Does your website content confuse visitors or inspire them to take action?
The single most crucial function of any business website is to get people to act, whether it involves calling you, emailing you, buying your product online, or getting off their butts and into your store. Writing in the passive voice is often awkward and confusing, and does not induce desired action.
Good writers of any kind (fiction, articles, blog posts, or web copy) know that writing in the active voice is more engaging, concise and clear than writing in the passive voice. But how can a business owner without a writing background tell the difference between the two?
The Passive Voice
What does the passive voice look like? In passive writing, the subject and object trade places, meaning the object falls at the end of the sentence. It also usually includes some form of ‘to be’ (is, are, am, was, were, has been, have been, had been, will be, will have been, being), followed by a past participle (a verb that typically ends in –ed).
“Colourful, snug and breathable superhero underpants are sold by our superhero clothing company.” In this sentence, the company is the object, and the underpants are the subject.
Technically, the passive voice is grammatically correct, but experienced writers avoid it because it often reads awkwardly and interrupts the flow of a composition. In many cases, it’s also less concise, which, as we’ve discussed before, is not ideal for web writing.
The Active Voice
Writing in the active voice puts the object in a clearer position in your sentence, and uses active verbs.
For example, the passive sentence above becomes:
“Our superhero clothing company sells colourful, snug and breathable superhero underpants.” This version sounds a lot smoother and more direct, doesn’t it?
Calls to Action
Writing in the active voice is especially important when you compose your calls to action.
What is a call to action? A call to action is a sentence (or two) that persuades the reader to act. It usually falls at the end of a page, or in a prominent area such as a bright button in the top corner or side column. After you’ve explained why your business is the best choice (using the active voice wherever possible), the call to action encourages your website visitor to act on the information received, and hopefully give you his or her business.
An example of a call to action written in the passive voice:
“Want our colourful, snug and breathable superhero underpants to be enjoyed by your nether regions? Order today!”
A much more concise and active version:
“Your nether regions will enjoy our colourful, snug and breathable superhero underpants. Order today!”
Here are more examples of the passive voice transformed into the active voice.
The meat dress was worn by Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga wore the meat dress.
The milkshake was regurgitated by the toddler.
The toddler regurgitated the milkshake.
This article was written by a Webcopyplus copywriter.
A Webcopyplus copywriter wrote this article.