The first goal when writing a B2B blog is getting people to read it, since over 90% of content never gets read. But the second goal, and the one that sometimes stumps even veteran B2B writers, is crafting something that people actually want to read and finish, that sticks in their minds, and that makes them want to use your products and services.
That’s easier said than done, especially when thousands of companies are regularly releasing B2B blog content — including your competitors. Still, there are a few important B2B blog writing tips to keep in mind when drafting a blog that will improve the chance it resonates with your target audience.
Blogs have to be team players
Any individual blog plays a small role in the marketing funnel — the journey that guides potential clients from discovering your website to purchasing your product and advocating for your brand. This means mapping out how your blog will synergize with other content and calls to action. No blog can do everything at once. The more you try to accomplish with a single blog, the less well you’ll do any of it, let alone stand to benefit from Google’s Helpful Content Updates.
A classic mistake is racing through the entire marketing funnel in a single article. An article might purport to answer a question like “What is a trojan horse?” and, 600-700 words later, conclude with “The only way to truly stay safe from trojan horses is to buy our security software.” Particularly in B2B spaces, it’s highly unlikely that a reader will make an impulse purchase (or schedule a demo) after reading a single piece of content. It’s much more likely the reader will scoff at a thinly veiled sales pitch and move on.
Top-of-funnel content should help to answer questions about broad topics that relate to your product, including links to lower-in-the-funnel content where appropriate. You can mention your product, of course, but do so sparingly and only where relevant. When you produce lower-in-the-funnel content, that’s your chance to start discussing your product more.
Speaking of which…
Present yourself as a topic expert, not an advertiser
Even if a reader is close to converting, they’ll be wary of an aggressive sales stance. You may claim to be the best in your field, but your intrinsic bias damages your credibility. Everyone claims to be the best, so no matter how much you believe in your product, you won’t stand out when you do the same.
The alternative, especially early on in the funnel, is leveraging your experience in your product category to frame yourself as an expert. You’re entitled to discuss security, connectivity, or whatever your field of expertise is, because your company does it every day. If you can provide useful statistics or other information as an expert, you can build trust without having to prove your product superiority.
One caveat: If you decide to highlight your product in an article, own it. Don’t joke about it or frame product name-dropping as an inevitable byproduct of content marketing, which will likely annoy readers. I’ve seen some articles recently that preface product information with something like “Sorry, I couldn’t help it!” or “I know it’s a plug, but it’s a great product.”
Instead, justify the inclusion of your product as part of your blog’s narrative, then frame yourself as an expert. Explain why your product matters. If it’s the “best” or “fastest” in its category, provide a statistic. Or emphasize a unique property exclusive to your product (while dispensing with company-exclusive jargon).
It’s also important to keep in mind a harsh, but important, B2B blog writing tip…
Readers only care about themselves
Of course, you’ll find your writing engrossing — because it’s your writing! But most people aren’t as invested in consuming your content for its own sake. People generally don’t read B2B blogs for fun, so there’s an implicit understanding that the reader will get something useful out of your content.
Think carefully about whether a reader could gain:
- A valuable source of information on an important topic (so they can seem authoritative).
- A unique point of view they can bring to a meeting (so they can stand out).
- Awareness of a topic that will soon be discussed everywhere (so they can look smart and news-savvy).
- Clarity on a common point of confusion (so they make sure they don’t make a mistake).
Further down the funnel, a reader might want to see:
- Useful feature sets or credentials that build a reader’s case if they bring your services forward to the rest of the company (so they look well-prepared).
- Clear explanations of pricing or demos that allow the client to plan effectively (so they can prepare for potential objections about your product).
Even if readers want to get something out of your blog, you’ll need to…
Accept that skimming is inevitable
As much effort as you put into a blog, most readers will likely skim it (chances are you’ve done so on this blog). People are busy, and particularly when many blogs (both B2B and otherwise) end up being heavy on self-promotion and light on content, there’s strong incentive to read through as quickly as possible. You’ll need to plan accordingly if you want people to find your blog useful.
Headings and illustrations do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to making an article easy to skim. Short paragraphs also play a major role. But the content also has to be skimmable — valuable either on its own or as part of a larger whole. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always the case.
As a best practice to make your work skimmable (and just a best practice in general), don’t include misleading or confusing content for the sake of elongating your work. Skimmers could easily come away with the wrong impression. As an example, take this paragraph I recently read while trying to decide if I should panic after my dog ate some pizza crust:
For instance, tomato sauce contains tomatoes — obviously — but tomatoes contain tomatine. A substance that is highly toxic to dogs. Of course, most tomatine is found in the rest of the tomato plant, not the actual tomatoes, making a bit of tomato sauce relatively safe.
We say “relatively” because the high salt and sugar content in tomato sauce isn’t great for your pup. Neither are the additives and flavorings that can cause all kinds of digestive upset if your dog has a sensitive stomach.
Skimming the first two sentences gives a dramatically different impression than reading the full piece. It’s eye-catching to mention that tomatine is “highly toxic to dogs,” but it’s simply not relevant. And it has a different implication from “digestive upset.” This wasn’t a B2B blog, but something similar could happen when discussing a hypothetical computer virus, for example.
Speaking of things that will annoy readers…
People are now finding SEO annoying
Not all B2B content marketing tips are equally valuable, and many blogs (B2B and otherwise) are guilty of blatant keyword stuffing. SEO is now a well-understood concept even outside of content marketing. We’ve seen mockery of recipe pages with needlessly long keyword-dense intros, and people are simply sick of feeling like articles were written for bots rather than readers.
Going back to the “dog eating pizza” issue, this was the intro of another blog I saw while researching:
Your question about whether a dog can eat pizza or not might be based on the intent like:
- Should you give your dog a pizza?
- Is pizza safe for dogs?
- Can you give a pizza crust to your dog?
- Is vegetable pizza OK for dogs?
- Is cheese pizza safe for a dog?
- Can dogs eat pizza crust?
- What ingredients in a pizza are harmful to your dog?
- Is pepperoni pizza safe for a dog?
- Can dogs eat pizza sauce?
This offers absolutely nothing to the reader, encourages them to skim or ignore an article, and simply isn’t useful. SEO is essential, of course, but the key is to integrate it in more subtle, intuitive ways, rather than stopping the flow of your work to insert the appropriate terms.
While seeing all of these B2B blog tips in sequence may be overwhelming, the good news is that they’re easy to implement with practice. Audiences want useful, well-organized content that doesn’t sell them anything aggressively, and that doesn’t derail itself to insert keywords. While writing good content is easier said than done, knowing what audiences will respond well to is a good start. If you would like help with that, Look Left Marketing would be more than happy to assist.