As someone who spends a lot of time on content strategy and creation, I’ve seen my fair share of content across niches.
By the way, if you’re wondering, What is content marketing?
ContentMarketingInstitute.com defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The most familiar form of digital content marketing is blogging, but videos, audio, and infographics count as well.
Anyways, as I was saying, I’ve seen my fair share of content – good and bad. One of the first things I tend to do is analyze an organization’s current content and strategy and look for ways to make it better. Here are the most common mistakes I see during that process:
You may be surprised to see something that sounds like design on my list of content marketing mistakes, but design is SO important to content.
There’s no use in spending hours, effort, and money on great content only to slap it into an underperforming design. The design makes sure the content can reach its full potential.
So in terms of illegible text, there are a few sub-issues that I see a lot:
Tiny font: I get so upset when I see quality, good writing in a teeny tiny font. This is especially a problem for “minimalist” themes in WordPress, and in most Squarespace sites I see. You should be writing online in a font that is no smaller than 16px, period.
Grey font: This is another thing I see often with modern/minimalist themes. Tiny grey letters. Dark grey is fine and sometimes even preferred to blackest-black because it’s a bit softer on the eyes. But if it’s grey enough to where you would look at it and say “that’s grey text”, it’s too grey. You need more contrast than that to optimize the readability of your content.
Text areas that are too wide: Your text area should be between 80-100 characters wide. This could mean a number of things in terms of pixels – that’s not the point (although I’ve noticed somewhere around 680-750 pixels wide is usually good). The ideal width will depend on your font and font size. I see a lot of full-width blocks of text, and this makes it hard for the reader’s eyes to jump to the next line.
When in doubt about font, visit Medium and study what they do for blog post formatting. They’ve optimized their site for readability.
Lots of content and no promotion
Producing content for your business’s blog is great – essential even. Businesses with blogs generate between 67% (B2B) and 88% (B2C) more leads per month than those without (Hubspot’s “The State of Inbound Marketing 2010“).
But without any efforts towards promotion, your content will just sit there unread. Investing in a social media manager or VA to handle your social media marketing is a good start. You also want to work on backlink building to build a presence on search engines (your SEO).
Lack of understanding of target audience
I get why this is hard: when you’re so deep inside something, it’s hard to see it from the outside perspective. It’s hard to step into your reader’s shoes. I struggle with it myself for my own blog, so I know the feeling.
It’s worth it to talk with someone with a bit more distance from the product or service for sale on developing or revisiting your customer avatar.
What are your target audience’s pain points? Can you define different segments? What are the primary and secondary benefits your product or service can offer them?
Your content is for them, so you need to have a next level understanding of what they’re thinking and feeling.
Fear of sharing too much value for free
Yes, some of your information and expertise should be saved for paying customers. But if you want to generate leads, you need to attract people and build trust by giving away really juicy value for free.
Don’t be afraid to give too much. There is always a point where people won’t have the time or expertise and will rather pay you to do things for them. Always.