By Becky Tumidolsky
Blogging on a regular basis isn’t easy.
I’ve got a lot riding on my posts; after all, I’m trying to market my writing services to other business professionals. So it’s especially disheartening when SEO and social media experts tell me I’m doing it wrong. They say that in order to attract more followers and bolster business, blog posts should be written at a 7th- or 8th-grade reading comprehension level. They implore us to “make it snappy”—not to entice people to read and absorb our posts, but to help them scan the page with greater ease.
In fact, this very post was flagged by SEO by Yoast, my wonderful WordPress plugin. Here’s the message it’s giving me:
The copy scores 58.5 in the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is considered fairly difficult to read. Try to make shorter sentences to improve readability.
Honestly, I cringe when I read this stuff. I prefer to blog in a more intellectually engaging way. That’s just my natural tendency. Maybe it’s because I’ve written B2B for so long, or because I have a lot more life experience than a kid in junior high. Or maybe the rigors of graduate school left a permanent imprint.
Whatever the reason, and however negatively it might affect my business, I just can’t force myself to write the way the experts tell me I should.
Are we sacrificing excellence for better stats?
As an inbound marketer, I know success in this realm is a steep climb.
B2B marketers have never had to compete harder for audiences’ attention. I spend hours each week combing industry blogs, reading and sharing content, and engaging people in my social networks. Most people who make their way to my blog are busy doing the same.
I also understand the importance of keeping visitors interested enough to read a post like this from start to finish so they’re more likely to click through to other pages, learn more about me, and enlist my services. I want low bounce rates, just like the next guy.
Nevertheless, when it comes to B2B marketing communications, I believe the need for quality trumps these concerns. B2B marketers who take the experts’ advice as gospel may be sacrificing quality, creativity, and depth—risking their reputation and perhaps even a few good leads.
Why B2B marketers should blog at a higher level
- Blogging helps distinguish us as thinkers and communicators. Content writing, like most other B2B service areas, is insanely demanding and competitive. I may be a 13-year veteran, but there will always be writers with more experience and a thicker portfolio. With each blog post, I need to demonstrate my observational, analytical, and rhetorical skills to set myself apart. Otherwise, I’m wasting the reader’s time (and mine).
- Why pretend to be something we’re not? If I water down my writing style to make it more easily digestible (like, say, bland gruel), I’m not writing in my own voice. I’m not arguing my point with the same force and passion. And I’m certainly not making an honest connection. Authenticity, feeling, and engagement: Aren’t these the things readers relish most?
- Don’t smart people appreciate smart posts? Audience is king, right? Most B2B marketers are trying to capture and convert high-level executives and decision makers. These are exceptionally smart, savvy people who appreciate sophistication and nuance. Blogging in an adult voice is simply a matter of meeting them where they are.
And now, a question for readers
Would this blog post have been more interesting, engaging, and effective had I written it more simply? Feel free to weigh in below.
Since 2001, Becky Tumidolsky has written awareness-building content for B2B brands and their discerning audiences. Her work has appeared in leading publications such as Forbes, U.S.News & World Report, Bloomberg Markets, Newsweek, and Inc. as well as corporate blogs, websites, white papers, and other content assets.
Becky loves writing fluid, error-free prose. She’s even more passionate about building the foundation for her work—uncovering core brand distinctions, framing them thematically, and developing fresh, compelling narratives that advance corporate strategies.