One of the challenges of writing content marketing in English for the Indian audience is that English is understood differently across income groups, regions and even age-demographic profiles. There is already a kind of spoken English that is considered typically Indian. For example, Indians tends to say ok when they should be saying yes. Or we may ask someone: what is your good name?
English is widely considered India’s language of business, a vital link language but when it comes to content, writers have to consider who their audience carefully before crafting relevant content. So usage of words, construction and length of a sentence matters. Not all content is created for the C-suite, and even if were aimed at more literate audiences, the use of unambiguous English matters when it comes to writing content even for an email campaign, a product leaflet or content for a smartphone app.
You do not want the user to land up not getting the right message.
One may call this writing in plain English, and yes, it is a challenge that content creators will have to grapple with as companies target new users of products and services who need accurate information, many of whom are not conversant in English. Yet, English being an aspirational language means you cannot totally preclude its usage in marketing and brand communication. Think consumer medical information, or e-learning, travel booking.
So here are five things to consider when writing content in ‘plain English” that must be understood by a variety of English-speaking backgrounds. Writing plain English is not dumbing down English. If well written, it can work as an inclusive tool.
So what are the five things to keep in mind.
- Make sure your content uses words that do not confuse the end user. Research has shown that even those with graduate degrees fond plain English easier to understand.
- If you are writing for a App, time matters; a long sentence will not work and come across as pure information overload.
- Avoid ambiguity. It is sometimes easier to say a simple No in an official communication rather than beat around the bush. Get to the point. Here’s one example I read online:
Online retailer Jungle.com in 2003 in its response to a customer asking if they still sold blank CDs sent out this communication:
We are currently in the process of consolidating our product range to ensure that the products that we stock are indicative of our brand aspirations. As part of our range consolidation we have also decided to revisit our supplier list and employ a more intelligent system for stock acquisition. As a result of the above certain product lines are now unavailable through jungle.com, whilst potentially remaining available from more mainstream suppliers.
All they had to say was ‘No”.
- Never forget the personal touch. Using you rather than he/she or one as that helps make a better connect. The end user is a person, and you do not need a CAPTCHA code for this!
- Put your audience first. In a 24 by 7 world, with people accessing information on the go, they won’t have time to grab a dictionary. If your user understands your messaging and acts accordingly, its boon time for your brand.
Writing for different user audiences is a challenge that content creators face in today’s hyper-connected world. It pays therefore, to rope in trained resource to handle this kind of communication. As more and more people access content on their mobiles, plain and simple English is the way forward.