Content Marketing Checklist:
10 Things to check before you publish
Content marketing is a broad initiative to support marketing with good content. Content could be a blog post, an e-book, a magazine, an infographic, a video, a SlideShare post or any other combination of elements designed to support your brand. Read more on what content marketing is and can be here.
In most cases, content is designed to educate a potential buyer, position the publisher as an expert, or answer common questions. The best content is “evergreen” … it won’t go out of date. It can also be repurposed in multiple ways–as a mailer, on social media, in presentations.
To learn more about how and where content marketing is driving today’s marketing, just Google content marketing. There are lots of sites, we really like the Content Marketing Institute.
From mulitple sources, and our own experience, we have assembled the following 10-point checklist. Next time that deadline is looming, use this checklist to make sure your new piece of evergreen marketing content is correct, complete, legible and engaging.
1. Is it focused on your target audience?
Even if you have multiple audiences (most organizations do), does this piece reach and touch just one of those audiences, or have separate articles (as in a magazine) for different audiences? Is the language and the layout appropriate for that audience? Have you provided something they’re looking for?
2. Have you optimized for findable keywords?
To be more findable, optimize each article or piece of content for specific keywords and phrases. These can be used as hashtags when content is linked to in Twitter or other social channels, and they will draw attention to content when it’s posted on your blog or website.
3. Have you linked to other valuable content?
If this is a new blog post, does it link to related pages on your website? If it’s an e-book does it link back to other relevant information or to landing pages? Have you created a visual badge that will show up on social when you link to this new content?
4. Is it branded for quick recognition?
If you’ve created an e-book or a PowerPoint for Slideshare, have you designed it to reflect the brand standards? Will it be recognized as belonging to the organization’s tool chest of information and content? Colors, fonts and visual style are essential. They can be distinctive, but must also relate back to the brand you’re promoting with this content.
Our brain processes visuals at more than 10x the speed of words. If your e-book or white paper is dense with words, it’s less likely to be read than if it’s peppered with visuals. Strong pictures or diagrams (look at the explosion of infographics) communicate more quickly than words. Plus, you want a strong visual that will grab attention in social media links (see #3). And don’t forget, people are drawn to faces.
6. Is it easy to read?
Both the writing and the layout contribute to readability. Writing should be simple and straightforward (use the Flesch Reading Score in Word to check), and the layout should be open, scannable and attractive. Don’t run your line length the full width of an 8.5 x 11″ page, use columns. Use plenty of subheads and bulleted lists to break up paragraphs. Use a font that’s comfortable to read, not decorative. Don’t use low contrast text (gray on gray) or reverse text, white on black. And of course, use this content marketing checklist each time you have a new piece of content you’re preparing.
7. Have you checked spelling and grammar?
Nothing diminishes the perceived value of a brand faster than poor design or bad writing filled with typos and errors. There are many ways to proof your work. One of the easiest is to get a set of fresh eyes to check (someone who can spell, please). When you have worked on something for a while, it’s easy to miss what may be obvious to others. And of course, run a spell-check. But don’t rely on a spell-check only because it won’t catch buy instead of but, or there instead of their.
8. Can readers respond and share easily?
On a blog post or web page, allow comments and feedback and include share buttons. When you post links via social media, one of your most useful tools is that feedback. It will tell you if your headline was strong enough to encourage either a like or click-through, and comments will help you measure audience interest. If you’re producing a longer e-book, create live links throughout for readers to quickly share content. Or add a list of facts or quotes that are tweetable in your e-book or blog post.
9. What is the call to action?
Can this content link to other content on your website? If so, let people know where to go to learn more. Ask them to share or respond. Present an offer that will inspire further engagement. Be sure you have multiple options, not just one. Generally content marketing is a process of education. Give your readers further questions and a place to find answers.
10. Step back, is it appealing? Really?
Now step back and take a look at the combination of headline (enticing and informative?), overall layout, visual style, typography, photos or illustrations, flow of information and wrapup. Would you want to pick this up and read it? I see and download a lot of e-books and SlideShare docs, white papers and other offers. I’m often surprised at how poorly they’re designed and written, even from large reputable companies with information I want.
Scan quickly … people don’t want to read. They want the story or information from headlines, subheads, captions and visuals. If you just look at the pictures, what do they tell you? If you read just the headlines and captions, what is the story? Do you want to read deeper to get the details? Be honest.
What are your content development challenges?
What have you learned that you would like to share?
Now, here are our calls to action:
- Learn 5 tips for great content marketing in this post
- Content is vital when you’re creating a website for business
- Your blog is an excellent way to add fresh content to your website, use our blogging checklist
- Download our e-book (great content!), 10 Steps to Optimize Your Brand below