September 19, 2022 Content Chat Recap: How To Create Customer-First Content For Tech Companies

A Content Chat header image that says today's topic is how to create customer-first content for tech companies with guest Lakshmi Padmanaban.

Most technology companies have a content problem.

Despite a potential wealth of engaging customer stories and meaningful ways that the technology is helping humans, tech company content is often filled with jargon, overfocuses on the tech itself, and is simply boring. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this #ContentChat recap, Lakshmi Padmanaban, an engineer-turned-writer who specializes in long-form B2B content, and the community explain how to create customer-first content for tech companies. Read the full recap below to learn:

  • Common reasons that tech company content fails to resonate with readers
  • How to amplify your customer voice in an authentic way
  • Ways to turn tech-heavy announcements into engaging content

Q1: What makes so much tech company content irrelevant, inaccessible, or simply boring? Share your least-favorite and too common worst practices and pitfalls.

There are many reasons that people do not like tech company content. For starters, B2B tech company content often focuses on the product and product features, not the customer’s needs…

A1: Content marketing needs to be about your community, not your product. This is why too often, I see #B2B tech startup content that isn’t getting results. You need to be useful and show you understand your customer’s needs BEFORE talking about product features. #ContentChat https://t.co/DUneUYDovg

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

A1. Too often, tech content is what is what I like to call “NBC (nobody cares) content,” leading with inside-out, down-in-the-weeds sales points, rather than focusing on what customers need/want to know. #contentchat

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

Can’t agree more. Tech companies make it about themselves (mainly product features) instead of how they can benefit their target users #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

A1 Too much tech-company content is about the tech itself, rather than what the tech makes possible. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) September 19, 2022

Which is why tech content can and should feature examples of how others have used it. Tell stories that let future customers/clients see themselves in others’ shoes. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) September 19, 2022

Yes! People want to hear about the happy end results (for them, in their job and life) of being your customer. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

At the risk of re-using a cliche, you need to focus on the why (should I care) and not the how (it works). #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) September 19, 2022

I’m biased since I was one of the ghostwriters, but the team @SlackHQ truly excels at this. The customer stories they’ve shared often surface brand new use cases for the technology, that made a significant impact on the companies sharing their stories.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Buries the lede or over-explains a topic to fulfill SEO needs…

A1 The most useless and boring content is the one that buries the lead. Close contender:

Articles that over explain things until they mean something else so that they comply with their SEO plugin.

#ContentChat

— HAGGLETHIS.COM (@hagglethis) September 19, 2022

I’ve definitely seen some clickbait headlines or fantastic headlines that 100% did not relate to the actual content way too many times. And then I never click again! :)#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Fails to adequately address the reader’s needs and questions…

A1: It’s incomplete. It’s often difficult to find everything you want to know about on a topic on a tech site even with the site’s search bc the company only focuses ROI-driven content#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) September 19, 2022

So true! A tech company has got to own the space it’s supposed to be an expert in. #Contentchat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Is packaged in an outdated format or design…

A1: Outdated, depressing design and focusing on overly technical copy that doesn’t explain WHY people need to buy what you’re selling. #ContentChat

— Melissa Chiou (@melissaC_says) September 19, 2022

This seems to be the common theme of problem in most tech company content. They lack the focus on customer and keep talking about that piece of tech.#contentchat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Lacks a unique voice and is too often filled with jargon…

A1. What’s makes tech content boring:

• The voice. It’s dull, dry, lacks any storytelling
• The vocabulary. It uses big words to show people behind it are smart
• The salesy approach. Instead of focusing on value, it focuses on selling #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

A1: The right kind of content would seem interesting and informational to the right type of audience. But so often, brands write generic, crowd pleasers that lose out in front of the *actual* audience — and end up being boring.#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

“Borrowing” your competitor’s content strategy, and writing dry, SEO-focused content at the expense of connecting with your ideal customer is an all too frequent occurrence. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

I’ve worked with dozens of tech companies as clients, and have only found a documented brand voice for one or two of them in place before they started working with us.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

I’ve found few smallish or early stage companies have a:

Defined brand voice
Style guide
Messaging framework

It makes all communications (content planning & writing, advertising, emails…) extremely inefficient and inconsistent.
#contentchat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) September 19, 2022

Fails to provide a complete journey for the reader…

A1. Content problems I too often encounter with #B2B startups:

Too much reliance on SEO keyword research.
Disorganized websites with dead ends.
Too much about what they do.

For the last one, do an analysis on “me” words vs “you” and “they” words. #contentchat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) September 19, 2022

This is one of my favorite “tricks.” Flipping the script from “we” to “you” changes the whole feel and relevance of your content. #ContentChat

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

And tries to drive a sale without providing value to the reader.

A1. Tech company content can often be very salesy without making it engaging. #Contentchat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

Q2: What audience or persona details are helpful to know when crafting customer-focused content?

To craft customer-focused content, content marketers should understand the customer journey for each level of customer, and the associated touchpoints across that journey…

A2: Much like the different stages of marketing, there are different levels of customers, from a new techie to an experienced CTO in the decision process. So it’s important to know the different touchpoints of these customer persona as we climb the marketing funnel. #ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

The pain points (or points of possibility) that your solution can address…

A2. Know what struggles your target user deals with regularly.

Knowing your persona’s pain points help you understand how your product can help solve those specific pain points.

In turn, this helps you create content that resonates with its readers #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

A2: You definitely need to understand their pain points. Aside from that, know where and when your customer wants to engage.

That’s how you give customers want they need to make an educated purchase decision from your content.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) September 19, 2022

Definitely! It’s also helpful to understand what success will look like for them.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Absolutely.

Having that information at hand helps you use various storytelling frameworks.

Example: the before, after bridge that helps you visualize how using your tool can make a difference for your target users #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

Can’t agree more. Addressing the pain points right there in the copy would solve the no. 1 issue tech companies face — doing away with boring, irrelevant content as we discussed in Q1.#contentchat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

How your target reader consumes information and who they look to when seeking purchasing recommendations…

A2: Who is the most likely purchaser? Influencers? Where do they hang out online/offline? How do they prefer to consume info? #ContentChat

— Melissa Chiou (@melissaC_says) September 19, 2022

And the organizational dynamics and market landscape that can affect the buying process.

A2. Sounds obvious, but beyond individual info needs & preferences, you need to understand your buyer’s role in the decision process as well as the business drivers, organizational dynamics and market landscape. #ContentChat

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

Would you recommend creating a map to illustrate this? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Yes! I’ve seen/used a few different approaches for this. For example, if your strategy is for ABM, an “account persona” can be a useful tool. #ContentChat (will spend rest of afternoon obsessing on this…) https://t.co/nHdKFqn99w

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

Q3: When considering making a technology investment, what kind of information and content formats do you find helpful to make your decision and the business case for purchase?

Clear ROI numbers—as told through customer testimonials and case studies—are powerful for explaining how your solution can benefit your ideal customer.

A3: From the customer POV, I look at:
– Features
– Pricing
– Support

As a writer, I advise to talk numbers! Show customers the direct impact.

Instead of saying xx% increase in growth, give tangible numbers like x times quicker than abc or ‘gets done in x minutes.’#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Time savings, in particular, is such a valuable ROI metric to make the business case for purchase. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Community groups can be valuable for potential tech buyers to source recommendations and discuss options, including Facebook and Slack groups.

Community groups definitely have an impact as well. Business owners will share their recommended products or services in FB or Slack groups in an informal way. Ex: Someone will ask for a good project mgmt software and get crowdsourced recs. #ContentChat

— Melissa Chiou (@melissaC_says) September 19, 2022

White papers and case studies are helpful, especially for providing in-depth details and bringing customer stories to life. Slide decks, however, are not preferred.

A3: Definitely NOT a slide deck. Most tech startups are really BAD at these.

For an established technology company, I really enjoy reading their white papers on various topics. Case studies are helpful too.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) September 19, 2022

Talk about death by power point! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

Create content to address needs throughout the buyer’s journey, including content targeted toward alleviating specific pain points. Video content can be helpful, especially short explainer videos or demos.

A3. I’m always looking for:

• Detailed MOFU + BOFU content pieces such as case studies and honest comparison posts

• A vast knowledge lib/resource that shares steps of how to do X with the tool

• Short explainer videos. Both for awareness & educating me #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

A3. Depends on where the audience is in the funnel,
Top funnel – Infographics, one pagers, testimonials
Mid funnel – White paper, ebooks, case studies
End of funnel – Demos, long case studies, research reports and more…#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

A3 Problem solving the key, understand pain points and make sure your content helps alleviate that! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

YouTube videos definitely help. Good for SEO too. I had to learn a new web analytics platform and used the company’s YT channel.

— Melissa Chiou (@melissaC_says) September 19, 2022

Honestly, some video ads are also great. Example: @clickup and @Grammarly’s video ads.

So gooood storytelling #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

Comparison blogs are helpful for buyers that are considering replacing an existing solution.

This is a good question! I’ve found comparison blogs helpful, for when I’m considering replacing an app with a new one that just got released. If it’s well written it shows me they’re aware of existing market needs. And always – testimonials. Real ones. A3 #ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

And help your primary persona(s) get the necessary buy-in and budget approval.

A3. In addition to content targeted to your primary persona(s), create content they can use to get buy-in & budget approval. For example, some of the DAM vendors I recently researched provided shareable business case content. #ContentChat

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

This A recent client of mine has started closing deals like never before just by sending a link to the most-relevant case study! #ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

No matter what type of content you create, be clear and concise about what you offer and how it can help your target buyer.

A3.
(I like the most concise format available)
a) What X does
b) How X works
c) Cost of X
d) Known flaws of X
e) Alternatives to X#ContentChat

— HAGGLETHIS.COM (@hagglethis) September 19, 2022

Q4: How can customer case studies be used to amplify your customer’s voice?

Customer case studies allow you to authentically discuss specific use cases of your product and the business benefits it can provide.

A4: Most often, a piece of tech can do so many different things for different customers and case studies are vital to explain them in real-time.

Case studies + video/image explainers + testimonials + success metrics is an underrated combo.

#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Oh yes. videos are a big one, i have recently found out from past campaigns that landing pages and emails that have had videos have been by far better performing, am i surprised? Not at all, its just the bandwidth in developing them thats exhaustinve #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/UUYUC8QRZw

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

A4: Demonstrate how integrating your technology into their business practices improves their brand.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) September 19, 2022

Good concept, but I’d reorder it:

Tell how a customer can improve their brand by improving their business practices with your technology.

#contentchat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) September 19, 2022

Case studies provide necessary third-party validation to help potential buyers know if your product is a good fit for their team.

A4: When you are looking for third-party validation, a customer success story from a company in your industry or with a similar challenge goes a long way to helping you determine technology fit.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

A4. There’s nothing more powerful or persuasive than hearing your brand’s story through the eyes and voice of happy customers who have the same problems and/or are in the same industry. #ContentChat

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

Provide clear success metrics that address the human element of your product.

A4: Success metrics are especially helpful! How does your technology save people time or money, or help them avoid frustration? How does that enable them to provide an even better experience to their customers? #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) September 19, 2022

Q5: What should a customer-first landing page include to appeal to your customers’ needs and convince them to trade their data for your content?

Landing pages should put the reader’s needs front-and-center. Explain how the solution addresses their common pain points, show how it can help, and back up your claims with numbers and proof points.

A5:

– Copy that puts the reader at the center
– Addresses common pain points
– Shows how they can help
– Backs claims with numbers
– Give something useful

No generic copy (make it specific)
No baseless info
No gloating about tech (make it about customers)#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

If you are driving people to a gated piece of content, provide an at-a-glance look at what they will learn. Set the stage for the problem, explain who the solution is targeted toward, and share 3-5 clear takeaways from the content.

A5:a Make it easy for the reader to see at-a-glance what they will learn from/obtain from the gated content. It’s always such a bad experience to be asked for a ton of your personal data only to get a 2-page “ultimate guide” that truly isn’t either of those things.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

A5b: I like to approach it similar to how I approach my speaking engagement blurbs—set the stage for the problem, note for whom you are proposing a solution, and share 3-5 takeaways and tools you’ll be sharing.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

A5c: I often find myself having to work really hard to convince designers and/or engineers to give me the word count necessary to prove the value of the asset with its landing page. Less is not more in this case!#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Ooof such a good point. I’ve fallen for far too many “ultimate guides.” I know they’re often encouraged from a marketing standpoint but I don’t think I’ve ever found a checklist to actually be a valuable trade in for my email address. #ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

Think through these FAQS.

A5: FAQs =

What is it?
How will it benefit my biz?
How much does it cost?
How do I start right now?#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) September 19, 2022

And assess if you actually need your target buyer to provide details like a phone number or address.

And don’t ask for my number. I will give you a 555. You don’t need my phone number. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) September 19, 2022

This! I don’t even give people I like my number. Definitely not giving it for a PDF guide. #ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

Q6: How can content marketers take an understandably tech-heavy corporate announcement, such as a product update press release, and turn it into appealing content for its customers?

Explainer videos, email content, and in-depth blog posts are great content formats to create ‘show and tell’ content about your technology.

A6a: Creating ‘show and tell’ type of content that’s all about the customers is the key. There’s a thin line between gloating and leveraging that info into a marketing opportunity.

#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

A6b:

Common content formats I suggest:
– Explainer videos
– Email explaining what’s in it for the customers
– An in-depth blog (or blogs if it’s a huge product update) with supported media

Basically, making it all about why customers should care about this update.#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Create a distinctive voice that focuses on helping your users.

A6. By having a distinctive voice (it makes things as nothing as announcements interesting) and making it about their users — how can they benefit from this new piece of news? What will this new feature update help them? Etc. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) September 19, 2022

For me, the initial announcement has to be short, snappy and sharp. Once readers are hooked take them to a landing page with all the story from the sun to the moon. If people are not attracted to the annoucement they aren’t gonna bother reading any further. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) September 19, 2022

Explain the meaningful outcomes for your target buyer. Turn “we” pieces and revise them to focus on the “you,” your customer.

A6. Paint a picture of the meaningful outcomes it will enable to show why it’s newsworthy. #ContentChat https://t.co/NrvEnnB9Wp

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

A6: I highly recommend @carmenhill’s approach: take those “We” pieces and revise them to focus on YOU, the customer, and their positive outcomes.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) September 19, 2022

Q7: What tools do you use or practices do you follow to understand your audience’s needs and their potential content interests?

Metrics like email open and response rates, reading time, and bounce rates can help you understand what content resonates with your buyers.

A7: I use the metrics I can get my hands-on like email open and response rates, reading time, bounce rates, etc. And the most important for me are repeat customers and referrals. They’ll let you know why people come back and bring more people with them. #ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

Directly connect with your ideal buyers to understand their needs. Set up 1:1 coffee chats, send DMs, and experiment with polls or surveys.

1:1 coffee chats and DMs, mostly. I would love to say “polls” but I don’t get good feedback from them. I think I’m just not a good poll maker! 😅#ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

Q8: How can you make the case for change in tech startups that take an “ask forgiveness, not permission” POV on customer name use and email opt-ins?

Always get explicit permission from your customers for you to contact them. Ideally, you should enable them to share how often they’d like to hear from your brand and in what capacity.

A8: It’s absolutely horrendous that some use the customer info without their permission, or even, hide the permission in lengthy drones of content hoping that the person would click without reading the entire thing.

They’re the ones to lose out on customers fast.

#ContentChat

— Lakshmi Padmanaban (@Lakshmi_writes) September 19, 2022

A8 Annoying your customers is a bad practice. One company used my name and endorsement (and employer’s name) on their website without ever asking permission. I had them remove it ASAP and then stopped using them. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) September 19, 2022

A8. Wow, that’s a hazardous territory. I think this is highly dependent on your particular situation, including contractual agreements, level of trust and longevity/stability of the relationship, not to mention regulatory considerations around data privacy. #ContentChat https://t.co/xoATeGwcb2

— Carmen Hill (@carmenhill) September 19, 2022

Ooof I got immediately riled up just considering this question! If I ended up in that situation I’d probably write up my experience and share it with colleagues, and ask them to share it across Twitter to call out the company and bring attention to it. #ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

I used to think asking in a public place like Twitter would be enough, but nope. Had the CEO of Aweber publicly invite me back to the platform after he clearly looked at my account data. He had no idea what he did wrong. So idk how to get through to people. #ContentChat

— Rochelle Sanchez (she/her) (@RochelleSanch) September 19, 2022

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