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Tone of Voice

As marketers, the tone of voice we use in our copywriting really matters. The right product presented using the wrong tone of voice can entirely kill the sale.

Many companies think about the tone of voice in terms of the brand’s tone of voice and while we see a correlation we exclusively think of the tone of voice in terms of the nature of the product you are selling. For example, as a brand, you might be selling two versions of the same basic product– one on the premium end of the spectrum and the other on the discount end. In this instance, your overall brand may have its own voice but these two products have their own distinct voices.

Why Tone of Voice Matters

People discover your product because they have a problem they are looking to solve. But a first-time buyer doesn’t know who you are. They are nervous about forking money over to a site that they, nor any of their friends, have ever heard about. Sure you have 340 reviews on this product page, but can I be certain these aren’t fake?

This is what the buyer is up against.

So our brains have developed sensitivity to subtle cues. One of the cues we rely on is tone. If I’m buying a serious product like a room air purifier and if it’s presented in a very casual way that’s going to conflict with my expectation. My expectation is that an air purifier is a dead serious product therefore I expect the person selling it to demonstrate expertise.

Let’s not look at a few live examples.

Tone of Voice Example 1

This screenshot is below a health supplement. The copy’s tone of voice is creating a casual and slightly funny environment.

Beet Root Example of Tone of Voice

But is that the right tone? Since it’s a supplement would readers respond better to a serious and knowledgeable tone?

Tone of Voice Example 2

I find this piece too “bubbly” for my taste:

Cashews Example of Tone of Voice

But I could be totally wrong. It’s possible that actual buyers totally love it.

So those were two examples of tone of voice, next, we’ll list all possible options.

Possible Tones of Voice

  • Joyful and friendly
  • Encouraging
  • Confident and assertive (this is the one we like best)

A/B Testing Tone of Voice

Don’t make the mistake of locking your team in a room for a week to find the perfect tone of voice. Your team will likely get it wrong and defining things by committee is a bad idea anyway. A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

There is a much better approach. Identify your most important page and create a few tones of voice variations. Remember, you aren’t changing your Selling Angles, only the tone of voice is being modulated. By keeping everything else the same and just altering this one variable and A/B testing it, you’ll be able to get a clear signal on what tone of voice works for your sales pitch in this instance.

What to Do Once Tone of Voice Is Found?

Once you’ve A/B tested and found the right tone of voice for your brand on the product page you can update the tone for the whole site.

This insight will also have a massive impact on the effectiveness of your advertising. Only a small percentage of people who see your ad end up clicking through to your site. Maybe 10%. So if your updated tone of voice is working on the 10% imagine how much more effective it would be to the remaining 90% if it was presented at the ad level itself?

Next Steps

Now that you’ve identified that tone of voice that works for your brand you need to think about how the content is presented to the buyer. That topic is covered in this article: Impact of Content Design on Conversion Rates.


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