Many components of content marketing are controllable and predictable. But you know what isn't? Your audience's response. Surprises are the one thing you can count on.
So, what can you do when a piece of content you've created simply doesn't produce the right results?
Based on our experience, there's a lot you can do. In fact, with most content, the post-publishing optimization process can improve an article's performance significantly.
Examples we've come across are as simple as a piece that was too long and made users drop off, or one, which tested readers' knowledge of a topic, had too many questions about other, unrelated subjects, leading to frustration. Some situations are more complex and harder to spot, such as an article with a positive headline but a negative tone in the content itself, or any kind of mismatch between the way an article is being promoted and the substance it in fact provides.
All of those issues can be spotted and solved before your content reaches full audience exposure.
To get you started, here are three common scenarios to explore, along with optimization tactics to help you turn things around.
1. Reasons to Bounce
The problem. You are experiencing an exceptionally high bounce rate. Readers are clicking the published article, viewing it only briefly, and immediately moving off the page. This is an issue not only because readers did not consume your message but also because a high bounce rate will be reflected in your site's public stats, indicating to potential clients and investors that a problem possibly exists.
The reason. One cause may be that there's a gap between your item's promise and the content itself. Your title and corresponding image managed to intrigue your audience; however, a quick look at the article revealed that it is less relevant than they assumed. In other words, you may be using clickbait, and your audience doesn't appreciate it at all.
Another explanation could be that the content is relevant and interesting, but it is simply too exhausting to consume. Readers clicked the link, but after realizing that this long-form article is not something they would be interested in (or capable of) reading, they decided to take their research efforts elsewhere. Perhaps the piece was too text-heavy, and thus too tiresome to consume.
The solution. Let's start with something positive. A high bounce rate means that something drove readers to click the link and view the content to begin with. The content within didn't deliver, but you should still pay attention to the title and visuals that brought relevant people in, as long as they aren't tricking readers.
For now, your focus should be on bridging the aforementioned gap. Adjust the item's social media appearance to make sure it's not over-selling an idea to your target audience. If it's a branded content piece, make sure you have chosen the relevant publication for your target audience; an interesting title could be bringing in readers who are less relevant to you, and so their visit is a short one.
Finally, take an honest look at the piece you've created and ask yourself what type of first impression it creates. It could be that what your piece needs is less text and more visuals. In this case, interactive content formats, such as a poll that asks readers to vote, can be incorporated to instantly grab readers' attention and increase dwell time.
2. Finish What You Started
The problem. Readers started interacting with the item, but left before completing it. This issue is more relevant for certain types of interactive content, as not every article includes a clear definition for completion. It is particularly important when the article in question is a branded one, since we wish to expose the reader to the brand's messaging to its fullest, and in some cases the most crucial branding appears in the end.
The reason. If readers gave up on your content halfway, it just might be that the item is too long or not engaging enough. If your analysis shows that the drop-off occurs at a specific point, maybe you've taken a turn that is less relevant or even offensive. In case you're losing readers following a question-based piece of content (such as a poll, trivia, or personality quiz), perhaps your readers were unable to find a suitable answer, or questions were too difficult, and they left feeling frustrated.
The solution. Some solutions are pretty obvious, such as trimming your article, rearranging it, or losing specific segments that seem to be more problematic than others. But the key for success here is in making your article engaging enough for readers. The important thing is to identify the specific point at which readers decided to leave, which will make the optimization process that much more focused and efficient.
3. No Share, Don't Care
The problem. Readers read the content but do not share it on social media. With social media playing such an integral role in content discovery, converting readers into brand ambassadors who share with their friends is far more than a nice-to-have.
The reason. To increase an item's shareability, it must evoke the right emotions. If users decided against sharing your content on social media, it could be that it is not something they feel particularly proud of, or excited about.
The solution. Once again, start by examining your content's appearance on social media, keeping in mind that your audience will not post disappointing visuals or poorly written titles on their feed. If the article in question includes a quiz result, don't be afraid to get personal, but make sure that even the somewhat negative outcomes are phrased in a way that is not embarrassing to readers. If you noticed that one result was shared more than others, perhaps tweak the content accordingly so more readers land on that result.
But, most important, put yourself in readers' shoes and think of how they feel after consuming your message. Are they excited to tell the world all about it? Is your article relatable, exciting, and interesting? Did they learn something new, or just have a good laugh? Remember: Feaders do not just share content, per se; rather, they share the experience it provided. So focus on creating meaningful experiences for readers.
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The road to optimized content begins with the realization that an article is far from done once it is published. The tips in this article, combined with today's technology, allow content creators to measure their items' performance and make the necessary adjustments real-time to ensure their efforts do not go to waste.