Most of us probably don’t think twice about the exact words that appear on our website, our landing pages, our emails and ads. But ask any copywriter whether or not words matter, and they’ll tell you they do. Of course they do.
The right words and phrases can make a difference at every stage of the conversion funnel. Whether a prospective customer is only just being exposed to your brand for the first time, or they are in the final stages of research before they commit to your product or your competitor’s, the right piece of copy can make or break the sale.
The best writers seem to have an uncanny ability to find the right word to express the exact sentiment they want to represent at any time. They have a strong knowledge of the English language (or any other language) and investigate the intricacies in the meanings of each and every word.
That’s because there are countless different ways to phrase something. And that matters in marketing.
Does your company offer “one-to-one support” or “personalized service”? Some people may claim that it doesn’t matter, since both of those could potentially mean the same thing. But if you test one versus the other, you are likely to find that one of them two phrases outperforms.
3 Ways to Examine Your Words
Many people assume there is just one way to understand and choose which words we use. In fact, there are three distinct lenses with which your marketing team should look at word choice:
- Meanings – this is the most common understanding. Does the word mean what we are trying to say?
- Association – the second way to understand and interpret words is to consider groups of words together. Will people associate this word or phrase with something else that they have seen or heard in the past? Does it have the right connotation? What emotional feeling is provoked by this word vs. an alternative?
- Sound – sometimes a word just doesn’t look right. Even if it means the right thing, it might not sound right. This is a valid concern. When choosing words for your marketing materials, read them out loud. This simple act will clue you into problems with certain phrasing and may make it easier to simplify phrasing and readability for consumers.
Words, Words Everywhere
The average ecommerce website contains something like 10,000 words. The average email contains approximately 500. The average online advertisement contains roughly 10.
All of those facts are 100% made up. But the truth is, marketers of all stripes use lots and lots of words. One can argue we often use too many words, and that consumers are not interested in reading.
But the more we pay attention to the details, the more we can connect with potential customers. Good copywriters learned this long ago, and that’s why they are in such demand.
If you want to see for yourself, run a test. Take the headline on your homepage, or the subject line of your email, or the call to action on your sales page, and have someone re-write it. Send half of your prospects to the old version, and half to the new version. Odds are the performance will vary between the two.
And that’s because the words we use matter.