Do Yourself a Favor, Quit Using Buzzwords

It’s difficult to get through a day without hearing or reading a buzzword. People use them ad nauseam thinking their audience will either pay more attention, they can attract more prospects, or it sounds better than what it really is. Problem is buzzwords have the exact opposite effect, and send your audience to a land far, far away.

Let’s face it: When you said you had to “pivot,” you thought it was a fancy way to say, “I had to start over because the direction I was going wasn’t working.” Likewise, if you say “I need to circle back to it later,” it means you do not have the answer right now. Same thing with “taking things offline.” People see straight through this. They know what it really means, and it doesn’t help you.

What’s worse is verbal buzzwords are just the beginning. When it comes to writing and marketing, buzzwords abound. Words and phrases used by people who think it sounds correct, but can’t define what the terms mean. For example, when someone uses IOT, or Internet of Things, it’s a way to explain a bunch of digital stuff that is too complicated to get into, but can be satisfied by an acronym. Yet, what your audience thinks is it’s a whole mess of things, or as I picture it, numerous Dr. Seuss characters with blue hair and red shirts running amuck. And, big data – it’s a gigantic collection of 1s and 0s that you need help controlling because it’s freaking huge.

During the past few months, “resilient” and “resiliency” have come to the forefront thanks to the pandemic. Journalists and trade publications are trying to keep it out of articles, yet everyone else believes it’s the answer to every problem. “We need to be resilient,” they say. Ask them what “resilient” means. More often than not you get a blank stare or fumbled words. Not its definition of “something that is able to recoil or bounce back after being compressed.”

You see, your buzzwords are not creating the “cohesive synergies” you think. Whatever that means. Actually, research shows more people bounce from emails and web pages upon the site of buzzwords. Even worse, if your subject line contains buzzwords, chances are your email is going to be deleted. Or, you might get lucky enough that your target opens the email, but then clicks on unsubscribe.

Before you even bring it up, there is a stark difference between keywords and buzzwords. It’s a common thing people fail to realize. Keywords are terms your targets are searching for. And, by using keywords you increase SEO. These are terms such as e-commerce, recipe, DIY, marathon training, etc. Using these terms brings people to you. Buzzwords have the opposite effect.

According to studies, buzzwords or jargon decrease engagement five-fold and increase unsubscribe or bounce rate 2x, when compared to using plain speak. Definitely not the results you are looking for, and probable a strong case for taking a “deep-dive” into word use and style.

The metrics, and the reactions of your audience are loud and clear. It’s time to speak more straightforwardly to you audience. Chances are, they will thank you with better engagement, recommend you to peers, and speak to you like a person as well.

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