Case study:

How BrainTree Used Contently's Tone Analyzer to Find the Right Writers

One feature gave Braintree the expert content creators it had been looking for

At the beginning of 2017, Braintree went through a brand overhaul. The payments platform company realized that, too often, businesses saw payment management as a chore rather than the bedrock of commerce.

With over half of Americans preferring online to in-store shopping, and mobile transactions set to increase by 74 percent in the next two years, Braintree decided it was time to focus its content on helping companies understand how integral payments were to a successful business.To launch this campaign, Braintree needed a new set of writers who were experts on payments. It also wanted a system for maintaining a consistent brand voice throughout all of the company’s content.Braintree decided to undergo an experiment with Contently’s Tone Analyzer to see if technology could help the company find expert contributors who could capture the right voice for its blog.


Braintree submitted a story brief for a blog post about Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. Contently’s talent team then selected a group of contributors who had the right expertise to write the piece.

The Tone Analyzer scanned stories these contributors published in the past, giving each writer a score based on five traits: expressivity, formality, inflection, authority, and emotion. (The traits are modeled after the “Big Five” personality classification system, developed by psychologists Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961.)

Simultaneously, Contently ran Braintree’s existing content through the Tone Analyzer to see how the brand scored. When all the numbers were crunched, the contributors were ranked by a Tone Affnity Score, which measured how closely their tone matched the brand.

From here, Contently chose six contributors to write the same story, based on the following criteria:
• The two writers who had highest tone match
• The two writers who had the lowest tone match
• Two writers who had strong tone affinity, but were not trained by Contently’s talent team
Once the drafts came in, Braintree did a blind test to evaluate the writers.


Braintree ranked the stories from the contributors with the highest tone affinity score as the best options for them, and the stories from writers with the lowest affinity score as the bottom two posts. The writers with a strong tone affinity but no Contently training fell in the middle.

“It was very clear who the top two and bottom two were,” Terri Falvey, lead content strategist for Braintree, said. “Those top two were far better than anyone we’ve worked with in the past.”

The experiment served as a useful way for Braintree to staff its team with freelancers who could articulate facts in a way that sounded like Braintree. With the right writers assigned to Braintree stories, Falvey and her team could run a more efficient editorial operation.

“We went from rejecting pieces that had gone through four or more rounds of edits to a system where after the very first round of edits, we were ready to go live,” said Falvey.

For Braintree, the Tone Analyzer’s value stems from its ability to offer data-driven insights on the freelance process, bringing quantitative justification to important editorial decisions.

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