Tell me if this story sounds familiar.

You know that content is king. And with this in mind, you’ve built your entire marketing strategy around: stellar, highly valuable content that knocks it out of the park for readers every time.

So you begin publishing blogs, sending out email newsletters, or even signing up for social media accounts and publishing regularly.

But that hasn’t translated into more engaged traffic for you. Sure, you might be getting the odd spike in visitors after a new content piece goes live, but ultimately your marketing strategy is flatlining and no matter how good your content is, you can’t seem to resurrect it.

Your content is incredible but ineffective. How does that make sense?!

In this post, we’re going to explore exactly that: five common reasons why the content you’ve invested so much time into producing isn’t nearly as effective as it should be (hint: it’s got very little to do with the content itself).

Readability Issues

Readability issues are a relatively straightforward but altogether much too common reason for ineffective content. If your content isn’t formatted in a way that is easily digestible for the reader, then your viewers simply aren’t going to engage with it.

The natural consequence of unengaged viewers is that your website visitors don’t see the value in your content and your strategy has thus failed to accomplish its primary goal.

The good news, however, is that the straightforward nature of this error also means that it’s relatively simple to set right. There’s a proven formula for readable content, so as long as you don’t stray too far from best practices and keep A/B testing for higher engagement, this should be an easy fix.

Here are some time-tested best practices for highly readable content:

  1. Break up your written content into small paragraphs no more than 2-3 sentences each. Begone, walls of text.
  2. Incorporate visuals in text-based content to give viewers’ mind relief from reading every 300-500 words.
  3. Target an 8th-9th-grade reading level (pro tip: use Readability Analyzer to check this metric for free).
  4. The width of text columns on your website/blog should be no greater than 800px (Problogger).

Unfocused Direction

There’s nothing worse than a meandering piece of content. Every piece of content should have a goal to address a specific issue, identify solutions, or present a solution to a problem.

A post that tries to cover too many topics—or too general a single topic—typically ends up talking about everything briefly, and nothing well. So when the user gets to the end of the piece (if they get that far), he/she is left scratching her head wondering what they learned from your content.

Pick a single message you want to convey in your content piece, and ensure that every paragraph and every visual adds to that message — if you have extraneous content in there, cut it out.

Single Channel

Gone are the days when a single content channel—blogs, email, social, or video—could carry an entire marketing strategy. To truly connect with customers in today’s hyperactive online world, you have to be on all of the platforms that they frequent.

Do your customers need blogs? You need to build out the best blog in your space.

Are your customers on Twitter? Updating your feed with timely, relevant content is imperative.

Does YouTube attract your customers in their downtime? Create a channel and become the go-to for video content among your competitors.

Content strategy is no longer single-touch; utilizing multiple channels is the only way to be truly effective.

100% Production, 0% Promotion

You’ve done all the work: you’ve built a blog calendar out three months in advance, your Twitter feed is always popping, and your videos are always stellar. So why aren’t people engaging?

There’s a simple answer to that question: they aren’t engaging because they don’t know about it!

It’ all boils down to a simple equation:

100% of time spent on production + 0% time spent on promotion = outstanding content but 0 eyeballs viewing that content

The old adage “build it and they shall come” doesn’t apply anymore. Literally, millions of pieces of content are published to the interwebs every single day. There’s simply no shortage of great content on the web. Your buyers need a reason to start browsing yours; use all promotion methods at your disposal to get their eyes on your content.

No Call to Action

You’ve done a great job producing the content, and an even better job promoting it. You got my eyes on it, I read all the way through the blog post, and could really see how it added value to my day. So I finish up the last paragraph and think to myself about what a great read it was, then … exit out of the tab and leave your website without engaging further.

That wasn’t supposed to happen!

The reason why it did, however, is because I didn’t have any specific direction on what to do next.

Your buyers aren’t going to leave a comment, share your post, or subscribe to your newsletter just because a single piece of content was great. It would be nice if that was the way it worked, but your buyers are simply too busy to have those next steps already planned out when they get through a piece of your content.

What you need to do then, is direct them with next steps. For instance, ask them to join an email newsletter so that you can connect with the visitor on your own timeline. Never, ever publish a piece of content without a call-to-action directing your readers to somehow engage further

Wrapping Up

Ineffective content, despite the huge impact it can have on the overall success of your B2B marketing, is usually an easy fix. All too often, content strategists spend far too much time perfecting the actual substance of the content and not enough on its presentation or promotion.

Thankfully, these are easy fixes that, once you implement them, will take your content strategy to much greater heights.

What other reasons have you uncovered for why content can be ineffective? Share your research in the comments below!

Learn more about content strategy here.