August 23, 2017

Speak the Customer’s Language

You’ve just launched your new site promoting your billiards business. You’ve optimized your pages for ‘billards tables’ and ‘billiards balls’ and are very proud of your page explaining the rules for ‘pocket billiards’ since you see it as a great form of link bait. The only problem is all your customers play pool.

It might seem like something trivial. Most people know that the game of pool and the game of billiards are the same thing, but are you really sure. Even if they do know which word would they most likely use in a search. We all use industry jargon when talking about out business. It’s natural since we deal all day with other people in the industry and have come to use abbreviations and acronyms to help speed the conversation along. Your customers won’t always know that insider talk. If you want to convert more visitors into paying customers you need to speak their language not yours.

Think of it in another way. You’ve just flown into a foreign country for a long vacation. You decided to rent a car and are driving toward what you’ve heard is a charming cottage where you hope to stay. You’re not entirely sure where the cottage is and because you don’t speak or read the native language you drive right past the exit for the cottage even though the sign was clearly maked with it’s name. You wanted to stay there and the cottage had an extra room for you. Unfortunately you didn’t speak the same language so you end up 5 miles down the way in a cheap motel.

While it’s clearly an exagerated example I hope the point is clear than not speaking the same language can lead to missed opportunities. The difference in the words you decide to use on your site may not be as extreme they can still lead to the same missed opportunites and the same failure to convert.

Increasing Conversions Before The Front Door

Using the language your customers speak starts before they even arrive at your site. Your choice in the keyphrases you optimize your pages for will play a large roll in who makes it to your site and even if anyone makes it to your site. I don’t search for carafes. I search for coffee pots. You sell ‘computer components,’ but your customes are looking for ‘computer parts.’ It’s important to realize your customers won’t always use the same terms to refer to your products as you will and if you want them to find you it’s their language you’d better be using.

It’s certainly true that some will use the same words you do, but many won’t. If I really am one of the few who’s unaware that pool and billiards are synonymous I’m not making it to your site even though you carry exactly what I’m looking for.

Often people get stuck trying to decide what keywords and keyphrases to choose for optimization of their pages and site. It seems so obvious how people will search for you. It’s obvious to you since you speak the language of your industry. It’s not so obvious to your customers. I refer to seo all the time on this site. But do potential clients know that stands for search engine optimization? Do they even know what search engine optimization is or do they just want to know how to get more traffic? Choosing to mention only one could cost many potential visitors and clients.

Speak Your Customer’s Language To Convince Them Why You’re Better

Would it matter to you if I told you that by using relative positioning and floating structural page elements I could create a more usable environment on your landing pages and increase your CTR. Maybe. Probably not for most. You might like to know that I can create web pages that are easy for your visitors to use and will more likely get them to contact you.

When you’re telling people the benefits of using your products or services make sure it’s meaningful to them. Don’t be misled into thinking that because it’s meaningful to you it will be to them as well. Your customers may not care about the ionization process used during manufacturing. They just want to know that what they buy will work and last a long time. They may not be interested in the programming language you used to write your latest software or the reasons why that language is optimal for the type of software. But they will want to know that the software is easy to use and will make them more productive. Speak to them about what concerns them, not about what concerns you.

How To Learn Your Customer’s Language

If you want to learn your customer’s language the easiest way is to listen to them. If your business lends itself to direct contact with your customers pay attention to the words they use when talking about your business. Spend more time in places where your customers are more likely to be. Read the magazines they would read and visit the websites they frequent.

One thing that can work well for those who make their way to your site is to add a search box so you can see what people are looking for once there. Look through your site statistics to see what search terms people are using to find you and use more of their words instead of yours. The key is to pay attention to the words your customers use to refer to your services and products.

Also remember speaking their language isn’t just about the specific words you and your customers use differently, but in communicating what’s important to them. Find out what’s important to your customers and then communicate to them that you can provide it. I spend quite a bit of time on webmaster forums. The people there speak the same language I do and we can talk about things that help us become better webmasters. But I learn what my clients want by participating in small business forums since the members there are less likely to talk shop, and more likely to talk about what they are looking for when hiring a web designer.

It’s ok to use industry language in your copy as long as you have customers who will also speak that language. Some certainly will and will want to see the insider jargon. But remember than many won’t use the same language you do when talking about your business. And if you want to convert those visitors into paying customers, it’s their language you need to speak not yours.


About Steven Bradley 12 Articles
Steven Bradley is a web designer and search engine optimization specialist. Known to many in the webmaster/seo community by the username vangogh, he is the author of TheVanBlog, which focuses on how to build and optimize websites and market them online.

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