Why language matters



Kind regards.

Yours sincerely.

Cheers 🙂

Each of these is a common email sign off. But each one means something totally different to the reader.

Yours sincerely feels formal and authoritative, not friendly or welcoming. On the other hand, Cheers J feels casual and laidback. Thanks! sounds enthusiastic and cheerful, but informal.

The use of emojis, exclamation marks, different words, all say something different about the writer, their relationship with the reader and the way the reader should feel.

People spend thousands and ages creating the perfect brand. The perfect Instagram feed.

But your web presence is so much more than this!

The words you use really matter

See this for example.

“I can assist you in producing content that resonates with your readers”

And then what about this?

“Connect to your audiences and convert readers to buyers with high quality, persuasive copy”.

They both share the same message. They both make the same offer of value. But the top one feels formal and unemotional (and ironically, probably wouldn’t resonate despite the claim to the contrary!).

The second feels more engaging, pulls to your emotions, and makes you believe that you can get what they’re offering.

So what is the difference?

What makes the second better than the first?

Be active

One of the hardest things in the English language is to speak in the active voice. Or… lots of people struggle to write in active voice.

Which one is easier to read, clearer and more direct?

Active voice means emphasising the actor of an action, rather than the action.

In addition to being clearer for the reader, copy that is written in active voice rather than passive will perform better on SEO as well.

However, passive voice can be totally appropriate and clear in many cases. In fact, often, writing in the passive voice can lead to a more natural flow and achieve a better tone. But you should aim for no more than 10% of your content being passive voice, with the overwhelming majority written in active voice.

A good copywriter can make sure your content is actively working for you, but if you want to tackle it on your own, there are great plug-ins and online tools like Yoast, to help you work out if your content meets this threshold.

What’s in it for the reader?

The fact is, most people don’t care about you. They care about them.

So when writing copy, you need to answer the question “So What?”. Why does the reader care?

Instead of highlighting what you will do, talk instead about why the reader should care. What are the benefits for them? That’s why the second example works better, it talks to the benefit for the client.

Give the reader a reason to read your content, to see how it applies to them.

You also need to talk directly to the reader. That means dropping heaps of ‘you’.

Even more powerful? Use the customer’s name.

A chatbot that addresses the customer by name (once provided in the course of a conversation) will have more powerful conversion than one that feels robotic and impersonal. A copywriter can help you write a landing page or chatbot flow that gets customer details in a natural and non-invasive way from your customers, so you can use their name and get better results.

Choose your words carefully

Like the examples at the beginning of this piece, words matter. I once did a review of a website that was covering extremely technical and complex concepts. The original content was written by a lawyer, and as a neutral reader, that was clear.

Changing the website language to be simpler, shorter and more precise immediately improve the flow and readability. 

Your website and social media is a 24/7 reception desk for your company. So it needs to welcome your customers!

There are a few simple word swaps that make a massive difference in how readers feel about your words. These include:

  • Use emotional language. For example, Help is much more engaging than Assist. You also want to play up the sense of urgency, make people feel like they need to take action now or they will miss out. Language like “limited time”, “now!” and “ending soon” are surprisingly effective.
  • Keep the language simple. The average reader reads at around 7-9 grade (12-14 year old), so you need to keep language directed at this level. Complex and technical concepts and websites may struggle to get to this level, and sometimes that is appropriate depending on the audience. However, to the extent possible, you need to keep language to this level.
  • Write positively! Everyone feels more engaged when they read positive and encouraging language, rather than something that is negative or awkward. There is a reason that customer service representatives are told to smile when greeting customers.

With a few easy changes, your copy can be made so much more engaging and effective, and convert readers to buyers.

If you want a hand getting your copy where it needs to be, contact us now!

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