When you’re having a conversation with your friend, you’re usually relaxed. You’re not trying to impress them with your vocabulary or pretending to be someone else.
But did you know that you can have conversations with your audience on your blog? You can speak to them the same way you talk to your friends over a beer on Friday night.
People are overwhelmed with information from social media, ads, and email. Content is everywhere. There’s only one type of content that filters through the noise. It’s genuine, easy to digest, and personalized to feel like it was written for you.
But before we dig in, let’s cover the basics.
Why should you write in a conversational tone?
According to veteran copywriter, Valerio Puggioni, most articles never get read because they’re a bore. The longer someone spends on your web page, the higher you will rank it. If no one reads your boring content, it won’t rank.
Conversational writing is breaking all grammar rules. You write the way you talk, use slang that is familiar to your audience and words that are easy to understand.
Think of all the marketing messages that make you cringe. It sounds like a robot wrote it. The copy is great and they’ve dotted every I and crossed every T but it doesn’t connect with you. You didn’t feel inspired to take action or share the email after reading.
With conversational writing, there’s an instant connection from the first word where the writer describes themselves as “I” and the reader as “You.”
When I started blogging in 2019, I barely got any bites from my content. I would share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. But no one was commenting or sharing my posts.
I decided to try a different approach in 2020 and the results have been amazing. As a test, I built out a topic cluster for the keyword “website copywriting service.”
Now, keep in mind that when you share links on Facebook and LinkedIn, your content won’t reach a wider audience because these platforms don’t want readers to leave their sites.
But I’ve enjoyed a ton of engagement since I started writing in a conversational tone. More people are reading my content, sharing it across social media and my ranking increased for the keyword.
Let’s look at the last two blog posts I shared in 2019. Check the engagement metrics at the bottom of the pages.
22 likes in total. LinkedIn is where my target audience hangs out, so the metrics really matter. Fast forward to February 2020 and the numbers are better.
I wasn’t just using a conversational tone on my blog. I was adopting a similar tone when describing the content on social media.
Now that you’ve seen the difference in engagement levels, how do you write conversational copy?
7 Tips for writing in a conversational tone
#1. Speak to one person
Personalization is the most important rule of writing conversational copy. You want the reader to feel like they’re in your head, hearing your thoughts, and feeling your emotions. You can’t do that if you’re talking to the crowd.
When I’m writing, I usually create a persona in my mind. I give the reader a name, a job, a face, and a problem. I imagine the jokes that make them laugh and slang they reference during a conversation at lunch.
Nicole Bianchi explains that the first rule of conversational writing is to imagine that you’re writing to a single reader who is a close friend. It sounds so simple, but it’s a game-changer that makes your copy friendlier and personal.
Compare these two sentences:
There’s a 20% discount for users who spend over $500
I’ll give you a 20% discount if you spend over $500
The change from “users” to “you” is subtle, yet powerful.
#2. Open with a story
The most shared article on my website is a piece I wrote on website copywriting rates. I opened with a story about how clients come to me and complain about copywriters who’ve burned them in the past.
Many copywriters reading this piece can relate to this story because they’ve experienced it first-hand. Storytelling is the fastest way to form an emotional connection with your audience.
Here are some tips to include storytelling in your writing:
- Be the main character in your story. Personal experiences help you connect with your readers.
- Describe feelings and emotions. They encourage your reader to live through your story.
- Align your story with a message. Think of it as the aha! moment when everything clicks.
- Make it easily relatable and fun.
#3. Break grammar rules
Writers know big words. Our grammar training is ingrained in us. Henneke Duistermaat calls it “writerliness.” Writing posh words and complicated sentences that makes your reader yawn.
Tools like Grammarly and the Hemmingway App can help you cut out passive sentences in favor of an active voice.
Rather than saying:
John White was disliked by many celebrities.
Many celebrities disliked John White.
Don’t worry about the right words to start your sentences. Begin with words like Or, Maybe, And or Because. They make your sentences short and easy to read.
Is there a word that makes the reader stop and think about the meaning? Replace it with a simpler word.
I can only cook fried rice. I’ve tried my hands at other dishes but failed. Maybe I didn’t inherit my mother’s cooking skills. Or I’m too lazy to learn.
Read your copy out loud. Does it sound like writing or a conversation? It’s time to hack those long sentences into tighter writing.
#4. Ask questions
Imagine that I was writing a blog post on “common mistakes freelance copywriters make.” And I opened with the question; What is your biggest fear as a freelance copywriter?
The goal of the question above is to make them think of a common fear many freelance copywriters face. It could be finding new clients or clients who don’t pay after you’ve completed a project.
Marketing Consultant, Pete Boyle explains that questions breaks up your prose and encourages the reader to think about what you’ve said.
They’ll be looking for specific answers to the question I asked in the copy. Subheadings in the blog post will include mistakes freelancers make when searching for new clients and getting paid for work done.
#5. Use examples
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve used screenshots and examples to make complex ideas easy to understand.
I read a blog post where the author was telling readers to use contractions when writing. But I didn’t know the meaning of “contractions,” and there was no example to explain what it meant. Using examples in your blog posts carries the reader along and strengthens your message.
#6. Don’t try to impress
Remember what I said about talking to your buddy on the phone and how you weren’t trying to impress them? No matter how technical your niche is, there’s always an easier way to make your content relatable.
Compare these sentences
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Which message is easier to understand?
You’re not in a classroom or writing a thesis for an MBA program. Skip jargon words. Take time to understand the problems your reader’s face and empathize with them. Showing empathy is at the heart of a good conversation.
Write to help your reader solve a problem. They should come away feeling better for the new knowledge, not more frustrated.
#7. Infuse your writing with personality
No one can imitate you. They might try, but they’ll never be able to replicate your unique essence. In a world where over 4 million blog posts are released daily, personality helps you stand out from the crowd.
Fair warning, you might have a few more enemies who don’t agree with your message, but the high levels of engagement make it all worth it.
Think about your favorite TV personalities, podcasters, and YouTubers. These are saturated markets. But you have a few whom you love and adore.
What makes them special?
It’s their back story, the jokes, life experiences, and the passion they bring to each piece of content. I love sharing stories about the mistakes I made in my early days as a freelance copywriter. It shows readers that I’m human and I’ve been in a similar situation they’ve faced.
Content marketing becomes magic when you sprinkle bits of yourself throughout your copy.
Learning how to write in a conversational tone takes time. The key is to have fun while writing and not to overthink your sentences or grammar.
Hang out with your audience to get a feel for the writing style they prefer. Read your copy out loud. Does it sound like something you would say to your friend if they were seated in front of you? If not, change it.
Guest author: Chima is a freelance copywriter and SEO Content Strategist. She specializes in creating SEO-optimized web copy that drives traffic and increases conversions for your online businesses. She has published on top blogs such as Search Engine Watch and Hacker Noon. You can find her at Zenith Copy.