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Is your Online Content Boring? Here are 10 Ways to Fix it

- December 18, 2018

How far do readers get in your content before they let out an exasperated yawn? According to research, on average, readers only get through 60 percent of your content before they abandon ship. That’s if they make it to the article in the first place; about 59 percent of people share articles after reading only its headline and […]

How far do readers get in your content before they let out an exasperated yawn?

According to research, on average, readers only get through 60 percent of your content before they abandon ship. That’s if they make it to the article in the first place; about 59 percent of people share articles after reading only its headline and nothing more. Part of the problem here is the nature of our current online reality; people are impatient, and the market is so flooded with content that users can’t possibly fully read through every piece of content they come across.

But a bigger part of the problem is that most content that brands produce is, well… boring. Readers aren’t excited to get to the next paragraph. They aren’t hooked enough to get to the end. And they certainly aren’t captivated enough to remember the brand that wrote the piece.

So what’s the solution?

Here are 10 ways to fix your boring content.

1. Choose Better Topics

Your first stop is at the highest level: concepting. If you have a problem with your content being boring, chances are, your choice of topics and titles has something to do with it. It’s virtually impossible to write an exciting article on the subject of today’s weather, or about the tech specs on a piece of niche industry equipment that nobody cares about. But if you’re writing about some new game-changing development, you’ll have much more flexibility. Obviously, your industry will place some constraints on you here, but if you dig deep, you can find an exciting topic almost anywhere.

2. Use an Engaging Voice

You can also make your content more exciting by making your voice more personal and engaging. New content marketers are often tempted to write in a “corporate” voice; this makes the finished product look professional, but also makes it seem clunky and robotic. Instead, liven up the piece by writing in your natural voice, complete with casual sentence structures and a more natural way of speaking. This is doubly effective if you’re interested and engaged with the material—your excitement will come through!

3. Be Funny

Even if your brand is more formal than informal, or more serious than playful, your content is still a good place to show off your sense of humour. Jokes can lighten up otherwise dull material, and demonstrate self-awareness that makes your content instantly more relatable. There are some topics where humour is inappropriate, but for the most part, an occasional tongue-in-cheek comment can only add to the appeal of your work.

4. Tell Stories

Try telling stories in your content. Stories are naturally appealing to readers, more so than an unbroken line of facts, because they offer a clear beginning, middle, and end. And you can use stories in multiple different ways; you can use a story as a metaphor or allegory to demonstrate a point, you can tell an anecdote from one of your past clients as an aside, or you can tell a personal story for the sake of building a closer bond with your audience.

5. Dabble in New Mediums

If your content is primarily text-based, try experimenting with a new medium. Incorporate more visual components in your article, or create an infographic or video (it’s hard to go wrong with visual content, after all). You could even create a podcast or start conducting interviews with influencers. Whatever you do, it will be a different way for your audience to experience your work, and your readers will probably be happy to see it.

6. Use Shorter Paragraphs

In school, I was taught that a proper paragraph consists of 6-8 sentences. But today’s readers are accustomed to tweets, instant messages, and text messages that generally don’t consist of more than 2-3 sentences. Anything more can seem like a wall of text, and dissuade readers from continuing. To combat this, limit your paragraphs to no more than 3 sentences – it’ll give readers a sense that they’re making faster progress, increase the “skimability” of your content, and increase the likelihood that readers make it to the end of your content.

7. Up the Stakes

You can also make your content more interesting by upping the stakes—making your content seem more important, more urgent, or more valuable. For example, you could warn users in your headline that they might be making a critical mistake, or you could tease an upcoming company announcement in each of your blog posts to encourage more readers to keep coming back. You could even use your content to announce contests and giveaways, so your audience has yet another reason to keep reading.

8. Stir Up Controversy

Controversy is always exciting, so consider developing more controversial content. You don’t have to get political, or pick a fight with your readers. All you have to do is introduce a topic that’s guaranteed to invite disagreement (and discussion), and pick one side of the issue. People are naturally drawn to controversial subjects, and the influx of comments will make your work even more popular.

9. Add More Voices

I suggested making the voice of your content more engaging in an earlier point, but yours doesn’t have to be the only player here. Instead of having one person develop all or most of the content, find guest authors for your blog. You could ask your co-workers to make contributions, contact influencers in your industry, or make an open call for new submissions. In any case, you’ll get a more diverse range of voices and perspectives to add to your site, and as an added perk, you’ll have less work to do on your own.

10. Don’t Stop Experimenting

Finally, never stop experimenting. A fixed routine is the most common killer of interesting content, so try to change things as often as possible, and at every stage of the content creation process. Coming up with more unique titles, switching up your creative tactics, and even publishing and syndicating your work differently can keep things fresh—and naturally, more exciting.

Any or all of these strategies can help you increase the inherent value of your content—as well as your audience’s interest in it. Remember, even if you’re in a “boring” industry, that’s no excuse to publish boring content. This is your first—and possibly last chance to convince your readers you’re worth their time, so don’t waste the opportunity.

The 3-Step Conversion Funnel

- November 16, 2015

The 3-Step Conversion Funnel That Will Revolutionize Your Conversion Optimization Sometimes, all your conversion optimization needs is a swift kick in the pants. CRO can easily devolve into a bean-counting, test-running, data-crunching road to nowhere. What it needs is a strong dose of strategy, structure, alignment, and revenue-focused goals. Consider this article your swift kick […]

The 3-Step Conversion Funnel That Will Revolutionize Your Conversion Optimization

Sometimes, all your conversion optimization needs is a swift kick in the pants.

CRO can easily devolve into a bean-counting, test-running, data-crunching road to nowhere. What it needs is a strong dose of strategy, structure, alignment, and revenue-focused goals.

Consider this article your swift kick in the pants — in the gentlest way possible, of course.

What I propose in this article is a broad model. It’s simple (only three steps), focused (on revenue), and tactical (you can start implementing the method today).

This is a strategy-driven approach. Why? Because strategy comes before data in conversion optimization.

Avinash Kaushik made this point crystal clear:

A data-first strategy…is nuts. It will only slow down your progress and allow your competitors to crush you like a bug (even if you are a top player in your market today!).You should reject data-first. You should accept data-with strategies.

This is also a funnel approach. Conversion funnels are the best way to view the entire process of conversion optimization. When we disconnect CRO from its origins and goals, we lose touch with the whole pursuit.

So, here’s to strategy, revenue, and a totally fresh way of doing conversion optimization.

This is your funnel.

Content: Start with content marketing.

Here is an overview of the funnel:

  1. Create content.
  2. Optimize for users.
  3. Convert users.

This broad overview is no different from what you’re used to seeing.

For example, the following conversion optimization funnel demonstrates how “SEO” drives users into the sales funnel, which turns them into buyers. Fair enough.

seo-and-the-sales-funnel

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What this diagram calls “SEO,” however, should really be termed “content marketing.”

Today’s “SEO” is actually content marketing. The two are interrelated, and are even mixed up with social media.

Optimize Content Marketing

When you think of your funnel, then, don’t start with SEO or social media. Start with content, because that’s the binding force that wraps it all up and turns it into something powerful.

Notice how this funnel gets it right. The entire funnel is drenched with content — blogs, webinars, white papers, research reports, and more.

content-funnel-diagram

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I follow the same general funnel in my marketing approach. I write longform content, but I also host webinars. Each piece of content has a specific function within my overall conversion funnel.

Here is another funnel prototype. Although it doesn’t show the specific tactics, it does provide the ideal framework for conversion optimization.

AIDA Funnel

Awareness, interest, and desire are all outcomes of great content. Each of them leads to action, which is where your CRO efforts kick in.

Thus, when you work on conversion optimization, you should start from this understanding:

  • The content drives the traffic.
  • The traffic should be optimized.

The most effective marketing strategy is content. Your content ushers users into your site, where you unleash the incredible power of conversion optimization.

Data: Analyze user information and behavior.

When you realize that your conversion optimization is dependent on your content funnel, it changes everything.

One change is the way in which you measure data.

You can still keep collecting and analyzing all of the traditional data, such as dwell time, bounce rate, pages per session, and other metrics. Each of these data points hinges on the efficacy of your content.

analyze-user-information-and-behavior

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At the same time, you need to determine the customer’s engagement level. Simply producing content and watching your analytics doesn’t give quite the depth of information you need.

Backing up for a moment and looking at the data/content cycle will help us understand how to better measure engagement.

how-to-better-measure-engagement

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Here are some helpful data points to measure engagement:

  • Scroll depth
  • Rating system (e.g. a thumbs-up or thumbs-down approach)
  • Pagination
  • On-page analytics
  • Pageviews per visit
  • Download rate (e.g. for PDF guides)
  • Click maps
  • Keyword source
  • Facebook insights
  • Twitter analytics
  • Social sharing
  • Read time
  • Average time per reader
  • Finish rate
  • Video watch length

These ideas are collected from Search Engine Land, State of Digital, Analytics Demystified, and Online-Behavior.com.

The types of data you’re collecting might be the same. What has changed, then?

  • You’re focusing on data that indicates customer engagement.
  • You’re understanding the data through the lens of content as your funnel.
  • You’re determining how users interact with different content types.

This soft reset on your understanding of data naturally leads to the final stage in the process — the heart of conversion optimization.

Testing: Test, change, rinse, repeat.

Split testing is at the heart of conversion optimization. Each of your split testsshould measure interaction with the content and its impact on conversions.

Email split tests — How effective is your email content?

  • Should you use plain text or HTML?
  • Is dynamic content more effective?
  • Should you personalize greeting lines?
  • What CTAs work the best?
  • What subject lines gain the highest click-throughs?

Social media split tests — What is the most powerful way to produce and distribute social content?

  • What time of day has the highest engagement?
  • How effective are polls for generating retweets?
  • What type of images improve share rates?
  • Do social buttons improve blog sharing?

Homepage split tests — What elements improve my conversion rates?

  • Which headline variation is more effective?
  • What color should the CTA button be?
  • What image is most compelling?
  • Does video outperform non-video?
  • What headline font is best?

I could list more split test ideas, but my point should be clear. Your A/B testing — conversion optimization — is intended to measure the user’s relationship with the content.

By understanding how the user interacts with the content, you can improve the way in which you shape, deliver, create, distribute, and promote that content.

For example, make a simple change to a homepage, then measure it. What you’ve done is adjusted your content, and now you get to view the impact this has on your users.

split-test-management

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The power of this approach is that it centers upon content, and the results impact and adjust your content marketing approach.

“Content” is so broad that it affects nearly every aspect of your online marketing. Twitter, webinars, videos, blog articles, PDFs, and even the wording on your PPC ads are all forms of content.

  • Use your split testing to refine your approach to content.
  • Make relevant changes.
  • Do it all over again.

Conclusion

Content is king, and it has been since the Internet was born. Data, then, is the queen.

When you combine the two — content and data — you have a winning conversion funnel, and a powerful method of improving your conversions.