Words That Convert: Test, Learn, Repeat

Words That Convert: Test, Learn, Repeat

Conversion has been called “one of the most frustrating challenges content marketers face” and “the last hurdle on your route to content marketing success.” Chris Goward, founder and CEO of the conversion-optimization company WiderFunnel, says one of the most effective ways to boost your conversion rate is to test and tweak your words. Don’t assume which words convert While it’s tempting to follow easy advice about words to use and words to avoid, you get the best results when you question what “everybody knows” about words that convert (or don’t). Do your own testing, Chris says, and you might be surprised at the words that convert the most people. For example, you’ve probably heard that the word “submit” on a button doesn’t convert well. Chris’ team discovered that this “common knowledge” isn’t always true after they experimented with three text alternatives: They hypothesized that “become a maven” would lift orders because it would make people feel that they belong. Testing is never complete.” Understand why people prefer your high-converting words Chris contends the words that convert best tell you something about what motivates the people in your test audience. The team did another test. This time, it used “Join Now!” in all the buttons and varied the phrase above the button: Still, Chris’ point makes sense: If you can infer why a group of people prefer the text on one button to the text on another, you’re wise to edit the text beyond the button so that the whole page appeals to that audience’s motivational leaning. To learn what those words are, follow Chris’ approach: Test to find out which words produce the best results.

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If you had a magic lamp for your content marketing, what would you wish for? More e-book downloads? More subscribers? More customers?

Whatever you wish for, chances are, it amounts to boosting the conversion rate at some stage of the marketing funnel, ultimately resulting in more profitable customer action. If only it were easy to boost conversion rates. Conversion has been called “one of the most frustrating challenges content marketers face” and “the last hurdle on your route to content marketing success.”

Chris Goward, founder and CEO of the conversion-optimization company WiderFunnel, says one of the most effective ways to boost your conversion rate is to test and tweak your words.

And he can prove it. Chris, author of the book You Should Test That!, has worked with companies like Google, IBM, Magento, and 1-800 Flowers. He has seen the difference that rewording can make.

Chris shared his methods at Content Marketing World, where he presented, The Ultimate Session on Words That Convert (How to Find ’em and How to Use ’em) – Mobile, E-Commerce, and More.

Results: A few examples

If it sounds like a lot of bother to test and tweak your words, consider the potential payoff. Here are some examples of conversion-rate boosts Chris’ team has seen simply from testing and tweaking words:

  • 4% increase in orders for IBM SoftLayer servers
  • 115% increase in qualified leads for Magento Enterprise digital-commerce solution
  • $1 million per month increase in revenue for BuildDirect.com

Who wouldn’t love results like that? But … how do you test? Which tweaks pay off?

Don’t assume which words convert

While it’s tempting to follow easy advice about words to use and words to avoid, you get the best results when you question what “everybody knows” about words that convert (or don’t).

To be clear about what is meant by “convert,” I’ll quote Andy Crestodina in his Content Marketing World talk: When people convert, “they turn from one thing into another.” They go from visitor to lead or subscriber or donor or event registrant.

Do your own testing, Chris says, and you might be surprised at the words that convert the most people.

For example, you’ve probably heard that the word “submit” on a button doesn’t convert well. No one wants to be told to submit, right? Not necessarily. Chris’ team discovered that this “common knowledge” isn’t always true after they experimented with three text alternatives:

They hypothesized that “become a maven” would lift orders because it would make people feel that they belong. And they hypothesized that “I want in” would lift orders because it conveys a sense of urgency.

To the team’s surprise, “submit” outperformed the other two alternatives.

button-word-call-to-actions

The point isn’t that your buttons should say “submit.” The point is to avoid making assumptions. Test for yourself. What works (or doesn’t) in one context doesn’t necessarily work (or fail to work) in another.

Here’s another example. You may have heard words such as “new,” “free,” “instantly,” “because,” “you,” “your,” and “should,” automatically give your content a boost.

content-boost-words

“These words may work in one context and not in another,” Chris says. (I have to smile at the first two words of Chris’…

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