How to define your target audience and choose the best tone of voice for your emails

Why companies should choose a tone of voice and stick to it

Updated on November 4, 2019

It is hard to imagine that somebody would question the importance of addressing the right audience with the right words. However, when it comes to email marketing, companies may forget about the need to stick to their tone of voice, perceiving this channel mostly as a way to tell their leads about special offers, discounts, etc.

Such ignorance will lead to missed opportunities. When sending letters, you initiate a one-to-one conversation with your readers, and get a chance to establish a closer relationship with them. With a message crafted in a way that does not resonate with people, you are most likely to be ignored.

It is easier to align all public materials if you already have brand guidelines. But if not, you should figure out how you will shape your message. For that, it is necessary to learn whom you want to reach out to.

Defining your core audience

Not all companies start with identifying problems relevant for a particular group of people that have something in common. Sometimes a product or service comes first, and then it looks for its customers. Or, primarily created with a thought of another target group, it may find its customers elsewhere, or may not – until a company chooses the right audience. It is a pretty normal situation. While for some businesses it is easy to identify a customer profile, there are companies where you need to rack your brain for that. For example, a paperwriting company would definitely target students, while a clothing marketplace may have two or more profiles of a typical seller.

What value do you provide?

In any case, to find out who might be interested in your offer, you need to start with defining a value you provide, which is a sum of your actual product or service and the feeling it gives to its owners. For example, it might be boosted confidence or the joy of being accepted.

Who is your average target customer?

Then you have to imagine who might be in need of that value and who would enjoy your offer. You'll need to define the age range, income, family status and other characteristics for your target audience. But after that try to imagine a person that would embody your vision of your customer. Give them a name, think what they wish for, what they lack, how they spend their free time, what hobbies they have. The best way to discover this information is by actually talking to your customers!

When reaching out to a customer, even an imaginary one, it will be easier for you to develop the right tone of voice and write engaging letters.

Where to look for data about your real audience?

A good option is to find out more about your existing audience. You probably have a purchase history with necessary data. Analyze it carefully, as your guesses may not match the real picture. You can also survey your customers to get details you lack and research the competition.

How to use the data you collected for choosing your tone of voice?

Although the tone of voice reflects your company's "personality," you should develop it with a view to your customers and speak the language that resonates with them.

So now, when you have collected some data about your audience, imagine that you need to talk to one of your customers over the phone or face-to-face. This way it will be easier for you to find the right words. Record your imaginary conversation and analyze it. Have you used slang? Could you avoid using special terminology? How have you constructed your sentences? Could you joke? Write down your observations.

To get a fuller picture, you can observe how your customers think and behave. Look at your social media accounts. People usually share their opinions there and communicate with your company directly. Pay attention to what language they speak and try to find out what they have in common.

Read and listen to messages your customers leave when contacting your customer support. Are there any situations that occur repeatedly? Analyze your customers’ behavior and reactions.

When you are done, make a conclusion based on your observations and decide what tone of voice would be the most appropriate and clear for your target customer. Everything should be documented in a tone of voice guide, which must be shared across all departments. To become familiar to your customers and gain their trust you have to be consistent meaning that employees that email marketers and content managers, for example, have to follow the same guidelines.

Summing things up

Using the right tone of voice for your target audience is crucial for your success, since reaching out to no one in particular does not help to build relationship of trust with people you want to sell your product or service to.

While developing your tone of voice, you have to learn more about your existing customers and not to rely on your ideas about them. It does not mean you have to adapt your company values and vision precisely to your core clients like there is no need to change your personality when getting through to different people in your everyday life.

The point is to find the right way to convey your message to the target audience.

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