There are definite trends in the language we use in marketing. Within each industry, terms rise in popularity and fall out of favor too.

Now Trending: Delight

For instance, at the recent Internet Retailer Conference & Expo, I noticed a number of e-commerce related providers using the word “delight.” It was slotted into marketing materials, printed on giant backdrops in the booths, and used in their selling language.

Some providers offered on-site experiences that would delight our customers, so we should hire them right away. Others advertised logistics services that would far surpass others – to the delight of our customers (so we should hire them right away).

And in a follow up call with one of the show’s exhibitors, I was even told that if I signed up, after implementation was complete I’d be handed over to my Delight Team (not an account manager or support team).

It’s a nice word, really. An overly positive approval of sorts. I like it. But as it becomes part of the very popular vernacular it will, like all others before it, begin to lose its umph.

Creating Urgency with Marketing Language

In marketing, we know there are certain words that cause customers to want to act. We can’t overuse them or they too lose their power. But with judicious and occasional placement, a “last chance!” message instigates the right amount of urgency and can help increase the likelihood of a sale.

In fact, I’ve always loved the power of the “last chance.” It suggests all at once that the shopper is already aware of the offer, may even have considered it, probably recognizes it’s a great opportunity or deal, and just hasn’t gotten around to taking advantage of it yet… AND that if they don’t take speedy action, they will lose it forever. This is just the feeling we want to cultivate, and these magic words fold so much of the message in for us automatically.

Better yet, it lets you get away with reiterating a previous message and justifying the repetition.

The emotion these types of phrases cultivate is great for marketing. Anything that causes customers to want to jump up and buy – or at least take that next step toward purchase – is exactly what we want. But there is one phrase that is so disappointing, I think it should be outlawed from all digital marketing! And somehow, it seems to have become a major email marketing trend.

Don’t Miss Out

Ugh – look at it. It’s so OBVIOUS, isn’t it? So easy and shameless. Devoid of personality. Almost more of a threat than a motivational message.

A few months ago in a talk about branding and persona, I mentioned a number of easy places throughout the e-commerce website path to purchase to infuse the brand’s personality. There are so many opportunities to reinforce brand positioning and it’s a shame to overlook them.

One example I called out was the email signup pop-up window. I have a pile of great examples of brands that use this prominent real estate to speak with their brand’s voice, reinforcing the persona and breeding comfort and familiarity.

Some leaders in this area were DKNY’s “we feel a connection,” Anthropologie’s “there you are, we’ve been waiting for you” and of course Berkshire Blanket’s “let’s get cozy.”

emailpop-dkny emailpop-anthro emailpop-berkshire

In each case, the tone and language of the message support the brand perfectly. This is one of many utilitarian areas that’s often a big MISS for e-commerce managers and online marketing folks.

But now, back to the ominous “don’t miss out” phrase that’s been creeping its way into my browser and inbox.

It first surfaced as I was pulling together the examples for my branding presentation. I happened upon one website’s email signup pop-up… it was just black text on a white background, no color or images, and had the large, bold headline, unashamed at the top: DON’T MISS OUT, followed by a completely generic signup incentive of “subscribe for our latest styles, sales and exclusive discounts.”

I won’t call out the retailer by name, but yikes – this is rough. It’s a great designer with a nice reputation and in this case, the brand itself was missing out! There’s zero personality here. None. Does anything about this message make you WANT to sign up? Nope. Click that little X and move on.

So this was a double-loser: no visual branding, and the worst ever motivational phrase.

Maybe it’s just me but when I hear these words in my head, the delivery is similar to Ben Stein’s “Bueller… Bueller… Bueller.

So what is with the trend I’m seeing lately? More and more marketing emails are coming in – often from websites I’d otherwise consider to be somewhat sophisticated – or at least, creative with their branded language.

Listen up, digital marketers… I get it that we have to grab our readers’ attention. I know that we have a split second to convince them to open up our messages and that we NEED them to feel that urgency and incentive to interact with us. But this is not helping…

(This is a screen shot of my actual inbox! I searched for the phrase to show how many messages like this I receive and how wide the variety of senders is.)




So, because I have promised myself to always offer positive suggestions instead of just criticism, here are some phrases we can all use in place of the dreaded DMO…

Hurry – time’s almost up

Last chance to win/save/take advantage of this fab offer

Lowest price of the year right now

Final hours / Last call / Nearly over

…but of course, you’d always make sure to include the enticing incentive, right? You’d play up the fabulous deal, free shipping offer, amazing availability, brand new awesome thing, or details of the sale. Because you’re better than this.


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