Developing a Style and Voice For your Web Content

Got Tone? Tips for Developing a Writing Style

Developing a writing style that appeals to your readers is an art. The tone of your copy is the key to the success of your marketing strategies. Your returns rest largely on the quality and style of your text. For companies in the healthcare, legal and financial industries, this means their text needs to be clean, clear, concise and competent. In fact, the four Cs are favored by most if not all Fortune 1000 companies. For a company that sells sports tickets or toys, a much lighter, conversational tone is the better option. We’ve had clients express concern about matching their tone when their website is completely toneless. This goes to show that tone is a sensitive and important topic. Here are a few tips for developing a voice for your web content.

Who is your target audience? This is the most important factor. A personal injury attorney who is targeting people who have been injured or lost a loved one needs to use a voice that is strong, compassionate and effectively illustrates their strengths. For example, “Contact us today to speak with a compassionate personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and act as a legal advocate.”

Now, let’s consider a restaurant that makes the best barbeque in the city. Restaurants are part of a leisure market. People dine in their free time using disposable income. To appeal to consumers, we must create a tone that actively promotes their delicious food and the lively ambiance.

“At Judge Bean’s Bar-B-Q, we make the meanest barbeque sauce east of the Mississippi and the best pulled pork ya’ll will ever taste. Stop by for a plate-clearing, finger-licking good time.”

On the other side of the spectrum, a gourmet catering company that uses local produce might need a more conservative tone. For a high-end caterer, we might use a more sophisticated, erudite tone.

“From fresh, tender arugula to locally produced cheese, we partner with local farmers to procure the finest and freshest ingredients. We use the highest-quality products and artisan cooking techniques to produce slow-food for large events.”

There is an entire spectrum of literary tones. I like to think of it like a rainbow. On one end, we have a straight-ahead, no-nonsense corporate tone. On the other, we have zany, edgy, off-the-wall. This means that there are subtle differences in tone that are comparable to the visual differences between teal and blue-green. Once you have the right tone, you’ll know it.

You wouldn’t believe how many content mills suggest the most banal and generic tones. Informative and interesting, sales driven and promotional, light and conversational or educational and informative. These are the options that a mass-market content mill will give you. They might as well as say meaningless and bland, boring and stale or light and fluffy. We’re not talking about comfort food or ice cream. Let’s get real. Don’t be tone deaf. The success of your website depends on the quality and style of your content, so you’ve got to make it good. As up-market copywriters, we collaborate, we work with clients, and we infuse our writing with creativity to match our customers’ goals. That’s why our copy is effective.

To develop the right style and tone, consider who your target market is, what you’re selling and what your goals are. Words represent your company, its personality and its products. That’s why it’s important to have a tone that accurately portrays your company’s strengths. On our own website, we like to have a little bit on fun on your text. For clients, we develop a tone based on their individual needs and goals, which are rarely the same from company to company.

You’re welcome to share your perspective on the challenges of developing the right style and tone for your web content.

What is Inbound Marketing?

This is an excellent question. If you don’t know what inbound marketing is, there’s no need to worry. This term has only been around since 2005. Inbound marketing is an abstract concept that has several philosophic definitions. The principles of inbound marketing are associated with all types of web content. Inbound marketing is not an entirely new concept, but it has acquired an official name and a new meaning in the 21st century. To understand inbound marketing, we must also understand the principles behind outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a subtle, passive sales strategy that involves valuable web content and features that increase website visibility.

Outbound marketing uses aggressive go-get-it tactics, such as direct mail, cold calls and in-your-face advertisements. From a personal perspective, I believe that we all prefer inbound marketing. Let’s not fool ourselves. Nobody likes junk mail or telemarketers. From a business standpoint, outbound marketing is expensive, and the results may not be worth the effort or the cost.

In the past, inbound marketing has been an ever-present strategy, but it was done in a different way. If a business was marketing their products or services 20 years ago, there were several logical places for them to advertise. If a construction company was working in your neighborhood, there were several ways you could find out more about them without the Internet!

  1. Signs on the property or on the lawn
  2. Signs on their trucks
  3. Sweatshirt logos
  4. Larger signs on a building or on a billboard (whether these advertisements are inbound or outbound is debatable)
  5. Phone book entries
  6. Word-of-mouth recommendations

Today, this same construction company would use a wider variety of inbound marketing techniques.

  1. Local business entries, such as Google
  2. Informational blog posts
  3. YouTube videos
  4. Social media buzz
  5. Geo-targeted web content
  6. Promotional offers (coupons, press releases etc.)

The benefits of inbound marketing are clear. The upfront cost is lower, and the marketing materials are more appealing to the customer. I compare inbound marketing to a spider web. The spider builds the web and adds a few new strings once in a while. Then, the spider kicks back and waits.

Outbound marketing is like a pack of wolves or a lone predator that uses a resource-intensive approach to capture those much-needed customers.

In some ways, inbound marketing is non-traditional, but many established businesses still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and traditional inbound leads. Business owners often prefer inbound leads because customers pre-qualify themselves.

The following paragraph will give you a bit more insight into how the concept of inbound marketing came to be.

The term inbound marketing was coined by a guy called Brian Halligan, who is the founder and CEO of a marketing site and software company called HubSpot. Halligan and a dude called Seth Godin are luminaries in this rapidly evolving field. Godin is responsible for creating a little publishing site called Squidoo. He has also penned several best-selling books that were marketed using his concepts. Anyway, he wrote a book called “Permission Marketing.” Permission marketing is very similar to inbound marketing because it requires potential customers to express interest before they become a lead.

It’s important to note that businesses will still have to nurture those inbound leads. Designating yourself or someone in your organization to follow up on leads and to track referrals is essential. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for marketers.

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that the Internet is a place to be seen. Increasing the visibility of your business information and web properties through passive inbound marketing is a surefire and cost-effective way to market your products or services.

Up next, we’ll be talking about the strategies behind creating successful inbound web content.

If you have any thoughts or questions about inbound marketing, share your comments here.