After you hit publish on the content you’ve created, it can be tough to manage your ROI expectations. Your content writers are good, fast and know what they’re doing, so why shouldn’t you expect hundreds of views and requests for further information or engagement? WHY IS IT NOT HAPPENING? Well, it can happen (and we’re offering these suggestions on how to increase the odds of it doing that), but if you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your content, you’re most likely committing one, or more, of these common mistakes:
You Don’t Make it Appealing
If your audience members aren’t drawn to the title, the description, or the graphic, they probably won’t click through to your content. We know that’s not shocking. When online content started to really take off, research behind the psychology of headlines, particularly clickbait headlines took off. Headlines (the irony is not lost on us) screamed around the PSYCHOLOGY of writing short, clickable headlines.
One of our favorite posts was a classic Buffer headline about the psychology of headlines. Not much has changed with the psychology, except perhaps the ever-growing attention-span dearth. On April 30, Forbes demonstrated headline know-how with this title: The Psychology Of Investing. How To Avoid Losing. – Forbes
And, like a charm, that headline brought the clicks. It used loss aversion to draw attention, which can be effective because people often want to avoid loss because the pain of losing is greater than the satisfaction of an equivalent gain.
Understanding human behavior can help you write more enticing gateways to content. Human brains respond well to question headlines, if they’re not clearly dumb clickbait (“Want to win $5 million today?) or dichotomous, such as a yes/no question. Our example is both. If your audience can answer your question headline without reading your content, use a different question—or go another route.
Humans also seek systems of control and headlines that promise order and predictability.
- The top 5…
- The best reasons to…
- How to stop…
Numbers can be particularly rewarding in a headline because they offer predictability (the reader knows there will be 6 or 10) but also because numbers, specifically numerals, help human brains manage expectations. (Part of why your English teacher insisted you outline your papers numerically.)
Also, according to The Yardstick Agency, “Research has shown that most website readers don’t read all your words. They scan the text and look for highlighted words, links, and numerals. So, using numerals helps them stand out to a reader in the way that the word doesn’t. There is science behind this. The shape of a group of digits is sufficiently different from that of a group of letters to stand out to users’ peripheral vision before their foveal vision fixates on them. 8236 looks different and stands out more than four even though both consist of four characters.”
Most humans are curious, too, so using the curiosity gap can help bring readers to your content. Maybe. The curiosity gap, a theory and practice that teases readers with a hint of what’s to come without giving anything away, was coined and used effectively by media startup Upworthy.
The curiosity gap taps into inherent human curiosity to ask, “What the heck?” It can still be useful, but even Upworthy has walked a little away from manipulating the curiosity gap because now so many readers don’t follow through with a “what the?” question. See Upworthy’s take on effective headlines today.
You Don’t Embrace SEO
If you want to get people looking at your content on Google or any other search engine, SEO must be a priority. It’s a ranking issue. If your content is not in the first few search engine results pages (SERPs) people will go to other sources for the same or similar information.
In Google, SERPs include organic search results, paid Google Ads results, Featured Snippets, Knowledge Graphs and video results. When you conduct SEO research, you can discover what your audience is searching for on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! so you can provide the best content. People are searching. Help them out by making your content visible on the web.
You Speak to Yourself, But Not Your Audience
One of the biggest mistakes that content marketers make is talking to themselves and not their audience. You know your products and services and THEY ARE GREAT. Unparalleled. But you already know that, so you have what we call the marketing curse of knowledge.
You must get outside of all the things you know and into the audience members’ brains to their pain points, issues and challenges so you can show them why your products and services are the answer. You can’t just tell them you’re the solution. Everyone does that. You must use your content to show them you have expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
“Regardless of the position you hold or the team you’re on at your company, knowing your audience is beneficial. By understanding who these people are, you can tailor content to their needs, provide specific types of service and support they’re seeking, and ensure your product or service will resolve any challenges they’re experiencing,” according to HubSpot. “When you know your audience, everything you do will be more likely to resonate with the people who matter most to your success — your leads and customers. This is how you foster strong, long-term relationships between your audience and business as well as a sense of brand loyalty and advocacy over time.”
If your audience members look at your content, but aren’t the focus of it, they will not share it with others and your traffic will stop cold. You need to speak to those who are interested in the topic and who can directly benefit from it.
You Don’t Market It, Or Let Channels Decide Marketing Strategy
How do those in your audience find your content? If your audience doesn’t know you have content, they won’t look—much. Promote any new content to help your audience members know you have something from which they can benefit. What channels do you use for marketing?
How do you decide what to use first and most often? As The Content Marketing Institute’s research indicates the three primary channels marketers use are Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. But, of course, there are others, such as email, podcasts and other social platforms. You have to decide if you’ll use owned media, paid media or earned media to market your content, but you must use some media—or your content doesn’t exist.
(Remember, you must have a content marketing strategy in place before you develop your channel strategy. The channel shouldn’t dictate what content you create. Your goals and objectives should do that.) This isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons why content doesn’t get traffic, but it’s a smart place to start when you examine why your content might be struggling. If you’d like to have a deeper conversation about how to promote the content you create, let us know and we can talk.
Your content may not be appealing enough in terms of its title, description, or graphics, which can deter your audience from clicking through.
Use psychology-driven headlines that capture attention, such as question headlines or headlines that promise order and predictability. Incorporate numbers in your headlines to attract readers’ attention.
SEO is essential for improving your content’s visibility on search engines like Google, helping you rank higher in search results and attract more organic traffic.
Conduct SEO research to understand what your audience is searching for, and then incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your content to make it more discoverable.
It’s important to shift your focus from highlighting your products and services to addressing your audience’s pain points, issues, and challenges. Show them how your offerings can solve their problems.
Understand your audience’s needs, provide tailored content that addresses their specific challenges, and demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Actively market your content through various channels such as social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube), email, podcasts, and other relevant platforms. Make sure your audience knows about your content and how it can benefit them.
No, your content marketing strategy should guide your channel selection. Consider your goals and objectives before deciding which channels (owned, paid, or earned media) to use for promoting your content.
While the list provided is a good starting point, there can be additional factors at play. It’s advisable to evaluate your content strategy comprehensively to identify any other potential issues.
Yes, we can certainly have a deeper conversation about promoting your content. Let us know if you’d like assistance in developing a more effective content marketing strategy.