5 Ways Your Content Makes Your Audience Say “Huh?”

5 Ways Your Content Makes Your Audience Say “Huh?”

We all know someone who can talk a mile a minute and bounce from topic to topic like lightning and then reintroduce a topic they mentioned an hour ago without skipping a beat. There they are, on a roll, talking about three unrelated things at once, and you’re passively nodding your head while you’re really thinking, “wait, what?”

You don’t want your content experience to feel like that for your intended audience.

When you’re ironing out your organization’s content strategy and putting it to work, it takes some thoughtfulness and big-picture thinking to ensure you aren’t leaving your audience saying “huh?” too. Especially if you’re making significant changes to your approach, your story, or your user experience.

So, why might your content experience make your audience say “huh?”

1. You’ve organized your content for you, not your audience.

Imagine this: someone who fits your ideal lead profile deleted your email promoting a new white paper last month, and today he’s trying to find a useful piece of content on that very topic. He’s got a flicker of a memory that your company sent something around a while ago that might be relevant, so he hits your company’s home page to see if he can find that particular bit of insight. Only… he can’t.

As a human being living in the year 2016, you’ve probably had this experience yourself. It’s frustrating, right? A couple of clicks and that’s all it takes for that elusive content to become not worth it.

We see this issue in particular affecting large companies with large websites. In some cases, the content has been pieced together over time and the lack of cohesion affects the user. In many cases, the content is organized for the company, not the audience – and taking this easy route can cause confusion for your audience, turn off potential leads, and lead to content waste.

Instead: Ensure your content experience is designed for your content consumer. Map out your content experience to make the most sense for your audience and keep their needs in mind as you grow.

2. You’re sending your audience out into space without a tether.

If you’re thinking about content as an experience for your audience, you’ll want to avoid making people feel like they’re lost in content campaign space.

As marketers, it’s easy to get excited about a new campaign and create a dedicated home for that campaign’s content. It needs its own space to breathe. It needs to stand apart. It’s your baby, and it’s special, dammit.

But hold on. You start sending an interested audience out into space to your campaign content, but you haven’t provided a clear path linking to your brand. You’ve got the content but not the context.  You may have invested a lot of time and resources into creating a cool one-off campaign, but if it isn’t integrated with your core strategy and goals, you may end up with a confused target audience.

What to do? Ensure your campaign baby connects clearly back to the mothership.

3. You funneled your efforts into one area and ignored the rest of the experience.

While you may not be sending your audience off into space untethered, you may be creating an inconsistent, “where am I?” experience at your home base. This can happen when you focus on making one cool thing and forget or de-prioritize the rest of your content experience. You forget that the lackluster content is only a click away from the cool.

As an example, I was recently chatting with a contact at a large global investment bank and pointed out that they had a really interesting and attention-grabbing content asset that made me want to learn more about what else the firm was doing differently. When I clicked from that engaging content into the core of the firm’s website, I was surprised at how much the two experiences didn’t match. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought, “Oh, I wonder if they’ve paid any attention to this part of their site lately.”

Of course, it takes time and investment to transform a content experience from top to bottom, inside and out. Just be sure that if you’re taking things in a new direction in one area, that you’re thinking about your customer’s whole experience with your organization’s content and how each touch or interaction should fit together. Otherwise, you may find your audience losing interest after a jarring change of content scenery.

Instead: Think big-picture rather than taking a tunnel-vision approach to one initiative.

4. You’re overwhelming your audience with too much content.

We’ve all heard it before and seen it firsthand: there’s a crapload of content out there. So how do you expect your audience to sift through everything to find the good stuff?

Much like the first example, if you’re bombarding your customers and prospects with too much content – and the right amount is different depending on your audience expectations and needs – it can turn into overload and they’ll turn right off. Then, when there’s something that could prove to be truly valuable to your audience, they might not notice or care.

Not to mention, why are you investing all that time and budget into creating all this content that isn’t doing its job? Take a pause and determine what’s really working and what isn’t; and see where you can revise and streamline to get more bang for your content buck.

What to do? Think content quality over quantity. Always.

5. You’ve got too many content creators and no managing editor.

First, the good news. Often, in large and geographically dispersed organizations, we find plenty of content creators who are enthusiastic and eager to tell their story. The not so good news? These content creators often don’t have a global content strategy guiding their work or a managing editor ensuring each asset is on-strategy, on-message, and on-brand.

The result? An inconsistent content experience for your audience. Your brand may be represented one way at an event, then another way in a regional newsletter, and still another on your website. The same customers may interact with content produced by various different teams, and you don’t want them to be left scratching their heads at which version of your brand is the real one.

The solution? Ensure you have a managing editor function in place (which, you know, could be in a form of a content consultancy or agency) to guide and enforce your content strategy and standards.

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Let’s make 2016 the year of abolishing “huh?” from your audience’s vocabulary. With the right strategy guiding the way, you’ll be creating a consistent content experience with your audience in mind.

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