Buzzword Binge: Emails Are Becoming More Formal, Study Finds

Maybe you haven’t gotten an email like the one that follows -- but you could, judging by a new study from Schwa.

My Dear Sir or Madam, Inasmuch as we must first acknowledge certain statistical anomalies, that could impact, perhaps negatively, our performance, we beg your indulgence to offer a product from the publicly-traded, Plano, Texas-based ecommerce, email,  social media, search engine, enterprise marketing optimization organization…

The study found that almost 50% of U.S. brand communications are more formal than they were, versus 37% globally. 

That may be good if firms avoid common street vulgarities that have crept into our marketing. 

What would not be so good is if brands barrage consumers with emails about corporate values, written in 'safe,' robotic corporate-speak,” as Meg Roberts, creative director at Schwa, puts it. 

This often happens “when companies need to talk about difficult topics,” Roberts notes.  



Such messages were prevalent in the early days of the pandemic, but have since given way to more personalized messaging. 

Indeed, despite the growing formality, 40% of brands have gone “soft and fluffy – we're here for youdifficult times and so on,” Roberts states. “They're at least showing they want to be more human, but it means companies start to sound the same.”

Those companies are closer to what people want. 

Of the consumers recently polled by Iterable, 83% are likely to buy from brands that inspire an emotional bond. 

That means "empathetic and comforting" messaging. 

Schwa, which describes itself as a language and behavioral science agency, also reports that 70% of U.S firms have noticed a change in communications.  

Of those polled, 93% believe that tone of voice can affect business performance in these areas: 

  • PR and communications — 36%
  • Marketing — 28%
  • Brand — 18%
  • Digital — 12%
  • HR — 3%
  • Operations — 2%

For her part, Robert urges brands not to overdo their messaging.

"Companies often send out emails and social posts just so that they're seen to be doing something,” Roberts says. “But if they have nothing useful to say, it's usually better to say nothing.”

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