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Find your B2B website’s tone and voice

Make your brand’s style sing with web copy that speaks volumes By Tanya Decarie Jun 27, 2019

Strong website writing smacks you right in the face. Sometimes it tickles your feet. If you’re in the YouTube comments section, it might give you a weird itch.

As a foundation, B2B web copy should be clear as crystal and free of extraneous info. You don’t want your message bogged down in detail; every word has a purpose.

The next, most important layer consists of tone and voice. They add dimension to the bare bones of your website content and create a writing style unique to your brand.

Tone and voice give your brand character. They personify your company values, qualities and culture, establishing rapport with readers and users before they’ve even picked up a phone or filled out a contact form to reach you.

If you do it right, your writing could land that one-two punch that makes readers smile, nod sagely or go straight for that CTA clickthrough.

So, how do you do it right? Find a good copywriter. No, seriously — unless you want to commit full-time hours to learning a new trade, make sure your marketing agency staffs writers with decent chops.

To understand the thinking behind a brand’s tone and voice, stick with me.

Watch your tone, young lady

No two brands sound the same. Some are playful, some are strictly professional, and some want to wrap a friendly arm around your shoulder as you navigate their products.

The same message can sound wildly different with a change in tone:

  • "Thank you for contacting us. A representative will get back to you shortly."
  • "We’re glad you took the time to reach out. A rep will be in touch soon to discuss your options."
  • "Hey, thanks for your email! We can’t wait to dish out the details."

Pretty different, right?

If you’re familiar at all with the concepts of content marketing, you know it’s not a sales pitch: it’s about demonstrating value and providing good, meaty content the reader can actually use.

It’s a matter of “show, don’t tell” — a lesson that follows in the shadow of every copywriter, fiction author and j-school graduate who has ever had the benefit of a competent editor.

Carefully crafted tone and voice lend themselves to that concept because they create an impression of your brand without having to force a description on an unwilling reader. Want to communicate that your company has friendly, approachable reps? Write a friendly, approachable sentence inviting users to contact you for a quote.

Of course, some amount of description is always necessary — good tone and voice will just augment that.

But that’s enough telling. Let me show you some examples.

Jazzed-up website copy

To showcase their line of skincare products and formulations, one of our clients tried something most B2Bs would consider outside-the-box: they modeled their new website after trendy, consumer-focused beauty brands.

With that in mind, they wanted the language to sound like something you’d find in a consumer beauty blog. We wrote the copy with a chummy, personal approach, full of contemporary slang and direct addresses to the reader.

The result was headlines like this:

To preserve their image as leaders in chemistry, the copy had to communicate a fair bit of technical language and scientific concepts while staying light, clear and enjoyable to read.

Here’s another example in a totally different market: a fintech company that makes cash processing software in different financial industries.

Their new website also needed fresh copy to update the language on their old site. Once we got to know the client, we came up with a smart, straightforward tone and voice that balanced the company’s professionalism with its technical expertise and friendly customer support.

We came up with things like this:

Not too clever, not too cutesy, but definitely not stuffy or cumbersome.

Let your tone and voice ring loud and clear

Good writing is hard to explain, because often we think of it as something that’s better when it goes unnoticed — if it doesn’t stand out, you’re doing your job right.

I don’t think that’s always true. Just like good design, strong website writing has the potential to make a positive, lasting impression on visitors to keep them clicking longer.

If you still don’t get it, ask someone who knows good content! (Yes, I’m talking about us.) We would be happy to give you a long, eloquent spiel about levelling-up your website’s tone and voice.