What is tone of voice and why you need to consider it for your marketing and copywriting?
Tone of voice is the personality that your brand has and reflects it would speak if it were a human being. If tone of voice matters, then it’s important to understand what tone means.
It seems like everyone talks about marketing copy today but not enough people mention why this actually matters. It’s true: tone of voice is what makes the difference in how people feel about your company and whether they will engage with you or not. Copywriting can be difficult to get right but, essentially, tone should come naturally as a byproduct of who you are as an individual (and/or company). Easier said than done though, right?
What is tone of voice in copywriting?
Copywriting tone is the feel or attitude behind a message. It’s not just what you say but how you say it that gives your tone its meaning and impact on readers.
The tone of voice in copywriting can be formal, informal, authoritative, enthusiastic, neutral with emphasis on facts-based content just as a few examples. Tone may also change depending on who your audience is (eg children versus adults or different generations as you’ve probably learnt in my copywriting book).
How does tone affect engagement?
Tone of voice changes how the reader reacts to what they read. Additionally, it affects the response rates and conversion rates from readers.
When tone is on point, readers feel like the writer are talking to them and understand their needs. When tone isn’t right, pages can come off as preachy or try-hard which usually results in a negative reaction from the reader. And a negative reaction is usually turning away from your marketing: clicking away from your website or scrolling on etc.
Remember: Tone of voice fulfills psychological needs: it helps us decide whether we should trust someone, keep reading their content, or abandon ship altogether. Why not try my tone of voice template?
What tone should you use for your marketing copy?
You want to choose tone that matches who you are/what message you’re trying to convey so it feels natural. Brands can all have different personalities and this will also change depending on what type of company we work with too (eCommerce versus nonprofit).
It’s really important to have a tone of voice that resonates with the visitors on your site. For example, tone should be different if the visitor is younger than older or male versus female etc. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running either: every company has their own tone that needs to resonate with its audience and potential customers!
Additionally, be authentic! Use tone that’s appropriate for your industry but don’t be afraid experiment either.
Tone of voice influences:
- How people react to what they read.
- The rate at which readers will respond or convert on certain calls to action.
- How much emotion gets attached to words when someone reads them.
Let’s explore these points one by one:
Imagine if all your copy was written with only negative emotions like anger, sadness, or frustration; it would take very little time before your audience would disengage from your content.
But tone doesn’t just change the level of engagement, it can also affect conversion rates and response rates. Let me give you an example: if we were to look at a headline that said ‘Create Your Free Personal Budget Today!’ versus one that said ‘Get Started Now on Setting Up Your Personal Budget’, which do you think will have higher conversion rate or response rate? The second choice most likely will because there is less urgency in following through with the action.
Lastly, tone has been shown by studies to create emotions in readers. This is especially true if someone has a tone that they are used to when reading your content. An example might be sarcasm for bloggers who often use this tone in their writing. People just want to feel accepted, part of something or like they are “at home”.
People tend to make assumptions based purely off tone and won’t take the time to read any further when tone doesn’t match their own expectations. Tone plays into psychology; if people don’t like the tone that you’re using then they might interpret everything else wrong and potentially disengage from reading all together without giving anything more than a fleeting glance.
You need to be aware that tone plays an important role in how people perceive what you’re saying and the way they react to it. Brand tone of voice communicates more than just words, it also determines how individual readers will interpret a message. Even if they don’t read any further past those first few sentences because the tone is off for them.
Hint: think about how the tone is matching your target audience’s expectations.
Here are some benefits that can come from matching tone with your audience:
- improved reader engagement
- better conversion rates
- increased brand loyalty and authenticity
- gets everyone onboard internally
- instantly able to see the company’s values.
Tone of voice is more than just words on the page; it provides meaning behind our communication style which affects how we communicate in person. It should be considered carefully for each piece of content you create so it will resonate with customers who may or may not know you at all (but they might like what they hear).
How does the right tone of voice help you sell more?
- tone of voice makes a difference in how your customers perceive you
- tone of voice is the language that resonates best with each customer type (and helps to better tailor messages for them)
- tone of voice matters because it can lead to increased engagement and response rates from prospects/customers.
- tone of voice is also key to reducing churn and increasing customer loyalty
- tone of voice matters because it helps you stand out from the competition in your industry or niche.
‘When there’s a consistent tone of voice throughout a company – from the marketing, to the call centres, to the letters – consumers feel more at ease with your product. I’m able to go to meetings now and ream off stats about how our language is having a positive impact on the commercial part of the business.’Jon Hawkins
Want to absolutely nail your brand’s tone of voice? Get one of my branding fundamentals – tone of voice document.