Nothing turns people off more than marketing-ese. We live in a digital era, which means pretty much everyone on your business’ contact list loathes distracting ads and knows how to smell a sales pitch from a mile away.
If you want to create real, authentic connections with your customers and leads, you can’t rely on a good deal or a great product. You’ve got to use language that builds trust, something that feels like a one-to-one conversation rather than an advertisement. “Whether you will use the best business phone services, email, or other means of communication, you need to align your language with your audience’s."
Studies have shown that casual language works for marketers, bridging the gap between casual social media interactions and professional work exchanges. And if you can find a way to incorporate that into your email copy, you’ll set yourself up for a more effective email marketing strategy. Let’s look at why that’s true.
Improve Your Image
We tend to think of “casual language” as using conjunctions, fragments, and other idioms that would make your third grade grammar teacher scowl. But the reality is casual language is less about breaking rules and more about writing in a way that reads like a personal message and not a textbook.
An example from LinkedIn really highlights the difference casual language can make:
Going this route with your marketing materials can make a difference. But before we get into how you can incorporate casual language into your emails, here is a quick snapshot of why this approach is so valuable for any brand.
Build A Relatable Brand
Some of the most effective brands achieved success by putting a focus on building trust with consumers. You can split that into a few succinct actions to take:
- Stand by your brand’s core values
- Maintain consistency across every channel
- Rely on subject matter experts
- Build relationships with your audience
And why is that last one so important? Part of being a relatable brand means creating shareable content.
Social media marketing is as much a driving force as any other form of advertising; that’s because people feel comfortable engaging with brands in a digital space that feels public and safe.
Casual conversation plays a role in those interactions, and actually ties back to each of the steps to building trust with your target audience. By creating content that speaks to customers (and, specifically, to their own struggles or expectations), you’re building a platform that invites engagement with people and gives an opportunity to improve interaction with customers.
That kind of authenticity has to be organic, and part of that is getting away from stuffy, sales-driven messaging.
Maintain Professional Expertise
Now, shifting to more casual language doesn’t mean throwing your image in the garbage. In fact, for brands in certain industries, picking up too casual of a tone could discredit your company or attract a different audience than the ones you’re used to.
Regardless of how you speak to your customers, there’s always a risk of going too far one way or the other.
The challenge for marketing teams is finding a balance between “professional” and “casual” voice. You’ll need to put on a formal tone sometimes, and a more personal “face-to-face” tone at other times.
You want to come off as a real person and not a preprogrammed advertisement. That’s why you need to do a DMARC setup to avoid being sent into email spam folders and losing your reputation. But you also need to speak with authority, to show people that you’re able to lead a conversation about your industry in a way that is entertaining as well as informative.
Every customer persona needs different things from a brand, and those personas can vary based on the industry or field. So as you search for that happy medium, people will still expect a level of professional expertise in things they receive from you.
After all, you want to paint yourself as a trusted, knowledgeable voice in your industry.
Write Engaging Emails
Digital marketers usually have a system or process for writing email copy. So rather than pretend like you’ve never done it before, let’s look at a couple ways to approach writing emails with a unique, personable brand voice.
1. Write To An Individual
Don’t sit down to write an email with a specific goal in mind. Treat it like what it is — correspondence between two people. If you approach the email like you would a message to a friend or coworker, you’ll naturally start to adopt more casual tones in the content.
2. Keep Your Tone Natural
If you’re thinking about jokes or puns, there’s a good chance they’ll stick out to a reader as “forced.” There’s nothing wrong with editing a message or looking to add some humor, but a cheesy email can be just as much of a turnoff as an abrasive, all-out sales pitch.
3. Read Lots Of Emails
To be a great email writer, you’ll need to read at least a couple great emails first. If you’d subscribe to your competitors’ email list to find out what they’re up to on the other side of the fence, you should also be subscribing to other brands that you respect or admire. See how they approach email copy, and feel free to experiment with things that you like. Successful emails beget successful emails.
4. Test Something Every Time
It’s another go-to gadget for any digital marketer’s toolbelt. Always be testing something when you send out emails. It can refer to security, running the DMARC report analyzer, or doing A/B testing to understand customer behavior. And if you’re transitioning from formal voice to a more relaxed tone, that’s an easy place to start — find out how casual you can get by testing how your audience responds to it.
5. Create A Style Guide
Once you find the right balance for your audience, try and standardize that. Think about rules or tips that would help with future emails and share them with your team. That way, every email you send will match the tone of your social media posts, blog articles, and web copy. In other words, make it all consistent.
(If you’re curious what that looks like, Mailchimp has made their content style guide public. Looking through it will give you an idea of how a leading voice in email marketing approaches their tone and voice.)
Of course, a style guide and split testing only gets you so far. They’ll help you experiment with (and standardize) your brand’s voice, but it’s still up to you to figure out what that looks like. Once you lock down those details, you’ll be able to start implementing casual language into your email marketing and reaping the benefits from that change.
Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a company that connects freelancers and filmmakers with resources like tutorials on how to add music to a video and how to find royalty free folk music (among other genres).