In B2B ecommerce, it can be tempting to think that our trade status means customers can easily navigate the meanings behind long words and jargon. But words are currency* and although it’s tempting to use long words and long sentences, we really should stick to the shortest words possible.
And here’s why:
In 2006 Prof Daniel M Oppenheimer won the Ig Nobel Prize for his paper “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly”. The good prof said that simple writing can make authors appear more intelligent than complex writing. Why? Well it goes like this: Prof Oppenheimer discovered that readers make a link between their speed of reading and the intelligence level they assume of the author. So, if you write short words, people can read them faster and they assume you’re more intelligent.
When is the last time you searched for “Gastro Oesophageal Acid Reflux Disease Non-Prescribed Medication”? Or are you more likely to search for “heartburn tablets”? Let’s hope neither, but let’s face it, long words, jargon and gobbledygook can certainly be difficult to digest.
Whether they are being mis-spelled on your internal web search function, or on Google, you want your customers to find you easily, and not to have to wrack their brains about how to spell the services or products you offer.
Stephen R. Covey describes gobbledygook as “language that is so pompous, long-winded, and abstract that it is unintelligible” (Style Guide for Business and Technical Communication, 2012).
Using short words will you seem friendlier and you will be doing your bit to help your time-pressured customers. Nobody has got the time to wade through mountains of jargon and gobbledygook – your customers want to buy and go.
*SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, sales pitches, presentations, etc. Our choice of words can lead us to a sale or not