This piece originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you buy some products and leave others sitting on the shelf? How do we decide between all the options we have every single day, when the majority of the time we have little to no first-hand experience with the products we’re deciding between?
What makes you finally decide to try a new restaurant, use a new toothpaste or switch to a new piece of software? The answer lies largely in the types of words used to sell the product or service.
Maybe you’ve never realized it, but words play a huge role in helping our brains decide which products to buy. There are tons of variables, but one thing has been proven time and time again — certain words sell better. They just do.
So here you go, here are 10 words customers love to hear when making a decision:
If you think “free” is sleazy and overused, think again. People love free, plain and simple. You can give practically anything away for free, no matter how small, and you’ll grab people’s attention.
Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout points this out using a study where the researchers asked people to choose between a Lindt truffle for $0.15 — which is a heck of a deal — or a Hershey Kiss (HSY) for $0.01. An amazing 73 percent chose the Lindt truffle.
Then they asked another group to choose between a Lindt truffle for $0.14 — again, a heck of a deal) — or a Hershey Kiss for free. This time, 69 percent wanted the Hershey Kiss. Why? Because everyone loves free stuff.
Everyone want to be in the “in” crowd. When you make your product exclusive — only available to a select group — you make people want it even more. You can exchange the word exclusive with other words or phrases — members only, invitation only, first, insider — everyone will still want in.
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As sad as it is, Mayberry doesn’t exist anymore, at least in most parts of the world. Life is complicated, and we also might be just a smidgen on the lazy side. So anytime we hear that something is simple or easy to do, we’re drawn to it.
I’ve helped conduct surveys where customers were asked what their top purchase factors were in buying a piece of software, and “easy-to-use” was in the top three. When in doubt, don’t flex the complexity muscle. Features are good, but not when they sacrifice simplicity.
Oh, how we hate missing out. It can be as simple as bobble heads at a local minor league baseball game, and if they say the first 100 people get one free, suddenly those bobble heads are more appealing. I mean, what are you even going to do with a bobble head? Who cares. It’s a great deal, and you have to make a decision now before it’s too late, so you’re in.
HubSpot cites a test conducted by Encyclopedia Brittanica where they replaced a headline that was a question with a headline that started with the word “get.” Conversions doubled.
I don’t have a research-backed explanation for this, but I would say it’s because get is an action word that psychologically puts the reader in charge and prepares them for action. Get is also typically followed by a benefit. Get a flat stomach in six weeks. Get better grades with less studying. Get the freshest, cleanest haircut in town. You get the picture.
You can also use other verbs like claim, start, try, grab or give.
With so much fraud in the world today, authenticity is a legitimate concern your customers have. Using the right words can give them the reassurance they need to pull the trigger.
You’ve likely seen this everywhere — because it works. The key, though, is to actually be able to back up your guarantee. If your product doesn’t have a guarantee, returns aren’t hassle-free, or your results aren’t proven, don’t say it. It may work in the short-term, but it’ll bite you down the road. That said, if you don’t offer a guarantee, maybe it’s time to do so.
Other words you can use to provide assurance are proven, results, no obligation, risk-free, hassle-free and secure.
When you’re writing sales copy, or anything intended to persuade, use first-person language. It makes the reader’s, or listener’s, ears perk up a bit. And — on an unconscious level — it makes them feel special.
Using “you” makes your writing conversational, and it brings your voice down to a friendly level where you can actually make a connection.
This one’s interesting. Gregory Ciotti cites studies in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini by using interesting scenarios. One that sticks out is where different phrases were tested to see which one would make people most inclined to allow someone to break in line at the copy machine.
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” — 60 percent allowed the person to cut in line.
“I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?” — 94 percent allowed the person to cut in line.
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” — 93 percent allowed the person to cut in line.
Notice that by simply hearing a “because,” followed by a reason, nearly everyone decided the person could get in front of them in line. The reasons given weren’t even legitimate reasons. Because I have to make copies? Everyone in line had to make copies — that’s why they were there.
The thing to remember is that human brains love explanations. We need to know why. Why do I need that feature? Because it will help me get ____.
Tie your product, features and the actions you want people to take in with a reason, and people will be more compelled to take action.
Which sounds better? “How to Change a Flat Tire” or “The Best Way the Change a Flat Tire.”
It’s a no-brainer, really. Think about how many times you’ve Googled something, only to get frustrated during the search, so you go back and add the word “best” in front of your search. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
It’s as if “best” is a sacred word that’s only awarded to the truly great, so you can count on anything labeled as the best. We all know that’s not true, but to call something the best implies that at some point there was a comparison, and this one came out on top.
But please, don’t be deceptive with this. If you’re not truly the best, or you can’t get people to call you the best without coercion, keep working to actually be the best at what you do. Don’t just slap that label on yourself without validation.
With social media and as many review sites and blogs as there are today, practically everyone makes comparisons before making a decision.
Ford (F) vs. Chevrolet
Pampers vs. Huggies
Charmin vs. Cottonelle
Hubspot vs. Marketo
We want to know who the top players are, and then we want to see them side-by-side. Use that to your advantage by telling your readers to compare your quality, ease of use, price, etc., to your competitor’s. Even better, make it easy on them by doing the comparison yourself.
When you openly show them the difference between your product and your competitors, you take that work off of them, and they’ll be grateful for that.