It’s Time to Give Content Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T
As a Content Strategist, I don’t often get a chance to channel my inner diva, but today I’m bringing out the attitude. I’m going to talk about content, specifically, the most common issues that happen when we talk about it with clients and why making the effort to create amazing content is worth it.
Many clients experience sticker shock when they see the price of content, and it’s usually the first on the chopping block when it comes to keeping a project within budget. Here are some common refrains we hear:
“Wow! Content writing is expensive!”: Yeah, it is. That’s because the people creating the content are professionals, they’ve spent years honing their craft. They have devoted themselves to learning about writing, content design, and user experience principles.
“Can I write the content myself?”: Sure, you can. In my experience with working on a multitude of projects and ongoing content development agreements, when the client decides to write their own content it is usually not a smooth process. Clients feel overextended and it generally results in delays.
“My [sister], [nephew], [administrative assistant] is going to write the content.”: So you want the content process to drag on for months? Do you want to lay more responsibilities on an employee in your organization who may not be fully equipped to deal with content creation?
Here’s why content creation takes time and effort and all I’m asking is to give it some
Research: Invest time in your content
Every piece of content you publish should portray you as an authority who people can trust. That means doing your homework! It’s important that you research your facts from reputable sources to ensure you get the most up-to-date information in your industry on a specific topic. If your audience knows they can trust you, they will continue to return to your organization for information. This will build the relationship that is needed to nurture a lead into a customer and to continue to surprise customers after they have made a purchase and you can turn them into delighted promoters of your business.
Evaluating the Competition: Keep an eye on what others are doing in your industry
All of your competitors will have a website, some of them may have a social media presence. Take a look at how they talk to their audience, the topics they are writing about, and the types of posts they are publishing and sharing. It might give you an idea of the content gaps your organization can fill in the market, some inspiration for future content, or even lessons about what not to do with your own content! Keep your eyes on those competitors.
Solidify Your Goals: Make sure you know what you’re aiming for
Do you know the baseline performance of your average web page, blog, social media post, or email? If you’re not sure, these should be discovered and made crystal clear to everyone who creates content. This will give you an indication of how much effort you need to extend in terms of spend or SEO effort for your content to reach people.
Purpose-driven is Key: Ensure everyone knows why they create content
Each time someone sits down to write a piece of content, they should always ask themselves: Will this meet a need for the audience? Does it align with messaging and content type guidelines? Do I have the knowledge to write authoritatively about the topic? If the answer to these three questions is yes, then that piece of content has a good shot at performing well and being worth the time and energy it took to create it. All content needs to be purpose-driven.
Experiment: Sometimes an out-of-the-box idea can surprise you
Sometimes a topic or content type may seem like it won’t appeal to your audience, but the biggest thing about digital marketing is that experimenting is so easy. If certain content is a dud, remove it from your blog or social media feed. There have been many times in my career, even when I thought I knew the audience I was writing for pretty well and I had a hypothesis about how a blog or social media post would perform, but sometimes I have been wrong—and it’s delightful when I am. It always teaches me there is more to learn about the audience and that I am writing for people, not machines who will respond a certain way if I present them with x type of headline, with these y keywords, and a z call-to-action. It teaches me to continue to be humble and keep my ear to the ground.
Coordinate the Effort: It takes a team to create excellent content
Working in an agency means that we are striving to be a well-oiled content producing machine. We work with clients to understand their user’s content needs for their digital channels, creating a strategy, and executing on that strategy. All of this takes coordination and governance. We need to understand who is responsible for which pieces of content, when it is due, when it is to be published, where it is being posted, who is posting it, and who is responsible for tracking its success. All of this is necessary to make sure content goes out in a timely manner and we have the analytics we need to make decisions about strategy. Setting up a governance policy like this is incredibly important for content marketing, it’s hard to get anything done without clear expectations. If you struggle with creating enough content, the content is always late, or you don’t even know who is responsible to create content in your organization–you need a governance structure.
Tracking: Monitoring the success of your content
The last link in the chain—the tracking and reporting of content metrics. It’s important that you take a look at metrics to check if your content is hitting home with your audience or if you should pivot your approach.
On your website, monitor metrics such as:
- Unique pageviews: Are people even seeing your content?
- Average time on page: Are people spending time actually reading the content?
- Conversions or form fills from a page: Is the content inspiring people to take action?
On social media, monitor metrics such as:
- Impressions: How many people saw the post?
- Engagements: Did people hit like, share the content, or leave a comment?
- Link clicks: Did people click through to the website or attached content?
- Video views: Did people watch the video you posted? (You can even see how many people watched 25%, 50%, 75%, or the whole video too!)
For emails, monitor metrics such as:
- Open rate: How many people opened the email.
- Clickthrough rate: How many people clicked through to your website or campaign landing page.
- Number of unsubscribes: How many people unsubscribed from your email list from a particular email?
Remember that your website or social media is a vehicle for content. When you show it some love and respect, it can do wonders in attracting and nurturing leads and delighting customers after they purchase a product or service from you. Professional strategists and content writers can help bring that polish and shine to your efforts and take some of the strain off of a full schedule! Isn’t that worth every penny?