I am a B2B Technology Copywriter.“Copywriter? What’s that?” When I’m at cocktail parties and I tell people what I do, their first question is usually “what’s a copywriter?” or “what does a copywriter do?” Or they assume that I’m involved in with copyright law. Copywriting and copyrighting do sound exactly the same but are two completely different fields. But when I say I’m a “technical copywriter” (a colloquial term for “B2B technology copywriter”), nobody seems to hear the “copy” part of the word. They all assume I’m a “technical writer”, a completely different occupation. Here’s an article explaining the differences between a B2B technology copywriter and a technical writer. In this article, I go through all the important steps a B2B technology copywriter goes through to deliver lead- and sales-generating copy.
Good writing begins with an exchange of ideas. To foster an uninhibited exchange of ideas, we need an open and unfiltered communication. The conversation between a B2B technology copywriter and a business looking to boost sales revenue involves an honest look at the current state of business and their objectives. Questions like these are good ways to jumpstart a productive conversation that could change your business for the better:
1. Open Dialogue With Client
- Are you getting web traffic but not converting it to sales?
- Does your sales and marketing material target the right audience?
- Does your sales copy speak to the reader, or does it just list all the product’s features?
- Is your website missing an FAQ, a handful of articles, a few case studies, a whitepaper, or a couple of press releases? Content that is useful to your visitors establishes you as a credible authority on the topic.
- How does your website look? Is it cluttered with too much text or too many widgets?
- Does your website make it clear what exactly your business is about?
- Is there an email opt-in to capture potential leads?
- Is there an active email marketing campaign to keep customers engaged and bring them closer to buying your product?
Ideally, the B2B technology copywriter would have all the project requirements before agreeing to work on the project. The dialogue is a discovery phase of the project and usually overlaps with the requirements phase. Over the course of the dialogue, the conversation usually starts out quite general. Then it becomes more focused, at which point is a great time to get most, if not all, of the requirements on paper. Some requirements usually include:
2. Get Client’s Requirements
- Type of sales and marketing material needed
- Understanding the business sales process
- The audience or market that the client needs to target
- Get keywords that the client wants to rank higher on if SEO is involved
- Desired tone
Type of Sales and Marketing Material NeededThe type of sales and marketing material could be press releases, white papers, case studies, landing pages, product descriptions or reviews, among many other choices. Choosing the right marketing material to develop involves understanding 1) the sales process within your own business and 2) your target market.
Understanding the Sales ProcessThere are several steps to the sales process, a few of which are especially relevant to the technical copywriter developing your marketing material:
- Product Knowledge
- Prospecting for Customers
- The Sales and Marketing Approach
- Needs Assessment of Target Market
- The Presentation of Sales and Marketing Material
- Closing the Sale
Product KnowledgeThe product knowledge phase involves learning all the technical aspects of the product and its features. The B2B technology copywriter would obtain all of this information from the client through discussions of requirements and source material.
Prospecting for CustomersIt is the B2B technology copywriter’s job to translate the features into benefits. But to do that, we need to understand who the target customers are and what they want. The copywriter can help the client focus on market segments to produce more powerful sales messages.
The Sales and Marketing ApproachThe client would choose how to approach their prospective customers, and this choice determines what kind of sales and marketing material the technical copywriter creates. If a client wants to send direct mailers, the copywriter would create copy for a direct mailer. If the client decides on an email marketing campaign with an opt-in, the copywriter would write the emails that make up the campaign. The choices are many.
Needs Assessment of Target MarketTo write laser-focused and effective copy that truly sells, the copywriter must understand how to solve the prospect’s problems with the client’s product or service. To do that, I take the time to research the prospects, what their needs are, and how to address their pain points.
The Presentation of Sales and Marketing MaterialAll the above steps lead to this final step for technical copywriters. If the prior steps had been done correctly, the final result will be a substantial jump in sales with focused and effective copy. Otherwise, the copy will fail to increase sales. Here’s a report on the three major mistakes copywriters make when creating sales and marketing material to sell technology and software.
Closing the SaleEvery piece of marketing material I write will always have a strong Call-to-Action to persuade the prospect to buy your product. If the client wants, I will create follow-up materials to hook prospects back into buying. In my experience, following up doubles your conversion rate.
Targeting Your Audience With the Right Keywords and TonePart of the requirements discussion involves identifying market segments to target, what their business needs are, and what keywords they use to look for solutions to their problems. If necessary, I will also consider the best tone to use in my writing that targets these market segments. For B2C copywriting, I would probably use a conversational and friendly tone if the situation calls for it. Apple has mastered the art of B2C copywriting using the right tone and word choice simplicity. I’ve written a case study about how Apple’s copywriting techniques propelled their sales into the billions. With B2B copywriting, the tone should be more compact and to the point, but still sound like a human being, and not so formal like a robot. The best tone to use depends on the situation and on the target demographic. Unless the client requires a particular tone to be used, I will choose the most appropriate tone. For further reading, here’s a concise article that explains the difference between B2C and B2B copywriting and another article with 10 essential B2B copywriting tips that I use in my work.
A copywriter spends 70% of the total time on a project doing research and spends the remaining 30% on writing the actual sales and marketing material. However, a B2B technology copywriter with subject matter expertise on the product or service may be able to cut down on the research time, giving you more bang for your buck.
3. Research The Product, Target Customer, Market Competition and Relevant Keywords
How a B2B Technology Copywriter Researches Your Product and The MarketThis is a list of what copywriters look for:
- Obtain source material
- Research the target audience
- Find the customer’s pain points
- List the product’s features
- Translate features into benefits
- Interview subject matter experts
- Analyze the competition
- List keywords that generate traffic
Obtain Source MaterialEven though copywriters know general information about the industry, they need more in-depth background information about your own company, your clients, the technical information about your product, and how your product intends to help them.
Research the Target AudienceTo get the best results, the copywriter needs to tailor the marketing copy to the right audience. Is your audience is highly technical and want the nitty gritty product details? Or are they C-level execs who just want the “bottom line” about business benefits? It matters! What percentage of your target audience have the funds and decision making power to buy your product? What portion of your target audience expressed a need for your product or a pain point that your product can alleviate? This data-driven demographic research is an essential step to tailor marketing material to your target audience.
Find the Customer’s Pain PointsWhile researching the target market and their demographics, I look for any problems they are having. I summarize each problem or pain point and write them down on a short list for the next two steps.
List the Product’s FeaturesStandard copywriting rules say to sell the benefits, not the features. But with technical copywriting, it is important to understand the features to translate them into benefits. It takes a deep technical background to understand what the features are, why they are “features”, and more importantly, how they benefit your customers. I make a list of features and then compare it side-by-side with my list of customer’s needs.
Translate Features Into BenefitsThis is the hardest part of the entire project. It sounds simple, but in practice, it’s not, especially when dealing with technical products. A copywriter’s technical background is the most useful for this step. This article explains how a technical copywriter’s job differs from that of a standard copywriter. With the two lists, I match each feature with its most closely corresponding benefit and write a solution that powerfully appeals to the customer’s problem or need.
Interview Subject Matter ExpertsWith a B2B technology copywriter being an expert in the industry, this may not be necessary and can often be skipped to save time. However, if I deem it necessary, I will interview at least one or two subject matter experts to glean valuable information used to maximize the impact of the finished marketing material.
Analyze the CompetitionI check if there are other companies selling similar products, how they are selling them, and look for any gaps in the features-benefits relationship on their sales copy. Inferring what the competitors are not doing is just as important as observing what they are doing. This is exactly how I come up with ideas how to emphasize your unique selling points.
List Keywords That Generate TrafficSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of the technical copywriter’s job. I do research using keyword tools to come up with a list of relevant keyword variants around your product. I look for long-tail keywords that have less competition than head terms. Yet these long-tail keywords contain the most coveted head terms tucked within longer phrases. I make a list of those to use within the sales copy, which I’ll write in the next step.
If I were thorough enough in my research, writing the copy is almost an afterthought. Still, some creativity is necessary for creating catchy headlines and compelling call to actions. Within the meat of the copy, I translate the technical concepts or features into engaging and easy-to-understand benefits. The most important part of this step is to decide on a format for the sales and marketing material. While the appearance and tone depend on whether it is a B2B sales letter, press release, social media ad, white paper, case study, or a landing page, etc, determining the copywriting formula is a very important step.