Writing Conversational Copy – Make Your Customer’s Day
Grammar rules are needed for writing to work. For conversational copywriting though, they sometimes need bending or breaking.
Why? Because sticking too hard and fast to them can stop your copy sounding authentic to a reader on your website, blog or social media post.
Or worse, sound boring.
Copywriting is a two-way conversation between you and your customer about how you benefit their lives. You might have the visual bells and whistles to die for on your site or blog post but if the written content is too stagey, visitors won’t stick around.
People are nowadays exhausted from the marketing message, because there is so much bullshit out there, both on and offline.
If they’re going to connect with you, they want someone who listens to what they’re after and willing to go out of their way to help them.
I believe the way to reach your audience is through writing your copy conversationally. In your web pages, blog posts, marketing material, and publications; whatever content you’re producing.
My personal mantra is that any content I create must be worth someone’s time to read or view.
Conversational copy does sounds easy to do. But it’s far from it.
Here’s what makes it so special:
Written for one person –
I’ve spoken about targeting your audience with content before but many copywriters know what good copy should target.
Your content might reach a huge audience who are diverse in lifestyles and professions. But at its base, the writing is one on one, for the reader and writer.
When you read content on a website, it’s speaking to you and looking to bring you further into the site. Everything else falls away to the side.
That’s why generic or grammatically perfect language can stifle any engagement with a reader. The copy should have narrow-focused precision.
For example: Growthwise are an accountancy firm helping small businesses with their tax, bookkeeping and back office finance administration. These areas, although important, are not going to set the world on fire for business owners.
But these guys have taken the full-on bulldozer approach to their website copy. Compare that to other accountancy websites targeting the same audience; they stand out in such a good way.
Their copy also targets one person, the small business owner. It’s bright tone and informal conversation comes across as if they’re on your team, fighting the good fight for your financial success.
They might overdo it at times but that’s just splitting hairs. Growthwise makes you, the reader, feel you’re the centre of attention. Exactly what good copy should do.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Walk around in their world, find out the pains and pleasures of this person.
Understand where they’re coming from and what they really want.
Conversational copy should make the connection because it speaks to the reader without judgement but knows where their challenges are.
Empathy works well in copywriting because it hits emotion. And hitting the right emotion drives a powerful response in humans.
Don’t try to fake empathy in your copy either. If you try and get found out, it can significantly damage your business brand.
Take a look at dosomething.org. They’re an organisation helping young people take action for social change in the world. The emotional heart isn’t about playing violins here. No, they’re wanting to galvanise their visitors into signing up and getting involved.
The copy is pretty loose but builds the relationship up by including you in their positive goals.
To make social change happen. It pitches itself right at your emotional centre, stirring this audience to not sit there and accept how things are.
Write like you speak (but not exactly how to talk) –
Writing the way you talk would be terrible advice. Check out any video transcripts for any training videos or webinars and they are difficult to read.
When we speak, the rhythm of our language is peppered with umms and ahhs. At times, we repeat what we say even if the point has been already made.
Direct conversation works well because of the instant interaction between the people involved. The pauses, the overlaps and the structure of words fit the medium.
You try doing that as conversational copy and the end result would be almost unreadable.
This is a balancing act, which takes practice. Good conversational copy feels like a discussion between two people without the stuttering language we use throughout any face-to-face conversation.
The words used are deliberate and succinct without overstaying their welcome or leaving awkward pauses.
It’s weird to start with but easier as you get used to it.
For example, the WordPress website support and content marketing resource WP Curve shows you how conversational copy can help break down the walls between the specific jargon and issues used in content marketing and website solutions.
Their blog covers a wide number of areas but targets entrepreneurs looking to generate more traffic and customers through a better performing site.
The content feels like a free flowing conversation, you can almost hear their voice as you read.
No word goes to waste though.
They tell you what works in their experience, and what doesn’t. Bullshit-free. It walks the tightrope between flexible and succinct text beautifully.
Structure and language used –
There’s times you have to bend or break the rules in the service of great conversational copy. It can mean breaking up the flow of words. To make a point or highlight a benefit.
The power behind writing copy conversationally is the feeling they are spoken words, not written ones.
The language employed for copy should never be tough to understand, and needs to be in line with what your audience want.
Reading your content out loud is great for any copy. For
For conversational copy, it’s essential.
If it doesn’t flow on the screen easily then it’s not ready to publish. I do this with all of my copy (I think all copywriters do) and then get it proofread.
Your voice –
When good copy has a conversation with a reader, they are listening to a voice that depicts you, the writer, speaking to them. It’s crazy and bizarre.
And one of the many amazing things our brain does with language is putting a human voice on what we read.
So what you say and how you say it, should uniquely sell your personality to a prospective prospect.
You brand, business or whatever you want to call it, encompasses this personality that is all over your content.
I’ve taken a unique example to highlight this (and if you don’t like profanities you should steer clear of the following link) with the chefs at Thug Kitchen. They’re two thirty-something cooks listing vegan recipes for their readers and site visitors. They take their cuisine very, very seriously yet keep the fun inside the sentences.
Their voice is pretty blue. Which reinforces their authority and appeal to their target audience, the urban, inner city resident. The recipes are as fun to read as they are to cook with. They talk like an old friend who doesn’t care if you like what they’re saying or not. They’re saying it.
Conversational copy feels authentic. From the heart. It’s not trying to use dirty tricks or deception to convince you to act. It’s wanting to simply talk with you.
But striking up that balance of saying something conversationally, without saying it like you talk, takes some practice.
When it’s struck perfectly, it’s hard to beat.
Finding it difficult making the time to focus on your copy, we should talk about getting conversational copy working for you. Connect with me here.