There’s a Febreze commercial that asks, “Are you nose blind?”
Nose blindness happens when you’ve spent enough time in a smelly environment that you lose the ability to tell that it stinks. We have a Golden Retriever that smells, well you know, like a dog! Whenever we plan to have someone over to visit, we ask ourselves, does our house stink?
I think the same phenomena can happen to your blog and content marketing plan. You’ve spent so much time working on your blog that you can’t tell that your strategy or results stink. We’ll call it “Blog Blindness.” Although you think you are doing the right thing, the lack of visitors and subscribers are signs that something stinks.
One of my roles is to be a Blog Nose Blindness detector. People invite me to their blog to take a sniff. If something isn’t quite right, I work with them to correct the situation. But here’s the thing, it’s easy to convince yourself that everything is ok, even when there’s evidence to the contrary.
Signs that Your Blog Stinks
When asked to review a blog I focus on ten key areas, I’ll outline seven of them here:
Are you attracting the right audience? If you aren’t getting high quality leads or sales, then your blog is attracting people committed to not doing business with you. Your blog is sending subtle clues to your visitors that indicate who is invited and who should click the back button. I often ask my client to pick the role they play, Mentor, Researcher, or Role Model. The next step is to attract the audience that is looking for the role they play.
#2: Look and Feel
Your blog needs to make the right first impression. If your visitors are “bouncing” away within seconds of arriving then your blog is turning them off. The smell is too intense for them to stick around! Look and feel, however, is the hardest area to be objective about. We tend to get personally invested in how our blog looks, sometimes to the detriment of how it performs. Having another pair of eyes give you a sniff test might immediately draw your attention to a critical factor that may have been overlooked.
I’ve made a career of studying and writing headlines.
Your blog’s headlines will dictate the success of all of your content, not just your blog. Although headlines are important, they are also hard to construct. Writing good headlines requires a deep understanding of your audience and solid technique. In most cases, a majority of my recommendations focus on writing better headlines.
#4: Post Leads
I spent five years writing advertisments for direct mail clients. Specifically I wrote sales letters that were snail-mailed to a prospects most likely to buy my client’s product. During this time, I learned that after the headline, the first three sentences of the first paragraph will determine the success of the letter. The same thinking carries over to your blog articles. High bounce rates and short time on page metrics point to weak post leads. Like headlines, post leads aren’t examined because you are used to writing them. It’s helpful, even necessary, to get a fresh point of view.
#5: Post Structure and Content
Five years ago, you could post a general article about your subject and still attract readers.
People were fascinated with blogging, online content and having access to free information. Back then, blogging was novel. Today blogs are the dial-tone of content marketing. General, top-of-mind, curation and writing gets ignored. You need to write interesting, unique, visually, and contextually rich articles to get stand out and establish your brand.
Generic topics with generic stock photography with ho-hum perspectives stink simply because they are so easily ignored. Sometimes its easier to just hit publish and hope for the best. Don’t do it. Take a fresh look at your editorial calendar and articles to avoid being blinded by the mundane.
#6: Getting Action
Are you not getting good leads? Are you struggling with signing up new subscribers? Are people leaving rather than exploring the content on your blog and website? Answer this for me – are you asking for them to take action? Right now a few thoughts raced through your mind. They might be:
- No: I don’t want to be pushy or rude like (Fill in the blank)
- Sometimes when I have something important to offer
- Yes, every chance I get
Regardless of the answer, it helps to review your call-to-action strategy and tactics. There are many pitfalls that could be crippling your results. For example, you could be asking for the wrong type of action. You also could be asking for the right action in the wrong way. Many bloggers set and then forget their call-to-action. Pop-up windows are a great example. Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your call to action.
Your content should have a unque voice that separates it from the crowd. I call this brand flair. (Yes, this is Stan talking about Flair!)
One of my clients loves a specific shade of purple. Another is an anglophile and sneaks in photos of Great Britain. Their readers and clients love these personal touches. In each of these cases, they took their blog content and made it their own. It’s easy to find a design template and make cosmetic changes and call it “done.” The problem is that millions of other blogs (your competitors) do the same thing. In the end, we get millions of blogs competing to be mediocre.
What You Should Do First
Short circuit your blog blindness and get some objective observations. Here are three options:
- Have me review your blog and give you recommendations on the seven areas we discussed plus 3 more areas that are important for success.
- You can also survey your readers and ask them specific questions about their background, needs, and opinions about your blog. Many times, this helps surface issues that you’ve overlooked.
- Study your metrics and make adjustments. This takes longer but is effective if you can deploy, test, and roll-out the right adjustments.
What’s your next step? We’ve opened up the discussion forum in the Content Toolbox to discuss this post. See you there.