Choose your words carefully or your aims may fail

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ArticleimageThe BBC website tech news has just reported on new data that shows how wording can dissuade women and ethnic groups from responding to job ads. This can be a major problem for companies seeking to create more balance in the workforce.

But BBI Brandboost believes that this data has implications that go beyond the field of recruitment, affecting a whole range of business communications.

Manage or develop?

The BBC’s article “Why do some job adverts put women off applying?” reports on how Textio, an augmented writing software company based in Seattle, uses artificial intelligence to analyse the wording of many millions of recruitment advertisements and suggest possible alternatives.

For instance, it found that a job ad saying “We’re looking for someone to manage a team” would be likely to encourage more applications from men than women. But replacing the word “manage” with “develop” would attract more female applicants.

Does it work? It seems so. The article cites the case of a leading Australian technology company that used the Textio software and had an 80% worldwide increase in hiring of women for technical roles over a two year period. That’s pretty convincing.

Extrapolating from this position, we would claim that choice of words can also have a significant effect on the marketing of products and services to specific target audiences and demographics. Of course content is king and good copywriting has always been valued, but what this analysis shows is just how powerful the effect of specific words can be, either positively or negatively.

Textio’s Chief Executive commented that they don’t explain why a certain phrase will detract women from applying for jobs. They simply provide the data for the client to develop their own theories.

What works and why?

John Wanamaker, founder of the successful US chain of department stores Macy’s, is famously credited as saying that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”.

So are we in a similar position with our understanding of word power? Can we effectively distinguish between the phrases that attract our target markets and those that repel?

Well, a part of the answer lies in testing and analysis. For instance, it is good practice to trial out several subject lines for different segments of an email marketing list.

There is no substitute for expertise, strategic perception and experience when it comes to creating content driven campaigns. BBI Brandboost has been successful in the field of online marketing and communications for many years and know that understanding your audience lies not only in utilising the right online platforms to reach them, but also in creating the right content to engage with them.

And, if you have read to the end of this article that must prove that we’re getting something right!

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