“We’re great and here are the reasons why”. Buyers will quickly switch off to suppliers that just want to talk about themselves. They want you show them how your solution solves their problems.
The halcyon days of the B2B sales rep on the road have long gone. Buyers are online and they have control of the digital levers. Organisations in buying mode do their research online and they rely on trusted content to find solutions for their business problems. Brands without a B2B copywriting and content plan risk being left in the digital wilderness.
The DemandGen 2020 Content Preferences Study found that 67% of buyers said that they were leaning more heavily on content to educate and inform their purchasing decisions compared with the previous year. They read on average 13 pieces of content before they make a decision, according to research by FocusVision. Your B2B copywriting matters.
But it’s noisy out there. To create persuasive content that converts you’ll need sharp B2B copywriting skills to make your content stand out on the digital shelf. So we thought it would be helpful to share 10 proven tips to improve your writing. It’s not as niche and as complicated as you think. People buy from people, so the tactics you use for your B2C copy are similar. But there are subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences in the way you should approach creating content for a B2B audience. Let’s get started.
1. Know your audience
Do your research to understand what makes buyers tick and why they make the decisions they do. Create a buyer persona (a type of avatar) for the different types of people that come together as a buying group, or make independent purchasing decisions. You could end up with 3 to 5 personae for the different buyers that work for your ideal customer. These will inform everything – from the tone you adopt to the topics you write about to the formats and channels you use to share your content. There’s some useful information here on how to get started.
2. Know your market
There’s more research to do here to understand the challenges, issues and trends that are shaping B2B buying decisions. You’ll need to understand the complexities and nuances of your sector and key verticals. Your persona research will help you answer some of these questions:
- what types of topics would resonate with your target audience?
- where does your ideal buyer go for their content?
- what types of content are your competitors producing?
- what are your competitors and influencers saying on social?
- what do the experts in your industry say?
- what types of content attracts links and shares?
3. Be where your customers are
As we mentioned earlier, B2B buyers read on average 13 pieces of content before they make a buying decision. About eight of these pieces are written by the vendor and five are from a third party, according to the FocusVision research. And here’s the thing: seven out of 10 marketing professionals say that they head straight to a supplier’s website to find the information they need. The quality of the content on your website is a top priority. But don’t stop there. Buying journeys aren’t linear and they don’t begin and end on your website.
Think about the content buyers will encounter at every touchpoint on multiple channels. It could be a Facebook ad, a blog post, a case study, an eBook or the content in your email subscription box. If they don’t find valuable content that answers their information needs, whatever stage of the journey they are at, then your competitors are only a click away.
4. Use your content to have a ‘one-to-one’ conversation
The bigger the company the more people involved in a buying decision. But still focus your writing on an individual persona type. B2B purchasing is a complex process. Just over a third of B2B buyers (35%) told DemandGen that there were between 4 – 6 decision makers involved in their most recent purchase. For larger organisations as many as 10 different stakeholders could be involved. You will find it impossible to write a single piece of content that is tailored for everyone. Think about which persona is going to find a piece of content the most valuable. For example, if you are writing a piece on employee engagement – then are you writing it for your persona that works in HR?
5. Show don’t tell
“We’re great, and here are the reasons why”. Buyers will quickly switch off to suppliers that just want to talk about themselves. They want you to show them how your solution solves their problems. They don’t want you to tell them. Case studies, which are really useful to buyers at the consideration or decision stage, are a powerful content tool. But all too often, we see case studies that only tell the reader what a great job the supplier did.
Use storytelling and build the narrative from the customer’s point of view. How did your solution help them overcome their challenges? Quantify positive outcomes. Use supportive quotes, so the customer tells their own story. Prospects will empathise with their peers. And they trust them to do the talking for you. This brings us to tip #5.
6. Use social proof
Let’s get back to DemandGen on this. Its survey discovered that 61% of B2B buyers agree that they now rely more on peer recommendations and review sites. Include user-generated content and testimonials in your B2B copywriting to let others do the talking for you.
7. Make your content snackable and relevant
You’ll know from your own inbox and social feeds that there is a relentless stream of content from people that want to sell you something. But what makes you open an email? What makes you click through?
We’ll bet the house on the fact that it’s because the content is personalised – curiosity gets the better of you. Or you can quickly gauge whether it’s something that is valuable or interesting to you. The writer probably gets to the point quickly and uses a hook to grab your attention.
B2B buyers are busy people. Make sure your content is hard-to-ignore, skimmable and digestible in bite-size chunks. Okay so now we’re getting onto what you say and how you say it.
8. Use a memorable, consistent tone of voice
The most effective B2B copywriters are adept at talking in the same language as their audience. And this doesn’t mean buttoned up and formal. B2B buyers have changed. Don’t make your content sound like an annual report from the 1990s or put on a ‘telephone voice’. This won’t make you sound more professional. Use the same language that the people that you are writing for use at work. It’ll be similar to the everyday language that you use.
10. Avoid industry-speak
Write in plain English and avoid using jargon and lots of acronyms. You’ll want to make your content accessible and easy to understand. You may be writing for a business audience but not everybody will understand (or want to understand) the (annoying) industry-speak that gets used in B2B copywriting.
One final tip…
Don’t forget to include at least one compelling call-to-action on your website pages, in your blog posts, on your landing pages, in your ads and social posts. We don’t want all that hard work to go to waste.
What works for you? Do you have any tips to share to help our readers improve their B2B copywriting? Let us know in the Comments section below. Need help with your B2B copywriting? Check out our B2B copywriting service.