All the signs suggest that 2013 will be a bumper year for content marketing in B2B. More marketers will be using more content to engage customers at every stage of the buying cycle; from initial research to the final purchasing decision.
And that’s a good thing. In enterprise IT, where purchases are usually strategic and expensive, corporate buyers need a lot of information before deciding on the right product or service. The more helpful information a vendor can provide, the more it will assist with the buying decision.
The key word, though, is ‘helpful’. For marketers, that means understanding the buyer’s world, how decisions are made, what information the buyer needs in order to make them, and how best to get that information across. It also means conveying that information to the people who are going to be creating the content – often an external agency, moonlighting journalist or freelance copywriter.
As copywriters, we very much welcome the fact that marketers will be producing (and commissioning) more content this year. But there are four things we hope marketing folk are also resolving to give their copywriters this year – otherwise all that extra effort and budget may end up going to waste:
1. Sensible deadlines: Quality will be essential as more companies pile on to the content marketing bandwagon, otherwise the world is going to be awash with crap. While we thrive on the adrenaline of short turnarounds, to produce truly high-quality content we need time to research the customer’s needs and situation, interview the right people and experiment with different copy approaches. That means setting aside a decent amount of time for copy development. Without that, 2013 will be the year of rubbish ebooks that were written in four hours in a blind panic. And no one wants that.
2. Buyer personas: Lots more clients are doing this now and we love it. It’s immensely helpful to have a single person in mind when writing copy. With a good idea of who the likely buyer is, and their responsibilities, worries and aspirations, we can produce something that’s not just relevant, but actively welcome and useful. It may take a bit of extra work at the start to research and define the persona, but the resulting piece will have far more power than something that tries to address “C-level, and LOB heads, and IT” – and ends up alienating all of those people with language and content that’s not quite right for any of them.
3. Clear objectives: One of the first things any good copywriter should ask in the initial briefing session is: “what do we need this piece to achieve?” As a result of reading or watching the item, do we want the reader to pick up the phone, download another piece of content, watch a demo, take a free trial, sign up for a webinar, make a purchase there and then? The clearer the objective, the more focused we can be in the copy. (And please, please, please, can more clients come back and tell us which pieces of content achieved the objectives set for it – so we can get a better understanding of what works.)
4. A/B testing: I don’t know about other copywriters, but A/B testing has always seemed a bit of a mythical beast to us. We know it exists, and people apparently use it (especially now more UK B2B marketers are using marketing automation software) but we’ve never been privy to any results. We hope this year we’ll start to see some feedback from A/B testing on our copy – especially email subject lines – so we can focus on what works best. Until then, we have this incredibly useful analysis of 1.15bn B2B emails by Adestra – thanks Adestra!
That’s our wishlist for 2013. If you’re a copywriter, what do you think? And what else would you wish for this year?