Your Content (Mostly) Doesn’t Get Read—Here’s How to Change That

Unfortunately, readers tend to skip over online marketing content, but it's possible to change their minds. We offer three tips and a guiding principle to help you overcome this challenge.

A man reading content on his cellphone

It’s a data-backed nightmare—the vast majority of online readers are not readers so much as skimmers. This is bad news for those of us whose business depends on quality copywriting to make conversions and sales. But why are people passing over so much material online?

For starters, it’s probably not interesting (or meaningful) enough. Think of all the clickbait, recycled articles, and bland website copy we’re at war with. But it makes intuitive sense: content made for humans will get human attention. And making content human means making it original and nutrient-dense—it needs to teach someone something. Add a degree of entertainment to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for high value.

Here’s a few reasons for why content might get skipped over:

1. It’s shallow filler

Content marketing is no cakewalk, and it’s tempting to take shortcuts. Saving time and money on content production by delegating it to interns, for example, seems like a good deal—right up until it yields no return. Without a laser-focused plan and emphasis on quality, the end result lacks depth and is unable to seriously grapple with readers’ burning questions or help them solve their problems.

2. Content is scarier to look at than an episode of The Walking Dead

“What, scarier than me? No way.”

Big blocks of text set readers running in the opposite direction. Without useful keywords, engaging headings, lists, and other elements that make text more easily digestible, content is liable to be met with many a glazed eye.

3. Content is coma-inducing

Even if you have all the answers packaged attractively on the page, it won’t do any good if the words are boring. It may seem obvious, but unless those words inspire readers, stir their emotions, and prompt action, the content will lack the human aspect necessary to reach its intended audience.

In the fight to win and hold readers’ attention, we sometimes face grave odds. The answer? Rising to the challenge with content that provides solutions and words that enchant.

Prioritizing value, design, and an enjoyable experience

Creating effective content can be tricky, but consider this: long-form, in-depth pieces receive the most shares on social media. People are eager to spread content they’ve learned something interesting or useful from, and transmitting that kind of knowledge is hard to do in 250 words.

So it’s clear that the process of creating value-driven content revolves around readers’ interests, desires, and needs. But it also needs to be instantaneously alluring—the ever-important task of attracting eyes. Copyblogger (a favorite resource of ours!) lays it out like this: a combination of meaning and fascination is the secret to high-quality, high-value material. And fascination just doesn’t work without good words on the job—kick out the dull, tedious ones and don’t look back.

Further, keep in mind the inherently fickle nature of today’s online reader and prepare accordingly. Armed with the knowledge that they scan pages in an F-shaped pattern, you’ll know that in order to capture more attention, you should:

  • Make bold headlines and subheads
  • Keep paragraphs slim and to the point
  • Use lists and bullet points (so meta!)
  • Insert pictures for visual stimulation
  • Ensure colors, fonts, and overall design are pleasing to the eye

And don’t forget that the delivery of A+ content must be consistent in order for it to make a difference over the long term. Your readers should be able to depend on you to provide a certain amount of enrichment to their lives and work—and by building trust you win loyalty.

In the end, there’s no fighting the masses—but you can take back control by developing content that works with, not against, netizens. By combining the most important principles of value, design, and enjoyableness in your content, you avoid the pitfalls listed above and create stuff that really matters to readers. But remember, no shortcuts—spare yourself the hassle and hire a professional to get the job done.

Gabriella Buentello

Gabriella Buentello

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