3 words I’m no longer using in pop-ups (or ANY of my marketing)

Before getting up on my high horse to pontificate, I gotta come clean.

I’ve committed all 3 of these marketing sins many, MANY times. They are as common as bread and potatoes. (So don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re guilty too.)

Also, there’s almost always a way to make any word perform for you, if you treat it the right way. Maybe you know something I don’t. (Probably a lot, actually.)

And lastly, you have a good solid coconut between your shoulders and you may decide you disagree.

(Particularly when you get to #3—at which point I sincerely hope you’ll offer a strongly worded rebuttal in the comments below.)

The 3 words are:

1. “Spam”

Lightbox pop-ups often have this little gem programmed in by default.

If you’re like most people, you either a) overlooked it, b) assumed it was good idea and left it as is, or c) were lazy like me and used the pre-programmed copy without thinking.

At first glance it sounds personable and sweet. Who doesn’t want to avoid spam?

But…it’s a conversion killer.

Multivariate testing has shown the phrase “We hate spam as much as you do” consistently underperforms when tested against a positively-worded phrase like “We respect your privacy. We will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address.”

Go visit Conversion Doctor to see all the variations they tested.

Buuuut…

If I owned the internet, I would ban both of these phrases. They’re way, WAY overused.

Joining your email list is a fundamental act of trust between you and your subscriber. #Respect. {Tweet it}

Starting off the relationship with negatively-charged words (“hate”) or even the suggestion that email addresses could be sold, rented or shared is just bad business.

What’s more, saying you won’t spam your subscribers is as good as saying “P.S. We always obey the law.”

Well, duh. Of course you do.

Because you’re awesome, and so are your products and services.

Case closed.recite-55i1oi

2. “Free Advice”

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give FREE advice is absolutely fatal.”

Or something like that. Hear me out.

My arguments against “free advice” are threefold.

For starters, advice is NEVER free.

Eventually, you will be selling something to your subscribers. An online course. One-on-one coaching. A retreat. Whatever.

At some point, either a) your business will fold or b) an offer WILL arrive in my inbox. Let’s just be real about that.

Also, there’s an emotional burden.

If I don’t follow your advice, I might feel like I’m failing. Or doing it wrong.

Lastly, it’s loosely insulting.

Giving you advice puts me in a superior position to you. We’ve never met. You may be the new David Ogilvy, for all I know.

I like to downplay the word “free” in ALL of my marketing, and I encourage my clients to do the same. I avoid the word “advice” like the plague.

(This is a personal thing. I loathe advice, and I don’t think I’m the only one.)

If I want what you’re offering, it’ll be a nice surprise when I learn that it’s free. But if you start out by telling me it’s free, my gut reaction is “What do I have to give away in return?”

Take my advice. These two words are fatal.

3. “Empowering”

A lot of my readers are coaches, so this one is bound to ruffle some feathers. Still, I gotta say it.

Empowering others is actually kind of disempowering.

We ALL have our OWN power source that is vast and limitless. Just because we lose sight of it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

If you must use this word (and I do use it when it’s called for), playing with the wording a little. Help people to empower themselves.

Help people access their own power, not feed off of yours.

Forgive me. I’m SO guilty of this myself.

I cringe thinking about the number of coaching websites I’ve stacked with the word “empower” and all its derivatives.

Not anymore.

Now your turn.

What words drive you absolutely crazy-bananas in pop-ups and blog articles? Share it in the comments below.

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  • I love this, Kay! Althoughhhhhh, with #3, I kind of assumed that people know the whole goal is for them to empower THEMSELVES. But ya can’t take those things for granted, I guess!

    • Tarzan Kay

      Empowerment is a tough one, right? There’s a lot of interesting discussion about that word happening online, if you google around a bit.

  • Cheryl Pullins

    A word, or actually a phrase that drives me boners is “I give you permission.” Who are we to GIVE permission to someone to live their dreams. It’s a very disempowering statement. But, I digress. The real issue is that most are hardwired to need permission. Throughout our formative years and reinforcement throughout our adult life is that we have to ask for permission. It’s a hard thing to unlearn. **gets off soapbox* lol