B2B Copywriting: What It Is, Types, & Strategies for Success
- Willy Wood
In the business world, effective B2B (business-to-business) copywriting is an invaluable skill. Whether you’re whipping up content for your website, email campaigns, whitepapers, or social media posts, knowing how to engage and persuade your B2B audience is key to your success.
Because copywriting is your primary tool for forging connections, making a lasting impression, and winning the trust of your fellow businesses.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what B2B copywriting is, the details of the nine main types of B2B copywriting, and our top 10 strategies, complete with examples, to make your B2B copywriting irresistible.
So settle in and get ready to learn how to become a B2B copywriting master.
What is B2B Copywriting?
B2B copywriting is the “secret sauce” of business communication. It’s the art of crafting compelling content that speaks directly to the needs, challenges, and aspirations of your business clients.
Whether you’re wooing your prospects through your website copy, email campaigns, or social media posts, mastering B2B copywriting is your ticket to building deep, meaningful, and profitable relationships in business.
While B2B copywriting shares some similarities with B2C (business-to-consumer) copywriting, B2B copywriting often requires a more sophisticated and targeted approach.
This is because, unlike B2C copywriting, where the prospect is free to buy immediately if so moved, in B2B marketing you often have to convince multiple people up and down the decision chain. As a result, the sales cycle is much longer, and you often have to use multiple copy touchpoints, and multiple types of copy, to get to the final buying decision.
All of which means that you have to be on top of your copywriting game when it comes to B2B. You have to master (or at least become solidly competent in) a number of different copywriting types.
So, let’s check out the main types of B2B copywriting you’ll want to utilize in your business. Then we’ll take a look at some how-to strategies that will help you become proficient in each genre.
9 Types of B2B Copywriting
B2B copywriting comes in many forms and needs to be used at every stage of the sales cycle.
There’s the copy that people find when they first encounter your business—usually on your website, in a blog post, or in a social media post or ad. Then there’s the copy that you use to hook them and bring them into your world—lead magnets, whitepapers, and the like. And finally, there’s all the copy you use to try to get these leads to convert into customers—email campaigns, landing pages, long-form sales letters, VSLs, etc.
It’s a lot, and it can be overwhelming. But if you’re trying to focus on the “basics,” the following nine types of B2B copy are the real copy workhorses of your business. Becoming proficient in these nine genres will take you a long way.
1. Website Copy
Your website is your online hub, the central place where you serve up all the juicy details about your business. This is where most prospective clients find you first, meaning it’s where you make your first impression. Your goal here is to clearly convey your value proposition and do so quickly (the average site visitor only gives you a few seconds to grab their attention before they bounce).
2. Email Campaigns
Because most prospects don’t buy as soon as they find you (especially in B2B), building an email list and then nurturing that list over time is crucial for converting prospects into customers in the long run. Your email copy is the tool you use to build those relationships.
Whitepapers are in-depth reports that provide readers with valuable information on important topics in your industry. A good whitepaper establishes your authority in your field and builds trust with your B2B prospects.
4. Case Studies
These are real-life success stories that show how your customers have solved their problems using your solution. Done well, these stories make your readers raise their hands and say, “I want that too!”
5. Product Descriptions
Clear, vivid product descriptions help your readers understand your products’ features and benefits and entice them to buy.
6. Blog Posts
Your blog is a platform for sharing industry knowledge, which builds your authority and establishes you as a thought leader in your field. But sharing information isn’t the only use for a blog; your posts also allow you to entertain and inspire your audience, give you a forum for establishing your brand voice, and allow you to make (direct or indirect) pitches for your products.
7. Social Media Copy
These short and sweet posts can be tailored to your ideal B2B clients and are perfect for engaging this audience and building your brand’s visibility.
8. Video Scripts
Lights, camera, action! Videos are becoming increasingly popular in B2B marketing. And no wonder—a well-done video adds the elements of sound and imagery to your brilliant copy to increase its persuasive impact.
9. Ad Copy
While some of the types of copywriting listed above often take more of a “soft sell” approach, sometimes you need to make a straightforward pitch. That’s where a concise, well-written Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn ad can be used to grab a reader’s attention, force them to stop scrolling, and compel them to click through to your promotion.
9+ B2B Copywriting Strategies for Success
As you can see, there are many kinds of B2B copywriting that a business has to produce in order to establish itself in its marketplace and sell its products and services. And while there are writing techniques that are specific to each of these copywriting genres, when it comes to writing effective B2B copy, there are also some basic principles and best practices to keep in mind, no matter what type of copywriting you’re producing.
Following are some of the foundational principles for writing highly effective B2B copy.
1. Become a Headline Master
Here’s a scary thought for a B2B copywriter (or any copywriter, for that matter): the average reader will give you, at most, 15 seconds of their time for you to engage them.
Since your headline is the first thing a B2B prospect sees, it’s your first opportunity to hook them and get them thirsting to read more. And if your headline doesn’t hook them, that 15 second clock is probably going to run out without them ever reading any of your body copy.
Now, there’s obviously more than one way to write an enticing deadline, so to become a headline master you must do two things:
- Learn many different ways to engage readers with a headline,
- Then choose the right approach for any given headline based on the product you’re pitching and the conditions of the offer/promotion.
There’s not enough room in a short blog post such as this one to cover all the possible ways to write attention-grabbing headlines, but here are just a few proven headline templates to get your creative juices flowing, divided into three broad categories:
Social Proof-Type Headlines
- Join [impressive number] of [your audience’s peers] that [take desired action].
Ex: Join 4,872 (And Growing!) New Copywriters that Have Taken Our Ultimate Quick-Start Copywriting Course
- How [impressive number] Got [desired result] in [time period]
Ex: How Over 1,000 Stay-at-Home Moms Lost 10 Pounds in a Single Month
- How to [desired result] Like [world-class example] for [low cost]
Ex: How to Dress for Success Like Jennifer Lopez for Pennies on the Dollar
- Can You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?
Ex: Can You Recognize the 5 Early Warning Signs of Skin Cancer?
- Don’t Try Another [blank] Until You [take desired action]
Ex: Don’t Try Another Skin Care Product Until You Read This Shocking Report
- The Ugly Truth About [blank]
Ex: The Ugly Truth About Eating Red Meat
- [blank] Your Way to a [desired result]
Ex: Walk Your Way to a Slimmer, Sexier You
- [number] Little-Known Ways to [blank]
Ex: 7 Little-Known Ways to Make $1,000 a Month with a Side Gig
- Get [desired result] without [undesired result]
Ex: Get Six-Pack Abs Without Doing a Single Sit-Up
How important is a great headline? Check out this headline from the home meal kit company, Hello Fresh:
What’s the number one problem that harried and hurried adults face come dinner time? That’s right, the stress of getting a good meal together and on the table.
This headline speaks to that problem directly and says that Hello Fresh can solve it. Then they back up the headline with a social proof sub-headline. Very effective, and done in just a few words. What stressed-out home cook could resist scrolling down to learn more?
Bottom line, writing a great headline gets the reader salivating for more, which means that they’ll at least start reading your body copy, where you can then employ some or all of the following strategies to keep them reading.
2. Write for Your Target Audience
In copywriting, you’re never writing for a “general audience”; you’re always writing for a very specific audience—the people the promotion is targeting.
And not only are you writing for a specific audience, you’re writing for ONE specific person who represents that audience—your ideal customer avatar.
If you’re writing for your own business and you’ve taken the time to do some deep-dive research on your audience to create an ideal customer avatar, you should already know who you’re writing for.
If you don’t have a fully fleshed-out customer avatar, you’ll need to do this research yourself before writing. Or at the very least, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Who will benefit most from this content?
- Why is it important?
- What problem will it solve for this audience?
And don’t let the fact that you’re writing to a B2B audience throw you off. Yes, B2B clients generally have a longer sales cycle than B2C and yes, multiple people generally need to sign off on a sale before the signature goes on the contract, but it’s not helpful to think about that when you’re writing.
Instead, think of that one main person who needs to be convinced first to give your product or service a look, and write to that person. This will give your writing that convincing conversational tone you want.
3. Stay True to Your Brand Voice
A company’s brand voice is the approach they take to their subject matter and the tone they use when addressing their prospects and customers.
Yes, when you’re writing to other businesses, you need to keep things professional. But that doesn’t mean you have to be blah and boring.
Instead, think of the tone your target customers are most receptive to. Buttoned-up and respectable? Casual and fun-loving? Quirky and off-the-wall?
This brand voice will also reflect your company’s mission and values. For example, if you’re Patagonia, you stand for doing business in an environmentally conscious way.
In fact, while the first panel on their Home page talks about the kids’ snow jackets and pants they have on sale at the time of this writing…
…the very next panel mentions an environmental cause the company is currently supporting, with a link to more information and a petition.
The company’s tone is conversational, but not flippant. All their copy shows that they are serious about their environmental focus. And people who like hiking and outdoor sports and who are also environmentally conscious are drawn to this message and voice.
So, what are the people who share the values of your company like? What are they looking for? How do they talk to each other when they get together?
Your brand voice should match the language your ideal customers use, and it should be consistent throughout all the copy the company uses.
4. Harness the Power of Storytelling
Since it involves selling products or services, B2B is often considered more of a logical than an emotional affair (which isn’t really true, but we’ll get to that shortly). As a result, many B2B copywriters tend to write in a style that uses lots of facts and statistics in a more informational approach.
As a result, many of these copywriters fail to take advantage of one of the most powerful copywriting techniques of all: storytelling.
This is a big mistake. Why? Here are two big reasons:
- According to research from Google, 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase from you if they form an emotional attachment to your brand. And storytelling is one of the best ways to convey emotion in writing.
- Second, the human brain is not hardwired to retain information (facts and figures); it’s hardwired to remember stories. So, if you have information you want to convey about your brand—and you want your readers to remember that information—the most effective way to do so is to embed the information in a narrative structure.
There are a number of ways you can incorporate story into your copywriting:
For example, if you have a compelling origin story for your brand, you should use that story at every opportunity. Case in point: Bombas Socks was founded with the goal of helping those down on their luck—the homeless, people in rehab, etc.—by providing them with free socks (and more recently t-shirts and underwear).
Every time someone purchases a pair of socks from Bombas, a pair is donated. This socially conscious mission attracts socially conscious customers.
Another way to incorporate story into your copywriting is to tell the stories of your customers—that is, testimonials and case studies. These stories not only incorporate information about the company’s products or services into a narrative framework, but they also act as social proof of the quality of the company’s wares. Two birds, one stone!
5. Create Conflict and Tension
Some copywriters prefer to focus on all the “good stuff” about the product or service they’re pitching—you know, the futuristic features, the great price point, the ethically-sourced materials… But the “unicorns and rainbows” approach to copywriting doesn’t work very well.
You know what works? Stress. Tension. Conflict.
Prospects who are happy with their lot in life don’t buy. Prospects who are in a state of stasis or inertia don’t buy. They need to be moved to buy. And conflict is your #1 tool to move them.
How does this work? Well, the best way is probably to use the previous strategy—storytelling—to build and resolve conflict.
Tell the story of someone who matches your ideal customer avatar and who is in pain. Describe their struggles. Describe their long search for a solution. Tell how they found your product and tried it, and suddenly their pain was resolved. And they lived happily ever after. The End.
For another approach, you could use a simple, tried-and-true copywriting formula that’s guaranteed to build tension into your copy: the PAS formula. PAS stands for Pain, Agitate, Solution. Show your prospect in pain, show how bad that pain is (agitate it), then introduce your product or service (solution).
You can use this simple formula in pretty much any copywriting genre, from an email to a long-form sales letter.
But you don’t need to tell a whole story or employ a three-part formula to incorporate conflict. You can do it in just a short headline, as Click Funnels does here:
If you were an entrepreneur or small business struggling to get enough customers (which probably describes 90% of businesses), that headline names your pain and agitates the conflict inside of you with just a few words.
6. Prioritize Benefits Over Features
The previous two strategies, storytelling and creating conflict, are prospect-focused strategies rather than product-focused strategies, which is why they work so well.
When you tell a story that resonates with your prospects, when you describe the prospect’s pain and their struggles to overcome their challenges, where they finally overcome those challenges and alleviate their pain by using your product, you’re speaking directly to the transformation that your product or service delivers.
Similarly, it’s important that you focus more on the benefits your product or service can provide to the prospect than on the features of the product or service itself.
Why? Because the benefits are the ways the prospect’s life will be better as a result of purchasing and using your product or service. And that’s what they’re really interested in. Sure, you need to describe the product’s features at some point, but it’s the benefits that really grab them and convince them.
So, make sure you focus on benefits early in your copy to grab the reader’s attention and engage them fully, then you can talk about features later on in the copy.
For example, check out this section of Convert Kit’s Home page:
Notice how, even in these few short paragraphs, the copy starts with benefits (grow your audience, increase subscribers, automate your marketing, create lasting connections, sell your digital products) before giving the features, or the “how” (landing pages, sign-up forms, email editor, sales funnels).
7. Incorporate Logic and Emotion
This strategy fits in perfectly with the previous three strategies we’ve covered.
As we said earlier, there’s an unwritten guideline about writing for B2B audiences that says these types of prospects are less emotional and more logical and that you therefore should approach them with more factual arguments—statistics and metrics–than through emotional appeals.
This is misguided advice. Yes, it’s probably true that the average B2B prospect is more open to an informational-type presentation than the average B2C prospect, so certainly you should include facts and data, but it’s really more a matter of degree.
Remember, you’re targeting an individual prospect, even if that prospect is sitting in a corporate cubicle. And it’s an accepted marketing truism that people (ALL people) make emotional decisions to buy, then justify those decisions with facts.
So, don’t leave out the emotional appeals in your B2B copy. (If you’re telling stories, focusing on benefits, and including conflict, this won’t be a problem.)
Rather, just make sure that you strike a solid balance between the emotional elements of your copy and the more data-based, factual appeals.
8. Skip the Jargon
A common mistake many B2B copywriters make is to write using industry-insider jargon.
Sure, your ideal customer avatar is someone who is involved in some aspect of the industry your company is trying to sell into. And this means that they’re probably familiar with some of the terminology in the field. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll be up on all the acronyms, abbreviations, tech-ese, and buzzwords—and even if they are, who wants to read that gobbledygook?
And what happens if they don’t understand even a few of these terms in your copy? More than likely, they’ll disengage. And you know what that means—no sale.
Luckily, this is a simple fix. Here’s what you do:
- Start by writing as if you’re sitting down in the corner coffee shop, chatting with your ideal prospect over a couple of lattes. Write as you would speak to this person. This simple trick alone will filter out a lot of the jargon.
- Next, be on the lookout for any jargon that sneaks in as you write your draft (or, alternatively, if you prefer to write your first drafts in a stream-of-consciousness flow, you can go back and identify all the uses of jargon you find during revision). Then ask yourself, “Is this tech language, buzzword, acronym, necessary, or is there a way to say this that’s clearer and doesn’t use the jargon?” If the answer is yes, rewrite the sentence to eliminate the jargon.
- If you decide that a particular piece of jargon IS necessary, explain it in context. For example, use the full name of organizations, programs, or processes that are often referred to by acronyms the first time you use them. Afterwards, you can use the acronym. If you aren’t sure the reader will understand a technological reference, explain it when you first use it. Don’t take it for granted that they will understand; make sure.
These guidelines are simple common sense. You want your reader to understand your message. No, you NEED your reader to understand your message. After all, there’s a reason that copywriting pros so often state the adage, “A confused mind doesn’t buy.”
So, don’t leave anything to chance. Clarity should be goal number one in your copywriting.
To give you an idea about what no-jargon writing looks like, check out this sample from A-list copywriter Marie Forleo’s Home page:
Yes, this is just a “welcome to the site” paragraph, but she doesn’t use a single jargon word here, opting instead for a clear, conversational style that her audience (other copywriters) would be wise to emulate.
9. Take SEO into Account
The copywriting strategies we’ve covered to this point have all been about how to hook your prospects and sell them on your solutions.
But you can’t hook ‘em and sell ‘em if they never find you in the first place. And since 51% of buyers report finding new products or companies through internet search, you need to pay attention to SEO.
No, you don’t need to have a super in-depth understanding of SEO, but you do need to know your way around a keyword research tool such as Ubersuggest. Using such a tool gives you the ability to create a list of long-tail keywords on the topics you cover regularly in your business content.
You can then use these keywords strategically to attract people searching for exactly those keywords. By “strategically,” I mean in your page titles, blog post titles, headlines and subheadlines, and in the first 100 words or so of your copy on a page.
This approach allows Google and other search engines to understand that you want to be found for those keywords specifically, so they’ll direct that traffic your way.
10. Do Some A/B Testing
Finally, it’s important that you realize that once you’ve written your copy and published it, you still aren’t done (not if you want to win, that is). Even the world’s best copywriters don’t always (or even often) get it right the first time.
That’s where testing comes into the picture.
When you create a page of copy, use available technology to do A/B split testing on it. First, test your headline against an alternate version. Keep the winner and ditch the loser. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you’re satisfied you have a winner.
Once you’ve found your best-performing headline, test other elements of the copy. Test your images. Test your calls to action. You might even test your price point.
According to Hubspot, only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve their conversion rates. You want to be in that 17%, not the 83%. This simple tactic alone will raise you above the bulk of your competition in no time.
5 Reasons to Master B2B Copywriting
As we stressed at the beginning of this post, copywriting is crucial for your B2B business, as it can significantly impact the success of all your marketing and sales efforts.
Here are five reasons you should focus on leveling up your B2B copywriting skills:
- Clarity and Communication: B2B products and services are often complex, and clear and concise copy can go a long way in explaining their value to a prospect.
- Establishing Credibility: Well-crafted copy can build trust and credibility. Since B2B purchases are often pricey, B2B buyers often require assurances that they’re making a sound investment.
- Differentiation: In competitive B2B markets, copywriting can help businesses stand out from the crowd. Effective copy can highlight what sets your company apart from its competitors.
- Lead Generation: Copy is a critical component in lead generation. Whether it’s your website, a landing page, email, or content marketing, compelling copy captures the attention of potential customers and entices them to take action to join your list.
- Sales Enablement: Copywriting plays a crucial role in the sales process. Sales teams often rely on marketing materials and content to help them close deals.
So, yeah. Copywriting is important for your B2B success. Luckily, with the strategies we’ve shared in this post, you’re now ready to take your copywriting skills to the next level. With a little time and practice, soon your business will reap all the benefits listed above.
Here’s to your success!