145839390Blogging is so easy.

You know as well as I this is what many non-industry folk think. You’ve had countless conversations with new clients explaining all the ingredients necessary for a successful blog. You don’t need to be told about the latest SEO best practices or using storytelling to engage the reader. You’ve got this blogging thing down pat.

And yet… nobody’s reading your blogs.

You see the page performance report; you know people are viewing your blogs. People may even be sharing your blogs on social media. But why is no one clicking? Commenting? Converting? What the heck did you do wrong?

You Have 9 Seconds to Seduce Me

Know the expression “elevator pitch?” It’s where you get 30 seconds to pitch your idea, product, qualifications, (etc.). Know how much time you have to grab reader attention in the digital age? Nine measly seconds. That’s the same as your average goldfish.

You can call on the marketing gods to smite all those publishers who are inundating the web with endless prose all you want. But at the end of the day, you still need to take actionable steps to get people to read what you’ve written. You need to give your blogs those finishing touches that’ll grab attention, keep people interested and illicit clicks, comments and conversions.

To do that, let’s examine why your audience is passing over your blogs. Here are a few common reasons:

1) Your Headline Was “Meh”

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.” David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy is quite the quotable guy, don’t you think? This one’s been making the rounds lately because it’s just so darn relevant to content marketing today. Too often, the headline is an afterthought. Bloggers will pick a topic, write it in a way their readers are likely searching, stuff a keyword in there (cringe) and call it a day. The result is what I call a “meh” headline, as in, “Meh, maybe I’ll read that later, but probably not.”

The lesson here is simple: You want people to read your blog? You need to write a headline that insights curiosity.

2) You Made Them Work Too Hard

For more than two weeks now, I’ve had this blog by Contently CCO Shane Snow opened in a tab on my browser. I’ve looked at it every day. I’ve told myself to read it every day. And every day, I have the same thought: “Read this?! It’s longer than the Bible! I’ll read it tomorrow.”

I’m a big proponent of long-form content. There’s real value in taking your readers deeper and delivering more. But remember to go easy on them. Chunk your content into subheads, use bulleted or numbered lists and bold key takeaways. If you’re writing something extraordinarily long, give your readers either A) a table of contents or B) a key points summary.

3) You Didn’t Say Anything New

I see blogs with titles like “X Tips for Better Blog Writing” or “How to Write a Better Blog” every day. Know how often I read them? Never. I read that blog once already. Your blog has the same tips as that blog. Why would I read it again?

In journalism, if you want to cover a story that’s been written about before, you need to come up with a new angle. This keeps readers from developing a “read one, read ‘em all” mentality. Keep your finger on the pulse of what’s being talked about in the industry, and then put a new spin on the material so it appeals to your audience.

4) You Showed Zero Personality

Blogs used to be such a personal thing. Then somewhere along the line, businesses got involved, and blogs evolved into something terribly detached. Writers ceased to use first person, and personal asides and anecdotes were given the kibosh.

Even in the B2B realm, it’s not a business reading your blog. It’s a person, and that person is interested in who you are. I bet you have a great personality. Let it shine in your blogs. Check out one of Barry Feldman’s recent blogs for inspiration.

5) Your Links Were Irrelevant

When I see a statistic or thought I find particularly interesting with an attached link, I’m very likely going to click to read more. If I’m lead to a page or piece of content that’s totally different than I expected, I’m immediately going to close that window. I’ll close your blog, too, while I’m at it.

There’s no arguing internal links are important. Not only do they provide SEO value, they help move people through your site, creating more opportunities for them to convert into leads. What’s important to remember is that you shouldn’t link to just anything on your site. Like your CTAs, your links need to be relevant.

6) You Didn’t Give Them Anything To Do

There’s this great saying in education: “If the bum is numb, the brain is the same.” It means that, without interactivity, learning isn’t going to sink in. Why are your readers losing interest? It may be because your blog’s lacking opportunities to take action.

Video, GIFs, podcasts, custom graphics. There’s so much more to content marketing pie than plain old copy. Give your readers more opportunities to engage with multimedia elements, and they’ll reward you with their attention.

People want to read relevant content. But it takes more than relevancy to capture someone’s undivided attention for longer than nine seconds. You want to see clicks, comments and conversations more aligned to page views? Don’t forget these finishing touches.

How do you encourage your audience to read blogs in their entirety? Share your tips in the comments! 


Originally published Apr 30, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016


Content Marketing