Tips fpr Conversational Writing and Conversational Content

I’m sure you’ve heard – Today’s content is all about engagement.

Even the data from Content Marketing Institute most recent Benchmark Report confirms it:

The majority of marketers put engagement ahead of sales or leads.

To me, this comes as no surprise.

After all, engagement has always been the key and the prerequisite to attracting and converting visitors.

It’s only when you manage to hold a person reading, particularly on their first encounter with your brand, you stand a chance at converting them later.

Now, many factors affect how engaging a content might be. Topic, for example, or value they get from your articles.

But also, your writing style.

Create content that feels like a conversation, and you’ll connect with your audience on a deeply personal level.

Publish something that feels dry and impersonal, though, and they’ll consider it nothing else but a collection of ideas, without any regard as to who offered them.

But from what I hear, conversational writing is still something many content creators find challenging, unnatural, and tricky.

So, in this post, I decided to share some hacks that help me write content that sound like a conversation.

But before we get there, let’s make something clear…

What Makes a Conversational Writing?

To me, such content makes the reader forget they’re actually reading something.

Instead, they feel a part of a dialogue between you (the author) and them.

And sure, it might seem like you’re doing most of the talking. But, if you wrote your content well, a reader will actually carry on with the conversation in her mind.

Conversational writing also doesn’t force readers to engage intellectually with your words. Of course, they need to understand and process your ideas. But they shouldn’t have to do the same with the actual words.

It’s also writing that carries your voice. After all, it should emulate your real conversations.

The above, however, doesn’t relate only to the words you use or the sentence structure. Your argumentation style or how you convey your points make up that voice too.

(Which is also why, I believe, talkative people generally write better.)

But I admit, it’s hard to figure out how to write this way, at least at first.

So, here are a couple of hacks I developed to help make any writing sound more conversational.

Two Conversational Writing Hacks to Boost Reader Engagement

#1. Start every blog post with a name of a person you’re talking to.

Now, it doesn’t have to be a real person. Simply imagine your reader, and give her a name. Then, put that name on top of the page before start writing.

For example, here’s how I started writing this post:

“Jim,

I’m sure you’ve heard – Today’s content is all about engagement.

Even the data from Content Marketing’s Institute confirms that the majority of marketers put engagement ahead of sales or leads already.

To me, this comes as no surprise.”

Starting with a name makes it sound as if I was just having a conversation with Jim.

But once I remove the name, the content remains equally conversational.

Here’s why.

Opening by addressing a person by their name changes the way you think about the copy.

You no longer write. You talk. You teach. You explain. You focus on communicating with an actual person not a nameless crowd.

As one of my favorite copywriters, Henneke Duistermaat points:

“Writing to a crowd kills your voice. You start sounding like that stuffy schoolmaster who’s telling everyone off; or you become like that irritating marketer who keeps repeating the same message over and over again.”

But this hack helps achieve one more thing. It forces you to focus on readers emotions, not logic.

Just like in a real conversation, if you want to get your way, you must target your listener’s emotions.

After all, you rarely use logical arguments when you want to convince someone to go to a show with you or help you with a difficult chore.

You use emotions instead.

You don’t say “this show will feature all the artists greatest hits but won’t extend beyond 90 minutes, so we’ll be home before the last train.”

Instead, you paint a picture how wonderful it’ll be to spend this time together. Or mention how long it has been since you went to see a show together.

Conversational writing requires a similar approach. You must connect with a reader’s emotions, and then use logic to back our arguments.

I use another hack to help with that too.

#2. Write an actual dialog between you and a reader

To connect with a reader, you first must uncover the emotion she’s experiencing right now. Or at least, the emotion that will force her to look for this advice.

Then, you need to gain context behind that emotion, and uncover drivers that have sparked it in the first place.

I do it by writing a short dialogue between me and my reader – target persona.

But I let her to do all the talking. Here’s one example. Note, this is an actual dialogue I wrote when writing one of my client’s white papers.

Me: Hey J, dude, what’s wrong?

Jim: Oh man, I’m beat. I love my business but I’ve been trying to gain traction for a year now, and honestly, nothing happens. We have some money coming in but it’s far from the growth I’ve anticipated.

Me: Why?

Jim: I don’t know. I’ve been busting my ass, trying every marketing channel I could find but the needle won’t budge! How the heck other companies can grow so fast, honestly? I feel like I’m only running my business to the ground.

And here’s the opening section that came directly from this dialogue. For the reference, I added Jim’s name to the copy (but naturally, it doesn’t feature in the finished white paper):

“hey Jim, building a startup is so electrifying, isn’t it?

No words could ever describe the thrill of seeing a new idea coming to life.

But once all the work leading up to a launch day finishes, you have to face a new and terrifying challenge.

You must find a way to reach out to, engage with, and attract first customers.”

By putting myself into the conversation with Jim, I was able to identify his emotions in context. As a result, I could begin the content as a continuation of that conversation.

And there you have it…

My two strategies to write easy to understand content that sounds like a conversation.

Want to see more examples of how I use those hacks? Check out my portfolio