Persado shares word-choice lessons from its AI-authoring platform

A new white paper from the company codifies some of its most effective approaches for three industries, across six channels.

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New York City-based Persado, which claims up to 30x return on investment from marketing messages written by its AI-powered Message Machine, is out with a white paper that shares some of its lessons learned.

From January 2016 through last month, the company ran experiments to determine the most effective emotional words, descriptions and call-to-actions in the industries of retail/eCommerce, technology and financial service. The sample employed for “The Write Stuff: How CMOs Can Use AI to Develop Data-Driven Marketing Creative” [free, registration required] covered more than 300 million message permutations across 2.4 billion impressions, through the channels of web, email, social, SMS, direct mail and push notifications.

Evoking gratitude. To some extent, the results add statistical backing to common marketing rules-of-thumb. For instance, the white paper points out, emotional appeal is responsible for about 60 percent of a message’s success in email subject lines, while calls-to-action (CTAs) should be the key element in the email body, as well as in web pages and display ads.

But it also adds some new, stat-backed observations about the most effective choice of language in the three selected industries.

In retail/eCommerce, for instance, Persado found that describing new products as “new arrivals” instead of “newest pieces” resulted in an engagement increase of more than a third.

Additionally, it advises, marketers should evoke gratitude, as in a phrase like “you deserve this deal.” But avoid using “don’t miss out on this deal,” because it creates a sense of guilt and, more importantly, would-be customers are “somewhat desensitized” to that phrasing. Here are some other findings about highest- and lowest-performing emotions for this industry:

From the Persado white paper

From the Persado white paper

Scarcity, pressure. For the message’s description, Persado’s data found that indications of scarcity work well in this industry, such as “while supplies last,” but time limitations — e.g., “before it expires” — do not. The reason? Persado suggests the time limitation approach applies too much pressure.

While a “vague price callout” like “get it for less” works better in retail/ecommerce than a specific callout like “get it for $25,” Persado notes calls-to-action should be direct instead of vague. So, “get this deal, claim [offer]” is a more effective approach than, say, “get started, shop now.”

Why you should care. Although the white paper makes an effort to explain why certain approaches work better than others, it also notes that the effectiveness can vary by time of year. For example, language indicating gratification worked for a major unnamed retailer in March and April of last year, but was decidedly ineffective in June and December.

The big takeaway, then, is that statistical guidance from Persado or other sources can inform a marketer’s decision about language choices, but the specific decisions need to derive from proven results in specific circumstances.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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