One-word copy changes that will increase your ROI

Your vs. my. Do vs. don’t. Dollars vs. percentages. Minor modifications can have major mojo.

Attend a Life is Good festival and you’ll notice that security staff wear “Safety” T-shirts rather than “Security” T-shirts, writes David Meerman Scott.

This friendly idea is a typical tweak from a brand focused on giving customers a good time—another example is its internal ban on the phrase “I have to”—the preferred phrase being “I get to.”

It sounds fun, but simple, one-word copy tweaks can make a huge difference to your marketing ROI. Here are five:

1. Replace “your” with “my”

Can one word really make or break a conversion? Apparently, yes. An A/B test between “Create My Account” and “Create Your Account” had resounding results.

The “your” call to action had performed nearly 25 percent worse than the “my” call to action. Subsequent tests proved that “my” performed significantly better in calls to action.

In one case, replacing “your” with “my” in a call to action for a free trial increased click-throughs by 90 percent.

2. Promote “dollars off,” not “percent off”

Would you rather get 20 percent or $10 off a $50 product? The value of the coupon is exactly the same, but customers prefer concrete monetary savings.

Coupons and deals that have “$X off” promotions have twice the engagement rate of “X% off” promotions.

Even if the amount of dollars off may not look significant, they typically perform better than percents. Discounts of less than $10 still have 17 percent higher engagement rates than equivalent percent off promotions.

3. “Don’t” beats “do”

In the age of content marketing, your customers and prospects are bombarded by headlines. What can make yours stand out?

The word “don’t” can help, according to a 2012 Outbrain report. Headlines that use “don’t” earn a 15 percent higher click-through rate than titles without the word.

“Don’t” works better, probably because it highlights what your audience doesn’t know or should avoid doing.

4. Use first/second person vs. third person

Once you attract someone to your website, you want to keep them there.

A great way to do so is with a conversational tone. Using “you” and “I” gives your copy the impression that you’re engaged in conversation.

Note: Using second person in headlines is controversial. Outbrain reported that headlines with “you” and “your” performed 24 percent worse than those without those words. However, many editors will throw out a headline that doesn’t use second person.

5. Add “it’s free!” to “sign up now”

Yes, “it’s free” is two words, but the key addition here is “free.” So, how did it do?

In one case, adding “It’s free” to the “Sign up now!” button resulted in a 28 percent increase in conversions. The original button didn’t contain free and had a conversion rate of 14.5 percent. The button with “free” converted at a rate of 18.6 percent.

The hypothesis of why “It’s free” performed so well is that the phrase reinforces a low-risk proposition.

Bonus: Red vs. green

Color can also play a big role in the performance of a call to action. Companies have increased conversions by between 21 and 34 percent by changing a button’s color from green to red.

Is red the universal go-to color? Probably not. Experiment to find what works for you.

A version of this article first appeared on the Vocus blog.

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