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Plain Language, Please! Here’s Why To Avoid “Marketese” Online

You see “marketese” splattered all over the Internet. Just about everybody uses it. But that doesn’t make it right.

“Marketese” is “the promotional writing style with boastful subjective claims,” according to web usability master Jakob Nielsen.

Chock-full of hyperbole and industry jargon, “marketese” is meant to sound impressive, used to promote a company or service as “the best!” or “the top-rated!” or “probably the most significant life experience you can ever hope to have, ever!”

And guess what? Your audience loathes it.

It seems unavoidable, I know! You want to tell your prospective customers how awesome you are in order to convince them to choose your company over the competition.

Instead of using marketese, show how awesome you are with testimonials, case studies, and concise, objective language that helps users find what they’re looking for on your website.

Your choice of words should focus on the benefits they receive from your service or product, not the features that make your company a sensation. Craft your content to accommodate the customer’s goals first, and you’ll definitely stand out from the competition.

Still feel compelled to brag a little bit or use a slightly promotional tone? You won’t after you read these reasons to avoid using “marketese” in your website copy:

A back alley of a building with graffiti and a waste disposal bin.

It gives your website a back-alley vibe

Translation: sketchy. Not to be trusted. When a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  It compels users to exit immediately.

“Credibility suffers when users clearly see that the site exaggerates,” says Nielsen.

Earning a prospect’s trust online is hard enough.  Adding “marketese” to the mix only makes it harder.

Main takeaway: “Marketese” hurts customer trust.

Few people actually read it word for word

If you’ve paid a copywriter to wax poetic about your magnificent, earth-shattering, gift-to-humankind product or service, it’s money down the drain.  Studies show that web users do not actually read. Instead, they scan the text.

They’re scanning for information to help achieve their goal, whether it’s to purchase a canoe or determine whether that lump is a mole or something else.

“Marketese” is fluffy by nature, and fluff takes up valuable space on a web page.  And if you think users are going to sift through all the fluff to find the good stuff, think again. They’re going to take around 15 seconds to scan the page, evaluate whether it has what they’re looking for, and bounce.

Main takeaway: “Marketese” hinders your website from doing its job.

There’s little or no SEO value in “marketese”

People generally don’t Google grandiose phrases such as “the most spectacular, shimmering man-made bodies of water” when they’re looking for in-ground pools. So why would you use this type of language on your website?

If you want higher search rankings, stick to the key terms your audience uses to describe your product or service.

Main takeaway: “Marketese” and SEO don’t mix.

The naked page is OK

When you strip a web page of any “marketese” and overly promotional language, it can look pretty bare.  And that’s just fine.

Concise, less wordy web pages make important information easy to find, which compels customers to complete an action on your website.

Your company is awesome. Let the awesomeness reveal itself through quality of service, success stories, and the willingness to help customers make the most of what you have to offer.

Other ‘Plain Language, Please!’ Articles

If you only had 3 seconds, how would you describe your service or product to a prospective customer?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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