Your content stinks. Here’s why.
Twenty-seven million pieces of content are shared every day — and most of it is crap. To attract readers to your content, you must stand out, and I mean really stand out, among the masses. That’s no easy feat.
You may be spending an enormous amount of time and money as part of a content marketing effort, but, if no one is reading what you’re producing, you’re definitely not achieving your ROI. Consider the following points, and ask yourself if any could be negatively impacting your readership.
Here are the top 10 reasons no one is reading your content.
10. You don’t have a strategy.
Only 11% of companies without a documented content marketing strategy find their efforts to be successful, compared to 60% of companies with a strategy in place. And that number rises to 86% when the company designates someone to lead the strategy. Having a clear vision for your content and a plan for executing that vision is crucial to earning an audience.
9. Your content isn’t search-engine optimized.
Seventy-seven percent of today’s buyers use Google to research information about products. Search engine optimization (SEO) means writing copy for your digital assets so they will be prioritized by Google in web queries related to your business or products. Three of four people will click on the top five search results. So the further you move from those top five results, the less likely someone is to find, much less read, your content. If your content isn’t SEO-friendly, readers may not even have the chance to see what you’re writing because it is so far down in their search results.
8. You are using the wrong channels.
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, did the tree fall after all? Stop publishing in the empty woods. Who is the target audience for your content, and where are they active? Evaluate your audience (or lack thereof) in each of the channels where you publish, and see if something is amiss. This will vary greatly by business. You can access personalized information on your followers’ social media habits through analytic programs like Google Analytics and sites like Tweriod.
Also to consider: on lightning-fast platforms like Twitter, a miscalculation of timing could be to blame. (See The Best Time to Post on Social Media.)
7. You’re not publishing often enough.
Inconsistent content is one of the primary reasons readers become disengaged with a particular publisher. Even publishing one more blog post a week can significantly boost your readership. Try a little experiment for a few months by playing with the number of times per week you publish — say, three times per week one month, four times the next, and five the next. You’ll find the sweet spot where you get the most engagement but can also handle the production schedule.
The next reasons have to do with the substance of the content itself.
6. You’re publishing a sales pitch instead of content.
Imagine you’re looking to buy a car. Researching different options online, Site A, run by Dealership A, offers expert opinions about various makes and models, while Site B talks about how Dealership B offers top-notch customer service and a no-nonsense negotiation policy. You’d probably never come across Site B in the first place because the content is irrelevant (and trite… and annoying), whereas Site A has exactly what you’re looking for.
Content marketing is your opportunity to provide valuable, expert information to people who are seeking it out. Associating your brand with that sort of expertise attracts customers — not to mention, helps them find you via organic search in the first place. No one wants to read your sales pitch over and over again, and they won’t.
5. You are not telling the truth.
I am talking about two different definitions of truth here.
For one, are you being honest? Today’s consumers can smell b.s. from a mile away, largely because the Internet forgets nothing and forgives nothing. The prevalence of user-review sites and platforms like social media means customers will always have an outlet to share their experiences, both good and bad. If your business does not provide what you promise, people will be upset and take to these forums to complain about it. Trust and transparency are two key assets in earning (and keeping) readership.
Secondly, are you being true to who you are as a business? A recent Harvard Business Review article defines successful marketers as mission-focused, not consumer-focused. Don’t produce content based on what you think your customers want to hear. The beauty of content marketing is that when you put your business mission out into the universe through content, people who are seeking that information find you. In other words, build it, and they will come.
4. You’re not offering anything of value.
DigitalTonto says, “The first step towards engagement is creating value beyond the basic transaction of payment for a product or service.” This is the essence of content marketing: a related offer of value in the form of expertise, entertainment, etc. For example, L’Oreal Paris provides free makeup tutorials on its YouTube channel, Destination Beauty, and, Apple offers free classes, product demonstrations, and tech support from the Genius Bar for product users.
The question to ask is, what is your value to your customers? Can you offer expert advice on a particular topic through a blog? Is there something about your products or your people that would make for entertaining or informative videos? Do you have access to top-of-their-field specialists that could lead a webinar series? Find whatever it is that is unique to your company, and leverage that in your content marketing to attract readers.
3. You’re providing a bad user experience.
Because there is so much content out there, today’s consumers can afford to be partial to publishers who provide information in a way that is pleasing to them. They also have shorter attention spans than goldfish. That means things like format, length, accessibility, and voice can majorly impact whether people read your content or not. Also, be mindful that different platforms should offer different experiences based on reader expectations (e.g., Instagram isn’t the place for lots of text).
2. You’re not heeding performance analytics.
The one certain constant in marketing is that things will always change. What works for you one year will certainly be irrelevant the next. Content marketing won’t allow you to rest on your laurels, either. You should stay on top of your analytics to monitor what kind of content is successful in the present moment, and you should tweak how you’re doing things as people, technology, and events change. Keep testing new ideas to see how they are received, and get rid of old standbys that no longer pull their weight.
1. Your content is bad.
While this seems obvious, it’s worth repeating. If the quality of your content is bad, no one will read it, regardless of what value it offers. The same goes for if you find yourself saying, “it works,” or “it’s fine!” If there are 27 million options, who would choose “fine?”
Do an honest evaluation of your content, or have a neutral outside party do so for you. Is it original, substantial, and well-written? Make sure that your content is edited, and that it is free from grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and awkward phrasing. And remember that you get what you pay for. Professional writers can be expensive, but there’s a reason for that — theirs is a specialized craft, and very few people can do it well. If you want people to read your content, you should make sure that it’s worth reading.