Curb Your Enthusiasm: Exclamations Aren’t Always Amazing.

Hold on to your hats, guys.  Punctuation doesn’t always steal the headlines, but this changes everything.  When it comes to conversions, there are distinct rules of thumb for when to use exclamation points or drop them from your call to action. Considering it’s the wild punctuation child, it actually follows the rules pretty well.  Stray from the rule, and the exclamation point can actually tank your message.

First, the surprise. Your favorite signal for “big news” could be backfiring in your call to action.  No matter how exciting your special offer is, tacking an exclamation point onto it is a conversion killer.  Boom.

Look at exclamation-point-bait.  These are offers so good, you can’t let the outside miss just how big a deal it is.

Free shipping!

That’s a big deal, right?  Probably.  It’s just that while the message might be strong, it is far more likely to entice the audience when it is missing the exclamation point.

Free shipping

We compared both phrases in Convertasaurus, and “free shipping” comes out as the winner over its “free shipping!” counterpart.  Not only is this a productive takeaway for anyone writing ads, it’s also pretty sweet that the overall lesson is, “Hey, be cool.”

That being said let the parade of nerdery begin. Here are the details, direct from Convertasaurus. To start, we looked at 5,804,626 ads by 68,351 different advertisers containing the phrase “free shipping” or “free shipping!”

Let that sink in for a moment of how many ads contributed to this test.  More than 5.8 million ads that promoted free shipping drove the details of this test, so our sample size and results give us high confidence that this isn’t just a “maybe” or it wouldn’t apply to you.  Don’t forget that with nearly 70 thousand advertisers, that cuts across industries and audiences into territory we can easily call “mainstream.”

 Across all of these instances, the phrase “free shipping” appeared 1.8 times more often in successful ads than unsuccessful ads.

Don’t despair.  It’s not time to ditch the punctuation mark altogether. There’s still a place for exclamation points when used with discretion.  In fact, we found a distinct rule of thumb.

  1. When you have an exciting offer, leave the exclamation point out.
  2. When you have a sense of urgency, leave it in.

Here’s the non-exclamation point muscle we see with “Special offers:”

It proves pretty strong when you’re sweetening the deal. See how many times the straight-forward approach won out.

Compare that with the incredible winning streak that the exclamation point gets with “Urgency” related words:

True words, @dragonflytweet. It’s tempting to rely on usually offers so appealing; you almost can’t believe you’re offering it.  But don’t worry about trying to convince your audience.  They’ll get the message best when you give it to them straight.

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