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When copy makes you go ‘bleurgh’

Sometimes, tongue-in-cheek web copy works really well. Other times, when not viewed in context with other content, it just makes you go ‘yuck’.

Deciding I didn’t want to receive more HubSpot emails, I clicked ‘unsubscribe’ and was taken to the window in the image above.

Leaving aside all the passive language for now (who noted my request — internet elves?), the sentence that made me screw up my face in a that’s-a-bit-much way was:

“We already miss how close we used to be.”

Not really, I thought. That’s why I’m unsubscribing. You’re trying too hard to be funny. I’m leaving now, bye.

And that’s the problem. Quickly scanning the page for confirmation that I wasn’t going to get more emails from HubSpot, I saw the sentence on its own. It was in a different tone to the rest of the text on the page.

I was going to close the page (hey, I’d just unsubscribed; I didn’t want to hang around), but then thought to watch the video. It’s really quite funny, communicates a sense of humour and the sentence goes well with it.

If you’re going to use witty prose, use it carefully so that it’s taken as you want it to be.

  • Make sure the tone is consistent across the text. Talking in a passive, formal way and then, in the next breath, making a joke just doesn’t work well.
  • Can the wording stand alone or must it be viewed alongside the video? The two things together are amusing; the sentence alone, not great.
  • Is this the right place to do this? I didn’t want to hear from HubSpot anymore; I wanted to get on with stuff, not stay to watch a video.
  • Will everyone get the joke? Will it be lost on a global audience? Am I risking alienating people?

What do you think? Do you love the page and wouldn’t change a thing, or is there anything else you’d tweak too?

Comments

  1. I was reminded of this post just now, when I was taken to an unsubscribe page for an email newsletter (for a clothing company I’ve never done any business with, but that’s another matter…)

    Here’s the text from this unsubscribe page:

    “We’re sorry to see you go, but thank you for updating your preferences. You have been removed from the Baukjen database.

    Looking forward to welcoming you back soon.”

    The first part’s ok, but the second part is just nonsensical – why do they think I’ll be re-subscribing soon?

  2. This is one of my pet hates: companies who don’t bother with a subscription email to confirm the address is correct when people sign up to something.

    There’s a lady in the US with my same name and, seemingly, an email address very close to my personal one, as I regularly receive e-newsletters she’s signed up to. Businesses: sending a ‘Please confirm your address is correct’ email is easy! And you avoid annoying potential new customers who are sick of unsubscribing to things they didn’t sign up to…

    Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent. Completely agree, the second part is not even needed on that unsubscribe page. The first two sentences are more than enough and confirm that your desired task has been completed correctly.

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