From a marketing perspective, many technology companies have a problem. You can see it when you look at their product pages. These companies have everything going for them, so why are tech companies missing the boat when it comes to communicating on technology product pages? It’s the jargon.
This article will look at what companies are doing wrong on their technology product pages, and share a few examples of how tech jargon could be the culprit that’s hurting their brand.
Addicted to jargon on technology product pages?
Which is better?
- Succinctly sharing information on a web page that tells what the application does and how it can help a business.
- Putting language on a page that sounds informed and technical but that means absolutely nothing.
If you’ve looked at technology product pages recently, you might notice that many companies seem to have an insatiable addiction to one thing that seems to be hampering their marketing efforts — jargon.
You see this a lot in how they try to sell their products and services. Particularly on technology product pages, you’ll find 1,000 words on the application they’re offering but you still leave the page wondering how the technology works.
Take the case of startup technology companies as an example. They seem to use a lot of what The Atlantic calls “nonsensical, yet important sounding phrases.”
Pick a startup, any startup. How many times have you seen the following words on a webpage?
Quartz Media has a good point about jargon that startups should consider:
“These words sound technical and informed. But they mean nothing, and they make it difficult for ordinary people to understand what a company actually does. In an effort to either sound smart and attract investors, or to simply dress up an otherwise boring product, startups that rely too much on jargon end up alienating the users they want to attract.”
Just for fun, The Atlantic put together a focus group of editors and reporters that work within the technology sector. They offered their candid and sometimes profane comments about the jargon-heavy language they run across everyday, including:
- “This is not a sentence. These are just words put together.”
- “This hurts my head.”
- “F**k whoever said that.”
- “Apparently the go-to-market strategy is to slam a bunch of buzzwords together and pray to God some angel investor funds you into outer space.”
If the words on a technology product page don’t make it crystal clear how the product or service will help the customer, they aren’t working. In fact, if they’re trying to attract a small business owner or their target decision-maker is someone other than a data geek or a marketer, they might be in trouble.
And let’s talk about acronyms
It gets worse in some ways, because not only are some technology companies jargon-rich, but also acronym-heavy. For example:
- AI (artificial intelligence)
- BI (business intelligence)
- CRM (customer resource management)
- CMS (content management system)
- DNS (domain name system)
- ERP (enterprise resource planning)
- IoT (Internet of things)
- MA (marketing automation)
- MDM (mobile device management)
- SaaS (software as a service)
While every industry has their own set of acronyms, it’s important that your technology product page does not.
Fix what’s broken. Kill the jargon.
Did you hear the funny story about how Dr. Alan D. Sokal wrote “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” and it was published in an academic journal? Fast Company reported that the article was not only a joke, but “the fact that no one bothered to question what all of the inflated language really meant, and that the hoax slipped past the editorial team and made it into print, speaks to how much we’ve accepted meaningless words that we don’t understand.”
But I’m painting this with a broadly dramatic brush, of course, so take a look at some startups that seem to get it right before you even hit the scroll button.
For example, look at how Shippo spells out what they do in the first sentence, along with their value proposition:
“Powerful shipping made simple. Save time and money with the #1 cloud-based shipping software. Our 35,000+ customers use Shippo to get rates, track, and print labels for millions of packages per month.”
In three sentences, this technology company describes:
- What the software actually does.
- How it benefits the customer.
- How many companies trust them enough to use the application.
Part of the problem seems to be that technology product pages sometimes forget to look at the benefits of the product and not the features. Designing a web page for your ideal buyer may seem like an old-school approach — marketing 101, really — but at a time when we are inundated with buzzwords from all kinds of industries, maybe going back to the basics is exactly what we need to do.
Lifewire has a good article from 2017 that reiterates how difficult it is to write good web copy, especially when the product is overly complex and hard to describe. In it, Jennifer Kyrnin has a few points that can be extrapolated for technology product pages:
- Write for USA Today readers, not The New York Times.
- Don’t write fluff.
- Focus on what’s important to buyers, not search engines.
Slapping meaningless jargon on to a technology product page hides your brand. The truth is that you can use simple language to describe a product, tell your story, and make people care. Dumping the jargon won’t make you seem less smart — but it might help you sell more products.