Rachel Foster is toronto-based freelance copywriter who helps B2B technology marketers get more leads and sales. As a B2B copywriter who specializes in technology and software, Rachel helps clients attract high-quality leads, increase their conversions and clearly communicate complex messages.
As a tech marketer, you’ve likely heard the joke that B2B stands for “boring-to-boring.” Here’s how to create a compelling brand voice that helps you avoid this trap, stand out from your competition, and engage customers.
Many B2B companies sound the same.
They talk about their features … not their benefits.
They use corporate jargon … not language that resonates with customers.
They speak to “users” … not to humans.
All of this adds up to a boring, corporate voice that doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors.
Claim your FREE ultimate guide to creating a B2B brand voice that resonates with buyers.
You may sell to businesses, but your customers are humans. They respond to content that informs and entertains them. With a unique brand voice, you can grab customers’ attention and make them want to continue the conversation. Here are three reasons why your brand voice matters:
Your brand voice separates you from everyone else.
Many B2B tech companies sound the same. They use the same buzzwords on their websites, which makes it hard for customers to see how they are different from their competitors. A unique brand voice helps you stand out from the pack and shows your audience your advantage.
A consistent brand voice signals trust.
If your teams use different voices when they speak with customers, it will weaken your message. Customers may hear one thing from their sales rep and another thing from your support team. Then, they won’t know whom to trust. An intentional brand voice can help you convey a consistent message and avoid miscommunications with your customers.
Your brand voice makes you relatable.
An approachable brand voice makes customers want to be around you. When your customers feel like you “get” them, they will open your emails, check out your content, and join your community.
7 Keys to a Compelling B2B Brand Voice
Here’s how to create a B2B brand voice that resonates with customers and sets you apart from your competitors:
1.Understand your target audience.
Before you speak, you must know who are speaking to. Re-examine your target audience and get clear on the following questions:
What are their roles?
Where are they employed?
What are their daily responsibilities?
What are their top struggles?
What questions do they ask during each stage of your sales cycle?
Where do they find information about products or services?
What type of words would they use to describe topics and products related to your brand?
After you answer these questions, you may need to update your buyer personas. Since the tech landscape is constantly changing, your buyers’ needs and challenges may be different from what they were a few years ago.
2. Understand how your target audience perceives you.
Your brand voice isn’t something that you’ll need to develop from scratch. It already exists. Your job is to amplify the voice that you already have and make it more intentional.
The easiest way to do this is to ask your customers who they think you are as a brand. Their responses can clue you in on where you excel and what parts of your persona you should emphasize.
Identify and then survey your most loyal customers. You can ask the following questions:
What three adjectives would you use to describe our brand?
What “personality” do you think your company has?
What makes our brand stand out from other companies you’ve worked with in the past?
You are not limited to surveying only your customers. You can expand the list to include other key stakeholders, such as your employees and partners. Your employees, especially those who work directly with your customers, have the dual advantage of understanding your brand values while also seeing your company through the eyes of your customers. They can provide unique insights about your brand voice that give you new angles to consider.
3. Understand your mission and goals as a brand.
What are your company’s guiding principles?
The answer to this question will help you define your brand voice. For example, if one of your primary values is transparency, you can make your content approachable and honest.
In addition to aligning your vision with your brand voice, it’s also important to define how you want to present yourself as a company. What type of personality would you like to project? How would you like customers to perceive you? What type of lasting impression do you want to leave?
4. Define your brand voice.
Personifying your brand can help you get clear on your voice. If your brand was a person, what type of voice would it have? Would it sound strong and confident? Laidback and knowledgeable? Offbeat and fun?
Oftentimes, it’s easiest to define your voice by comparing and contrasting. Make a list of what your company is compared with what it is not, for example:
Our company is experienced but not stuck in its ways.
Our company is authoritative but not pushy.
If it helps, you can also switch out “company” for “voice” to focus entirely on your brand persona, for example:
Our voice is conversational but not verbose.
Our voice is professional but not stuffy.
If you’re stuck, here’s an exercise that you can do: Look at some of your favorite brands (you don’t need to limit yourself to B2B or tech), and list the reasons why you love its voice or content.
5. Say, “No!” to boring B2B content.
Boring content litters the landscape of the B2B tech industry.
But how can that be? In the ever-changing tech industry, there’s always something new and exciting happening.
The main reason behind boring B2B content is that the writer forgets that they are writing to an actual person. While your customer may be a B2B company, your audience is filled with humans. You’re not writing to an entity, you’re writing to the humans who need to make sense of your information and decide if your solution is the right one for their company. For this reason, your content must be relevant and valuable. Likewise, your brand voice should be relatable, engaging, and helpful. Otherwise, your information can come across as dull.
6. Use language that reflects the knowledge level of your target audience.
How much does your target audience know about your industry in general and your product in particular?
Because you’re familiar with your product and industry, it’s easy to assume that your readers are equally informed. Then, you may load your copy with industry slang that your readers don’t understand.
But at the same time, you don’t want to talk down to a sophisticated audience. So, how much should you assume that they know?
The answer depends on your target audience. If you’re speaking to IT pros who are comfortable with tech jargon, you can use it in your content. However, if you’re speaking to a business audience, they might not understand all of your tech talk. In this case, you can still come across as an expert without relying on jargon.
Here’s a funny, but cautionary, tale about jargon. I once interviewed two subject matter experts in a tech company. One of the experts used an acronym, and the other one thought it meant something completely different. This proves that you can’t take for granted what your audience knows. Even people who work down the hall from each other can have different definitions of the same acronym!
Choose a voice that is empathetic to your audience with respect to their knowledge level.
7. Create a style guide for your brand voice.
After you define your brand voice, it’s important to consolidate your notes into a guide. Share your brand voice guide with all of your internal teams that interact with customers, such as sales, marketing, and customer support. You should also give the guide to anyone who creates content for you, such as freelance copywriters and graphic designers. A style guide will help you keep your messages consistent.
Here are some things you can include in your style guide:
A detailed description of your brand voice, including what it is and what it isn’t
The type of language you want to use (e.g. Do you mind the use of coarse language in your content?)
Your preferred grammar rules and style guide
A primer on how to refer to your company (e.g. first person vs. third person) and your employees (e.g. staff, team members, employees, representatives)
A list of audience personas to guide your content creators on who will read/ view the content
A brand voice is a living part of your company. It will evolve over time. As your industry and your customers change, you must ensure that your voice remains relevant. Evaluate your brand voice every year to ensure that it still resonates with your target audience.
Working with a B2B copywriter helps you create content that supports your campaigns, engage leads, and turn prospects into customers. However, it can be hard to find the right copywriter.
Many B2B marketers test several copywriters before they find the right fit. In fact, many of my own clients have cycled through two or more copywriters before they started working with me. The reasons for failure varied: The copywriter didn’t understand their industry, couldn’t meet deadlines, or had a conflicting communication style. Choosing the wrong copywriter can increase your workload, cause project delays, and cost you more in the long run.
But the right copywriter can make your life easier, improve your marketing results and help you produce more content – faster. Here are seven traits to look for in a B2B technology copywriter:
1. Industry Knowledge
Many copywriters are generalists, which means that they write about everything from consumer products to fitness. Agencies often hire generalists when they need a writer who can adapt their style to a range of clients. But a generalist may not be the best choice for B2B tech companies that sell complex products and services.
If your product has a steep learning curve or a sophisticated audience, look for a writer who has prior experience in your industry. In particular, find a copywriter who understands the unique needs, concerns, and hesitations of B2B tech buyers.
The B2B tech industry is ever-evolving and doing so at a rapid pace. You need a copywriter who is not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but who also stays informed of the latest news, trends, and studies that will affect your customer base.
You need a copywriter who’s not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but also does this: Click To Tweet
Working with a copywriter who has experience in your industry can greatly reduce the amount of time that you spend briefing the writer and managing revisions. This helps your project run smoothly, allows you to produce content faster, and can bring you better results.
2. An Understanding of Your Audience
Your copy is often the first point of contact between you and your target audience. To engage customers, you need a copywriter who understands their unique point of view.
Your B2B tech copywriter must match your tone to each reader’s role, level of familiarity with your company, and stage in the sales cycle. For example, your audience may include IT pros who want to know how your product works. But you may also have business buyers in your audience who aren’t as tech-savvy but need to know how your product or service will drive value for their company.
A great copywriter is part marketer, part storyteller. Because copy is all about selling, you need a writer who knows how to sell your product or service in a way that aligns with the needs of your target audience. But selling by itself can be soulless and come across as gimmicky if you don’t have a meaningful, sympathetic story behind it.
4. The Ability to Write Email and Landing Page Copy
If you sell software or tech services, you need a copywriter who understands how to write effective email and landing page copy. Both go hand-in-hand with engaging leads and converting them into customers.
Copywriters who excel at writing marketing emails know how to keep the copy short, understandable, and action-oriented. Email marketing is one of the top strategies for nurturing leads. In fact, . When your copywriter excels at conversion-focused emails, you will massively multiply your return on investment.
Your copywriter can produce email sequences that motivate new subscribers (who have just downloaded a piece of your content) to sign up for a free trial or demo. They can also write a sequence that turns free trial users into paying customers.
The ideal B2B copywriter should also know how to write landing pages that sell. A landing page is not only useful for capturing email addresses, but also for building a foundation of trust with your target audience. When done correctly, your landing page will enhance your credibility and motivate customers to take the next step towards working with you.
You need someone who can get back to you quickly.
Some writers are hermits. After making the agreement, they’ll retreat into a metaphorical cave, and you won’t hear from them until the deadline. For some tech companies, that works out fine. However, if you want to maintain an active connection with your copywriter, you need to set those boundaries from the beginning of your working agreement.
Find out their preferred method of communication and make sure that it works for your needs. Also, ask how long it takes for them to respond to edit requests, issues, or concerns. You should also expect regular updates on the status of your copy. Even if you don’t have a pressing deadline, your copywriter should keep you informed about how things are progressing.
You must ensure that your communication styles are acceptable to each other upon entering an agreement. The last thing you want is to spend several days trying to reach your copywriter for an urgent request.
You will also hit more deadlines if you send your copywriter background info, schedule interviews, and respond to questions quickly. If you don’t give your copywriter the info that they need until the day before the project is due, they might not meet your deadline.
6. A Proven Process
Producing great copy is 50% writing skills and 50% process.
When you speak with potential copywriters, ask about their process. For example, what will they handle, and what is your team responsible for providing? You don’t want to hire a copywriter for a case study and later learn that they expect you to conduct the customer interview.
A typical process may include interviewing your subject matter experts, submitting an outline, and researching your audience.
Your copywriter should also have a process for edits, as this can greatly impact your timelines. How many rounds of revisions do you typically need? Be sure to account for revisions when planning your timelines.
7. The Ability to Get Up to Speed Quickly
Depending on your niche, it may be challenging to find a copywriter who understands the ins and outs of your business. If you serve a very specialized audience, you may need to educate your writer before you can rely on them to write compelling copy.
If this is the case for you, don’t overlook capable copywriters in pursuit of a magical unicorn who likely doesn’t exist. As long as you can find a copywriter who checks off the other items on this list (especially one who has expertise in your industry), it’s likely that you can train them to understand the specifics.
When working with an adept copywriter, take your time to educate them about your industry, your customers, and your business. During your introductory process, a good copywriter will ask you plenty of questions to guide their research, but be ready to provide additional resources that will help them get up-to-speed.
A good B2B copywriter plays a huge role in converting leads into customers. Use the above tips to help you find a copywriter who can help you attract more high-quality leads and turn them into customers.
Email marketing generates massive amounts of revenue for B2B companies. In fact, targeted emails factor into 58% of all sales. Here are five best practices that will improve your open rates and boost your conversions – along with a FREE checklist of 25 Absolutely Essential Emails to Send.
It seems that every week, we learn about a shiny, new way to engage B2B customers.
However, there’s nothing quite as powerful (and affordable) as email marketing. In fact, 59% of B2B marketers say that . A study has shown that .
Email outperforms other channels including social media. According to McKinsey, you are 40x more likely to acquire a new customer from an email than from Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, you are 6x more likely to get a click from an email than from a tweet.
As a B2B marketer, you have the opportunity to use email to nurture prospects and convert them into customers. Then, email can help you turn your these new customers into long-term loyal fans who recommend you to others for many years to come.
What Are Your B2B Email Marketing Goals?
Many B2B companies only send emails when they have something to pitch.
But a strategy that’s focused entirely on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Your emails should be part of a larger marketing strategy that strives to build relationships with prospects and customers. Once you build a relationship, you will find that it’s easier to sell your products or services.
Focusing only on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Do this instead Click To Tweet
Start by understanding your customers’ journey. What information do they want across every stage — from awareness to brand advocacy? You may have gaps in your content and the opportunity to create messages that resonate with buyers across all of these stages.
Successful email marketing strategies aim to build, and then meticulously maintain, relationships with customers.
The 11 B2B Emails That You Need to Send
As noted earlier, the types of emails that you send depend of where your customer is on their journey. In the early stages, you’ll focus on education and conversion. After conversion, you’ll focus on deepening your relationship, encouraging advocacy, and promoting products or services that could help them as their needs evolve.
To make it simpler, let’s sort your B2B email marketing strategy into two main categories: Reaching prospects and enriching relationships with current customers.
7 Emails That Help You Engage Prospects and Turn Them Into Customers
Here are seven emails that will help you convert leads into customers:
A lead nurture series – Send a new prospect up to nine nurturing emails after they opt into your list. This series can include customer testimonials, FAQs, and any other information that they need to sign up for a free trial or demo of your solution. You can also package your lead nurture series as an email course where you help a prospect solve one of their challenges.
A welcome email for prospective customers – You can include your welcome email in a lead nurture series or send it on its own. The goal of this email is to set expectations. You want the customer to understand when you’ll send emails and what type of information you’ll send.
Round ups – To keep in touch with prospects, you can send periodic emails that curate content from different, respected sources that you know will be helpful to your subscribers. These interactions can demonstrate your value to the prospect.
Blog updates – Whenever you write a blog post, be sure to notify your subscribers via email. Otherwise, they may not see your latest posts.
News – In addition to blog posts, send out important news and announcements about your business. Self-promotion should be kept to a minimum, though. A good rule of thumb is to send out three value-driven emails for every one self-promotional email.
Testimonials and case studies – In an effort to convince a prospect that your products and services deliver results, send them social proof in the form of testimonials and case studies.
Inactivity – At least twice a year, you should send out an email to your least active subscribers to ask if they still want to stay on your list. If you don’t get a response, delete them. It may be painful to get rid of hundreds (or more) names, but it’s necessary to improve your open rates and keep your list healthy. Sending emails to inactive subscribers can also negatively impact your deliverability rate and get your emails marked as spam.
4 Emails That Strengthen Relationships With Your Current Customers
Here are four types of emails that can help you engage your current customers and keep them happy:
An onboarding series – Use your onboarding series to welcome new customers or move free trial users to paid subscribers. This series should cover all of the steps that customers must know to get up-and-running with your product or service.
A welcome email for new customers – Express your gratitude to new customers by sending them a thank you. You can include this email in your onboarding series or send it as a one-off.
Product updates – When you release a new update, your customers should be the first to know about it. Use email to stay in touch with customers and keep them informed about the latest developments in your products or services.
Surveys – Check up on customers by sending them emails that link to surveys. To ensure that you maximize your responses, be sure to limit how many questions you ask. Ideally, keep your surveys under 10 questions or a few minutes to complete.
5 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices
Here are five keys to creating B2B emails that customers open, read, and click:
Send on the right frequency
Live up to your customers’ expectations by sending emails on a frequent and dependable schedule. Many companies have haphazard send schedules— they may send out two emails one month, bombard customers when they launch a new marketing campaign, and then go silent for months. That’s no way to build a relationship with your subscribers. Whether you send once a day, once a week, or several times a week, be consistent with your send schedule.
What day of the week is the best day to email your list? According to an analysis of 10 studies on email marketing, Tuesday is the winner. Wednesdays came in second place in several of the studies. Meanwhile, experts recommend scheduling messages on Tuesdays and Thursdays if you email your list twice a week.
While these studies provide insights into when B2B buyers are the most likely to open emails, their findings may not apply to your customers. Be sure to check your analytics to determine when your emails get the most opens and clicks.
Personalize your emails
Think about the messages that you are the most likely to open. Chances are, they aren’t mass sales emails. When faced with an overflowing inbox, you may first open a personal email from someone that you know and trust.
Review your email marketing and marketing automation settings to discover if you have any opportunities to segment your audience in new, profitable ways. For example, can you segment based on job titles, how frequently a subscriber interacts with your content, which products or services they use, or their stage on your sales cycle. Your segmentation possibilities are limitless.
Make your emails mobile friendly
Professionals now open 55% of their business emails on mobile devices. As mobile usage continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your emails look good on any screen. Don’t ask your subscribers to pinch or zoom just to see the tiny text of your emails. Also format your links so they are easy to open from a small smartphone screen.
Before you send any email, test it against multiple browsers and mobile devices. This will help you give all of your subscribers a great experience.
Limit your emails to one call to action
The point of every message is to get subscribers to take the next, easy step. Usually, this is clicking a link in the email to view a piece of content or a landing page.
If you put too many calls to action in your email, your subscribers will get distracted and fail to do the one thing that you really want them to do. Focus on the single, most important call to action and save your other messages for future emails.
Email marketing is still a powerful way to reach B2B buyers. But getting it right requires a well-planned strategy.
Start by understanding your customer journey. Then, create emails that will engage customers throughout every stage – whether they are early-stage prospects who are researching their problems to late-stage leads who are ready to buy.