Why it’s okay to use jargon. Sometimes.

For jargon okay

First of all, I owe you an apology. I published this post in the wrong place last week. It was still on Thought Dump, but as a page and not a blog post. Anyway, here it is now. 

For the last few months, I’ve been writing copy for a surveying and scanning company. Their audience is mostly estates and facilities managers.

One of the things I do is write and send their email marketing campaigns. They told me to make them better, if I could.

I looked at their old campaigns. I saw lots of jargon. Words like ‘compliance’, ‘ROI’ and ‘efficiency’ were everywhere. Words that mean ‘must do’, ‘more money’ and ‘make better’. And sound more human this way. So I decided to make their next campaign sound more human.

I wrote a jargon-free campaign, and sent it to their subscribers. I eagerly waited for the open and click rates to come through, confident these would be higher than anything that’d been sent before. They were lower.

Un-serious and un-professional

I’ve worked for some great copywriters, and they told me to never use jargon. It rarely, if ever, speaks to anyone. But my jargon-free campaign wasn’t speaking to the estates and facilities managers.

They’re serious professionals who hear words like ‘compliance’, ‘ROI’ and ‘efficiency’ every day. Words like ‘must do’, ‘more money’ and ‘make better’ must’ve sounded un-serious and un-professional to them.

I begrudgingly put all that jargon back in the company’s next campaign. And the higher results came back too.

Write for you reader and don’t re-invent

You should always write for your reader. After getting to know them, you might find they use a bit of jargon. Using it in your writing can get your message to them quicker. And it could get your client or boss the results they want.

Writing isn’t always about re-invention. Before you write or edit anything, take a look at what copy’s already there and what results it’s gotten. Use the things that what work, and get rid of the things that don’t.

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