Why Nobody Is Reading Your Marketing Content

Almost every week I’m telling a client that there’s a big problem with their marketing content.

It’s not the subject matter, their writing style, their grammar, or even typos.

The problem is that their content is simply hard to read because of the way it’s formatted.

Def: Format: “the way in which something is arranged or set out.”

I’ve seen web pages with wonderful content that is simply unreadable because of poor formatting.

You’ve taken all that time to write a blog post or service description and nobody is reading it.

You, the writer, probably don’t even notice, because you’re too close to it; you have no objectivity.

The good news is that fixing readability is easy-peasy.

And once you understand the mistakes you’re making, you’ll never make them again.

Here are seven formatting mistakes that make it hard for readers to read your content.

I’m going to concentrate on the formatting of content on web pages and blogs as these are where we read most online marketing content.

1. Text that is too small.

This is the number one text formatting error. If someone has to squint to read your text, you’re in trouble.

And did you know that more than 50% of people now browse the web on mobile devices? This makes small text even harder to read.

These days, with web pages moving to WordPress, page widths are wider than ever, so small text gets lost in the vast expanse of your screen.

How big should your text be? My recommendation is no smaller than 16px, however 20px is becoming more common. Bigger IS better.

2. Text that is too light.

I blame designers for this. Lighter text looks cool. I don’t know why, but it just does.

And even worse is text that’s both small and light!

But after you’ve made that cool impression on your website, can anyone read your text?

No, they can’t!

Your poor readers! They can’t read what you’ve written.

How dark should your text be? I recommend no lighter than 85% black. This will make your text a tad lighter, and less stark (hence, more cool) than 100% black.

3. Text that is too wide on the page

Now that you have a big, wide page to write on, why not format your text from edge-to-edge!

Please don’t.

Adding wide text blocks to already small, light text and you have a major reading catastrophe.

Instead, you want some white space to narrow the text blocks on the page.

On a site such as Medium.com (which gets millions of readers) the font size is 21px and the margins of each side of the text take up about 50% of the screen real estate.

Another way to narrow your text block is to have a narrower left or right margin and then on the opposite side have a wider margin with graphic content or side-menus.

You’ll see this on my blog pages.

I recommend that your main text block take no more than 60% of your screen’s width.

4. Paragraphs that are too long

Long paragraphs are just as problematic as small, light or wide text. Huge paragraphs are simply hard to read online.

A web page is not read like a book. And the same paragraph rules don’t apply.

It’s OK to have short paragraphs.

Even one-sentence paragraphs.

Get it?

I recommend that paragraphs be no deeper than five lines. If you put just one key idea into each paragraph, readership will soar.

5. Poor font choice

This one is trickier as there are a zillion fonts available these days.

I generally suggest a very readable serif font such a “Georgia” or a sans-serif font such as “Open Sans.”

But be careful about mixing fonts. You don’t want your website to look like a ransom note.

It’s common to use a bold serif or sans-serif font for headings, and then the opposite for body content.

This is where a designer can come in handy and help give a unified, professional look to your web pages.

6. Failure to use bolding

This is my secret weapon to increase readability. You don’t see this enough online.

If your text is all black/gray text with no variation, there is no focal point to draw the eye.

Here’s what happens:

A reader comes to your page and sees nothing but monochromatic text. Nothing attracts the eye.

The subconscious mind says, “Where’s the good stuff? Do I have to wade through all of that text to find it? Shoot, that’s too hard, let me go someplace else!”

But if you bold first sentences (sometimes initial clauses), the eye is attracted and there’s an immediate payoff.

The reader is focused and understands what you’re content is about in an instant and is encouraged to keep reading.

If you have lots of bolding throughout your text, then the reader can quickly scan for meaning. And even if they don’t read your whole page, they’ll get the general gist.

One mistake to avoid with bolding: You should almost never bold words or sentences in the middle of a paragraph. That just makes it harder to read.

If you want to add emphasis in the middle of a paragraph, use italics instead.

7. Not using sub-heads

Another great way to increase readability is to break up pages with sub-heads.

This is simply text in a larger font, often colored and/or bold text, as I’ve done in this article.

Subheads serve to organize the most important sections of your content.

Again, all of this increases readability which is what you want when a visitor comes to your website, right?

Cheers, Robert

Starting Your Model Car Collection With Style

It is a human desire to embrace speed and drape themselves in style. When looking at this through the acts of human nature, purchasing luxurious homes, fast cars and wearing bling is what makes us feel we belong. In many homes however, affording the fancy clothes and the fast cars is more of a financial dream than it would be a reality.

If this sounds like you and you have champagne tastes on a Pepsi diet, then there is a solution. For those who like the fast cars and the nice things in life, collecting model cars is a solution that can fit into your budget. When it comes to model cars, Porsche diecast models are possibly the first in the series you should collect.

When it comes to collecting model cars, we are allowing ourselves to expand our imagination as well as hold on to a piece of our dreams. Even though we can’t in most cases afford to purchase and maintain a Porsche, purchasing Porsche model cars is the next best thing.

Creating a collection

When it comes to these and other cars, it all comes down to creating a collection. When we put together a collection of different objects such as cars, we can tailor our likes and passions into a specific set. For example, is you like a specific year of model car you can focus on those. If you prefer a specific manufacturer, size, colour and more, all of these can be addressed when working on your model car collection.

Sharing your collection

Sharing your collection is a great way to enjoy your collection. When sharing your collection, you can do a wide range of different things. First of all you can create a room that is filled with what you collect. Your Porsche diecast models can be displayed on shelves, in glass cases and even placed in scenes that depict a great moment in your life or accentuate the model.

Telling stories

Most collectors will have a reason for their collection. The majority of people will want to tell stories of their past. For men, it is all about helping their dads work on similar cars when they were younger. For women, it may be a remembrance of their brothers or boyfriends who had one of these cars or even their own favourite car. Telling stories is a great way to have a visual to add to these stories as well as a constant reminder of pleasant events.

The No Joke System for Attracting Clients

A few months ago I re-tooled my system for teaching people to attract new clients. It’s a new take on an old approach.

I called it ABDO – Attention-Based Direct Outreach.

And it’s all about proactively reaching out to prospective clients and ultimately turning them into paying clients.

There are a number of things that makes this approach different than what most self-employed professionals do to attract new clients.

Let me count the ways. There are six. Yeah, I know, this is a three-minute-to-read-article. Who has three minutes to read these days?

Maybe you, if your client attracting system isn’t working.

1. Proactive. This means not waiting around for someone to contact you. That’s passive marketing, which is getting your name, face, and message out there, but hoping someone will ultimately contact you.

From your website and newsletter, to networking and speaking, these all become passive when you don’t take any initiative to follow-up or make direct contact with prospective clients.

But proactive marketing is scary. You put yourself out there and see if you can get a conversation or an appointment. For many, this is terrifying because of the possibility of rejection. Such is life.

2. Humor. Using humor in your outreach (especially in your emails) is a great way to break the ice and get attention. Despite its amazing effectiveness, it’s relatively rare. How may emails do you get that incorporate humor of any kind? No, most emails are deadly boring. So they get very low response. Even this one is kinda boring. So I’m proving my point.

We’re in the early weeks of my new ABDO group program, but participants are already sending out humorous emails and they are surprised at the positive response and the willingness of recipients to set up meetings. But no more humor here!

3. Value Proposition. A funny email may get attention, but it won’t get you far if your value proposition is weak. If you’re contacting a prospect, why should they be interested in listening to you? How can you help them? And what are you doing that’s different?

If you don’t clearly articulate all of that in a concise, (but also entertaining email) it’ll get deleted like all the rest.

4. Follow-up Conversations. It’s rare that someone will respond to your email with, “I’m sold! When can we start?” If only. No, the purpose of an outreach email is to generate enough interest that they’ll be willing to speak with you for a minute or two. That’s all. But it’s a lot.

Years ago, I did a lot of speaking engagements. At the end I collected business cards from the participants and then I followed up by both email and phone. I had one simple goal: get a follow-up conversation to see if they both needed some marketing assistance and were open to getting that assistance.

In that call I asked a number of questions and shared about some of the results I’d produced for my clients. I didn’t do any selling. I was preparing the ground for a selling conversation. If they showed enough interest, I’d set up a complimentary Marketing Strategy Session.

5. Marketing Materials. After I’d set up an appointment for a Strategy Session, I’d say. “I have some information about how I work that I’d like to send to you. Can you please take a look at it before we meet for the Strategy Session? It will save us a lot of time and make the Strategy Session more productive.” I sent it along and most would read it. And it did save time in that I had to spend very little time in the Strategy Session talking about my services. I could focus on their needs and goals instead.

6. The Strategy Session. Selling has a bad name. We think of it as manipulative and pushy. But real selling is the exact opposite. It’s mostly asking questions and listening. Where are you now in your business? What are your goals? What are your challenges? How will things change if you overcome those challenges?

I have a colleague who calls this process “Sacred Selling” in that it’s a deeply personal and caring conversation to discover if you can partner with someone to make a difference in their life and business.

Those six steps are the essence of the ABDO system. And despite the Internet, social media, and videos, I’ve found that this system still works the best to attract high-end clients who have big challenges that require a real professional with specialized knowledge and skills.

Yes, it’s wonderful if someone calls you because of positive word-of-mouth. But if you get tired of waiting for the phone to ring, this is the next best thing.

It’s not trendy or even that cool, but it sure does work. And even if you use some humor to get attention on the front end, I promise you it’s no joke.