Default Text vs. Placeholder Text

I’ve received this message several times from the same platform.

There are some messages every single one of our members will receive (perhaps many times). This list often includes things like:

  • Welcome emails.
  • Invitation emails.
  • Forgotten password requests.
  • Befriending messages (like the one above).
  • Awarding gamification badges.
  • Website copy.

The irony is these messages which are seen by the greatest number of members are usually those we spend the least amount of time on.

Far too often, we use the default text provided by the vendor. We assume vendors might somehow have developed the perfect messages for these situations and we don’t dare adjust them.

Trust me, I know these folks and they haven’t.

Case in point, I recently spoke with a former engineer from a major platform vendor about why some of these messages seemed so odd. His reply was:

“They haven’t changed that yet? I set that as a placeholder years ago. My English wasn’t that great back then”.

The message wasn’t only optimised based upon the millions of emails this organisation has sent out, it was simply placeholder text set by an overwhelmed engineer which no-one had bothered to change.

Every default text members receive should be customised to your audience. It should reflect your community’s positioning strategy.

Maybe ‘private’ and ‘secure’ are the two statements that define this community (and perhaps they’re not – this isn’t an attack on Guild).

It’s best to systematically go through every single default text message like this and check it reflects your community’s unique positioning. It’s one of the most powerful opportunities you have to change a few words and reframe the value of your community to your members.

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