Fear-driven words are negatively impacting your marketing campaigns

Study finds that copy written at Year 10 reading level on pages of around 500 words is the most likely to drive conversions across most sectors

Words associated with fear and trust can negatively impact conversion rates by up to 5% across three out of 10 industries, according to conversion marketing platform Unbounce.

The Conversion Benchmark Report analysed over 74 million visitors to 64,284 landing pages from 10 different sectors, assessing how differences in use of emotion, sentiment and reading complexity can drastically influence the success and failure of a campaign.

The travel, legal and health sectors were the most affected by words associated with fear and trust, with words such as problem, risk, difficult, emergency, change and worry having a negative impact in the legal sector. Similar words used on the landing pages of the credit and lending industry decreased conversion rates by an average of 15%.

Meanwhile, copy written at a Year 7 reading level – using “simple and accessible vocabulary” – was found to deliver a 200% higher conversions rate than copy written at university level. Six of the 10 industries studied saw better conversion rates when the copy was at Year 10 reading level or lower.

Surprisingly, words associated with joy, including safe, friendly, clean, comfort, excellent, happy, success and confidence, can negatively effect conversion rates for a travel company’s marketing campaign.

Landing pages in the home improvement, vocational studies and travel sectors containing less than 1% of joyful words showed up to 3,540% lower conversion rates than those with more than 1%.

The study also found that simplicity is best for attract visitors to your website homepage, with minimal copy on a landing page associated with more conversions across more industries. For example: in the health sector, pages with around 500 words had a 30% higher conversion rate on average than those with up to 750 words.

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Rick Perreault, CEO of Unbounce, commented: “This study really set out to take our unmatched wealth of data and use it to give marketers the type of deep insights into copy and words that they have had access to before now.

“Some of what we found was as we’d have expected it, but other findings were seemingly counterintuitive – joy can decrease conversions – and therefore even more valuable data-driven insights for marketers.”


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