Some website content can give the vibe that it was generated automatically by a machine.
There is an especially high risk of this when writing content for search engines. Ignoring readers to focus only on SEO will often do more harm than good. If you write only for robots you'll end up sounding like one too.
While optimising website content for search is very important and a major part of what I do every day for my clients, businesses that focus on the people who make up their audiences tend to see the best results from content marketing campaigns. Conversational content is a powerful way to achieve this and make your audience care about what you have to say.
Write conversational content that speaks to specific people
The first step towards writing conversational content is to stop writing for everybody and start writing for individuals. Content that speaks to a specific reader is far more powerful than generic broadcasts aimed at nobody in particular.
Writing conversational content helps your readers like and trust you. This helps businesses develop deeper connections with the people who follow them.
"Keep a real person you either know or you can imagine knowing in mind. Someone you like, too, because you want to help this person." Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
I specialise in writing B2B technology content. Each time I sit down to write a blog post for this website I imagine I am speaking to somebody I know, and each time I write for a client I am writing for a specific persona.
B2B technology content is sometimes guilty of coming across as cold or lacking in personality. This has always confused me because the audiences these businesses are targetting are so interesting. Also, technology is one of the most exciting industries out there. Why shouldn't the content reflect this?
Nobody likes a cold and distant know-it-all, but everybody likes a warm, funny, and friendly one
We share much of our personality through the conversations we have, and our personalities are a huge part of what sets us apart from other people.
Businesses that share personality will develop the deepest bonds with their audiences. Be humble, admit mistakes, share stories, and ask questions that you genuinely want the answer to.
You don't blind your friends and family with jargon when you try to explain something that they don't understand, so why would your business do this to its audience? They deserve the same respect. Don't make people feel dumb or give them extra work to do.
Technology businesses should aim at being a friendly guide to a complicated world.
Tone is such an important thing to get right. Your content risks alienating your audience if it's too formal and distant. This is why writing as if you are having a conversation with a specific person is so useful.
Like real-world conversations, the way you speak and the topics you talk about need to be appropriate. But to cut through the noise and set your business apart, it is sometimes worth taking risks to avoid looking the same as everybody else.
Sometimes you may be speaking to the Queen, other times you'll be speaking to students. Whoever your audience is, conversational content will help to make sure that they listen to what you have to say.
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