I slipped into the pool to start my laps, brand new goggles firmly in place.
Only to find… my eyes instantly filled with water on the first stroke.
New goggles rarely leak unless they’re a bad fit, so I got out of the pool and took my dripping self to reception to return them. A simple exercise, you might think.
But here’s a little story of how poor messaging can lead to confused customers.
Hello, wall of confusing goggles
The manager of the pool where I bought the goggles pounced on the packaging, asking if I’d ‘scanned the QR code’ and ‘followed the face scan instructions’. “You know, so you could match the right goggles to your face?” she added.
When I admitted I hadn’t seen a QR code and followed up with a bad joke about how goggle-buying had certainly become very hi-tech in recent years, she sighed impatiently and marched me over to the Confusing Goggles Wall.
I’d been here before. Mirror lenses, dark lenses, clear lenses. Sparkly bands, stripy bands, colourful bands, opaque bands. She pointed at a teeny tiny QR code at the very bottom of the wall, next to some teeny tiny writing about the face scan. Around 99 percent of people would miss this, but I dutifully scanned the QR code, let the app scan my face and got the result: I should choose a ‘smaller-profile’ goggle. Great!
Except… the Confusing Goggles Wall only had labels like ‘premium’, or ‘fitness’ (which, let’s face it, don’t mean a whole lot to a goggle-buyer). There were a couple of pairs marked ‘regular’. One expensive pair marked ‘smaller-fit’ (but I didn’t want to spend close to $50 on goggles). No simple ‘large’, ‘medium’ or ‘small’. No typical signposts you might expect, or choices of sizes, to make it easier to buy what you wanted.
I was baffled. How could a well-known brand over-complicate things so much? As a copywriter though, I see this stuff all the time – in emails, on websites, in stores and on social media.
How poor messaging confuses your customers
We all make a LOT of decisions during the course of our day. In fact, research from Cornell University suggests we make a whopping 35,000 decisions daily – about everything from what to eat to what to wear and of course, what to buy.
So if poor messaging is making it harder for your customer to buy from you, they’ll do what’s easier. Such as:
- walk away from your store
- click off your site
- delete your email newsletter
- scroll down their feed (away from your social media post).
Poor messaging might involve:
- Bombarding people with useless information, like paragraph after paragraph of company history, when they’re just keen for you to get to the point
- Having copy that’s wordy or clunky, or uses jargon that your customers might not understand
- Talking about the product a lot, but not about the benefits the product offers the customer – ie, why it will solve a problem for them or make their life easier
- A confusing UX / user experience – like having an essential signpost related to the buying journey in the wrong place (like a tiny QR code stuck where a customer won’t see it!)
- Being too hi-tech in your approach (simpler is often better with busy customers)
- Making your customer take too many steps in the buying journey, which can lead to cart abandonment.
Here’s how to clarify your messaging
Sometimes, you can be so close to your business that you genuinely don’t see why you’re losing customers, conversions are down or people are unsubscribing from your newsletters in droves. How to improve things?
- It might involve looking at the product and rejigging your messaging so the customer thinks, ‘Yes! I can’t live without this product / service’
- It might be about simplifying your unique selling point / taglines and making it really clear what you do
- It might be about investing in content marketing to educate your customers and build their trust
- It might be about overhauling your email marketing to send leads into a well-designed funnel towards the products / services they need.
It’s ALL about creating a clearer path towards helping your customers convert.
Back to the confusing goggles wall…
I needed new goggles that day so I could fit a workout in, and I didn’t have time to try a heap of other sports stores. So… I ended up paying twice as much for the smaller-fit pair.
Was that a win for the brand – me buying the goggles? I’m not so sure. I bought out of necessity (and convenience), but the experience wasn’t easy. And I felt a wee bit manipulated having to spend more (because there was no ‘small’ option in the lower price range).
The pool manager, who admitted I wasn’t the first to return goggles due to the confusing labelling, said I could bring them back if this second pair also didn’t fit properly. It was clearly an ongoing retail issue the pool had to deal with.
So, what could this brand have done better? A giant QR poster in a prominent position next to the goggles, for starters – and clearly-labelled, user-friendly sizing for those who wanted to grab, buy and go (rather than do a face scan, etc) would make the world of difference to a busy person hoping to squeeze a swim into their lunch hour.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do my laps.
Need help with your messaging? It’s a task a good copywriter can run with – and it’ll leave you free to do what you’re best at (running the business). Contact me for a confidential chat about any concerns you’re having with your copy or content and we can create a road-map to get your messaging back on track.