has been written about the psychology behind persuasive words. Here are “must have” words for your ecommerce site.

  • You:Using this word forces you to focus on how customers will benefit from doing business with you.
  • Free: Our brains are hardwired to respond to “FREE.” Don’t overdo it.
  • Because: Giving your reader a reason will make your copy more persuasive. Using because helps you trigger action by giving them a specific reason.
  • Imagine: Research suggests that imagining using or owning a product increases the desire to own it.
  • New: Using this word activates the brain’s reward center and makes products seem more attractive.

Now that you know the words to use, it is time to put them to work for you.

Step 1: Use Google Analytics to Find Your Top Landing Pages

Don’t try to update all your pages at once. It is too tall of a task. Use Google Analytics to find your top 3-5 product landing pages.

  1. Log in to Google Analytics
  2. Click on Behavior
  3. Click on Site Content
  4. Click on Landing Pages

Step 2: Update the Copy To Include Those Power Words

Chances are your home page is a top landing page. Be sure to include power words, like “Free Shipping” in global elements like headers.

Use power words at the beginning and end of your product page. Include them in bulleted lists too.

Boring product? Ask your reader to imagine the benefits.

10. Improve Ad Performance by “Borrowing” from Tested Copy

When you’re writing persuasive copy, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. If you don’t analyze competitor ad copy, you’re missing out on insights from tested copy.

Step 1: Find Out Who The Big Advertisers Are In Your Niche

Type a keyword from your niche into SEMRush along with (adwords_historical).  In the example below, I used “work boots” (adwords_historical) to see all the companies advertising for that keyword. Look at their ads traffic price to get an idea of how much they are spending each month.

Stick with companies spending more than $10K per month. These companies are smart enough to test their ads and use the best performing ads the most.  Avoid megastores like Amazon or You’ll get too much data to analyze. You want to write persuasive copy, not analyze data.

Step 2: Review Their Ad Copy

In SEMRush type in the big spenders domain with  (by uniq_ads) to see all of their ads. In the example below, I typed in (by uniq_ads). SEMRush will show you the ads that have the most keywords. For a company spending $10K + on PPC, you can bet that their best ads get the most keywords. Look for common themes within the ads. Pay extra attention to any benefit-focused ads. is banking on new styles and slip resistance in their ad copy.

Step 3: Update Your Copy

Your competitors spend a boatload of cash figuring out which ads sell the most products. People who shop for work boots care about new styles and slip resistance. Focus on those points when updating your copy.

11. The Disrupt and Reframe Technique (DTR)

If you want a fast and effective method for influencing people, DTR is it.

Most of us go into auto-pilot mode when surfing the web. By disrupting your readers’ understanding on a typical phrase, you can knock them out of auto-pilot and reframe their thought process to give new meaning to the confusing phrase.

Apple’s entire marketing strategy is based on DTR.

Here is how you can do it:

  1. Add a bizarre or confusing statement in your copy: “Retina re-envisioned”
  2. Reframe it to give new meaning: “The moment you open the new MacBook, its gorgeous 12‑inch Retina display with edge-to-edge glass brings everything into focus. Every photo leaps off the screen in rich, vibrant detail.”

12. Use Buyers’ Words to Build Brand Preference

Have you ever bought a product because your friend told you it was “high performance” or “innovative”? No.

This is why you need to eliminate marketing speak and write for your ideal buyer.

Professional copywriters know that the most persuasive language comes directly from the customer (see Tip #28).  But why?

According to the Kellogg Marketing Faculty at Northwestern University, consumers seek comfort and self-expression in the brands they choose. By using your customers’ own words you can shortcut the persuasive writing process and help readers self-identify. Joanna Wiebe explains how to do this in her post, but here is the gist:

  1. Search for customer reviews for your product on Google, Amazon or forums.
  2. Copy memorable phrases directly from customers.
  3. Paste them into your product pages.

Don’t copy entire paragraphs. You’re looking for emotionally charged phrases to leverage into your copy. Here are some examples from racing tires:

  • “quicker acceleration, better braking, smoother ride, less wear on shocks”
  • “Lower weight is important, but traction is more important”
  • “meaner tire, they have great wet traction, they stick, lots of dry traction”
  • “Some people whine about them on wet roads, but I had zero hydroplaning issues and I drove them through winter here in the metroplex”
  • “with fresh rubber”
  • “I love spirited driving”

You want to sound like a customer, not a marketing company.

13. Use the Endowed Progress Effect To Build Customer Loyalty

You’ve worked super hard to get a customer, use the endowed progress effect to keep them buying from you.

Reward programs give your customers a sense that they are working towards a goal. By giving them a few extra free points, they will be more likely to buy from you again. Check out this study from USC.

To create an effective program you need:

  1. Reward program technology. Like a plugin or points system.
  2. A persuasive autoresponder email chain to let customers know they’re close to a reward.

Please don’t just use the boilerplate copy from the plugin. Be sure to cater it to your audience.


14. Sway Buyers On The Fence With A Rhyming Sequence

Research suggests that rhyming phrases are more believable.  I am not suggesting that your product pages sound like nursery rhymes, but the “rhyme as reason” effect can help persuade people who are on the fence.

Johnny Cochran, O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, knew about this cognitive bias.

If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.

Rhyming makes copy easier to remember and ideas easier to digest. This concept is also known as the fluency effect. Rand Fishkin has an excellent white board on this topic. Woos with Rhyming

Here is how you can incorporate rhyming today:

  1. Boil your product or benefit down to the simplest word (ex. Weather Proof Jacket = rain)
  2. Go to
  3. Find a word that rhymes with your product or benefit (ex. main)
  4. Add the rhyming phrase to the start or end of your product description  (ex. The Calvin Klein hooded windbreaker will be your main jacket to project against the rain.)

This exercise can be a lot of fun, and it will make your benefits more persuasive.  Don’t overdo it, Mother Goose.

15. Be Ultra Specific

Copy has to be credible to be persuasive. We are all bombarded with generic marketing claims all day long.  Precise details turn your ho-hum headlines, taglines and slogans into believable messages.

When it comes to selling products, details about problems or benefits make your copy trustworthy. Notice how the details describe the benefits of the raincoat material.

Constructed with durable, water-resistant, urethane-coated nylon taffeta and rustproof snaps; watertight bound seam construction. – REI

Ask yourself these questions to help you pull out the relevant details for your product page:

  1. What is your product made of?
  2. Where is your product made? 
  3. How is your product made?
  4. How many people have used it?
  5. Are there quantifiable features?
  6. Are size dimensions relevant?

Gucci nails all the questions above.

When you start adding irrelevant details like the number of grooves on a pen grip, you’ve gone way too far.

Online shoppers are skeptical. Adding details helps people understand you are telling the truth.

16. Use Social Influence To Lift Conversions

As we saw in Maslow’s pyramid, belonging is a basic psychological need. This is why peer pressure works. Our ideas are validated when similar people share them: this is especially true for shopping online.

71% of online shoppers read reviews before buying.

Here are two surefire ways you can use social influence on your ecommerce site:

1. Add Product Reviews

Reviews help validate your claims. It is one thing for you to say “This backpack is durable.” It’s more impactful when a customer says the same thing. By simply adding a reviews widget, Express Watches increased conversions by 58%.

It is not enough to add a widget; you have to be proactive about getting them. Once you add the widget:

  1. Email customers who purchased your top selling products
  2. Offer them a discount or points for leaving a review
  3. Add an automated email asking people for a review a few weeks after receiving the products

2. Add a Recommended Products Widget

When people get stuck on a decision, they look to see what other people do. This is why a recommended products widgetcan help lift conversions. When people don’t find what they want, they leave. Providing additional suggestions to them might persuade them to check out other products.

17.  Use Mini Stories to Fascinate Readers

Stories that relate to your audience strengthen your brand position. If your story doesn’t, your copy will come off cheesy.

Do you remember James Holley from Tip #4? He will probably appreciate a mini story about peeling out in the office parking lot on a Friday night.  This story works because it’s:

  • Relevant to our ideal buyer and product
  • Simple and concise
  • Imagery is concrete and vivid

This mini-story would be a huge turnoff to Donna, 57, in New York City. She values safety and style when buying luxury tires.  Burning rubber would run her off your site. You’re job is to tell an unexpected story that will entertain your ideal customer. Something they won’t read on an Amazon product description.

Retailer J. Peterman is known for their unique product descriptions. Check out this one.

18.  Improve Message Recall with The Serial Position Technique

People remember what they saw first (primacy effect) or last (recency effect). Use this to your advantage. Put your best copy where it matters most.

Don’t Bury Your Persuasive Messages in the Middle

Step 1: Begin with an Ultra Short, Benefit-Rich Product Summary

When you write copy for product pages, you have to consider the design. Once you see how the information is layered on the page, make sure to put your most persuasive copy right at the beginning. Keep it short and uncluttered.

Bonus SEO tip: Use your, ultra-short persuasive intro as the meta description to improve your click-through rate from searches.

Step 2: Rearrange Your Bullets

Readers love bullet points. Don’t rattle off a bunch of product features. Make sure that your bullets are a list of benefits. Give extra love to the first and last two bullets.

Step 3: End Your Product Description with a Persuasive Message

If someone reads your entire product description, chances are they are almost ready to buy. Don’t fizzle out at the end. Give them one simple, memorable reason why they should buy this product.

19. Use The Priming Technique to Make Your Marketing Their Idea

Priming is similar to the principle of commitment and consistency Both are used to influence subsequent behavior. The main difference is that priming is the process of tapping into the subconscious mind.

Numerous studies show the priming effect in action. For example, three groups were primed with different words (rude, polite, and neutral). The group shown rude words were most likely to interrupt the interviewer. In another study,  people who were shown sad faces 🙁 preferred mood-enhancing content.

Because people are influenced subconsciously, primes are perceived to be their own ideas. Remember the movie Inception? Same thing. When people think they are being “marketed to”, all bets are off.

Here are two ways you can use priming for your ecommerce site:

  1. Use homonyms to influence buying
  2. Use price priming to position your best products

Using Homonyms To Influence Purchase Behavior

A study from the University of Miami revealed that adding the words “bye-bye” in the web copy increased sales. This is because the word sounds like “buy.” You can use this on your product pages easily by using a sentence formula: “Say bye-bye to [problem] with [feature] that [benefit].”

Fuel can example: Say bye-bye to spilled gas with the locking nozzle that won’t leak.

As HubSpot points out, you can also say “Good-Bye” on your order confirmation page to subconsciously influence that a “good buy” was made.

Don’t go overboard. If you use this on every page, it will lose its effect.

Using Price Priming To Sell More of Your Popular Products

This is not really a “copy writing” technique, but it can improve your sales. You can influence customers’ value perception by placing your top products next to super expensive products.

A $600 watch seems less expensive when placed next to a $2500 watch. This subconsciously influences your visitor to think the $600 watch isn’t that expensive. This is the reason why the default price setting on many ecommerce sites is “high to low.”

Another strategy is to implement a “featured” area on your category page.

New Egg’s default sort option is “featured” allowing them to use price priming easily.

You can also use colors, images, and metaphors for priming.

Ready for More Sales?

Persuasive writing means marketing to the subconscious. This is where purchase decisions are made. We’ve gone through a long list of persuasive writing techniques. You don’t have to tackle them all at once. Pick one technique, and you’ll be on your way to improving product sales. Remember, moderation is key.

Enjoy this article? You’ll love my free ecommerce marketing course.

Exclusive Bonus:Download our brand new research report on our top 32 e-commerce niches. Complete with our proprietary profitability analysis. Grab a FREE copy today.

Filed Under: SalesTagged With: copywriting, conversion rate optimization, product marketing

Organizing Your Analysis


This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2015-08-30 05:01:04

There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.


Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

  1. Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
  2. Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
  3. If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
  4. Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.

Thesis Statements and Focus

Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

The website for provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).


This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.


A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

  • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
  • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
  • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
  • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

Persuasive Appeals

The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.


The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.

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