There's a moderately terrifying moment right before publishing content when a little voice in your head asks, rather weakly, "Is this any good?"
"Good" is just one qualifier; the content you're about to share should also be effective, focused, clear, valuable and relevant. It's a lot to think about. So we're gonna help.
Weidert Group put together a checklist of content "must-haves" that'll help ensure that every piece of content you create is not just good, but great. So before you hit "publish," check these off your list:
1. Have you delivered on the goal of your content? Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Before you write a single word, set a goal for this piece of content. Are you trying to educate prospects about the uses of your product, introduce and explain new functionality, showcase performance by comparing to competitors’ products, refute misconceptions about your brand? Know what you want to accomplish and you’ll stay on track.
2. Does your content answer or solve your target’s challenges, pressures, questions or pain points? As part of a content strategy, you’ll dig deep to understanding what problems your prospect has that’s driving him or her to the Internet for solutions. There may be many challenges or few, but content should address at least one in every piece.
3. Does the content reflect your target’s current state of mind – and the current market? Both the topic you choose and the content that follows should reflect your awareness of any beliefs, misconceptions, attitudes, barriers or objections that are out there about your product or brand, as well as market factors that might influence your target. A good content strategy will outline all of these and serve as a guide.
4. Is your topic specific enough to provide value, yet not so specific that you’re in danger of turning off a segment of your target market? If you’re selling swimming pools and focus a piece of content on, say, “Pools That Are Best For Clay Backyards With Severe Sloping,” you’re immediately irrelevant to most of your audience. “The Right Pools For Various Yard Types” is more likely to be found in search by a wider section of your target.
5. Does your content help reinforce your positioning? If Walmart were engaged in content marketing, you’d expect that every piece of content would in some way support and enhance their image as the low-cost retailer.
6. Does it “sound” like your brand? If you have a content strategy, you’ve identified your brand voice – casual and folksy? Supportive and caring? Cocky and irreverent? Readers should “hear” that in your copy. In addition, your copy should be written in a way that’s appropriate for the audience, using language and vernacular they’re familiar with, with content appropriate for their role in the purchase decision.
7. Does the form of the content (video, blog, eBook, etc.) “fit” with the information you want to communicate? Testimonials are almost always best done with video; observations about a recent industry event is best for a blog. More in-depth content requires an eBook or whitepaper to fully investigate the topic. Use the format that’s going to provide greatest impact and make it easiest to grasp.
8. Where in the sales funnel is your content most appropriate – top (basic information), middle (more in-depth and compelling), or bottom (content that helps prospects do some tire-kicking)? Don’t stick a basic how-to guide or tip sheet at the bottom of the funnel; this is where you’re sealing the deal with a prospect ready to buy. Every piece of content has a goal, and that goal should reflect where the prospect is and what they need in order to make a decision.
9. Can your target act on the content? Include calls-to-action in every single piece of content. Ask the viewer to request more information, download related content, share via social media…anything that will engage the prospect further. Always include share and follow links for social media so your prospects can help spread the word.
10. Will your target find it online? Have you included keywords and the appropriate metadata into your content?
I lied; there's one more: Number 11 ("ten" just sounds so much better in a headline). Can your target easily read your content? Have you written clearly and concisely? Have you broken up copy into bullets where appropriate? Is it fresh, lively and conversational?
A complete and thoughtful content strategy is an important part of long-term Inbound Marketing success. Some of the content strategy items I wrote about are contained in our Content Worksheets, available free for downloading right here!