Jumbled Jargon: The Words And Concepts That Confuse People The Most

Email copywriters have a serious challenge — how to make their copy understandable to the reader. 

A new study by Yell shows that technical buzzwords and jargon often confuse the very people the marketers want to reach.    

According to a listing included in Media Update, the most jargon-heavy industries are:

  1. IT and Telecoms 
  2. Finance 
  3. Legal 
  4. Marketing/PR 
  5. News 
  6. Agriculture 
  7. Healthcare
  8. Leisure and retail
  9. Entertainment
  10. Education 
  11. Property 
  12. Manufacturing
  13. Construction 
  14. Engineering
  15. Automotive 



Got that? If you are serving in any of those fields, you risk confusing the consumer and possibly losing the sale.  

But here is even worse news for those work in B2B — the terms that are hardest to understand:  

  1. CRM 
  2. ADHD
  3. ds
  4. Recession 
  5. Equity 
  6. Matter
  7. API
  8. CMS 
  9. APR
  10. IP 
  11. ERP 
  12. Algorithm
  13. Six Sigma 
  14. Internet
  15. Torque
  16. Interest

(I confess I have a certain personal interest here. Like most reporters, I receive dozens of press releases by email each day. Many are incomprehensible due to terminology that even insiders might have trouble grasping. And many PR writers don't bother translating it).

Maybe it doesn't pay to be too colloquial — you can take an equivalent risk when you dumb things down. But email copy should be conversational and easy to grasp on first reading. 

Mark Clisby, co-CEO of Yell, suggests the following: “Whatever sector you work in and whether you are in a meeting, on a call or writing copy for your website or social channels, it's important to find the simplest way of getting your point across to fellow workers, potential or existing customers.” 

Clisby adds: “Some jargon may be unavoidable, but a good rule of thumb is to consider whether there is another word or phrase you can use which conveys the same meaning but has a higher likelihood of being understood.” 

There are no substitutes for clarify and precision.

Yell analyzed thousands of words, phrases and acronyms to discover which job-focused jargon confuses us the most, according to Media Update. IT and Telecoms accounted for almost 54 million Google searches from people attempting to make sense of the language.

1 comment about "Jumbled Jargon: The Words And Concepts That Confuse People The Most".
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  1. Christopher Caen from Intelligent Demand, August 4, 2023 at 6:58 p.m.

    I love an old agency we used to rail against something we called "presumptive marketing" other words, if you don't already understand what I do, you're not going to understand what I do.

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