How to Identify Quality Content Without a Writing Background
Evaluating the quality of your writers' work may seem daunting if you don't have a background in writing, but it doesn't have to be.
Whether you employ an on-site team of content writers or connect with writers through a freelance service (or both!), you should receive content that meets your company's standards. It's not enough to collect their work, post it on your website and hope for the best; your investment should produce a positive return. However, it can be challenging for some marketers who don't have experience and a background in writing to identify good and bad content. Since each piece of content you publish should shed a positive light on your brand, here's a checklist to help you guarantee quality:
How to Identify Great Content
Style. Check for consistent style throughout the content. For example, the writer should either spell out "California" or use an abbreviation every time. Accurate stats and verifiable facts. If your content makes an argument backed by statistics, spot check it to make sure the statistics are accurate. If your content references a published article, research the study or thought leader and audit a few references to verify them. Readability. Read the content aloud to yourself. Notice whether it flows or whether it sounds awkward. Visually scan the content to see whether it's broken up into subsections and lists, which makes it easier to read as well. Tone and voice. Reading aloud also helps you to evaluate the tone and voice of your content. If you want something serious, but your writer has injected a snarky tone, ask the writer to correct it. Also, make sure that the voice, whether it addresses the customer directly ("you") or discusses customers in general ("they"), is consistent throughout the piece. Working links. Click any links in your content to ensure that they actually work. Also, make sure that every time the writer inserts a link, the link is relevant to the sentence or paragraph. Objective of the piece. Read through the piece and make sure that it meets your marketing objectives. If it doesn't support your other marketing efforts, ask the writer to make the appropriate changes.
You don't have to be an editing or writing professional to mount a good content marketing campaign. However, you do have to know how to recognize good content when you see it, and your content has to produce a healthy return-on-investment. With that being said, once you follow a consistent publishing schedule it's important to track key metrics to understand if your content efforts are proving to be successful or unsuccessful. Depending on what your content goals are, here's a brief overview on how to evaluate success:
Increased brand awareness: Track metrics like page views, video views, referral links, downloads, social shares, social mentions and website traffic.
Customer engagement: The best indicator of engagement is how many customers share or comment on your content. Track social network metrics such as likes, favorites, shares, retweets, +1s, favorites and pins. Also, track blog comments, inbound links and blog comments.
Lead Generation: Good metrics to track lead generation include blog subscriptions, new social network followers, email subscriptions, form submissions and content downloads.
Customer Loyalty: To measure customer loyalty, track how many of your social media or blog followers are consistent, active users. You can also track how much of your content is viewed by current customers.
Direct Sales: It's important, but not always easy, to link increased sales to content marketing efforts. You can track short-term promotions related to a content push or cross-promotions you're recommending in recently published content. Overall, if you're seeing sales increases along with positive metrics related to brand awareness, engagement, leads and customer loyalty, then your content marketing is likely a major force behind stronger revenue.
How do you identify quality content? Share your thoughts with us below.