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How to use exclamation marks in marketing copy

How to use exclamation marks in marketing copy
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Samantha Morrissey
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3 min read
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Copy & Design
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2.15.22

I sat down to write about exclamation points in marketing copy. To write about how much fun they are and how much I love to use them...

A copywriter makes a case for exclamation points

I sat down to write about exclamation points in marketing copy. To write about how much fun they are and how much I love to use them. As it turns out, all the articles I researched suggested not using them. How tacky they are. How they cheapen good marketing copy. But I say they’re wrong. There is a time and a place for exclamation points and we’re going to get. into. it. (!)



Once upon a time, sure, marketers would turn their noses up at exclamation points in formal copywriting. Never use an exclamation point in a headline. Always use less than two in one paragraph, and never consecutively. Of course, there are rules… this is the English language we’re talking about here — but just like the English language, there are always exceptions.

There is only one rule about exclamation points that you really need to know. The use of exclamation points is entirely dependent on the subject matter. Period! You might be thinking — but wait, doesn’t the audience matter? Not really! If you’re in the healthcare industry and you want to talk about HPV, a disease that mostly occurs among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25, using an exclamation point would still be inappropriate. The audience may be young and hip, but you’re still talking to them about an STD. As long as your content isn’t too heavy, an exclamation point won’t raise any red flags.

So we’ve decided your brand can have a little fun. Where is an exclamation point appropriate? Here are a few of our favorite places to use this powerful piece of punctuation:

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The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the "sign of admiration or exclamation" or the "note of admiration" until the mid-17th century; "admiration" referred to that word's Latin-language sense, of wonderment. - Wikipedia

Email

Email marketing campaigns are a great place to let your brand’s personality shine through. Keeping emails short and sweet is still on-trend — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for an exclamation point (or two). The holy grail of emails with exclamation points is the subject line. Hello! You’re trying to get someone's attention. There isn’t really a better time to use an exclamation point, tbh.

SMS

Who doesn’t love getting a text message from their favorite brand? This is a space where you really want your words to match the medium. An exclamation point in an SMS marketing campaign can add a sense of urgency or even a fun lightheartedness to your message. Imagine sending a text message with only periods. The person on the receiving end of that would think you were mad. Or even worse — bored.

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Social media

Some of the most creative marketing in recent years has been on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter — social media is where your brand’s creativity can really shine! Copy for social should be casual and genuine — and that includes exclamation points. Copy that is written how you (or your brand) would speak is a sure way to create content that is entertaining, relatable, and brand-building!

The only way to really know if exclamation points make sense is to really know your brand. And to work with specialists who really know the industry and what mediums work best for which brands (like us, at Mattered).

And to fellow copywriters out there: if the exclamation point feels right, use it. Rules are for writers who don’t think outside the box.

Blog by:
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Samantha Morrissey
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samantha@mattered.com

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