8th June 2018 Claire Hawes

What is conversational copywriting and why is it so popular?

When I discovered what I’m about to share with you about conversational copywriting, everything changed…

Have you noticed how marketing is getting conversational?

Think about it for a moment. Whether you are banking, buying insurance, or simply doing your weekly shop, the companies offering services to you present their messages in an open, friendly tone of voice.

For example, I popped onto First Direct Bank’s home page earlier. They seem a nice friendly bunch. They told me:

“Our current account customers are the most satisfied in the country – which is something we find pretty satisfying ourselves, actually. When you’re happy, we’re happy…”

And when I finally got round to doing the Internet shop, Ocado reassured me it ‘Always reserves my favourite slot’.

So when did conversational copywriting become a thing? Original Mad Man David Ogilvy said:

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

But back in the day, advertisers were limited by two-way channels such as print and television.

Of course, the Internet changed all that. Today marketers have the platforms they need to start a dialogue with their audiences.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t conversational copywriting dumbing down communications? Isn’t it a bit patronising?

My answer… No. People buy from people.

When you write in a conversational style, you are transparent. You write words people want to read and can understand.

In fact, The Plain English campaign says:

“An official style of writing is inefficient and often unfriendly.”

Here’s another way to look at it. What are you trying to do with any marketing communication? You are trying to build relationships.

On what do you base relationships? Openness and trust. You want to put people at their ease.

How do you build relationships? You start a conversation. Because more often than not, people are happy to take part in discussions.

So how can you adopt a more conversational tone?

Let’s take a closer look:

Picture the person standing in front of you

Don’t try to write for the many. Keep your reader front of mind when you write.

Use plain English

Don’t try to impress your reader with difficult words or jargon. You wouldn’t use them in everyday speech.

Ask questions

What do we do when we want to strike up a conversation? We ask questions. Because questions get people thinking.

Here’s another tip. To get inside your readers’ minds and empathise with them, ask rhetorical questions. Then answer them.

  • That’s right!
  • Yes it’s true
  • Thought so

Use contractions

One quick and easy way to soften copy and make it conversational is to use contractions. What do I mean by contractions? It’s where you replace words with an apostrophe. (See what I did with the words ‘it is’? I used a contraction to shorten them into it’s.)

Use transition words

Glide your reader through your copy with words and phrases that link one sentence to another.

Some common transition words include: First off, however, let me explain, and here’s the thing.

Which brings me on to my next point…

Forget what your English teacher taught you

I’m going to shock you here. I’m going to permit you to start your sentences with the words ‘And’ and ‘But’.

Tell a story

I’ve said this before; stories spike curiosity. Better still they’re memorable. So include anecdotes in your writing. Also, draw people in by relating what you do to everyday situations.

To sum up

People don’t like being sold to. But if you use a conversational tone of voice, then you’ll encourage your reader to join in a discussion.

  • To get your tone of voice right, picture your reader sitting in front of you.
  • Don’t use difficult words, talk to your reader in plain English.
  • Get the conversation going by asking questions.
  • Be familiar, use contractions.
  • Forget what your English teacher taught you, start sentences with words such as ‘And’ and ‘But’.
  • Help your reader glide through your copy by using transition words and phrases.
  • Draw your reader in by telling a story.

And that’s all there is to it.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Best selling author Elmore Leonard said:

“If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”

And finally

If you would like help writing conversational copy, then drop me a line to get information about pricing.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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