Words Not to Use in Tech Marketing CampaignsFebruary 14, 2017 12:45 pm ·
What’s in a word? More than you think. When it comes to marketing to tech users and professionals, what you say, how you say it, and who says it, are key indicators of whether or not they’ll be interested in engaging with your brand or learning more about your product.
After more than 20 years of being the community technology enthusiasts turn to for solving problems and sharing expertise, we’ve learned a lot about their communication preferences. We even chatted with some in-house developers and project managers to check their pulse on today’s messaging trends. Read their feedback below.
No Stereotypes, Please
Examples: Introvert, Average User
Non-tech folk have this image in their minds of technology employees who sit with their headphones on, reluctant to talk. Not only is that incorrect, but it lumps all technology workers into the same bucket. Marketers try to craft tech industry messaging that fits into one neatly wrapped box. But no consumer group fits seamlessly into that one box. Some live way outside the box; others have never even seen the box. Be careful to avoid assumptions. Like most large groups of people, there is great diversity in their numbers, and there’s no real “average” tech user.
Trying Too Hard
When new or upcoming companies try to reach tech consumers, they want to set themselves apart and be the next best thing to enter the market. This often leads to the use of words like “unicorn”.
“Everyone is becoming so obsessed with becoming the next ‘unicorn’. It feels like too many people are starting to treat software development like a get-rich-quick scheme. Most (if not all) of the popular unicorns had to put in tremendous hard work over a longer period of time than most people realize to adapt and radically change what the product was, and often still aren’t even profitable,” says Brian Matis, senior product manager at Experts Exchange.
While it’s OK to want to be the next best thing, let the users decide if that’s the case. In the meantime, be honest and upfront about your incredible product or service and evolve based on actual consumer feedback. Listen to what your consumers have to say and act on what you hear. Only through action and value can you get close to delivering an actual unicorn.
Properly Connect With Your Audience
Examples: Developer, Technologist
The typical tech user today wears many hats at work. Not all are developers full time, though they may have developer skills and capabilities. Not all work in IT departments, though many also have the knowledge needed for that role. It’s important to know whether or not your message is intended for a developer-only audience before adding the word into your copy, otherwise some people may feel alienated. On the other hand, if you know you’re connecting with an audience that’s 100% developer, it’s OK to refer to them as such.
A few of our members recommend avoiding titles in marketing messages all together, as well as eliminating the use of proposed new titles — that we marketers like, but to them don’t mean anything — such as “technologist”. Broad terms like that can come across as borderline disrespectful that you haven’t done research into the demographic.
Explain Yourself — Vague Buzzwords Need to Go
Example: Service-Oriented Architecture, Big Data, Uberfication
If there’s one piece of advice tech users can give to marketers, it’s to avoid vague, blanket terms. Say what you want to say and put some meat behind it. For Brian Matis, words that comes to mind in this scenario, like “big data” and “uberfication”, are noncommittal and uninformative.
“I find descriptions that lean heavily on buzzwords and jargon — especially for business software — tend to be incredibly unclear about what the software actually does. While the buzzwords themselves can have useful meaning, if they’re all I’m seeing, then I immediately expect the software to be difficult to use, expensive, and not for me,” Brian says.
Spend time with your development teams to truly understand your new product or offering. Then you can pinpoint effective words of description and action that don’t leave tech users scratching their heads, wondering what advantage your product can actually bring to their lives.
Don’t Make Decisions For Them
Examples: Don’t, Only, This Not That
Mikkel Sandberg, front end developer for Experts Exchange, doesn’t like the trend marketing newsletters have embraced of assuming they know best for their audience.
“A lot of the email lists I subscribe to are geared toward front end developers, and you often see articles that say, ‘This Framework is Better Than That Framework,’ or, ‘You Should Only Ever Use This Framework, Because Reasons.’ It’s difficult for someone who’s just trying to figure out where to start learning about these technologies,” Mikkel says.
Instead of crafting messages placing a product or service as the end-all, be-all, Mikkel said it’s helpful when experts and companies approach solving a problem experienced in the industry by using various frameworks or tools. Then, the audience has a clear, well-rounded picture of how each process works and can make an informed decision based on their individual need. The openness to other options and the transparency in showcasing them can also help build a level of trust between company and user.
When in Doubt, Be Positive
Example: Curiosity, Inclusive, Powerful
Instead of trying to pigeonhole your target audience with copy or assuming your message is fit for all users, focus on making your copy positive. Encourage action with your message. The words we use can not only boost a negative impression, but promote positivity. It’s within the positive realm that we should strive to place our copy.
Focus on words that motivate action and improve emotional states. Say there’s a system-wide problem developers are experiencing. Offer insight and assistance from a place of hope and positive thinking, including all possibilities of improvement. Words such as “curiosity” and “inspired” can strengthen these efforts of communication. When you want your audience to feel connected to your brand and its offerings, words like “inclusive”, “sharing”, and “community” reflect humility and can hint at a sense of belonging.
When it comes to choosing the right words, there are a lot of factors to consider: audience, location, desired outcome. Avoid phrases and terms openly disliked by this marketing-adverse crowd and deliver the message from a company expert to elicit trust. That careful attention to detail will pay off.
For more than 20 years, Experts Exchange has been the community technology professionals turn to when they have questions to ask, problems to solve, or advice to share. We know what they want and what they’re looking for in our community, and 72% of them are looking for direct access to companies and products to learn more about the systems they use.
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