3 proven copy strategies to increase your B2B conversion rates

Picture with Sabine Harnau, Agency Founder at From Scratch Communications

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Article written for BRUNCH by Sabine Harnau, a German/English bilingual conversion copywriter, copy coach and trainer based in Amsterdam. A former copywriting lead at LEGO Group, she started her agency From Scratch Communications in 2017 to ​work exclusively with purpose-driven brands. She is also responsible for Learning & Development at the ethical move – the global social movement for ethics in marketing and sales.

Hint: Using the same headline as everyone else won’t do the trick.

Website structure and messaging hierarchy: what’s behind successful B2B lead generation strategies?

Many businesses look at their target audience and swiftly conclude that they need a B2B website. However, that’s not always a helpful distinction. Especially not when it comes to trying to improve B2B conversion rates.

Marketing keynote speaker Christopher S. Penn doesn’t believe in a strict separation of B2B and B2C at all. In his email newsletter dated 13 September 2021, he states:

…there’s only complex and simple sales. A mortgage looks more like a “B2B sale”, and buying a simple SaaS service on your credit card looks more like a “B2C sale”. If we’re spending all our time and effort on trying to persuade people to buy who aren’t in the buying cycle, we’re pissing away our budget and resources.

Bearing that in mind, here’s what to do instead.

Step 1: Figure out whether your sales are complex or simple

If you’re unsure which camp your business belongs to, the following rule of thumb may help:

Signs of complex sales typically include…

  • Bespoke services, enterprise plans or product packages
  • Purchase orders required or the norm
  • High volume of sales conversations with prospects
  • Buttons saying “Contact us for a quote”
  • Low probability of repeat purchases over 12 months
  • Users of your product or service are not able to decide on a trial or purchase on their own
  • 5-figure prices and higher (if USD, Euro or GBP)

Signs of simple sales typically include…

  • Standardised services, subscription plans or products
  • Credit card payment, digital bank transfers or direct debit the norm
  • Customer support, FAQs, customer reviews and website content are more important than sales calls (you may not even employ any dedicated sales people at all)
  • Buttons saying “Browse”, “Shop” or “Buy now” ü High probability of repeat purchases or renewals over 12 months
  • Users decide whether they want to try or buy — this may even be a spontaneous decision
  • Price of USD 5,000 and lower

This distinction is so essential because complex sales require a completely different strategy compared to a simple e-commerce setup:

Any kind of complex sale is inevitably relationship-driven because the sales cycle is typically long, the time between purchases is long, and thus the value of repeat sales as well as referral sales is high. This in turn makes managing a relationship very valuable.

Any kind of transactional sale can be made more profitable by reducing friction in the buying process. The fewest barriers you can place between the buyer and their product will result in the greatest conversion.

Understanding how your sales process actually works in terms of complexity of transaction (regardless of the artificial B2B vs. B2C distinction) opens up doors for you to improve your marketing processes. – Cristopher S. Penn

As a result, your website optimization will also need to look different if you’re serious about upping conversion rates.

For complex sales, optimizing for brand awareness, thought leadership, and relationship building is key.

As Professor John Dawes from the University of South Australia explains , this is particularly important because “up to 95% of business clients are not in the market for many goods and services at any one time.” Accordingly, you’ll need to “[build] and [refresh] memory links to the brand. These memory links activate when buyers do come into the market.

New audiences that come across you via your “guest appearances on podcasts, guesting on live streams, showing up in other people’s books” (source) will need useful entry points into exploring your offer, such as dedicated landing pages, newsletter subscriptions and rich content.

In contrast, if your sales are simple, this is where SEO and classic conversion rate optimization come into their own. More visitors, a better sales argument and a streamlined checkout user experience will increase order volume and decrease advertising costs.

Step 2: Decide on the most valuable action your readers can take on each page of your B2B website

Which customer action is the most valuable to you: getting a quote or contacting you?

When I conduct website conversion copy audits for B2B clients using the Brunch interface, I often notice there are numerous calls to action (CTAs) on each web page. That’s a common mistake that can reduce B2B conversion rates overall due to decision fatigue. However, offering more than one CTA can also be helpful in addressing the needs of different types of website visitors.

When I conduct website conversion copy audits for B2B clients using the Brunch interface, I often notice there are numerous calls to action (CTAs) on each web page. That’s a common mistake that can reduce B2B conversion rates overall due to decision fatigue. However, offering more than one CTA can also be helpful in addressing the needs of different types of website visitors.

What’s key here is to know in advance which action visitors want to take while also being closely associated with making a sale. Only if you know this will you be able to avoid ‘throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks’.

And if you decide to use more than two CTAs, place them in the most logical order. You could start with offering the sale and end the page with a minimum viable commitment. Or follow the logic of relationship building by offering low-friction steps near the top of the page, increasing the level of commitment as the page continues. For a more detailed explanation of this principle, watch or read the transcript of my website audit of the Hubba UK Homepage.

Step 3: Choose one appeal to help your readers take the most valuable action

Let’s say you’ve determined the #1 action you want visitors to take. But how do you convince them to go ahead and take it?

Unsurprisingly, this question has been at the core of marketing theory for decades. Indeed, the principles laid out in 1997 by Philip Kotler, the ‘father of modern marketing‘ , drive successful advertising campaigns and B2B conversion copywriting to this day:

One of the ways a website can be optimised is by choosing a suitable appeal, which according to Kotler (1997) can be seen as the general theme, i.e. one of the various strategies to persuade customers. This definition implies a mandatory choice which has to be made by the designer in the sense that one has to decide how to appeal the user. This choice is often dependent on the goals which one wants to achieve with the website.— Mischa Hakvoort: Does website appeal matter in the B2B market?, highlights my own

Significantly, this principle relies on goal-setting and strategy. In other words, in choosing your appeal, theme or big idea you’re saying no to all the other themes and ideas you could have chosen.

Take the case of Slack, where we see a multitude of themes in the home page hero section:

The copy on the Slack homepage presents four different big ideas in the hero section alone.

Since Slack is synonymous with workplace chat software, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that its homepage needs to work less hard to explain the product and ensure successful SaaS conversion rates. As a result, we see four big ideas competing with each other:

1. Slack is your digital HQ in a work-from-anywhere world.

2. Slack is where the future works. It transforms the way you work.

3. Slack is one place for everyone, keeping teams connected.

4. Slack is the place for everything you need to get stuff done. You can prepare for launches and share “the run of the show.”

Instead of enhancing the perception of Slack and clarifying what this software can do, the use of so many big ideas in such a small space obfuscates the message and confuses readers. Therefore, researching which theme is most convincing for prospective customers is at the very core of B2B website best practices. Interviews, surveys and the jobs-to-be- done framework provide useful insights, which can inform targeted messaging on dedicated landing pages, A/B tests and growth hacking experiments. For a quick, action-packed guide to customer research, download the free ebook: Find out what your customers REALLY think.

Advanced B2B website copywriting relies on strategy not tactics

To sum up, as your business grows and you’re done optimizing for low-hanging fruit, it’s not the copywriting itself that gets harder. It’s the thinking and decision-making. Perhaps ironically, in my experience, clear strategies often make the copywriting itself easier. That’s because the necessary decisions are mostly data-driven, and we know exactly what the copy needs to achieve.

work exclusively with purpose-driven brands. She is also responsible for Learning & Development at the ethical move – the global social movement for ethics in marketing and sales.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Interested in investing in Brunch?
This is default text for notification bar