Tone in all the right places: the little moments that matter

You're always talking to your customers. Sometimes those conversations are loud and clear – say, on your product packaging, your newsletter or your homepage. But what about the other, less sparkling places?

Let's say a customer is doing something pretty boring, like filling out a form. Or they go off-piste and end up on an FAQ page. These aren't obvious places for your tone of voice to shine through – but they're often brilliant opportunities to make a big impact. 

Here are five ways of turning a (usually) forgettable interaction into a memorable one:

1. Newsletter sign-up forms

Wherever you go online, you're never far from a brand trying to capture your email address. So it makes sense to add a reassuring tone to newsletter sign-up forms. 

Non-profit charity:water do this neatly. They manage expectations (by saying what you'll get when you sign up) and use language that appeals to their audience (people who want to make an "impact" and do something "worthwhile"). 

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Shinesty use their youthful, no-bullshit tone and a punchy up-front message to win over subscribers. The supporting microcopy at the bottom is the icing on the cake: "By clicking that button you'll 1) confirm you're a genius and 2) start getting our award-winning product updates."

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2. Microcopy on forms

The right microcopy can have a huge impact on conversions. In other words, getting these short words and phrases spot on is the difference between people doing just what you want them to, and abandoning the process. Although tone should never get in the way of conveying important practical information, forms are still an excellent place to surprise and delight your customers with a touch of personality.

See how fashion brand Monki keep things chatty and cheeky...

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3. Automated emails

We're used to getting bland confirmation emails after we've bought something online. But Ocado go a bit further – adding some warmth to their customer journey. Here's an email they sent me last week.

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While I didn't really think that Ivor in the Cabbage Van would take the time to email me personally (I'm sure he would if he could – he had immaculate manners and delivered my shopping right on time), I still appreciated the effort Ocado went to in making their emails personalised, clear and friendly.

 

4. FAQs

It's unsettling to find a brand suddenly sound very different to how you expect. For example, if you stumble across an FAQ page that reads like it's been written by the legal team on a particular dreary day in February. Keeping your tone seamless across all communications can add authenticity and give people reassurance when they need it most.

Online bank Simple are true to their name when it comes to tone – they keep their FAQs simple, no-nonsense and conversational. 

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Graze.com keep up their friendly, optimistic tone, even in the most annoying of situations like the dreaded forgotten password.

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5. Error messages

No one likes the error message of doom. No matter how you spin it, it generally means that somebody messed up.

Gumtree Australia perfectly illustrate how a bit of well-placed personality can make people feel less abandoned during this dark and difficult time (our deepest sympathies).

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