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When it comes to content marketing, there can be the temptation for businesses to treat it as a function that needs less quality control in place. After all, anyone can write to a reasonable standard and nobody would really notice a few typos here and there would they? It certainly wouldn’t have the same consequences as quality issues in finance or health & safety related areas, so why would anyone need a quality checklist for content marketing?
Checklists can serve as an excellent tool for quality control at every stage of the content creation process. Amanda Maksymiw
Quite simply because content marketing is not only an important part of the way any business attracts customers and raises its profile, but it’s also one of the most visible aspects of your work. So when it goes wrong, someone will notice and then your content will find itself going viral for all the wrong reasons. Most of these storms blow over soon enough, but a simple checklist can help you avoid finding yourself in them in the first place.
There’s plenty of examples of what can go very wrong when quality control slips in content marketing teams. How about when Epicurious decided to use the Boston Marathon terrorist attack to promote their products, or when Gap, Urban Outfitters, and others thought that Hurricane Sandy was a great subject to piggyback on? Or even the infamous Twitter hashtag for Susan Boyle’s album listening party (#susanalbumparty, in case you missed out on that one).
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All of these could have been avoided if a checklist had been in place to ensure some quality control processes were being followed. But what should go into making a quality checklist for content marketing? Here are some suggestions…
Quality Checklist For Content Marketing
Any checklist you use for your content marketing needs to be made appropriate and relevant to your business and its audiences, so there is no single checklist that is universally suitable. However, all of these elements included here are aspects that you need to consider
Be Audience Specific
Do you know who your content is for? If not, why are you creating it? It’s not enough to know the basics or to say ‘it’s for young people’, you need to dig down into your audience profiles and data to know who you’re writing for and what you can offer them or how you can get their interest. If you don’t have access to this kind of profiles already, then this has to be your first step before you can even hope to create quality content marketing, because you have no idea how to appeal to people you don’t understand.
Have A Clear Purpose
So you know who you’re creating content for, but there’s another major factor that is essential for a quality checklist for content marketing. You have to know why you’re doing it in the first place. What is this piece of content for? Will it sell your product or service? Will it raise engagement on social media? Will it help your brand awareness? How are you going to measure how successful it has been? You can’t just throw content out there and hope for the best, you need to really plan if you want it to succeed. And when you’ve found the purpose, DO make sure you include a call to action to remind your reader what you want them to do at the end…
It’s All About Timing
Another essential on any quality checklist for content marketing is how the content will be published and promoted. There’s no point doing all the required research and design work on a killer infographic if only 5 people ever click through to view it because it was published at a time when the core audience wasn’t active on Twitter, so it never got the social traction needed. Again, doing analytical research and using social listening tools will help you avoid making simple mistakes like this, so it needs to be on the checklist to make sure no quality content is ever wasted by bad distribution.
Get The Length Right
If your content is a thought leadership blog post, don’t be afraid to rack up the word count. The days of digital marketing experts telling us all to keep it short because the internet has a short attention span are long gone. The likes of BuzzFeed and the BBC are leveraging the potential of epic think pieces, which are popular when it comes to sharing (who doesn’t want to look intelligent by making people think they read a lot?) and also get treated as quality content by Google, which helps with the organic search traffic. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to write 2,000 words every time, just write as much as the subject requires.
Don’t Make Video Nasties
In the early days of internet content marketing, many businesses were guilty of getting overexcited about the potential of video, spending huge budgets on content that almost nobody could watch because of slow dial-up speeds. Technology has moved on a lot since then and watching videos online is second nature to us all, which makes it a hugely productive channel for content marketing. But there’s still the temptation to just make video content for the sake of it, scrimping on the quality of them by either not spending enough or just not doing the same level of planning beforehand as is needed with any other piece of content. Given the extra time and effort needed, this is even more of a waste.
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Anyway ... we'll continue from where we left off above.
Check, Check & Check Again
This is one that should appear several times on a quality checklist for content marketing. There’s never an excuse for sending out content that hasn’t been spell-checked, grammar-checked, fact-checked and just generally checked and signed-off by whoever needs to sign it off. Even if time is tight and colleagues aren’t available, there are many tools online that can help you assess spelling, grammar, readability, and all the other basics. Be sure, if you don’t spot that embarrassing typo, one of your potential customers certainly will.
Content can be made into quality content by making it look pretty and by ensuring that people can find it through search engines and both of these aspects are affected by the way you structure it. Including images and videos (even if they’re not your own branded videos) breaks up the text and makes it easier for people to read and for search engines to crawl. Using all the right header HTML tags also helps with the SEO and enforces a structure for you to use (much like you’ll see in this post right here).
This quality checklist for content marketing should get you started on your own checklist for your business, so we’d advise getting together with colleagues and managers to work out what additions you need to make that are specific to your processes and audiences.
Photos by Mufidah Kassalias