• Lindsey McCaffrey, Writer, Editor

Psst ... Your Business' Web Copy May Be Confusing Your Target Customers

The following blog features part of my ebook, Word Crimes: Is Your Website Content Robbing Your Business of Potential Customers? To get your FREE ebook download, click here.

Research shows that the more you know about something, the less clearly you write about it.

Believe it: all too often, the smartest, savviest business people assume everyone understands them.

And so, they write their content based on that assumption.

"Stuck" in their own heads

Yes, there is such a thing as being too close to your content.

Many times, I've seen business leaders get so wrapped up in their business that they no longer see things from an external perspective.

Writing in a "bubble" does nothing to endear yourself to your target consumers.

Not to mention, it's disrespectful.

Which is all the more reason to be extra vigilant about ensuring clarity in your online content.

Here are two simple ways to do so.

#1: Define, define, define (aka explain)

First, take a serious look at who your target audience is.

If your target customers are a general audience:

  • It’s highly possible many may not understand certain terms, jargon, acronyms or buzz terms.

Even if your audience is part of a specialized group:

  • It’s wise to not make assumptions that everyone will understand your content.

  • E.g., your business may develop scheduling software specifically for physicians in mid-sized clinics, but not all MDs necessarily understand IT terminology.

Ultimately, if there is even a slight possibility your audience won’t understand certain things, make sure to define each word or term:

  • Either in the first instance on each page, or

  • On one page of your website, and then hyperlink to it any time the word is mentioned elsewhere.

#2: Watch out for ambiguity (it's everywhere)

I saw a man on the street corner with binoculars.

This may sound like a simple statement—until you begin to unpack all its potential meanings.

Does it mean:

  • There was a man on the street corner, and I watched him through binoculars?

  • There was a man on the street corner, who I saw from afar, and he had binoculars?

  • I was on a street corner, and I saw a man using binoculars?

Here's another statement to ponder ...

Our deli specializes in ham, cheese and egg sandwiches.

Sounds delicious...but what does it mean, really?

  • The deli specializes in one type of sandwich that includes all three ingredients?

  • The deli makes ham sandwiches + cheese sandwiches + egg sandwiches?

  • Or ham sandwiches, PLUS cheese and egg sandwiches (i.e., two types of sandwiches)?

  • Or something else?

Don’t make people question what you’re trying to say

If you want to make a solid first (or consistent) impression, you need to show your target audience respect ...

By ensuring your content is clear.

Need help identifying and fixing "clarity red flags" in your content?

Let's chat.

I have 20 years of expertise in transforming written content from confusing to crystal-clear - all the while respecting target audiences and improving brands.


Get smart, strategic, clear PREMIUM content for your organization or business! With 20 years of expertise, Lindsey McCaffrey is an award-winning writer, editor and content strategist specializing in website content, case studies, industry and annual reports, article writing, white papers, direct mail and more. Contact Lindsey today to discuss your custom content needs.