It is said that that 55% of visitors only spend 15 seconds or less on an average web article.
I probably spend half that on most B2B content I view.
The writer doesn’t read articles?
Perhaps I should specify. I love reading articles, I consume dozens of stories every day, covering a wide variety of topics (including countless on B2B marketing). But it needs to be interesting, a characteristic that a lot B2B content lacks.
I can read 5,000 word articles, no problem, as long it keeps me engaged throughout. But if it doesn’t, I might bail after just a few paragraphs.
So what makes me bail? It’s boredom and that’s not necessarily the writer’s fault.
Most content writers have to manage to write, at minimum, a single blog post a week. Sometimes it’s more than that depending on the company’s content marketing strategy.
It’s not the writing itself that’s the struggle, it’s producing the sheer volume of ideas that one needs to provide consistent content.
If you are forced to keep coming up with ideas in the same area again and again, it only gets harder to become excited about them.
And if the writer isn’t excited, there is not a chance that the reader will be.
My coworker sent me this article that said we get writer’s block because we are bored of what we are writing (I hope that’s not a hint). While that’s not always the case, I think it’s often true, especially for those who are writing as part of their job and not just for fun.
Perhaps that’s why so much B2B content is boring enough to make one’s eyes glaze over. The writer is bored and so are you.
So what can you do as the producer of this sort of content?
Here are a few steps you can take to keep your writing from scaring off potential readers.
Make Your Writing Lighter
I know it’s tempting to keep you writing dry and professional sounding, but like I’ve said in the past, you need to remember that your writing is going to people. There are a couple ways that many writers weigh down their writing.
The main culprit in B2B is the overuse of statistics and attribution. Marketers love statistics and for good reason, they make our points grounded. But if we overuse them, loading down sentences with countless facts, attributions and hyperlinks, it starts to wear on the eyes of the reader. Like technical writing, writing heavy on facts is informative, but is very difficult to read, even if you’re the target audience for the content.
Facts, attributions and hyperlinks should be sprinkled into an article like spices, not poured on like sauce.
I love adding a couple hyperlinks with good and interesting sources. These are articles that I find interesting, which is why I include them. Obviously attribution is important, but you don’t need to link to the article every time it’s mentioned. Once is just fine.
Write in Your Voice
Any experienced writer knows that over time, you can mimic just about any tone. This is needed, especially when you are just starting to use this tone. You start off mimicking people who do it well, then the hope is that you can take the desired tone and adapt it to your own style.
But what happens is that you work so hard to mimic a tone throughout your writing career that you lose your voice. Maybe it’s because of the expectations that you feel are set by your employer, maybe it’s something else. All I know is that the longer you deny yourself from using your own personal voice, the easier it is to get bored with your writing. More issues come up when companies have a mandated “brand voice” which dictates at least some of the tone. Even so, there are ways to write in the brand voice you need to and still maintain at least a little of yourself.
I write copy in a different tone than I write my blog posts. Copy is less exciting because I have to tamp down my own droll sense of humor to write those particular pieces. I never lose my voice, it’s just different style. But you can definitely tell the difference between my work and my other fellow copywriter. We each have our own styles. Then, when I write blog posts, I’m able to put a lot of myself into my writing (the amount of bad jokes I edit out of my own work is insane), keeping both me and my readers entertained.
Writing sounds better when it’s natural. Only mimic tone until you are confident you can blend it into your own writing style. You are not a robot and you like to read engaging content. So make content that is engaging. If you feel you don’t have a voice (you have one) then start studying articles and writers that you like to read and blend that into your current writing. Chances are your writing will be better for it.
Make Your Ideas Exciting (To You)
Easier said than done, right?
I came up with this blog post topic because I was tired of the things I had been writing about. Every blog post I create is the product of what was most exciting for me at the time. There are a number of tricks that I like to use as well for idea generation.
That’s a post for another day, but one of the most effective things I do is always keep a notebook at my side. Everywhere. I am always thinking of things that I want to write about. When I watch television and see ads I’m always keeping an eye out for new ideas that get me excited. I also have a list of less exciting ideas and it’s always pretty obvious when I’m pulling from that list. The writing isn’t bad, but neither is it good or exciting.
And that’s true with most writing. It’s not necessarily bad, nor is it something that makes someone want to read it. Maybe boring writing in general isn’t bad writing, but boring content marketing is bad content marketing. Your first goal is to have people read your content, then progress from there, whether it’s as a sales lead or just an active audience member. That cannot happen if no one reads your work.
How do you stay excited about your writing? Do you have to mold your voice to suit your company? What get’s you excited when you’re reading content? Tell us about it!