Too often, B2B content lacks bravado. But don’t worry, there’s hope!
If you can stand out from that crowd, you’ll develop a more engaged audience that has a stronger relationship with your brand.
And that boosts your bottom line.
So, how do you go about making B2B content to guide a delightful customer experience? You can start by avoiding these seven mistakes.
1. Putting Readers to Sleep with Feature Lists
Your features don’t sell your product. That’s a hard truth.
It’s hard because the product team has put their all into those features. And because prospects think they care about features. News flash: they don’t—at least, not in the way your team does.
What the customer cares about is how your product is going to make their jobs—and their lives—better.
Maybe your product will automate their repetitive tasks and save them hours every week. Or maybe it’ll make them better at their primary job function. It could even make them look good to their boss.
Those are the benefits of your product, and that’s what people really care about.
Emphasize benefits in your B2B content. Show people how their lives are going to be better with your product. Use storytelling to get them to imagine what it’s going to be like after they purchase.
Make your features easy to find, especially if a specific feature set is your brand differentiator. But don’t lead with them—lead with benefits. That’s how you connect with people.
(Though you shouldn’t only be creating content that talks about your product. See #5 below.)
2. Not Relating to Your Users on a Human Level
Another way to connect with B2B readers is to remember that they’re people. They aren’t purchasing robots or decision-making algorithms. They’re just like you. If you can master empathetic marketing, they’ll engage with your content.
Engaged audiences become customers.
Want a shortcut to creating this kind of content? Develop buyer personas. And write to them when you’re creating content.
But don’t write to all of the people who fall under the category of Marketing Mary or Executive Ellen. Write to a single person. You might even put a picture of that person up next to your computer. (It sounds weird, but it really works.)
You need to get into the mindset of your readers and customers. Take time to think about what they’re experiencing right now.
What are their pain points? What do they hope to accomplish? How do they feel when they think about the topic you’re writing on? If you can show people that you understand those things, you’ll build invaluable connections.
When someone reads your content, they should think, “Wow, this company really gets me.” If that happens, your content is doing its job.
3. Sounding Like a Victorian College Professor
B2B content writers have a reputation for being, well…boring. Really boring. One of the ways they’ve earned this reputation is that they often prioritize sounding “professional.”
So they avoid contractions. They use phrases like “core competency” and “thought leadership.” They avoid first-person pronouns.
You might think that makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about, that you’re an expert in your field. But, it actually does the opposite.
Stodgy writing makes you sound like a marketing machine. And not in a good way.
When you’re writing to your one reader, pretend you’re talking to them at a coffee shop—not from a stage at a professional conference (though you should be conversational there, too).
Another option is to bring in an outside writer. When someone isn’t as familiar with all of the features and uses of your product, they may find it easier to create flowing, readable content.
4. Writing for Search Engines, Not People
Are you guilty of this? Don’t feel bad. We’ve all done it at one point or another. And for a while, it even worked.
But both search engines and audiences will punish you for content that’s built solely to add keywords to your site.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t include SEO in your content marketing plans. You absolutely should. Just don’t focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.
Instead, write to your audience—show them that you understand their challenges, frustrations, aspirations, goals, and triumphs. Prioritize humanity. Then work in SEO.
Search engines play a big role in the success of your content marketing campaigns. But people are even more important. And search engines know that, too. So when they see that people like your content, they take note.
Signals like bounce rate, time on page, and social shares influence your search engine rankings. Those metrics improve when you solve people’s problems and write in a way that’s easy to read.
Focus on that, and you’ll see your search performance improve, too.
5. Writing About What Interests You
Your customers don’t care if you just won a regional award for excellence in advertising (unless you’re an advertising firm, I suppose). They want you to help them solve their problems.
Which is why your content should aim to educate—or, as Jay Baer says, “help not hype.” When you become an authority on topics your audience cares about, they’ll come to you when they have problems.
That’s when you hand them off to your sales team.
But you have to know what your audience cares about. Which means you need to talk to them.
Call up your customers and ask what problems they need to solve. Engage your social media followers. Survey your email list. Dig into your analytics. These will help with point #7, too.
All of these things will help you figure out what your audience values. And that’s how you’ll find what you should be publishing.
6. Not Experimenting with New Content
A quick caveat to the previous point: Once you find something that works, don’t drop everything else. If you see that your “Top 5” posts perform best, don’t publish only top-five posts for the rest of time.
Because your audience changes. Their problems and needs change. Content marketing trends change.
And just because you found something that works doesn’t mean there isn’t something that works better. The old adage, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work for your content strategy.
If case studies convert prospects better than everything else, great! Keep writing case studies. But don’t neglect your blog and email list.
You might think of your audience as a homogenous group of people, but you’re speaking to a group of individuals.
Each of them has their own content preferences and habits. And any one of them could be your next customer.
So, keep trying new things. Keep up on industry trends and see what’s working for your competitors. Don’t stop optimizing just because you found one thing that seems to work well.
7. Only Republishing Other People’s Data
Original data is content gold. Especially in B2B content. Unoriginal data is, well…unoriginal. Yes, you can provide interesting interpretations and sum up lots of other studies. But publishing your own original insights can’t be beaten.
“But, isn’t that hard? And time-consuming? And expensive?” In short, yes. You’ll need to craft a survey or other instrument, find a way to get it out to your audience, collect and analyze the data, and publish it.
That’s going to take time.
Trust me: it’s worth it. That’s the kind of content that brings readers, links, and good search engine rankings. Not to mention, content that actually holds the clout necessary to influence conversions and sales deals.
It’s an investment. And it will absolutely pay off.
Think about the insights your customers can share. Every customer group is unique and has experiences that you can draw on to find interesting data. Make it a regular part of your content creation process, even if it only happens once or twice a year.
Don’t Settle for Boring B2B Content
The internet is full of boring content published by B2B content machines who think they’re being professional. That space is already full. Do something different, and you’ll stand out.
Start taking steps to improve your B2B content today.
Follow brands that are publishing great content for businesses, and take note of how they do it. Make a point to understand your customers and their needs. Be human.
They’re simple actions, but they’ll go a long way toward helping you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
And if you’re a B2B organization without a social presence, you may want to rethink that decision. Check out why B2B marketers need to use social media. And include it in your content strategy!