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