We’ve written several blogs about the benefits and principles of content marketing and that the widely accepted contemporary approach that marketing should be about the stories you tell, not the products you sell. We’ve also blogged about the different forms of content that can be used to tell those stories, from copywriting to video and more recently we blogged about the art of storytelling itself, the factors that make a good story to engage the intended audience, and how to structure it to keep them interested.
Style is much more subjective of course, and there are many factors that might influence this from your brand’s identity and stated ‘tone of voice’ to the subject matter itself which might, inevitably, create a certain feel such as technical or medical content. Conversational content is increasingly used by marketers to create an informal and ‘chatty’ feel to their communications which addresses needs or raises awareness in the words customers actually use and so find it easier to relate to.
“The interactions between businesses with their prospects, through various channels, are getting more conversational, and this will change the engagement patterns.” Hamid Ganji, Readwrite
In our previous blogs we’ve explained that the key to effective engagement is to trigger emotions to grab attention. Content needs to be, at the very least, informative to be relevant and gain a connection, but it’s much more memorable when it’s also entertaining, original, inspirational or all of these. Having got their attention, then you need to build trust quickly; ‘That’s really interesting, but who are you? Why should I interact with you? Why should I buy from you?’ Customer-centric interactions are key to building this trust.
As marketers, we know how important it is to talk directly to the audience and deliver a personalised experience. So when you think about the conversational approach, just think about it like a conversation with a friend, colleague, or family member. Try to steer away from glib marketing and sales speak and drive the conversation to a friendly atmosphere where a two-sided dialogue takes place.
It’s all about increasing engagement to open that conversation and it’s just common sense really that a friendly approach is more likely to achieve this. Technology has influenced our use of language too, as many emails tend to have that chattier more informal feel to them, although the language of texts or whatsapps with their brevity, deliberately mis-spelt words to shorten them and use of emojis is probably taking things a bit far, at least for B2B.
Here are some quick tips to multiply the effectiveness of your conversations:
- Firstly, set some clear goals – what are you aiming to achieve? More views, comments, likes, shares? Set some targets.
- Use language that customers and prospects actually use and build your own personality – don’t sound like a robot or use complex terminology (again this depends on the subject matter sometimes) and it’s OK to break some grammar rules occasionally as we are trying to sound informal, but balance this by reading it back to yourself out loud to make sure it sounds chatty but not patronising, and that you’re making yourself sound foolish.
- Remember some simple do’s and don’ts – use ‘you’ and ‘I’ instead of third person, write short sentences, ask questions (to foster engagement) but don’t use a passive voice, try to remove jargon, don’t be rude or in any way offensive and, whilst we’re trying to be conversational we don’t write exactly as we talk, again read it out loud to get that feel right.
- Measure the results against those goals – what’s working, what can be improved and what needs ditching. You’ll be very lucky to get it right first time so expect to refine your style through feedback and engagement results.
A conversational content strategy isn’t a new idea and many brands have been using it for a long while, but the way you execute the strategy is the key factor. We’re in an era where personalisation in marketing is more and more prevalent, enabled by technology such as AI and big data, and consumer’s interactions especially are heavily affected by conversational patterns.
A conversational content strategy will help your organisation use language effectively, within your brand’s accepted tone of voice, to help engage with customers and prospects in a friendly manner that they can relate to, building stronger relationships.