I remember the first time my dad learned how to text from his phone, every message started with “dear daughter”…. I was strangely uncomfortable since it felt like I was reading a letter and didn’t know how to reply. But that was only because I was looking at my phone instead of a pen and paper.
The reason why I’m telling you this story, is because I want to talk about engagement with your customers. There was nothing wrong with what my dad wrote to me, on that day, in that text message, but the type of writing he chose was all wrong for that particular communication medium. You see, technology has changed the way we talk to one another.
This particular message was structured entirely in proper english and was formal in it’s approach… but how often do you see proper english in a text message? Most of the times I need to read the message twice to get the gist of things.
My point is, not that you should be extremely informal when you are writing marketing copy. But you need to speak to the customer in Spoken English, not Written English.
Too often, people are swayed to write in “proper English”. We are swayed to write in this form because… it is the proper way to write. That, and everyone around us always seems to be correcting our grammah as they read what we wrote and it’s embarrassing when it’s wrong.
But there is a problem with this type of language. It’s too formal and designed to be read in our heads, or as a person reading to an audience. It’s not conversational, which means it is harder to build a relationship with your audience. And in marketing, that is exactly what we want. To build a relationship.
If you want a message that resonates, you need to speak to your audience in the same way they would speak to their friends or peers in the same group.
Here is an example of reading written copy vs spoken copy.
In formal written English, a writer would write something like:
“New Idea Corporate appreciates our customers loyalty to the business. That’s why we are giving our customers the opportunity to earn rewards.”
Now let’s read it in spoken english:
“We appreciate your business, that’s why we want to reward you for your loyalty.”
You see the problem with formal language, when used in your creative, is that it doesn’t talk to you. It talks at you. You (the customer/audience) are not part of the conversation. You’re a bystander of the information. Many people, particularly those who are well educated prefer the formal written language no matter what the receiving channel is (email, text, websites etc). However, in marketing you only have a few seconds to gain your audience’s attention. Therefore, it’s best you get straight to the point. And, in as few words as possible using relatable language.
So what are some tips you can do to write in a conversational way?
You can speak out loud, and write what you say. Later correcting the grammar to ensure it’s readable. However, be warned that this can quickly turn the copy into written english as we are naturally correcting our copy to the proper form of writing.
The other method is to write in the way you are comfortable, being the written english format, and then refine your writing by simplifying it. This means breaking up sentences and shortening your message. Most importantly, read it out loud and ask yourself. Do I sound like I am talking to a friend? Or presenting a lecture?