It’s happened to all of us. You’re scrolling through your Twitter feed and coming across a catchy headline. It’s timely, relevant, and seems like the writer will bring you to an article that offers some value. But instead, all you get is badly written content.
Luckily, you can hit the back button immediately in an attempt to move on with your life. But for the brand publishing that bad writing, the impact runs much deeper than a high bounce rate on one post.
Remember, your audience is watching. What can you do to ensure writers deliver the highest quality writing? Before diving into that answer, let’s look at what happens when writers constantly deliver low-quality content over the course of your marketing strategy.
What Badly Written Content Means for Marketers
There’s a whole spectrum of badly written content floating around the internet. Writers receive a set of guidelines or a content brief that focuses on one word. Or, they don’t receive any guidance at all, resulting in a deliverable you might hate.
There’s just so much information published every second of every day—we see our fair share of quality levels.
If we’re talking about the impact of bad writing on your marketing strategy, we need to narrow the focus. That involves understanding what could happen in your audience finds writing that lacks meaning.
Some content is just so badly written that it’s not worth thinking about. These are the websites that force you to click through dozens of slides to capture more ad revenue.
Or the spam networks that monetize by flooding pages with banner ads. Unsurprisingly, these kinds of content wouldn’t drive results for your business.
But content isn’t badly written just because it’s not worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Think of this from a marketing perspective. For example, the difference between a blog post with a few comma splices and writing that looks more like a New Yorker article probably isn’t that significant.
Here are a few examples of marketing content that can be considered badly written:
- It’s just a massive block of text—no headers, images, or lists to make things more readable.
- It targets the wrong audience and doesn’t align with their needs.
- Its structure makes it difficult to follow the key points and takeaways.
- It doesn’t tell an interesting story that engages readers from start to finish.
- It makes claims that are inaccurate or otherwise unexplained.
These examples lead to content that is badly written in a subtle way. It’s not like grammatical errors make the text unreadable. The readers just don’t come away with any value.
And over time, that will hold your marketing back in a variety of ways.
5 Problems Badly Written Content Causes for Marketing
If only there were a simple test to tell you if you were suffering from badly written content.
Here are some questions to ask when writing content:
- Does the writing tell a factual story, or is it your opinion?
- Are your words capturing your audience’s attention without trying only to sell to them?
- Is your story interesting or boring? Meaning — does your writing feature obvious information your audience doesn’t have to guess at?
- Is the context of your writing confusing, or does it make sense?
- Does it feature real-world examples your audience can apply to their everyday life?
Unfortunately, many brands spend so much time and money investing in middle-of-the-road blog posts that just don’t deliver results.
Here are five problems that you might experience if your content checks off some of the “badly written” boxes.
1. Bad Writing Attracts the Wrong Audience
There’s a reason why traffic and social shares are seen as vanity metrics. Seeing spikes on those stats alone doesn’t necessarily mean your marketing campaign is working.
Can you tell if it’s a sign of bad writing?
When the problems with your content are subtle, it could take months to realize that it’s actually not working. All that traffic doesn’t mean much if you aren’t building an audience, generating leads, converting customers, or increasing customer loyalty.
Well-written content doesn’t just drive traffic—it isn’t boring, and it attracts the right audience for your business.
2. The Wrong Writing Style Can’t Crack the SEO Code
One thing that you have to remember is that the standards for high-quality content are constantly changing. What was well-written a decade ago may fall short today.
This is abundantly clear from an SEO perspective.
We’ve come a long way from the days of keyword stuffing that once defined SEO best practices. Writers focus more on telling a story that resonates, contains high-level examples, and focuses on truth over fiction.
And yet, there are still plenty of content creators hanging onto that basic principle hoping to get results. Keyword stuffing and a misguided focus on search engines can lead to badly written content.
Focusing on optimizing for one word might sound good in your head. Unfortunately, that leads to writing that’s just fine and is easy to forget.
The brands that see organic traffic grow are the ones that are successful at balancing writing for humans with search optimization.
3. Your Audience Thinks You’re Too Salesy
There’s a common misconception in the world of content marketing. It’s a blanket statement that says you shouldn’t mention your products. Why? Because it will come across as salesy.
But content marketing isn’t about publishing content for content’s sake. It’s supposed to serve a business goal that ultimately leads to greater long-term revenue/profitability.
How can you do that if you avoid product references at all costs?
Referencing your products doesn’t automatically make your content salesy. Rather, you come across as salesy when you suffer from badly written content. It shouldn’t come across as obvious that you’re trying to sell to your audience.
Well-written content can weave product references into a story naturally. That means focusing on the reader instead of your brand. Badly written content pushes features first. Well-written content always speaks to the reader’s pain points and offers helpful solutions.
4. You Fall Behind Your Competitors
Your audience and customers have never been more informed. They’re inundated with content 24/7. Consuming industry-related content has become part of just about every job as people feel a constant need for education.
That’s good and bad news. The good news is that your audience and customers crave interesting content. All a writer has to do is satisfy that need.
The bad news is that expectations are higher than ever.
People have so many sources of information, and they can spot poorly thought-out content a mile away. Cutting through that noise gets harder and harder every day.
And the real problem is that people don’t just filter out badly written content—they remember it as they compare you to competitors.
When you build a reputation as a brand that publishes badly written content, people will turn to your competitors instead. Then, you aren’t just missing out on traffic and leads. You’re creating a long-term deficit for your business to make up.
Not every piece of content will take off. But there’s value in proving that you can consistently put out fantastic, well-written pieces.
5. Your Own Writing Comes Across as Unoriginal
Every content marketer under the sun seems to want to become a thought leader. And why wouldn’t they? Thought leaders publish content that gets attention. They have large audiences to amplify their messages. And they attract customers to their brands.
There’s just one problem—if everyone is a thought leader, what does the term even mean?
Not everyone can be a thought leader. Badly written content makes it clear to readers that you’re trying to be one. Your site’s visitors should never feel confused or unable to find the information they expect to see.
Too often, brands publish content in the hopes of becoming thought leaders. But, in reality, they’re repeating information, and it’s not always correct. Their writing is unoriginal. And when you’re unoriginal, you aren’t leading thoughts in your industry.
Well-written content has an opinion. It clearly lays out your beliefs about a certain topic and actively persuades readers to think the same way. Don’t set out to be a thought leader. Set out to write content that people trust enough to follow.
Focus on Good Writing to Break the Never-Ending Cycle of Content Creation
Bad writing isn’t an all-or-nothing topic. Admittedly, we’re all guilty of checking off a few of the badly written boxes now and then.
The never-ending process of content development makes it inevitable that at least some of your pieces won’t be home runs. But, the moment you spot bad writing, take immediate steps to remediate the issue.
Fortunately, your content creation track record doesn’t have to be flawless. And better yet, you don’t have to go at this alone.
Turning content creation into a team effort will help you spot signs of badly written pieces before they go out to your audience. That way, you can build trust with readers and work toward your metrics of success.
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