One of the greatest problems faced by content marketers and businesses alike is getting readers to actually engage with and want to read the content they’re publishing. It’s no easy feat these days. With millions of new blog posts being published each week, the bid for a reader’s attention is competitive—to say the least.
But, when we take a closer look at the reasons why people fail to connect with certain types of content, we see that it doesn’t always have to do with what you’re saying. Often times, it has to do with how you’re saying it.
When we approach content writing with the same formality we used to approach writing an essay in school, we distance ourselves from the audience. Understanding how to write more conversational content can help your messages resonate more closely with your readers and keep them coming back for more.
Listen to Yourself and Others Talk
If you really want to write more conversational content, start by listening to the conversations going on around you. Listen to the way you talk to others and the way others talk to you. Try to pick up on the nuances of verbal communication that can be applied to your writing style.
How do you begin your sentences? How do you structure them? Do you follow precise grammar rules? What kind of language do you use, and how does that change from conversation to conversation? Do you use slang? When and with whom?
Consider these questions as you go about your day, and think about ways you can incorporate that conversational tone into your content writing.
Know Your Audience
You wouldn’t talk to your grandmother the same way you would talk to your boss, and you wouldn’t talk to your boss the same way you would talk to your friend. We understand this concept without even thinking about it. By instinct, we adapt our language and tone to suit the situation at hand. (You probably noticed this as you were listening to your conversations.) The same logic should extend to your content.
Take the time to figure out who comprises your target audience. In order to do this, you’ll want to consider the nature of your business and who it is you are trying to reach with your content. If you work in the B2B sphere, you’re probably writing for a more formal audience: business executives, managers, inventory personnel. In B2C industries( for example, retail), your audience is probably made up of a wider demographic of people who are interested in reading more casual, informal content.
If you have access to specific data on your audience, use this to develop customer personas that can help you create a mental image of the person you are writing for. Give them a name–maybe even a face–and start writing your content as if you were talking to that person specifically.
Establish Your Voice
Once you’ve figured out who your readers are and you’ve taken some time to reflect on your verbal interactions, you’re ready to start establishing a more conversational written voice that will resonate with your audience.
Now, this is not to say that you should write exactly how you speak. In fact, I’d strongly advise against it. You do, however, want to strike a balance between the spoken and the written word, and that may require you throwing out some of the conventional writing lessons you learned in school.
Good conversational content often includes:
Contractions: In formal writing, we often avoid contractions for clarity’s sake. But, the truth is, we’re much more likely to speak using contractions. They sound and feel more natural, and they’ll make your writing sound and feel more natural too.
Sentences That End in Prepositions: In school, your teachers probably nagged you for ending your sentences with words like “with” or “to,” but the alternatives usually end up sounding stuffy and overly formal—two adjectives you rarely want used to describe your content.
Sentences That Start With And or But: Despite what you may have learned, it is perfectly okay to begin sentences with “and” or “but.” When it comes to content writing, the shorter and more concise your sentences are, the better. Two short sentences are much easier for readers to digest than one long, complex sentence.
In terms of grammar rules, don’t be afraid to break them, so long as it makes your content more conversational and it doesn’t affect the clarity or quality of your writing. Conversational writing should be fun and relaxed, but it should still be (mostly) correct.
Address Your Reader
If you really want to engage your audience, you need to get on their level. You need to talk with your audience, not at them. This means engaging them in your conversation. Ideally, this conversation will happen in the comments section of your blog or social media posts, but sometimes it can merely take place in the minds of your readers. Either way, write in a way that feels like you’re talking to one person in particular.
Address your readers on a personal level. Instead of talking about “one can do this” or “businesses can do that,” make it personal and talk about what “you can do.” (You, of course, being the reader.) Your audience will connect more with content that includes them in the conversation. While third person will certainly have its place in your writing, don’t be afraid to talk to your readers directly.
Read Your Writing Out Loud
Before you click “publish” on your newest blog post or article, take a minute to read it out loud, either to yourself or to a friend. This will help you get a sense for just how conversational your writing really is and will give you better insight into what’s working and maybe, what isn’t.
Learning how to write more conversational content will take some practice. But, as you continue to develop your voice, it will start to come as naturally to you as any other conversation.