Organic search engine optimisation—it’s the cost-effective way to get your content seen on search engine results pages. But what’s the use of being seen if your brand’s not being heard? Enter tone of voice.
What is tone of voice in marketing?
Traditionally referred to as “the way a person is speaking to someone” (Merriam Webster, 2023), tone of voice has developed to extend beyond people only.
As marketing continues to evolve, brands use tone of voice as a way to better resonate with their target audience. In other words, tone of voice in marketing can be defined as “how a brand communicates and connects with its audience through messaging and customer interactions” (Semrush, 2022).
It’s no longer just about what your brand message is but how your brand says it, to create meaningful and memorable experiences for your audience.
Brand voice vs tone of voice
‘Brand voice’ and ‘tone of voice’—you may have heard the two terms used interchangeably, although they both have very different meanings.
Brand voice considers your brand’s core visions, values and beliefs to outline the key messages of your brand. Brand voice relates to what your brand should say and why your brand should say it.
- What does your brand personality look like?
- What should your brand say to best reflect your brand’s personality?
- What should your brand not say to avoid being off-brand?
- Why should the audience care about your brand?
Tone of voice considers audience personas, content purpose and overall perception. In other words, this identifies who your brand wants to reach and how you can best achieve this.
- Who is your target audience?
- How does each buyer persona reflect your target audience?
- How can your brand reach each buyer persona using selected channels?
- How can your tone of voice content marketing resonate with your target audience?
Both brand voice and tone of voice should be accompanied by guardrails. Brand voice guidelines consider the overall positioning of your brand and its values to outline core marketing messages. Brand tone of voice guidelines regulates how these messages are expressed by the brand via each channel.
Why is tone of voice important in marketing?
From pre-purchase activity to post-purchase follow-up, your tone of voice should be present whenever your audience interacts with your brand.
A successful tone of voice in your marketing can ensure your brand is:
- Relatable: establishing a brand personality that resonates with your audience
- Memorable: helping to differentiate your brand from its competitors
- Engaging: keeping your brand at the forefront of your audience’s mind
- Recognisable: allowing your audience to identify your brand’s cross-channel
- Trustworthy: increasing your brand’s authenticity with a ‘human feel’
Not investing in tone of voice as part of your marketing can pose new challenges to your brand. Tone of voice inconsistencies can complicate the user experience, reduce brand recognition, lower brand trust and even cause misinterpretations, which may provoke your audience if construed negatively.
While tone of voice can take time, money and effort to develop, the decision to invest in best practices can contribute significantly to your overall brand and business success.
Where is tone of voice used?
From digital to traditional, a successful brand will always have a consistent approach to tone of voice in its marketing. Especially in a multi-channel approach where messages can be easily crowded by the competition.
Social media posts, emails, webpages, brochures and even in-store point-of-sale —each channel’s tone of voice should be adapted to suit its purpose, audience persona and intent.
Take paid media, for example, where the most effective campaigns need to strike a balance between terms that are in keeping with your brand personality and that resonate with your audience.
“Tone of voice defines your brand’s personality and helps people recognise and connect with it. A unique tone of voice stands out in the competitive online world.”
Rhiannon Jackson, Media Manager
Or consider creative services, where tone of voice is used to create unique content in a bid to capture the attention of the audience.
“Having a consistent brand tone of voice across all touchpoints—from ATL (above the line) advertising to website content and social media posts—helps reinforce brand recognition.
…If it’s not cohesive, the brand will appear disjointed and inauthentic.”
Becci Hodgson, Associate Creative Director
In fact, tone of voice content marketing is considered across all of our relevant service lines to ensure your brand has a clear and consistent presence at every touch point.
Why is tone of voice important in SEO?
Tone of voice helps bridge the gap between content that is engaging and content that is discoverable.
What does that mean?
Well, if you’re already producing quality content without SEO, there’s a chance your content could be working even harder to maximise your results.
Organic search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of making your content discoverable in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Implementing content with an effective SEO strategy can improve your content’s visibility within the SERPs—increasing the likelihood of clicks. In turn, an increase in organic traffic to your website can boost brand awareness and contribute towards overall business performance (including lead generation, conversions and revenue).
On the flip side…
What happens when you create content that’s strictly for SEO advantage?
Just as a monotonous voice makes for a boring speech, an uninspired approach to tone of voice content marketing can cause the reader to lose interest—and even take their custom elsewhere. Content should provide the reader with valuable information to ensure people-first content—an approach that cannot be achieved by SEO alone.
Enter the best of both worlds: tone of voice marketing and SEO. The ultimate combination of brand personality and SEO best practices allows your content to be found and enjoyed.
4 reasons to use tone of voice in SEO content
The combination of tone of voice and SEO can benefit brands of all shapes, sizes and nature. While some benefits may differ from brand to brand, four key advantages for all businesses include:
Brand and content consistency
Tone of voice should be consistent across all channels—and your on-site content is no different. Whether the traffic comes to your website from social media, the SERPs or direct, your user should be able to identify your brand at every stage of their journey. A strong brand identity will drive brand recognition to slowly but surely put your brand in front of mind.
Seamless SEO implementation
A clear SEO strategy alongside your tone of voice can boost the performance of your content. Defining this early can save time, avoid poor SEO practices (such as keyword stuffing) and create valuable content with topics your audience is actively searching for.
An opportunity to express your brand
Casual or formal, funny or serious, edgy or respectful—tone of voice dimensions encourage your audience to not only think but feel a certain way about your brand. Is your brand a start-up bank? Inspire confidence and comfort with a trustworthy tone. Or an established fashion brand? Excite your audience with a friendly tone.
Engaging your audience
Rumour has it that you only have eight seconds to engage your audience—which makes valuable content all the more important. Capture and keep the attention of your audience with content that can be seen, satisfies the user’s wants and serves the audience’s needs to reap the benefits for your business objectives.
How useful is AI in tone of voice content marketing?
We’re all aware of the incredible advancements of AI—but how does it hold up in the world of content? Well, the jury’s out.
Whether it’s Bard’s additional features to modify the chatbot’s responses or the plethora of tools to suggest new sentences, there is an abundance of handy programs to support content.
No matter how advanced, AI fails to acknowledge one major influence on your content: brand guardianship. Unlike humans, AI doesn’t understand the story behind your brand, nor the place it’s trying to get to—falling short of what your brand really stands for.
Our conclusion: AI is like having an automatic car. You don’t need an automatic car to get from A to B, but it certainly reduces the hassle of doing it all manually. Regardless, it’s always best to have an expert in the driver’s seat to steer your overall vision.
Standardise content best practices with RocketMill
Does your brand have something to say? Spread the word with content that resonates with your audience—at the right time and in the right place. From strategies and ideation to creation, our SEO services provide all the expertise your business needs to create a return on your content investment.
To enquire about search engine optimisation or any other services, contact us online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.