Editor’s note: Garrett Hughes is senior content creator at landing page platform Unbounce, Vancouver. 

What is the relationship between language sentiment and web page conversions?

Our team completed a marketing study from November 2020 to April 2021, published as the 2021 Conversion Benchmark Report. We analyzed the outcomes from almost 264 million visits to over 44,000 landing pages, which led to 33 million conversions. We looked at the data to generate insights based on what worked – and what didn’t – as marketers from across industries sought to engage with a flood of online visitors in a year unlike any other.

The report (registration required) broke down insights into 16 industry areas, including e-commerce, education, SaaS, business services, legal, home improvement, travel, real estate, fitness and nutrition. It looked at how factors such as emotion, sentiment and complexity of language influenced a business’ potential to convert web traffic into potential customers.

With a global pandemic clogging up our news streams, bringing endless negativity into our everyday lives, it’s no wonder negative language and its impact on conversions became a clear and recurring theme of our study. When faced with an unprecedented global health crisis, marketers ran with instinct and broke with standard practice: negative language became fair game and, as a result, conversions suffered almost across the board.

One of the central findings was that, while negativity generated an extraordinarily high number of clicks and content consumption in 2020, it had the opposite effect on marketing campaigns – especially those in the sectors of e-commerce, home improvement and fitness and nutrition.

In 2020, international consumers shifted perspectives and behaviours like never before. The data from our study uncovered the enormous challenge marketers faced trying to land the right tone in one of ...