Passive voice isn’t a marketing topic per se. But you need to understand it. Otherwise, your messaging will fall flat.
Let’s discuss the procs and cons, so you can supercharge your content strategy.
What is passive voice?
With passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action. Meanwhile, active voice means the subject acts.
Let’s compare the two using an example…
- Passive: Upon the mat, there sat a cat
- Active: The cat sat on the mat
Both make sense. But the second example gives the cat (the subject of the sentence) second billing. Ultimately it lacks impact and won’t persuade your audience to act.
What is active voice?
Content should be audience focused. Passive voice destroys this centricity. The subject becomes a bit-part player instead of the lead actor.
- Passive voice: Our delicious food will be enjoyed by your family!
- Active voice: Your family will enjoy our delicious food!
The second example puts the customer in the frame – and is more likely to result in a booking than the second.
Removing passive voice from your content
Are you ready to eradicate this approach from your marketing copy? Then you’ll need to learn how to recognise it.
Tell-tale signs include:
- Using the word by to connect an action to a subject
- The food was cooked by our master chef
- A missing or inferred subject
- We were the first choice 98% of the time
‘Our master chef cooked the food’ focuses on the action focuses on the action. Whereas it’s the chef who’s the subject of the sentence. So, this claim lacks impact.
In the second example, a subject is missing. To whom does this 98% refer? Apart from lacking clarity the messaging seems evasive and is so unlikely to build trust.
Which is better, active or passive voice?
Let’s not turn passive voice into a trench coat-wearing, cigarette-smoking hoodlum. The kind with low-brimmed hats who frequent dark alleyways in old movies.
The technique is used in…
- Academic writing – where the art of persuasion is less critical than in marketing
- Technical writing – where the aim is to provide clear instruction to, say, an engineer
- Long copy (for example blogs or brochures) – infrequently and if the situation demands it
Although not a conversion tool, this approach can be effective in specific situations. So, don’t write it off (pun intended) completely.
Active voice is short, snappy, exciting and builds trust. Passive voice is the very opposite: bloated, boring, and sometimes dishonest.
Keen to nail your content? Then book a free consultation with one of our specialists.