Slowly but surely, B2B copywriting is getting better. The message is getting through – you’re not selling to cold corporate entities. You’re selling to people. But occasionally, you still run into B2B copy that has the panache of an instruction manual and a conversion rate that would make a Facebook page cry.
So if you’ve been asked by a client to turn their dreary sales page into a firecracker lit under their customer’s chair, here are nine B2B copywriting mistakes to watch out for:
1. No story or reason why
To give your product emotional appeal, you need to go deeper than features and benefits. You need to tell the story about why the company exists and why readers should care about it. B2B buyers are humans too. They also buy products because of how they make them feel. Not because of what they do. Telling stories is one of the most powerful ways of creating an affinity with your client’s brand. It will also gently push them into basking in the blue sea, and leave behind the blood red waters where companies compete on price and features alone.
2. Difficult to read
I know you’d love to think readers hang on your every carefully chosen word. But the fact is that readers jump from headlines to openers to bullet points trying to pick out the parts that interest them. They like to skim read, and are intimidated by chunky blocks of text. To allow them to slide through your cop, aim for paragraphs of three sentences or less and average sentence lengths of 15 words. Also surround your text with generous amounts of white space to invite eyeballs in.
3. Drenched in cliches
B2B copywriters can be the worst offenders when it comes to sprouting cliches. Too often, this is done to eat up the word count than to make a point. When copy drones on about products being ‘best of breed’, ‘bleeding edge’ or ‘a paradigm shift in blue sky thinking’ it doesn’t say anything. What’s worse, it doesn’t give readers any real reason to buy. Cliches are phrases drained of their power. Try not to overuse them.
4. No empathy
Readers don’t care about how long your client has been operating. They want to know how their product solves their problem. Copy should always focus on the reader’s problem within the first few lines. If you waste the first paragraph preening and boasting they’re not going to hang around to listen, bringing your sales page’s slippery slope to an abrupt end.
5. No actionable information
B2B copy won’t convert unless you give readers instructions on what to do. Even if you’re writing articles, it helps to give readers actionable advice to get the best response. So let’s be clear – always end your sales pages with advice on what to do next.
6. No strategy
B2B copy isn’t written in a vacuum anymore. It now forms part of a larger content strategy, which grabs prospects at the research stage, builds trust and then converts at the end. Your articles, case studies and white papers need to be structured with this in mind so it directs readers to hopping onto the next stage of the funnel.
7. Poor design
Have you visited your competitors’ sites recently? If not, you may be in for a shock. Quality standards have risen dramatically in the last couple of years. A few stock photos isn’t going to cut it if you want your case studies and white papers to stand out. They need call out boxes, charts and custom graphics that help to illustrate the story. If you want your client’s products to be positioned as the best, they need the uber marketing materials to match.
8. No proof
Readers are your biggest cynics. They won’t believe a word you write unless you have the proof to back up the superlatives. This is why case studies and white papers will always outmuscle brochures at conversions. They sell with facts, stats and specifics. Not grandiose claims with no basis.
9. Ignores objections
When readers have doubts they aren’t going to phone your client to address them. B2B sales copy has to do the same job as selling face to face. It has to address every objection your reader has and pile on the reasons why your client’s product is the superior choice.
Whenever auditing a client’s copy (get in touch, if you’d like me to check yours), these are the nine most common mistakes that trigger a double facepalm. Working through this list will help your B2B copy to be more interesting and persuasive – good news for customers and clients alike.
What B2B copywriting mistakes grind your gears?