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June 21, 2018
Inbound marketers are well aware of the need to create quality content in order to attract visitors. They also know that they need to create a decent amount of it in order to continuously be indexed by search engines and to satiate blog subscribers. However, it’s important to understand the pitfalls of content overload for your readers. There is a fine balance of creating large amounts of content and creating content that is easily digestible and completely relevant to the audience.
In order to avoid content overload it’s important to know who your audience is. As marketers, we often write for a large variety of audiences, many of which may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information they are receiving. Too much irrelevant content to a specific audience can cause subscriptions to drop because the audience becomes overloaded with information.
For many businesses, such as those in the service industry, it can be helpful to make sure the topics that are written about are consistent. For example, people in the lawn care industry might have a blog about lawn care maintenance where subscribers get weekly insights on improving the look and feel of their lawn. If the topics start changing to similar ancillary topics such as pest control or home maintenance, users may find themselves suffering from information overload and become less interested in your content.
Another issue a marketer or content creator could run into is creating content that requires a user to make too many decisions. This is known as decision fatigue, where so much information is presented that deciding how to use the information can be a daunting task. On any given day, people make hundreds of tiny decisions ranging from the time they want to eat lunch to what they want to wear and which lane they want to drive in. With more serious decisions, such as those related to business strategy, researching possible solutions can make solving the issue more difficult if the research becomes mentally and emotionally draining.
To help decision makers who will consume your content, you can reduce decision fatigue in a number of simple ways. The first way is to give information that allows for proper planning and execution which predicates implementation upon understanding the content. Decision fatigue can largely be a result of poor planning and the stress involved with making last-minute decisions. Part of planning a decision can be spreading out the decisions over time or simply reducing the total amount of decisions that need to be made. It must be understood that certain decisions create more complex scenarios that open the door to even more decisions down the line, whereas other solutions greatly simplify scenarios.
For major decisions, it is important for the implementer to understand when the correct time to make those decisions would be. For instance, if you are a divorce lawyer marketing your advice on your blog and social media, the necessary recommendations for a potential customer’s options might be best made when certain criteria are met to ensure they are in a proper head space. While presenting what may seem like the correct information to a potential customer, you may be compounding their problem by giving them information too early.
In order to avoid decision fatigue, it’s vital to give people a sense of possible outcomes, as well as pros and cons of each decision they could make. When you’re the subject matter expert, it is not enough to solely give out information that you find pertinent, but you must also explain the ramifications of the potential decisions made. Although leaving the reader to interpret the content as applicable to their own situation is acceptable in many scenarios, many answers to questions often provoke larger questions about how to practically apply that knowledge in a useful manner.
About the author
Evan Futterman was formerly the Director of Development at SmartBug. With a Business degree in Computer Information Systems, Evan has both the technical and business knowledge to deliver the quality SmartBug Media clients expect. When not doing web development he can usually be found outside exploring the outdoors. Read more articles by Evan Futterman.