It may seem obvious, but we often forget that B2B marketing is H2H: Human to human.
- B2B buyers are seen as rational decision makers with a corporate mindset. But they aren’t just taking a risk for their company, they’re taking a risk on their careers too. Even though they may not be the ones writing the cheque, B2B buyer decisions are still personal and emotional. They are human!
- B2B businesses are often seen as the product or service they are offering. But a B2B business is not the engine, it’s the engineers. Businesses can be highly personal and emotional, as long as you are not forgotten. You are human!
In a digital landscape, a business is as good as its website. Our research at the end of 2020 found that 70% of B2B marketers felt their website had become more important for them since the start of Coronavirus. But to keep connecting with customers and prospects on a human level, your website needs to be humanised.
- Utilise your content
- Live chat
- Showcase your employees
- Tell your story
Utilise your content
One of the simplest ways to humanise a website is through content.
Conversational writing speaks to readers with a light tone like that of a person. Try to avoid excessively corporate language and jargon that alienates the reader. Conversational writing establishes a relationship and eases the pressure of purchase decision making.
Of course you need different types of content at different stages of the buyer journey, but there is almost definitely space for this type of content.
Conversational writing can be easily enhanced by first person narrative. I sometimes write in first person because it feels like we’re chatting. We’re here together, sharing ideas about our mutual passion for B2B marketing.
Adding humour to your website can offset the intimidating seriousness of your brand. Humour can trigger an immediate emotional response as it sparks happiness and connection through mutual enjoyment. You want your content to align with your overall brand tone of voice, but don’t miss out on a chance to connect.
B2B marketing and humour don’t tend to go hand in hand. But they can! Don’t believe me?
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Live chat is not to be confused with a virtual assistant or chatbot. These tools are AI based and rely on machines. Instead, live chat is a connecting tool between company representatives and website visitors.
Having an instant means of communication enables users to see that there is a team behind your website, ready to speak human to human. And since conferences and events have been paused after Coronavirus first struck, ‘face to face’ contact of any kind is worth exploring.
Zendesk is a customer service software platform that allows businesses to easily chat with their customers and prospects. Lead Forensics uses Zendesk to introduce their sales reps to website visitors with a notification as if they were using a personal messaging app.
Chanelle instantly humanises her company, with her face shown through a casual selfie, and her name revealed for a personal experience.
In B2B, a nurtured sales journey is very important. Keeping an opportunity for live chat at the forefront of their website means that Lead Forensics visitors feel nurtured immediately.
Live chat tools leave little room for customers to forget there are humans behind the brand and website. There are humans ready to converse, connect and start a relationship with. The similarity between Zendesk and social media messaging platforms makes the experience feel even more comfortable and personal.
Showcase your employees
One of the best ways to humanise a brand is to show off its humans! Showcase your employees with pictures in the office (homes offices included) and at company events, with their names and job titles.
One way to showcase your employees in great depth is to hold ‘meet the team’ interviews. These interviews help prospects understand your employees, with the potential for emotional connection through mutual interests and relatable quotes.
These interviews can be in written, video or audio format. Example questions include:
- What is your role?
- What does an average day for you look like?
- Any advice for those who want to do what you do?
- What are your passions/hobbies/interests?
Through ‘meet the team’ interviews, leads and customers can identify with the people behind your business. In B2B especially, these interviews are even more effective in generating connection, as business buyers can relate to other corporate employees.
You may be worried about competitors poaching your best talent if they are given their name and job title. Although this is a possibility, the benefits of showcasing your employees outweighs the risk. In trusting your employees to represent the business, customers will trust them and they’ll trust the business too.
B2B websites often have ‘about’ pages which are generic and sterile, whilst being tucked away and hard to find in the sitemap and not talking about their team.
Think about how you can showcase your team’s biographies, use imagery showcasing your culture and tell prospects about your beliefs and values. Don’t underestimate the power of emotion in B2B – people by from people!
Genuine backstory on website
It is often said that marketers are storytellers. Whether you think this is gospel or garbage, the sentiment stands. Storytelling is a powerful tool to teach, inspire and influence. Stories entail relatable challenges, emotions and ambitions that prospects can empathise with. But in B2B marketers often focus on products and solutions whist believing they need to be ‘corporate’ in their communications.
In 2019, the founder of Zoom, Eric Yuang, released an exclusive interview with Forbes Magazine. The feature revealed Yuang’s personal struggles and successes while he started one of the biggest video conferencing platforms in the world.
The Forbes story traces his entrepreneurial roots, from selling scraps from his chicken coop in rural China, to being denied citizenship 8 times before he could pursue his American dream. Having worked at Webex as the internet was starting to popularise, Yuang noticed areas of improvement. Upon starting Zoom, success came through large investments from celebrity sports stars like Steph Curry. In April 2020, Zoom reached 300 million daily participants with a quarterly revenue of $328.2 million USD!
Although yours might not be so spectacular (yet), origin stories provide insight into company values, and allow prospects to relate to the brand. They show that your B2B business began with one idea and the perseverance of a human.
Humanising through storytelling in B2B marketing has an advantage over B2C. Business buyer personas might be more inclined to empathise with other stories of entrepreneurial success.
On our own website, we refer to our ‘about’ page as ‘Our Story’, and we tell our founding story and history using an interactive timeline – check it out here.
Research has proven that business owners identify themselves with their businesses at a personal level by injecting their own tastes and preferences into company values. Having your company backstory on your website showcases these values, and some readers might just approve! In 2020, 71% of consumers prefer buying from brands that align to their values.
- Utilise your content by using a conversational tone, humour, and avoid jargon across your site.
- Use live chat to open a conversation and nurture your website visitors.
- Leverage employees through meet the team interviews to reveal good qualities about the humans behind your business.
- Provide a backstory to your business founding, which will showcase your values and encourage empathy from prospects and make the more inclined to buy.
In every part of B2B marketing, it is important not to forget who you are talking to: humans!
B2B buyers want a personal connection with your brand to establish trust and loyalty. Just as you are passionate about your B2B marketing career, your customers are passionate about their own careers too.
Humanising your business and humanising your customers will help them be sure they are making the right decision by purchasing your product or service. A humanised website will ease purchasing pressure and will give them something to personally connect to.
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