With strategic content creation, (the creation of content with a specific business goal in mind), it is critical that you take a systematic approach to ensure the quality and clarity of your content. As a result, I’ve put together this list of 10 questions to help ensure that the quality of all content you produce and publish is consistently high. I’m often guilty myself of only having a cursory read over articles before I hit the ‘publish’ button. The excitement of new content always leaves me eager to get it live and share it with people, but haste is not conducive to great quality content.
Rushing to share new content is tempting, but it won’t do you any favours
Even with good attention to detail, proof reading can be difficult, especially when you are the author and as such are highly familiar with the content. When reading the brain makes a number of inferences and educated guesses; instead of reading entire words the brain often picks up a few letter cues and based on those cues will fill in the blanks. This means that when we read, without realising it, we often skip individual letters which makes it difficult to spot the odd typo.
Once you start writing about a subject it’s easy to veer off topic or end up with content that is unbalanced or even a bit waffly. To make sure that your content is as good as it can be, considering the following questions will help. This list serves me well and I now have a quick run through it before I post any new content; I hope you will find it useful too.
10 questions to ask yourself before you publish new content
1. How clear is your messaging?
What is the point of your article? Do you say everything you need to say in a clear and easy to follow way? Do you waffle on and become irrelevant anywhere down the line? Content can often be edited down to improve the focus and clarity of the piece, but don’t strip it down ruthlessly. Bare can be just as unappealing as long waffly content is.
2. Are you using relevant keywords?
Does your content contain useful keywords that reinforce the subject matter of your article? For SEO purposes, ensuring that the keywords people will use to search for your content, are included in the headline and body is important in determining how well your content will rank.
Don’t forget that many commercial blogging platforms also allow you to choose keyword tags and categories for your content to be published under; making effective use of keyword tagging can be an effective way to reach new readers.
3. Have you looked at your content with fresh eyes?
Get a colleague, friend our family member to proof read your content before you post, just to be absolutely certain. Failing that, leave your content for 24 hours before goming back to it gor a final read through. You are much more likely to spot any errors you might have missed whilst writing and during your first few read-throughs.
4. Have you included calls to action?
Do you provide clear, useful calls to action in your content? Actions range from asking people to register for a seminar, picking up the phone and calling your company to find out more or leaving their own comments on the article.
5. Is your headline winning?
A good headline can make or break your content and will seriously determine the levels of engagement you are able to achieve. A good headline needs to be attention grabbing and should clearly summarise the nature of the content.
6. Does your content pop?
It’s a fact that people respond better to posts that are visual. Have you broken up your text by using sub headings, lists, quotes and images? This will ensure you achieve maximum engagement levels.
7. Have you included an Author link?
Link all of your content to you by using the Google+ rel=”author” link. This will ensure that your content stands out in search results and helps increase your credibility and exposure. It’s super easy to implement too so is definitely worth doing.
8. Do your links work?
Have you included useful links in your content? If so, make sure they all work and pay attention to how they open. Taking a reader away from your page might not be a great idea, in which case you might want to open a new window with your link.
Likewise, deep linking through to relevant content on your website, news or blog page plays an important role in SEO. Finally, make sure all pictures included in your post are showing correctly and don’t have broken paths or links.
9. When are you going to publish?
The time of day and actual day of the week that you choose to post content on will help to determine how well it is received.
There are universally accepted best times and days to post content. For example, currently, content posted on a Monday morning is reported to achieve the highest levels of engagement but find what works for your audience.
Try posting on various different days at different times and track what happens to find out which day and time work best for you.
Remember though, you can publish your content at pretty much any time you want and simply hold off promoting until an optimal time/day.
10. How are you going to promote your content?
Once you’ve published your new content you need to tell people about it. It can take Google anything from a few hours to many days before it will pick up and list your new content, so search engines alone should not be relied upon for sending you traffic.
Use all the channels available to you from your clients or companies news page through to social media. Social is the ideal way to promote your article so make sure you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc to publicise your new content. Digg, Reddit and Stumble Upon can also generate traffic to your blog but in my experience traffic from these sources is prone to suffer from high bounce rates.
I hope these 10 questions prove useful to you and as always, i’d love to hear your thoughts on this post!
Shell Robshaw-Bryan is a marketing consultant at Surefire Media, the Cheshire based web design, eCommerce and marketing company. Shell specialises in organic search, content strategy and social media engagement for both B2C and B2B companies.
Email marketing is routinely overlooked by clients, a common reason being that businesses simply don’t know what to do with the customer data they have collected and are short on ideas.
Email marketing can be highly effective no matter what sector you are in, and can work just as well for B2B companies as it does for B2C companies. For consumer focused eCommerce websites, there are few more effective marketing activities and regular email marketing sales promotions and campaigns can help you to increase sales revenue. In my experience, regular weekly email campaigns have the potential to generate many thousands of pounds in sales revenue and what company doesn’t want to achieve that?
“Every eCommerce business should be regularly using email marketing!”
So let’s look at some of the benefits to be had from email marketing, followed by 7 practical ‘do-right-now’ ideas that you can use.
Some of the benefits of email marketing
- Connect directly with your customers allowing you to Inform them about new products, services or news
- It can bring froward a planned purchase
- Email marketing can help to positively influence a buying decision
- It can help to reinforce positive brand perception
- Puts you at the forefront of the customers mind
- By segmenting your email data you can closely target customers with highly relevant content
- Using sales and voucher promotion you can drive sales
As a word of caution, I would say beware of buying in data; I always urge clients to grow their mailing list organically whenever possible. Doing it this way will provide you with a higher success rate; you’ll get fewer unsubscribes and higher open and click through rates. Also, please make sure you are using a reputable service. Don’t whatever you do, attempt to bulk email all of your clients using your regular email account. Not only does a massive CC list look highly unprofessional, but your email service provider will take a very dim view of this, leading to penalties like a total ban.
A few email providers I can recommend are: www.sureshotemail.co.uk, www.constantcontact.com, www.mailchimp.com and www.icontact.com. Whilst there are countless other providers, these 4 are services i’ve used in the past and have been happy with. Ok, on with the good stuff, here are 7 things that you can do right now!
7 email marketing ideas
- Tell your customers about your blog, highlight a recent article and encourage them to follow you on social media
- Send an automatically scheduled courtesy email. Schedule delivery to a customer a few days after they order or make an enquiry, and give them your customer service details and ask if they need any further assistance
- Round up of all of your latest or hottest products and present them in an email. For service companies, tell them about new services you offer
- Send an email to your customers to tell them about your latest reviews or customer testimonials and encourage them to leave a review
- Send out a ‘great reasons to shop with/use us’ email, highlighting your USPs and outlining your excellent customer service
- Send out a voucher that gives free P&P for a limited period, gives a % discount off an order of a certain value or a limited time discount on one of your services
- Weekly or monthly special offers – a selected group of products all reduced in price for a short period of time (eg. a week, or a flash sale for 48 hours)
Remember, whatever you do, make sure you act strategically and understand what it is you want to achieve first before you do anything. Keep your email focused (don’t bombard with too many messages) and ensure you have clear calls to action. Now, go forth and be epic!
In case you hadn’t already noticed, 2013 is all about content. Google’s ever evolving ranking algorithm has finally come of age and is sophisticated enough to be able to rank sites based on the quality and relevance of their content like never before. No longer is content generation a matter of writing for SEO purposes OR for human visitors (or finding a balance of the 2 which was the case for many years). Finally, we have reached a point where the content that search engines like is largely the same as content that your human visitors will like.
The lines between writing good SEO copy for search engines and engaging copy for humans have all but disappeared
The days of keyword stuffing, or writing meaningless content that would only impress search engines are thankfully, a distant memory. Producing great content that engages your visitors is well and truly in. Yup, content is king!
If SEO is at the top of your list of priorities (and lets face it for any business, SEO has got to be up there) then focusing on improving your content should be right at the top of your to-do list, because good content is more important than ever in determining how a website is ranked by Google.
What exactly is content marketing?
Put simply, content marketing is the ability of a business to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers in a meaningful way. Content marketing drives trust in a brand and creates a connection. Having trust and feeling connected to a brand makes a customer more receptive to any subsequent marketing messages, making them more likely to react positively.
A traditional customer encounter might go something like this:
We sell boxes > They are brilliant boxes > Come and buy them from us!
An alternative, more content-focused encounter may go more like this:
Here is a lot of helpful information on boxes > We know a lot about boxes > We understand why you want to buy boxes > We sell brilliant boxes that fit your needs > Come and buy from us!
The second content-focused approach will ultimately convert more customers and builds trust more successfully. This content-focus will prove more successful in the long-run, making it an effective strategic approach to use.
“The single most significant trend is the continued emergence of content marketing as a standalone discipline. Content, in all its shapes and forms, is core to everything we do as marketers.” Econsultancy, Digital Trends for 2013.
Many consumer focused businesses, in particular retailers, will find it relatively easy to strengthen existing content, or to create new content. For others, in particular B2B companies who may not have particularly sexy or interesting products or services, this can be more difficult. As in the example above, just how do you make content interesting for a company who makes boxes?
If you are just getting started, my advice is to start by going over what you currently have. There is no point writing brilliant new content if it will join a whole bunch of mediocre or mis-matched content. Look at what you already have and optimise this before you go any further.
Just how good is your content? Ask yourself the following questions.
- How useful is your existing content – are you giving your customers the information they are looking for?
- Does your content tell a potential new customer everything they need to know in order to make an informed decision?
- Is your content all sales focused and full of blatant marketing?
- Are benefits clearly laid out and are they compelling enough?
- Is the content interesting enough to warrant return visits, bookmarking or sharing?
- Is your content sticky enough to capture and hold peoples attention, increasing their dwell time?
- Is all of your content professionally written?
- Is your content on-brand?
The bottom line is, focusing on the quality of your content will help to ensure that you are able to maintain your online visibility throughout 2013 and It will have a big influence on your ability to gain the competitive edge, especially in terms of keeping existing customers engaged and in reaching new ones.
I’d love to hear from others on this subject; do you agree that the focus should be so heavily on content? Perhaps you are a business owner who can’t see the value and would prefer to invest in other areas instead? How do you approach your content strategy?