5 tips to make your B2B content more human


One of the biggest mistakes I see time and time again with B2B content is that it misses the point that you are selling to a human.

The naming conventions B2B and B2C have forced us to think that each need a completely different approach, but often they don’t.

When we turn up to work, we aren’t able to put ourselves into robot corporate mode. We are still that human that was at home in the morning and has many different motivational drivers. 

I will share with you my top five tips to make your content feel more human and to ensure it speaks to the people digesting it. When you get this right, the impact can skyrocket.

1. Be clear on who the content is for and what motivates them

Knowing your customer goes back to the basics of marketing, but often when we get into a rhythm of delivering website content for SEO, it can be forgotten. 

When I talk about personas, these personas are created with motivation at the heart rather than demographics. We can be demographically similar and have different reasons to buy. Therefore, if you fall into the trap of demographics leading the personas, you miss the superpower of knowing your audience. 

As humans, there are three ways we view the world:

  • Rationally, looking for weights and measures and wanting to be robust in our decision-making. This is the way most of us think we make decisions.
  • Contextually, where we want to understand where we fit in, how others see us and what difference we are making.
  • Emotionally, where we care about how our decisions impact others, we’re looking to be liked, to have a sense of community. 

Humans are not rational. We do not understand why we do what we do. David Ogilvy famously said, “People don’t think what they feel, don’t say what they think and don’t do what they say.” And he was completely right.

Most B2B marketing sits in the rational space – selling on features and benefits. But this is not what truly motivates someone to buy. They need to know it, but it won’t be their why. 

So, you need to talk to the people closest to your audience and uncover the drivers that might often be missed for the opportunity they present. You need to ask why to get to a deeper reason for them buying or not buying your product. 

For example, we were working with an accounting software firm, and one of its key audience personas was that of a “practice manager.” All of their marketing to date focused on features and benefits of the software.

However, by talking to a selection of sales team members, we found that the practice manager often used the process of revamping their internal systems as an opportunity to be seen. This was their ticket to be in front of the board and to have their impact known.

We ended up with messaging hinged on the idea of being “ready to change the game.” What a different motivator to telling them our software does X, Y and Z, same as lots of the competition.

Seeding this through the content and playing into the true customer driver makes a profound difference to the impact content can have on a user. 

2. Have absolute clarity on what your content is aiming to do

If you are just churning out content because there are keywords you hope to rank for, you are missing a trick. As content creators, we always need to be thinking about the point. What are we hoping this content will achieve?

I love to use the “think, feel, do” framework for any content. At the piece’s start, I write down what I aim for the audience to think, feel and do. This becomes the lens through which I check my content, but also, if I struggle to answer these questions, I know I’m not ready to create this content. 

You need to understand the piece of content you are creating, where in the customer journey it will be found and what its aim is. Thinking deeper than just aiming to rank, what is the customer trying to do? Our goals for our content always need to be aligned with what the customer wants, as otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. 

Without clarity on these questions, the likelihood is you will end up with an OK piece of content, that has a hit-and-miss chance of serving the business. Whereas if you can answer these questions and make the answers your focus in creating the content, your chance of having impact increases hugely. 

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3. Consider format and placement 

Your content needs to be in the right place, with the right message and format for your audience.  

When we’re thinking about SEO, it’s easy to assume that we might just want written content, but this is the wrong approach. Thinking about what you understand about your audience and what they are trying to achieve should naturally lead to considering how to convey this message best and where. 

With so many channels to pick from and so much noise online, being targeted about where your audience is looking and what format they are most likely to engage with will positively impact the success of your content. 

Just because we are considering B2B content doesn’t mean, for example, that social channels and video content are off-limits.

Search is no longer just happening on the traditional search engine. You need to broaden your view to ensure that from a customer journey perspective, you understand where your audience is searching. 

4. Weave emotion and your audience’s motivations into your content

This is not a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You do not need to completely change your approach to content, as no doubt, much of what you are saying is relevant to the user.

Instead, it is a case of weaving your audience’s motivations into the storytelling of your content. So much B2B content makes it safe in a rational place, covering the “facts” about their product or service.

If you can master the art of alluding to the impact contextually and emotionally and having the core rational message, you will hold more of the user’s attention and make it more likely that they take action. 

From a psychology perspective, I always like to consider the “messenger effect,” a nudge that takes into account who is the best messenger for a piece of content.

You might find that reinforcing some of the motivational messages might come best from a different source. For example, this might be a testimonial or case study that subtly frames the motivation. 

5. How will you measure content success?

So many businesses are just in churn mode, aiming to achieve their content quotas and hit their ranking positions or traffic. The problem with focusing on ranking or traffic is that it misses the business point. 

Going back to the “think, feel, do” model I mentioned earlier, the “do” part should be aligned with your tracking.

The “do” is what you are hoping the user digesting the content will do – if this is something you can measure, even as an engagement conversion such as scroll depth or percentage watch of a video – you get an insight into whether the content performs. 

It is easy to measure performance for lower funnel content aiming to drive an inquiry or sale. But just because it’s hard, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it – having success measures for upper funnel content is really important to know if it is helping the customer. 

A great option for the upper funnel is driving the user to sign up for a newsletter or follow on social, as you can continue building the relationship. 

We still should be measuring the effectiveness of our content for driving traffic, but true success depends on the user finding the content useful and helping them do what they are trying to achieve. 

Humanizing your B2B content to drive actions

The thread tying all five tips together is to remember that B2B customers are human and shouldn’t require a completely different strategy from B2C content. 

When we understand what truly drives someone to take action, we can use that to make our content more interesting and motivational by being aligned to their why – giving the content more chance to succeed. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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