Ask just about any scholar or journalist if “jargon” is an acceptable writing practice and they will most likely interrupt you before you finish asking the question with an emphatic “no!”
Jargon is defined as “the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade or profession” and “writing that is unintelligible gibberish.” Since we as marketers aim to maximize landing page conversions testing a variety of elements (color scheme, spacing, and of course the words on the page), it’s important the words be attention grabbing, evoke emotion, and encourage visitors to take action.
Living and breathing landing pages like we do, we have our own short list of words we tend to gravitate towards: “call-to-action,” “squeeze page,” and our favorite “conversion rate optimization.”
When building your landing page, lead capture page, or sales page, when is it better to write “copy” and “jargon?” Is it ever acceptable to write jargon? It depends on your audience and the product or service you’re marketing.
When Is It Okay to Use Jargon?
Don’t use fancy words for the sake of sounding smart or professional – make them have a purpose.
When You Want to Create a Sense of Enhanced Value
Writing “certified, pre-owned” car is much better at establishing your product’s value than “used car.” Using this jargon as the example, pre-owned cars typically undergo many inspections by dealership technicians to validate the quality of the vehicle before it’s available for sale. “Used car” has more of a negative connotation and the perceived image of a “jalopy-with-rusted-paint-and-dented-bumper.”
For example, the Acura page below could have read “used car program” with the same beautiful picture but the messaging wouldn’t match as well as “certified pre-owned” does:
When You are Writing About a Technical Product
Acronyms and abbreviations are common when discussing technical products, but be careful not to fill your page with them. Wifi equipment (“GHz” frequencies, “mbps” transfer rates, “WEP” security standards) and computer specifications (“RAM” memory, “HDMI” output cable) are notorious for using acronyms and abbreviations to convey product features.
There’s also these five reasons when it’s acceptable to write jargon. In particular, writing a simpler term (e.g. “heart attack”) as opposed to the clinical term (“myocardial infarction”) is a situation when jargon is acceptable. Unless you’re in the medical community or have experienced this medical emergency before, the general public would understand the simpler term (jargon) as opposed to the clinical term.
However, when it comes time to publish your page, use jargon appropriately, and sparingly.
When to Use Landing Page Copy
If Your Competitors Use Jargon
Talk about a great opportunity to capitalize on your competition!
If your page reads like your competitors, and your visitor is confused or feels “dumb,” why would you expect them to convert on your page? There’s no distinction and your visitor will choose who they see first, not who has the best product or most convincing landing page.
Writing in simple language the general public understands will appeal to a larger audience and a much greater chance of them converting on your page.
Look at Instapaper for example:
And if you scroll down Instapaper’s page, you’ll see this additional copy:
“Save all of the interesting articles, videos, cooking recipes, song lyrics, or whatever else you come across while browsing. With one click, Instapaper lets you save, read, and manage the things you find on the Internet.”
There is absolutely no confusion what Instapaper does for users because they use conversational language that explains their product.
There are few better ways to stand out from your competition than to use simple, everyday language on your page. Do you need further proof on writing copy versus jargon? One law firm was able to increase its conversions by 550% simply by eliminating jargon from its landing page!
Finally, writing benefit-oriented copy is a landing page copy best practice because this method speaks more to your visitors, as opposed to highlighting your product’s features. After all, one of the biggest reasons people will buy from you is because your product or service helps them solve their problem. Including these in a bulleted list makes the benefits more understandable and highlighted even more.
In the End …
Write landing page copy the vast majority of the time. The more your audience understands every element on your landing page (headline, body, form title, call-to-action button) the better off your conversion rate will be. Those in your target market (who already understand your industry’s jargon) will also understand the layman’s terms version as well.
“Jargon” gets a bad rap, and deservedly so for the most part. However, there are some instances when jargon can actually work in your favor, especially when you want to create a sense of enhanced value or you offer a very technical product or service.
By and large, though, use simple language on your landing page. Know your audience, use benefit-oriented copy, and terminology they already understand. Your conversion rate will absolutely benefit.