The secret to writing engaging copy

As if creating copy for your new business wasn’t hard enough, right?

Now you’ve got to be mindful about what you say along with it.

Especially if you’re using big words.

Because according to research conducted by Princeton University, if you’re using big words in your copy, your readers will think you’re stupid.

(Even if you’re using them in the right way.)

But does that mean basic words are the successful way to go?

Read on.

It’s not about the words

In a study conducted by author Daniel Oppenheimer at Princeton, students were shown samples of different texts, with special focus placed on vocabulary.

Over a series of five experiments, Oppenheimer discovered that authors who wrote in simpler language were rated by students as having higher intelligence than those you wrote in a more complex way.

Oppenheimer made this observation at the time:

“It’s important to point out that this research is not about problems with using long words but about using long words needlessly… Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words […] will lower evaluations of the text and its author.”

By that, we don’t mean technical terminology you need to sometimes use, because they’re related to your field.

But everyday words that are long.

Building warmth

As Oppenheimer points out, the problem isn’t about these types of words themselves.

The problem is on making sure what you’re saying can be universally understood by your reader.

It’s about reaching for the thesaurus for the ‘next word down’ from the word you’re using, so everyone will feel included.

So what type of words do I mean?

Well, for example, instead of ‘individuals’, why not say ‘people’?

What about ‘results’ instead of ‘outcome’?

‘Problems’ instead of ‘challenges’.

‘Shown’ instead of ‘demonstrated’.

‘Relates to’ not ‘corresponds to’.

‘Ask’ not ‘enquire’.

‘Genuine’ instead of ‘authentic’.

‘Start’ instead of ‘initiate’.

‘Change’ instead of ‘transform’.

Or phrases such as ‘finding what you enjoy’ instead of ‘finding your passion’.

Where your words should land

Now one could argue that not using longer everyday words makes your copy a bit boring to read.

And if using longer words is your natural style, going the other way may feel fake, even forced.

You may also risk talking down to your reader by doing this.

However you decide your copy, always bear mind, your reader is your first priority. Everything you write should be helping them better understand how you’re helping them. The fewer barriers between you, the better.

Notice, as well, how the more “basic” words also feel warmer and more personal than the longer ones. This can be a benefit, when you’re self-employed, when companies tend to use larger words to keep their customers at a distance.

Even better for you, if you can write more simply, it’ll be easier for you to explain your ideas. And in doing so, your readers will be eager to buy into what you have to offer.