To hit your conversion targets, you need content that motivates your audience to act. A strategic point of view will help you accomplish that.
In the B2B space, you or others in your company may have concerns about your POV. Should you avoid a conversational tone? Is it better to be formal or personal? Be deliberate in selecting a POV that can attract and engage prospects through the long term.
In case you have better things to do than geek out over grammar, here’s a quick refresher on the three POVs:
- First person uses “I,” “my,” and “we.”
- Second person refers to the audience as “you.”
- Third person calls the audience “they” or “them” and frequently uses the company’s name.
Let’s explore each point of view and when to use each to better engage your audience and boost conversions.
Third person creates barriers between you and your audience
You may prefer to use a formal tone when speaking with your audience. After all, you’re selling to executives and other sophisticated B2B buyers.
You might think that the third person sounds more professional than the other voices. Since journalists write in the third person, this voice can also seem objective.
However, using the third person in your content holds your audience at a distance. When people read your copy, they’re less likely to see themselves. They’ll think of someone else.
If audience members don’t think you’re speaking directly to them, they may question whether you can solve their challenges.
A recent study confirmed that using the third person creates barriers. In the study, participants who experienced anxiety talked about themselves in the third person. Using this voice created distance between participants and their negative emotions, helping them calm their anxiety.
According to the study, “(T)hird-person self-talk leads people to think about the self, similar to how they think about others, which provides them with the psychological distance needed to facilitate self-control.”
While this technique may help with anxiety, it does the opposite of what you want to happen when your audience consumes your content. You need readers to feel their pain points so they realize they need your help.
Using the third person can also make your content sound stuffy. If you mention your company or product a lot, you may come across as self-focused instead of audience focused. No one wants to be around someone who talks about themselves all the time.
You can check how well your content focuses on your audience with the free Customer Focus Calculator. Enter a link to any page on your site and the tool calculates the percentage of space devoted to talking about your company vs. your audience. Your results may be eye opening.
Of course, there are exceptions. Here are some formats where the use of third person makes sense:
- Case studies or other content where you talk about a customer and position them as the hero
- White papers or research reports where you want to convey a formal, objective tone (If you want your white paper to nurture leads, consider using the second person to draw readers in and get them to take the next step.)
Follow the POV Golden Rule: Start with second person
Addressing your readers as “you” is a best practice in content marketing.
Addressing your readers as “you” is a best practice for #contentmarketing, says @B2BTechCopy via @CMIContentCLICK TO TWEETHere’s why: Using the word “you” draws readers into your content. It makes your voice more conversational and allows readers to visualize themselves in your story.
It also motivates audiences to take action. A study by the University of Illinois confirmed this. It examined whether using first or second person would motivate students to exercise. Students in the second person group, e.g., “You can do it,” exercised more in two weeks and generally had a better attitude than the first person group. (A more recent study echoed this finding.)
Want to make your content better? Write (or rewrite) it in second person.
Use first person in these 2 places
Popular bloggers such as Neil Patel use first person POV. This voice can make articles more personal and help readers connect with your stories.
First person POV is effective in blog posts or other content where you want to:
- Share your personal experiences and lessons learned.
- Discuss your challenges and how you overcame them.
- Talk about tests you conducted and the results you achieved.
- Voice a strong opinion.
Another great place to use the first person is on call-to-action buttons. Studies have shown that adding the words “I,” “me,” or “my” to them boosts conversions.
For example, Unbounce saw a 90% increase in conversions when it changed the pronoun on the button from “your” to “my” – “Start your free 30 day trial” to “Start my free 30 day trial.” All other elements on the page remained the same.
Although Unbounce conducted this test several years ago, it still uses first person today:
Will this work for you? Change the copy on one of your CTA buttons to first person. Then, see if your conversion rate improves.
However, you should limit the use of “I” and “we” in your other content. Overusing these words puts the focus on your company – not on your audience.
Point of view is an often-overlooked aspect of B2B content. But when you think strategically about your POV, you can improve the quality of your content so that you can engage more B2B audience members and turn them into customers.
Try for yourself. Find an underperforming blog article, newsletter subject line, social media post, infographic, landing page, or call-to-action button. Change your POV to see if you can boost your conversion rates.
Have you experimented with the POV in your content? If so, what have you learned from your results? Share your insights in the comments section.
Rachel Foster is a B2B copywriter and the CEO of Fresh Perspective Copywriting. Since 2009, she has helped B2B tech marketers improve their response rates, clearly communicate complex messages and generate high-quality leads. She has also presented at Content Marketing World and taught B2B copywriting for MarketingProfs. Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn or check out her B2B marketing resources at www.freshperspectivewriting.com.