B2B Marketing Tips – Web Content Writing Tips for B2B Brands
April 18, 2019
Writing memorable B2B marketing content is often not considered to be as exciting or important as in B2C. Many businesses believe their ‘products talk for themselves’, or their audience ‘doesn’t have the time or the interest’ in reading marketing content. Or ‘it’s the job of sales to sell the product’, not marketing.
But what if they don’t get as far as the sales rep before switching off? According to Forrester, 60% of B2B buyers would rather not communicate with sales reps as their primary information source. Decisions are often made prior to engaging with sales, with 68% of B2B customers preferring to research independently online. So, those initial content touchpoints are becoming more important in influencing B2B purchasing decisions.
These purchasing decisions are made by humans. And humans – in a business setting, or as a consumer – base decisions on a balance of logic and emotion. Logically, they connect with products and businesses through the facts they are supplied – features and benefits, performance data, case studies, and previous experience. Emotionally, positive and memorable experiences with products and businesses can energise often mundane B2B purchasing decisions.
And memorable B2B content can help. 47% of B2B buyers consume between three to five pieces of content before contacting a business. So there’s plenty of opportunity to educate, entertain, and build trust with potential buyers before you’ve even spoken to them. Here are some tips on creating memorable B2B content.
Show the value
There should be one or two things that the reader takes away, wants to show others, and returns to as a reference point. The information shouldn’t just rely on listing features, benefits, and performance data.
Case studies and testimonials place products and services in real life contexts, allowing potential customers to understand how they are used in a transformative way. Comparisons with previous models or competitor products quantify the benefits. Infographics condense useful KPIs into visual, memorable resources that can be easily shared.
Target your content
Smart content should resonate with your target audience, and it’s often worth tailoring content to a segmented audience to target specific pain points and objectives. Content can be tailored by sector, job function, territory, size of business, stage of growth, or a market trend. Essentially, the reader needs to think ‘this brand gets me, this product can help me get where I need to go.’
Make it easy to read
When researching, it’s likely a reader is scanning the page for some quick takeaways – possibly comparing to competitors’ products. They probably don’t have time to read masses of information – it’s estimated that the average person spends just 37 seconds reading a piece of online content. So make it as concise and scan-friendly as possible.
Can five paragraphs be cut down to three? Or one, for that matter. Paragraphs should be bite-size chunks that can be easily scan-read. Aim for four lines maximum. Use bold text to emphasise key information. Use bullet points, headings, and sub-headings. And the shorter the better for mobile screens, with 52% of buyers prefer to consume B2B content on mobile.
Use creative writing tools
Just as video marketing can take inspiration from screenwriters and designers can divulge trends from visual arts, B2B marketing writers can use similar tools to those used by creative writers. Here are a few writing tools that should be in every B2B content writer’s toolkit:
Alliteration – You can’t underestimate the allure of alliteration (see?). It should never be the basis of a brainy B2B blurb. But smart scribes squeeze it into their scrawl. Seriously, alliteration is actually very powerful when used in short, sharp bursts, such as in headings, subheadings, email subjects and straplines. It shouldn’t detract from the meaning of the sentence. But it is a subconscious switch, which makes copy catchier. Mailchimp is a master.
Rhythm – There is actual science behind the importance of rhythm in writing. Essentially, writing with rhythm is more pleasing to read. It stimulates the brain. Writing can stutter and stumble. It can flow softly, or pick up pace. In music, tone length and silences between tones define rhythm. In writing, rhythm is defined by punctuation and the stress patterns of words in a sentence. Long sentences sound smoother, while short sentences make content snappier, and provides emphasis.
When each sentence follows the same structure and rhythm, writing becomes boring. Use a combination of short and longer sentences to change the pace. Read the content aloud to a colleague, and ask questions after to see if they pick up the main points. Good rhythm should emphasise where these points are.
The Rule of Three – Three is known as the magic number in writing. Used in bullet point form, in a sentence, or broken up into separate impactful sentences, using three points of note has an impact on the reader. When describing something – the benefits of a new product, for instance – a list of three is most effective. Two isn’t quite enough, four is too many.
Something that’s ‘innovative, efficient, and easy to install’, sounds more appealing than something which is just ‘innovative and easy to install’, and less salesy than something which is ‘innovative, efficient, easy to install, and durable.’ See below for an excellent example from the New Pig B2B eCommerce site.
Appeal to the senses… – As with the above tools, there is science behind the use of sensual words, which trigger the brain to act in certain ways. Essentially, just as teachers should be aware of different learning styles, writers can appeal to readers in the same way: through visual, aural, and kinesthetic (touch or movement) sensations. This may sound complicated, but in practice it’s not.
Visual phrases such as ‘look at it this way,’ ‘from your company’s perspective’, or ‘picture how success looks’ will resonate more with visual readers. What ‘rings a bell’ or ‘sounds right’ might be ‘music to the ears’ of aural learners. And asking kinesthetic readers what ‘feels right,’ what their ‘gut feeling’ is, or to ‘stay in touch’ are more interesting hooks than ‘is this for you?’ or ‘contact us’.
…And emotions — Emotion is an underrated tool in B2B marketing. Emotional factors such as trust, confidence, and reassurance can be powerful differentiators for B2B brands. Most B2B marketing focuses on the value that a solution provides to the business. However, many B2B buyers struggle to differentiate between potential suppliers on this basis alone.
With longer B2B buying cycles and large, diverse decision groups, the ability to stimulate an emotional response at scale is tough. But subtle emphasis on emotive language can help. Nostalgia, sadness, and humour are three examples that can affect B2B buyers on an individual level, but don’t always go down well in the boardroom. Confidence, optimism, and potential are more likely to resonate and build C-suite trust in a supplier.
Stimulate readers to be ‘industry leaders’ with your product, help them ‘imagine success’, and ‘picture this business in five years’ supported by your service. ‘The Future of…’ articles were the most read in B2B throughout 2018, so clearly the B2B audience has aspiration, and is forward-thinking. It’s the perfect opportunity for content writers to spark a conversation, and leave a lasting impression.
As commerce experts with vast experience working with B2B enterprises, LiveArea helps brands enable innovation, growth, and competitive advantage in an increasingly digital and technology-savvy marketplace. We apply strategy, design, technology, and digital marketing to address the challenges and opportunities facing B2B brands today across their businesses.