Climbing to the top of Google’s SERP is often considered the holy grail of B2B marketing. Because of this, it can be tempting to write for what Google’s search engine looks for, rather than what your potential customers might want to read. However, this will only ever get you so far.
For instance, you may have a lot of people arriving at your site every day; yet, your bounce rate is astronomical, as your website copy fails to meet any of their expectations or requirements once they get there.
The key to great B2B website copy is to remember that you are writing for a target audience with specific problems, and that they have found themselves on your site in an attempt to find an answer to their problems.
If you fail to produce copy that convinces them you have a solution, you will lose their interest within seconds.
So, to make a success of your website copy, you need to solve your target audience’s problems through clear, concise and captivating storytelling.
Planning and research comes first
There are several issues to sort out before you start writing. You need to know what you are trying to achieve, who your target audience is, what their pain points are, what your brand message is, and where you want to direct people to (e.g. a product, a free trial, a download, a sign-up to a newsletter, etc.)
• Create personas
You need to have a thorough understanding of your audience and their pain points. If your team doesn’t already have any, create persona documents which give you a clearer, more defined picture of who you are writing for.
Details to focus on include demographic, professional background, education, pain points/pressures at work, points of resistance, and the kind of solution they are looking for.
• Carry out competitor research
It never hurts to look at other websites to determine best practice and see how successful companies in your industry are communicating with their customers.
Only when you have these areas planned out, can you begin writing.
The main objective: solving problems
Many marketers are adept at writing about themselves, but struggle when writing for their customers.
Your company may have a product with thousands of ground-breaking features – and it’s completely understandable that you would like to try and mention them all on your website.
However, your audience is only interested in how you will solve their problem. You need to use this as your starting point.
• Put your most important messaging first
You must expect visitors to your site to have short attention spans. If they don’t see what they want, they will move on to another site.
Most of the time people make spot decisions about whether a website is relevant to what they are searching for, especially if they have entered from a search engine results page.
So make your most important messages the first things they see.
• Write for skim-readers and scanners
People tend to scan over a webpage very quickly. This means you have to make sure your important points stand out on the page – i.e. those that address the problems they face.
The best thing to do is to include key messaging in headings, bullet points or in bold.
Also, it’s important to understand that people will arrive on your site from multiple places, not only the home page. So, each page must be written as if it is your one chance to catch their attention.
How to solve a problem: storytelling is key
You can’t just list the ways your product is better than its competitors. Nor can you simply list the features of your products and services. What you need to do is more nuanced.
You need to tell a story – albeit a very short story in a few lines of copy.
You can think of it this way:
1. Your customer takes the role of the main protagonist
2. Their business problems are the challenges the protagonist must overcome
3. Your solution – your products (features and benefits), services and employees are the supporting characters who will help the protagonist succeed.
The story is how your customer can solve their problem with the help of your company.
• Your copy needs to be concise and easy to read
You have to keep your writing as concise and as easy to read as possible for two reasons. First, you need to arrest the reader’s attention immediately. There is no need to be too clever or creative.
Second, readability is important for SEO—think simple words and short sentences.
It can be tempting to treat SEO as a box-ticking exercise. But remember you are writing for people, not robots – at least that’s true at the time of writing.
A better approach is the ‘Holistic SEO’ approach to SEO, as put forward by the experts at Yoast.
Google are forever tinkering with their algorithms… the only way to consistently rank well is to do the right things for the right reasons.
Readable, actionable content that solves your visitor’s problems helps you do this.
• Make CTAs compelling
Every story has an end. When it comes to website copy, this means a good call-to-action (CTA). Don’t leave people guessing what they’re supposed to do next. You need to direct them to a free trial, demo, mailing list, etc.
Whatever the reason behind writing your content, you want to make that your CTA.
Remember—storytelling in marketing is all about the reader journey. Think about where they are, what problems they face, and where you want them to be investing in your company’s products or services.
If you can make the former flow into the latter, you’ll be better able to engage with your audience, and hopefully persuade them, too.