Choosing The Right Person – CopywritingJanuary 14th 2014 Sally Ormond conversational writing, copywriting, writing in the second person
First, second or third?
Deciding which person is right for your copywriting will have a dramatic effect on how your content is perceived:
- First – personal
- Second – inclusive, conversational, directed at the reader
- Third – inward looking, self serving
When it comes to website copywriting your choice of person will have a big impact on your reader.
Copy written in house generally opts for the third person, but then it’s all about your business and not about your customers.
As far as I’m concerned, all website copy (in fact all copy full stop) should be written in the second person.
Second person builds relationships
You use the internet to find information.
When you land on a website, your hope is that it will answer all your questions. But if the first line is:
“We’ve been in business umpteen years and are really good at what we do.”
It’s not going to fill you with a lot of confidence and you’ll head off to look elsewhere.
For example, say you were looking for a web designer, you’re much more likely to contact the company whose website states:
“Do you want more traffic?
“Are you fed up because you can’t update your website whenever you want?
“We’ll help you by creating a modern, flexible website that can be updated easily and that will attract visitors. What’s more, because you’re unique, your website will be designed to suit your needs; we won’t shoe horn you into any pre-existing templates.
“Call us today for a chat.”
Now they sound like a company that understands your problems, is willing to listen to you and will provide you with the solution you need.
Their conversation style is in plain English (absolutely no jargon) and makes them sound approachable.
This style shouldn’t just be reserved for your Home page. You should also use it on your About, Services, Contact and every other page on your website.
When it comes to how you should refer to yourself – whether it should be “I” or “we” – that depends on your business. Using “we” creates the illusion of a big company (or at least one that’s more than a one man band) and could be useful when trying to attract bigger clients. But if you are your business (i.e. a business consultant etc.) and you trade on your reputation, “I” would be a better bet.
So, in summary, if you want your copy to work:
- Always use the second person
- Write in a conversational style
- Don’t use jargon or technical terms