Language matters

Language matters

I’m an angry man!  

I’ve seen the light, but others have not.  So as a last resort I visited London’s Speaker’s Corner to argue my case. It’s unfortunate it’s come to this. What I really need is help to spread the gospel, or in prosaic post-biblical lingo, “share via social media”.

Many brands are waking up with metaphorical hangovers. They’ve imbibed the sort of consent they long suspected gave health problems. Dawn is here and they face the horrific aftermath. But rather than remaining upbeat and keeping the consent party rocking by chatting up the cool marketing kids, they dial the lawyers and hide under duvets. It will end in tears.

Here’s the technical bit, but please bear with me.

I suspect some of you will not be convinced by a picture of a sincere, but driven man at speaker’s corner. So I’ll build a technically credible argument. The angry man in the picture above has worked in data and research for 30 years. 15 years ago I ran The Telegraph’s database marketing division and since then have been fascinated by and committed to understanding why consumers decide to share their data with brands.

fastmap has researched hundreds of permission statements and seen irrefutable, indisputable, unquestionable proof that words matter. The right language does have a very positive effect on consent. fastmap identified the three major influencing pillars of consent:

  1. Opt-in versus opt-out
  2. Language
  3. Channel choice

So like all good direct marketers fastmap approached things scientifically and treated each “major influencing pillar” as a testing variable, by keeping two constant and changing the third to isolate cause and effect. During this huge and on-going research process involving many UK super-brands fastmap interviewed more than 50,000 respondents.

End of the technical stuff.

The impact of language

A change of language can dramatically increase the level of consent. A client recently increased consent by 320%. It retained identical opt-in/opt-out and channel structures and varied only language. This resulted in a difference of 22% between the worst and best performing statements.

Amazing isn’t it?

Extrapolating this to a database means 3.2 times the amount of sales leads and 3.2 times the amount of potential revenue; perhaps enough to keep the party going? The difference between life and death for most brands. That’s why I’m shouting: “Don’t stay under the duvet:  Wake up and smell the consent!”

Use every ounce of copywriting creativity and marketing know-how to persuade prospects they’d benefit from staying in touch with you. Let’s not pretend brands don’t utilise persuasion in every other area of marketing. Yes, consent can be a bit boring, but the really important things often are. The reason consent is not being marketed effectively, is not because of a lack of skills. It is because brands do not see it as a marketing challenge.

Consent is now the first duty of the marketer

In a world of startling change, the first duty of the Government remains: the security of our country.”  UK Government, National Security Strategy 2010.

Likewise, I argue with some force: “In a communications world of startling change the first duty of the marketer is to generate enough marketing consent for a brand to survive”. Enjoy it or not, it’s your duty. Get on with it straight away; it’s too important to ignore. If you are convinced by this rant, please share it with your colleagues. The crowds at speaker’s corner didn’t seem at all interested in marketing consent and I’d rather not go back.

For more information such as creating a Consent Text Matrix or the 3rd Pillar of Consent go to or contact one of the fastmap team on 02072420702 or at

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