Using the word “My” to improve conversions

my conversions

For post #1, I really wanted to deliver something useful to just about everyone. Something universally simple, that packs a lot of value. The very first thing that came to mind was an article I read a couple months ago titled 10 Call-to-Action Case Studies by Michael Aagaard. In this article it is demonstrated, in one case, how changing the button text on a call-to-action from "Your" to "My" delivered a 90% increase in conversions.

Ninety percent! This seemed a little unrealistic, so I decided to test it out for myself (more on that in another post). At this point, I realized, that not all call-to-actions contain the pronoun your. For example, these call-to-actions are in the form of simple commands:

  • Submit
  • Begin
  • Go
  • Start
  • Create Account

In such cases, the swapping "Your" for "My" doesn't apply. So, I thought it might be valuable to look into the effects of adding the pronoun "My" to a pronoun-less button.

  • Submit My Application
  • Begin My Free Trial
  • Go to My Search Results
  • Start Optimizing My Website
  • Create My Account


Psychological Ownership

physchological ownershipThe word my implies possession. But, so do the words your, his, her, our and their. So we have a two-fold effect going on when we make use of the word my in our calls-to-action:

  1. Possession
  2. First person (as opposed to the second person pronouns your, his, her, our, their)

Okay, so we know that using the word my symbolizes first person possession. But, why is that a good thing? And, more specifically, why does it have meaning for people in the context of abstract or intangible items, such as digital data (shopping cart, account, personal profile).

Not being a psychologist myself, I decided to do a little research on the web. After a couple hours of searching for articles related to the concept of possession, I came across the term psychological ownership. Psychological ownership refers to the possession, or ownership of something intangible, something that can't legally (or physically) be possessed.

This concept is a perfect fit for objects which are stored on a company's server, but seemingly belong to a website user. User accounts, order histories, and photo galleries are all examples of psychological possessions. They are not only intangible, but the user typically doesn't even have legal ownership of them.

Psychological ownership runs rampant on websites like Facebook, where the user "owns" personal connections, photos and events. There's no better example of the power of psychological ownership.

We know people value possessions, add that to the success of psychological ownership on the web, and it should come as no surprise that simply adding the word my to a phrase would provide additional personal feelings that might not be present without it.


The Five Minute Test

analyticsSo, what can you do in 5 minutes to measure the effects of psychological ownership on your conversion rate.

  1. Add the word my to one of your calls-to-action.
  2. Make an annotation in Google Analytics (or use a similar notation method in your chosen analytics tool).
  3. Give it a couple weeks and see if conversion rates improve.

The Ten Minute Test

The five-minute test is a little unscientific, as it doesn't allow you to test the "old-way" in comparison to the "new way" in a controlled fashion. To properly do this, you need to setup an A/B split test. Google comes to the rescue again with their suite of tools for split testing. It is offered by other providers as well.


Please comment and let us know if you experience a positive impact on your conversion rates!