Messages of Joy in Advertising Copy Not Always Good for Business, Study Shows

Words That Sell (and Those That Don't)

There are many inspiring stories in the media about using affirming words, remaining joyful and optimistic in business, and also sending out positive messages to people. But, apparently, when it comes to the travel sector, using joyful words in advertising copy does not bring the best results.

Wait, what?

Yep, joyous words aren’t exactly the most successful marketing terms for travel businesses and businesses in a few other sectors. At least that’s what a new study produced by landing page and conversion marketing platform Unbounce found.

Words That Sell (and Those That Don’t)

Joyous Words Not Most Successful Marketing Terms

According to the Unbounce study, titled The Conversion Benchmark Report (PDF), which analyzed the behavior of 74 million visitors to 62,000 landing pages to establish what specific content triggers people to respond to businesses online, using too many joyful words in marketing copy can be bad for business because it’s likely to raise concerns about the legitimacy of the offers.

Travel businesses that use words that contain less than 1 percent of copy that communicates feelings of joy were found to have up to 35 percent higher conversion rates than pages with more than 1 percent of similar copy. Other sectors where words that convey joy were found to negatively impact a campaign’s conversion rate for businesses are the home improvement and vocational studies.

“This study really set out to take our unmatched wealth of data and use it to give marketers the type of deep insights into copy and words that they have had access to before now.” said Rick Perreault, CEO and Co-Founder of Unbounce. “Some of what we found was as we’d have expected it, but other findings were seemingly counterintuitive – joy can decrease conversions.”

Among the joyous words the study identified that can negatively impact conversion rates, and which businesses in the home improvement, vocational studies and travel sectors should seemingly limit include: “safe,” “friendly,” “clean,” “comfort,” “excellent,” “happy,” “success” and “confidence.”

So, what words should businesses use in their online marketing campaigns to boost conversion?

Words That Boost Landing Page Conversion Rates

Words that subconsciously evoke feelings of trust (e.g. “system,” “team,” “manage,” “powerful,” “real,” “compliance” and “policy”) used on landing pages can lead to higher conversion rates in the travel and business services industries, as per the study. However, these same words that evoke feelings of trust can lead to lower conversion rates in the credit & lending industry.

Similarly, words that induce a deep-seated sense of fear and unease (e.g. “bankruptcy,” “court,” “problem,” “bad,” “change,” “risk”) can increase conversion rates in the business consulting sector when included between 1 to 2 percent of the copy. However, these fear-inducing words decrease conversions in most other industries, including the travel, legal, health and credit & lending industries. In the credit & lending industry, for instance, fear-driven words decrease conversions by an average of up to 15 percent.

Fewer Words on Landing Pages Bring Best Results

In most popular industries (travel, real estate, business services, business consulting, credit & lending, health and home improvement), shorter copy on the landing page was found to correlate with higher conversion rates. The study also found that marketing copy in most industries is most effective when written at 9th-grade reading level or lower.

“Credible, scientifically-grounded insights into how the words we choose drive user behavior, is something we’ve never had access to, until now,” said Oli Gardner, Marketing & Optimization Expert at Unbounce. “This report paves the way for the future of data-driven marketing, and the future is conversion automation,” added Gardner who is also Co-Founder of the landing page platform that leveraged proprietary machine learning tech to analyze the enormous pool of industry-specific data.

Joy Photo via Shutterstock

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David William David William is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. He covers franchises, brick and mortar businesses, public policy and other small business issues. He is also founding editor of WebWriterSpotlight.

One Reaction
  1. There are two ways to get people to respond. (1) By telling them that you can solve their problem and (2) by showing them what they will lose if they don’t act. The second one always works better.