There seems to be a conspiracy that writing like a robot completely void of emotion is the way to go when it comes to e-commerce communications. It’s everywhere: bland monotonous copy that is easily forgotten. Here’s a wee guide on why writing like a real life human being is the way to go.
Due to the nature of e-commerce sites, the first impression viewers are presented with is that of a faceless company. Websites need to actively prove their authenticity because it’s in a viewer’s nature to be sceptical.
So, how do you prove your business isn’t run out of a garage in Uzbekistan? Short of embedding a Google map, showing personality in your content can certainly help bridge the gap between website and ‘bricks and mortar’. It helps to consider viewers ofyour website as visitors or guests. For example, if someone came knocking at your office door, would you greet them with monotonous drawl about facts and fees? The same thing applies with your online communications, visitors won’t engage with a website whose copy reads like five shades of beige.
For this reason it’s deeply refreshing to read content that has a point of view. Your website or blog can be beautifully designed and well formatted, but without interesting copy it’s failing to engage your viewers. Personality in web copy is reassuring because it is so hard to fake, and something so small as making your viewers feel comfortable can mean the difference to your bottom line.
The idea of a business having personality is not new. For New Zealand examples just look at brands like 2 Degrees with their utterly bizarre and brilliant Rhys Darby. Not everyone loves Rhys’s droll humour, but it nonetheless adds tremendous value to something as banal as a cell phone carrier. What Rhys’s personality does is polarise its audience, you either like him (and by extension 2 Degrees) or you don’t. While for a small business it may seem that this is the last thing you would want to achieve, a polarised audience actually means that you’ve made your visitors register your message on an emotional level. If they are in favour of the content then they will become emotionally engaged with your brand. In the off chance that they don’t like it, they’ll be more likely to share their experience with others and thus create more exposure for your brand. Easy.
Putting personality into practice
If you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of conversational copy, but it is important to reign it in where appropriate. Mediums such as your blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are absolutely perfect to portray the more casual and colloquial face of your brand. As far as your website is concerned, if you’re not ready to take the plunge in changing all of your copy, a good place to intergrate it is your home page. To start, think back to the idea of viewers as guests; make sure that your home page is welcoming and personable. A Hello! here or thanks for popping by at the end of the page are great ways to set viewers at ease.
Second to the homepage only in order of viewing is your ‘about us’ page. This forum is hands down the easiest way to get your brand story and personality across and is the perfect opportunity to make visitors fall in love with you / your brand. Ideally, you’ll have a brand founding story fraught with dead ends, second chances and maybe even a little romance.
However, if your brand story doesn’t resemble a romantic comedy, a good place to start would be to talk about any point of differences your brand has and how they came about. The brand story can really make or break the gooey brand-love feeling you might have created with all of your other communications so it’s critical to get it right. Make sure to strike a balance in your story so that it is interesting and aspirational without becoming too far-fetched. It may feel natural to be modest but keep in mind that your visitors are here to be sold on your brand.
- Write how you speak. Explaining something out loud is the best way to get an idea for the rhythm of a sentence and is a natural way of injecting colloquialisms into your writing.
- Don’t be afraid of playing with punctuation. Exclamation points can be a great way of adding drama to a paragraph. CAPITAL LETTERS work well and when used well, strikethrough can enable a great insight into the writers train of thought.
- Anonymity and clean, polished writing could be written by anyone, anywhere. Writing like a human being shows that you care enough about what you’re saying to express it in their own voice.