Tue, 30 Jun 2015
‘Market-leading’, ‘cutting-edge’, ‘world-class’. There. That feeling you got. Do you ever wonder why so many corporate sites are so bad? They use meaningless, filler words that waste your readers’ time, increase the chances of them clicking off and therefore do not translate into sales.
Mind-numbing drab that gets splattered on your website, in your newsletter, in your brochures to try and create authority in the market. Surely, there are other ways to do it rather than sounding like a robot?
Wouldn’t you prefer to read content that’s charming and engaging? Content that makes a company sound human and welcoming? Content that makes them feel it’s written especially for them?
Writing engaging text may seem daunting. But once you can highlight the mistakes that make your corporate voice drab, engaging with your readers becomes easy. When you command your writing voice with a persona, you engage with your readers, win more business, and grow your company. Boom! That’s a triple win!
Mistake 1: The Passive Voice
Too many companies use the passive voice to avoid blame for their mistakes and that’s not good enough. Rather than saying ‘I made a mistake’ (active), they write ‘A mistake has been made’ (passive). The active voice is more direct and more personal, and that’s why we use it when talking one-on-one. Get proactive with the way you speak to your customers and let them know exactly what YOU are doing for THEM.
Don’t write: Your emails will be answered in 24 hours.
Instead write: We’ll answer your email within 24 hours.
Mistake 2: Addressing a crowd
When you speak to a crowd you’re on a pedestal, reading a speech or lecturing why your idea is best, all the while hiding those shaking hands and not making eye contact. It’s scary speaking to a crowd, but the digital pedestal is very different to the physical one. It pays to point out the obvious, crowds do not gather around and open the laptop together; ‘surfing’ the web is a personal and intimate thing. You need to connect with your readers. They want to feel you’re engaging them directly, personally. They want to know you care about them and that you are human. Imagine you’re writing to one person only.
Don’t write: To those of you who were inconvenienced, I’d like to offer my apologies.
Instead write: If you experienced any problems, I apologise.
Mistake 3: Wishy-washy nonsense
Too often online content is watery, ineffective nonsense and that’s the honest truth. Content isn’t precise, isn’t meaningful and isn’t straight-to-the-point. What is, for instance, ‘first-class customer service’? What does ‘state-of-the-art’ really mean? How exactly is your product ‘cutting-edge’? Potential customers want to know what your customer service is like, not what you are claiming to be without that back up certification. Do you answer all emails within 3 hours? Do you have a no-question money-back guarantee? How EXACTLY do you go out of your way to please your customers? Specific details increase the credibility of your content. Don’t say your product is new, improved, or innovative. Instead, tell your audience what’s special about its new features, and how these affect and assist your audience.
Mistake 4: Long sentences, and big words
In English class, we all learned how to write long sentences with complicated words nestled amongst these lengthy and creative phrases. This way we were guaranteed to impress our teachers and get those sweet report cards.
Reality check: We’re not in school anymore and we do not have time on our hands. Your online readers are in a hurry, and long sentences and difficult words wear them down. To make reading your content effortless, use short sentences, short paragraphs, and simple words. Break up your sentences and it makes it easier to follow.
Communication is always about two parties—a writer and a reader; or a speaker and a listener. You will be communicating to white noise if you continue writing like a robot. So what do you need to remember? People do business with people. To connect with your audience you need to sound and be human with a pizazz of personality. Take a deep breath, relax and just write. Take on a persona and charm with your brand voice. You can edit before adding it to your site.
You’re talking to your audience personally, so speak up and make it worthwhile.