B2B landing page and email copywriting tips to improve your writing skills, part one

July 25, 2022 | 17 minute read
Michael McNichols
Senior Content Manager
Text Size 100%:

Check out these B2B landing page and email copywriting tips for non-writers. Learn:

  • What to do beforehand to set your copywriting up for success, such as A/B testing
  • Several rules of thumb for good copywriting
  • Common mistakes to avoid that will undermine your creditability and not get people to click through

B2B landing page and email copywriting tips                                                       

When it comes to content marketing, I’ve done it all. 

I have decades of writing experience and even a master’s degree in fiction writing. I’ve published articles, novels, novellas, short stories, articles, interviews, and even some poems I’m almost ashamed to admit I wrote.

Specially for my career in content marketing, I’ve worked on:

  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • How-to guides, scripts,
  • Ad, web, and social copy
  • Press releases
  • Landing pages

And the list goes on and on. 

My resume also includes heavy amounts of both content writing and copywriting.

What’s the difference?

Copywriting vs. content writing: key differences and examples

 I’ve written another post about the differences between copywriting and content writing. As a refresher:

  • Content writing INFORMS
  • Copywriting PERSUADES

Sorry, I don’t mean to shout at you.

Anyway, need examples?

Content writing = most blog posts, how-to guides, thought leadership, infographics, tip sheets, case studies, trend reports, and anything that informs and educates.

Copywriting = emails, landing pages, paid ads, newsletters, image and video content captions,  and anything that drives you to take a specific action.

Oftentimes, copywriting drives to someone click through and consume some type of content (a blog, article, video, podcast, and so forth).

Content writing and copywriting sometimes mix and match. You might have to inform to persuade or persuade to inform.

You might write copy about content or content about copy (like this blog post).

The title of any blog post or content marketing asset is actually copywriting. After all, you want to write a title that will compel someone to read the thing, don’t you?

Really, any call to action—whether in a blog post, guide, web copy, email, ad, or anything—is copywriting. After all, you are trying to persuade someone to take the next step to learn more about whatever your content was explaining.

So, let’s talk about copywriting.

Why good copywriting matters in your marketing campaigns

Why good copywriting matters in your marketing campaigns 

For many campaigns, demand generation materials—such as emails, landing pages, social media posts, and ads—act as the tip of a spear for your marketing campaigns.

They reach a prospect or customer and compel them to take a journey with your brand. You want them to:

  • Download and consume content
  • Register for an event
  • Subscribe to a newsletter or join an online community
  • Find help with products and services
  • Make a purchase (for the first time with our brand or take advantage of a cross-sell or upsell opportunity)

So, your copywriting needs to sing.

It should intrigue, delight, and entice your audience into clicking through on a link.

Why should you hire a content writer or copywriter?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, about two-thirds of marketers expect their content marketing budgets to increase in 2022. Some content marketers (like me) can do both content writing and copywriting. Some don’t.

This means an increase in a content marketing budget might not help much with copywriting.

Many brands work with creative agencies to take care of their copywriting needs. Others will have their own in-house copywriters dedicated to that task.

Even if your org uses an agency or has its own copywriters, there tends to be enough work to go around. Some marketing teams find themselves spread thin. Budgets sometimes don’t stretch as far as you’d like (even with an increase).

Often, marketers who aren’t content writers or copywriters might find themselves doing copywriting.

Maybe you’re one of them. Many people enjoy writing. Others dread it.

Some marketers wish they didn’t have to do it so that they can take care of their other job duties, such as:

But allay your fears. Don’t kick your computer to the ground or give up. I want to help.

Like any sort of writing, copywriting has a structure, rhyme, and reason to it. You can get better with some tips and practice.

I’d like to focus on B2B since many marketers confuse how to go about it with B2C.

Yes, B2B and B2C are converging.

However, you’re still not writing jingles or TV commercials. You don’t have to be overly clever or come up with a catchy phrase.

In fact, in B2C, you only do that with certain types of marketing. Commercials, billboards, and other brand-building tactics tell someone to “Be like Mike,” why you’re “lovin’ it,” and why it’s “time to make the donuts.”

They’re building their brand. There’s a time and a place to use catchy tunes and phrases, but it’s not B2B email marketing nor a B2B campaign.

B2B marketing success requires the right technology to scale and reach your audiences at speed. Find out the top marketing technology trends for 2022.

You don’t need to say “win-win” to let someone know both sides, customers and service agents or buyers and sellers, win in your copy.

Not if you make it clear and straightforward how both sides benefit. You don’t even have to try to be clever and rhyme.

(Though you can try,

But it’s harder than you think,

And would someone even notice if they’re skimming and just blindly clicking a link?)

Become the Shakespeare of B2B copywriting

 

What intrigues audiences and gets them to click through?

Value, by which I mean clear, tangible value or as tangible as you make it.

You don’t want to offer “a customer loyalty edge.” What does that really mean?

No, you’re offering:

  • Stronger customer loyalty
  • Tips on retaining more customers
  • Tools and training to make more sales off those loyal customers

You’re telling audiences how to make more money or make their jobs easier by clicking your link.

The best way to do so is to know the basics and structure of copywriting (which can change from channel to channel and format to format).

As the Ramones said, hey ho, let’s go!

What is B2B marketing copywriting?

Copywriting is any copy that tries to persuade someone to take an action. For purposes of demand generation, let’s consider email, landing page, paid ad, and social media marketing copy.

Of course, length differs for each, but those forms of copywriting share many similarities.

All forms of marketing writing (whether copywriting or content writing) have the same formula:

  • State the pain point, the problem someone has to deal with
  • Agitate and expand on that pain point
  • Explain a potential solution
  • Give details on why and how your audience can get more information about that solution

You might not be able to tell that entire story with an ad, social copy, or even a short email. However, you can start it and make someone click through for the rest of the story.

But what do you need before you start copywriting?

The keys to conversion: Set your B2B copywriting up for success

Research, testing, and numbers

The best copywriters do a considerable amount of research. They understand the product or service they’re selling and the value they offer.

Also, they use the available data to understand customers and anticipate their needs.

What helps?

  • Customer data to act as a base (and maybe a tool like a customer data platform, or CDP, to help manage and organize it)
  • Past analytics to see what worked before and what didn’t
  • Segmentation, targeting, and audience personas to know just who you’re writing to, what keeps them up at night, and what would help

Consider interviewing customers to learn their specific pain points, what sold them on your brand, and what language they use when talking about their business. All that can help inform your copywriting to a similar audience.

You should also invest in A/B and multivariate testing. Try different subject lines, headlines, content, offers, visuals, designs, and so on to see what your audience prefers.

Let the numbers guide and when you plan your campaigns. Also, consider:

  • How many emails are you sending out? How many ads? Is there a landing page?
  • What are your objectives? What numbers do you want to hit?
  • What action(s) do you want audiences to take?
  • What offers or content are you offering
  • What is your messaging?

Understand that copywriting is NOT messaging. Copywriting is how you express or communicate your messaging.

If you help with your messaging, that’s awesome. Just realize copywriting is a separate discipline.

Personalize your messaging

Personalization and relevance matter in copy, regardless of its channel. The more personalized you can make your copywriting, the more it will strike a chord. And if it isn’t relevant to the recipient, then you’re wasting their time.

Get up to speed on the latest trends and technologies to make your marketing more personalized, relevant, and impactful. Subscribe to the Inside Modern Marketing Newsletter.

General copywriting rules of thumb

No matter the format or campaign, all copywriting should do these things:

  • Speak as directly to the prospect or customer as possible
  • Offer value
  • Make a promise and argument that gets fulfilled when the reader clicks through

You should strive for:

  • Conciseness (meaning it’s not just short but as short or long as it needs to be to make your point)
  • Sharpness and impact
  • Readability
  • Clarity over cleverness and substance over style (though if you can achieve both, go ahead, but never sacrifice clarity for cleverness)

What does a line of copy that’s trying to be clever and doesn’t state clear value sound like?

Check out these examples.

Good, better, and best examples of copywriting

“Get your mom-approved audience stats for your Mother’s Day campaign.”

What does mom-approved really mean? My mom thinks everything I do is great. What is the value here?

Instead, try:

“Get audience stats for an effective Mother’s Day campaign.”

What’s next?

Make your B2B copywriting skimmable

Adhere to web-writing standards. Make your copy as simple, easy to read, follow, and understand as possible. In short, make it skimmable.

  • Short sentences and paragraphs (three or four-sentence paragraphs)
  • Use periods more than commas (for shorter, sharper, more concise sentences)
  • Break up text with bullets, images, charts, graphs, gifs, videos, or any visuals if possible

Avoid passive language

Active tense, actionable language, and creditability

As with any form of writing, use active tense whenever possible. Too much passive tense stops copy dead in its tracks and makes it harder to read.

Furthermore, use as much actionable language as possible as well. Make your statements sound as much like call to actions as you can. Since copywriting is persuasive writing, you’re almost always persuading someone to take action anyway.

Never wildly exaggerate or outright lie. It can hurt your brand. If you have social proof or statistics to back up your claims, use them. 

It’s better to show rather than tell, after all. If your product helped someone else, show the proof and back up your claims.

However, don’t boast or lead with self-promotion.

Why?

Because the focus of B2B marketing is how you can help customers and solve their problems.

No one cares about your product or services. If someone wants business growth, more sales, or more organized project management? They’ll grab it up tomorrow without your product or services if they can.

People care more about what they can do with your product or services.

When it comes to copywriting, customers are the heroes of the story, not you or your brand.

You’re writing a type of letter to customers. It’s about them, their needs, and what they can do with your help.

Make it about them and not your products or services. No matter what you offer, somewhere out there, someone’s offering the same thing.

Show your customers how you’re better by showing them how they’ll benefit from choosing you.

What should you avoid?

Headlines, subject lines, or statements that sound like:

  • Five reasons salespeople LUV mind-reading software
  • An email marketing solution built for B2B speed and action!
  • Why our customer service agent robot is the best choice to replace a live human and do a more efficient, productive job

This type of writing is even worse if you use it as a headline or subject line, where it will stand out even more.

Those are unsubstantiated claims. Plus, you’re talking about yourself!

How much do you like it when someone goes on and on about themselves? Do you nod and try to slink away at the first available opportunity?

Now imagine reading an email from a brand that talks only about the brand and why it’s the best (without anything to back it up).

It gets annoying and tiresome fast.

Would you send an email out bragging about how fabulous you are and expect everyone to absolutely agree?

You might as well just beat a drum and march around chanting, “I am so great! I am so great!”

When it comes to copy and content, that’s amateurish and off-putting.

People don’t like being blatantly sold to. The art of the soft sell is the heart of B2B.

You’re offering help, a solution, or useful information. It’s not an outright sales job.

It’s called lead nurturing for a reason.

The old adage goes, “if all you use are hammers, everything looks like a nail.”

You have more than hammers. You have personas, messaging, customer data, campaign results, and more to base your copy, strategy, and approach on.

So, you can come across as sophisticated and use nuance in how you nurture and convert leads. 

You’re a person connecting with another person. Never forget that the most human, most empathetic marketer and copywriter shows a proper understanding of customers by offering the most helpful, valuable information.

It’s a customer journey. All journeys have multiple steps to them. Don’t rush to the finish.

Build a relationship with a customer first. They might need to consume multiple pieces of content before they’re ready to consider a solution. It could take a few campaigns or more than a few social posts.

Focus on helping, not selling. If you’re actually helpful, the selling will take care of itself.

Brush up on your B2B marketing copywriting

Common mistakes in B2B marketing copywriting

What else should you avoid?

  • Jargon and marketing speak
  • Too many “we” statements
  • The wrong tone or any type of insensitivity
  • Going off-topic and losing focus
  • Using too many exclamation points!!!

I’m not going to say never use an exclamation point, but I’ll advise you to be careful with them. You don’t want to seem overexcited about the wrong thing. Most of the time, you should just make your point. If it’s exciting, an exclamation point won’t make it more so.

Also, I hate semi-colons. I don’t like how they look in text (especially in headlines and subject lines). You probably don't need semi-colons if you’re writing simpler, more concise sentences.

If you’re writing and an exclamation point seems natural, go for it. (Maybe even a semi-colon, but I doubt it).

All your copywriting should sound as natural and human as possible. I’ve heard some people say emails should be written at something like a third-grade level. I won’t go that far.

However, make the writing as simple as possible. Simple works. You want people to understand what you’re saying.

Jargon and too much technical detail throw people off. It’s not needed most of the time for demand generation copywriting. It bogs down the copy and gets away from the main point: how the customer benefits.

Always emphasize benefits over features!

Again, it’s about the customer and what they get out of it. They save money, make money, create efficiencies, or whatever.

You’re selling someone a brighter, whiter smile and not cosmetic dentistry. That’s what appeals: the value, benefit, and end result.

And why should you limit the “we” statements?

Because “we” statements make the copy about you and not the customer

Your subject lines and headlines should especially emphasize how the customer benefits.

Sometimes, you might have to make a “we” statement. I suggest putting it in the body text where it won’t stand out as much. Also, put a statement in the second person before a “we” statement. That keeps the focus on the customer, what they should do, and how they benefit.

Looking for more tips from experts on copywriting, email marketing, and marketing campaigns? Learn how Oracle Marketing Consulting can help you boost your creative, engagement, and conversions.

Now, what is marketing speak? You might already know. If you don’t, this might cause a lightbulb to go on in your head.

Avoid marketing jargon

Why and how to avoid marketing speak

Let’s use this example:

“Leverage these crucial marketing trends to engage customers at the optimal time in the buying cycle.”

Why, why, why do markets love the word “leverage?”

You want to come across as an expert and knowledgeable to your customer. Details and specifics can help, but understand that an actual person will be reading this copy.

If someone sent an email written like that statement, what would you think of it?

Outside of work, have you ever said anything like, “I leveraged these coupons to save money and make my grocery shopping more efficient and expedient?”

No?

Then why would you put it in your copywriting?

You don’t sound smarter. It actually undermines your creditability.

And what about the word “future-proof?” What does it actually mean?

You put systems and processes in place to minimize the stress and damage a future event might do.

How are exactly are you predicting the future? How do you safeguard against you have no idea will happen?

If you’re trying drive more engagement or make more conversions, then say that. Don’t claim you can protect someone against the unknowable. You’ll always have to put that in vague terms because that sort of thing is vague at best.

After all, have you ever said anything like, “Future-proof against hunger later by eating a sandwich now.”

Someone who knows their stuffs sound clear and direct when explaining something. More complicated or unnatural language indicates you’re not the expert you claim to be.

Marketing speak can be more subtle. I’ve seen copy like “marketing automation strategies.”

Marketing automation is a tool. Do you have a strategy for how you use a hammer?

Are you only using language like that because you think that’s how marketers should sound?

Sound like a person and not marketer #7.

To help, look at Mike’s blacklist of marketing terms you should banish from your vocabulary:

  • Leverage
  • Future-proof
  • Cross-channel orchestration
  • Snackable
  • Synergy
  • Growth hacking
  • Verticals and horizontals
  • Learnings

If I don’t stop now, I never will. Find me on LinkedIn and share your own list. I’ll write you a haiku based on them, such as:

“Leverage my list

Of horrible jargon to

Future-proof campaigns.”

Tone, emotion, and sensitivity

As for tone?

B2B marketing allows for a broader and more varied number of tones than you might think.

You can be funny. You can show emotion.

However, watch it. Humor is subjective. Plus, if you try too hard, people will pick up on that.

Again, sound natural. Sound human.

Sensitivity and empathy show you’re there for customers and understand their issues.

That builds trust and a connection.

You project empathy and sensitivity by sounding as human as possible, like you’re actually interested in helping someone and not just wanting to get something out of them.

Don’t offend. Don’t send the wrong message at the wrong time, especially during a difficult time.

And don’t cut out all the emotion and personality. A marketing email, ad, or landing page comes from your brand, not a person with a name. You have branding and style guidelines you need to follow.

But you can still use emotion. A person has different moods and tones. They speak differently at different times. So can a brand.

Emotions drive human existence. How could you do any type of copywriting, content marketing, or writing without them?

Joy, curiosity, and excitement can make your copywriting stand out and a breeze to read.

Casual, conversational writing works best. You can still sound professional, but professional doesn’t have to mean stuffy and boring.

 Instead, be lively and engaging.

(Am I? Well, you’ve read this far.)

Negative emotions can also be powerful. They can draw a reader in.

A headline or subject line like “Is your marketing overcomplicated and over budget?”

It catches someone’s attention and shows you get them.

You can also make a subject line or headline a challenge. It can be provocative.

“Can you increase the quality of your leads without marketing automation?”

Doesn’t that make you want to read more?

It’s only one trick among many.

Humor humanizes your brand as well makes your copy and content more engaging. Find out why your marketing needs humor with the Happiness Report.

Remember: Most people skim rather than read the whole thing

One final note: people skim, especially when reading on their phone or mobile device.

What does this mean?

Your subject line, headlines, subheads, bullets, and CTAs matter even more than you thought.

They might be the only thing someone reads. So, they need to stand out, be clear, and tell a story. If someone only reads them, they should get the gist and want to click through.

And, even if someone skims, they’ll see a visual if it’s there. If an image tells your story better than words, do you need as many words? 68% of the population are visual learners.

You can also try a video, gif, or even an audio clip.

Food for thought, right?

Ready to write marketing campaign copy?

Fantastic but that’s all for now. In part two of this post, we’ll get down to specifics:

  • B2B landing page and email copywriting tips
  • Insights into how copywriting for the mobile channel
  • When you break the rules of copywriting

We’ll cover tips and tricks for headlines and subject lines for these four areas, how mobile marketing makes a difference, and more.

Join me, won’t you?


 

In the meantime:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael McNichols

Senior Content Manager

Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.


Previous Post

Managing the people side of dynamic content creation for email marketing

Michael Zusel | 4 min read

Next Post


3 examples of AI in marketing

John Rampton | 4 min read