If you’re here, you’re probably already familiar with content marketing – that is, recruiting and retaining customers by giving them something (content) that makes their life better, easier, zestier, etc. Content that is educational or entertaining––think infographic, blog post or series, ebook or whitepaper––engages customers with your brand and helps establish you as a thought leader in your industry.

But it’s important the content we create and share with our audience truly adds value to customers’ lives. It’s wholly possible for our content marketing strategy (or lack thereof) to work against us. Especially if that content is annoying customers right out of the sales funnel.

Here are a few ways your content might be working against you by annoying your target audience.

1. Being kinda vague or whatever

Our product is great. Our team is nice. We’ll help you grow. Sound familiar? If your claim is vague or your pitch is generic, you have beige content. Beige is boring; your audience will scroll right past it. Customers want color and detail, not buzzwords.

Compelling content is specific. It has a thoughtful goal with a clear thesis. Before creating content (say an infographic), you need to identify the specific purpose of the piece and how it fits into your overall content strategy. Why is this piece significant? How does it bring us closer to our goal? What do we want to say? Put your thoughts on paper, talk with your team, talk with our team…whatever you need to do to establish the purpose and basic structure of the piece. We’re talking 3 main points, outline-style. (Make your high school English teacher proud, folks!) By ensuring your content is specific and purposeful, you are adding value to your customers’ lives––and earning those engagement metrics you need to justify further marketing spend.

On the flip side, do you use too much jargon without explaining what all that industry lingo means? Establish shared meaning with your audience by defining terms and flowing smoothly from one idea to the next. Remember when we provided a brief definition of content marketing at the beginning of this post? If your customer is lost or confused, chances are they’re going to look (and buy) elsewhere.

2. Using “buy this” as your entire brand identity

Let’s be real: The goal of content marketing is still marketing. We all want to earn sales––that’s why we create content to market ourselves to potential customers. But creating content also helps your company grow and refine its identity. It educates your customers to gradually move them from potential leads to confirmed sales. It engages fans of your company who can become valuable word-of-mouth brand ambassadors.

Point is, you have more to offer your audience than just your product(s) or service(s). You have knowledge. The insider intel you have as a team of professionals in your industry can add immense value for your customers. Go beyond just selling to your target audience. Thoughtfully educate consumers about how to implement the service you provide effectively with their existing system, how to leverage your product to work for them to increase their bottom line, what industry trends they should be aware of, and why your company is the best team for them to work with. (Hint: Infographics can help you do all of these things.)

You can’t expect customers to commit without offering valuable information or a personal connection. Demonstrate how to best use your product or service in a variety of contexts and show customers who you are. Adding a helpful human element to your content will elevate your brand identity beyond just “buy this!”

3. Making good content look bad

Let’s assume your product or service is incredibly valuable to your customers (which it is!). How are potential new leads learning about it? Do you have publicly accessible top-of-funnel information, or do customers have to surrender their email address to access even basic content like an infographic or blog post?

On some level, we’re all a bit lazy when it comes to consuming content. (After all, science says humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.) If customers have to jump through hoops to find and read any of your content, they might just quit before it gets a chance. Save the gating for something bigger like an ebook. Be sure that plenty of quality information grabs the attention of any interested parties without grabbing their email addresses.

One dreaded content no-no we sometimes see is an infographic buried deep in a website’s navigation, far from the light of day. You gotta let your content shine! Write a blog post to feature the infographic, splice it up into social media-ready microcontent, repost it every few weeks… There are lots of ways to get more mileage from a cornerstone piece of content. We have all kinds of tips about publishing and promoting your infographic, and we even made an ebook about creating dynamite visual content.

Remember: In content marketing, as in fine dining, presentation is everything.

4. Resisting a refresh of your messaging

Vinyl may be experiencing a comeback, but broken records will always be out of style. Same goes for your content. If all your content says the same thing over and over again, customers will eventually tune out. We’ve heard that song already, DJ! Spice it up with something different. If you don’t have something new to say, you’ll save time and effort by re-sharing or gently repurposing something from your archive rather than creating something from scratch just for the sake of novelty.

Another messaging mishap that can inadvertently dull your brand’s edge is called semantic satiation. You know that thing where you say a word repeatedly until it starts to lose all meaning? That’s semantic satiation. For example, so far in this blog post I’ve used the word “content” 28 times. Like a steady morphine drip, too much repeated use of a term can lull your customer into a trance and out of your content. (29 times.)

While we certainly advocate for maximizing the use of your evergreen content (see those handy tips above), it’s important to balance that with something fresh and new. Even good content gets stale after a while if you don’t find new ways to present it. This can be as simple as switching up the title or link preview image on a blog post or experimenting with a different voice on your social media channels. For some more adventurous content, try an explainer video or an interactive experience. Things grab our attention when they are different from what we expect. Shake up your customers’ expectations of your content as a way to keep those clicks rolling in.

If your content could use some sprucing up, a content report card or a design system might be just what you need. Slide into our DMs and we can talk about how to best leverage visual content to woo your customers.