Did you know that the words in the marketing copy of your emails and direct mail pieces can be seen as positive or negative? According to MECLABS, which researches how people make buying decisions, if your positive words outweigh the negative ones, you can boost your conversion rates substantially.

MECLABS gives the following examples from the following test. The original call to action (CTA) read like this:

Complete a free online budget analysis to help us understand your unique situation.

Get Started Now

This was tested against the following:

Estimate your single low-interest monthly payment by entering your budget information on our secure site.

Estimate my monthly payment.

Which do you think was most effective? To understand the answer, notes MECLABS, you must look at the relationship between the positive and negative phrases in each set of copy. Does the positive outweigh the negative?

The first word in the first CTA is “complete.” Completing tasks is good, but from a consumer perspective, it implies work. Who wants more of that? As MECLABs notes, “Never start your CTA with a word that implies work.”

Next is “budget analysis.” For most people, this phrase does not bring up positive emotions. Quite the opposite! It often creates a sense of dread. That’s a negative. So while “free” can be a positive word, it’s not positive when the free thing is something people don’t want.

Then you have “to help us understand.” Understanding is positive, but who does it benefit? “Us,” the marketers. Why would the recipient want to put in work to help the marketer?

The marketing text takes on a different feel when you put it that way!

Contrast this with the second option: “Estimate your single low-interest monthly payment by entering your budget information on our secure site.” “Estimate” still requires some work but is less than “complete.” And “your single, low-interest monthly payment” sounds way more positive than “budget analysis.” It also puts the customer’s— not the marketer’s— needs first.

Not surprisingly, the second example outperformed the first by +125%.

Next time you create marketing copy, think about each word of the phrase’s positive and negative sense. Make your positives outweigh your negatives, and watch it do the same for your conversion rates!