Is tone of voice being diluted in digital communications today?

Is tone of voice being diluted in digital communications today? Andy McCaul is director and co-founder of the Creative Digital Agency, The Bigger Boat. Andy has over 12 years experience in direct & digital marketing, SEO (natural & paid), conversion optimisation, business development and marketing strategy.

There’s no doubt tone of voice is a powerful tool and absolutely vital when engaging with customers – it could be pivotal when attracting prospects.

A strong tone of voice is central to successful brand building. It is the backbone of all written communication and helps to boost recognition and perception when creating engaging, digital messages that resonate with an organisation’s target audience.

With online conversations happening in real-time and at a rapid pace, communication needs to be instantaneous across various platforms. There is now an expectation from audiences to interact around-the-clock and – in turn – for them to receive personable responses that are familiar in tone of voice, regardless of the channel used.

However, in the face of increasing time pressures, those responsible for content creation can’t take their eyes off the ball. The tone of voice must remain uniformed and distinctive if it is to successfully make customers feel like they are part of their online community.

A thorough strategy can maintain tone of voice

Certain factors should be front and central to any content strategy in order to avoid dilution of communications in a digitally-led world. With the modern day make-up of a marketing team, a staff list could comprise full and part-time employees, as well as freelancers and support across various departments. They may work in-house or remotely and on a domestic or global scale. And each member of the team is creating content for that one brand.

To achieve uniformity and consistency with such a diverse workforce, implementing a framework at content strategy stage can prove hugely effective. It is important that steps are taken throughout the content creation process to ensure every single person involved in an organisation’s written communications sticks to tone of voice guidelines – without losing its character and uniqueness.

A well-thought-out strategy can underline values and take into account customer touchpoints so that organisations can better understand buyer personas too. Marketers can use the framework to learn from FAQs, content dos and don’ts, as well as examples of correct and incorrect tone of voice. This detailed strategy should also incorporate proofreading checklists, appoint tone of voice guardians, conduct regular audits and undertake reporting on how guides are being used.

Regularly reinforcing exactly what is needed for every piece of written content will ensure a brand is more efficient and knowledgeable of its customers too. Communicators should therefore consider introducing useful practical sessions and informal training for staff, to maintain structure as well as lead to a happy, developing workforce that feels valued.

Harnessing the power of social media

Following the incredible rise of many customers preferring to communicate with brands through social media channels, messaging now – more than ever – has to be word-perfect because everyone is watching.

Audiences are quick to lose faith in a brand if there are errors in posts or it’s written in a tone that does not match its character. It could undermine the organisation as well as hinder a relationship with customers and prospects. But a well-written strategy that includes multichannel platform messaging in-line with tone of voice can be a huge contributor to success online.

With social media channels, there is ample opportunity for the marketing team to tap into insights and analysis so they can measure how well messaging is being received – or not. If something isn’t landing with an audience on social media, this can be another key piece of information to show that online conversations are effectively weakened.

However, this is the point where the marketing team can learn and adjust if customers are not engaging online. There should not be a fear to be critical of tone of voice, structure and the level of interaction. It means that a brand can really pinpoint how its engagement methods can be improved upon and ensure conversation is not lost in translation.

It’s important to not just rely on an initial framework to make sure that brand tone of voice isn’t becoming diluted in communications. Organisations that constantly review language across all of their channels and put thorough measures in place to improve, can maintain an identity that is familiar and trusted. Such attention to detail leads to genuine interaction with its target audience and customer retention.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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