We all know that B2B marketing differs from B2C. B2B’s longer and more complex buying process has implications for marketing — and your web copy. Here are some tips to get your B2B web copy right.
1. Businesses Might Not “Buy Now” — But You Still Need a Call to Action
The B2B purchasing process is more complex than B2C — it can take weeks, months, even years to negotiate. Consequently, you won’t find too many B2B websites with “buy now” calls-to-action and accompanying shopping carts.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should put up a purely informational site. You still want your readers to take action, whether it’s to pick up the phone, send an email, or request a quote.
Take Cisco, for example. Cisco is a multinational corporation that designs and sells electronics, networking, voice and communications technology and services, and B2B is a big part of their business. Their site contains tons of information about their products and services, but there’s no shopping cart. Instead, when listing their C3945 Integrated Services Router on their website, they use the following calls-to-action:
- Chat now
- Email | Request a price
- Find a local reseller
- Call 1-866-428-9596
- Download software
The reader (and potential customer) is not left to browse around and drift off to the next site. They are guided to take action.
2. Trust and Relationship Building Are Even More Important
The relationship between B2B businesses and their customers is even more important than B2C relationships. B2B customers tend to engage for multiple sales over a longer period of time, and ongoing support is frequently part of the package. Consequently, choosing the wrong B2B partner can be dire, potentially leading to years of problems and headaches.
Naturally, B2B customers want to get it right the first time, and the seller needs to reassure them they’re making the right choice. One powerful way to gain the trust of your B2B customers is to use your web copy to showcase successful customer relationships.
For example, Xerox’s website makes it clear they’ve successfully implemented their business process and document management services with other customers. On its US home page, Xerox has the following copy:
- Xerox and Michelin: We manage Michelin’s finance processing so they can focus on keeping the world moving.
- Xerox and Virgin America: We manage Virgin America’s call centers so they have time to run America’s coolest airline.
By putting these relationships up front, Xerox’s potential customers are more likely to trust Xerox to have the capacity, expertise and desire to help them succeed.
3. Share Your Research and Forecasting
Unlike demand for B2C consumer products and services (which comes directly from consumers), demand for B2B is indirectly derived. Derived demand is based on future consumer demand, so B2B businesses need to do a lot of research and forecasting. By sharing this insight on your B2B website, you may drive more business.
Airplane manufacturer Boeing does this beautifully. Their website has loads of data and future projections for the travel industry. This data can help airlines determine if they need to order more planes now, before consumer demand for air travel increases.
4. B2B Customers Aren’t Emotionless Automatons
You often hear that B2B purchases are an emotionless decision. But we must remind ourselves that despite piles of internal policies and processes, humans ultimately make B2B buying decisions. And where there are humans, there are emotions.
So you may not be able to motivate with “limited time offer, just three days left, buy now,” but you can motivate by alleviating fears and developing trust. Employees still fear making the wrong buying decision and looking bad in front of their peers or the big, bad boss.
Microprocessor manufacturer Intel uses its web copy to reassure, support and persuade its B2B customers. On their US home page, Intel’s copy states:
- Take Amazing for a Spin. Test drive the 2nd Gen Intel Core Processor that’s right for you
- 10 Million Teachers Trained. Countless Classrooms Reinvented. Join the Celebration.
- Get the processor that’s right for you (and your business) and you’ll be amazing too.
5. Just Because It’s B2B Doesn’t Mean You Can Fill Your Copy With Jargon
Some marketers believe because their business is B2B, they can use jargon and super technical language. Keep in mind B2B purchases are made by cross-functional teams of people. These teams include some technical users, but also representatives from non-technical departments, such as purchasing or finance. So some members of the group may understand your techno-jargon copy, but some won’t.
The challenge for copywriters is to write copy that persuades all members of the purchasing team throughout the buying cycle. You can include technical specifications on drill-down pages, but you also need to include product/service benefits in clear, simple language.
Industrial equipment manufacturer Caterpillar doesn’t need jargon or technical language to explain the benefits of its new Cat 789D large mining truck. Even heavy equipment novices can understand the scrolling copy on their home page:
- “Lowest cost per ton in class”
- “Increased payload capacity”
- “Engine, tire and dump body options”
B2B sales and marketing impacts your web copy. By understanding the B2B buying process — and tailoring your web copy to it — you’ll have more business customers banging on your door.