It becomes second nature to drift into the terminology of other marketers – but it’s not their language you should be trying to speak
Ok, the CTR looks good on that landing page, but what’s the BR? Any idea of the WOM performance?
You don’t understand? SMH…
Welcome to the wonderful world of marketing jargon. Generally, it gets a bad rep. Take a look at this Marketing Bullshit Generator for some undeniably close-to-the-truth fun.
But really, what difference does it make? Every industry has its own lingo and shortcuts – why is it that marketing in particular gets called out for self-indulgence and pretension? (Answer: because it can be self-indulgent and pretentious.)
There’s something more important at play, though. When the jargon bleeds through into the marketing output itself, you risk something much worse than just irritating your audience: you risk alienating them.
For new starters in content marketing, or marketing in general, it can seem like a whirlwind of USPs, CTAs, renosing copy and spiking content.
The trick is to absorb these terms into your vocabulary but never let them enter the content itself. Who are you writing for? Most likely, it isn’t other marketers (or if it is, do you really want to reduce the possibility of other people enjoying the fruits of your labour?).
Bad content is littered with assumptions of prior knowledge. Are you sure everyone knows what IoT is? Even if you write it out first time, ‘Internet of Things’, has that concept truly crossed into mainstream understanding? I would argue that it hasn’t.
The difficulty comes when you’re writing for a specialist audience. How much assumed knowledge can you assume? It’s a tricky balance, but generally one where it’s worth erring on the side of caution. It’s less annoying to read a one-line explainer than it is to open up a new tab and Google ‘what does xxx mean?’
Ignorance is your friend here. If you have any questions over what an expression or acronym means, you won’t be the only one. Great content creators and editors never lose that spirit of clarity and explanation.
Headlines should say it all
It’s the top-line info, after all. There are plenty of heinous errors when it comes to headlines, but none more so than throwing around abstract concepts.
There should be one principle focus of your content and that focus should be shouted about from the headline. Blindly chasing SEO-friendly terms or celebrity names simply doesn’t work. Likewise if you can’t sum up your content in one pithy, active phrase (i.e. don’t be using the passive voice), your thinking is muddled and the content won’t engage as many people as it could.
The print headline used to be a goldmine of puns and wordplay (as discussed here). In a digital age, it’s clarity and delivering on a headline’s promise that will help your content stand out.
It’s a great irony that an industry based around spreading clear, engaging messages can itself slip into impenetrable, alienating language. But the good news is, those who understand the concepts without letting the lingo seep into the content will be halfway to a more engaging, inclusive content output.