A little test for you: try to make a purchase online without reading something about the product or service first. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
We know, right? You can’t do it. It’s literally impossible to avoid reading marketing copy when you’re shopping for a service or a product online. This is what makes writing the be-all-end-all king of marketing tools. It’s a dynamically human language that relies entirely on learning – writing, and therefore reading, is nothing short of addictive.
It can also be intimidating if you’re the one responsible for all of that writing.
While the written word is a decidedly human centrality that unites us and gives our species a sense of identity and culture, writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For marketers, make no mistake: it’s an unavoidable requirement of an effective inbound campaign. You’ve got to be proficient at writing a number of different types of content to turn your readers into loyal brand aficionados.
So what types of content should your B2B company be writing?
Writing engaging product and/or service copy is absolutely paramount to enticing prospective readers to invest in your company. Simply describing what you do means very little to someone reading your page.
Product features are best interpreted through the guise of a step-by-step system that allows you to engage, persuade, and sell your company – not just its products. Create a comprehensive list of unique benefits that your product offers to those who use it – this is the key. People don’t care what you’re selling, they want to know what’s in it for them! Great product features are able to translate perceived selling features as seductive individualistic benefits that assist your defined target market in making their own progress.
In short, answer their questions; fill the void. You have to write great product and service features because they help prospective clients, customers and partners realize your company is good for business.
Case studies are designed to illustrate positive affirmations related to the inclusion or adoption of your business’ offerings. They are compelling before-and-after overviews of your customer’s interactions with your products or service. They provide confirmation that an investment – of either time or money – is a good call. We’re naturally drawn to stories as a species, and case studies satisfy our basic need for a happy ending.
They’re also integral to speeding up the decision to buy. Case studies help cater consumer behaviour into smaller, quicker modes of thinking – because there’s a lot of information out there already and customers are happy to cut through the pages and pages of copy to find out if the decision to purchase has been a good one for people like them.
The case study is a great way to quickly show how your company was able to solve a problem facing your targeted market. Good experiences read well to buyers seeking similar results.
Writing guides is a great way to build authority as an expert firm on a chosen field in such a way that stimulates both education and rationality. When you’re able to help your market learn, they’ll continually have faith in you.
For example, maybe you’re a catering company – why not write a few guides for readers about the different culinary neighbourhoods in your city? Provide tips for getting a table at the new local hotspot; offer ordering tips, introduce the chef as a budding entrepreneur your company has respect for, and offer insight on the up-and-coming trends in the next big emerging food district. This gives your business the credibility to be trusted as savvy professionals and a strong presence in the arena.
Guides allow your readers to understand you’re in the know – further, they can outline multiple segments within a large topic. If you’re writing about how great the foodie scene is in your city, you can touch on seafood, late-night, brunch, and mixology – all in one read. Writing guides can boost your company as a laid-back expert, inspiring this expectation from your readers; the next time they have a question, they’ll be back for more info time and time again.
If you have a need to communicate complex information in an intellectually stimulating way – ebooks are probably going to be a big part of your content marketing strategy. They’re proficient in combining both rationality and practicality in a package that is geared at convincing your prospective customer you’re the answer for their brand issues.
Compared to other forms of content marketing, eBooks are extremely research heavy, relying on third-party statistics, and illustrations or visuals to help differentiate from whitepapers. Ebooks are also great ways to assist your SEO efforts, as their content is searchable and lends well to keyword research. In the scope of the inbound methodology, eBooks are great at seizing the customers attention during the convert stage.
Hubspot tells us that eBooks are not only critical tools for nurturing your existing leads into more sales-ready positions, but they help feed your list of new contacts. In order to write a compelling eBook, you’ve got to bring a few different skillsets to the table. Journalism, design know-how, strategy, and project management all play a part in writing a good eBook – but don’t fret – you can do it!
Open-ended, sure – but open-ended articles are elemental to an alluring marketing package. They provide good filler for broad topics related to your company that help attract readers to your brand. They can be about almost anything. Consider the possibilities!
Using articles to engage readers and generate interest is effective in building trust – one of the most important foundations of a meaningful relationship. If your articles are full of reliable information that can be trusted, you’re much more likely to develop a customer that purchases from you time and time again.
Traditionally, there have been two types of articles: keyword-driven articles and content-driven articles. Keyword articles are great filler posts, designed to get your brand the best search engine rankings possible. With keyword-based articles, content isn’t too important, they’re all about driving traffic, and rankings. This is an outdated mode of thinking.
Content-driven articles on the other hand don’t care what Google thinks about them! As a result, search engines have taken note, and now work to rank content-rich articles higher – all because people want this type of information! Content-rich articles are the bread and butter of the internet. They need to be well-written, entertaining, and feature useful info that helps to answer specific questions.
As an agency, we don’t recommend writing different articles to satisfy these two separate purposes at all. We’re strong advocates of realizing that unique, educational, and well-written content should always be written for people. When we write content, we optimize it for human beings because good content is what’s most valuable for the end user; your potential clients, engaged readers, and researchers – people!
When good value is realized, your content inspires trust in your readers. In this way, writing for people – instead of rankings – translates into loyalty, confidence, and faith in your business.
Blogging may seem like an outdated practice – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Blogs are not only a powerful tool for creating trust with potential customers, but there’s another important group that reads blogs: search engines.
Your ideal customer will find your blog when they research content that relates to you and your business, and Google will read your blog to get a true sense of what your website is all about so that it can recommend your business in its rankings to those same researching customers.
Cue the Lion King music – this is the ciiirrrrcle of liiife for inbound campaigns.
Blogs need to be updated constantly, they cannot remain a static portion of your website, like say, the ‘About’ page. Further, they need to be about a specific topic to direct those leads to your brand. Riverbed Marketing is an inbound marketing agency, so we don’t write blogs about Star Wars, or how well the Blue Jays did in the playoffs. Those topics would bring us plenty of Jedi and bat-flip fans, but the keyword ranking that helps search engines link customers to applicable content wouldn’t allow us to educate prospective clients and share information about our products and services.
So not only does blogging increase your site traffic – but it gets you better traffic. How? It custom tailors the audience you bring to your site so you attract the one’s who are justifiably more inclined to do business with you. They’re also a forever tool, meaning that once you click publish, that blog post is out there for good. It does not expire, or reduce in value over time – like PPC for example; turn off the money tap and the leads stop coming, too.
Need to hear all of this in another way to convince you to hit the keyboard more often? 80% of daily blog visits are new, and receive 5X more traffic than blogs that post weekly. And, more blogs spell more traffic. You can generate 53% more traffic to your site once you’ve accumulated as little as 52 blog posts, according to Social Marketing Writing.
Blogs should be at least 1500 words in length, according to Quicksprout. Longer blog posts amounting to over 1500 words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than shorter ones. 1500+ word blogs also achieve more SEO backlinks.
Instead of trying to article in paragraph form – we’ll follow our own advice. Listicles are powerful traffic generators because:
- They stand out – Lists contain numbers mixed in with letters and research shows that including numbers helps your content to stand out. This is correlated to your headline, as well. Titles of blog posts like “Top 23 Thing you Didn’t Know About Coffee Production” or “12 Places You Won’t Believe Actually Exist” create interest in readers. And, blogs with numbers in the titles with less rounded numbers of multiples of 5 or 10 stand out even more.
- They’re great for busy people – Listicle headline creation is largely about jamming a lot of valuable information into as few words as possible. A sleek headline is crucial for attracting busy people because they tell exactly what the post is about, and roughly how long the post will take to read. A ‘top 10’ takes very little time to read, and that’s attractive to people on the go.
- People obey numbers – Humans are easily convinced by numbers. We liken stats and figures as absolute truth, and as evidence of good research, therefore listicles are authoritative pieces of writing.
- They’re easy to write – Ask yourself what’s easier to write: a blog about politics in Alberta, or a listicle about major points of political relevance in Alberta. Listicles are incredibly simple ways to not only organize complex thinking, but they make ingesting and writing the content itself easier for people.