The Magic Word to Improve Response Rates

What if we told you there was one word you could throw into your marketing to magically improve response rates? Then what if we told you this word was so powerful that it actually defied logic? We were pretty skeptical at first too, but the research is there.

Turns out the word “because” has some pretty persuasive powers. To fully understand the magic behind this single word we need to take a trip back in time to 1978.

The Copy Machine Study
Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, had no idea her copy machine test would fundamentally change the understanding surrounding human behavior, explained James Clear. Yet she set out to determine what effect slight changes in phrase would have on response rates.

The study began by having researches enter libraries in search of people waiting at the public copy machine. From there, the researchers would approach the machine with the intention of cutting the line. When they confronted the innocent bystander they would ask one of three questions:

  1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
  2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
  3. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”

Version one was a plain request, version two was a request with a valid reason and version three was a request with a nonsensical reason. The takeaway? Providing a reason, no matter how senseless, garnered better responses. The question with no reasoning was only successful 60 percent of the time whereas both versions two and three saw over 90 percent positive responses.

Psychology Today noted that simply hearing the word “because”  initiates compliance in the human brain. Lame reasoning only goes so far, though. According to the source, when researchers upped the ante to 20 copied pages instead of 5, the agreement rate dropped significantly. However, when given a good reason for the 20 pages, compliance remained very high.

Using “because” in marketing
This knowledge becomes very powerful when it comes to the world of marketing. Simply adding the word “because” into your call to action can significantly improve conversion rates. James Clear noted that there are two major lessons to be learned from Langer’s research. For starters, when asking for action be sure to use because paired with a logical reason. Second, sometimes reasoning defies logic. Just take a look at these marketing examples and decide for yourself:

  1. Try our newest gourmet pizza options.
  2. Try our newest gourmet pizza options because who doesn’t love pizza?
  3. Try our newest gourmet pizza options because pizza.

While number three might not make perfect sense, it is more compelling than a flat out command. The point is, even a partially-convincing explanation for action can be the boost your marketing efforts needs. So, try using this magic word next time you craft a marketing message because …. Well you know.

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