When it comes to B2B content marketing, the act of writing such content can be harder than it seems. After all, most of us write something every day – e-mails, ideas, requests. So how hard could it be to write a blog post, or website, or white paper? All you have to do is open up Word and start typing, right?
While all of us technically know how to write, not everyone knows how to write well. Have you ever read an article and had the following happen?
- You catch yourself reading the same sentence multiple times
- You click away after a couple paragraphs because it didn’t keep your attention
- You finish, but still aren’t really clear what the point was
On the other hand, have you ever read an article and felt energized, equipped with knowledge, or even entertained? These types of articles don’t just happen. While reading it may be effortless (as it should be), an experienced B2B content marketing writer most likely spent hours crafting and editing the piece.
To make sure your content gets read and not dismissed, it helps to know some tricks of the trade, which I’ll be sharing in this post.
Write for Scanning
When people read online, they rarely read every word. I know the idea of this makes many writers cringe. After all, we just spent an hour fiddling with a sentence to make it perfect. While grammar, syntax and style are still imperative, you also need to consider how people read in today’s busy world.
Heat map studies tell us that most users read web pages in an F-shaped pattern: headlines, subheadings, and the first sentence of paragraphs, with most of their attention focused at the top and left side of the page. This should give you a clue into where you should focus the most important information.
In journalism, there’s a saying: “Don’t bury the lead.” This means figure out what is going to interest your readers most and put it in the headline and lead sentence. If something is important, by all means, don’t bury it in the middle of a paragraph. For example, if you were able to help a client increase revenue by 77%, make it stand out! Put it in a headline or a call-out box so scanners can’t miss it.
Find ways to break up the copy so you’re not just reading 500 words of plain text in paragraph form. Bullet points, graphs, images with captions – these are all content elements that readers gravitate to, so if you want to make sure your content gets read, incorporate these types of items.
Write Shorter Paragraphs
When reading a book – that is, an actual ink on paper book – it’s not uncommon to come across long paragraphs of prose. But experienced content experts know that writing for the web is different. Screen glare contributes to eye fatigue much faster than paper does, so readers need breaks in the copy to alleviate strain.
Plus, when readers are faced with long paragraphs, i.e., the dreaded “wall of text,” it’s intimidating. They take one glance and often decide pretty quickly that it’s a wall not worth the climb. Shorter paragraphs, combined with multiple subheadings, help break up the copy to make it appear more manageable and inviting to readers.
Write in the First Person
When doing content marketing for B2B clients, there is a tendency to write very formally and speak in the third person. But ask yourself, who is this third person? The relationship is between you and your clients, so speak to them directly and cut out this unnecessary third party.
Change “Bluth Company helps its clients achieve greatness” to “We help you achieve greatness.” This is a simplified phrase, of course, but using the pronouns “you” and “we” is far more effective at creating a relationship and building trust.
This one can be tricky because everyone is short on time. But if you build in time to edit, your writing almost always benefits. The best formula is to write, then wait, then edit.
First, write your first draft. Then, walk away – for as long as you can. Waiting a day or two, or even a few hours if you can’t spare a day, gives your mind a break from the content so when you return to it, you have a fresh perspective.
Step away from the computer if you can. My best ideas come when I’m on a walk or in the shower (although the latter can be annoying because it’s hard to write things down). If I don’t have a writing utensil or dry thumbs handy, sometimes I’ll speak my ideas into the phone (thanks, Siri) and jot them down when I get to a computer.
The B2B space is crowded, and everyone is competing for readers’ attention. When reading B2B content, we come across the same phrases over and over again, such as: “We’re your trusted partner,” “We give white glove service,” “We streamline your business.” Sound familiar? That’s because these phrases are overused, and when the same words are overused, they lose their impact.
Instead, describe how you give white glove service, and what that means in real terms. Do you offer 24/7 support from experienced engineers? Do you have a 98% client retention rate? Can you share customer testimonials?
These examples present evidence of great service, which is far more compelling to audiences than mere lip service. (Side note: We work with a lot of B2B companies. All of them say they give great service. Be sure you can prove it.)
These are just a few tips to help you get started. A skilled B2B content marketing writer will incorporate these points and more to create standout content that helps you convert readers into customers.
It’s worth it.
Thank you LIz, this is a great reminder. Crafting writing for your reader and crafting writing for a great result is not only polite and provocative, but it is also the difference between meaningful work and a miserable job for the writer.
Ahh, the love affairs I’ve had with great writers wherever I’ve found them.