Businesses offering services, especially in the SaaS sector have seen success after implementing a content strategy that embraces their expertise. B2B writing requires an authentic voice that understands the challenges and nuances of a niche.
Today I want to discuss some common pitfalls that you may encounter while writing B2B content, as well as opportunities that businesses can embrace and use to their advantage. Then we will dive into some real-world examples of well-written content and share why it works.
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Table of Contents
Avoid These B2B Writing Pitfalls
Writing fluff is any content that is not adding anything of value to the reader. It can feel as if the content drags on forever, is repeating itself, or just dancing around the subject without adding anything new.
We have all read it, and we have all written it before.
This is a pitfall that can happen to junior writers, writers that are not familiar enough with a topic, or even when using unedited AI-generated content.
These articles can appear as perfectly optimized long-form articles to the unknowing eye, but someone in the niche or industry will notice immediately.
B2B writing doesn’t need fluff or unnecessary paragraphs attempting to hit a word count. It needs to be concise, correct, and authentic. In other words, satisfy EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness).
Fluff can come across as insincere to readers. If a company isn’t investing in a writer who is well-versed in a topic, then do they actually care about you? Do they care about their content or brand value?
In 2022, yes, keyword stuffing is still a thing. It may feel incredibly tempting to toss that keyword into every single H2, but you shouldn’t.
Repetitive text is boring to any reader.
Search engines are smart enough to understand your topic through context not only words.
Keyword stuffing goes hand in hand with writing fluff. When writing about a topic you might not know much about, then you might notice a repetition of words and phrases. Compared to an expert in a field or industry, who will have many ways to talk about the topic.
“When creating SEO-optimized content, it’s important to write with your keywords in mind. Adding keywords after you’ve written a blog post or a site page can make your keywords appear “stuffed” and far from organic. Take a look at your keywords before you begin writing, and develop a plan for how they’ll fit into your topic. However, never write solely to place keywords. High-quality content should always come first!” – Angela from Flow SEO
While anyone can write a few words, being a good writer takes practice and patience.
Not Doing Research
With the world at your fingertips, there is no excuse for this one. Whenever I get a new client, I spend a significant amount of time researching their industry, product, and positioning before I even write a single word.
Where to start? Wikipedia. Next? Let yourself flow down the rabbit hole of ideas around that niche or industry. Read blogs on the first page, other businesses’ websites, forums, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook groups, or Discord servers.
Find industry sites that are reporting the latest news and trends. For example, in the travel industry Skift is the go-to for everything happening at the moment. There you can find breaking news around airlines or travel restrictions, how to protect your travel-based business from pandemics, and relevant events.
Doing thorough research will help you write like an industry expert by using relevant examples, speaking their language, and understanding their needs, challenges, and concerns.
If after the research stage you still don’t feel confident in your understanding, then see if interviewing is an option. It is a great research tool to get to the heart of a topic from someone who is an expert.
“Make sure you take the time to understand the product you’re writing about or writing for. To this end, explore the tool yourself if you can. Or go through the knowledge base and demo videos to understand it. Doing so tells you how intuitive the product is, exactly what it is, and in what ways it can help your readers. This information, in turn, helps you subtly and convincingly weave in product features in your content—improving the overall quality of your content plus boosting conversions.” – Masooma Memon, freelance writer for SaaS
Speaking to a Broad Audience
B2B writing is not for a broad audience.
In fact, it has a very clear and defined audience. Articles that are written for a broad audience risk not connecting with the right audience. If you want your content to resonate with readers and guide them further along the customer journey then you need to speak to them specifically.
Google is far more forgiving than a human.
You can write an article that is mediocre, and Google will crawl, index, and maybe rank it. If you later improve that article, Google will repeat the process and determine if it is worth improving its ranking. This is a forgiving process that can be adjusted repeatedly.
Humans, on the other hand, take 1/10th of a second to make a first impression.
There is no guarantee that they will come back and visit your website or article again, even after it has been updated. An assessment of your content and brand has been made and the next step is remediation.
Listen to your audience, relate to them, and most importantly, write for them.
Embrace These B2B Writing Opportunities
Real industry examples will help elevate your B2B writing. If you are attracting the attention of the right audience they will appreciate reading different perspectives or experiences in their niche.
Stop thinking of every competitor as an enemy and embrace that collaboration can help everyone. Collaborating within your industry, networking at professional events, and reaching out to influencers on social media will expand your reach.
Beekeeper, an employee engagement tool, does this well in their article about streamlining the onboarding process. They share industry examples to support the article’s thesis while being relatable to the reader.
Another solid example is ClockShark’s use of interviewing in a piece about construction job costs. They interviewed an employee from a construction management and consulting firm and a construction writer (ex-construction accountant).
“I think content–even B2B content–is trending toward a more journalistic style. Namely, people are interested in hearing what experts have to say about trends, successes, failures, etc. I think one of the best things to do when tackling a topic is to interview subject matter experts and include their expertise in your piece. It brings fresh insight from the people who are seeing real results into a piece of content.” – Ashley R Cummings
Sharing these real-world industry experiences helps readers to relate to your content. Don’t be afraid to use jargon or a friendlier tone in your writing. B2B writing does not have to be serious all the time.
Everyone loves an underdog story or a happy ending. Case studies are just that!
Embrace the storytelling aspect of a case study. Your client is the protagonist with relatable qualities and a problem that needs solving. This will become the character arc.
Your company enters the story in a later scene as a new sidekick. Tell a story about how the sidekick helped the protagonist overcome their problems. Do it in a way that your audience can relate to, and addresses their common challenges, pain points, and what keeps them up at night.
Don’t be afraid to share in detail how the sidekick helped. A lot of companies fear sharing too many details of their strategy will lead to copying. This is a useless fear and leads to gatekeeping instead of collaboration. Implementing something is much different than strategizing it.
Not all topics can be able to be optimized for keywords – especially around new industries or topics not often discussed publicly. Remember that 0 search volume in Ahrefs does not absolutely mean no one is searching for or interested in that topic.
This is my favorite part of SEO, as your article ages it will continue to be shared and hopefully gain links, and eventually, there will be a larger search volume for that topic. Maybe even thanks to your article. The URL will be rewarded in SERPs.
B2B Examples in the Wild
As SEOs we tend to examine metrics like backlinks, referring domains, or organic keywords to determine the success of a page. While this is true, don’t forget that engagement across platforms is also important.
Smart Trucking | Authentic content for their industry
An excellent example of relatable and authentic content is Smart Trucking. They have a successful website and YouTube channel that covers topics specifically relevant to truck drivers.
What do they do right?
They speak in the voice of their colleagues and are not trying to be anything else. When reading their articles, it is very clear that whoever wrote them works in the industry and has real-world experience.
They make their content easy to browse with clear categories and titles. There is also a mix of useful tutorials, best-of lists for the year, and casual content for truck lovers.
They have high engagement rates for such a specific niche. Their YouTube channel has nearly 200k followers and more than 50 million views overall. Their Facebook page has 75k followers and 41k likes with each post having high engagement.
Their website is performing equally as well:
Referring Domains: 4.9k
BuzzSumo | Inspiration for their SaaS product
When BuzzSumo released their latest feature inside their platform, the Content Ideas Generator, they also released a guide to introduce it.
Some B2B software providers tend to publish a 400-word article declaring that their team has finally pushed out a new feature and a quick CTA asking their audience to try it.
Your team may know everything about this tool and it feels as though if you have to speak about it again, you will lose your mind. Remember your audience is hearing about it for the very first time. Use this opportunity to educate them on what the feature or tool is, and how it fits into their workflow, and offer inspiration.
What do they do right?
They understand the industry they are speaking to and show that by providing real-world examples of how their product fits into a marketer or PRs workflow. Alongside that, they show screenshots of their product in use for each example so it occupies multiple purposes.
It educates readers about what their product can do but also educates them on how to use their product. Once a reader becomes a customer, they will already have a better understanding of how to use your tool.
Mailcharts | Industry insights to pair with their service
Mailcharts, an email campaign planning and inspiration tool for e-commerce, regularly publishes blog articles that share original industry insights based on their databases. These timely posts share purchasing trends and buyer preferences in the e-commerce space. A great example of this is found in Retail, Beauty Brands Partner Up in Email where they share insights gained from their software.
What do they do right?
Mailcharts is offering relevant and timely insights to their users to help them use their product even better. These are original data points that will always be attributed back to Mailcharts (yes, these articles are great for backlinks).
While these articles can help email marketers pivot their campaigns to align with customer activity they are also a starting point for sparking inspiration. Inside each blog post, Mailcharts shares real-world examples of emails sent by known brands.
Personio | Sharing thought leadership
Thought leadership is a major buzzword right now, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore its impact when done correctly. Personio utilizes its networks and resources to provide a series they call Think Tank. This is a collaborative project where experts in a field come together to discuss their work experiences, challenges, best practices, and more.
What do they do right?
Personio published ‘Culture is Everything’ as part of their Think Tank series. This one focused on challenges HR leaders across Europe are experiencing. Sharing a list of common challenges is an opportunity that at least some of them will resonate with your readers.
There is a concise summary of discussions around each of the priority topics allowing the reader to get right to the point rather than wading through 2000+ words. Another aspect that they do well, is providing a lot of internal links so that readers can continue their journey through the website based on their interests.
“The one thing I think is most important for B2B writers is to have your own unique voice and point of view. B2B writers often have limited influence over the subject matter they cover, and subjects can sometimes be dry. Having a unique point of view or perspective is key to set your content apart from everyone else writing about the same thing.” – Jessica Ruane from Beekeeper
I couldn’t agree more with Jessica, successful B2B writing is authentic. All of us have challenges or problems in our daily work lives that we would love to resolve. Zero in on these points, and how you can improve your audiences’ work experience without adding to their pain.