The AdAge headline screamed “B-to-B Content Fails to Engage Users.”
Forrester Research graded 30 B2B websites based on 10 criteria reflecting the engagement level of the content.
The results weren’t pretty. With 30 points possible, the average score was a mere 12.8.
“The biggest problem is that the majority of content talks about the company, what its products and services do and how many awards they’ve won, but doesn’t speak to the issues their prospective buyers are trying to solve,” Forrester VP Laura Ramos shared with AdAge.
That is exactly what dooms the typical B2B website.
I think the Forrester study sets the bar too high with the expectation of “content that engages.” Simply producing content with an outward perspective would lift B2B websites out of the dreadful quadrant.
With this in mind, we created “the 100-word test” some time ago. The methodology calls for capturing the first 100 words of a company’s narrative from the About section on the website. Then, we evaluate whether the narrative delivers an outward or inward perspective. Last, we scrutinize the adjectives and adverbs (highlighted in the examples below) making a call on whether they advance or hype the narrative.
I can’t vouch for the science, but it provides a decent litmus test on a company’s communications.
My talk on storytelling in business at Cadence last month touched on this very point. I applied “the 100-word test” to Cadence and one of its chief competitors.
Thankfully, Cadence crushed Synopsys in the battle of narratives (my talks always go better when the home team wins).
Within seconds of reviewing, you can discern the empathetic dimension in the Cadence communications while Synopsys goes B2 (brag and boast). The adjectives and adverbs are equally revealing with Synopsys even dropping a “ground-breaking” into the narrative.
These exercises always remind me of what happens when you’re at a social event and meet someone who proceeds to go on and on talking about himself/herself.
Yet, B2B companies take the same approach expecting a different outcome.