Vengreso is a consulting company that provides resources for professionals in the sales and marketing industry. They also produce podcasts that discuss sales and marketing in the digital age on their bi-weekly podcast, Modern Marketing Engine. This informative podcast, hosted by Bernie Borges, discusses topics about marketing along with a guest speaker.

In Episode 238, Bernie discusses “The Impact of One Word in Customer Conversations” with Corporate Visions CEO, Erik Peterson.

When crafting copy to convince customers to take an action, words are important; messaging is important. Borges and Peterson argue that the difference between one or two words can impact customer perception.

According to Peterson, sales has trouble finding media in the world of big data; it is data rich, but theory poor. On the other hand, marketing is theory rich, but data poor; meaning it is hard to prove the theories right. His company, Corporate Visions, fund studies that produce evidence-based research which they summarize in their ‘state of the conversation’ report.

They surveyed 1200 marketers and sales professionals: 47 per cent of respondents say they “used we-phrases to position themselves as a trusted partner” to a client, while 40 per cent “used you-phrases in a focused way to transfer ownership to the customer” and 7 per cent did not pose an opinion on it. However, when asked which phrasing is more effective, 52 per cent said you-phrasing as it is customer-focused and allows customers to see their role in a story.

There exists some uncertainty among marketers and sales professionals on the right approach to capture a customer, yet most of them agreed that you-phrasing is more effective. They conducted two studies to compare copy using we-phrasing (i.e. ‘we can do this for you’) to you-phrasing (i.e. ‘you will be able to do this’) in an email and a landing page to see which works better.

In the first, they sent almost identical cold emails to “unsuspecting prospects”: the email outlines the same benefits and it is the same length. However, the difference was the we/you phrasing. They set out to test interest level and urgency. “Participants who received the you-phrasing felt 20 per cent more responsible for solving the problem than those who received the we-phrasing,” Peterson revealed. And participants felt “13 per cent more strongly that they needed to take action.”

You-phrase recipients felt more compelled to take action and they felt like they needed to solve the problem.

In the second study, they wanted to measure interest and intention to buy. The study revealed 11 per cent of participants who received the you-phrasing were more convinced to make a purchase and 10 per cent being more likely to purchase. Thus, this proves how powerful the you-phrase is, since it can sway and even persuade a customer.

“The journey with the customer evolves over time,” Borges says. However, if marketers don’t understand the customer’s way of thinking, they will always be behind.

Personalization is important—it makes people feel wanted and pushes them to move beyond the status quo. The key, however, is crafting copy that does it right.

Peterson suggests taking a look at recent emails comparing the usage of you-phrasing versus we-phrasing to see which performs better. He mentions that even starting with ‘you’ helps the marketer get into the customer’s mindset; the you-phrasing compels “you have no choice, but to get into the customer’s head.”

As a CCIT student who has taken various marketing and advertising courses, I found the information covered in the podcast quite helpful. The discussions about techniques, evidence, and psychological aspects aided in my understanding of marketing and the reason why I should implement certain strategies. In this episode in particular, the podcast explained simple concepts and backed it up with research. A lot of things we learn in university are theory, but having professionals prove the legitimacy of the theories is helpful in crafting digital marketing campaigns of my own. 

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