How to Discover Whether Your Audience Is Bored with Your Content

bored

Let’s be honest. Creating pulse-quickening, super-engaging content that blows the socks off every single reader 100% of the time probably isn’t realistic.

It would be nice, yeah. But it just doesn’t happen.

This is especially true for companies in so-called boring industries—micro-niches with very few people having an overwhelming interest in the subject matter.

But if you’re always boring your audience to tears, this will obviously have a negative effect on your traffic, leads, conversions, brand reputation, and—ultimately—profitability.

Basically, boring content is awful. Boring content is worse than no content at all!

If you think your content marketing campaign is in a death spiral, it’s important to resolve the situation ASAP.

I used to write some pretty boring crap. Once I figured it out, I changed my ways. Today, I’m not necessarily channeling J. K. Rowling all the time, but I do know when (or if) my audience is bored.

How do I know?

I’m about to tell you.

But first, let me spill the beans (well, sort of) upfront: it’s about data—the warning signs are in the data.

Whether you’re a marketer, SEO, or content creator, data is your friend. But don’t worry, I won’t tell you to buy some expensive analytics software. Nearly all the data I cite in this article is free.

Download this cheat sheet to know about 6 ways to determine whether your audience is bored with your content.

Here are telltale signs that your audience finds your content boring.

Your bounce rate is abnormally high

What’s bounce rate?

Here’s how Google defines it:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e., sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

Basically, someone looks at your site and leaves.

You can find your bounce rate in Google Analytics.

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How do you know if your bounce rate is awful or not?

Here are some benchmarks, according to the type of site you have:

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Multiple issues can contribute to a high bounce rate.

Slow page load time, ugly web design, annoying pop-ups, or a crappy mobile experience are just a few of these reasons.

For example, mobile bounce rates are typically higher because of the less-than-optimal mobile design of some sites.

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However, it can also simply be because readers are less than thrilled with your content and they’re abandoning ship before even making it halfway through.

If your bounce rate is over 70%, there’s probably cause for concern. If it’s over 90%, it’s a serious issue.

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When there’s no other discernible reason, lackluster content could very well be the culprit.

You get few comments or no comments at all

Are you creating blog posts, guest posts, social media updates, etc. that are consistently getting little to no reaction?

Maybe you’re even asking open-ended questions at the end and begging for readers to chime in to spark a discussion.

What’s happening?

If nothing, take this as a warning sign.

In my early days of blogging, about ten years ago, I didn’t get many comments on my articles.

This one post (about postcards?!) received only 17 comments and basically no social shares:

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I could have gotten all depressed about that.

But instead, I learned a lesson. Maybe my audience gets bored by stuff about postcards.

So, maybe I need to change my game a little bit.

I changed my game, and I really homed in on the topics and style my audience wanted. As it turns out, a post like this got hundreds of comments:

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Comment counts are a great thermometer of the interest level of your audience.

If you write a sizzling-hot article on a sizzling-hot topic, the number of comments will reflect it.

But if you write a complete snoozer, no one will comment.

This is the kind of information that tells you exactly what you need to know about your content’s bore score.

Your content isn’t getting socially shared

I personally think that social shares are one of the most simple yet informative metrics in content marketing.

A quick glance at the number of likes, tweets, and other shares a piece of content receives often serves as a basic litmus test to see how favorably (or unfavorably) your audience has responded.

For example, it’s fair to say that if “Blog Post A” received 250 total shares and “Blog Post B” received only 12 total shares, Blog Post A was received by the readers significantly better.

While it wouldn’t be realistic to expect every piece of content to be a home run, a continually low number of social shares often indicates audience boredom.

The readers are simply not captivated by your content and don’t feel it warrants being shared.

The only caveat would be if you’re fairly new to the scene and haven’t really established an audience yet.

But if you used to receive a reasonable number of social shares and those numbers are noticeably dropping, boring content could definitely be the reason.

There’s a simple way to measure how your content is being shared.

You can use a tool such as Buzzsumo. Simply enter the URL of your website or blog, and click “Search!”

You’ll see a screen of results like this:

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Granted, you may not have 430k shares on a single post like CNN does. Ideally, though, you’ll see at least a few.

Another free tool you can use is on my blog, NeilPatel.com.

To use this tool, enter your blog’s URL, and click the “Analyze” button.

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The report takes just a minute or two to generate—you’ll see a progress bar, telling you where the analysis is at.

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When the report is complete, click “Content Marketing.”

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The content marketing report shows you the social share counts across your whole website.

Here’s a summary of the social shares on my blog:

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The “page shares per network” statistic tells you which individual pages were shared and the number of shares each page received:

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You can also see the number of shares each page received according to the social network:

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Using this tool allows you to get a very real sense of whether or not your readers are digging your content.

Look, if people are not sharing your content, they probably aren’t too impressed with it.

But let’s be realistic. If your traffic is low, your shares will be low too. No one is going to share your content if no one is seeing it to begin with.

Don’t beat yourself up over your low share counts unless you have really high traffic combined with low share counts.

There are usually several reasons why social sharing fluctuates and/or nosedives. Even a content marketing juggernaut such as Buffer admitted, “We’ve lost nearly half our social referral traffic in the last year.”

They even showed their numbers to prove it:

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Kevan Lee, Buffer’s content creator, tried to come up with a few reasons why it happened.

Here are his maybes:

  • Maybe we need to hire a full-time social media manager to really devote some time and energy to doing great work on social media.
  • Maybe I’m no good at social media marketing.
  • Maybe our sharing ratio is off: Too much content, not enough conversation.
  • Maybe everyone else is failing, too!
  • Maybe we need to post more often.
  • Maybe we need to post less often.
  • Maybe, maybe, maybe …

So, while low share counts can be an indication of boring content, they are not the only measuring stick.

You have low Twitter engagement

Although it’s not always easy to determine what your exact engagement level is on all social media platforms, Twitter makes it incredibly transparent.

Twitter Analytics makes it super easy to get a feel for your engagement levels on its platform.

Here’s what I do.

I compare the number of impressions my content has received with the number of engagements, which includes retweets, favorites, link clicks, and so on.

Take a look at an example of this in Twitter Analytics.

A 28-day summary of this particular Twitter account shows that the number of tweets is down, impressions are down, profile visits are down, mentions are down, and followers are up.

This kind of data shows an overall decline in Twitter engagement, which suggests that the level of content being published on the account is less than exciting.

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Obviously, that’s not the whole story, but it provides a fairly clear snapshot of how my Twitter audience is responding to the content I post on Twitter.

Twitter Analytics is helpful in that it provides month-by-month accounting for your Twitter engagement levels. You can instantly find out:

  • Your top tweet.
  • The number of impressions your top tweet earned.
  • Your top mention.
  • The number of engagements your top mention earned.
  • Your number of tweets.
  • Your total number of tweet impressions.
  • Your profile visits.
  • Your new followers.
  • Your mentions.
  • Your top follower.
  • The follower count of your top follower.
  • Your top media tweet.
  • The total number of impressions earned by your top media tweet.

In addition, using Twitter Analytics, you’ll get a sharper perspective of who’s engaging with you. My Twitter followers, for example, are interested in marketing and 61% male. There’s plenty of juicy information here:

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How does this data help me?

  • I can understand how, why, and by whom my Twitter content is being shared.
  • I can understand the demographics of my audience.
  • I can retool my content to sustain higher interest.

In other words, all this data is serving a point: it helps me create more engaging content!

Your unfollow rate is climbing

Are your social media followers unfollowing left and right?

Is your audience shrinking rather than growing with each update?

This is obviously a sign that something is wrong.

Many social media users are particular about what pops up in their feeds, and they’re simply not going to keep following an account that’s not revving their engines.

There are a variety of free tools that show you who’s following and unfollowing you on various social media platforms.

A platform like Unfollowerstats gives you detailed reports on who’s following, unfollowing, etc., on Twitter.

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Another Twitter tool is Tweepsmap.

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Tweepsmap sends you an email summary of the number of people who followed and unfollowed you each week.

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Unless you posted something that’s highly offensive, a high number of unfollows usually points to uninspiring content overall.

Traffic overall is dropping

If you’ve noticed a steady decline or, even worse, a dramatic drop in overall traffic, this can also be a sign that your audience is losing interest.

While they probably don’t expect everything you post to be completely awe-inspiring, it’s pretty easy to spot a sinking ship. Many people simply won’t come back for more.

Over time, this can cause traffic numbers to plunge. If you’re noticing that your number of repeat visitors is diminishing, boring content could be the reason for that.

To analyze your content from this angle, do a quick survey of your traffic stats on Google Analytics.

I like to run comparison reports to see how my traffic for a current period ranks against my traffic from a previous period.

Sinking numbers are a sign that something is wrong. This website I recently checked is an example of that:

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Data is a tricky beast to tame. If you’re not careful with it, you can come away with a false picture of what’s wrong.

Data only tells you what’s going on, but it doesn’t diagnose the problem.

If you suspect that boring content is a problem, work on fixing it, and see how things change.

Conclusion

Boring content isn’t good for anyone. It’s not stimulating your audience, and it’s not helping your brand grow.

But what do you do if your content just isn’t exciting? How do you fix this problem before it gets out of control?

I recently contributed a post to the Content Marketing Institute that offers some ideas on what you can do when your content is boring. This will provide you with some specific techniques for remedying the situation and spicing things up.

Remember, data is your friend. You can get a clear perspective of what’s happening and ways to fix it by constantly looking at your data, running your numbers, poring over the metrics, and staying on top of things.

What measures have you taken to make boring content more exciting?

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Comments

  1. carine genicot :

    Hi Neil,

    I am a new blogger (2 months now). My guest posts on popular websites get lots of shares. My Facebook fan page has a few great comments and reactions. My own blog however has no comments although I encourage my readers to leave comments. I am not sure why that is. I am assuming beginner blogs like mine shouldn’t worry too much about comments since we don’t get thousands of readers per day as other well established blogs.

    My traffic has steadily gone up while returning visitors is about 30% I see this as a good sign, making up for the lack of comments.

    I read on HubSpot that blogs get a higher bounce rate (75%) average. I wanted your opinion on that.

    Thanks for another insightful post

    • Those are great numbers for being 2 months in. How many visitors do you get per day? Are you collecting emails?

      • carine genicot :

        Thanks Neil 🙂 I get about 30-50 unique visitors per day. Last month I was getting 5-15 (without paying for advertising).

        I have a pop up window on my blog page that says “Need Help or Advice with Anything? Contact me!” But I got no subscribers so far except for 2. I think I may need to change it to something more enticing… What do you think?

        • What can you give away that has a lot of value? That way you’re giving them something in exchange

    • Great article! I realize that enabling comments help your site by showing engagement etc., but how will not enabling comments affect YMYL pages and industries like insurance, where there is a real “fear” of the liability stemming from allowing comments? For me, I think by merely, moderating the comments I would be able to control this, but some disagree. What do you think?

  2. Anshul Sukhwal :

    Great Article as usual, Neil. Yes, it’s very difficult to create content that our audience love every single time. We should bring in a combination of story-telling, images and video and some other ways to entice our audience.

    • Absolutely Anshul, with storytelling you will get people engaged into your world a lot faster than boring data

  3. It your bounce rate is high, its time for some split split split testing 😉

  4. You are a genius, great article. New blogger here, and working on Pageviews. This is excellent information and your tool is extremely insightful.

  5. Himmat Chahal :

    Very nice post, all about the data!

    There is a great saying in the field of UX where you shouldn’t actually trust what users tell you — good OR bad. You have to look at the relevant data and see what THAT says.

    IMO, it’s a very counter-intuitive but powerful thing to keep in mind. Though it’s a guideline for UX, I think it can relate to content marketing in general.

    I remember recently you had 2-3 complaints in your comments for one of your articles, saying that your blog content was dropping in quality and was not actionable. Hypothetically, you could have changed your content strategy because of a couple comments. Hypothetically, they could have just been vocal minorities that didn’t reflect the true state of the data — that people enjoy your content a lot as is. Hypothetically, you could have made a big blunder by ignoring the data and impulsively acting on a ‘prominent’ but ultimately minority-opinion complaint.

    (I’m sure it’s obvious, but I disagreed with those complaints 🙂 )

    • Thanks Himmat! Yes, sometimes you’ll get that kind of feedback, but comments are just one source of feedback right? Its up to you to take all the data you collect and make decisions accordingly

  6. Thanks for the informative post. What if people tell you that your content is great, but what do you recommend if you’re having trouble driving consistent traffic to your site?

    • Think about adding some spice to your blog content. If you have amazing content, then its a lot easier for you to get influencers to talk about it

  7. Femi Louis Ogumah :

    Hi Neil,

    This is great. Note also that it’s not only a post but a tutorial.

    I want to you to throw light on this issue; situation whereby you are just starting out as a blogger and you don’t have much resources to pay for Buzzsumo monthly plan so as to have an indept information.

    Detailed information like number of shares, sites that are linked to that content etc.

    What other method can that person apply manually in other to get those vital information so as to known how to improve for a better result.

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks

  8. Hey Neil!
    It’s really a nice post. Agree to the point between. I think testing is necessary in everything whether it’s content curation or off page seo.

  9. Tony Daniel :

    Great post and insight. It’s really a tough task but will try. I believe the content with graph may change the perspective and will bring more interactive visitors.

  10. Josh Manion :

    Great post Neil!
    I really like the infographic on bounce rates, I guess I have a lot of work to do…lol

  11. Ashok Chavan :

    Hi Neil Patel,

    Thank you for such a great search and representing very small small concept in deep. This are really awesome to create unimaginable trust and relationship with user. I read your article and also had subscribe you on facebook, twitter and you both websites. everytime whenever I want to learn new things, firstly I will open your site and start exploring every time new concept.
    Thanks.

    • Glad this was helpful Ashok! Let me know if you have any other questions I can help you out with 🙂

  12. Thanks for great tools to check website. I really like your blog.

  13. I’ve learned so much from this blog. Hopefully others can find value in my site as well….

  14. Saket Panicker :

    Hey Neil,

    I have discovered my own definition of values.. Sharing with you.. If possible, provide me some insights in regards to content. Coz content adds value, while copy creates sales..
    V- Viability V – Voracious
    A- and A -Activities
    L- Liability Or L – Leveraging/Lifting
    U- Understandable U – User
    E- Easily E – Enhancement

    Let me know what you think! 🙂

  15. Whatever the bounce rate may be for your site, i always like to read your article. I have one doubt. I am seeing unknown resource traffic to my site. What it can be?

  16. Hi, Neil,
    Thank you for your every article I really love it and learnt so many thing from your writing

  17. Great Piece of knowledge Neil, Thanks for Sharing
    I created a new website around 5 days ago and I am getting around 120 visits daily, My bounce rate is 2.34% and page views per visit are 9.32 views/visit.
    That’s all because of your guidance. Thanks again

  18. Comments are a big give away

  19. Abhinav Bhalla :

    Hi Neil Patel,

    I have been blogging from the last 1 year. My first blog was failed because of low engagement. Then in early april 2016 i have started my second blog with more passion. But still i am struggling to get readers. I get likes when i post my same content on other guest blogs. Also, on my blog I have few comments on my posts and only got just 15 subscribers in 3 months. I have done almost everything to promote my blog. But still struggling to get readers. My bounce rate has increased from 65% to 89%. I don’t know what’s the exact problem. What you say about this. What extra should i do to get more readers.

    Thanks for the above post

  20. Ah, about time I read this! Thanks for yet another informative post. I like that you always prove your point with numbers, and those numbers with more numbers!

    I am planning to increase the readership by checking out the most visited topics in my blog (through analytics). Then work on more challenging topics regarding the same.

    • Excellent! Glad this was helpful for you Anu 🙂

      Thanks for much and let me know if you have any questions I can help you with

  21. Great article! I realize that enabling comments help your site by showing engagement etc., but how will not enabling comments affect YMYL pages and industries like insurance, where there is a real “fear” of the liability stemming from allowing comments? For me, I think by merely, moderating the comments I would be able to control this, but some disagree. What do you think?

  22. uthman saheed :

    This is serious. I was once in a boring niche and I could not just win readers engagements. Tried all I could but could’nt. Now am out and I’ve turned it to my personal blog.

    Its really bad to get your readers so bored, after reading some paragraphs in your post, they move out immediately.

    Honestly, I’m using less of twitter as a social media. I think facebook gives me what I want with facebook groups.

    Thanks for this.

    I can’t remember reading $100,000 challenge on this blog for the past two months sir…if there was kindly share me the links here to gain some inspiration.

    I hope you are fine, best wishes from Nigeria.

  23. They may get bored from time to time but as long as you keep writing, they’ll come back out of habit just to see and read some more boring content. lol

    • That’s why you always want to keep them engaged so you can capture their email, otherwise they will leave and probably won’t come back

  24. Edwin Torres :

    My criteria for boredom is if my audience isn’t commenting on my posts or sending me “love” than the content probably wasn’t as good as I thought.

    • Yep, that’s usually a pretty good indicator. It’s not just what you’re writing, but the depth of the meaning

  25. You are genius and article by genius always meaningful. Thanks for sharing great post Neil.

  26. Thanks, again! Great advice and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I changed the name and website of my business and I was trying to figure out how to get peoples’ attention.Thank you so much! Here’s to starting over!

  27. Very useful! But how can I tell which is boring content and which is quality? Especially when I don’t have enough data to see what my readers think about.

  28. I’ve found google analytics bounce rate to be in-accurate. I wish I could find where I read this but it’s something about it including bot visits. I still have GA installed on my site but I also run the pro version of Clicky that shows a huge different in overall average bounce rate. I’m taking a 50 point swing. Also, how do you balance that with average time on the page? I have a number of how-to articles that see an average time of 4 minutes but an 80% bounce rate.

    I’m also curious about your view of comments. As the years have gone on, a number of marketers have noticed that people aren’t posting comments like they used to – no longer a good measurement. They are more likely to make contact with social media or if the site has a facebook group. I started a facebook group for anyone who subscribers to my site…and it’s been a huge success (nearing 3k members with a lot of daily active members) while my article comments are sparse if any.

    • It’s not that easy to get comments because for most people it just takes them too much energy to get them to think, and share their thoughts. I would focus on building an audience leveraging social, then they’ll naturally start commenting on each post

  29. Good Post… Thanks Neil!

  30. unheard writer :

    Thank you for this guide, I might be lost without it. I am not much of a number’s guy, but I’ll do my best to analyze the data. I am a newbie blogger and I also thought that I may have been knocking out my viewers with boredom. I guess it’s time to change the game.

  31. So,In my opinion an article per day will stick our audience with us right?

  32. The cheat sheet is going to be very useful in the coming months. Thanks a lot

  33. Nice post Neil. I want to ask one question that i heard with my colleague that adding analytics to your blog will increase value of your blog. is it true?

  34. Didn’t realise there was this type of information out there…

  35. Excellent information for a new blogger like me.
    I will sure keep in mind all of your points.

  36. Hey Neil,

    I am so impressed by the information you have provided. 😉 Seriously great work!!!

    I have write an article on “‘How To Write A Blog Post That Gets Shared Every time” and the best part is that your post inspired me to write this post 😉

    Well, If you can link my article on your post, so that people can also read my article, I’ll really appreciate that favor and yeah don’t worry I am a great blogger 😉

    Here is the link to the post:

    http://techstant.com/how-to-write-a-blog-post-that-gets-shared/

    I know you will not ignore one of your regular reader 🙁 . (ahh!! just kidding 😉 )

    Cheers,

  37. Raksha Bandhan Quotes :

    I always try to write a Long Article with Storytelling Method and its Work pretty well for me

  38. Really cleared my many points while reading this such an excellent,informational and well written article.

    Thanks 🙂

  39. hi Neil,

    In order to get the first comment going do you suggest faking it the first yourself?
    Im having trouble getting people to comment. My traffic is very low and its a fairly new website (4 months)… Traffic is around 30 visitors/day.

    Any suggestions?

    • Thats okay, you’ll need a bit more traffic before you can get comments. I would focus on provoking and evoking more emotion with your content

  40. Great post! I would love to start doing this at our company. We have a pretty young workforce that would appreciate this style of learning. Thanks for sharing!

  41. I always try to write a Long Article with Storytelling Method and its Work pretty well for me

  42. Brij mohan sharma :

    Awesome Post and its Wonderful. I really enjoyed your information and I share it with my other friends. Thanks for Sharing

  43. Thanks for the informative post. What if people tell you that your content is great, but what do you recommend if you’re having trouble driving consistent traffic to your site?

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