Guest blog from Khalid Saleh is the co-founder and CEO of Invesp CRO.
As a B2B marketer, your job isn’t just to get visitors to your site; it’s also to convert those visitors into leads and customers.
I’ve seen this first hand – businesses spend thousands of dollars creating and spreading content only to see conversion rates in the low single digits.
Fortunately, a few simple best practices can easily help you create content and copy that converts. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing 3,000+ word blog posts or 140 character tweets, the tips shared below will help turn more visitors into leads, and leads into customers.
Specificity is a powerful persuasion weapon in the B2B marketer’s arsenal. Businesses, after all, usually make purchase decisions after extensive deliberation; a case study or a blog post that promises an exact result is usually more compelling than a vague proposition.
In fact, studies show that among investors, showing exact numbers inspires more trust than vague figures.
Think of an example: which of these two case study headlines would you trust?
- Case study #1: “7 tactics that helped us capture 298 extra leads and increase revenue by 23%”
- Case study #2: “How we captured more leads and grew our revenue”
For nearly all of you, it would be the former.
How to use it
Embrace exactness in all your marketing collateral, whether on your site or away from it. Some ways to do this are:
A. Use specific numbers in your case studies
Specific numbers imply tangible real-world results. Encourage your salespeople to talk about the exact results you delivered for clients. Don’t just use vague statements like “we increased sales”. Instead, show specific results – “we increased sales by 300% from 100 units to 400 units over 29 days”.
For example, Socedo’s own case studies usually show its customers’ exact results:
B. Show exact traffic/subscriber/social media figures:
If you’re using traffic data, email subscriber count or social media following as a proof of your authority and popularity, make sure to use exact figures.
For example, Buffer uses opt-in boxes that show exactly how many email subscribers it has. This implies that many marketers value Buffer’s email newsletters so that you should value them as well.
C. Tell readers exactly what they’ll get from your content
Your readers shouldn’t be left scratching their heads when they see your blog post in their Twitter feed. Instead of vague ideas, tell readers exactly what the blog post will cover.
This is one reason why list headlines consistently get massive shares – readers know exactly how many points they contain. Addressing the reader directly and telling them how they can do something better is another way to get the reader to engage with your content.
Follow Persuasion Principles
The 6 persuasion principles outlined by Dr. Cialdini in Influence – social proof, scarcity, authority, likeability, reciprocity, and consistency – are at the heart of conversion-oriented content.
You know this yourself – a recommendation from a friend or a trusted authority figure carries far more weight than a tip from a random salesperson.
In fact, according to one study, nearly 84% of business decision makers start off the purchase process with a referral from someone they know and trust – essentially, a form of persuasion at play.
Another study found that B2B buyers are increasingly turning to review sites and recommendations from colleagues as social proof before making a purchase decision.
How to use it
There are a number of ways to use persuasion principles in your content and copy.
A. Show recognized brands that use your product
This is a form of social proof as well as authority. By showing how lots of well-known brands use and trust your products, you build consensus and encourage on-the-fence visitors to take action.
For example, see this list of clients from Socedo’s homepage:
B. Use testimonials & reviews from trusted industry figures
Testimonials and reviews are another form of social proof. If you can source them from trusted industry publications, you also gain an edge in authority.
For example, you’ll see positive comments from trusted blogs on the Socedo homepage:
As well as testimonials from select clients:
C. Show off awards and industry recognition
Another way to build up authority is to show off any awards or industry recognition you might have won. You can also enhance trust by telling readers how long you’ve been in business and the credentials of your founding team.
For example, Trighton, a digital agency, shows off its marketing awards on its homepage:
Create Content that Grabs Attention
Your customers are a distracted lot. In fact, one study even found that human beings now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.
Online, this is best seen in the way we read web pages. According to one eye-tracking study by NNGroup, surfers don’t read pages; they scan them in a F-shaped pattern.
If you want to turn visitors into leads, you must create content that grabs readers’ attention. This means that your content must be:
- Easy to read with simple language and short sentences.
- Formatted for scanning with short paragraphs, lots of sub-headers and bullet points.
- Visually captivating with frequent use of visuals to break the monotony of text.
While this won’t directly lead to higher conversion rates, it will ensure that visitors stick around longer on your site. This gives you more time to convince and convert them into customers.
How to use it
You can use a number of tactics to create content that captures the reader’s attention, such as:
- Keep paragraphs limited to 2-3 sentences at most. Your sentences shouldn’t be longer than 10-15 words.
- Use bullet points and sub-headers liberally throughout your content.
- Avoid jargon and replace complicated words with simple alternatives. For maximum impact, your writing must read at a 5th grade level (use the Hemingway app for this).
- Use images throughout your content, both to illustrate your ideas and to break the monotony of text.
- Use rhetorical questions to keep readers interested, especially during the dull parts of your copy.
Use Empathy in Your Copy
As an experienced sales coach will tell you, empathy is one of the strongest qualities you can have as a salesperson. If you empathize with your prospects and understand their problems, you’re halfway there to closing the deal.
This applies to your content and copy as well. Show readers that you are “one of them”, understand their concerns and you’ll be much closer to winning them. The more subtly you can do this, the more persuasive your copy will be.
In one case study, an empathetic tone in the email copy increased conversion rates from 1.58% to 7.08%.
How to use it
Here are a few tactics you can use to convey empathy through your copy:
A. Write in first-person and refer to readers as “you”
Thanks to social media and the internet, there’s been a big change in the way businesses communicate. As Beth Osborne argued earlier, an empathetic tone with a focus on first-person communication makes your business sound friendly and approachable
B. Use empathetic images
The human brain thinks in images. As per MIT, the brain can recognize images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.
In your content, use images that empathize with the audience or amplify the message in your content.
For example, this post from Nate Strong uses a meme to condense (and amplify) his message:
Similarly, this post from INC magazine uses an image that amplifies the post content:
Write Like a Storyteller
Think about your favorite Stephen King book. Whatever emotion you felt (mostly terror), it was largely because of King’s ability to create compelling imagery with his words.
If you care about conversions, you should use the same approach in your copy.
Storytelling is essentially about relating to your readers, following a structure that holds the reader’s attention, and using compelling visuals to amplify the story’s impact.
When used right, it can have a lasting impact on your readers and boost conversion rates.
How to use it
Here are a few storytelling tactics you can use in your copy:
A. Use power words
Power words are words that trigger an action or evoke an emotion from readers. Often, these are highly visual words that paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.
For example, this headline from the Socedo blog uses a power word: “abuse”:
B. Follow the story structure
Most stories follow a simple structure:
- Protagonist encounters a problem
- Something (usually the antagonist) escalates the problem
- Protagonist solves the problem
This Problem-Agitation-Solution (P-A-M) structure makes for powerful storytelling. Try following it in your copy as well by highlighting your customers’ problems, amplifying it, then offering a solution (your product).
Over to You
Creating content that converts is one of the biggest challenges for for B2B marketers. Well-optimized, conversion-focused content not only helps you get more traffic, but also turn those visitors into leads.
Start off by following the best practices shared above. These 5 best practices will help you create content that grabs attention, amplifies the value of your product, and directs readers to finding a solution.
Khalid Saleh is the co-founder and CEO of Invesp CRO, a leading provider of conversion rate and landing page optimization solutions. You can follow Invesp on Twitter and Youtube for latest conversion rate optimization articles and webinars.