The 5 bad words turning people away from your SaaS site
I’ve been doing a lot of research into the “bad words” that people use in business. And that research has led me to a problem for all SaaS owners: you’re using bad words constantly and may not even realize it.
But what is a “bad” word?
If you follow Brené Brown, you already know that people use bad words all of the time. Take this example:
“At least you got a month’s severance pay.”
Listen to the connotation of “at least” when you say it. It’s never good. “At least” feels like you’re trying to help somebody to look on the bright side, but what it really does is pile on the misery when they’re dealing with a tough situation.
While that’s a word (or phrase) to avoid in real life, the five I’m about to share are words that could sink your SaaS company’s chance of getting clients.
The first bad word is one that you may use all over your site, and it feels like the most natural thing in the world – you’ll see it on big SaaS platforms’ websites, too.
Here’s an example:
“We make card processing simple.”
How about another?
“Our creators are changing the game.”
You see “we” in the first example and “our” in the second, but they’re both saying the same thing – you’re writing about yourself and not the person who’s buying your product. “We,” “our,” and even mentions of your brand name put the spotlight on you rather than your customer. That word in your content is a sign to your reader that your copy is about the product and not about the prospect.
Talking about yourself is often accidental, but you’re still pushing people away. The important thing to remember (as my friend Neville Medhora says) is that people don’t care about you. They only care about themselves.
While that may sound harsh, it’s an attitude that your prospects bring to your SaaS site whenever they visit.
They want to know how your product benefits them. Make sure your copy shows them, and rewrite every “we” sentence on your site so that it starts with “you.” Make it about the customer, they’ll feel connected emotionally immediately, and you’ll be closer to a sale.
The next bad word finds its way into your pricing page, and, again, it feels like a natural word to use: pay.
That word is a glaring problem in SaaS, and it’s often ignored. Simply put, most SaaS websites have an entire page dedicated to telling the prospect that what they offer is going to cost them money.
Check out an e-commerce or general services website, and you’ll see this isn’t the way things are done. Yet, it’s this way on almost every SaaS website.
Why do we fixate on pricing like this?
I get why. You think your prospects are as fixated on pricing as you, and you may even see that in your analytics as your pricing page gets more traffic than anything else.
The problem is that you don’t always get a chance to build up the value before they go to that page. I can go on most SaaS websites, read a headline, and jump straight to a pricing page before the company really sells me on what it does.
That’s a problem.
Still, people are going to the pricing page, meaning you have to do more to get rid of the bad word and make it feel like a welcoming place. I call this a “depletion of assets” sweep, and it’s simple: sweep your copy to find any words telling your prospect life is about to get a little harder, and the assets they have are about to shrink.
“Pay” is one of those words. Any word that evokes your user’s bank account is a bad word. Strike those words from your copy so your prospect isn’t focused on what your SaaS solution costs them.
Every time you use the word “and,” especially on your home page, you risk losing your prospect.
The reason is that “and” always means “more.” Whenever you say “and” you’re saying “and remember another thing, and then this thing, and that thing.” It’s tiring for your customer. They’re not on your site to memorize words or features. It’s not their job to hold all of the many messages you want to throw at them in their heads.
The whole purpose of copy is to explain your product to your prospect in a way they can understand and retain. Every “and” you throw in muddies the water and makes it harder for them to remember why they came to your site in the first place.
The solution is straightforward: simplify.
Here’s a before-and-after example of this:
“Maximize team productivity, decision-making, and efficiency with the world’s fastest shared inbox.”
There’s a lot to remember there. That message becomes more focused when you rephrase it to:
“Maximize team productivity with the world’s fastest shared inbox.”
You share a single benefit by taking out the “and.” Now, a prospect’s going to get the message and remember it. Simplify everything across the board to do the same.
SaaS businesses use “learn” a lot in their resource or support centers. “Learn from the experts.” “You can learn…” But the question you have to ask yourself is: who’s excited about learning?
Not many people do because learning isn’t the outcome people seek. They don’t want to “learn” about your SaaS, even though they’re going to the place where you send people when they need to learn how to become better users of your solution.
If that sounds contradictory, it is. However, remembering that the only reason people go to a resource center is that they have a job they need to get done is the key thing for eliminating this bad word.
That job may be functional. It may be social or personal. Whatever the job may be, they have something they want to achieve.
By eliminating “learn” from your copy, you emphasize an outcome rather than the process.
Yale University does a great job of this, as you’ll see from these examples:
It’s all outcome-oriented, and it’s what potential students want to see when they’re choosing a university. Apply the same thinking to your resource center, and “learning” suddenly seems like less of a hassle to your users.
This isn’t a word. It’s more a choice that you make – you choose to use a good word for an action you don’t want people to do.
Examples include using passive voice instead of active voice. For instance, “Cross-functional work is done best on this platform,” rather than “This is the best platform for cross-functional work.” You lose the subject of your sentence with a passive voice. You also lose the reader.
Getting too fancy with your syntax is another example. Why say, “With great ease, you can now – unlike ever before – create manage and e-Sign docs”?
You could just say, “Create, manage, and e-Sign docs with ease,” and you get a stronger message across while improving prospect recall.
Finally, there are more obvious examples, like “Cancel account.” “Cancel” is a positive word in the sense that it’s a good word to use for an action you don’t want the customer to take. Try making the words you use for the action unusual. Use “Don’t remain” instead of “Cancel account.” The action is still the same, but the language you use isn’t prompting people to take an undesired action.
A single word impacts how somebody feels about you and your SaaS site. When you realize that fact, the reason the five words I’ve highlighted are “bad” becomes obvious. They’re either sticking points that make it too hard for the customer to remember your message, or they’re words that make it too easy for your customer to stop being your customer.
Your next action is simple: sweep the bad words from your site.
Look for any areas where you’re telling the customer how great you are instead of focusing on them. Make sure you’re not using the right words for the wrong action. Finally, remove sticking points, whether it’s language that tells the prospect what they’re going to lose or words that make them feel like using your SaaS product means more work for them.