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.
Here’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.) – Read more