With a slew of statics and recent articles championing the business value of visual content, it’s hard to deny the importance of visual design to any content marketing program. But all visual content is not equal, and inadequate design can hurt more than it helps. Before you begin fueling your B2B 2015 content marketing engine with design-driven marketing collateral, take a moment to go back to the basics of good design.

Campaign Monitor defines good design in a marketing context this way:

“Beautiful design brings form and function together to motivate a person to take action, reduce their anxiety towards the action and provide a clear, easy path to conversion.”

Easier said than done. Luckily Campaign Monitor unpacks this definition into 3 simple principles marketers can use as the foundation of any visual marketing collateral. Let’s walk through the 3 principles of beautiful design and take a look at how they apply to marketing for B2B technology.

Motivate a person to take action

“Beautiful design will motivate a person to convert by creating desire for your product or service.”

Creating desire for a product or service in the B2B tech world is typically a much longer process than it is in consumer marketing. Imagine you are designing marketing collateral for a candy manufacturer. It’s safe to say your audience is already familiar with candy, knows what to do with it, and how it will improve their lives.

In the B2B tech world, marketers are held to the task of creating desire for complex technological solutions. Marketers must appeal to their audience’s points of pain in order to illustrate the need for a solution, educate their audience about potential solutions, and finally make the business case for the solution they are offering. Complex products and services paired with a longer buyer cycle means you need to design unique, relevant content to reach your audience at each step of the buyer journey.

Reduce their anxiety towards the action

“Beautiful design will reduce anxiety towards conversion by addressing any fears and concerns a user might have around your product or service.”

In B2B tech marketing, it is important to remember that we are marketing to individuals. As such, we need to empathize with the individual’s points of pain in order to build trust and address their fears and concerns. But remember, often times many individuals are involved in the decision-making process. This is where buyer personas are essential. Your different buyer personas may have different challenges, frustrations, and points of pain. You need to create content that speaks to each persona in order to reduce barriers to conversion.

Check out this eBook for a powerful example of persona based targeted marketing.

Provide a clear, easy path to conversion

“Beautiful design will provide an easy path to conversion by making it clear what the conversion action is and removing any obstacles or distractions that may prevent the user from taking the action.”

When defining a conversion action, your audience’s position in the buyer journey is crucial. It would likely be ineffective, for example, to direct your audience to contact a sales rep if they are in the consideration phase of their journey. You might instead consider driving them to download a supporting third party white paper that explores their challenges and possible solutions.

Once you have defined a conversion action, you must craft a call to action to create a link between your content and conversion. CMI describes 3 calls to action that get conversions:

  • Put your audience front and center. Invite input from your audience and give them a platform to share their perspectives. Then put those responses front and center.
  • Make your audience members feel like winners. Use gamification to engage and incentivize your audience to provide you with additional information.
  • Give a little to get a lot. Create behind registration “extras” like eBooks and infographics to accompany your content.

Visual design for B2B tech is part art and part science. A strong content marketing strategy is the foundation of effective content. Design is a powerful tool that can motivate your audience to take action, reduce their anxiety towards that action, and provide a clear, easy path to conversion.

Check out more examples of beautiful B2B marketing collateral that converts.