Marketing Zombies

Lost in Zombie Town

Any softco marketeer would do well to compare their website’s spiel with the "zombie copy" described in this article on A List Apart.

Scanning through your website, if you should see any marketing-speak like "leverage world class infrastructure strengths, mature quality processes and industry benchmarked people management practices" then you know that your website needs some ruthless editing from the sharpest machete in your toolbox.

Marketing-speak can destroy a website’s credibility, as it sounds as if the site is trying to sell you something – which it almost certainly is, but of course it shouldn’t be too obvious about it.

Studies have shown that marketing drivel is one of the biggest turn-offs for web users. For example, Jacob Nielsen found that your website becomes significantly less effective if you litter it with a promotional style of writing ("marketese").

Marketese-riddled sites are difficult to read. Users must mentally filter out the gobbledegook if they want to get to the facts. And – coupled with the fact that the site has already put the users on their guard – most likely they’ll just go elsewhere.

If your website’s main purpose in life is to sell something, it can be a difficult problem to get around. But just scanning for marketese and chopping it out is a good (and easy) start. Phrases like content delivery, superior customer value, and pre-eminent platform are all prime targets for the machete, and deserve to end up on the jungle floor.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.