How to Stop Overthinking Your Content and Start Writing What Your Customers Love
You might find it hard to believe, but content doesn’t have to be game-changing to perform well and achieve its objectives. In my experience, a lot of marketers are fixated on creating that “perfect” piece of content. They tell themselves they won’t settle for anything less, but the reality is that what they wind up creating is rarely as revolutionary as they hoped it would be.
There are a few reasons why.
Perfectionism isn’t healthy
It causes stress, which in turn can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, and increased susceptibility to infection, and much more.
If that’s not enough to worry you, consider this: However hard we try – perfection is unattainable.
Perfecting your content is unhealthy, and on top of that, you’re setting yourself up for failure.Perfecting your #content is unhealthy, and you’re setting yourself up for failure, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
That brings me nicely to this next point.
‘Create the best content ever’ isn’t a tangible goal
If you tell yourself and your team you need to create something really awesome, something that makes people sit up and take notice, you’re not really saying anything at all. Those platitudes don’t tell your team what they’re supposed to achieve, how they’re going to achieve it, or what success actually entails.
Instead, when you describe what you want from your content, use words with substantive meaning. For example, don’t say create “viral” or “shareable” content, say you want to create something that is “thought-provoking,” “controversial,” “amusing,” or “surprising.”
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Striving for perfection can mean you never start
Sometimes a marketer or business owner will talk to me about creating a blog, or if they already have a blog, they say how they want to create content more regularly. When I ask what’s stopping them, I almost always know what they’re going to say: They can’t think of what content to create.
If that sounds like a different problem than what’s up for discussion here, it isn’t – most of the time, at least.
When someone says they can’t think of anything to write about, what they usually mean is they can’t think of anything they believe is good enough for them to write about.
While you shouldn’t lower your standards to the point of creating just anything, something has to change if attaining a mythical ideal stops you from creating anything at all.
The first step you need to take to stop overthinking content, and start writing what your customers love, is this:
Stop trying to live up to unrealistic standards. Set tangible, measurable, and achievable goals.Set tangible, measurable, & achievable #content goals, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
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Look at what’s working for you
Looking to other content creators is great for inspiration and figuring out what audiences respond to in general. But, whoever they are and whatever they do, they’re not you. And they don’t share your same audience.
Stop comparing yourself to them.
Not only is there no guarantee that a concept that worked for someone else will work for you, but if you measure your brand’s performance against that of say, BuzzFeed, you’re going to be disappointed.
According to BuzzSumo, BuzzFeed’s most successful article was shared 1.8 million times on Facebook and more than 50,000 times on Twitter.
Does that mean that something similar would perform as well for you? Of course not.
BuzzFeed gets more than 200 million monthly unique visitors. You can’t compare yourself to that, and you shouldn’t try.
Instead of focusing on BuzzFeed’s top article of the week (or whatever site or sites you look to for content inspiration) look at the performance of your brand’s content.
Social-share statistics used to be a good way to gauge your content’s popularity. Unfortunately, as more and more social sites shut their API, this data is becoming increasingly inaccurate. But there are alternatives.
Your website’s analytics can tell you a lot about the performance of your blog content. While I’m using Google Analytics, the chances are you can obtain similar data from another web analytics tool.
Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
From here, filter the data to the relevant subfolder of your site such as /blog.
The results are displayed in order of the most to the least number of users who visited each page. Pay attention to the pages at the top. They’re obviously getting something right.
But page visits aren’t the be-all, end-all statistics. Engagement metrics tell you a lot, too. Look at how long people are spending on each page (avg. time on page). The more time users spend on a page, the more engaged you can assume them to be.
What does this mean? High traffic plus high engagement equals content your customers want more of. It really is that simple.High Traffic + High Engagement = #Content your customers want more of, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
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Rein in proof and editing
OK, you should always, always proofread your content before it goes live. I strongly encourage you to pass it on to someone else to check over before you hit publish, too, because we’re hardwired to overlook our own mistakes.
That said, if you’re passing an article to 10 people to review, make changes, and approve before it can go live, something has to give.
You’re wasting time on things that have minimal impact on how your audience receives the content. You could even damage the quality of the content itself. Too many changes by too many people, and parts of your original message could get lost.
The same rule applies to your content ideas. If it takes teams of people to say “yes” before you’re able to proceed with an idea, you’re going to lose out. You’ll create less content and some great ideas are going to get scrapped because Tim, head of accounts, or Diane, financial director, said no.
Cut the red tape to creating content you and your customers can get excited about.Cut the red tape to creating #content you and your customers can get excited about, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
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Do what your customers love
OK, I know that before you can do what your customers love, you have to understand what it is they love. I can’t tell you what that is, but I can tell you the best way of finding out: Talk to them.
Use short surveys that prompt customers to tell you what information they think your site’s missing. Encourage conversation in blog comments or on social media, and when someone suggests something that would make a great piece of content, take note.
This might sound like a lot of work, but once you get into the swing of things, there’s a good chance you’ll realize it’s easy. Don’t worry about rules and that red tape again. It’s hardly the end of the world if a piece of content fails to achieve its objectives.
Remember that we’re not talking about a $5,000 research project or a $20,000 interactive tool. These written pieces of content should be useful and insightful, but most importantly, fun for your audience.
That brings me to my final point. Something I can tell you that most customers, in all industries, do love. They love brands they can trust, that have a personality, and with which they can have a relationship. That’s why young, innovative companies are flourishing.Customers love brands they can trust, have personality, & can have a relationship, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
According to Forbes, “large brands have lost market share in a large majority of consumer and retail categories over the past five years as sales shifted to young brands.” That’s because people don’t want to deal with faceless corporations anymore. They want to deal with real people they can relate to.
What does this mean for your content? If you spend too much time trying to get your content “just right,” you could lose the very thing that makes it most interesting – your authenticity.
That would suck, because you know what your customers would love? They would love you to just be real.
That’s the key lesson here. Stop stressing about creating that ideal piece of content and just be yourself. Write what your instincts tell you to write and what’s in your heart, not what the C-suite thinks fits your “brand image” and objectives or what’s “trending.” Chances are if you’re trying to jump onto current trends, you’re too late to the party anyway.Stop stressing about creating that ideal piece of #content & just be yourself, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet
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Do you tend to overthink your content creation? Will you be changing how you approach content in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts, just leave a comment.
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Cover image by Olu Eletu, Stocksnap