If you think you’re doing everything right and still can’t seem to figure out why your content isn’t working, why it is being avoided instead of being sought out or why it is being overlooked, this one’s for you!
With about 93% of B2B marketers making use of content marketing at the core of their marketing strategy, the internet has turned into an infinite pool of content.
Like Bill Gates says,
One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows the material to be duplicated at a low cost, no matter the size of the audience.
This results in content that has lost meaning of what content marketing is supposed to be – a value-add to the readers.
Readers find value in content that is well researched and engaging. But if your audience feels differently, what you could be dealing with is – Bad content.
What is bad content?
Duplicated, unoriginal, apathetic pieces stuffed with irrelevant keywords and awkward CTA (call-to-action); writing that states the obvious and does not solve the actual problem of the reader; and writing that isn’t reader-centric pretty much sums up what bad content is.
How can bad content affect you?
Bad content can cause a lot of damage. Some of which can be irreversible.
- Creating content, good and bad alike takes time and effort. Putting in resources only to produce something that does nothing but bore your readers to death, ultimately costs your company a low ROI.
- One of the most obvious issues pertaining to bad content is the SEO issue. Google (and your readers!) likes fine content and it has specially designed algorithms used to assess the quality of content that is published. It checks for duplicated, keyword-driven posts that serve little or no value to the users and ranks them lower.
- Consistently putting up bad content may hurt your brand value and cause some serious reputational damage. Now, none of us want to be known for making trashy content, do we?
So, what makes your content “bad”?
Now that we know what bad content is and what it does to you, we need to figure out those tell-tale signs that make your content…BAD.
Don’t get too worked up because we have it all worked out for you (see what I did there *wink*). Check these out and you’ll be good-to-go!
1. Overly promotional
The difference between a sophisticated and a crude marketing campaign is that the consumers don’t feel sold to. Overly promotional content can make your readers feel like they’ve come across just another piece of advertisement and skip it.
If your piece talks about the product every little opportunity it gets, it leaves little room to describe what the product solves.
For instance, an article could give you in-depth information on a mobile phone and its features but it serves no real purpose until it talks about how it can be of any use to you.
Content like this can only be of value to people who have already made their minds up to buy the phone. The rest of them will simply walk away.
But an article that provides a solution to a problem from a unique standing point where your product just happens to solve the said problem could be of much better value to your readers.
Also, most readers can easily tell when you’ve tried to sneak in your product after 50 odd lines of educating them. This not only puts them off but again, can make them perceive your content as advertising.
Therefore, any comment on the product shouldn’t be passed around like gum in the middle of a class (come on! We’ve all been there). You must do so, deliberately and confidently without beating around the bush too much.
2. Ignorance is not quite the bliss when you’re writing
Content marketing isn’t a cakewalk of any sort. You will have to talk or write about a lot of things that you’ve probably never heard of. And when you talk about something you don’t know, you happen to make a lot of mistakes.
You can’t put up a post commenting on the actions of the government when you don’t know who the president is. (eeks!)
Anyhow, what we’re trying to tell here is that a lot of why’s and how’s go unanswered when you are not completely aware of what you’re writing. To cover up for it, we may end up using a lot of buzzwords and jargon, all in the wrong places and end up sounding like a wannabe expert.
Consider the case talking about the mobile phone again. An article that says, “get your hands on a 5G-enabled smartphone”, should also explain why you need a 5G-enabled phone and how it can help you.
Answering the most obvious questions and explaining the nitty-gritty of how it works can do the trick.
That’s why it’s good practice to do your research before you jump into something you’re new to.
3. Fooling the experts
Another problem that stems due to ignorance, or rather, inexperience in a subject is that you may unintentionally try to preach the priest.
While your first draft is allowed to be writer-centric, the second must cater to your reader.
Freshly researched data can be raw. This must be processed to provide something of value to both newbies and subject-matter veterans alike.
You can do this by involving yourself directly with the subject at hand and gaining some first-hand experience.
Take an example of a tool review. You would have to use the tool or interview someone who has, before writing a review on it. This makes sure you don’t state the obvious and learn the know-hows instead of making a fool out of yourself.
4. Prioritizing quantity over quality
Google tries to provide you with the most “elaborate” and “comprehensive” search results. Which sounds like more content equals a higher rank.
But, not quite.
Google also tries to give you the most relevant and useful content. It is sensitive to the quality of data that ranks on its SERP (search engine result page).
Here’s Google’s guide to creating quality content,
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
For those of you looking for the complete guide, you’ll find it here.
5. Providing evidence as a certificate of credibility
While a data-driven approach to content marketing is good practice, it is often thrown around carelessly.
When you need the words of an expert to back up your claims, it can mean that you don’t have what it takes to persuade your readers on your own. Sometimes, there isn’t even a claim to support it. A quote here and a stat there is all that’s left for the reader to ponder on. The subject at hand is left without an argument.
However, data alongside a thoroughly researched fact can strengthen your argument and help your readers come to a logical conclusion.
6. Lack of purpose
A well-planned strategy helps you put purpose behind the writing.
Aimlessly pushing content that your users may not need, discredits the whole “value” part of content writing.
It is always a good idea to make sure what your audience needs and have a fixed itinerary for everything that goes into your blog post.
Ask your existing customers what they would like to see right now or what helped them when they were looking for your product or service. This will help you zero down your content to everything relevant to your consumer base.
You can’t possibly control all the content pollution happening out there at the end of the day, but you can reprioritize your own work to deliver something of value to your readers.
Only 42% of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing.
This means you can have a good shot at standing out in the B2B space if you start picking your pieces up right now!
If you have a high bounce rate on your content, it’s time to relook how you write it.
Now that you know what bad content is, what it does to you and how you can rectify it; Clean it up, will you? Or, we could do it for you! Reach out to us for a content marketing audit.