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Earlier this year, I explained what I think are the best ways to improve your content in 2017. While they’re great tips for starting out your calendar year’s marketing efforts on the right foot, you should also make sure you’re kicking the same old content marketing habits that can actually hurt your short- and long-term goals, especially as the digital world changes to become more focused than ever on content. These habits are common, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them a thing of the past.

5 Marketing Habits to Change

You don’t explain your products or services well enough.

Objectively explaining your organization’s services or product line on your website or in your marketing materials can be a surprising challenge. After all, nobody knows your offerings better than you; but assuming your would-be customers are on the same level about your industry or business can shoot you in the foot when it comes to convincing them to drop the hammer on the conversion you’re after, whether it’s a contact form submission or an ecommerce sale.

To fix this issue, train yourself to avoid using buzzwords or vague language. Be specific but brief in your explanations. Ask an unbiased person — your 14-year-old nephew or your neighbor, for instance — to read your content then explain back to you what your organization provides. If they can’t do it, you’re not being clear enough!

You don’t explain what you can do for your customer base.

A well-known marketer, Don Crowther, once said “People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don’t do business with you to help you get what you want.”

This nugget of wisdom should guide all your content marketing efforts, from social media to simply explaining your Mission and Vision on your website. It’s easy to fall back on rattling off what your organization does, but you should challenge yourself to step back and judge whether your content explains how you’ll help your customers solve their problems. For instance, We’ve helped hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts keep their feet dry with our patented waterproof socks is a much more enticing statement for a would-be buyer than We sell waterproof socks. Presenting your content in such a way is a subtle sales pitch that resonates.

Your content is too wordy.

A surefire way to lose your customers’ attention through content is to present them with more information than they need. Give your audience the essentials upfront and nothing more. If your required content is still dense (“dense” being more than two or three paragraphs), break up what you can with bullet points, video content, and other types of media that are easier for people to digest.

By the way, being concise while still sticking true to this article’s first tip is something a dedicated web writer can help you out with.

Your content — or overall presence! — is dated.

A recent Stanford University study found that a whopping 75% of people judge a company’s credibility based on its website design. While having an up-to-date web presence isn’t everything, it certainly is an important factor when it comes to first impressions. That goes for your content marketing efforts as well. An incorrect phone number, an outdated staff directory, or just a lack of updates across the board can be received negatively by your audience. Invest your marketing budget and managers’ time to accommodate regular updates and trend-forward thinking.

You don’t sound like an expert.

Failing to back up your claims with supporting content will leave you one step short of convincing your customers you should earn their business. However, adding statistics and testimonials (with real pictures, mind you) is a great, easy way to set yourself up with added authority and provide the “Aha” moment that can turn your would-be customers into real ones.

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