One of my biggest pet peeves is being talked at or talked down to – like I don’t have anything valuable to add to the conversation. Talking to someone who “knows everything,” uses formal language and doesn’t have your interests or feelings in mind is pretty frustrating, isn’t it? The same goes with your business blogging tone.
Well, that’s how your blog visitors feel when you fill your posts with sales-y product information that they can’t relate to, especially if you’re doing it in highly technical language. Unfortunately, most of today’s business blogging fails to really reach consumers – they talk at them, not with them.
So, B2C and B2B marketers, do me a favor – loosen up! Write as if you were having a casual conversation.
The point of business blogging is to open up the line of communication with your customers and prospects so that they are able to engage with you. You want them to say, “Hey, that was really useful, I’d like to learn more from them in the future.”
The first step is to throw out everything you learned in grammar class. (It’s OK – I doubt your old teacher is going to find you and slap your wrist with a ruler.)
When you’re blogging, you shouldn’t be going on about “seamless integrations” and “best-of-breed solutions.” These terms don’t belong in blogs because they are made up of words used to make products sound attractive, not to explain a concept in an unbiased manner. Avoid using these words unless they actually fit into your sentence naturally.
Sales jargon includes words like “functionality,” “modularity,” “innovative,” “scalable” and “workflow.” Industry buzzwords include “ROI” (return on investment), “big data,” “data mining” – stuff like that. These words are vague and intimidating to your customers. What exactly is the “functionality” you are talking about? What does “big data” even refer to? If you can explain it, explain it! If you can’t, don’t say it at all.
Marketers typically avoid using pronouns in sales pieces, but again, your blogs should sound nothing like your sales literature. A real person writes your blogs and a real person is going to read them. In a back-and-forth conversation, we use pronouns like “you,” “I” and “we” – and your blogs are meant to be a conversation starter between you and your site visitors.
Pronouns give your writing a more personal, relatable feel that will make your readers feel much more comfortable when interacting with you.
Spelling out contractions makes you sound stiff and formal. We use contractions all the time in everyday conversation. When blogging, spelling out words like “do not” and “cannot” should be reserved for when you are stressing them. For example: I cannot stand when people avoid contractions.
Grammar rules tell us to never, ever start sentences with conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet), but again, it’s the way we talk! Doing so keeps your sentences short and easy to read. And it can be effective in emphasizing your point. That said, don’t overdo it – two or three times in each blog post is probably enough.
Yet another thing that your teacher would have slapped you on the wrist for back in the day. And yet another thing that’s totally okay to do in a blog post because we do it in casual conversations on a regular basis. Not to mention, it can be used to strategically break up longer sentences to allow the reader to concentrate on one particular point. However, as with starting sentences with conjunctions, don’t overdo it.
Remember: to win new customers, the best thing you can do is give them the best possible experience while they are on your website. And the best way to do that is to provide valuable content that they will actually be able to relate to and understand.