Create a conversion-focused tone of voice

1. Gather stakeholders, from regular employees to founders, and ask them questions about your company's culture.

If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have? If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (A coach, friend, teacher, dad, etc.) Describe in adjectives what your company’s personality is not. Are there any companies that have a similar personality to ours? Why are they similar?

2. Conduct customer interviews and other market research to learn about your visitors' personalities and how these relate to your brand.

Ask yourself these questions: Who is my ideal customer? What’s their job title? What type of company do they work for? What industry are they in? What sites do they visit in their spare time? What do they do outside of work? What words do they use? Do they swear? Do they respond well to humor? What values do they hold? Beliefs? How do they like to be praised? Criticized?

3. Use your customer research learnings to create data-driven personality personas for each broad grouping of ideal customers.

Alternatively, list 3-4 basic characteristics that customers in each group tend to have in common. For example, you might find that you have a lot of customers who are men aged 35-60, and a lot of them like to go fishing and camping.

4. Use your business objectives, customer personality personas and company personality to develop a tone of voice.

Tone of voice can be used to: Demonstrate the value you’re trying to persuade visitors to buy. Create an engaging experience so visitors actually enjoy reading your copy. Create positive emotions, which then become mentally associated with your brand. Look at the adjectives you used to describe your company. Pick one of each of the following aspects of tone of voice: Funny or serious Formal or casual Respectful or irreverent Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact

5. Conduct conversion research to understand how customers currently feel about your company's tone of voice.

You need to understand the tone you’re currently using. Don’t be surprised if the tone you’re conveying is very different from the tone your stakeholders described above. Interview customers or mine past customer communications to discover the language that customers use when they’re talking about you. Look in particular for adjectives that describe your company personality. For example, customers might describe your company’s current tone as fun, boring, variable, irrelevant, or exciting.

6.  Review all of your current copy via a content audit to check the tone you’re currently using.

Use the four dimensions of tone of voice listed earlier. Map each piece of content on a scale between each – for example, between funny and serious. How does it differ from what your customers described or the brand voice you developed earlier? How is it similar? A lack of tone of voice consistency can be a real conversion killer, so the tone of your PPC ads should be the same as the tone of your landing pages, for example.

7. Determine the size of the gap between your current tone of voice implementation and your desired tone of voice.

Use these questions to start gauging how much work is required: What percentage of your content needs to be rewritten? Can you get away with minor tweaks for some of your content?

8. Using your ideal tone of voice, put together guidelines to develop a brand voice.

This will help create consistency, communicate to other departments and onboard new hires. Here’s an example from MailcChimp. This is their success message tone summary. And here’s their error message tone summary. Whatever method you choose to record your tone of voice, remember that you should still be optimizing. Within a single tone of voice, there are many ways to communicate a message, and your first attempt or educated guess is typically not the best option.

9. Implement your new brand voice guidelines across your website, A/B testing large changes to check that your revisions are on target.

The concept of tone of voice is quite simple. The practical implementation of it is more complicated. Tone needs to be consistent, otherwise, you lose authenticity. Tone can make the UX worse if it gets in the way of ease of use. Focus on your headlines and subheadings. It just makes sense to focus on copy that your visitors will focus on most. While tone is often talked about in terms of copy, it can also be visual. The design of your site and logo, the images you choose, etc. can all communicate tone of voice. Your brand and your audience change. As time goes on, brand and audience personalities change, just like human personalities. Don’t be afraid of that.