As a B2B content commissioner, a prime part of your role is to make sure internally and externally produced content speaks with your brand’s tone of voice – but what does that mean in practice?
All too often, corporate brand guidelines focus on a list of aspirational statements and are light on detail – the specifics of what you should be looking for when you review blog posts, whitepapers, brochures and eBooks. Vague, subjective pointers like ‘be inspirational’ aren’t always the type of practical guidance you need.
We’ve been interpreting and implementing global organisations’ tone of voice guidelines for over 16 years now, so here’s a brief rundown of our top tips…
1. Look beyond the aspirational aims
Use any tone descriptors to give you a flavour of how a brand aims to sound, but don’t get too hung up on trying to interpret them into concrete examples. They’re usually included to paint a word picture, rather than to provide hard-and-fast rules. Remember, too, that these descriptors are highly subjective: what’s ‘visionary’ for one person could well be exaggeration for another.
2. Take your guidance from the examples
Good tone of voice guidelines will include plenty of examples, usually demonstrating before and after scenarios. This is where you can really get to grips with the mechanics of tone, seeing it in action and understanding how it varies between different content types. Often you learn as much from what the brand team doesn’t want than from what it does.
3. Remember the constants of any brand voice
The brand voice may go through many updates, but the fundamentals of tone will remain the same:
- communicate clearly and directly, leading with the benefits for the target audience
- get to the point – take out any sentences that don’t add value
- cut the jargon
- beware of over claiming – it’ll devalue your message
- use an appropriate level of explanation – don’t assume and don’t patronise
- be led by your audience – the tonal shade that works for CEOs might not be right for colleague communications.
4. Get a second pair of eyes on it
Particularly in the early days of a brand voice update, it’s often useful to get a marketing colleague to review the tone of a piece of content. This way your team will quickly build up a shared view how your brand voice should be brought to life and will be ready to give constructive feedback to content creators.
5. Connect with your brand team
Your brand team have invested huge amounts of time into developing the tone of voice guidelines and they know them better than anyone else, so use your brand colleagues. It’s never helpful when marketing departments see brand as a hindrance to getting content out. Instead, see the brand team as a resource you can tap into for clarification and guidance. Bringing brand in on your first few content reviews, or on any tricky issues, is always a good idea and will deepen your tonal knowledge for the future.
We are experts at creating B2B content in your brand voice. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about working together.
In B2B marketing, your content often revolves around sharing expert opinions with your decision-making audience. For many organisations, that means getting subject matter experts to write whitepapers, eBooks and blog posts.
Is there a better way?
Content written by subject matter experts only works if the experts in the target company are making the buying decisions, but that doesn’t happen often. It’s more likely that your decision-making audience are time-poor C-suite executives who need to grasp the value of your proposition quickly before saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
To get that ‘yes’, global organisations’ marketing departments often use content creators as ‘translators’ who make complex expertise simple and set it in the context of how it can help the business.
We’ve been translating expertise for over 15 years, and rely on a few key principles to generate successful content:
1. Value your expert
Always remember that the heart of your content is your expert’s knowledge, not the marketing you surround it with. They operate in a world of precise terminology, where using a term incorrectly could change the whole meaning or devalue your efforts to be a thought leader. Put time into understanding the language of the sector and ask questions if something’s unclear.
2. Capture your expert’s tone
Thought leadership content often needs the credibility of a named author. So, it makes sense to incorporate the individual’s turns of speech to create standout from your corporate tone. Listen out for favourite phrases or effective analogies when talking to your expert .Then, weave them into your clear, easy-to-read copy.
3. Ask the right questions
Expertise can be intimidating because you don’t have an equal level of knowledge. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not in the conversation to debate the finer points of the subject. Your job is to gather information, clarify your understanding and get an overall picture of the messages your expert wants to get across. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for simplistic explanations suitable for a bright ten-year-old, or to probe if you don’t get the point straightaway.
4. Clarify your parameters
Your expert’s knowledge is deep and wide, and there’s no way you can capture it all in one piece of content. Always start a project with a clear idea of the area you are covering, preferably broken down into sections by the expert or the marketing department in advance. An effective opening question is ‘what’s the key message you want the reader to take away from this content?’.
5. Be an intermediary
Successful content sets the thought leadership of expertise within a clear context of benefits for the reader’s organisation. Getting to this point involves tapping into your expert’s interactions with customers so that they share actionable insights rather than knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Always filter what your expert is telling you through the question, ‘how does this help our target audience?’.
We excel at making this whole process easy for both the experts and the marketing department. Get in touch if you’d like to find out how we could connect your customers with your expert’s insight.
Creating captivating calls to action
Calls to action (CTAs) take up a tiny amount of time, money and space, yet punch well above their weight – improving conversion rates by up to 30%.
A great CTA gets readers clicking and will seriously increase your overall conversion rate.
It’s a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to convince your audience to do something: whether that be clicking a link or downloading a file. By writing great CTAs, you can re-generate older content in minutes and make sure your new stuff is irresistible to readers.
Here’s how to write a great call to action:
Make it actionable and personable
Imperatives and the second-person are your friend. Get customers’ attention by using ‘you’. And make it clear what they should do with imperative verbs (the bossy ones) — think ‘download this’, ‘click that’, ‘get it?’.
Motivate them to act
Give your reader a reason to act. They’re asking ‘what’s in it for me?’, so it’s important you tell them clearly. ‘Download something’ would be a less motivating CTA than, for example, ‘Downloading this will make your job easier’.
Keep it consistent
Whatever your CTA refers to, give the offer/proposition a name and stick to it. If you call it a download on your landing page, call it a download in your blog, and in all CTAs. Otherwise people either get confused or don’t trust you. Either way, they’re not clicking on your link.
Make it urgent, now
We’re all busy, so you need to make the most of people’s desire to get things done quickly. The internet, after all, is hardly a place for thoughtful contemplation. The word ‘now’ is your friend.
Websites that are consistent and well designed, encourage trust. But it’s important that CTA buttons also stand out. So make it pop (and look clickable). Buttons are stereotypically red for a reason.
Test them out
Not sure if your CTA has what it takes? Ask your audience. A/B test multiple CTAs to find the one with the best engagement.
As you can see, these steps are pretty simple. They’re also inexpensive and can be done straight away. So don’t be deceived by their size, CTAs are powerful little things.
Click now for even more conversion tips – (see what we did there!?).
How to repurpose your content
Repurposing is a resourceful and cost-effective way to generate more value and return from B2B content. It can also help maximise potential reach, improve quality and refine audience targeting. And, even diversify your output to capture new audiences.
But, while it can be tempting to try and squeeze the maximum value out of every single piece of content, it’s also vital to know when you’re stretching something too far. Overuse of materials and unnecessary repetition will undermine your credibility or make it seem like you’re short of original ideas.
Here are four key considerations for knowing when it’s right to repurpose:
1. To resurrect or not to resurrect?
It’s often said some things are best left to rest. But certain content can be given a whole new lease of life with a simple reshare or a light refresh. Don’t be afraid to repost or share old material if it’s theme or topic has resurfaced or is just as relevant now. If done right, it will only reinforce your position as forward thinking or ahead of the curve. However, make sure you remove any outdated or time specific references wherever possible.
2. Will it transform into other formats?
Some content has valuable potential to be transformed into other formats. An engaging webinar should offer plenty of quotable material for snippets or short clips. And, if you can get hold of the transcript, it can also provide the basis for a new blog post. Strong whitepapers should have enough content in them to craft multiple blog posts. Similarly, old blog posts can even be turned into short guides.
Plus, it’s always worthwhile to think about what would translate well visually. For a start, eye-opening stats and astounding data can be extracted for infographics. These are just a few starting points, but there’s a whole range of possibilities to explore and experiment with.
3. Will it repurpose for social media?
Social media is a great tool for repurposing marketing materials, as almost everything has potential on social media if the content is of good quality. For example, intriguing stats and thought provoking quotes from whitepapers can be used as social posts that capture people’s attention. Great phrases from articles or blog posts will draw people in and, if they’re paired well with powerful imagery, they can be used in slideshows, animations, or videos. The same applies if poignant questions or sound bites stand out during webinars, simply posting them on social media can drive engagement and interaction with your followers and stimulate fresh discussion.
4. Most importantly, is it evergreen?
The final and most important point is to recognise how some content is ‘evergreen’ and has greater repurposing potential. While there’ll always be a place for repurposed content in your campaigns, you’ll get far more value in the longer term if you plan your strategies with future opportunities in mind and create content to stand the test of time.
We all know how current trends and terminology can quickly go out of fashion, so try to gauge whether you think something will last. If you always work with a longer term view in mind, then you’ll always have something that’s relevant or valuable, and can easily be repurposed in a short space of time.
On the whole, repurposing isn’t a shameful secret, almost all marketeers are at it. But the key is to understand when it’s the right time and when it’s definitely not.
Here at asabell we have extensive experience in helping clients shape their marketing strategy, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to find out how we can help you.
How to create ‘user-focused’ content in 5 steps
Ensuring that your content is relevant and useful for your user is fundamental in content marketing and the mantra of most experienced content creators. And it’s become more important than ever. We now live in a hyper-connected digital age where almost anyone can become a writer and publisher. Content is created and consumed faster than ever before and your audience is likely jaded from all the spam, adverts and irrelevant or badly produced content that they encounter on a daily basis. Users are becoming increasingly picky about what content grabs and holds their attention, so it’s crucial that you cut through the noise when it comes to your own channels.
We’ve outlined 5 steps to help you ensure your content is relevant to your audience:
1. Establish a clear purpose
You’d be surprised how often this simple but important point is ignored. If you can’t justify the point of what you’re doing, or if the reasoning behind creating a piece of content is just because ‘that’s what we should do’, then that’s not good enough. Does your audience need it? Will they use it? Do they want it? Is it relevant? Always consider why you are creating this content and how it benefits your audience.
2. Identify your target audience
Understanding your audience is critical to getting the returns you deserve, so drill down into the granular detail about who they might be. What are their characteristics? Interests? Profession? Which channels do they use? All these criteria will help build an idea of who you should be aiming your content at and how to tailor it for them.
3. Determine your tone of voice (TOV)
When it comes to copy, clarity is always key – but don’t forget to infuse a sense of identity and individuality into your TOV and keep it consistent. Injecting character into your content is a powerful way to be memorable and drive connection, trust and, ultimately, conversions. Consider the type of person you’re targeting and use appropriate language – for example, being overly informal or humorous isn’t going to resonate with a largely professional audience.
4. Find your user needs and map your user journey
Your users have needs. Otherwise, why would they want to access your content? Perhaps it’s to solve a problem, maybe they’re seeking advice, they may want to learn, keep updated with current trends in their industry, or they may just want some enjoyment. Make sure to map out your user journey, starting with their need, how your content fills that purpose and, finally, the action you want them to take.
5. Decide on your call to action (CTA)
Don’t miss this valuable, and often final, opportunity for conversion success. Make sure your CTA is clear, visible and concise. And, for readers with shorter attention spans, consider having mini-CTAs placed at different points of your article or content – don’t always leave them to the end.
At asabell we have a team of highly skilled copywriters who can help with your projects, big and small. If you’d like to find out more about how we could help you, please get in touch.
4 tips for writing effective copywriting briefs
It’s very hard for a copywriter to write a high-quality piece of work if they don’t have a high-quality brief to follow. Essentially you get out what you put in. Here are four top tips to help you write better briefs so that your copywriters can produce their best work:
- Introduce your writer to the intended reader
You know who the content is aimed at but your writer might not, so introduce each other. Using personas in your briefs can give a clear idea of what subject matter, tone of voice, and level of specialist complexity are appropriate, helping your copywriters to craft relatable content for your target audience. Even if it feels silly to say “47-year-old Steven, who works in cybersecurity and is struggling with managing remote workers”, this paints a picture of the individual and their pain point. Ultimately, the more detail you can provide about the reader, the better.
- Always have a clear call-to-action
You could be wasting your copywriting budget if your copywriter starts writing without a clear idea of what you want your reader to do once they’ve read the copy. Sometimes in larger organisations, content can change hands a lot, get passed down the line and the purpose ends up getting lost. Like Chinese whispers… If needs be, go back to the drawing board and outline a reason for each piece of content in your strategy. If you can’t clearly explain the action you’d like your reader to take and the purpose of the content in your brief, you’re not going to see the conversion rates or engagement you were hoping for.
- If necessary, make a call
A discussion of the project and what you want to achieve can sometimes be more time-efficient than trying to condense everything you want to say in an email or briefing form. Remember, a skilled copywriter will know the key information they need, so make sure the conversation is collaborative. After the call, they can write up their notes from your discussion and outline the key points you covered so that you can both sign it off before they start work.
- Include background information or other examples
If you’re aware of similar articles or topical news stories that explore the same issue as your copywriting project, share them with your copywriter. This isn’t about plagiarism or creating unoriginal content but about providing background and inspiring ideas. It’s also worth sharing similar pieces of work you’ve done, or they’ve written, in the past. There’s no point reinventing the wheel if there’s a previous format or style you’re looking to recreate.
Copy that captivates
Any time invested in creating a strong brief will pay off later when you get high-quality copy the first time around. Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity to put your writer on the right path to success by sharing all the insight you can in your brief.
Here at asabell, we understand that words might not necessarily be your forte. We have a team of highly skilled copywriters who can help with your projects, big and small. If you’d like to find out more about how we could help you, please get in touch.
How to plan effectively to promote your webinar
As you’re probably aware, a successful webinar can help you to connect with your community, drive customer interactions and bring in new business. In fact, 74% of marketers consider webinars to be the best way to generate quality leads.
But are you getting the results you want ? Or maybe you’re thinking of hosting one but you’re not sure where to start?
It’s really important to have a well thought out strategy for both before and after to maximise its impact.
This might all sound daunting but thankfully our experts have done the hard work for you. We’ve created a full guide so all you need to do is follow the steps.
How to structure your web content for success
When you’re planning your website content, your top priority should be making it easy for your users to find what they are looking for – it must be all about the user experience. And a good UX design needs well-structured content that takes your audience’s needs and user journeys into account.
Here we share some top tips for structuring your content, and the best ways to use it to signpost and guide your user to make your website effective.
Structure for readability
The much-cited Nielson Normal Group research studies found that 79% of test users simply scan pages and only 16% read word-by-word. Users want to spend minimum amounts of time on each page, not trawl through text, so structure to help readability.
Remember these tips when creating and editing your content:
- Include an introduction or opening that flags up what the page or article is about
- Use a hierarchy of information – less important information may need to go on a separate page or lower down in another section
- Use bullet points, lists and short, snappy paragraphs to help with skim-reading
- Break text up and add variety to your pages using images, videos and other media
- Consider drop downs (accordions) for larger blocks of text which go into detail on a particular subject to help quick browsing
- Create landing pages with links out to child pages for larger sections, rather than creating long pages with lots of information all bundled together
Guide your user
If your user can’t find what they need, or the structure of your content is illogical, then you risk a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. When you’re used to your own website it’s easy to slip into thinking it’s obvious where to click next or how to find certain content, but your user may have only just landed on your website. Look at your structure from the viewpoint of a first-time visitor and make navigation intuitive.
Make it easy for your user to find their way around:
- Use headings and subheadings to signpost your content
- Tell the user where to go. Is there relevant content on another page? Tell them to click through. Is there a handy video guide below? Tell them to watch it
- Think about how presenting certain information (such as opening hours) in a carefully formatted table can make it easier to read
- Use clear hyperlink text so the user knows where they are going and what to expect
- Group small amounts of related information visually and prioritise key elements so that your content has a logical structure
- Ideally, only use one call to action per page – preferably styled as a button with just a few words specifying a clear action such as ‘Get in touch’ to boost conversions
- Use different design elements to separate out sections and to make key information stand out, for example testimonials or client logos
Structure for success
Here at asabell we have experts on hand to help you with creating and editing copy, and we’re highly experienced in bringing fresh eyes to your website with a deep-dive audit. If you’d like some support with your website structure or content, please get in touch.
How to predict what content will convert a lead into business
As B2B marketeers, we all want prospects to get in touch. But to transform enquiries into actual business, you need to understand where each potential customer is coming from. Each prospect will want to see different types of content, so you’ll need to tailor your strategy accordingly to convince them you’re the right fit for them.
These are the four broad types of customer you need to get to know. Get familiar with them, so you can identify what stage of the journey they’re at, and effectively channel their enquiries into lead conversion success.
The quick contacter
How do they get in touch?
They might phone, ping off a quick email, or send a message via your contact form; either way, they’ve done it straight away.
What content would they like to see?
At this stage, don’t invest too much time or offer a proposal – this might even be off-putting for them. They probably just want a quick conversation, so give clear examples of your work online and some of your relevant past clients.
How well do they know you?
They probably don’t know much about you beyond your landing page or social media profiles. Give them an insight into who you are and what you do but don’t invest too much time. It’s likely they’ll be calling around several different options at the moment, so have some information ready to go that you can quickly and easily tailor for these types of enquiries.
Unless they’re a small company, they’re unlikely to be the key decision maker within their organisation, so give them a professional and persuasive synopsis that they can easily present on to their boss. Don’t inundate them with too much detail. Nurturing leads like this can take a long time and can often be frustrating if they don’t get back in touch, but never underestimate the longer-term value of a good first impression.
The warm lead
How do they get in touch?
They’ll probably contact through personal communication channels, whether that’s direct to your personal email, telephone, or via social media.
What content would they like to see?
This type of prospect will most likely have already seen examples of your work on your website and promoted on social media. Don’t undermine your familiarity with each other by guiding them to content that’s easily available online. Take the time to pick content, case studies and clients that match their enquiry and business.
How well do they know you?
They will already know of your company, so will be aware of what you do and may have even contacted you in the past. You may not need to send them a hefty proposal. Navigate the conversation and find out the best next steps to secure a conversion. Warm leads can become loyal and longstanding customers, so make sure to nurture your ongoing relationship.
The keen researcher
How do they get in touch?
Keen researchers usually narrow down their options to a handful of choices and send out email enquiries to all of them. Even on first contact, their brief will already be detailed, so they’ll appreciate it if you can move quickly to a more in-depth discussion, perhaps over a conference call platform where multiple people can be involved.
What content would they like to see?
Remember, these types of prospect are keen investigators. Don’t be surprised if they’ve researched your past clients, read examples of your work and are familiar with your testimonials and case studies. Respond quickly and, if possible, head straight to offering a solution or a proposal. There’s a high chance they’re a decision maker at their business, so always offer detailed and concrete solutions and strategy.
How well do they know you?
They’re likely to know a lot about you, so you’ll need to catch up and quickly understand more about them. Ask constructive questions about their pain points and make sure you do your research before any further communication. However, because they do a lot of groundwork, it’s also very likely they’re already in negotiation with your competitors. Because of this, try to offer competitive pricing, a timeframe and respond to enquiries quickly.
How do they get in touch?
They might have attended a webinar or conference, be connected with you on social media, or have spoken to you informally, face-to-face before.
What content would they like to see?
Networkers collect various materials from various companies. They see a lot of different names, so you need to make sure that yours stands out and the material is easily digestible. You should always have branded sales material in your toolkit ready for these types of enquiries.
How well do they know you?
A networker may know your professional reputation but may not know you personally. Make sure to exchange contact details and connect with them on LinkedIn. They may not have a specific need or problem in mind right at this moment, but they like to explore potential options for the future and build their databases. Try to think long-term strategy and find ways to stay in touch and keep them updated.
Turn prospects into customers
By understanding each prospect’s needs, you’ll be able to appropriately field each enquiry and nurture them for successful returns.
At asabell, we’ve spent over sixteen years dealing with a wide range of different customers and understand the complexities of their unique needs. That’s why we’re more than equipped to help you tailor your strategy to each proposition. Whichever way prospects get in touch, we can make sure you have the right strategy and content to turn them into business. If you’d like to find more about what we can offer you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
9 mistakes that show your copy is behind the times
Copywriting has changed fairly dramatically over the last few decades since digital took over.
The majority of content is now written for the web and social media channels. It can be difficult to keep up with best practice and writing conventions, but it’s important – you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Here are some pointers on what to avoid when it comes to writing copy for digital channels.
- Long paragraphs.
Remember most platforms like websites have relatively narrow columns for copy, much narrower than Word. In fact, it’s likely someone may end up reading your copy on a mobile screen. Also, users tend to skim read blog articles and web copy, so it’s best to break it up and make it easier to digest. There’s nothing more annoying than landing on a page that has a huge block of text to try and absorb.
- Indenting paragraphs.
A space between them will do. This isn’t a letter from the early 20th century, it’s a nice, clean bit of copy going onto a digital channel.
- Double spacing.
This is a legacy of typewriters, but your content won’t match the formatting and layout of your other digital content if you start adding in double spaces. Also, it’s often difficult to be consistent with double spacing and you end up with a weird mix of single and double spacing, especially if multiple people are editing a bit of copy.
- Being too salesy.
Sales-driven content can come across as insincere and be off-putting. This includes cheesy one-liners and exclamation marks. Just avoid them.
- Keyword stuffing.
It’s so obvious when you’re writing content just to fit in as many keywords as possible rather than with your reader in mind. If you are writing an article about a particular subject, then related keywords will naturally crop up without you having to force it.
- Overuse of bold, italics or even worse, all caps.
There are better ways to draw attention to key points such as using subheadings or single-line paragraphs.
- Using obscure words in order to elevate your copy.
Generally, it’s best to keep content simple and relatively easy to understand. There’s no need to oversimplify but also no need for unusual or flowery language. You could alienate your audience.
- Forgetting who you are speaking to and what tone of voice to use.
If you’re writing for a younger audience or a more informal channel (e.g. social media) then overly formal writing will look out of place. Think carefully about where your content will appear and who you are speaking to.
- Using ‘click here’ or URLs for hyperlink text.
There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t do this, ranging from SEO to user experience. Plus, the link will take up unnecessary space if the link text is a URL. Try to describe in a few words what you are linking to, for example: BBC website.
Don’t be afraid to ask for some professional support. Here at asabell we have dedicated copywriting experts on hand to help you produce the best possible copy. Catch people’s attention with your content – but for the right reasons. Get in touch to find out more.