10 Ways to Alienate Your Audience

Are you alienating your audience without realizing it? Do you wonder why you’re having trouble attracting readers to your blog or other content marketing? If so, the problem may be your content.

Here are ten points to check whether you’re turning readers away without knowing it.

  1. Why should I care headline. Does your headline draw your readers into your article? If not, you’ve lost an opportunity to engage. If your headline doesn’t give readers a reason to care, they’re gone.
    Remedy. If your headlines are weak, try some of the tried and true headline formulas because without a good headline you’re missing a great social media opportunity. While it’s all right to start with a working title, after you’ve written the post or article, spend time polishing the headline to pull people in.
  2. A photo is worth a thousand words. A photograph or embedded video helps draw the eye and get people to engage. Is your blog or content a text only zone? Do you have any photographs or graphics to break up the text? 
    Remedy.
    Include photographs and other non-text items in your content. Break up the endless text. Here’s a table of social media content options.
  3. Too many flashing objects. Does your blog or website have too much animation? Do flickering items greet your visitors? In general, flashing objects should be restricted to emergency vehicles and Christmas trees.
    Remedy. Reduce or better yet, eliminate the flash on your blog or website. There are more sophisticated ways to get your readers’ attention that don’t cause them to click away.
  4. I can’t read your posts the type is hard on my eyes. Bad typography can send readers away in a heartbeat. Is your content too tiny for your average reader to see, let alone read. Does your content have crammed line spacing, or too many colors?
    Remedy. Use no more than three typefaces: one for paragraph text, another for headings and a third for captions and other special needs. Keep the color variations down to two (not counting link colors.) Use normal single spacing at a minimum and readable screen fonts.  Here are some blog design hints.
  5. I’m sure there’s useful information somewhere but who can find it? Are your posts densely written? The endless paragraph can be sign that your writing suffers from this problem. Is there too much going on so that readers aren’t sure of where to start? If so, streamline your content in the same way that you’d clean out your closets.
    Remedy. Streamline your content by breaking up your prose into short paragraphs organized by sub-headings and bolding. Using an outline approach has the added advantage of guiding your reader. Use bolding to make your various points and keywords stand out.
  6. Did you take seventh grade English? While the occasional typo is acceptable, consistently poor grammar isn’t. Do your sentence subjects agree in number and tense with their verbs? Do you misuse words such as: you’re and your, their and there, or advice and advise?
    Remedy. Use a spelling and grammar checker. Don’t assume that readers don’t care because, to the contrary, they do.
  7. Where are you going with this post? Does your writing wander off the topic? Is your content unfocused? Do your posts leave readers confused after they’ve taken the time to read your content? If so, your information needs better structure.
    Remedy. Start by outlining your content. Does it tell a story? Does it flow in an orderly way with a beginning, middle and end? If you’re answer is no, get some copy editing help.
  8. Complaints, nothing but complaints. Do you just use your content to rant? Are you always mad about something? Is your writing void of any solutions? If so, potential readers may consider this a turn-off. While people are willing to pay attention to an occasional gripe, a continuous diet just won’t cut it.
    Remedy. Before you hit the publish button, go through your content and ask whether outsiders would classify your writing as a complaint. If so, edit it to eliminate the problem sections or don’t publish it. Alternatively, use your outline and start over.
  9. Wake me when you say something interesting. Do readers feel that your writing is a yawn? If so, this is a big problem. If readers are bored, they’re not going to stay, let alone return to your blog.
    Remedy. Find out what your readers are interested in. Ask for their input on your blog posts. Check how reader feedback meshes with your content. Alternatively, mix up the content on your blog or website. (Here’s a chart to help you develop useful content in another format.)
  10. Enough about me, what do you think about me? Is your content only inwardly focused. Is your writing chock full of marketing-speak and promotions? If so, then you need to re-evaluate the goal of your content.
    Remedy. In today’s content-driven marketing world, it’s critical to remember how important it is to provide content that your readers find useful. It’s about their needs, not your sales. That said, you can develop content that helps readers use your products or provide answers to their problems. In addition, it’s important to include links that show you’re engaged with the rest of the conversation.

If you believe your blog or content marketing is open and friendly while your prospective readers have a totally different impression, you need to change those areas which are causing the difficulty. To this end, use this checklist to help make your content easier to read.

Do you have any suggestions that you’d add to this list?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some other articles on blogging that you might find useful.

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr

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  • http://www.evolve-forever.com Pushhyarag2000

    Very crisp & practical points for any blogger. Enjoyed every bit. Thanks.

  • http://sleve.wordpress.com/ Steve LeBlanc

    Nicely done, Heidi.

    I particularly appreciate #3 and #4. I find it easier to forgive poor writing, if they have something useful to say. But if you make it hard to read with animation and poor fonts, that just really ticks me off. There is this great site that lays out this problem of poor contrast fonts: http://contrastrebellion.com/

    To your list, I might add:

    11. Are you missing an About page? I really want to know how you see yourself and what your purpose is on the site, especially if I am looking to see what else you have written. And please state your name in your About page. “Hi, I’m Steve LeBlanc and I built this site to …” (It occurs to me I’ll have to fix my own About page.)

    12. Are you missing a Contact page? If you make it hard to get hold of you, I am less interested in what you have to say. Can I also follow you on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Do you write on other sites?

    13. Auto-play music on your home page? Noooo! First I’m sure we don’t have the same tastes in music. Second, I may be viewing your page in the presence of others I don’t want to disturb, like my boss, co-workers or spouse. Third, I may already be listening to a video or audio before I open your page, and now you are interrupting that. The fastest way for me to stop the problem you created is to close your page, usually before I’ve even had time to read the headlines. Embed a player on your page and allow users the opportunity to click PLAY.