Writing Quality Content for Your Website: 4 Things to Remember
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
For inbound marketing to succeed, your content needs to be so high in quality, and your online presence needs to provide such a remarkable experience, that your sales prospects can’t turn away.
To accomplish this, you have to make sure your content delivers on your deep understanding of who your ideal customers are, what they’re looking for, how they go about making purchase decisions and what motivates them.
If this level of understanding doesn’t shine through when people interface with your content, then your efforts will have gone to waste.
How To Maintain High-Quality Content Marketing
To put this concept in the context of our home construction analogy for inbound marketing, the last thing you want to do is exhibit your carefully planned, meticulously built house to potential buyers and give them a tour, only to watch them point out flaws while you writhe in embarrassment.
Just as homebuilders have final site inspections, you too need checklists, systems, and go-to objective third-party experts to review all of your content prior to publication – and we’re talking about everything that you’re hoping will impress your potential clients, including your website design, promotional videos, branding visuals, slide decks, blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers and landing pages.
This article is lesson eight in a 12-part series: The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategies and Tactics
Extra Layers of Help
Producing content that’s compelling to your audience starts with in-depth research aimed at establishing rich persona profiles and determining keywords to target, but it doesn’t end there. You’re going to need quality assurance too.
If you spend as much time as you should spend focusing on your own materials, you’ll start to become blind to their flaws. Working so hard making decisions and carrying them out breeds a type of self-confirming thinking whereby your judgment starts to lose the perspective necessary for a proper quality assurance process. You may be so absorbed with the details that you no longer have the ability to see things with fresh eyes.
This is nothing to be ashamed of – it’s a necessary shortcoming that arises as the result of so much meticulous hard work making sure that your marketing materials are produced according to plan. The solution is to establish dependable quality assurance processes, which start with your own work flow systems and culminate with help from the outside.
Two Tiers of Quality Assurance
By working with checklist templates, you’ll maximize your own capacity for quality assurance. Referencing a checklist of content quality parameters every time you create something new ensures that nothing will get lost in the shuffle.
When you make this layer of self-evaluation a systematic part of your pipeline, you won’t overlook any of the standards that are important to you.
Next, by establishing a brain trust of outside players who know your industry and ideal customers well, you’ll regain the perspective necessary for dependable quality assurance processes. In addition to ensuring that your content accomplishes your big picture objectives, your brain trust of outsiders will also serve as extra eyes to catch the small mistakes that could aversely affect your brand.
What to Look for in Your Drafts
Let’s review some of the attributes of best-in-class marketing materials that can make or break the quality of your content. Everyone’s personality is different, and so is every company, so these are the basic concepts that should inform the creation of a customized checklist.
Start by confirming that your content aligns with your existing strategies and plans for success. Are you certain that the content you’ve just produced supports your roadmap goals and is primed to resonate with your audience?
Your content marketing goals may include increasing brand awareness, bolstering traffic, generating leads or converting site visitors to subscribers. Before you release each and every piece of content you produce, double-check to the best of your ability that it aligns with your goals, is consistent with your brand voice, speaks your target customers’ language and actually provides him or her with whatever helpful information he or she is looking for.
Is your content framed in an optimized manner, presenting its arguments in contexts and structures that are primed to resonate with your audience?
Make sure your materials support findability by utilizing keywords and phrases that will help your target audience reach you. Resonate with your target audience by first discovering what they’re looking for and then providing it.
These are just a few of the most important parameters to look out for. There are plenty more that you can add to your checklist as you start to notice trends in your own performance shortcomings and content performance metrics. Only after your own quality assurance processes are running at full power can you benefit from turning to others for their input.
Going Outside for Quality Assurance Processes
Sometimes we're too close to our own creations to look at them objectively. Bringing someone else in before pushing content for the public to see can save us from embarrassing mistakes we just couldn't see. The reviewing sets of eyes could belong to a peer, a mentor, a professional proofreader or even a trusted existing customer. By establishing your own externally vetted quality assurance process, your second or third sets of eyes will catch your mistakes, so your customer won’t.
This feedback could include ideas or changes regarding the wording, flow, sequencing, logical flow, narrative structure, formatting, and grammar. Make sure also to cover those evasive writing errors that spellcheck won’t find (for example, proper use of they’re vs. their vs. there). That’s still just the beginning, though. The best feedback will challenge you with questions like, “Have you thought of including this?” or “What about linking to that?”
Once you receive the comments, suggestions and corrections, incorporate what you feel is appropriate and complete your final draft, sending it back to the same evaluators for another once-over.
Finally, submit your materials to whomever you’ve appointed as your content editor – the person from your company or on retainer who is ultimately responsible for the quality, timing, branding and precision of your content marketing. He or she will make sure it’s on-message and give it a final proof before green-lighting it for distribution.
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Instituting a quality assurance process is not as intimidating as it sounds. It's as simple and checking with a friend before you step out on the town to ensure that you didn’t over-accessorize.
Your goal is to have a system in place that ensures someone other than you gives all of your inbound marketing materials the fresh scrutiny required before you click on that “publish” button.'