The words we read have a lot of power because they can make us feel any number of ways. Just think about the last great book you enjoyed. Maybe the words that the author painstakingly chose conspired to create a sense of terror or suspense, to make you laugh out loud, or to tug at your heartstrings. Reactions like those aren’t just the result of what the author wrote, but also how the author chose to write it.
When it comes to the business world, the words you use are equally powerful and important. That’s because they establish your tone of voice, which is critical for building a connection with your target audience and for giving them a clear impression of who you are as a company and what you’re like to do business with.
At Acrolinx, we spend a lot of time talking about tone of voice. In case you missed it, you’ll find quite a few posts about it here on our blog, you can check out our eBook on the subject, or you can click your way through the four-part SlideShare series we put together.
The thing about tone of voice is that most people tend to think that it’s pretty intangible. Sure, maybe you know what kinds of tone of voice you respond well to and which ones turn you off. You might even try to model your writing accordingly, but that’s usually as far as it goes. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Measuring Your Content’s Voice
The fact is that the tone of your writing is actually much more quantifiable than you might think. Here at Acrolinx, we can use our linguistic analytics platform to score the clarity, informality, and liveliness of your content. Those three factors play an important role not just in determining the voice of your content, but also whether or not it’s going to resonate with a specific audience.
To show you what we mean, let’s look at short excerpt that we’ve borrowed from the folks over at MailChimp:
Today we’re looking under the hood to see the cool tweaks and updates the developers have been working on. These changes affect every single MailChimp user, but those of you with large lists will want to pay special attention.
What we like about the text is its relatively casual, conversational tone. By referring to “cool tweaks” and what’s happening “under the hood,” the content feels very approachable and personable. Not only do you understand what the authors are trying to convey, you also get the sense that MailChimp isn’t some big, soulless corporation. Instead, you get the impression that it’s a business that’s got some personality and that’s interested in connecting with you on a more personal, one-to-one level.
When we analyze the content with Acrolinx, that’s reflected in the resulting scores:
The content scores well overall. It’s relatively clear; plus, while informal and lively, it’s not so informal or so lively that it’s inappropriate for a B2B business. We take our hats off to MailChimp for creating some great content.
If, however, we make some changes to the content, we can convey the exact same ideas in a different way, which in turn changes the voice of the content.
The purpose of today’s post is to outline the various changes that our developers have made to update the platform. While these changes affect all MailChimp users, if you have large lists then you should pay particular attention to this post.
In this version, we’ve strived to make the content clearer, but to do so had to sacrifice some of its conversational nature. While that may work well for content that you need to have translated, the result is text that’s a bit less engaging overall. It’s a bit more stiff and businesslike. Here’s how that content scores:
Below is a third version of the text with some additional changes. Again, it conveys the exact same ideas, but it does so in a much less clear and concise way. It’s long-winded and feels very impersonal and corporate. It’s not fun to read and doesn’t give you the sense that MailChimp is interested in you as a customer.
MailChimp’s developers have made numerous changes to the platform, all of which will be reviewed in today’s post. Note that all MailChimp users will be affected by these changes; however, users who have particularly large email recipient lists are advised to pay particular attention as this is especially relevant for their needs.
And that, of course, is reflected in the content’s scores:
With the addition of our changes, it’s no longer great content. Sure, it does the job of conveying the key messages, but it doesn’t do so particularly well.
Matching Specific Voice Scores to Specific Personas
In case you’re wondering why all of this matters, it’s because you need to develop the right voice for each of your target personas. And, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach — one company’s ideal voice may not be at all appropriate for another — it is important to figure out what voice works for your audience and then to ensure that you’re consistently writing in that voice.
And that’s where Acrolinx can be most helpful. It allows you to build voice profiles for each of your customer personas. That way, you’ve got a benchmark score for clarity, informality, and liveliness, which you can then strive for with all of the content you create for that persona. That means that as you’re writing, you’re getting real-time advice about how to target your content for your specific audience.
Better Content Is Just a Few Clicks Away
With Acrolinx helping you and your colleagues, it’s easier to create better content. Since voice is such an important part of creating great content, we think that our software is particularly useful when it comes to ensuring that your content is not only consistent, but on-target.
In a world where both B2C and B2B companies are moving to more casual and conversational writing, and adopting just the right tone of voice is mission-critical, having a way to do so scientifically and uniformly is a real advantage.