Conversational content creates customers

Posted by Hedley Swann on 17 February, 2014 in How-To's , Website Content , Small Business Strategy

Alliteration aside, writing engaging and persuasive copy that gets your online audience to connect with your business is a task most small business people can find a struggle. Maybe you’ve found yourself looking at your screen, your head swirling as you try to figure out the “best” way to talk about your service and offerings, post a Facebook update or write a blog article. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at some tips for writing content that people want to read.

Write like you talk

Never forget that your audience is made up of people; flesh and blood human beings. People are social creatures by nature and want to connect on a human level. Think about the great conversations you’ve had with friends, coworkers and customers in the past. Were they filled with marketing buzz words like “synergy” or “catalyst” or “dynamic”? Did they feel one sided like the other person was talking at you, instead of with you? Of course not. They flowed, you got a sense of personality and you felt understood. Writing that feels conversational is much more likely to keep your audience present and engaged.

You probably already do this online and just haven’t realised it yet. Have a look at the posts you write on your personal Facebook profile, where your audience is made up of people you have a relationship with in real life. Notice that they sound conversational, as you’ve simply written what you wanted to say. Simple, to the point, and unhindered by the little voice in the back of your head constantly asking if the post sounds “professional”, or persuasive or “dynamic”

A key aspect of conversational writing is that your viewer feels like you’re speaking directly to them. They won’t feel like they are one individual in a crowd that you’re trying to address all at once. Think about how you speak in a face to face conversation, and consider the following two (made up) examples.

“Come down to Joe’s Pizzeria and taste the difference that all of Darwin is raving about.”

Or.

“We’ve been told that our pizza is the tastiest in town, and we’d love for you to try it.”

Both sentences have the same goal, to tell you that Joe’s serves great pizza and to get you to eat there, but which one leaves you thinking “Maybe I’ll go to Joe’s for dinner”? Which one sounds like Joe’s Pizzeria is talking directly to you?

The first example sounds like a billboard. It’s screaming a one sided message, rather than starting a conversation. It doesn’t make me feel like Joe’s is interested in having me (as an individual) come to their restaurant. The second example feels much more like a one on one conversation, Joe’s is speaking directly to me and is specifically inviting me to visit them. It also invites me to engage and respond, the personal invitation to try their product opens the door for my feedback as a customer, and suggests that Joe’s places value on my individual opinion. Very cool.

Tips for conversational writing

Conversational writing shouldn’t be confused with the tone of your writing. It can used by businesses wanting to establish themselves as fun and quirky just as easily as it can by those that need to be seen as solid and reliable. Here a quick reference guide to help you write conversationally.

  1. Be authentic: Write like you speak, and speak to your audience as if they were standing in front of you.
  2. Use the second person point of view: Address your viewers directly using “you”, and “your” (have a look back through this blog post, I’ve done it the whole time).
  3. Be concise and to the point: Conversational writing isn’t an excuse for waffle. Treat your audience’s time as valuable and they’ll love you for it.
  4. Show personality: Don’t be afraid to give a glimpse behind the curtain into who you are. You’re not a robot, so don’t write like one (unless you are a robot, in which case don’t worry, even HAL had a certain kind of personality).
  5. Don’t force it: Just like being told to relax is the most unrelaxing thing in the world, don’t let that voice in your head become “am I being conversational enough?”. A good tactic is to simply write off the top of your head (don’t give yourself time to think), and then go back and condense and refine.

Conversational content isn't lazy content

Remember that the reason we’re becoming more conversational in our online content is to increase the engagement of our audience. It’s to make our content more memorable, more persuasive, and more likely to encourage our viewers to complete our Call To Action. We still need to keep the goals of our online strategy at the forefront of our minds at all times.

Authenticity is the key. conversational content isn’t a “marketing tactic” that’s been “designed” to coerce people into doing what we want. It’s simply a demonstration of how the Golden Rule (treat others as you’d like to be treated) can help us to connect better with our online audience, a natural byproduct of which is a more likely chance that they will want to do business with us.