Settle down! Why using too many exclamation points is killing your tech content

You’re proud of your tech product and you want to let everyone know about it. You planned it out and worked hard on it. And that’s when it happens.

You start talking! Excitedly! About your product! And all the wonderful things it does!

Oof, all that excitement is just too much for me…and probably a lot of other people too. You spend a lot of time and effort on your content marketing, so why do you short circuit your hard work with an exclamation point?

The exclamation point sidetracks your readers

Readers today are inundated with so much content that it’s hard to get their attention. Web design is one way to do it, as are your font and text choices on a web page. The words you use are the last line of persuasion you can use to attract and keep you readers on your content. Excessive exclamation points sidetrack readers from truly reading your content and they often navigate away before you’ve had a chance to tell them anything about your wonderful tech product.

Exclamation points = buyer beware

So why do you keep using exclamation points? They used to be the lazy marketer’s way of gaining attention, and it worked, for a time. But now we’re so used to them that they’re useless. In fact, we’re so immune to them that we subconsciously think any content with more than two ! in a page is an infomercial or too sale-y that we don’t even bother reading the entire thing.

Follow the big brands

Just take a look at some of the biggest brands in the world like Apple and Nike. Or some of the biggest tech brands like Intel, Oracle, and Cisco. Their websites sell a lot of enterprise-sized tech products without a single exclamation point (even their landing pages are pretty devoid of them.) When they use one, you can be sure it’s important and noteworthy.

Elevate your copy without an !

I know I tend to overuse the exclamation point in my personal correspondence, but that’s usually because I’m trying to tell you that I’m YELLING SOMETHING and let’s be honest, it’s a personal email. It doesn’t need to meet the high standards my website content does. 🙂

As a professional copywriter, however, I know that too many ! mean I’ve not been working hard enough on the copy. It’s usually the sign of my first draft too. I know that most of them will disappear with each revision and by the end there will be none (or maybe one, depending on the content type).

Use your words

This is a favourite of my parent friends and their toddlers, but it works for tech content marketers too. The words I use help me convey the passion I feel for content marketing, as does the font choice, design, and layout of my site. The same goes for my tech clients. They’ve put in a ton of work into their tech products and if they’ve done their job, it makes it easy for me to use the right words to convey that hard work and passion online.

Sure, it may take me longer to come up with the mot juste for their content, but in the end, it works better for them. Whether it’s by using the same tech words their customers use, signaling a kindred spirit or by peppering power words in their copy that align with the powerful features their products have, it all works together. For a quick primer on whether to use an ! in your content marketing, check out this great infographic from HubSpot.

Do you need that exclamation point? HubSpot

Good copywriting is full of these subtle things that influence the reader and great copywriting influences readers without their noticing it. They won’t figure out why they’re scrolling to the bottom of the tech landing page and reading right to the end. Or why they’re compelled to give up their true email address by the CTA on the green-coloured button in the sign-up box on the side of your website. But they’ll notice excessive !!! right away.

It’s the benefits that sell, not the exclamation points

Your tech content marketing will have more staying power if you write to the deeper benefits of your products and skip the excessive punctuation. Here are some quick tips to help you do that:

Ask yourself: what problem does your tech product solve? Think about the obstacles your customers face and how your products solve them. Remember, it’s always about the solution for the customer. They often don’t want to know how they solve it, just that your product solves it for them.

Ask your customers why they chose you. Listen to the reasons why they chose you and the words they use to explain it. Add in those words into your copy, whether it’s brand-new copy you’re creating or a refresh of some old copy. These words resonate with readers as they scan the content, bringing them closer to you.

List every possible problem/obstacle your products solve for your clients. Start from the macro, big picture level and then drill down to the nitty gritty. Find out how the individual employees at your tech customers use your products to solve their everyday problems. You may be surprised by what you see and discover new ways you can talk about your products.

Seeing yourself as the solution is much more effective than comparing yourself to everyone else. It forces you to flex your creative muscles and search out the power words that will persuade your readers more than any exclamation point every could. Your readers will appreciate the effort.

(Please note: I realize that there is a perfectly good grammatical use for the exclamation point, I do. I’m a professional writer, after all. That’s not the point of this post, so don’t @ me about it. 😉 )