Process & Approach

Stop annoying your B2B audience

Adjust these five marketing habits to reach your B2B audience without badgering them. By Tanya Decarie Apr 18, 2018

Scratch that B2B content itch

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So you’re a B2B marketer. That’s a tough gig.

You’re vying for the attention of people who are notoriously busy, up to their eyeballs in emails, and generally overwhelmed with the daily process of putting out fires and taking names.

As marketing vet Mark Schaefer once wrote, “In my own beloved profession of marketing, the primary application of technology is to find increasingly sophisticated ways to annoy people.”

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With the breadth of technology we have on hand these days, sure, it’s easy to rely on crude and sometimes downright aggravating tactics to capture the attention of your on-the-go audience.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

I sat down with a handful of department reps at Motum B2B to learn about the marketing strategies they find most annoying — and how to avoid them.

Demanding 10 minutes for 30 seconds’ worth of wisdom

In an industry where everyone is busy at all hours of the day, there’s one surefire way to get on their nerves: just act like everyone’s time is worthless, including yours.

To avoid that, your headlines and email subject lines should clearly communicate what readers can expect from your content — and tell people why they should care.

“People in B2B are busy, and they want to know what they’re getting for their time,” says Corinne Lynds, Editorial Director.

From a content perspective, Corinne says her pet peeve is uninformative stories with “no quotes, no facts, and no actual numbers.”

Instead she advises a practical approach: write content that speaks directly to your customers’ pain points, offers them concrete intel, and provides insight into their everyday challenges.

While you’re at it, why not sit down and talk to the customers you’re trying to reach?

“No one knows their business better than the people who actually work in B2B,” adds Corinne.

Fluffing it up

With too much focus on clickbait and fluff pieces, your social presence can easily cross the threshold from alluring to irritating.

Peddling “clickbait” essentially means dangling a juicy, key piece of information in front of your readers to entice them into reading an otherwise dull story.

“It’s headlines like, ‘This person gave their jacket to a homeless person. What happened next will shock you’,” says Giles Lino, Social Media Strategist. “There’s an exceptional amount of cheese in these types of posts.”

Standard fluff posts are already annoying, but they can be particularly irksome in B2B social feeds, where followers expect to see stories that are more pertinent to their industries.

Giles notes that you can still share lighthearted posts (no one ever gets annoyed with dog GIFs) without relying on blatantly fluffy or sensationalized content.

The trick is to know your audience. When you understand what’s relevant to your followers, you’ll be better positioned to share content they find valuable and engaging.

Blasting as many people as possible…

When it comes to outbound emails, the word “blast” pretty much sums up the annoyance factor. B2B marketers often fall into the trap of targeting too many recipients at once — and painting their audience in overly broad strokes.

Contact list rentals are one of the more egregious examples. They may expand your email blast radius, but they tend to demolish ROI.

Natasha Shekhar, Marketing Coordinator of Engagement and Analytics, suggests narrowing your campaign recipients to a select range of targets.

“If you take out the redundant contacts, you’re not actually losing people who genuinely care about what you have to say,” says Natasha. Instead you reduce the total number of people you can aggravate with pointless emails.

Steve Lendt, Director of Engagement and Analytics, adds that a well-defined audience persona goes a long way towards more targeted emails.

…and then laser-focusing on one slice of data

Natasha believes marketers may set themselves up for frustration when they take a piecemeal look at their analytics data.

She says analytics tunnel vision can lead a marketer to “focus on one metric, like the bounce rate, instead of getting a full picture.”

The bounce rate shows you how many people made a single-page visit to your website. Looking at this metric alone can be misleading, says Steve, and prompt marketers to “panic that their campaign is failing.”

“If visitors go to your contact page to get a phone number, that’s a win!”

The habit of excluding useful metrics can lead to overreactions in future marketing campaigns, and it can generally act as a thorn in your side.

To get a big-picture view of any campaign, make sure you include strategic metrics like conversions, pages per session, and page values into your analytics and interpret your data as a whole.

Assaulting their eyeballs

Everyone on the Motum B2B web team agrees that intrusive visuals, videos that auto-play with sound, and pop-up ads are among the most obnoxious approaches in digital marketing.

“[It’s annoying] when the ad blocks half of the content on the page,” says Kelly McNamara, Web Developer. “I mean, I know what site I’m on. There is no need to yell.”

Fellow Web Developer Phil Richards echoes her sentiments.

“You know those ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ modals that pop up when you’re halfway through an article?” he says. “That’s the best way to ensure I will never subscribe to your newsletter. And probably won’t come back to your site.”

The web team advocates a more thoughtful approach to design. Elements like eye-catching visuals and attractive colour palettes can grab a viewer’s attention more effectively without invading their personal space.