Study: Consumer engagement is all in how you say it

Retail marketers seeking to effectively engage customers should polish up their smooth talk, according to a new study.

In its new study “The write stuff,” marketing technology provider Persado examined more than 8.3 million marketing messages across four industries (retail & e-commerce, financial services, technology and travel & hospitality), reaching a combined 2.4 billion customers through six marketing channels (web pages, social media, display ads, SMS, email and push notifications). Results show that subtle shifts in marketing language can have a dramatic impact on brand engagement and revenue performance, with differences between the best and worst performing messages totaling as much as 400%.

In retail and e-commerce campaigns, for example, some words used to describe products, services, discounts and offers increase engagement more so than others. Analysis indicates that consumers are more likely to engage with messages that vaguely convey product pricing (“get it for less”), compared to messages that call out specific prices (“get it for $25”). Additionally, using the word “complimentary” instead of “free” can increase engagement by as much as 21%.

When encouraging consumers to act quickly, the study reveals that messages about limited quantities (“while supplies last”) are more effective than those about limited time (“before it expires”). However, phrases like “ends today” can generate as much as 49% more engagement than “online exclusive.”

When sharing promotions with consumers, Persado data suggests quantitative offers (“discount”) perform better than words about qualitative offers (“deal”). Furthermore, using percentages (“45% discount”) drives on average 23% more engagement than specific dollar amounts (“over $100 savings”).

In addition, the report explores how much each of the six dimensions of a marketing message, including emotion, description, formatting, positioning, and call-to-action, contribute to overall campaign performance, as well as how those trends change across channels. Key findings include:

Language prompting a call-to-action is the most influential factor contributing to campaign performance on email bodies (40%), display (32%), and Web pages and banners (48%). However, it is the least influential factor contributing to performance on email subject lines (8%), with other elements like emotional language (57%) inspiring consumers to engage instead.

Descriptive language about products, services, discounts and offers has the greatest effect on SMS campaign performance (35%). This language also significantly consistently contributes to campaign performance on email subject lines (24%), display (20%), email bodies (17%) and Facebook (17%), suggesting that marketers can quickly increase campaign performance by pinpointing the descriptive language most likely to resonate with their audiences.

Formatting contributes to nearly half (44%) of the performance of ads on Facebook, and emotion contributes to another 40%. Stylistic elements like emojis, symbols and imagery, combined with emotional language, together can help catch the consumer eye in an increasingly crowded newsfeed.
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