The Role of Syntax in Persuasive Marketing Communication: A Natural Language Processing Approach
56 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2019 Last revised: 11 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 10, 2020
The use of language is ubiquitous in any marketing communication, such as advertisements or product descriptions, and the decision of how to formulate marketing communications so that they are persuasive is a problem for most marketers. In this paper, the authors take a natural language processing approach to investigate the role of syntax in marketing communications. Using a data set of 134 debates with 129,480 sentences, they show that the syntax of a message communicated, as captured by specific elements of syntax referred to as dependencies, is predictive of its persuasiveness. They identify the specific dependencies that directly influence the persuasiveness of a message and demonstrate how communicators can use the findings to write persuasive marketing communications. In two follow up experiments, conducted in the lab and on Facebook, the authors show that marketing messages written in accordance with their findings are more successful in persuading consumers. Click-through rates on Facebook, for example, increase by 41%.
Keywords: marketing communications, persuasion, syntax, natural language processing, machine learning
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