Posted by Rob ● 16-Sep-2015 10:03:00

Why language is key in the B2B inbound marketing mix


As more CMOs and B2B marketers embrace inbound marketing and PR, it’s easy to get excited about the potential benefits of creating a podcast, eBook or blog. In recent years, we’ve become acutely aware of the potential benefits associated with inbound campaigns – from building stronger engagements with target markets, to attracting and converting qualified leads.

However, what is often overlooked is that the success of any inbound strategy can hinge on one critical aspect – language choice.

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Some B2B marketers launch an inbound initiative only to be disappointed when the strategy doesn’t yield traffic, leads or conversion. In such cases, it can be tempting to disregard the tactic and move on to the next – however, a change in approach to language can often be key in turning things around.

What follows are some simple yet effective language tips that all CMOs and B2B marketers should keep in mind when implementing inbound marketing strategies.

Identify and write for your target market

BuzzStream and Fractle released survey results earlier this year providing insights into the role that language plays in marketing emails. Based on a survey of 1,200 people aged 18-64, the study found that emails written in a formal tone conveys that the sender is “intelligent”, “educated” and “authoritative”, while emails written in an informal tone conveys that the sender is “young”, “funny” and “creative”.

The study also revealed that men find formal language to be more persuasive than women do (17 per cent vs 10 per cent), and 45 per cent more women than men find informal emails to have greater authenticity.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the youngest survey demographic (respondents aged 18-24) found slang terms to be “totally unacceptable”.

These stats reinforce the importance of identifying your target personas and writing in a way that appeals to them. When doing this, it’s worth remembering that while your business may have a broad target market, certain inbound platforms and tactics may be more conducive to engaging specific personas.

For example, studies have shown that the disparity in social media uptake between older and younger generations is much wider among highly audiovisual platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube, when compared to text-heavier social media channels like Google+, Linkedin and Facebook.

Once you’ve identified which inbound tactics are most appropriate for your target personas, the next step is to create content with language catered to each segment and inbound platform.

If you are writing for a B2B audience, you will almost invariably be using formal language and industry-specific terminologies. However, if you’re targeting a B2C market, there may be more flexibility in terms of tone and slang-use.

Language should also be consistent with your brand image. For instance, if you are marketing a cutting-edge, anti-establishment brand, you are going to need to use words, references and terms that convey these sentiments. In contrast, if you’re marketing a very corporate brand, you are going to need to use words that are formal, authoritative and more qualified.

Transcreation trumps translation

It’s not uncommon for B2B marketers to communicate across several socio-cultural demographics, particularly in the case of multinational organisations.

This often necessitates marketing to audiences with different linguistic needs and/or preferences. In these cases, marketers have to make a choice between adopting a translation or transcreation model of communication.

What's the difference? Translation aims to convert words from one language to another in literal terms, with no change in messaging. Transcreation, on the other hand, attempts to recreate the emotional or creative intent of content – with new messages and visual design elements if necessary.

In effect, the latter creates new content catered to each market, while the former results in content remaining the same, regardless of the socio-cultural audience.

In the context of inbound B2B marketing and PR, it is difficult to argue against the effectiveness of transcreation over translation.

The major challenge associated with translation is that message reception is influenced by context. There are words that can lose their exact meaning when translated into different languages – and some messages, even if translated literally, don’t have as much socio-cultural impact.

For inbound marketers, this can mean that content gains traction with some audiences and not others.

By adopting a transcreation approach, B2B marketers can position themselves to better deliver content that achieves traction with multiple socio-cultural audiences. Content will be reconctructed to make a business’ inherent messages more engaging to the markets they’re directed to.

For more information on how to build a global B2B inbound marketing and PR operation, download our free eBook below.

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Topics: b2b marketers, b2b public relations, b2b inbound marketing, b2b pr, b2b lead generation, UK B2B tech PR and inbound marketing