How to optimize your B2B content by leveraging the psychology of reading

September 6, 2019

Content Strategy

In this post, we are going to be doing something a little different and putting on our white coats to explore the science behind how we have learned to consume information, looking at what triggers cause painsrticular parts of our brains to light up and how you can incorporate these tactics into your B2B content marketing.

Generally, as humans, we are drawn to things that interest us. For example, you are likely reading this blog post due to an interest in content marketing. However, have you ever wondered why you have felt more drawn to certain pieces of content when browsing online, perhaps feeling more engaged than normal? Maybe there are specific formats that instantly resonate with you, but you cannot quite put your finger on why, they just do. In this post, we will be discussing just that.

Going back to the very beginning

Seeking out information and processing it effectively was crucial to early man’s survival. One of the key differences between Homo sapiens and their relatives – the Neanderthals – was their use of complex symbols alongside different languages, for effective communication. By actively learning more about the world through founded information, they were ultimately able to better succeed within it, adapting themselves for optimal survival.

In ancient cave paintings that still exist across the globe, early examples of man’s first attempt at content creation can be found. In a simple image such as the one below, we can still understand today what the artist wanted to convey thousands of years ago, consuming the information via a picture just as effectively as the written word.

Image source

As the English adage dictates: ‘A picture paints a thousand words’, meaning that sometimes, the most complex ideas can be conveyed most effectively with images – we will explore this in more detail later on.

Entering the digital age of information

On 6th August 1991, the World Wide Web was made publicly available, a historical moment that would change the way we are presented with information and consume content indefinitely. With immediate access to hordes of information at any point in time, finding answers has become the lesser issue, it is sifting through that information as quickly and efficiently as possible to find the RIGHT answers that is now the challenge.

Image source

Faced with high volumes of data, many of us are left feeling overwhelmed when looking for answers. It is not physically possible to read every email that hits our inbox, every news story that is published and every webpage ranked by search engines. Upon recognising this, we have adapted our reading habits accordingly and deployed a system of prioritisation – favouring relevant content that we deem to be of value. This has enabled us to make much quicker decisions when dedicating time to absorb content, often deciding from a cursory scan if a piece of content matches the criteria that warrants a full read.

Optimizing your B2B content marketing

For B2B content marketers, we are often faced with two main challenges:

  1. Ensuring that our content is seen by the target audience
  2. Ensuring the reader is engaged enough to keep reading until the end and act upon any call to actions

For tips on how to get your content seen and set yourself apart from the competition, check out our previous post, here.

Today, we will focus on the second point, giving you 3 helpful tips to engage your readers based on the human psyche.

  1. Tell a story

Storytelling is an inherently human trait. At an early age, we are taught to read through books at school. Stories such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar teach us important life lessons, in this case the theme of growing up, starting as a child/caterpillar and evolving over time into an adult/butterfly. In fact, very little has changed from thousands of years ago, when our distant ancestors would use storytelling as a means to build relationships and pass on knowledge to their communities.

The same can be applied to modern day content. Readers are looking to be taken on a journey, from a starting point to an end conclusion, with an easy-to-follow narrative that they can relate with. When creating content, marketers should start with planning out what the message is, always thinking about the story that needs to be told. Whether it is a new product launch or company announcement, every piece of content should tell a coherent story, this will help engage the reader until the very end.

‘Nothing sticks in your head better than a story. Stories can express the most complicated ideas in the most digestible ways’ – Sam Balter Hubspot

  1. Optimize the structure of your content

When reading content online, it is widely accepted that most readers will not initially read the full article, at least, not until they have decided it is of added value to do so. Approximately 10% of readers do not scroll through content at all. Most readers will often do a quick scroll through the entire page, taking note of links, bolded text or format changes, such as numbered points or bullets. They spend most of their time reading the beginning of the page, then tail off towards the end of the piece, with most reading only 60% of the overall content.

This means that the title and first few lines of copy often sets the tone for the entire piece of content, placing great emphasis on marketers to front-load the most critical points into the opening sentences or paragraph. This ensures that key information is prioritised when visiting a page and aids the reader to make a better judgement of what information the content is trying to relay.

When creating content, structural appearance definitely carries an impact. Instead of bulked text, concise subheadings or bullet points should be used wherever possible to break up the information and make it more digestible. This will optimise your content to better enable the reader to easily scan the page and decide if they want to engage further.

  1. Say it with visuals

In B2B tech content marketing in particular, we are often faced with the challenge of presenting technologically complex products or solutions to a wide range of audiences, ranging from the tech-savvy to individuals that have no prior experience or understanding. By using visuals to support information sharing, marketers can help bring concepts to life and better demonstrate their points in a simple eye-catching format, mirroring that of the early cave paintings by our ancestors mentioned earlier.

In keeping with ‘saying it with visuals’, below we finish with a great piece of visual content by Instapage, explaining why visual content is so important, along with the facts to back it up:

Image source

So, there you have it, a delve into the past with tips to optimize your future content marketing strategies. If you have any questions or want some more in-depth information on any of the points covered above, please feel free to get in touch, we love to share our knowledge and insight. Email us at [email protected]

Share this Post!

You may also like