News and insights • Posted on 06 January 2016

7 Reasons your content sucks (And how to fix it)

There’s a saying that content is king, which to some extent is probably true. We live in an unprecedented era of content creation, whereby 2018 the content marketing industry is set to be worth a staggering $38 billion. That’s a lot of cash being thrown the way of copywriters in a bid to engage audiences and win business, but with so much investment at stake, how are so many people getting it wrong?

Whilst 80% of B2B marketers and 72% of B2C marketers have content strategies in place, 70% of those people lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. Here are 7 reasons why, and how to fix them:

1. It’s all ‘Me, Me, Me’

It’s easy to fall into the trap of blowing your own trumpet when creating content for blogs and social media. You’ve got a brand new product or client and you really want to shout about it, but you should always keep in the back of your mind, “So what?”

This is more of a problem on social media, as people are generally not signed up to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be sold to. It’s a social network, where they want to discover content that’s interesting to them and their circle of friends.

Action point: Make sure your content is benefit focussed and adds value to the reader. Social Media can be a powerful platform if you know how to use it. Why are BuzzFeed posts so popular? It’s short, sharp content that’s quick to read and resonates with the reader’s nostalgic side and interests. After all, who wouldn’t want to know which Star Wars: The Force Awakens Character they are?

2. Too Much Focus on Features

It’s all too easy to get carried away explaining the features of your product, especially as you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into creating it and you want to tell the world how much stuff it does. Features are all well and good, but you need to explain why those features are going to benefit the customer and solve their problems.

Action point: Customers are more interested in how a product solves their inherent problem, rather than the feature itself. When Dyson promotes their hot+cool fan, rather than simply tell you it features Jet Focus control (which means nothing to the customer), they tell you that it heats rooms quickly, as well as offering powerful personal cooling. Make sure you do the same so you’re not blowing hot and cold!

3. Mmm… waffles!

No, not the sweet treat, but rather the tendency for some of us to write much more than we need to. Sometimes you can write a huge paragraph for an ad or blog post because you think you need to fill the page, but a sentence will do a better job of selling your product. In a world where customers might only be on the page for 10 seconds, we need to get our point across quickly and drive actions.

Action point: Keep copy short, sharp and to the point wherever possible. If you want to go into more detail, get your main point across in the first paragraph, and then delve further below. Keep in mind the AIDA framework, which you can read more about here.

4. Wrong place, wrong time

The saying goes, “old habits die hard”, and I think that’s true to an extent in marketing. To really make your content work you have to market in the year we’re in – 2015. In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, how many of you reading this watch TV on your own terms, as in not when it’s broadcast? How many of you, when watching on catch up, skip the adverts altogether when you can? I bet that it’s 99% of you. And yet there’s £80 billion spent yearly on TV advertising. That’s $80 billion wasted because you’re skipping right past the ads.

Action point: You need to understand your customer, their habits, their likes, and where they read content. From there you can build a picture of the mediums you need to be advertising on. Facebook has one of, if not the biggest, databases about us as a human race. With their advertising, you can dig deep and find out what content is popular, and target that towards your specific audience. Now is the time to be a leader and drive forward strategies on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, rather than playing it safe and waiting for the whitepapers when it’s too late.

5. All aboard the slow coach…

Time is precious. We are busier than ever, and with the invention of mobile phones, we’re reading shorter and shorter snippets of content. A lot of blog posts I read are so long, so drawn out and so full of waffle that I immediately switch off and bounce. Make sure you’re putting out content that is used, but to the point.

Action Point: Make sure your content gets the attention of the reader earlier on and engages them enough to read the rest of the story. Writers spend 90% of their time on the headline, and this can be a great tool for building attention. Capture their interest in the first paragraph, as well as making them desire what you’re selling with a benefit led approach. Finally, make sure you nail that all important call to action.

6. The hard sell…

We’ve entered a new age where looking after your customer has become more important than ever. Think about when you’ve been into a car dealership and there’s a salesman who just won’t leave you alone. Do you enjoy that experience? Does it make you feel comfortable? I’m going to guess it doesn’t. The one thing that switches people off more than anything else is when a piece of content is so obviously a sponsored article/ post pushing a product.

Action point: Aim to become a leader in your industry with your content. Give customers valuable information that is relevant to your product, and more importantly, helps them solve a problem, and you’ll be onto a winner. Because they trust you’re brand, they’ll more than likely be more inclined to buy your product. A couple of great examples of this type of content are ‘How to Guides’ and thought-leadership pieces that challenge views in the industry. It shows you know your industry, know what you’re talking about and know your customer, and builds that all important trust.

7. A picture is worth a thousand words…

We all know time is precious, especially in an era where mobile devices mean we’re consuming content in smaller and smaller chunks quickly whilst on the go. When time is so scarce, it’s important we engage readers and show them that our content is the bee’s knees early on and that it’s worth their time.

Action point: Make good use of imagery, and pull the main points of the article out early on and make them stand out. Those who want to know what happened, where and when will get that information quickly, and those who want to read on in more detail will. Since Facebook and Twitter introduced embedded images in their timelines it’s become vital that you attach images to tweets and posts to draw attention.

And that’s your lot! Hopefully, those 7 tips help you write better, more engaging content that resonates with your target audience. For more information on how we can help you with your content marketing, get in touch!

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Written by Andy McCaul

Co-founder and digital marketing guru Andy ensures all projects are shipshape, and that we generate the best return on investment for clients.

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