In B2B marketing, relationships lead to conversions. Content strategy is an essential tool for driving traffic through SEO and social media, and for engaging and building trust with audiences online. This means choosing the best content type (e.g., copy, video, print, audio, whitepaper, etc.) and the right words to convey your message. But all too often, companies miss the mark with their website copy.
Your website copy is a creative asset, just as your website design, print collateral and video content are. The beauty, and the risk, is that we are all writers. The trick is knowing when to bring in a pro. An experienced copywriter can create language that aligns with your brand message, speaks to your target audience and generates more leads.
Sometimes, the existing copy simply needs a light edit. Website redesigns almost always necessitate heavy editing in addition to the development of new content for certain pages. In addition, the outside writer may recommend edits to your copy in other channels, such as print, for alignment with your website copy and brand message.
Writing always starts with research into your goals, your brand, your company, its competitors and the industry itself. Existing copy gives the writer an idea of your brand voice, the language in your industry and what elements are missing from your ad copy. The writer may also want to conduct phone or in-person interviews. Your feedback is another important source of information, given your unique perspective on your brand. Research typically continues throughout any copy project, starting broad and narrowing in on specific sub-topics as the work progresses.
It seems that the biggest copy mistake I see is one of perspective. Your audience wants to quickly assess what’s in it for them, without having to think about it. B2B web copy often focuses on the “we” and “our.” Like the bore at the cocktail party who only talks about himself, this self-centered copy might hold some people’s attention briefly but ultimately doesn’t impress. Instead, try to write from your audience’s perspective. The use of “we” and “our” is often appropriate, but should be balanced with “you” and “your.”
The following example copy is based on copy from an actual B2B company’s website home page. The company’s ticker symbol and product descriptions have been changed. This copy effectively describes what the company is, but completely lacks the audience’s perspective. In addition, “cash flowing” in the last line is a distracting grammatical error. By the way, this is the only copy on the company’s home page.
“We are a publicly traded holding company that is vertically and horizontally integrated in the restaurant technology industry. The Company trades on the OTCPK under the stock symbol “ACME.” Our strategy is executed through development of proprietary technologies, development of proprietary software, and possible acquisitions of companies that have a unique product niche, cash flowing, and provide strong management.”
By comparison, this copy from another actual B2B company’s website describes their services with the audience in mind. While the copy isn’t perfect, it reads better, is more relatable and might just convert better, too.
“Acme publishes targeted information technology websites that provide you with resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific websites gives you access to information technology industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web’s largest library of vendor-neutral and vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more.”
We can improve upon Example 2 with a few strategic edits. By breaking up the last sentence into two sentences and placing even more focus on the audience, we can make the message even more engaging.
“Acme publishes targeted information technology websites that provide you with resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Gain access to leading information technology industry experts, independent content and analysis through our network of technology-specific websites. Here you will find the Web’s largest library of vendor-neutral and vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more.”
Which of the above examples would make you want to read more, download a brochure or maybe even submit a lead form? My money is on Example 3.
Website copy is a valuable creative asset that should be treated with as much consideration as the design itself. Writing effective B2B sales copy takes skill that not every business person possesses. Always consider the perspective of your audience, and know when to bring in a professional writer. As any search marketer can tell you, great content can make a difference in your conversion performance.