Words To Live By: Language That Engages Consumers - Or Drives Them Away

Consumers can be either motivated or turned off by language. 

Words like “announcement” and “arrived” pull people in, while “chance” and “save” send them away, according to an analysis of 21.6 billion consumer impressions by artificial intelligence (AI) company Persado.  

The distinctions are sometimes subtle, and seemingly contradictory.

Will shoppers ever get to the actual offer and the call to action? But there is a certain logic to the findings.  

Here are the best- and worst-performing words in email subject lines in the period from January 1-December 15, 2022, as measured by click rates:

Top-performing words in 2022

  1. Announcement [Attention]
  2. Re: [Curiosity]
  3. Dropped [Fascination] 
  4. Scored [Achievement]
  5. Confirmed [Safety] 
  6. ASAP [Urgency] 
  7. Earned [Achievement] 
  8. Arrived [Fascination]
  9. Thank [Gratitude] 
  10. Redeem [Gratification]



Least-performing words in 2022

  1. Don’t [Regret]
  2. Chance [Encouragement] – as in “this is your chance to…”
  3. Save [Gratification] 
  4. Miss [Regret] 
  5. Great [Excitement] 
  6. Last [Urgency]
  7. Check [Encouragement] – as in “check your rate,” or “check out” 
  8. Shop [Encouragement]
  9. Over [Urgency] – as in “almost over”  
  10. Savings [Gratification] 

What can marketers learn from all this? Here are some tips from Lisa Spira, head of content intelligence at Persado.

  • Avoid adding perceived effort — customers didn’t want to do extra work in 2022. Easy language was a winner. 
  • Don’t stress savings — Customers respond better to “redeeming” something rather than “saving” something. According to Spira, they wanted to feel like they were acquiring something more rather than experiencing something for less.  
  • Don’t give customers an ultimatum—Communicate urgency in a more colloquial way — i.e., “ASAP.” That term grabbed attention and made customers feel less restricted by “last chance.”


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