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January 3, 2020

Technical Content Writing for Non-Tech Audiences: How Do You Do It Right?

My first job as a Marketing Manager for a startup in the tech world was amazing and HARD in equal parts. Back then, I had no idea what a PCB was and why home automation relies on cutting-edge solutions made simple and ready to integrate in homes that weren’t so smart yet.

But perhaps the biggest challenge of my new role came after the initial learning curve: making technical speak sound human. Writing about cutting-edge products in a way that appeals to people who have no interest in knowing what’s inside a wireless light dimmer.

I was always tempted to prove I know my tech-speak. Add details that I had discussed with our engineers. Tell people how much testing and Q&A we did to ensure that all the devices were functional and safe. All of these things were to be described in a painful amount of detail.

Luckily, I stopped in due time. When I realized that even our CEO was almost put to sleep by my content writing and copywriting strategy.

I suddenly remembered that I was NOT writing for a technical audience. Those people were not impressed about the amount of work we had put into our products. 

Quite the opposite.

They wanted to know how simple to use our products were. How intuitive the app was and how easy it would be for them to automate their home with our solutions.

This was my first lesson about tech content writing for non-technical audiences. In the meantime, I worked for other companies in technology and even founded my own digital marketing agency that’s 100% dedicated to tech businesses, Copywritech. 

Needless to say, after almost a decade of working with dozens of companies in the industry, I know a few things about selling even the most complicated piece of technology to completely a-technical audiences. All through copywriting and content writing.

These are a few of the principles that help us get amazing ROI for our clients:

1. It’s never about the product itself

I know how it feels to have created an amazing product. You want to brag about it. You want to tell people how hard you worked and how smart your ideas were.

You want to impress them into buying it.

But the hard truth is that they don’t care about your hard work (sorry!). They care about what the product can do for them, not what you did to make it happen.

So tell them that.

Tell them why your product is a real solution for them. Why they need it. How they can use it. Why they will really enjoy it.

Make the customer the star of your content writing, not your product.

2. Less “how” and more “why”

Keep the technical details to a bare minimum. If you’re not writing for other engineers, a short data sheet with the mandatory safety info is enough.

When you write about how you created your solution, make sure to tell a story instead of going into details about how you installed the components on the PCB.

Don’t tell people how you did it, tell them why you did it and why they need it.

Think about it this way: would you read a smartphone review that tells us exactly what the case is made of, how it was made and how the screen was added? 

Does that really matter to you when you choose a smartphone? 

Or do you care more about the value for money and what it can do for you? 

Example:

  • ‘Wide and ultra-wide camera lenses’ says very little to people who aren’t professional engineers or photographers. ‘You can adjust cropping and zooming EVEN AFTER the photo was taken’ is what you should be writing.
  • ‘High resolution and pixel density’ might work for semi-technical people. But ‘the clearest images you’ve ever seen on a screen’ will definitely work for everyone.
  • Even simple things like ‘cloud-based web app’ can be translated into so many benefits: ‘access from any device, anywhere’, ‘no need to install anything on your computer’, ‘give access to the whole team without paying for additional licenses’.

See where I’m going with this?

Every time you think about a feature, don’t write it as is. Turn it into a benefit. What’s the reason you added it to your solution? Why did you think your users will like it? Tell them that!

3. SEO based on user intent is more valuable than ever

User intent should be the base of every SEO strategy. But when it comes to marketing tech solutions, intent is even more important (and harder to pinpoint).

Start with the two points above. Think about the user needs your solution solves. Turn them into keywords and start optimizing for them.

Case study time: one of our clients in networking and data cabling managed to rank on positions 1-2 for every keyword they ever aimed for.

How?

Through SEO content that was always focused on user intent and user needs.

The content we have produced for them ranks so well because it explains complex technical solutions. We alternated between tech-savvy and non-techies when writing for their different buyer personas. But what we never lost sight of was user intent and user needs.

You can read the full case study here.

4. Go easy with the jargon

Yes, you have to establish your authority in the field.

And yes, sometimes you need to add technical terms to your content.

But make sure to explain them as soon as you’ve introduced them. Don’t be patronizing, though.

Write as if you were explaining something to a friend. You don’t want to make your readers feel stupid.

Your goal is to empower them and to show them how your solution empowers them even more.

But to achieve all that, your content has to be easy to read or even skim. Simple terms are your best friends and what keeps readers coming back.

5. Focus on the ROI of your content

If you take a look at the SaaS content trends for 2020, you’ll see that ROI is at the center of attention for marketers. That goes for any niche in the tech industry, not just SaaS.

The era of random acts of content is finally over. In 2020 and beyond, you shouldn’t publish any piece of content before having a clear content strategy in place.

And, of course, any strategy should have ROI as its ultimate goal.

How do you get extra ROI from your content, you ask?

A few ways include:

  • Matching your content to the client’s needs
  • Mapping every piece of content to the buyer journey. For instance, educational pieces are for readers who aren’t aware they need your solution yet, while white papers and case studies are ideal for people in the decision stage of their buyer journey.
  • Measure and tweak. Take a look at the conversions your content brings to the table. Newsletter subscribers, new free trial subscribers or paying customers all count as conversions. Find out which pieces/types of content work best and focus on creating more of those, while you mercilessly cut the others from your content calendar.

Another Copywritech client, an iPaaS industry leader this time, managed to increase their lead generation and their lead conversion by 50% and 25% respectively only through content.

The key?

The content we created for them was always in-depth, high quality. We focused on genuinely helping their various buyer personas across industries.

You can read the full case study here.

Tech writing for non-technical audiences: Final thoughts

While writing for tech products and services is often more challenging than writing for ‘regular’ products, there is a significant commonality between the two.

The most successful content endeavors always start with knowing your buyer persona in detail. 

Research your buyer personas’ pain points, needs and preferences, as well as the tone of voice they respond to best. You will know how to write and what to write about.

When you show that you genuinely care about their needs and can help them with more than a great solution, you’ve won their hearts and their business.

If you need help with technical content that appeals to both technical and non-technical audiences, we can help! My team at Copywritech specialized in speaking human on behalf of tech companies. Take a look at our content writing services for tech companies and let’s talk!


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.

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