Got Boring B2B Content? How To Make It Engaging

7 Ways To Enrich Your B2B Content To Yield Results

Yawn-Boring B2B ContentMost B2B content is like the fiber in your diet. You need to eat it but it generally tastes terrible.

Do your prospects look like they’re using your information but, in reality, they just download it for later use but never take the time to read it?

Face it–if your B2B content is so boring no one wants to read it, not even your marketing team, you can always shred it and add milk and sugar to get the daily fiber you need! (Just kidding!)

Problem: Your B2B marketing information faces never-ending competition for your target audience’s attention.

If your B2B content is boring, it won’t attract more than a few seconds of notice (And that will only be to determine your information isn’t worth the reader’s time.)

Employees no longer solely focus on work-related content. Even at work, your B2B content competes against overstuffed inboxes, text messages, social media streams and whatever else is attracting your target audience’s attention on their smartphones.

Even worse, most B2B content is so full of corporate lingo that readers feel like outsiders.

Result: Your B2B content effort is a #fail. It doesn’t move your audience closer to buying from you or building a relationship.

60% of marketers say producing engaging content is their top challenge according to Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2016 US B2B Content Marketing Trends research. (BTW, here’s fuller analysis of the 2016 US B2B Content Research.)

Your B2B content marketing must break through and yank your reader in by the collar so that it avoids competing with the rest of the content and information vying for your audience’s attention or it’s not getting read.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


7 Ways to enrich your boring B2B content to make it engaging

Here are 7 ways to make your boring B2B content engaging so that it yields measurable results.Yawn-Boring B2B Content

1. Sound human

You have to talk P2P (or person-to-person). This concept isn’t new.

Cavemen told stories in terms that their listeners understood and could remember. They didn’t think to themselves, “Let me use some complex terms no one will understand.”

In 1999, The Cluetrain Manifesto stated, “Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.” 

There are real people at the other end of your content. You want them to read your information. If they need a translator to understand it, you can be sure they won’t read it!

Write from your customers’ point of view. Take yourself out of the picture.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Use your readers’ words. Skip the internal company lingo. Don’t guess! Check your analytics to determine what search terms they used to find your content.
  • Assess your onsite search results. Give them more than one search box so that if they don’t find the information they want, they stay on your site.
  • Create content around terms your readers seek but don’t find on your site.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


2. Add stories

People don’t remember a list of facts; they remember stories because they provide context. Dan and Chip Heath made this point in Made To Stick.

Stories simplify complex ideas.

Many B2B marketers believe they don’t have any stories to tell.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Stories are hidden in every aspect of your organization. Go through your company history, check your product creation, and talk to your sales team, customer service and customers.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Find the heroes of your business. Heroes are at the heart of every great story. Use gamification to encourage employees to share them.
  • Skip ho-hum case studies. While a B2B marketing staple that shows how other companies use your offering, case studies tend to be a yawn. Instead, transform case study information into memorable stories.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


3. Include images

Photographs, especially of people, increase the readership of most content marketing. (Here’s research on photographs and more image tips.) But they have to be real people not stock images!!!

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Nielsen found “users pay attention to information-carrying images that show content that’s relevant to the task at hand. And users ignore purely decorative images that don’t add real content to the page.”

Eyetracking of Images of real people via Jakob Nielsen

Eyetracking of Images of real people via Jakob Nielsen

Eyetracking of Image that Appears to be Stock-Jakob Nielsen

Eyetracking of Image that Appears to be Stock-Jakob Nielsen

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Skip the stock photos, especially ones of people in suits looking busy. Readers ignore it according to Jakob Nielsen. Do you really think your audience doesn’t know they are models? Get your employees and customers into the act. (Here are some free photo offerings.)
  • Use other types of images beyond photographs such as charts, comics and drawings.
  • Check you have permission to use the photographs. Finding an image online doesn’t mean you can use it for commercial or other purposes. The same holds true for photos of your employees and customers.
  • Add captions. People read this short text according research commissioned by David Ogilvy.
  • Optimize images for findability. Search engines only read text. Therefore add relevant text to describe your images. Where possible, associate it with the long tail term for which you want your content to rank.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


4. Use other content formats

Not everyone enjoys reading endless pages of text.

The result: TH;DR (too hard; didn’t read).

Social Media Examiner includes an image or other type of non-text content every few paragraphs so there’s always an image showing when you scroll.

Example of Social Media Examiner Article With Non-text Content

Example of Social Media Examiner Article With Non-text Content

Non-text options include:

  • Audio. Literally give your content a human voice to build a personal connection. The average US work commute is about 20 minutes.
  • Video. Video isn’t just for consumer-oriented products. Make your technically savvy experts into video professors. Take advantage of smartphone video consumption. Remember that YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. Here’s Tim Washer’s humorous Cisco video.
  • Infographics. Are well loved since they consolidate lots of information into an easy-to-consume format.
  • Presentations (includes webinars). Enhance them with notes to make them understandable to non-attendees.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Capture input from influencers and customers. Ask them the questions your audience wants answered. Get permission to record them.
  • Use other people’s videos to enhance explanations. Where appropriate augment your content with videos from suppliers and distributors. Review them to ensure they’re consistent with your message and brand.
  • Add text for search. Search engines can’t find them unless you associate relevant text.
  • Test newer content formats. Try Blab, Periscope and other new technologies to get your employees and customers involved.
  • Expand content distribution. Utilize targeted distribution where appropriate such as iTunes, YouTube and Slideshare. Remember Slideshare distributes content beyond presentations.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


5. Craft attention-getting titles

Learn how to write headlines your potential audience clicks on but deliver quality content to go with it.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Learn from title driven media entities like Buzzfeed. Don’t overlook their magnetic titles because they’re consumer focused. Remember your B2B readers are digitally savvy consumers.
  • Crank out at least 25 titles. Upworthy editors write many more titles and don’t always get it right. Upworthy Tests 2 Titles For Same Article-Very Different Results
  • Read Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks. Morrow wrote Problogger’s most popular post, How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. Note his 3 part headline. It’s a Morrow specialty.
  • Spend time in a traditional magazine stand. Pay attention to how they write their cover headlines, especially Cosmo, People and the National Enquirer. If the headlines don’t work, people don’t buy the magazine at newsstand.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


6. Format content to make it easy-to-read

First impressions count. This point isn’t about you or your writing.

It’s about your potential audience. If your B2B information looks difficult to read, they’re gone.

Jakob Nielsen found that digital readers get through 28% of a webpage, although 20% is more likely.

Present your message, regardless of how complex, so your audience feels it’s easy-to-read.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Select your type size and font for your audience’s reading comfort not your art director’s pleasure. Choose sans-serif fonts like Arial in larger type sizes. Remember the 40+ audience tends to wear reading glasses.
  • Create shorter lines of text. At a minimum, give your information the appearance of being easier-to-get-through. Use narrower columns. Take a page from Social Triggers’s Derek Halpern’s playbook.Screenshot of Social Triggers' Use of Good Content Formatting
  • Aim for an eighth grade level reading to ensure that your audience understands your content. To help you, here’s a free readability tool to test your writing.
  • Use short paragraphs. Andy Crestodina recommends using 4 lines or less. Avoid dense blocks of type.
  • Choose short words over longer, more complex words. Skip the corporate-speak. As Winston Churchill said, “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best…”

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist

7. Provide the information that your prospects and customers actively seek.

Your audience is in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing to read your information. They’re 58+% through the buying process before you know they’re in market for your offering. Best Lead Generation Tips

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Provide the 5 basic content types. Give detailed product information, answer to customers’ questions, show prospects how your products and services are used, display your products in the context where your buyers will use it, and/or offer customer reviews, case studies or stories.
  • Educate potential buyers. Give them webinars and related research.
  • Solve your prospects’ problems. Ask your sales team for help. They know the questions their prospects and customers ask.

Get your 2015 Content Marketing Success Checklist


Looking to avoid boring B2B content?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to give them the information they need to help make the decision to buy from you.

Bear in mind that it’s not only about your B2B content, but also it’s about how you format the information for ease of the reader’s consumption.

What’s your favorite example of boring B2B content? What’s your favorite example of engaging B2B content?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Creator Economy Expo
May 5th - 7th in Cleveland, Ohio

Join bloggers, podcasters, authors, newsletter writers, speakers, coaches and consultants, freelancers, and YouTubers at THE learning and networking event for content entrepreneurs.

Read our interview with Joe Pulizzi, Content, Inc. – Revised Edition

Photo Credit:

Tags , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Got Boring B2B Content? How To Make It Engaging