Good copy has never been so important. Producing engaging content and doing so consistently are two of the top three challenges faced by B2B content marketers, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
Earlier this year we started to discuss these challenges on a monthly Twitter chat, using the hashtag #b2bcopychat. Each chat sees B2B copywriters and marketers exchanging insights on what does and doesn’t work in B2B copywriting and content.
Here’s our pick of the best insights to come out of #b2bcopychat in 2015:
5. Jargon has its place in copy
Used correctly, jargon can bring clarity and make a point better than not using it. This is especially important in B2B technology copywriting.
— Radix Communications (@radixcom) March 17, 2015
Jargon is not the same thing as buzzwords. As Matt has previously pointed out, good jargon has meaning for the audience and reflects the language they use every day in their role or industry. Jargon should never be used for its own sake, because then it sounds “woolly”, but if it’s the best way of getting an idea across to an audience: use it.
4. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes to ensure your content is worth their time
Content marketing involves creating content that’s useful – but a reader will only consider it useful if it’s presented in a convenient format for them. Your 62-page ebook may be packed with advice, but will your audience feel that advice was worth the long read?
A4 i.e. find the right balance btwn the value you’re offering and the time it takes the reader to get the value from the piece #b2bcopychat
— Fiona Campbell-Howes (@patroclus) May 5, 2015
Research from Octopus Group shows that 53% of B2B buyers have less time to read and research in 2015 compared to 2014, but the time available for these activities varies within roles. They suggest getting to know your audience in order to see who is in the funnel and where, to better understand their content needs.
3. Never be afraid to ask questions during briefings
In an ideal world, you should have all the information you need to write a piece before you start writing. Get the right info by asking clients and/or stakeholders as much as you can during briefings.
@patroclus Agreed. Not knowing anything is basically a superpower.
— David McGuire (@McGuireDavid) June 2, 2015
Asking smart questions will get you unique ideas and insight that will enrich your content. It can also help you understand the target audience better, especially if you talk with people from sales.
As I’ve pointed out previously, asking questions early can also reduce the volume of edits later on.
2. Even wall-to-wall text is visual content
When writing text-heavy content like whitepapers or blog posts, you may feel you don’t have to think much about how it will look on the page. But there are still visual elements that writers need to consider.
— David McGuire (@McGuireDavid) July 7, 2015
Instead of writing dense blocks of text, call out stats and quotes that will engage the audience’s interest, and break up text with subheadings. When we spoke with designer Tim Hendy, we found there’s a lot you can do when writing to guide designers – including using wireframes. With online content like blog posts, you can use formatting instructions to help the person who uploads the post to format it in the most visually-appealing way.
1. Whether it’s B2B or B2C: you’re still talking to people
It’s true: B2B buyers are people, too. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should cram loads of chummy language into your copy. It means you should use language your audience is comfortable with and that reflects the brand’s image.
It’s a balancing act between sounding authentic, being clear and showing you understand what you’re writing about (which may include using jargon).
Finding an authentic tone can be tough, but as explained by me here, it’s a case of being truthful, staying tonally consistent and using personas to help you picture who you’re writing for.
See you in 2016
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Twitter chats this year. I hope you found them as insightful and interesting (and fun) as we did.