5 Content Mistakes that Drive Away Prospects

You have only 30 precious seconds (according to many reports) to capture your prospects’ attention, to engage and pull them into your copy. If a prospect does not find the info he is looking for on your site, he will exit quickly and continue searching until he finds the info on a competitor site.

Case studies reveal that prospects are looking for simple things especially on their first visit: How useful is your product to them? How much does it cost? Are there any problems that they need to know about in advance? Having that info easily available and avoiding certain key content mistakes would mean better conversion rates and happier customers.
Here are some top content mistakes that cause prospects to leave and visit the competitor’s website. I welcome comments and would be interested in your top web content peeves as well.

#1. About Page

Certain content mistakes are easy to avoid and also serve as best practices. Too many brands use About pages to incessantly talk and brag about their story.

About pages are content goldmines. They are perfect opportunities to advertise and increase conversion rates. An about page should be used as a selling tool to convince your prospects why your product is ideal for them. Will it make them rich? Will they lose weight? How is it going to enhance their life? Ideally, About pages should:

  • Give visitors a reason (several reasons, ideally) for doing whatever it is you want them to do: contact a sales lead, join a campaign, send money, buy a widget.
  • Make a strong case for what sets you apart from other businesses like you.
  • Give visitors context for the information they find elsewhere on the site.

#2. Drawbacks of Your Product

Certain content mistakes are hotly debated and not everyone agrees on their solutions in content marketing. Most businesses avoid talking about problems on their websites, thinking that it will turn customers away.

There are several case studies that have proved the opposite, Riverside Pools being a perfect example. Marcus Sheridan, (content marketing expert from thesaleslion.com) who also owns Riverside Pools, set up a blog post underlying all the problems with fiberglass pools. This one article, Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions, on his website garnered 137 comments, 168 inbound links, and 25,589 views and an incredible amount of money in sales. Since, none of his competitors talked about the problems with fiberglass pools his post always came up first in search results.

According to Marcus, ever since his mantra has been, “He who gives consumers the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a product will always be the content king.”

FAQ pages are invaluable in answering common customer questions. The sales and customer service team of your business are also resources who will be able to guide you on the problems customers are facing, so that you can address them in future content updates.

#3. Pricing Info

Pricing info is again on the list of content mistakes that don’t have a consensus. Some businesses will not have pricing info, thinking that they don’t want to turn off any customers. Here are the top reasons why it makes sense to always include pricing:

  • The first question on people’s mind after they are sold on your product is how much will this cost me? Can I afford it? If they can’t find that info, they will look it up elsewhere, probably on a competitor website in which case your competitor has won.
  • Putting your costs and pricing out there weeds out the customers who cannot afford your services or products. It increases conversion rates, helps to save your time and theirs as well.
  • It creates an atmosphere of transparency and trust, both essential for marketing on the web.

Some companies have a problem putting up fixed prices. Their pricing varies according to the type of service. This is also true for small business consultants. In that case, these two approaches work best:

  • It’s always fine to give a range.
  • Include a form on your website, where the prospect can put in details that you need such as scope etc. You then get back to the potential buyers with all the details over the telephone / email

#4. Only Evergreen Content

In the current global marketplace, your website is your virtual office. If you have only evergreen content on your website, it gives the impression of an abandoned website. It is the equivalent of an old store with yesterday’s products and mannequins that have dust gathering. I don’t know about you, but I would not like to buy or do business with a neglected storefront.

Nowadays, there is no one size fits all solution to content. Evergreen pages are also necessary, but you need to have a blog so customers keep returning. You need to have an email newsletter for loyal customers. You need to post content on social media sites for those customers who like to interact with you on social media. In other words you need to have constant action of some kind on your website, so prospects realize that yours is a thriving business.

#5. Not Incorporating Social Media into Your Content Marketing Mix

Research shows that customers prefer to interact with brands through social media channels and that while other forms of contact such as contact forms, emails, phones are still relevant, social media is quickly becoming the number one choice of customers especially for an answer to customer service questions and queries. It’s no surprise that having social media icons on your site greatly increases conversion rates.

The brands who are using social media to interact are doing well and in some cases have turned around people’s perception of their company. The early adopters are paying rich dividends. Mashable had an article with case studies showing the smartest brands using social media correctly.

  • Here are some examples from case studies:
    • Starbucks is a perfect example.To get a better handle on consumer feedback, Starbucks did just that with “My Starbucks Idea.”
      The site allows users to submit suggestions to be voted on by Starbucks consumers, and the most popular suggestions are highlighted and reviewed. Starbucks then took it a step further and added an “Ideas in Action” blog that gives updates to users on the status of changes suggested.
    • @comcastcares, a Twitter account setup to help Comcast users in need.
    • The dell social media initiative where Dell has set up social media command centers where they actively listen for comments on the company.

    Do you agree with these 5 mistakes? Do you have more to add? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Comments

    1. says

      I agree with a lot of these points, especially social media. I can’t imagine putting the effort into creating content and not have social media channels in place to distribute it.

      Pricing info is one that I always struggle with. Personally I never include pricing because the services I offer vary from client to client depending on their needs. I do have a contact form that I invite people to fill out, which has been working well for me so far.
      Matt Southern recently posted..What’s In It For Me: Keep Your Social Media Marketing Customer FocusedMy Profile

      • says

        Thanks for your feedback, Matt. Yes, pricing and putting up drawbacks are 2 hot button issues with tons of varying opinions. It makes sense for you, as a small business consultant to have a form that customers can fill out. This way, you can quote based on the scope of the project.

    2. says

      oh and … just rewriting (and not adding anything original or of value)
      It is rare that readers, especially the regular ones read only one blog and believe in it like the holy book. They will look around, read other blogs, and will stumble upon the blogs that you considered to be your “deepest source of inspiration”. As soon as the readers (or search engine) figure out that you simply rewrite without an original thought, your blog’s credibility and value will lose its weight like air going out of a balloon.
      Shamelle recently posted..4 Surefire Ingredients To Fire Up Any BlogMy Profile

      • says

        Oh my! You’re so right! That is a glaring content mistake that deserves a special post actually:) If you do rewrite, you are bound to lose credibility, not to mention readers, ranking and reputation. On the other hand, it’s rare to find a blog that has original ideas that are completely their own, without inspiration from any source. While outright plagiarism is one thing, I’ve yet to find a site that’s totally original. Even the so-called A-list bloggers – all their ideas have been seen many times over.

        I think the purpose of a good blogger should be to write with one’s own perspective, which is what I try to do at Web Content Blog. Not everyone may agree with my opinions but the ones that do, keep coming back and I’m grateful to them.

    3. says

      These are super tips. I’m with you on the About page – I wrote about that recently too. Enough with the self-aggrandizing, the awards the super services. It’s about the customers and what you’re going to provide for THEM!

      The other thing I can tell you for a fact is that the one post I wrote on my blog about pricing my services is the single most trafficked, shared and linked-to post. Ever.

      And I got a chuckle when you mentioned Comcast on social media. I don’t bother calling them anymore. You hold, you get the runaround. But shout on Twitter and your problem will be solved in about 4 seconds. I’ve even got my parents calling me asking me if I can complain “on that public forum” for them 🙂

      Great tips here, thorough and dead-on. Thanks!

      • says

        Looks like we are on the same wave length! I need to visit your blog, which I plan to do. Thanks for all the feedback. I really appreciate it.

    4. says

      Great post again Gazalla!

      I understand that 80% of readers just see your headline, but only 20% read your article fully.

      I have to admit to skimming headlines when I read and only diving in if it catches my attention.

      I guess part of our job is to increase our read-through rate above 20% and then get folks to perform or call-to-action request too.


      Peter Trapasso recently posted..Guest Blog on LeadersWest.com: How to Participate in the First Social Media OlympicsMy Profile

      • says

        Thanks, Peter. Yes, most readers only skim through your article which is why it makes sense to have several sub-headings, lists – anything that would make it possible for you to explain key points at a glance. It’s so difficult to catch readers attention these days – alas we are a fickle lot and there’s too much to catch our eyes these days and not enough time:)

    5. says

      Awesome post, Gazalla. I would actually segue on Peter’s comment above and add a 6th content marketing pitfall: having a title that doesn’t match with the body. I see this often where folks work hard on a catchy title, with just the perfect keywords and length to catch one’s attention. But then the copy doesn’t live up to expectations, there is little meat around the bone or even worse, the text barely addresses the topic referred to in the title. That’s my personal pet peeve!

      • says

        Thanks, Frederic. ooh, you’re right – that can prove pretty irksome. I’ve had the same experience as you – catchy title and the text is barely relevant. I’m so glad everyone is contributing to this post with their top content mistakes, peeves. It really enhances the post to hear feedback like this from each and every commenter- priceless!

    6. says

      Good post Gazalla. For me one of the biggest mistakes you can make with a commercial content page is not testing things. There’s lots of great advice out there on best practice, not least on this page, but I suspect each niche will have its own foibles that make it unique.

      The tools exist to do as much testing of content, graphics, layout etc as you want. That way you know exactly what works for your own customers. And it’s free. Kinda mad not to do it isn’t it? 🙂
      Adi Gaskell recently posted..Username or real name? Which is best for your community?My Profile

      • Gazalla Gaya says

        Thanks, Adi for your feedback. The golden rule of web quality assurance….test, test and test again. And when you’re done, test some more. With each test, you’ll find something that needs tweaking (either an image, copy or layout) that will improve the customer experience. I feel like I should write another post with all the helpful suggestions in the comments.