In recent years, there’s been some concern that robots will eventually replace human writers.
Automated systems have successfully replaced people in thousands of factory assembly jobs, surgical positions, security posts, and farming positions. Why not writing, as well?
While there’s no doubt that writing has been, and will continue to be, aided by technological advancement, I say it’s unlikely that robots will ever fully replace the human copywriter.
Robots can’t process a human level of creativity, thinking, and subsequently, writing.
While robots, algorithms, and automated systems may have methods in place to “crawl” and interpret data, they will never understand the distinctly human joy of curling up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a great book.
Think about these scenarios for a moment:
- Robots will never know how exciting Tolkien’s world can be, or how a great novel or short story can transport you to another time, place, and headspace.
- Robots will never know what it means to read a Content Marketing Institute article that punches you in the gut, that you feel compelled to share so everyone can learn what you just learned (content marketing nerds unite).
- Robots can’t ever wipe away their own tears at the last lines of Shakespeare’s dying Romeo, or Mufasa’s passing in the Lion King.
For these reasons, human copywriters will not be replaced anytime soon.
While robots might be capable of incredible things, only we understand how deeply human the act of writing is, and how much heart it takes to produce material that other people want to read.
Why Robots Won’t Replace the Writer: The Raw Power of Human, Conversational Content
You know what else robots are lacking that humans have down pat? The power of conversation. Sure – robots can be programmed to talk, answer questions, and tell jokes, but they’ll never be the conversational natives that humans have always been.
This gives us a serious edge when it comes to copywriting.
If you’ve been working in the digital marketing space for a while, it’s likely that you can think of a few examples of funny, conversational, relatable content you’ve read and enjoyed that features a distinctly human touch.
Here are a few of the brands that come to mind for me when I think of conversational content:
1. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is almost always on the top of these lists because the brand has done such an incredible job of making itself approachable, funny, and relatable. There’s no doubt these guys have real, hard-working humans behind their digital content. While there are dozens of examples of how the company does this, check out this screenshot of the “How it Works” portion of their website for a great demonstration:
What I love about Poo~Pourri is their genius level of creativity in every bit of copy and marketing material.
Their theme? Creative humor. They win at it.
If that’s not fun, relatable and conversational, I don’t know what is. We all can give a little belly laugh in the name of joining a “potty” community ready to spritz the bowl and “trap-a-crap” (a product name, not kidding you).
Show me a content scraper, algorithm, or robot that can evoke that humorous level of creativity.
Headspace built a meditation app that provides access to fast, accessible meditations for situations ranging from anxiety to anger to general wellbeing. While meditation often feels like a lofty and unapproachable practice, Headspace hits the ball out of the park when it comes to making the pursuit user-friendly and approachable.
One of my favorite examples of their conversational their content is their “How the Headspace App Works Video.” Watch it and then tell me you’re still feeling intimidated about developing a meditative practice:
5 Reasons We Have to Learn Conversational Writing
While the brands above are all killing it at conversational writing, the people behind this content didn’t just come in off the streets and start excelling at it. While it’s true that people are conversational natives, writing marketing copy (and everything listed above is marketing copy) that connects with readers requires a set of learned skills.
Most of us are familiar with marketing messages that feel cold, pushy, overly sales-y, or cheap. This material makes us recoil and click “delete” as fast as we can. While a human may have written it, it doesn’t do anything to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
With this in mind, we have to learn conversational writing. Here’s why:
1. School didn’t teach us
If you’re like most people, you remember being told you were too wordy, informal, or grammatically incorrect in your school papers. While this may have made sense when we were learning APA or MLA formatting or constructing a senior thesis in college, it doesn’t hold up in the real world.
Sometimes, approachable marketing writing bends grammar rules. Sometimes it’s less formal than a college essay, and sometimes it pushes the envelope – but that’s okay! In fact, that’s necessary.
While school taught us to abide by hundred-year-old grammar rules, it didn’t teach us how to be approachable and conversational in the material we write.
2. Conversational writing takes relies on the audience
What your audience might find approachable and what my audience might find approachable may well be two separate things. While some aspects of conversational writing carry across all industries and target personas, there’s no doubt that being compelling in marketing copy requires you to know your target audience intimately. If you don’t, you can’t expect to speak directly to them.
3. It takes time to get good at this
While there’s a fine line between being professional and robotic, there’s also a fine line between being conversational and downright rude or unprofessional. Conversational writing, like all things, requires a delicate hand and a certain level of skill. You don’t develop this overnight, and it’s important to give yourself time and space to hone the craft and develop your unique style.
4. Old habits die hard
For some people, breaking out of the box of academic writing and learning to be more conversational and approachable is a severe uphill battle. It’s tough to un-do old teaching, and writing in a conversational and friendly way can feel counterintuitive, at first. This is one of the biggest reasons we must learn to write like this, rather than just expecting it to sprout up overnight.
5. Great writing shouldn’t sound like writing
Take a moment to wrap your mind around this one.
Elmore Leonard once said:
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
The best sales pitch shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch, and the best marketing writing shouldn’t sound like writing – it should sound like a casual conversation between friends.
10 Impressive Ways to Write More Conversational Content
So, now you know why we must learn to write conversationally. Now, let’s talk about how.
Here are ten smart tips you can put into action right now:
1. Stop trying to be everything to everyone
Imagine this: you’re sitting down at your computer to write your weekly email newsletter. You want it to be exciting, compelling, and valuable for your audience. The tough thing is, though, your email list contains every internet user on the globe – about 3,424,971,237 people.
That’s an impossible task, right? Right. There’s absolutely no way you can appeal to all those people, and you’d be wasting your time trying.
The first step in creating more conversational content is to hone your audience. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, you want to be a very specific something to a very particular set of people.
When you sit down to write your copy, you should be able to pick one individual that’s representative of your target audience and write to that person and only that person. This will make your writing infinitely more approachable and unique.
2. Don’t try to sound casual
Any time you try to show off, things take an immediate turn for the worst. This is as true in sports (ever tried to look cool on a ski hill, only to face plant in front of the large group you were trying to impress?) as it is everywhere else in life. Don’t try to sound casual, or cool, or funny in your writing. Your readers will know immediately that you’re trying to impress them, and you’ll lose interest. Remember: the best writing doesn’t sound like writing. Keep it natural for best results.
3. Talk to people, not at them
Think about how much easier it is to stay engaged with a conversation than a lecture. Now, bring this into your online writing. When you write to people rather than at them, you create room for a two-way exchange, which is much more valuable than a soliloquy.
4. Be yourself
When you read Dollar Shave Club’s web copy, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to be something they’re not. Instead, you get the distinct idea that the company has a host of funny, cool, witty people on their team – people you’d probably like to get to know. The easiest way to be approachable and conversational in your content is to be yourself. When you’re not trying to fit yourself into someone else’s mold, your voice shines through, and you immediately come off as more authentic.
5. Ask your readers questions
To show your readers you care what they think, ask them questions. Simple things, like their feedback on a recent site redesign or input on a blog post topic are excellent access points and can make you a more accessible brand straight away.
6. Cut the fat
Today, the human attention span is limited. To be precise, it lasts about eight seconds. This doesn’t mean you have to compress all your writing into micro-sized packages, but it does mean you need to slash anything that’s not obviously contributing value. Flabby content doesn’t reflect well on your company, nor does it grab your readers. Trim the fat for more engaging writing.
7. Feel free to bend or break grammar rules
While you want to keep your writing readable (that’s the whole point, after all), it’s okay to break grammar rules here and there. Many of them are antiquated and ill-suited to conversational writing, anyway. For best results, keep it reasonable – use broken sentences here and there, start sentences with “and” or “but” occasionally, and break up your paragraph structure for more impact. While your English teacher of yesteryear might not appreciate the approach, your readers will.
8. Write to a close friend
Lifestyle coach and fitness nut Tim Ferriss is famous for saying he had an awful time writing his books when he was trying to write a book. As soon as he sat down and wrote like he was writing an advice email to a close friend, after a glass of wine, however, his writing changed entirely. Maybe this is why he’s become a multi-time NYT bestseller!
9. Evaluate your process regularly
Like all things associated with writing, creative and conversational copywriting requires regular check-ins. For best results, check in with your results on a regular basis. Are people still responding? If they’re not, consider altering your approach. Being flexible will keep you relatable now and in the future.
10. Keep it simple
Conversational writing is a skill rather than a science. When you keep it simple and avoid the temptation to make it hard and complicated, you’ll automatically increase your chances of success.
To Get People to Read – Write to Be Read!
There you have it: humans are the irreplaceable ingredient in conversational copywriting.
Today, audiences want material with a human touch, and it’s conversational, highly-readable content that gets shared and talked about today.
We’ve all heard the saying, “if you want to be interesting, be interested.”
The same goes for writing – “If you want to be read, you have to write to be read!”
If you’re looking for professional copywriters that can nail the art of conversational copywriting, look no further than Express Writers. Contact us today!