6 B2B communication best practices to increase engagement
There’s an old adage: People do business with people they like. That centers on how the business communicates. Effective B2B communications help build trust and confidence about a company. Yet all too often, B2B content misses the mark, sounding more like it’s coming from a building, instead of people.
To motivate leads, keep the conversation going, and drive conversion, it may be time to refresh old ways of communicating. Here are some B2B communication best practices you can put into action to help spark engagement and strengthen relationships.
1 – Focus on them, not you
This is always #1 because it’s the most common communications mistake companies make. B2B customers need to understand what you do and how – but what they care about most is capturing business value. So “lead with the win” (as we like to say) and communicate that first.
Instead of: “Our products are built on the latest technologies to give you the capabilities to scale your business.”
Consider: “Gain the power to scale faster with products built on the latest technologies.”
Your tactical excellence is important and there’s a place for that. But in any given sentence, it’s always possible to open with how customers benefit, and then say how it relates to a given product, service, or feature. That doesn’t mean layer in marketing fluff; just focus first on what’s in it for the customer.
Look at one of your typical communications. If you see a lot of sentences that begin with “we” or “our”, it’s time to flip that messaging to literally put the customer first.
2 – Use clear, plain language
Understandably, the way you talk to business audiences is different than consumers. But nearly anyone is more likely to read communications that are clear and easy to understand. Even more so, B2B decision makers who have little time or attention to spare for your content.
Instead of: “Availability of robust new data elements implies that high quality risk models can be constructed when paired with traditional credit bureau data, consumer behavior, and scores to yield previously unavailable assessments of affordability and incremental risk.”
Consider: “Organizations can now gain unprecedented insight into affordability and risk. Beyond bureau data, innovative credit risk models can tap into behavioral data, scores, and more.”
Even if your offerings are highly complex, your communications should not be. Convey your key takeaways in simple, conversational language. Some industry jargon or tech-speak may be necessary to seem relevant to certain segments, but don’t rely heavily on that. Even overly long sentences, jumbled with too many ideas, can make reading a chore.
Your goal is to get to the point quickly, with messaging that’s engaging and easy to read.
A word of caution: Don’t be so obsessed with brevity and word count that your messaging sounds vague. Before clicking a button or filling out a form, people want to feel confident they have at least a basic understanding of what they’re pursuing.
3 – Be consistent with brand messages
With B2B solutions, you may have many elements and variants to talk about, and you need to do that across multiple channels. It can be challenging to keep messaging aligned everywhere, but consistency is critical to telling a cohesive brand story.
Consider creating a value proposition framework of key messages and proof points that your team can weave into many types of content. Think everything from web copy, blogs, and social posts, to sales decks and talking points.
You don’t need to rigidly repeat the same phrasing everywhere, but make sure the essential points are conveyed consistently. That helps your sales and marketing teams stay on brand, and helps your target audiences avoid any confusion that might turn them off.
4 – Write in the active voice
For years, B2B communications have trudged along using the ‘passive voice’, which can make content sound dry, formal, and aloof. That’s not the brand impression you want to make. Using the ‘active voice’ helps make your communications more direct and compelling.
Instead of: ““Information can be found at…”
Consider: “You can find information at…”
In the passive voice, the action is being done indirectly. In the active voice, the subject is doing the action. One easy way to spot passive voice in your content is to look for actions expressed in the past tense, and usually later in the sentence. Shifting to active voice can help you be more concise, and involve your audience more.
5 – Proof-read out loud
Your B2B communications need to reflect the care and professionalism you bring to your business. Proofing your content is more than just spell-checking. You also want to avoid awkward phrasing and long, run-on sentences that can be hard to read.
Rule of thumb: Read every communication out loud. It helps you make sure messaging sounds natural and conversational. And, it’s a great way to catch errors your editing tools might miss.
6 – Align content types and messaging with the buying lifecycle
Nurturing the B2B sales cycle requires a thoughtful content strategy, with communications that reflect the mindset of decision-makers at various stages. Early on, they need brand awareness for a high-level understanding of what you offer and why they should care. In the consideration phase, it’s usually all about building trust and credibility. Closer to decision-making, people are often more ready for deep-dive, practical details.
But everyone is different. Each prospect’s needs and interests will guide the types of content and level of detail you share at certain phases of the sales cycle. The point is to be prepared with a range of effective communications – that factor in the above best practices – to help increase engagement.
From building exposure via social media, to nurturing leads with blogs, whitepapers, success stories, and webinars, your content should focus on topics that will resonate with your audiences. Address relevant concerns, desired outcomes, and industry trends. This approach enables you to demonstrate thought leadership and credibility, without a hard sell. You can use those storylines to underscore the need for solutions like what you provide, and tailor them to different segments or verticals.
At some point, prospects may want solution-specific content (e.g., feature specs, API docs). Again, make sure even technical communications are clear and easy to understand.
For any and all content, relevance is key. That’s why customer personas and journey maps should be a central part of your B2B communications playbook. “Your communications are an opportunity to deliver a meaningful experience,” notes Beyond the Arc CEO Steven Ramirez, “Personas and journey maps help you craft that experience with the right focus.”
Optimizing your B2B communications with Beyond the Arc
Every communication is an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships. For 20+ years, we’ve helped companies increase B2B engagement by creating omnichannel content that’s relevant, relatable, and focused on customer needs.
We’re also strategic thinkers and trendspotters, and creative idea people, with deep expertise in financial services, fintech, and tech.