Learn How To Write Conversationally To Engage Your Audience
All copywriters should look to engage their audience. If your readers aren’t engaged, then you may as well have not published anything. There are loads of ways you can improve engagement, but one of the most straightforward is to adjust your tone of voice. Instead of talking in a corporate manner using loads of professional jargon, write conversationally!
Conversational copy instantly sets a more welcoming and familiar tone for the reader. It’s almost like it puts you and your audience on the same level. You’re having a conversation (of sorts), meaning you’re both equals. The problem with a lot of copywriters is that you get sucked into the idea of writing with too much authority...if that makes sense! You obviously want to show that you know what you’re talking about, but you can often feel like you’re talking down to the audience. It’s kind of like you’re writing as some corporate bigwig who’s holding a business meeting. The difference is, your audience doesn’t have to stick around to listen to you, so they’ll be on their way.
With that in mind, you should learn how to write conversational copy. What does that entail, and is it difficult?
What is conversational copy?
The clue is in the name; it’s copy that sounds like a conversation between you and your audience. Basically, you write like you talk. When someone reads your copy, it should flow like listening to a friend at the bar.
How do you write conversationally?
This is where things get a little bit tricky. At first glance, writing conversationally seems easy. You just have to pen down the thoughts in your mind, right? Well...it’s not as simple as that. You want to start a conversation, but you don’t want to pour your heart out. This guide is meant for copywriters, meaning you’re probably writing for blogs, businesses, and so on. As such, you’ll have specific goals that your copy has to reach:
The list can go on, and this alters a lot about how you will write in a conversational tone. It shouldn’t read like your personal diary! Not only that, but you’re probably stuck in your very corporate tone of voice. You’re used to writing things in quite a commanding or business-like tone, rather than as a conversation. So, the hardest part is making the switch and getting used to writing like you talk.
Keeping all of this in mind, here are the golden rules to follow when writing conversationally:
Make it personal
Without wanting to toot my own horn, you’ll notice this content is very personal. As you read this, you should (hopefully) feel like someone is talking to you. This is done by using different references like I and you.
Basically, you have to write from a first or second-person perspective. The first-person perspective works best when we are talking about ourselves. It’s great to assume this tone if you’re talking from the point of view of yourself or the client you’re writing for. The difference this makes in a piece of writing is staggering.
The second-person perspective is used a lot, and it’s when you’re referring directly to the reader. I’ve done this a lot throughout this guide, referring to you as you! This is much better than if you used the third-person point of view, which is more about using words like he, her, it, they, etc. There’s too much of a disconnect if you choose that approach!
The basic place to start is to make your copy personal by writing from either a first or second-person perspective. Much like in this post, you’ll often find that a mixture of the two works best. After all, think about the normal conversations you have with your friends. You’ll always use terms like I and you when speaking.
Don’t be afraid to use contractions
You know you’re stuck in the zone of writing formally when you don’t use contractions.
Funnily enough, we can use that sentence to show the impact a contraction makes. This is what it looks like without one:
You know you are stuck in the zone of writing formally when you do not use contractions.
Compare both sentences and tell me which one is easier to read. The first one flows so much better because it feels like a conversation. We use contractions whenever we speak, and copy sounds far too formal without them.
This is one of the simplest ways to change your tone of voice and make your copy more engaging. It should come quite naturally to you as well - try not to think about it, just write like you’re talking and you’ll use contractions without realizing it. Just remember to go back through when editing to pick up on any that slipped through the cracks.
Use simple language
Okay, this is where things start to get a bit murky. When you’re told to use simple language, you have to understand what this actually means. We’re talking about language that is easy for people to understand and digest. It’s straightforward and gets to the point. This differs from outrageously informal and unsophisticated language!
Remember, you’re still writing professional copy, it’s just more conversational. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using really technical terms - unless you’re forced to. Also, try to keep your words short where possible. There’s a lot of power in short words as they’re easier to read and create a steady flow for the reader.
Don’t get sucked into the trap of using loads of long and complicated words to seem intelligent. So many copywriters do this as they think it builds authority and trust with the audience. The logic kind of makes sense - big words must mean you’re intelligent, so you must know what you’re talking about. Ironically, it can have the opposite effect as your audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying. Therefore, they give up reading your content.
Stick to the point
Another mistake you might make is taking things a bit too literally. When we say ‘write like you talk’, this doesn’t mean you go off on a random rant. Conversations with friends can quickly become bizarre things that drift off-topic.
So, be sure you stick to the point when writing. This relates backs to the writing goals we spoke about earlier. Consider the aim of your copy, and this gives you a main topic or point to focus on. For example, if you’re writing copy for a brand, and they want you to promote a service, your content shouldn’t stray from this. You should talk about the service, speak about the brand, and stay on a straight path. If you stray from the path, your writing becomes far too rambly.
Add some personality
As someone who reads a lot of copy, I can’t stand when a piece of writing has no personality. Sadly, you see this a lot with business copy and many other forms of content. It all sounds too corporate and you can almost feel a voice just droning on at you. Nobody likes reading things like this as it is hard to try and stay engaged. Once again, this is how you get many eyes turning away from your content.
The obvious solution is to inject some personality into your copywriting. Thankfully, you’ll already partially do this by using contractions and the right tone of voice. Still, you can also make comments or be familiar with the reader. The only thing to be cautious of is the brand you’re representing. If the brand is very laid back and wants to be familiar with the audience, then you can make jokes, use slang terms, and introduce more colloquial language. This adds character to a piece and helps the audience relate to the brand a lot more.
Write for your audience
The final piece of wisdom is to write for your audience. If you‘re a freelance copywriter, you might write for lots of clients. As a result, you have loads of different audiences. This means your tone of voice and the way you write will differ slightly. It’s all about knowing your audience and understanding how to speak to them.
A great tip is to think about how you talk to different people in real life. Your conversations with friends are profoundly different from those with your family members. You still use a conversational tone when talking to your family, but the words you use and the style of the conversations can be different.
Why is conversational copywriting so important
Whether you’re learning how to write ads or how to write a blog post, conversational copywriting is essential. It sets the tone for your content and keeps your audience more engaged. It’s far easier for someone to read a piece of copy if it’s written conversationally. Everything flows better, there’s less technical jargon, and you get straight to the point.
If you’re looking to improve your copywriting skills, follow the advice in this guide to write like you talk!