Is ‘conversational copywriter’ just another marketing term to add to bullshit bingo? Quite possibly, yes. But, however you want to define it, the copywriting landscape is evolving.
‘Copywriter’ in its purest form used to be, and in many circles still is, the catch-all name for the token words person. And in recent years we’ve also seen a shift into niches such as technical copywriter, SEO copywriter, creative copywriter, marketing copywriter etc, etc.
It’s a word that a lot of us hate as it’s reductive, misleading and even just plain ugly. But it’s the one we’ve got. So why not throw an adjective in front of it to give it a little more character?
With that in mind, here’s why I think the conversational copywriter is going to be the next big thing for the marketer’s arsenal.
The world of design used to be dominated by graphic and web designers. But in recent years, (thanks to the growth of technology and the increasing empowerment of the consumer) they’ve had to make room for user experience design – or UX – to get a look in, too.
More and more companies are putting thought and attention into their UX strategies, and a UX rep or entire specialist teams are becoming typical features in any organisation worth its salt.
But is something lacking?
At its core, UX is all about presenting information in a way that is useful and accessible to the end user. It’s about what the person experiences on a website, how they interact with the content and creating seamless navigation.
And this is as much about words, tone and messaging as it is about design and navigation. So, where’s the focus on UX copywriting?
Specialist UX writers exist, and UX writing as a whole is certainly a growing medium. But I think it’s about to get a hell of a lot bigger.
You can’t load a news site without seeing a headline on AI, the Internet of Things or automation. What a day to be alive. But it is true that technology is slowly seeping into every element of our lives – and we’re loving it.
But pleasant as it is to imagine that there’s a friendly copywriter sat typing furiously inside every machine we use, the reality is, technology’s automated ‘voice’ is growing.
Combined with the rise of UX, this has created the need for conversational user interfaces (UI), aka platforms that mimic a conversation with a real human.
But to build these platforms, and to build them well, we’ll need more people that can write for them. However ridiculous this sentence reads; a human touch is needed for giving voice to a robot that sounds like a human.
The number of writers that specialise in conversational UI will surely grow to meet this need.
According to PwC, 35% of consumers ranked ‘trust in brand’ among their top three reasons for choosing which retailers to shop at. And look up any advice on marketing to millennials and the word ‘authenticity’ will undoubtedly feature.
Audiences will settle for nothing short of authentic. If trust is at all in question, they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
The concept naturally extends to tone of voice – one of the key ways of building (and losing) trust along the user journey. ‘Conversational’ is becoming a more common stylistic tone across the board (although it has to be said, with varying levels of success).
There’s a difference between writing in a ‘human’ voice conversationally and writing for a robot in a ‘conversational’ way (with a chatbot for example). It’s a nuance that is often unfortunately missed. To quote my editor, Libby: “Don’t wish me a good day! You’re a machine!” And she’s not alone… 48% feel that it’s creepy if a chatbot pretends to be human, while 60% feel patronised if a chatbot starts asking how their day is going.
To project voices that are authentic and that people respond well to, we’ll need more specialist copywriters powering the technology to achieve the right nuances.
I’m no business mogul, but I know that it’s harder than ever for businesses and brands to stand out. Over-saturation of markets, a huge amount of competition – cutting through the noise, remaining relevant and achieving longevity is a challenge.
But tone of voice and copywriting can be a key differentiator.
Look at MailChimp Paddy Power, the Dave channel, Old Spice, Firebox, Bellroy, Dollar Shave Club and more. Their tones of voice are recognisable and powerful in a myriad of ways.
So much copywriting out there online, in print, at events – wherever – is just terrible. Why not be the organisation that champions it, and bring your voice to the fore?
The copywriting renaissance is long overdue, but it is coming. It’s happened for video, it’s happened for design and it’s happened for UX.
It’s now time for copywriting, and in particular, the ‘conversational’ copywriter – to finally get its time in the sun.