Misunderstandings are the fault of the WRITER not the READER…

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dunce-spelThe feedback and response I got to my recent “My Squeeze Pages Suck” video was great.

… At least MOST of it.

While I got dozens of great emails from folks telling me they liked the video, I did get one not-so-nice email that I got a chuckle out of.

In my email and video I talked about running tests to increase the “opt-in” rate of your landing pages.

Well here is the reply I got from one subscriber:

“Isn’t the word………..”option”??? Just wondered!!!

Guess your “optins” suck because maybe,,,,,,,,you can’t even spell properly?????”

LOL… Of course any true online marketer knows that an “Opt-In” happens when somebody OPTS INto your email list. I guess they have the “option” not to “opt-in”… 😉

But as humorous as this example was (at least to me), it does contain a valuable marketing lesson.

And that is this…

When trying to communicate or persuade, you should never take for granted that your reader understands all the terms or jargon that are common in your market.

The responsibility for clear communication does not lie with the reader, it lies with the writer.

That means in this case, it’s not my readers fault she did not understand what I wrote and assumed I was a dolt who just couldn’t spell, it’s MY fault for using a term she was not familiar with.

SIDE NOTE: Just to avoid confusion… A “dolt” is a noun used to refer to someone who is a stupid person, idiot, fool, blockhead, dunce, nitwit, etc. (I’ve got to be careful and make sure everybody understands me…) 😉

So if you are trying to sell to, or communicate with the “masses”, or even a large segment of experience levels in a particular market, you need to be VERY careful to avoid (or at least explain) any terms that have the potential to be misunderstood.

This includes the use of any “big words”. You should write to a 5th or 6th grade level in most cases. You are not writing to impress your reader with your mastery of advanced English vocabulary, you are writing to effectively communicate ideas and persuade them to take action.

Now am I going to start “dumbing down” my emails to a newbie level just to prevent the occasional misunderstanding?


But the reason I’m not doing it is because I know my target client/customer.

People who are in the market for “Conversion Improvement” information or services (and who can afford the high prices I charge for the massive value I provide), are already DOERS and ACTION TAKERS with existing online businesses.

I cater to the top 20% of the market.

They understand the basic and common terms I use in my writing.

Somebody who doesn’t know what an “opt-in” is, just wouldn’t benefit from my information or services at their current stage of business. So in this case, using the terminology actually helps to QUALIFY my potential buyers.

But even then, when I get into more technical or advanced topics such as multivariate testing, usability, website analytics or advance online persuasion tactics, I still have to make every effort to explain the topics in very basic and understandable terms.

(Even when using a few industry terms as qualifiers, I still try and write at about a 6th grade level.)

So the lesson to keep in mind here is this…

Unless you are writing specifically to a select, more advanced segment of your market, you need to avoid any and all terms that have the potential to confuse your reader.

Because if there is a misunderstanding of what you wrote, guess what?

IT’S YOUR FAULT. Not your readers.


PS – By the way, there are only 2 spots left in the offer I made in the video to personally conduct a test round on YOUR opt-in page. So if you want to build your list faster, you need to watch the video right now and see if you qualify.


PPS – If you don’t understand what an “opt-in” is, then I reserve the “option” to reject your application!

About the Author

Eric Graham is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, copywriter and consultant. Enter your name and email address below to get notified when new response boosting tips, tested conversion strategies, updates, articles and videos are posted.

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