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  • Suzanne Wagner

Are you having contractions?

If you use contractions, you're on the right track to stronger communications.


You know. "It's" for "it is." "You're" for "you are."

Thing is, contractions can only improve marketing communications. Why? It's important to get over the "don't use contractions" rule you learned in high school or college. I agree. Formal, academic English has no seat on the marketing bus.


First, we don't speak without contractions--it sounds formal, stiff and emotionless. As marketers, we know that emotion draws readers in and ultimately drives conversions. To remove emotion from our marketing language is counterproductive. A conversational tone is friendlier, simpler, more human and more direct, and contractions help you achieve the conversational tone. Think "conversation connects."


William Zinsser, author of Writing Well, points out that "because we tend to skim content (especially online), we often miss the second word when a contraction is spelled out — i.e., we read “would not” as “would.” So in cases like this, contractions improve reader comprehension. Better comprehension again translates to better conversion.


Now, you don't have to go hog wild with contractions. It's best to stay away from the awkward ones, like:


"I'd've closed that sale if I'd prepared better."

(That's just weird.) What sounds better?


"I would've closed that sale if I had prepared better"

OR

"I would have closed that sale if I'd prepared better."


If you're having trouble accepting that contractions — used skillfully — are better for your marketing writing, a word of advice: just inhale deeply and breathe through the pain. Your content will be better for it.

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