Does the thought gnaw at you from time to time that your texts may not be read at all? We don’t want to scare you, but you might not be so wrong.
In 2013 Chartbeat published a study that shows that readers generally only read around 60% of a text. And the remaining 40% of your carefully written stories? Well, let’s say you could have done it earlier.
A website should provide content that attracts the right visitors, who are then converted to leads and, ultimately, customers – read our introduction to the topic now.
Of course, many authors are now asking themselves: Why do my readers only read just over half of an article that they clicked on themselves? Could it be because of a shorter attention span? Well, the guilt is probably not to be found among the readers alone. As authors, we have to bear some or all of the blame ourselves if our texts are uninteresting or merely dull.
Content marketing tips for “boring” industries
For some of us, the interesting topics are simply not put in the cradle of authors. Those who write for the “attractive” industries (tourism, culture, etc.) have it a lot easier – something exciting is always at hand. But what about the rest of us that we write for… um… boring industries?
1) What is useful is not dull (even though it may seem so objectively)
Help your readers with a problem. Although this advice is now more like a hackneyed phrase than well-meaning advice, indeed, “boring” content is not dull if someone recognizes it as the solution to their problem. Anyone who writes informative texts thus addresses readers whose questions they answer – regardless of the choice of words.
Just think of some of the common questions that readers are looking for online: What should I do if my toilet is clogged? How do I find a better electricity tariff? How can I take out a mortgage on my house? How do you change a tire? For the right reader, these topics are exciting – or at least not boring. If you are unsure whether you can write a readable text, focus instead on making it as informative as possible.
2) Avoid jargon and use spoken language as a guide
You prove your expertise by giving sensible advice – not by using an expression as if you had swallowed a technical dictionary. Write the way you speak. Eliminate unnecessary industry jargon. Let’s take a look at how not to do it:
Look for a provider that offers scalable marketing software solutions that adapt to the diverse, ever-evolving needs of companies – from SMB to enterprise – across industries.
And the whole thing in an understandable way:
Find a marketing software provider that offers solutions for businesses of all sizes and industries of all types.
Both sentences say more or less the same thing, but in different ways. The second example is much easier to read, right? Why should we put stones in the way of the readers?
3) Approach your audience
On the one hand, as an author you want to give your reader helpful tips, but on the other hand you don’t want to overload him with industry jargon. Somewhere in between is the transmission of specific information. Before you start writing, think about scenarios, viewpoints, and experiences your readers can use. This works best if you have created buyer personas beforehand – as this way you have already identified the needs of your readership.
What is the difference between a generic and a specific post? Everything starts with the headline. Let’s take this post as an example. We could have called it “Best Practices for Blog Posts” or “How to Write First-Class Blog Posts”. But that would have been so general and unspecific that everyone would have felt addressed – and ultimately nobody.
Instead, we opted for a headline that was inspired by leads and customers, who repeatedly emphasize how boring their industry is. Instead of giving a general explanation of what constitutes a good blog post, we wanted to address a recurring problem that causes stomach pain to our readers.
Yes, part of our readership may not feel addressed by this post – all those who sell puppies or promote top models – as they have no problem writing interesting posts. However, by addressing such a common problem that is very relevant to many readers, it is highly likely that this post will be read as well.
4) Show humor
A pinch of humor and cheekiness gives your text – and your boring subject – a certain lightness. Bonus: This makes writing a lot more fun. You shouldn’t be afraid to make a joke, use colloquial expressions, or make silly pop culture references. If the whole thing looks natural and does not distract from the content, a carefree tone can captivate the reader’s attention longer. However, be careful not to overdo it here.
5) Use analogies to clearly explain complex concepts
If you work in an industry that many would describe as “boring,” this adjective may represent “confusing.” The best example of this comes from physics: there are probably a lot of people who look at space mysteries to admire Morgan Freeman while he is discussing the dark matter. But would you read an article on the same topic? Maybe not … unless the author has a knack for explaining complex concepts in simple language.
If you work with a similarly complex subject and mainly address a lay audience, try explaining new concepts using analogies.
An example: Many companies are still not quite sure how inbound marketing works. So we came up with some analogies that put the whole thing in an understandable context. One of my favorites is: “Blogging is like jogging: You have to stay on the ball regularly and in the long term to see results.”
6) The wort is in a nutshell
If your text is not interesting, few readers will take the time to read it. It is, therefore, worth investing in an editor who can make 20 words out of 100 without your text losing its meaning. The less time it takes your readers to work through a paragraph, the more likely you will finish reading your text.
This applies all the more to the readership on mobile devices. Consumers use mobile devices, 60% of the time to go online. Texts that are difficult to read are, of course, read even less frequently in this medium. The optimization of the mobile reading experience is not only about responsive design, but also about a faster reading experience and minimal scrolling.
7) Give your readers a break
Often readers are not bored, but simply overwhelmed by an abundance of information. That is why your text must look as if it is easy to read, even if it contains a carefully written and fascinating content.
Break your text into smaller paragraphs so your readers can be sure they can handle it. You should remember this point particularly well if your contribution is unnecessarily protracted even after extensive cuts.
For example, in this post, we used bold headings. These enable the reader to recognize the paragraphs relevant to them as they skim over the text. Alternatively, you can also use bullets, numbered lists, images, and other formatting tools. This is how you make content clearer and less overwhelming for readers.
Ideally, you wouldn’t need any of these formats, because you would write a fascinating, perfectly coordinated text that is easy for the reader to understand. However, we know that the world outside is not always going smoothly. So you can confidently fall back on formatting.
8) Tell your stories using visual or other media
Many authors do not rely solely on words but use visual aids to tell their stories. For example, we have already put together a complete library of blog posts and e-books on closed-loop marketing.
Sounds incredibly exciting, doesn’t it?
But sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. That is why we created this visual aid.
9) Interview interesting people
Speaking of the podcast …
Who voluntarily listens to an endless stream of dry facts? Not many. That is why news channels have been using interviews for a long time to keep their audience under their spell. With an authority figure in a field or a celebrity who speaks on a particular topic, you secure attention that you would not otherwise get.
Every now and then we turn to industry experts in our blog posts and weekly podcasts. Not only because our audience likes to hear from others, but also because these experts have knowledge that we don’t have.
Is there a star in your industry that your audience should definitely hear about? Bring him or her on board to give your content that specific something.
Bonus tip: It is quite possible that some of your readers are industry experts who would like to help you with quotes or interviews. They enrich your content with their opinion. In return, you can express your thanks to them in the community. (A little praise is good for the soul.) This is best done on social networks, where you can ask users for answers to questions that you would like to mention in your content. After that, all you have to do is publish your content and let everyone know when their posts will appear.
10) Shock your audience
There is one topic that is only moderately interesting (unless you are a marketing geek, then it is probably more of a pleasure): Lead generation via social media. But do you know what’s much, much more interesting? The fact that LinkedIn is 277% more effective in generating leads than any other social network .
When you discover an exciting aspect of a moderately interesting topic that you can build your content on, you can be almost sure of your audience’s attention.
However, you don’t have to rely on data alone to surprise your audience. If you have the courage to do so, you can even become a bit controversial. We do this ourselves every now and then. For example, in the form of a contribution in which we encourage the US postal service to stop sending direct mail. We got all kinds of reader reactions on the subject. Not everyone agreed with the author’s opinion, but that’s okay. At least these readers showed interest in industry news. That’s what our content is about.