Have you heard that copy should be “conversational”? Do you know what that looks like?
Conversational copy reads exactly the way you’d say it out loud
So the best test of whether your copy is conversational or not is to read it out loud. It should sound exactly the way you’d say it if you were face-to-face with the prospect (or talking by phone).
When you read copy out loud, you might notice a few key things to improve:
1. Words you’d never actually say in conversation
When you read your copy out loud, are those the words you’d actually use? (Someone sent me copy today with the word “thus” in it. Really, would you ever say the word “thus” out loud? Same with “thereby” – don’t use it.)
A lot of “it is” or “you will” can make your writing sound stiff. Use contractions (isn’t, doesn’t, it’s, you’ll, etc.) – because that’s how people speak.
- Use simpler, shorter words your audience actually uses.
- Don’t use words your audience may not understand (like “bespoke.”) They may not understand the benefit you’re trying to communicate.
2. Sentences and paragraphs that are too long
If your sentences are too long, you’ll notice it when you read your copy out loud. You may run out of breath before you finish reading a sentence. Or you won’t comprehend what you’ve read.
The mind actually needs to take “comprehension breaths” – to give yourself a chance to understand what you’ve read.
So break up your sentences into smaller, more easily comprehensible bites by:
- Separating long sentences into two shorter ones.
- Using commas, ellipses . . . and em dashes – to help your audience “take a breath” while reading.
3. Lack of flow between sentences
If your copy doesn’t seem to “flow” smoothly, add some connectors to make it sound just the way you’d say it out loud.
- Start a sentence with “and,” “or,” “but,” “because,” or “so.”
Although these types of sentences aren’t grammatically correct, they sound more natural. These words act as connectors. They help the copy “flow” to keep your audience reading.
4. Stiff writing
Does the writing sound stiff and not what you’d ever say to me face to face?
Too many marketing efforts (especially blog posts and websites) sound like the copywriter was trying too hard to be “professional.”
Unfortunately, that style of copy doesn’t keep your audience reading – and it doesn’t SELL. That’s one reason why a lot of Sales Copy generates very poor results.
- The average American reads comfortably at a 7th to 8th-grade level.
Even if your target is a highly technical audience, you should still write conversationally to those geeks. Here’s why:
When an engineer is speaking, he or she may be using words and discussing concepts that most of us wouldn’t use. But he or she is likely speaking in the same STYLE as we would:
- Speaking in short sentences – because the engineer needs to stop and breathe.
It’s the same when an engineer is reading. The brain needs places to stop and “breathe” (to comprehend what was read). And who wants to read stiffly-constructed sentences? You want your copy to be reader-friendly and easy to get through.
So, no matter how technical your audience, they still read the same way as you and I do. The eyes and brain prefer short sentences, short paragraphs, and friendly copy. It’s just easier to read.
5. Too much “we”. Or addressing your audience as “them.”
You want more “you” and “your” in your copy (rather than “I,” “we,”, “us,” “our,” or your company or product names) to directly address your audience.
- “Are you having trouble with your . . .”
- Or lead with a verb where “you” is implied: “Save . . . “
Get the audience involved in doing the action. You want to “humanize” your product by putting the prospect into the situation.
- “If you could gain an extra 30 minutes every day, how much more productive could you be?”
It’s just normal to talk about “our (product)” and “our company prides itself . . .” But you want to turn those sentences around to talk to your audience:
“You will enjoy” or “you will save” or “you will improve.”
Compare a fact/feature-based approach using “our” with a benefits-to-prospect approach using “you”:
“Our directory has changed so dramatically that up to 80% of listings are different than the information in last year’s editions.”
“You’ll get updates to almost 80% of the listings you’re probably using now to help you reach more prospects . . .”
And don’t address your audience as “them”:
“Brokers may need coverage for employees and agents. They may want to consider . . .”
How about . . .
“As a broker, you may need coverage for your employees and agents. You may want to consider . . .”
6. Focusing on your product or service, rather than the prospect actively doing the action
In “Active” voice, the subject (ideally referred to as “you”) is actively doing the action. Instead of saying “it is,” “there is,” “there are,” or implying that “something will be done,” put the prospect in the action.
Passive: It’s a new golf swing trainer that helps develop smoothness in your swing.
Active: You’ll discover a new smoothness in your golf swing with this new swing trainer.
Passive: Your portfolio will be reviewed and analyzed
Active: You’ll receive a full analysis of . . . including . . .
Excerpted from our new Amazon best-selling book, “The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing”
Learn more about The Results Obsession and see the Table of Contents
The book includes 6 copywriting chapters:
- Messaging Strategy for Copy that Sells (copy approaches, emotional drivers)
- Great Copy: How to Recognize, Write, and Refine It (writing headlines, engaging leads, and copy that follows the sales process)
- Crafting Great Copy: Part 2 (all the wordsmithing details to craft the best copy of your life)
- Website Content Strategy and Offers
- Website Copy that Sells
- High Impact Email Strategies
- Creating Email to Drive Leads and Sales