Tone Of Voice - What Is It And Why Does It Matter?
Posted on 9th October 2020
You know the phrase “It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it”? That’s tone of voice in a nutshell. It’s all about how you talk to your website visitors in your written content, not just the messages you’re trying to get across.
Writing in a tone and style that reflects your organisation and its brand values means your writing is more likely to resonate with your customers and prospects – and they’re more likely to engage with you as a result.
Consistency is key
Writing consistently in your chosen tone of voice is essential for building a strong corporate identity and making your brand instantly recognisable. Making sure there’s consistency between your tone of voice and website design is important, too.
For example, a website with lots of fun, cartoon imagery but written content that sounds formal and boring just wouldn’t work. You need to join up all the dots for your site to make the right impression.
According to SEMRush, who carried out some research around these areas in 2019, simply combining the right tone of voice with the right colours in your website design can boost brand awareness by a whopping 80%. And, better still, communicating consistently across all your platforms can increase your revenue by 23% – so ignore tone of voice at your peril!
How to define your tone of voice
Firstly, have a think about your target audience or, in other words, your ideal customer. What kind of language are they likely to use in their daily lives? Would they prefer to be spoken to formally or informally? Do they want to be addressed personally as ‘you’ or would writing about your customers in the third person (‘our clients’) be more appropriate?
Depending on the age group you’re writing for, you might also need to consider whether grammatical constructions such as contractions (‘you’re’ instead of ‘you are’), split infinitives (‘to boldly go’), and using the passive voice could put people off when reading your content.
Another consideration is whether it’s a good idea to use slang, buzzwords or industry jargon. Again, this all depends on who you’re talking to – so put yourself in their shoes and have a good think about it.
It might help to come up with one or more personas that represent your ideal client(s), using information you already have about your customer base (your own data, social media interactions, client correspondence and so on).
By creating a persona with a name, age, gender, job title, income bracket, education level, likes and dislikes, fears and aspirations, and keeping these factors in mind when writing your content, you’ll help ensure consistency.
A second important consideration is your own brand and its values and personality. It’s critical that these are reflected in the tone of voice you choose for your organisation – and it goes without saying that these values and personality should match those of your target audience. Try reading some of your existing website content out loud. Does it match what you want your brand to sound like, and how you want to be perceived by your customers?
If not, another useful exercise is to create a brand dictionary. This is simply a list of words and phrases that describe how you want your brand to come across (these aren’t necessarily words and phrases you’d use in your actual writing). You could also create a second dictionary describing what you don’t want your brand to sound like.
For example, if you run a bouncy castle hire company, your ‘positive’ brand dictionary might include things like ‘fun’, ‘chatty and conversational’, and ‘playful’. Your ‘negative’ list could include words and phrases such as ‘corporate’, ‘cold and detached,’ ‘serious’ and so on.
Referring to your brand dictionary and your client persona(s) when writing your website content is a sure-fire way of keeping your tone of voice on track.
Don’t forget the details
When visitors first come to your site, the first thing they’ll read (or more likely, skim) are the page names, headings, and sub-headings. So pay special attention to these when writing your content and make sure they’re spot-on in terms of tone of voice.
For example, if you want to adopt a friendly, casual tone of voice, you could call the page about your services ‘What We Do’ rather than just calling it ‘Services,’ which sounds rather formal and boring. The ‘About us’ page could be called ‘Who We Are’ or even ‘Get to Know Us.’
When it comes to headings and sub-headings, don’t try and be too clever. Even if you’ve chosen a quirky tone of voice for your business, your site visitors still need to know what you’re trying to say at a glance, as they’ll decide in a split second whether to click away or read on. So, keeping it short and to the point is generally best here.
Another point to consider is your generic email address. More corporate-sounding options include the traditional enquiries@ and sales@. Info@ is fairly middle of the road. At the more casual end, you could choose a handle such as hello@ or even talktome@. Just make sure your chosen email address is consistent with the tone and style used in the rest of your written content.
Finally, if you’re planning to use video on your site (or elsewhere) that features you talking about your brand, don’t forget that tone of voice applies to the spoken word as well as written communications. So take a little time to come up with a script that uses language that reflects your brand values and personality, and that’s therefore likely to reel in your target audience.
Not sure where to start? it’seeze Nottingham can help!
If tone of voice has you tearing your hair out, it’seeze Web Design Nottingham can put you in touch with expert copywriters, and help you create a brief for them to create a simple set of guidelines for your business. We can even arrange for them to write your website content, plus blogs and other copy once it’s in place, to help ensure consistency and free up your time to focus on what you do best.
To find out more and discuss your website project, just contact it’seeze Nottingham today. You can call us on 0115 777 3001 or book a FREE website health check of your existing site, which will include feedback on the quality of your content.
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