The negative effects of jargon in content marketing

Liam Gray avatar
Liam Gray

Sep 22, 2020

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Some people think jargon is the scourge of the content marketing world. And for a good reason. If misused or applied without awareness of your audience, it can hinder buyer experience and turn people away from your content. 

At its worst, jargon is confusing, difficult to understand, and frustrating to unpick and analyse – especially for those that sit outside of the industry bubble.

So, if you’re prone to stuffing your content full of colloquialisms, industry-specific phrases, and enigmatic buzzwords – think twice about the negative impact jargon may be having on your marketing activity.

But jargon isn't all bad. And a little bit can be a good thing, if used correctly.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of industry jargon and explore how they affect your content marketing.

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The good

Jargon can be useful for:

  • Building credibility
  • Demonstrating industry knowledge
  • Communicating difficult topics

It builds credibility (if used correctly)

Jargon can show that you're experienced and knowledgeable in your industry – just as long as you know your target audience is too. 

For example, if you're producing high-value content aimed at retail executives, then you'll have no issue using EPoS, POP, and ASP as liberally as you want. While these acronyms hold little meaning to outsiders, using them with care can help build credibility with your target audience. 

But be warned, you can't fake it till you make it

It helps you communicate effectively

If you use jargon carefully, you can explore more in-depth topics quicker than you would if you had to provide a surface level explanation.

This is great if your audience has the same understanding of technical terminology as you, as this means you can communicate effectively with less need for clarification.

Always think about the purpose of each piece of content. Thought leadership pieces and in-depth guides benefit from jargon. Educational assets maybe less so. 

The bad

Jargon can hurt your content by:

  • Sounding robotic and less genuine
  • Confusing buyers
  • Mixing up definitions 

It's less authentic

In an age when companies are trying their hardest to appear more authentic and approachable, overusing jargon can have a negative effect. It makes businesses seem robotic and less genuine.

To drive traffic, growth, and sales you need to connect with your audience and resonate with them.

If you come across as just another corporation speaking in well-trodden industry jargon, don't be surprised when they go elsewhere.

It can be confusing

To someone who isn't as familiar with a specific industry topic as you are, in some cases, jargon can border on snobbery.

At the very least, it can confuse buyers and breed frustration. If you can't explain your product, service, and knowledge in layman's terms, you probably don't understand it as well as you think. 

For your customers, time is money, and if they're forced into cracking the Enigma code every time they read your content they're going to lose interest, fast. 

It can mean different things

If you're overusing technical acronyms without context or clarification, you could be hurting your content. Many common jargon-y acronyms have double meanings, and this can confuse buyers. 

Do your keyword research and find out precisely what your buyers are searching for. Then, double-check that your industry acronyms don't clash with search terms that might have a different meaning to yours. 

If jargon is unavoidable then make sure you spell them out the first time they're used, and be extra careful using acronyms that have double meanings. 

The verdict

The goal of content marketing is consistent, valuable communication that captures your audience. 

Using obscure jargon that only a few people understand can prevent you from getting your point across. And while it does have its uses, you should prioritise clarity in your content above all else.

The key takeaways are:

  • Use jargon sparingly
  • Communicate in the same language as your buyers
  • Know your audience
  • Prioritise clarity in your content

It's important to write for your audience, not for yourself. If you think about your audience first, you’ll always choose the right words.

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