Elaine Fogel

Web sites

Surprised businesswoman looking at tablet

© Can Stock Photo

With all that technology offers, it’s easy to lose its advantages when people cannot read your digital content. What do I mean by that?

Let’s look at some of the reasons why your content may be turning people away:

1. The font type is too small.
Depending on who you’re targeting with your digital content marketing, there are plenty of those who cannot read fine print sizes without special glasses, or at all.  Approximately 14 million individuals in the United States aged 12 years and older are visually impaired. In addition, most people will develop presbyopia around the age of 40, or even younger. Presbyopia is the difficulty in seeing things near.

As diabetes cases increase and the population ages, presbyopia numbers will increase, too. Then, factor in the size of people’s screens, especially mobile devices. Using small font types because they look pretty may be a barrier to the audiences you’re trying to engage.


2. The font type is too light.

You’ve probably seen Web sites and blogs that use a light gray font on a white background. Look at this example and see if it’s difficult to read. What do YOU think?

3. There’s a lot of white reverse font on a dark background.
Another challenging content design flaw is reading white reverse font on a dark background. It may be OK for short content, but not OK for an entire page of it. Here’s what it looks like:


4. The paragraphs are too long.
Most Internet readers will browse or skim your online content. You can make it easier for them when you break up paragraphs with sub-headers and use bullet points or other visual tools.

5. The content is poorly written.
Nothing will send visitors packing more than poorly-written content. I am such a stickler for proper grammar and spelling. If you’re trying to attract new people, make sure you proofread everything!

It’s also a good idea to have someone else read your draft before you publish it. Sometimes what you write makes perfect sense to you, but may be confusing to others.

6. The reading level is too high.

Another thing to watch is the reading level of your content. If it sounds like an academic paper, that’s fine if you’re an academic, but not for organization or business content marketing. You can check the reading level using Microsoft Word. Here are the instructions:

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, make sure the Check grammar with spelling check box is selected.
  4. Select Show readability statistics.

After you enable this feature, open a file that you want to check, and check the spelling. When Word finishes checking the spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.

Look at the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. A score of about 65 correlates with the 8th to 9th grade level, and a score of about 55 indicates a 10th to 12th grade level. Scores between 0 and 30 represent college graduate readability.

7. There’s not enough white space.
If there’s not enough white space, readers may find your content challenging to read. It appears crowded and may make readers uncomfortable and claustrophobic. 

So, there you have it. These 7 reasons are easy to fix and can make a difference in making your content appealing. Why turn them away if you don’t have to? (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Tsk, tsk.)

Do you have any more recommendations?

Of all the ways you thought your prospects could find your business or nonprofit organization online, which of the following do you think is number one?

  • Social networks
  • Links in e-mails
  • Search engines
  • QR codes in print media

So, which one did you choose?

Well, according to Forrester Research and MarketingCharts, “online adults in the U.S. are more likely to discover websites via natural search engine results than any other means.” Surprised?

Respondents were asked how they typically found websites they had visited in the prior month, with 54% pointing to search, up from 50% the prior year. Notably, social networking sites moved up a couple of notches to the second spot in the website discovery rankings, typically used by 32% in 2012, up from 25% in 2011.”

One important takeaway from this study.

Don’t give up on e-mail marketing. In 2012, 26% of respondents said that they typically found websites as a result of emails from companies or brands, up from 15% the year before.

Other findings:

  • Paid search results were cited by 18% of respondents, a big increase from 8% the year before.
  • Offline sources had a role too: newspapers/magazine articles (18%) and TV shows or news stories (15%) were used by some.

Which method do YOU use to find Web sites? 


Bigger picture marketingSounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Do you outsource your company’s or nonprofit’s marketing tactics to different suppliers? For example, do you have a separate supplier for Web design/development, print graphic design, blog maintenance and/or hosting, direct mail, etc.? If yes, do they understand marketing?

Here’s a good example:

A friend has a Web design/hosting supplier on retainer for her company’s Web sites and blog. With the exception of adding blog content, every time she needs to make a change, she has to call the supplier.

Today, I was teaching her how to use HootSuite to help make her social media (SM) marketing easier to manage. The program allows her to manage all her SM profiles in one platform.

Since she was complaining about getting hundreds of blog spams daily, I went into her WordPress administration panel to see what was going on. Now get this… The comment feature was turned off! The supplier’s solution to eliminate her spam was to turn off the ability for readers to comment on her posts! That’s like cutting off your nose because you have a cold. :(

Social media is a two-way street

As anyone in marketing will tell you, blogs and other social media give us ways to connect and engage with our target audiences. It is a two-way street, not a one-sided blast of promotion. Removing the comment feature defeats the purpose of writing a blog altogether.

In addition, the blog design does not include any sharing buttons or calls to action. There is no place to sign up for the newsletter or connect on social media sites. There are no graphic images in each post - which have been shown to attract more attention.

So, my question is: what good is this supplier if its people do not understand marketing?

There are many marketing suppliers eager to take your money and do what you ask. But, what do they tell you when your requests make no marketing sense? Do they advise you on the bigger marketing picture? Do they ask what your marketing strategy is so they can help your organization reach its marketing objectives? Many do not.

My advice?

No matter what your organization’s size, have a plan in place before you contract with suppliers. They won’t know where your organization wants to go, or what it wants to accomplish unless you tell them.  They can do a much better job when you provide them with a brief or written instructions of your project or goals.

If your marketing suppliers are specialists in their microcosm of the marketing world, you can’t expect them to know everything about marketing. It may be cost and time-efficient to work with a marketing generalist or strategist who has a wide range of marketing knowledge and can help you define what you want and need. Agencies can do that for you. Hiring an inside marketing specialist to project manage your organization’s marketing needs is also a good move, if you can afford it.  Try to ensure that your internal marketer has the right knowledge and experience level to match your organization’s needs and is up to date on marketing studies and trends.

One thing to remember - marketing is not an exact science. When you work with a marketer who “gets” the bigger picture, you can expect to test and tweak your tactics until you get positive results.

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