Mistake #1: You don’t really know your audience.
It doesn’t matter how great the writing, flashy the images, or clever the headline if the content you’re creating doesn’t resonate with your audience. Case in point: I often get calls from technology companies with websites that are overly technical and focused on product features not benefits. They’re looking for a site that entices a prospective buyer to learn more – not hit them over the head with overwhelming technical jargon. (Note: There’s a time for technical jargon in the sales cycle but normally a website isn’t the place for it. That type of content is usually better later in the sales cycle after a buyer has shown interest and needs to learn the nuts and bolts of how your solution works.)
This is where I ask about the target audience, their pain points, the compelling event that makes them look for a solution like my client’s, the competition, unique differentiators, how the product is sold, and more. I’m looking for really solid insight into the buyer’s mind – how they think, what keeps them up at night, and the solutions they need to do their jobs better. The more you can put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, the better when it comes to writing content that resonates.
Mistake #2: Your content is too hard to skim and scan.
We all have a few hardwired habits when it comes to reading content online. First, it needs to be easy to read and, second, it needs to get to the point quickly. I like to use a technique I call “skimming and scanning”. Most online buyers will skim and scan digital content −and it’s often done unconsciously as they orient themselves to the information on their screen. They’ll start by doing an overall scan of your content, whether it’s a web page or an eBook, to get a sense if it resonates with them and justifies reading more deeply. To facilitate this, break up the text into bite-size chunks – you don’t want lots of heavy blocks of copy − and use images to reinforce points in the copy.
Next, if your copy passes the skimming test, many readers will scan it a bit more deeply to take in the major points. This is where using bullets to emphasize important points and sub-headlines to orient the reader to major topics in your content can really pay off. Our eye is drawn to these elements as we scan the page. These tricks are really simple, but they make reading online so much easier.
Mistake #3: You’re using too much jargon or too many abbreviations.
We love abbreviations and jargon in the technology industry and with good reason − so many of our product names are long and cumbersome that it’s tempting to shorten them to abbreviations. After all, many popular technologies, like CRM and ERP, use abbreviations and everybody knows what they stand for so why not do it with our own products?
One of my clients is notorious for using incredibly long, complicated names for their solutions. Writing the entire product name every time it appears on a web page or in a datasheet or eBook takes up a lot of space and sounds wordy. We could use an abbreviation instead, but I like to write with the assumption that readers aren’t memorizing a long dictionary of our company’s abbreviations so I tend to not use them in copy. Rather, we may shorten the product name – but not abbreviate it – so it’s still recognizable even if the reader is skimming and scanning the copy.
Jargon is another issue in technology marketing. We toss it around a lot and often the assumption is our readers will understand it. Just in case someone isn’t familiar with a particular jargon-y term or acronym, I still like to spell it out or forgo using jargon altogether. The goal is to make the copy accessible to everyone, regardless of their familiarity with a particular vertical or set of technologies.
Kim Gusta has spent her entire career in the technology industry and now creates content for global technology and software companies as a freelance copywriter. Her goal? Helping technology companies create great content that entices their prospects to say “Yes, tell me more…”