Engage in dialogue with your users thanks to conversational writing
That human contact is hugely important is not something we need to explain at this time. But in the digital world, too, it is important that users get the feeling that they are dealing with a human being. Conversational writing creates personal interactions on your digital platforms and thus offers a better user experience.
Written language, spoken language… and the internet
From an early age we learn that spoken and written language are two different things. Spoken language is casual and informal, written language, on the other hand, is much stricter and stiffer. But then the internet came and threw a spanner in the works. Chatting, emailing... Classical written language became more and more "written spoken language", and conversational writing was born.
The Internet breaks down the age old boundary between the written and spoken language, and gives rise to a third option: conversational writing.
Hallelujah, so we can write the way we speak! Of course you have to take this with a pinch of salt. Correct grammar, clear sentence structure and consistent and respectful use of words are still essential. But the rule is: don't write anything that you wouldn't say out loud either. Even as a bank or insurance office.
Why digital products need to talk
We, as human beings, are used to the fact that only other people use 'our language'. When something communicates with us through language, our brain immediately deals with it as if it were a human interaction. It is therefore logical that computers should also react humanely. And the only way to do that is through words.
As I mentioned in a previous blogpost about microcopy, a digital product can be compared to the ideal representative of your brand. Of course you prefer someone friendly and helpful, someone who is clear and sincere. Who offers you a personal service.
Consider the words in your website or app as the conversation your representative has with the user. They should come across as authentic, warm and human. In this way you create a better experience for the user.
A better experience leads to more conversions
Clifford Nass & Corina Yen conducted several experiments into the relationship between humans and their computers ("The man who lied to his laptop", 2010). They showed that we react the same way to computers and digital interfaces as we do to people. We are polite and expect politeness in return, and expect on a compliment, for example, if we did something right. If, on the other hand, the reaction is rude or disrespectful, we interpret it in the same way and our confidence decreases.
In fact, if the digital product gives positive feedback and therefore actually shows emotions as we would expect in a human being, then:
- we are more productive
- we respond more quickly to requests
- we believe what the digital product tells us more quickly
In a nutshell: the more human an interface is, and the more it is in line with our social standards, the more the user feels a connection with it and is convinced by what is said. As a result, users will perform the action you want more quickly and will be feel positive about your product in the longer term.
Dos en don’ts of conversational writing
Writing is very much ingrained in our way of thinking. That is why it is sometimes difficult to apply conversational writing. You have to think consciously about how you put something into words - something you could also read about in our blogpost on the grandmother principle.
A few dos and don'ts:
Write actively as much as possible. In spoken language we often use the active form, while in written language we fall back to passive more quickly. However, this form is much less personal.
- "Your question will be answered as soon as possible. vs. "We'll answer your question as soon as possible."
Trigger interaction with the user by asking questions. Another psychological fact: people find it difficult to leave questions unanswered. So the user will be more inclined to fill in something when you ask a question. Make sure that your app or website is not overloaded with questions.
- "Fill in the email address to which we can send the whitepaper. vs. "To which email address may we send the whitepaper?".
In apps or on websites we often leave out linking words, something we would never do in a live conversation. These small adjustments immediately make the wording much more human and/or personal:
- “Order details” vs. “Your order details”
- “Close map” vs. “Close the map”
In digital environments you often see robotic writing; literally writing as if you were a robot. We often do this automatically, but in conversational writing it is really a no-go.
- "See your login details below:" vs. "This is your username and password:"
- "Products you wish to purchase". vs. "Your shopping list"
And what about the language you cannot write down?
Conversational writing is very close to spoken language. Yet there is also a big difference: the lack of non-verbal communication such as body language, intonation and eye contact. That is also the reason why emoticons are so popular. They represent the emotions that are hidden behind the written words and (partly) take on the role of non-verbal communication. So don't take it for granted that you can just write down everything you say, but think about how you can weave this spoken language correctly in a digital context.
Give your digital platforms a human touch
Although digital is becoming more and more prominent in our world, we must not forget the importance of a human touch. Do you find it difficult to do this? Our experts would be happy to help you.Contact us