Content marketing is more than a buzz term – it goes to the very heart of how humans communicate.
We are storytellers.
We use anecdotes and analogies to engage our audience while we inform and influence.
But there’s no point in telling your stories if no-one is listening. Here are six digital content mistakes that make customers say “no thanks”… and what to do instead.
1. Bad formatting
One of the most fundamental mistakes in content has nothing to do with what you write, but how it looks. Fonts and colours that are hard to read, too many font styles and sentences split in odd places are a big turn-off. The good news is this one of the easiest problems to fix. You can spot most formatting errors simply by reading the published article (we told you it was easy). Don’t forget to test for both mobile and desktop computers. If you use Chrome for your browser, you might like to install the Mobile/Responsive Web Design Tester extension.
2. Poor spelling and grammar
“No duh,” we hear you say, but sadly too many businesses need reminding. Sure, you can have a casual, conversational style, but blatant typos are distracting. Before you click that publish button, have another person proof-read your post. Or if that’s not possible, leave your draft for a few hours (or overnight) then read it again – you’d be amazed what a fresh pair of eyes can pick up. There are also fantastic free tools to help you. Grammarly has a great Chrome extension that highlights errors as you type, or try a web-based app such as Hemingway Editor.
3. Wrong word length
You’ve heard in the Twitter age of short attention spans, content should be short and easily digestible – this is true. You may have also heard long-form content is favoured by Google and more likely to be shared by readers – this is also true. So what’s the answer? Do both – but avoid doing neither. Keep blog articles to less than 700 words or more than 2000 words to meet your audience’s needs. If your article is sitting in the middle, consider breaking it down into smaller posts.
4. Click-bait headlines
Just. Don’t. Facebook and Google are wise to this annoying marketing practice and penalise against it. This doesn’t mean you can’t use intrigue, but you must deliver on the promise. Instead of “You won’t believe how this simple lemon trick changed my life”, try “How to use lemons as a natural cleaning alternative”. Being specific about what you’re offering builds trust and attracts more valuable customers.
5. Multi-page stories
Ever been sucked in by a headline like “14 celebrities who have unusual side businesses” only to be lead to a 29-page gallery? Yeah, us too. Some websites do this to clock more ad impressions, or because they think it helps Google rankings by decreasing the bounce rate (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). But, there is a much bigger reason you should NOT do this – it’s a terrible user experience! Clicking to a new page after each sentence is slow and frustrating. Stick to one page.
6. Forgetting about your audience
Write for humans, not for machines. Great content is a conversation, so never forget who you are speaking with (hint: it’s not Google). Don’t go too broad in your appeal, or your hard-earned niche will dismiss your content as “not for me”. Before you start writing, ask yourself “what value am I adding to my target audience?” Once you understand that, you’re already on your way to producing something great.