There is such a thing as too much content. That might be a strange thing to hear coming from the mouth of a content agency, but it’s true. We’ve been saying it for a while, in fact. If you’re more concerned about quantity rather than quality of content, you’re probably creating too much of it.

If your audience simply can’t keep up with the amount of content that you’re producing, they might stop consuming it altogether. If you’re producing low quality content – in the eyes of your audience – it won’t have the desired effect, i.e. more readers, if you just produce less of it. Then all you’re doing is delivering low quantity, low quality content.

So, how do can we deal with ‘content shock’? That’s what marketing guru Mark Schaefer calls the point at which the “increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.

It seems that moment has now come to pass. Brands are starting to see the engagement on their content diminish. Last year saw brands increase their content marketing output and only got a drop in engagement as a return. We’re talking low click-through rates, high bounce rates, and fewer conversions and qualified leads. Ouch.

As a content marketer, that hurts. However, it would hurt more if we didn’t know how to overcome content shock.

Ultimately, the question is: what does it mean to create high-quality content that your customers are actually inclined to read? Here are four things you can do to beat content shock:

1. Create according to customer needs

The best content is that which has been created with the customer’s needs in mind Twitter logo. You could argue that all content brands create is for the customer’s benefit, but often thought is not given to what the customer is seeking to do, and how your brand can help.

That’s why it’s crucial you break down the customer journey and create content for each step. A systematic approach is required; creating content in line with what customers are thinking, feeling and doing at each stage of the journey.

What purpose does this blog post serve, you ask? This is for those marketers who are toying with the idea of content marketing, but have reservations about its return on investment given the amount of content that is being created. Is it working?

2. Give the reader a quick pay-off

We’re not talking something monetary here, you’ll be pleased to hear. That wouldn’t be sustainable. However, a positive emotional response can prove just as effective a pay-off. Making readers laugh can do the trick, or making them feel like they learnt something valuable.

Another way to give the reader a quick pay-off is to provide a positive feeling from having shared your content. So, if your content gives the opportunity for the reader to connect with friends about a shared passion or interest, or it acts as a conversation starter, it’s much more likely to be shared.

Here’s the thing: we don’t mind if our readers don’t read every word of our content, as long as it makes them feel like they’ve got something out of it.

3. Create immersive content

You know when you get a good book and you’re so immersed it in that you shut out the outside world?

That’s what effect your content needs to have on your readers. However, thanks to bloody content shock, that’s becoming really quite difficult.

Don’t get us wrong, the opportunity is still there. People have more time on their hands than ever (sort of). According to one group of researchers, people now have – including sleep – a 31hr 28min day, half of which is available for marketing purposes.

How so? Because we’re so good at multi-tasking; listening to podcasts while we work and whatnot. In some ways, though, that makes it even harder to get people’s attention.

While written content has the capacity to be immersive, it can’t really compete with podcasts, videos and the other more visual types of content, so make sure your content strategy reflects this. The absolute pinnacle of immersive content is the virtual reality stuff, but only a very limited number of brands have the capacity to create that at the moment.

4. Namecheck your customers

How can you guarantee that your customers will read your content? Namecheck them in a post. You might call it account-based marketing (ABM), you might call it user-generated content (UGC). The two have their differences, but they’re essentially the same in that they put your customers at the centre of your content.

It’s part flattery for your customers, part proving your authenticity as a brand.

While a B2B business might opt for ABM, a B2C firm will use UGC.

With ABM, once you’ve identified an account you want to target, you can go in search of social media posts and comments in the media from decision markers at the company and embed them in your content.

With UGC, you should search out content from customers that’s relevant to what you do and re-share it, either in a blog post or on social media.

It might sound a bit gauche, but get it right and you could see some serious results.

In these times of content shock and fake news, if we can make our customers feel like we’re speaking for (or sometimes about) them, we can give them real reason to read our content.