Science has shown time and time again that language – if used well – can be a powerful tool for influencing purchasing decisions.
Consider the difference in resonance between phrases such as ‘presents a challenge’ and ‘hard’. They may technically mean the same thing, but they do not feel the same and are not perceived as such by the brain. In content marketing this difference is vital.
Research has shown that certain words can even act as physical stimuli. Language associated with the senses stimulates the areas of the brain involved in processing them – the description of a scent, for instance, triggers increased activity in the olfactory centres of the brain, creating an evocative experience for the reader.
Not only the meaning of the word, but the mouthfeel, sound and appearance on the page can affect customer perception of the product or service and the brand itself.
In 1921, a study was conducted in which participants were asked to rate their emotional responses to two potential names for a car: ‘Brimley’ and ‘Bromley’. The overwhelming majority described ‘Bromley’ as sounding more powerful and larger than ‘Brimley’, simply because the word itself sounds stronger, bigger and more imposing – ideal qualities for a car.
Keep it simple
The shortest and simplest words are often the most powerful. ‘You’ is a vital tool in any copywriter’s arsenal, because it focuses attention on potential customers, positioning them as the centre of attention.
The widespread use of personalised emails, which include the recipient’s name and address them directly, are a testament to the success of customer-focused content marketing. The power of persuasive language to create a bond between brand and consumer, inspiring trust and driving conversions.
The word ‘cheap’ can have surprisingly negative connotations in marketing – namely, that it can imply that the product or service offered is poor quality. Most people are familiar with the phrase Buy cheap, buy twice. Cheap is therefore a word to be avoided.
However, the same is by no means true of ‘free’. While potential customers might be dissuaded at the prospect of buying cheap, and would rather spend more money to ensure a good investment, everyone likes a free gift.
Balance familiarity with newness
A study by the Radiological Society of North America used MRI scans to determine the impact of strong brands on the brain. They found that strong brand identity can trigger positive emotional processing – brain activity associated with rewards and self-identification.
Crucially, this sense of reward does not derive from actually purchasing a product or service from the chosen brand. It comes merely from identification. Seeing a familiar logo or hearing a well-known catchphrase or jingle is rewarding to the brain in and of itself and also inspires feelings of trust and safety. With a potential customer in this mental state, the stage is set for a conversion.
Nonetheless, potential customers are also drawn to novelty. Use of the word ‘new’ signals excitement and piques curiosity in a brand or service. Successful copy must balance familiarity (a consistent brand personality and tone of voice) with language that conveys freshness to grip audiences immediately.