In the entire history of human existence, we’ve never been as inundated with content as we are today. From morning email scrolling to evening Netflix-binging, we’re taking in more material in 24-hours than previous generations saw in an entire month. Ads, social posts, videos, news articles — there’s so much stuff filtering into our brains that, in some cases, we don’t even realize it’s happening (or remember it later).
As marketers, we’re always looking for new tricks to cut through this noise and hook our audiences. But it turns out that the best strategy is also one of the oldest: be more conversational.
Of course, creating more conversational content is easier said than done. To help you get started, here are five ways you can produce more enticing material and keep your audience hooked.
In my college public speaking class, our instructor shared a piece of advice that’s stuck with me through every presentation I’ve given in my career: choose one person in the room and imagine you’re speaking only to them. Theoretically, it helps loosen up your language and speech pattern, so you sound less robotic and more colloquial.
The same holds true when writing content. Try imagining a real-life human being — perhaps someone you know that fits within your audience parameters — and write to them. Feel free to include phrases or idioms you know they’d appreciate, inject humor where appropriate, and show empathy when discussing their pain points.
Also, it’s a good idea to write in the second person (i.e., refer to your reader as “you”). Research from the New York Academy of Sciences shows that thanks to self-bias, we’re more likely to show interest in information that’s related directly to us than to other people.
Your brain is tired. It’s processing information and reacting to countless external stimuli all day long. Like you, sometimes your brain wants to consume something simple and familiar. Something that says, “you belong here.”
Of course, when you’re immersed in an industry, it can be challenging to talk about it from an external perspective. If you’re not sure whether you’re using too much lingo, ask an industry outsider to give your content a quick review. And if you must include jargon, be sure to define it using the most straightforward language possible.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, video script or Instagram caption, remember that writing content is a bit like composing music. To hold your audience’s interest, you need to focus on harmony and rhythm.
Short sentences are great. I love using quick, snappy sentences to emphasize an idea or deliver a compelling fact. But if you use too many short sentences, your content sounds choppy and unnatural. On the other hand, long sentences can exhaust your reader and make it more difficult for them to absorb the material.
The best method is to vary your sentence length and structure, so your content flows organically, like a great song.
At some point in life, we’ve all been the victim of a lousy conversationalist. They’re the person at a party who ensnares you out of nowhere, drones on tirelessly about their job or hobbies, and never asks you about your life and interests. Once you finally escape their clutches, you avoid them for the rest of the evening.
Don’t be that person to your audience.
If you want to captivate your reader, you need to remember one of the core tenets of good conversation is asking engaging questions. Sure, your audience won’t be able to respond, but by asking questions, you’re hooking them in, and often asking them to consider or visualize a need or challenge before you swoop in with the solution. This brief pause will help your audience feel like they’re participating in a real conversation rather than merely scanning your content.
Dry, dull, complicated copy isn’t just a chore for your audience to consume — it also fails to elicit any emotion. And as all marketers know, if you can’t get a prospect to feel something, you’re unlikely to persuade them to buy.
Don’t be afraid to share your more vulnerable side, empathize with their pain points, and wrap your solutions with a warm hug of compassion. The more human your content, the more likely your audience will be to trust your brand.
Much like every good habit, creating conversational content takes dedication and practice. And by leveraging these five strategies, it’ll become second nature in no time.