If you’ve ever published anything online, you’ve likely asked yourself: “Who’s reading this?” The answer may well be lots of people. But perhaps the numbers are, instead, disheartening.
The internet is full of distractions and amid the viral videos, news articles and blogs, it can seem a real challenge to attract attention - and keep it.
Of course, in the first instance, we need to be writing about topics that are interesting to our target audience - but that’s not enough on its own. Our B2B blog posts also need to be reader-friendly.
Imagine you are searching for a recipe to make a dish you saw featured on a cookery programme. You find two that are suited to your purposes: the first is composed of very detailed instructions that are presented as a block of text; the second features an image of the dish and tells you how to make it in concise, numbered steps. Which one do you use? Most likely, the second one - because it is clearer and easier to understand.
So how can we apply this kind of logic to our B2B blog posts?
1. Craft headlines that make an impact
Headlines are the first thing we see - and the best ones not only tell us what we’re about to read, but make us want to read it too. It’s important to strike a balance between creating a headline that’s intriguing but also useful, telling the reader exactly what the post is about - and why they should read it.
Writing on Copyblogger, Brian Clark says: "At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more."
If we fail to draw the reader in with the headline, then we’ve fallen at the first hurdle. They’re gone, scrolling and clicking into cyberspace.
2. Use sub-headings for clarity
Once we’ve drawn a reader in with our headline, we want to ensure they keep reading. They’re unlikely to do so if they come face-to-face with reams of text, because reading this requires more effort.
Steve Krug famously wrote the book "Don’t Make Me Think". The title is derived from his first law of usability for the internet: keep it simple. In other words, a website or app should be easy to navigate and the user should instinctively know what to do next.
When it comes to a blog post, sub-headings are one way of achieving this. They break the text down into easily digestible chunks and show the reader a clear path from the start to the end.
3. Include bullet points to provide detail
Another great way to break up text and make a post more reader-friendly is to use bullet points. This technique is particularly useful if you want to explain a more complex point in a comprehensible and concise way.
- Treat your bullets like mini-headlines
- Avoid too many bullets or sub-bullets
- Use symmetry and avoid big differences in length
Bullet points allow you to put essential information across without having to worry about writing in full sentences. It’s a good idea to keep them relatively short (not exceeding a single line). However, it’s also important to ensure that each bullet point has something to say and adds something to the post.
4. Harness the power of images
Yes, it’s a cliché - but a picture really can speak 1,000 words. Including images in your posts will illuminate what you’re writing about and add another dimension to your work. And because the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, images stand out, thereby piquing the reader’s attention and helping to retain it.
Images also have the power to elicit an emotional reaction. Speaking on The Lede podcast, Demian Farnworth says that the emotion you attempt to evoke with a picture should match the emotion you’re trying to arouse with your writing.
So you should ask yourself: "What is the response that I want out of the reader? What kind of an emotional response do I want him to have?" But that emotion doesn’t have to be profound - for example, you may simply want your reader to feel motivated to buy your product.
5. Embrace white space
When you’re thinking about what you can add to your B2B blog posts to make them more reader-friendly, it’s easy to forget that, in some cases, less is more. So don’t be afraid of white space.
We’ve already talked about sub-headings and bullet points - both of which inject white space into your B2B blog posts - but you can also use short paragraphs and ensure that you leave margins around images. All of these techniques make your post more inviting to the reader.
When writing B2B blog posts, it's crucial to take steps to ensure that what we create is reader-friendly. The internet is chock-a-block with content and we need to do more than simply write something valuable for our target audience - it needs to come in an aesthetically pleasing format too.