Whenever we talk to prospects about getting started with inbound marketing, one of the biggest initial concerns they have always revolves around who’s going to create the content. They know their sales and marketing teams can adapt to new software and change their strategy and approach, but they often don’t have any employees with any professional/formal writing experience. The equipment industry is full of engineers after all, not English majors. In fact, the vast majority of today’s professionals probably haven’t written anything that would resemble a blog post or whitepaper since they were writing research papers in college – and that could be more than 30 years ago for some employees!
Writing is one of those skills that just seems to come naturally to some people, and a common trait of a natural-born copywriter is knowing which tone is appropriate for different subject matters and publishing formats. A good writer is in tune with:
The information their audience actually wants to read
The terminology their audience is familiar with
The style of writing their audience responds to best (i.e., articles loaded with facts vs. personal opinions)
Having an understanding of those four things is key to writing copy your audience will respond to, and they’re four things any writer can learn with some research and practice over time – which is good news for copywriting rookies.
For those businesses that are just getting started with inbound marketing, or looking to revitalize their website and online presence, you’ll want to make sure your website is attractive and up-to-date, and that involves perfecting its marketing copy. To help show you the difference between the writing style that works best for blogging versus the technical writing style you’ll use on your product pages, I’ll provide a few tips and examples to show inexperienced writers how it’s done.
Blog Writing vs. Technical Writing
Depending on which page of your website you’re talking about, you’ll want to take a different approach to your writing when talking about technical subjects. Visitors look for and digest information differently on each page of your website, and it’s important that you understand their content consumption preferences if you’re hoping to maximize your copy’s effectiveness. A blog post shouldn’t sound like a product description page for example, and your product description pages definitely shouldn’t sound like a blog post. Let me explain:
Technical writing, or writing that centers around your industry-specific technical terminology (like the subjects mentioned above), is best suited for webpage copy where prospects are looking for the nitty gritty information about your products. These are the things researchers need to know before making a purchase, like product specs and dimensions, facts and statistics, and any other information that helps give prospects a more detailed idea of what they’re getting. It doesn’t have to be conversational. It doesn’t have to be explained in layman’s terms. These webpages are simply there to serve as information providers, and prospects don’t want that information dumbed down or overly simplified – they want the specifics.
To help give you an idea of how you should approach your technical copy in a way that’s both easy to comprehend and compelling, here’s an example of a product page from Kett, a manufacturer of moisture measurement instruments.
Notice how succinct and punchy the copy is?
There isn’t any “fluff” in the wording; it’s straight to the point and makes it easy for buyers to digest and remember. Take a look at their “Key Benefits,” for example. Rather than making you read a paragraph full of buzzwords upselling its benefits, they list them out neatly and concisely. In their “How It Works” section, it’s quick sentence after quick sentence spit-balling product facts and explaining the key things their target audience wants to know most. They’ve even made it easy for researchers in different industries to see exactly how that product can be used in their specific applications. Kett understands that people come to these pages looking for specific technical information about their products, and they deliver that information in a way that’s easy to digest and doesn’t beat around the bush.
In our experiences helping manufacturers launch their website and blog, writing about technical subject matter in a conversational tone more suitable for blogging is often one of the hardest things for inexperienced writers to do. It’s not that employees don’t understand what they’re talking about; it’s just hard to put together coherent and compelling sentences when they’re chocked full of specific product names and model numbers, obscure industry terminology, and other technical areas like different industry regulations (IEC 60601-1, Stability and Transportability section 9.4.2, anyone?).
Unlike technical writing, which is more straightforward and rigid, blog writing requires writers to talk about technical subjects in a way that’s enjoyable to read and easy to understand. Though researchers will still want the juicy facts and specific information from your posts, they’re coming to your blog expecting an explanation – not just looking for answers. With a blog, you’re helping a reader understand something better, so your writing needs more than just punchy facts and specific information about your product. Don’t be afraid to inject some personality in there, and address your readers in the first-person so it feels like you’re actually talking to them, rather than just talking at them. Take the time to walk the reader through the benefits of something, or why something works the way it does. Your product pages are there to show prospects what your company has to offer, but it’s your blog’s job to convince prospects why they need them and show how your brand can help.
Taking a look at one of Kett’s recent blog posts for example, you can clearly notice a difference between their blog copy and the tone they used for their product page:
See how they take the time to explain the subject, rather than just provide quick, punchy answers? It’s like they’re holding the reader's hand and walking them through the important talking points. Learning how to write like this can take some time, of course, but it’s certainly easier after writing a few blog posts. Remember to use a personal tone with your writing, and if your sentences sound fluid and cohesive when read out loud, there’s a good chance they’ll be easy to read as well.
Understanding the differences between blog writing and technical writing is highly important for any company looking to create a website that generates conversions. Without the right style or tone in your copy, you’ll have a hard time convincing your target audience that your equipment is the right choice, and that’s the last thing you want to happen with more than 60% of today’s buying process being completed without ever talking to a sales rep. If your website fails to win a prospect over upon it’s first impression, there’s a good chance you’ll never see that prospect again.
Think of blog writing and technical writing as if it were a math equation. When prospects are looking for technical information, they simply want the answer to 2 x 2. Nothing more, nothing less. When prospects come to your blog, however, they want to know why 2 x 2 = 4, what steps you took to get there, and how they can figure it out for themselves. By aligning your writing style to meet your visitors' expectations on different webpages, you’ll have a much better chance of inspiring action and earning a conversion.
Posted by Alex Sobal Alex has exceptional writing skills and the ability to learn new industries and their complex processes. While at Weidert Group, he was also an avid social media marketer and wrote frequently on online community engagement and content creation strategies for our blog.