Why No One Is Reading Your Content

Jason Hoelzel Content Strategy, Website Page Content

A recent KFBC study estimated that “by 2015, 8 zettabytes of content will be created and shared every day on the internet. To put that in perspective, 1 zettabyte = 8 trillion gigabytes. To put that another way, if you put that information onto floppy disks, the disks would cover every inch of the Earth’s surface 1,600 times over.”

Wow! That’s a sobering statistic. So when your readers are being blasted with a tsunami of content, it’s imperative that you know how to ensure your content rises above the web noise and gets visibility and credibility. It’s no longer a viable strategy to get an “A” for effort – your content must be fine-tuned and free of those seemingly small things that make a major difference. What are those small things? You’ll have to read this post to find out.

If you were on the receiving end of Kim’s latest email Content Science – How Strategy Impacts Relevance, you may’ve noticed a few misspellings. Did you notice? Did those mistakes seem innocuous or did they send your mind into a tizzy? Or did brain science trump ideology and you were able to articulate the words without breaking cadence? Typo faux pas can be just one of the reasons why your content resonates about as well as Anthony Perkins selling showers. The other reasons, well, can be many.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when creating their own content…

Sepllnig Erorrs – Hwo Deos Yuor Brain Raect? 

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in today’s world of hyper-speed delivery. And misspellings may take the list of top “oops.” There are two schools of thought when it comes to this Hatfield-McCoy feud. On the one side, the grammar nerds believe a spelling error will be the inscription on your content’s headstone — not to mention they’ll need defibrillator pads to restart their hearts whenever they come across one [like one of our most engaged and loved customers who enumerated out every spelling error in that email]. And on the other side, the science geeks believe that misspellings are no big deal due to how are brains are wired to comprehend words [Study by Cambridge University].

Granted, many of your readers will either forgive or not even care about a frivolous error such as a misspelling. However, no matter your school of thought, misspellings can be killing your content and can discredit your brand by making you look sloppy and unorganized. So err on the side of caution and have an editor go over your content with a fine-tooth comb.

Your Content is too Vanilla –  Write to the Flavor of Your Audience

Too many businesses use their content as a storefront advertisement and completely misunderstand the purpose of effective content.

Want your readers to be window shoppers? There’s no quicker way to turn them off than by slapping a sales brochure in their face that misaligns with their wants, needs, and desires. It’s time you turn Lurkers Into Leads.

It’s all about understanding your buyer’s persona, so you’re not churning out vanilla content that’s indistinguishable from whether it’s aimed at your 90-year-old grandma or your perfect customer.

Here’s what I mean by that: But Beware Buyer Personas: The Cow is on the Ice. Go watch the video…

We live in a world that is saturated with content [see statistic above]. And as a result, we’ve all become highly selective in whom we trust and whom we follow. Good content marketing is about providing readers with something valuable that creates a transformational shift in both their business and life.

Make sure the content you produce gives readers something fresh, a different perspective or something they simply can’t find elsewhere. Stand out with personalized content.

You’re Not Channeling Bruce Springsteen – Your Content Lacks that Human Touch 

Many marketers lack the prose skill to distinguish their content between formal and personal. Content challenge: unearth some of your archived content and read aloud and listen to see if you sound like you’re auditioning for the robot in Lost in Space.

While it is important to make sure you’re writing concise, focused and to the point content, it’s also important that your readers get a good sense of your personality and that you’re writing to their personalities as well. Can they hear you now? Explore how your content can tap into the emotions of your perfect customer:

Hit the Emotional Hot Button with Your Content

People become loyal to certain sites and writers due to the connection they have with them — this is an important part of getting your readers to share your content and to build that trust factor.

You’re No Ringling Brothers – Your Headlines Aren’t a Show Stopper

Another big mistake, which can kill your content, is failing to engage your readers with a compelling headline. Basically, the headline is your ringmistress and is very important in whether readers are attracted to your content and decide to read on.

A headline is your first line of engagement.  If it’s boring or irrelevant, you’ve just wasted 90 cents on your marketing dollar. On the other hand, if the headline grabs the reader’s attention, has a creative delivery and it’s relevant, supplies information or promises a solution to a problem, then that headline has just returned that 90 cents.

This article is an oldie but damn goodie: Check out Business Insider’s 20 Best Headlines Ever Written 

Be careful using puns, metaphors or divisive language – they can hurt your content more than help it. There’s a chasm between creative, clever headlines that motivate the reader and WTF-did-I-just-read headlines that uninspire and confuse the reader. It’s up to you to figure out which headlines resonate with your audience. Best practice is to test, play, and view your metrics.

Since I never leave you hanging, go read the article Creating Headlines that Work and watch a highly informative video on every aspect of creating a great headline.

Now, always be sure to test your next headline: Test My Headline

Your Content Has the “Cheese” Effect – It Isn’t Regular 

You must produce content on a regular basis! It’s not about starting the presses; it’s about producing the perfect amount of content that keeps feeding your readers…and to stay relevant. Remember how much content is promulgated daily? If you’re not producing content to keep up in the race, then you will have a fate worse than death — you’ll become irrelevant.

Not to mention Google loves up-to-date content. This means that by regularly posting fresh content, you can improve your search engine rankings.

There’s no get rich quick scheme for building your authority overnight. It takes tenacity, commitment, and a firm understanding of all things content marketing to keep posting new and personalized articles. But this tenacity is rewarded by your brand becoming more and more visible and reputable. Content marketing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Do you still have articles out there broadcasting how to survive Y2K?  It’s also important to understand that your content has an expiration date, so it’s important to post fresh content to show readers that your knowledge is up to date.

Quick Tip: To save time and resources and to be in the good graces of Google’s Panda algorithm, you should freshen up your old dusty posts and free them of broken links, and bad SEO practices.

This is just a sampling of the many reasons why your content (including email) isn’t getting read. But the optimist in me believes you can get your readership back in the “red” if you just maintain these and other best practices when sending out your next warm batch of content.