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Wednesday, 20 May 2015 17:53

Why Using ‘Smarter’ Words Is Killing Your Business

Why Using ‘Smarter’ Words Is Killing Your Business

The best web copy is not the fanciest web copy. It’s not the copy with the most sophisticated words or even the copy that sounds the most ‘professional.’ The best web copy is the web copy that’s the easiest to understand. It’s as simple as that.

Big words and industry lingo are not easy to understand. They’re definitely not easy to scan. I’ve said it before on this blog and I know I’ll say it again, your prospects will breeze through your text, not dissect it. While those $25 words might make your text look rich with rhetoric, they’re also ripe with vague meaning and confusion. 

I get it. “I worked hard for this college education, I might as well put it all out on display, right?!” I used to fall into that trap. The bottom line though is you aren’t in the running for the Pulitzer Prize, you’re going after sales. Save your creative voice for the novel you plan to write.

Keep Sentences Short

Short sentences are gold. Solid gold. They’re easy to read. They’re easy to scan. They’re easy to understand.

If you naturally write in longer sentences and are struggling to keep them short and compact, try replacing every comma in a paragraph with a period. It will look a little weird. It may feel choppy. But it will be more affective and to the point.

This is not just my personal style. Human psychology dictates this. Our brains naturally pause every time we see a comma. We can’t help it, it’s how we’re wired to read. Meanwhile a period simply signals the end of a thought, not necessarily a complete pause. It’s much easier to power read a paragraph that’s broken up by periods instead of commas. 

Try it yourself. Write out a paragraph like you normally would (including commas), then go through and remove them or change them to periods. See how much quicker you can actually read it? It’s weird, but it works. 

Keep It Elementary

Not just elementary in nature, but literally elementary school. 

As you write your copy you should be constantly thinking to yourself “can a 6th grader understand what I’m saying right now?” If the answer’s yes, well done. If your 12 year old would have a hard time picking up what you’re putting down, it might be worth another revision.

This may take some getting used to. You may feel a twinge to bust out the ol’ dictionary. RESIST. Keep the fancy words on the bookshelf. Again this guarantees your copy will be easy to understand and therefore easy to buy from. 

You would be shocked how many adults in the U.S. struggle to read above a 6th to 8th grade level anyways. Most won’t admit it, but you’re doing everyone a favor by keeping it simple. 

Technology Is Your Friend

Earnest Hemingway is infamous for living by the mantra “write drunk; edit sober.” While this would with out a doubt lend itself to some interesting prose, I doubt it would bear the same fruit with your web copy. 

There is a lot though that you can still take away from Hemingway’s writing style. Though this may hurt your brain a little, think back to your high school english classes when you last read Hemingway’s books. As the fog starts to lift, you might recall he wrote in a very similar style to how I am urging you now: with short sentences, few commas and simple words. That’s how you should write. 

And trust me, I know difficult it is to completely change your writing style at the drop of at hat, especially if you don’t consider yourself a ‘writer.’ 

Luckily there an easier way to write like Hemingway.

It’s a web app called Write Like Hemingway

Essentially you copy and paste whatever you’ve written into the text field (you can doing it right on the website or download the desktop version) and it simplifies your text with shorter sentences and smaller words to make your writing look more like Earnest Hemingway’s. 

Have fun with it.

And give it a try with you’re next bit of web copy.

Don’t act too surprised though when your conversions start to skyrocket.


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Erik Rosner

Content Strategist

Erik brings a unique talent for writing to our team, using his creative skills in creating and curating content to encourage user engagement in our client's brands and ours. 

Find me on: Team Page | LinkedIn | Google+

 

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