Delete Your Email Jargon: Tips for Subscriber-Friendly Messages
By Rebekah Henson September 28, 2011
“Whitelist us for better deliverability.” “Choose a delivery format.” “Update
“Whitelist us for better deliverability.” “Choose a delivery format.” “Update your subscriber preferences to opt out of future mailings.”
You understand what all these phrases mean, but are they clear to your subscribers? Chances are your subscribers aren’t in the email marketing biz. Editing out the jargon and replacing it with wording they can understand will help them relate to you and your emails better.
Here are some ways to translate your campaign out of Marketerese and into subscriber-friendly language.
Take a look at this form.
You and I know what “delivery format” means and the difference between HTML and plain text (although I’ll admit to not knowing the significant difference between text and AOL-specific text).
Now look at this form through the eyes of your 80-year-old grandmother or your parents who still don’t know that Facebook isn’t a hardback you can check out from the library.
Would they understand what the drop-down menu is asking? Would they know which option to select?
The New York Post has a better solution: explain what the choices mean.
Although if your web form has to include its own FAQ, you might just want to leave the option out altogether.
Besides, you should be sending both HTML and plain text emails for better delivery anyway. Your subscribers’ email clients will choose which format to display for them once your email hits the inbox, so it really isn’t necessary to present the option at all.
We’ve covered the importance of whitelisting several times before. If you want to show up in your subscribers’ inboxes, you need to get in their address books too. Companies commonly include whitelist requests in preheaders and footers:
Mailbox filters? Safe sender list? Those are complicated ways to say, “Put us in your address book to make sure we show up in your inbox.”
Why not make your text as clear as possible when asking subscribers to add you?
or Dick’s Sporting Goods, who even links subscribers to a how-to page:
The clearer your language, the easier it is for your subscribers to take action.
I’m obsessed with interior decorating, so I love Apartment Therapy‘s daily emails. I’m not in love with the unsubscribe language in their footer though:
It’s inconsistent with their sign up language (which prompts readers to “join,” not “opt in”). It’s jargon that needs a design overhaul.
Even worse is this example from the Alzheimer’s Association:
Where do I unsubscribe? Is unsubscribing the same as changing my “e-mail preferences?” Forget it, I’ll just click the Spam button. That’s easy to figure out.
You don’t want to frustrate subscribers to the point where they mark you as spam. Clear up your phrasing so the subscribers who want off your list can do so easily:
Take it a step further and include an unsubscribe link in your preheader, like Mitchell & Dent do here:
A clear, easy to access link shows subscribers you care. It saves them from hunting through your footer and shows you care about their preferences.
“Email Preference Center”
The preference center is where user control magic happens. You know what it’s for: subscribing to and unsubscribing from newsletters and changing how often mailings hit your inbox. But do your subscribers know that?
Why not just show them what their options are, like the footer of Yoga Journal‘s email?
Or American Eagle’s Aerie brand, who gives subscribers an easy link to change their address:
Maybe your preference center has too many options to condense like these examples. In that case, a simple “Click here to change how often you hear from us, subscribe to more emails, update your address and more,” should suffice.
Is your language clear enough for subscribers to understand? How would you translate some common jargon to make things easy on your readers?
How does your vocabulary stack up?