10 Tips for Better B2B Copywriting
In a sea of bland, overly technical communication, well-crafted B2B copy can help your organization stand apart from its competitors.
Here are our top 10 tips for effective B2B copywriting, whether you’re creating web pages or marketing collateral.
Tip #1: Start Strong
There’s a lot of competition for your digital audience’s attention. Over 4 million blog posts are created every day, and even when someone clicks on your post, the average reader will spend only 37 seconds reading it before clicking away.
Start off with a bang to ensure your readers have a reason to keep scrolling. Use innovative language and strong value propositions to help your message stand out.
In the example below, Autodesk condenses the value of its product offerings into an inspiring, benefit-oriented, two-word headline.
Tip #2: Keep It Simple and Avoid Technical Jargon
B2B content is geared toward specific audiences with specialized expertise, so it’s tempting to overload B2B copywriting with terminology benefitting your audience. However, it’s important not to get bogged down with technical jargon.
Don’t be afraid to use everyday language—no need to utilize the word “utilize” when “use” can get the job done. View Tendo’s worst jargon offenders to get a sense of which words and phrases might be clogging up your copy.
On a related note, make sure to streamline your copy so that it isn’t weighed down by too many adjectives and long lists of features and benefits. To test your copy’s readability, you can use free tools such as WebFx’s Readability Test Tool.
The internet makes it so easy to scroll past long paragraphs, or just click away onto a more breathable site. Being selective in your messaging will ensure that you’re engaging your reader, instead of overwhelming them with too much information.
In this data sheet from BMC, the author describes a complex IT security system in readable, everyday language. The bullets allow for quick scanning, and the subhead concisely features the three top user benefits.
Remember, if you try to cram in everything you could possibly say about a product, the reader will ultimately take away nothing.
Tip #3: Know Your Target Audience
Every business has a specific target audience (or audiences) that they hope to attract. Find out what your audience cares about and speak to their needs in the content you create.
It’s impossible to please everyone, and that’s especially true in content marketing. In his seminal book This Is Marketing, Seth Godin makes a case for narrowing your focus to the smallest viable market:
“The challenge for most people who seek to make an impact isn’t winning over the mass market. It’s the micro market. They bend themselves into a pretzel trying to please the anonymous masses before they have 50 or 100 people who would miss them if they were gone.”
To start speaking to your micro market, familiarize yourself with their existing technical expertise. If they’re already conversant in certain acronyms and technical details, then you should reflect that in your copy. Doing so will build trust and credibility in your understanding of their industry and challenges.
Another way to get to know your audience is to develop buyer personas for your different target customers. These personas can help you keep track of the backgrounds, priorities, pain points, and purchasing behaviors of your audience types.
On Keysight Technologies’ homepage, visitors get the opportunity to self-select their skill set as soon as they land on the page. This is a great way to ensure that your specific audience type will land on the information that’s been written just for them.
Figure out the personas you’re hoping to attract, and write for them first and foremost.
Tip #4: Focus on Your Reader, Not Your Company
Now that you know who your audience is, you can take the next step: putting them first.
How many times have you been overwhelmed by a company’s rambling marketing-speak about its own successes while searching for (and failing to find) specific data to help inform your purchasing decision?
It’s a mistake that’s easy to make. Most businesses are proud of their origin stories and company values, as well they should be. However, it’s important to put yourselves in the shoes of your readers: What do they care about? What do they need to know before they can make an informed decision? How can your products or services make their lives easier or more profitable?
Salesforce’s Trailhead landing page refrains from overly promotional messaging, choosing instead to shine the spotlight on the Salesforce audience. How? By focusing on how its platform can help developers gain skills, earn credentials, and find jobs.
One way to put your readers first is to be mindful of where they are in their buyer journey. Are they just getting introduced to your brand, or are they looking to gain a deeper level of your service offerings? Align your copy to specific stages of the B2B buyer journey so that their needs are getting met at every stage.
Shifting from a product-focused mindset to an audience-focused mindset can make your B2B content attract, engage, and delight your readers.
Tip #5: Strike a Balance in Your Copy
B2B copywriting is all about balance. First off, make sure to refrain from overly detailed descriptions so that you’re not overwhelming your audience with dense, lengthy text. However, you also want to ensure that your content is detailed enough to serve its primary purpose in informing key stakeholders and motivating them to purchase.
Here are a few more goals to balance as a B2B copywriter:
• Tell a story, but get to the point quickly.
• Incorporate data, but make it relevant.
• Be professional, but still sound human.
• State your points clearly, but also creatively.
• Feature SEO keywords, but in an organic way.
In the example below, Adobe strikes a balance between authoritative and relatable. After establishing its credibility, Adobe shifts toward the user benefits of its Acrobat software. And by treating keywords as stylized icons, it incorporates them in a natural way.
Tip #6: Showcase Your B2B Market Expertise
B2B buyers are well-informed and often experts in their field. To gain their trust, you must achieve a level of comfort and expertise in their field.
Do your research so you can speak on your topic with confidence and authority: Find thought leaders in your industry to learn how they think; comb the news to stay on top of relevant events.
In addition, make sure to showcase expertise and thought leadership from executives and influencers within your company. Use blog posts, eBooks, and social media to show that your organization is tapped into industry trends and innovations.
If you can snag a ranking from industry experts like Gartner or Forrester, that’s marketing gold. Lastly, you can gain credibility by partnering with B2B influencers who are recognized experts in their field.
HubSpot has established its thought leadership with the HubSpot Academy, which provides online guides and certifications in inbound marketing and sales. In the example below, HubSpot highlights its academy’s offerings with an empowering, action-oriented headline.
Tip #7: Keep Your Marketing Material Fresh and Original
All that glitters is not gold. While clichés are a dime a dozen, they should be avoided like the plague.
Readers will tune out boring, overused phrases, so shake things up to keep them at attention.
CRM company Zendesk has gone above and beyond with its musical marketing initiative, a band called Zendesk Alternative. Sound fake? That’s because it is.
Tip #8: Incorporate Humor into B2B Copywriting
Don’t let “B2B” stand for Boring & Basic! While it’s important to maintain a professional tone in this sphere—and to adhere to your brand’s voice and tone—remember that B2B buyers are people, not robots. A little humor will personalize your brand and help you stand out from the crowd.
In the example below, Workato leverages the convention of an asterisked four-letter-word to draw attention to the most dreaded four-letter word of all: work! This is a great, novel way to turn heads and capture interest quickly, which is especially crucial for a billboard.
Tip #9: Write for Your Medium
Make sure that your copy is tailored to its medium: the way it will be presented to and experienced by your readers. What works well for a brochure may not translate to a digital format, and vice versa. What works well for a case study could crowd a social media program, where concision is key. Similarly, the level of detail needed for a product landing page may overwhelm a campaign page.
In general, short and sweet works best for digital content. This is especially key for B2B writers, considering that 50% of B2B inquiries are now conducted from mobile versus desktop. Keeping your audience’s small phone screens in mind will help you cut to the chase and murder your darlings.
On Slack’s homepage, the company sums up its product offerings into a simple, five-word headline:
Although your work may span many different channels and media, strive to keep the journey related so that all touchpoints have a similar tone and voice. This helps to build cohesion in the buyer’s journey by creating a more unified brand experience.
Tip #10: Humanize Your B2B Content with Emotion and Authenticity
B2B copywriting often suffers from a robotic, stilted tone. While maintaining professionalism is key, there is always room to inject a bit of playfulness and brand personality.
In Instapage’s homepage hero below, it uses a refreshingly honest phrase for their CTA: “Convince me.” By acknowledging its potential buyer’s inherent skepticism in a new service, Instapage goes a long way toward bridging that divide and establishing an authentic brand voice.
Here are some specific ways you can humanize your B2B content:
- Use everyday language
- Employ a conversational tone
- Highlight your service’s real-world value
- Introduce the people behind the business
- Share client success stories and quotes
When your copy sounds like it was written by an actual human, it will strike a chord with the humans who read it.
If you’re still reading, thanks for making it past the 37-second mark! I hope these tips can prove useful in your B2B copywriting journey.