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Nobody likes reading marketing jargon, yet all corporate websites rely on a certain amount of fluffy language to fill their pages and sell their services.

However two studies from the Nielsen Norman Group indicate that content that’s rich with facts and short on jargon is actually a more effective way of attracting people to your website.

It should be pointed out from the start that these studies tested journalists and people using investor relation (IR) pages on corporate websites, so it’s difficult to draw any direct parallels with consumer copywriting.

But even so, I would suggest that the findings still give a useful indicator of the kind of content that web users are interested in.

For more information on this topic checkout our blog posts on six things to consider when writing product descriptions and 11 useful examples of copywriting for product recommendations.

IR pages

When testing IR pages the study found that investors and financial analysts expect to be able to find the relevant information straight away, which means providing a brief company overview before anything else.

Text links to further information and pertinent reports are useful but should come further down the page.

Ideally the overview should contain the company’s:

  • Purpose.
  • Years of operation.
  • Size.
  • Headquarters location.
  • Annual revenue.

This kind of information is important for establishing a business’ credibility and stability, and it’s really quite basic stuff so there should be no reason why it shouldn’t be upfront.

Hertz is a great example of how to get it right, with a short description of the company’s operations, share details and links to various other information.

Making people search the site for it will make the business look like it’s hiding something and frustrate the very people it should be trying to keep happy.

Ryanair doesn’t have a history of offering the best user experience, and its IR page is no different.

These lessons are definitely applicable to consumer sites, as customers shouldn’t have to search to find relevant product and sales information.

A survey into checkout abandonment found that the most popular reason for failing to complete a purchase was hidden charges, which shows the importance of giving people the facts upfront.

Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase?

Journalists only want the facts

Unsurprisingly the second study found that journalists were only interested in facts when using a webpage, and typically scanned past lines of text that seemed too marketing-oriented.

This is definitely something I’ve personally experienced, as we are often sent press releases that include far too much jargon and long-winded company information before it gets to the actual news item.

Almost every business in the world describes themselves as ‘the leading company’ in their particular field, without any apparent justification. 

One journalist quoted in the study was impressed by the detailed safety information on the BMW site:

Safety record - I would consider that a good piece of info. One of the reasons I think people buy expensive cars is that they will protect them more in an accident or help them prevent an accident.... This is actually more precise information. This is not a sales pitch.

But while journalists are obviously scanning for facts as part of their job, consumers are also likely to be hunting for relevant information.

Though copywriting needs to reflect the brand’s identity it should also be concise, which can be a difficult juggling act.

There are several good examples of the kind of corporate cheese you should try to avoid in our blog post looking at good and bad examples of micro-copywriting.

And for a comprehensive tutorial, check out our Online Copywriting Training Course.

David Moth

Published 11 June, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1679 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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TN

Facts? Whose facts? There are hordes of internal and external professionals that specialize in writing this "fluff" to please other similar professionals higher up, not to mention the senior management. To suggest that they would abandon their art just for the sake of "facts" is ridiculous.

about 3 years ago

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Lily Marlene

I don't think it is about opting out of the "fluff" all-together, just quit putting up the smoke screen and help the "average joe" know what you are about and what you have to offer. Leave the overwhelmingly wordy jargon to the people in the field that know and appreciate what it means.

about 3 years ago

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