The Power of the Word Get

We’re not biased because our blog’s name is Get Elastic, but the power of the word “get” on persuasion and conversion has popped up at least a couple times in my web travels this year.

In Marketing Experiments’ web clinic Headline Optimization: How testing 10 headlines revealed a 3-letter word that improved conversion more than major changes features a case study that tested — you guessed it — 10 headlines with various wording:

The top converting headline began with the word “get”:

And when arranged by conversion improvement, you can identify the top of the crop as headlines which emphasize what the user “gets” (value-centric), and the second tier focuses on taking action.

This is critical, because we may tend to think of affirmative verbs, or “commands” as more psychologically powerful.

Another example comes from paid search expert Mona Elesseily’s post 5 Tips To Fine Tune PPC Ad Copy. Mona advises to incorporate “power words” into copy.

Some examples of words I like to try in PPC testing are try, get, fast, online, etc. Here are some examples (altered to protect client confidentiality) of headlines with and without power words, along with their associated cost per conversion. This is based on a large sample size.

Get Eagle Talons – $7.75

Eagle Talons Fast – $10.24

Eagle Talons – OEM – $7.81

Parts of Birds Online – $12.10

What did we learn? Either “Get” or “OEM” were strong performers as opposed to mentioning speed. While fast shipping may be a benefit, we assume it looks cheesy in a headline or causes a few more hasty clicks than it should.

Is it as simple as start every headline with “get”?

Nope. But consider testing headlines that begin with this three-letter power word against similar value-centric words, and versus your action-centric headlines you’re already using. The point is value-centric words are more persuasive than action-centric. “Get” happens to be a good word to use, according to these two examples.

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4 Responses to “The Power of the Word Get”

  1. toby kesterton says:

    How international is this? My perception is that this is heavily influenced by the US.

  2. Hi Linda,

    I see an issue with the list of ‘Get’ headlines. They are not being judged on their own, but being skewered with other tempting benefit words such as ‘Paid’ and ‘Reward’ (i.e. the value-centric category you mentioned).

    I bet very similar results might be achieved with a 2-letter word – why waste breath with a 3-letter word (Get) when two letters might do.

    What might that 2-letter word be? Oh No! The two-letter word is ‘Be’.

    Be Paid to take FREE Surveys.

    Be Paid to Fill Out Online Surveys

    Be Rewarded for Your Opinion

    I am confident that this will work as well, if not better. ‘Get’ suggests an element of luck/maybe/possibly, whereas ‘Be’ is more positive/affirmative/confirmative/even assertive (i.e. ‘you will be’ Paid/Rewarded).

    As a side issue but possibly with negative consequences, (as I understand it) amongst the Jewish community ‘Get’ has a negative connortation, particulalrly in legal conflicts and divorce procedings. But I stand to be corrected on this point.

    Christopher

    • Interesting, I’d like to see someone test that out. I’m not sure “be” would have the same effect as “get”, as it’s closer to the “do something” message that doesn’t convert as well. I think of the famous “be all that you can be (join the army)” which contains an action. “Be good.” “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “Be remarkable.” Requires some form of effort or action. Just my off-the-cuff thoughts. Good point on the cultural impact which should be considered.

      • Linda,

        Not wishing to labour the point or appear to be nic-picking, but I suspect your examples are advertising slogans and we all know how the advertising world breaks all the rules in good English for reasons of brevity, impact and, dare I say it, sensationalism. Alternatively, the odd one (number 2?) might be a statement by a well-known philosopher.

        I would like to suggest that the use of ‘be’ here is by way of command/order/cajoled into taking some action which, by the nature of the slogan, has to come first from the person(s) being addressed.

        In the first example, “be all that you can be (join the army)”, an action is required (first) of joining the army, to result in “be all that you can be”. In other words an active participation.

        Whereas the examples highlighted in your article suggest a passive action in each case on the part of the participant.

        That is all. An interesting article nevertheless, but the observations perhaps unintentionally skewered by Marketing Experiments.

        Christopher

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