The Writer's Checklist For Content Marketing Success
Content is a reflection of professionalism. As a writer, you are a genius at making words come to life, explaining difficult concepts in a way that makes them seem elementary or have a style that makes your reader feel as if you are chatting face to face. However, if your content is sub-par, your target audience will miss your message.
Unlike writing, the world of marketing is not about perfection. It is about success. According to author Arthur Plotnik in a guest column for Writer’s Digest, successful content marketing makes readers curious, challenges misconceptions and lures people to your ideas. But content writing needs more than interesting ideas and thought—it must be enjoyable to the target audience, add value to whatever you are marketing and build trust.
The following checklist will help build a foundation for the success of your content marketing:
- Know your audience. If you do not know who the end users are, you cannot tailor the content. It is simpler to grab and hold onto the attention of your target audience if they feel the words truly speak to them. As you write, keep your tone and points of view consistent throughout the copy.
- Know the goal of the content. Marketing serves a variety of purposes—from selling a product to making an announcement to gaining more “Likes” through social media. When you keep the goal of the content in mind, your words will be more focused, effective and interesting.
- Instantly make the message clear. You have a few seconds to capture the attention of readers. In those moments, you have to communicate the main message and hook the reader into wanting to learn more. If you fail to grasp a target reader’s attention, your marketing efforts may also fail.
- Use a reader-friendly format. The content must look and be simple to digest. In an article for the website Copyblogger, Sonia Simone advises to make your content useful and entertaining to the reader. To make your content reader-friendly, write paragraphs so they are short, explicit and to-the-point. Opt for bullet points instead of a long sentence with several commas. Make the content progress logically and smoothly. Always write in the active voice.
- Use keywords within the content wisely. The best way to make your copy look like spam is to overload it with keywords in ways that are nonsensical. Stick to a few keywords or key-phrases, and use the main word or phrase in the first sentence or two of your introductory paragraph. Then use the keyword, or keywords, throughout the copy as you would butter while on a diet—sparingly. No more than two percent of the copy should contain keywords or phrases.
- Mind a client’s style guide. When clients provide their own style guide, follow it even if the guide does not make sense, seems incorrect or does not follow your preferred method. Keep in mind that the client is paying you to deliver a service. While it is okay to politely make style-related suggestions to a client, do not blatantly disregard their requests. If you are creating content for self-marking purposes, choose one style guide to follow and stick with it.
- Keep your content secure. Whether you are writing for your own site or for a client, the loss of your work can be catastrophic to your content marketing efforts. Keep the scanning programs and site software on your computer up to date. If you are using a web host, verify that it takes security seriously so your site does not get hacked. Furthermore, regularly backup your work using an external hard drive or by uploading your documents to an online file-storage service.
- Proof read. Read the content that you write out loud to test its smoothness and readability. As you proof your copy, watch out for the following:
- The over-use of words
- Adverbs and adjectives that do not add significance to the content (e.g., It is very hot.)
- Inconsistent verb tenses
- Disagreements between subjects and verbs
- Disagreements between subjects and pronouns
- Choppy or wordy sentences
- Repetition and redundancies
- The incorrect use of words (e.g., affect and effect)
- Improper punctuation
- Offensive language
- Client-specific spelling requirements
Make this content marketing checklist your own. As you use it, add items that will help you improve upon the final product that you deliver. While this checklist is not a replacement for a personal style guide, it will help you be more thoughtful about your writing before the copy goes live or before it is submitted to your client.