March 8, 2016
Escape the echo chamber—get an honest opinion on the quality of your content.
Content must have a purpose, or it just plain sucks.
The only cure for reader ADD is powerful, persuasive, valuable content.
Sometimes it’s hard to know. After all, the last writing class you had was 10+ years ago. Or never.
And with the Internet, it’s a whole new ball game. Try posting your 15-year-old essay on Tom Sawyer online, and see if anyone reads it (besides your mom).
So how do you know if your content is good?
An obvious indicator might be whether your posts get shared on social media or not. But everyone has to start somewhere–if you just launched a new site, social shares can be an unreliable indicator of whether your content sucks or not.
Well, around here we have a checklist. If your content passes each one of these tests, it’s probably good stuff—primed to grow your business.
If it doesn’t?
Don’t ask your dog or your girlfriend. Be honest with yourself.
<h2″>1. Does your content solve problems and answer questions in an engaging way?
Every piece of content you publish has the potential to influence readers in one way or another. And when prospects read your stuff—or even skim over it—they’ll be forming favorable or unfavorable impressions of your business and your brand.
If you didn’t know already, your content needs to create favorable impressions. That means triggering good feelings, one word at a time.
That’s because each piece of content builds on the overall argument for your brand. Your readers have all sorts of problems! Your content is here to say “Relax, I’ve got your back.”
Content that fails to address customer issues or answer questions in a meaningful way…that content sucks.
Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.
— Wendy Piersall
Yeah I know, write for people, not search engines. Writing for search engines is sure to be a losing effort.
That’s true, 100%.
But writing for people also means making it easy for search engines to deliver your content to those people.
Synergy with your SEO strategy means internal linking to posts and product pages (where it makes sense) and creating authority on Google to drive more traffic to your site.
Content that exists entirely outside of Google’s search ecosystem never gets found, never gets read, and therefore sucks.
Unlike your English teacher, online audiences are afflicted with ADD when it comes to reading. There’s a reason why half of the “articles” you see out there are nothing more than a slideshow with captions and social share buttons.
And the reality is an internet audience has unlimited choices within a few keystrokes or mouse clicks. You have to ask yourself:
Why should YOUR article be the one they devote more than 3 seconds to?
What separates your content from the billions of articles, blogs and eBooks already out there?
If your content doesn’t get read, it’s worthless. And if you don’t have a headline that captures attention, your content won’t get read.
It’s that simple.
So first things first. Your headlines have to reach through the computer screen, grab your readers by the shoulders, and shake them out of their dreary existence into action.
Boring titles won’t cut it. Without a powerful headline, there is very little encouraging someone to read your article—if the first sentence sucks, why would the rest be any different?
Don’t make your audience take a leap of faith. Give them a safety net.
Content that doesn’t influence is fine for your personal diary, but it’s a waste of space online.
One of the methods that ensures you’re creating content that covers all the bases is writing pieces around the buying cycle. Because when each of us considers a purchase, we go through a number of stages before we commit to opening our wallets. Namely, there are 3 basic stages—awareness, evaluation, and buying.
Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.
— John Buscall
For a content strategy to maximize its potential, unique content must be created for every stage of this cycle. Blogs and articles must also be posted to the most appropriate platforms and distributed the right way.
You need content that hits hot buttons in every stage, from generating awareness to building authority to making it simple to buy.
Content that doesn’t drive sales doesn’t really do anything.
Like any great work of art, form affects your content’s appeal. Does your content use sub-headlines, bulleted lists and white space effectively?
If not, your content isn’t going to have the impact it could.
Because no one, and I mean no one, enjoys trudging through massive paragraphs and giant walls of text. I’ll say this again:
Why should readers give you more than a few precious seconds of their day?
Every piece of content you publish needs to act like digital Ritalin.
Digitalin (trademark pending).
Soothe the savage ADD beast, and unleash the reader within. Keep your prospects on track with efficient formatting to make it easy for them to finish each sentence, and gradually they’ll convert to regulars or even buyers.
You need your content to perfectly align with your company’s overall message, philosophies, and outlook. If it doesn’t, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Let me elaborate:
Let’s say you’re a gym that caters to hardcore bodybuilders with a no-nonsense attitude. You can’t have writers putting up content that advocates or promotes yoga or aqua-aerobics, because then you’ll have senior citizens and single moms showing up at your concrete ‘n’ steel muscle dojo, wondering if they took a wrong turn somewhere.
Bodybuilders aren’t finding you online, and what leads you get on the Internet are dirt-poor quality.
I know this sounds ridiculous, like no company would be dumb enough to promote AGAINST themselves. But it happens accidentally. All. The. Time.
Beyond that, there’s the quality factor. If your content is quality, people will associate your brand with quality. If your content is junky, people will…you know…
Think you suck.
Let’s get real here. Content that ticks all these boxes is the only way to market effectively.
By producing content that doesn’t suck, you’re also making content that:
Around these parts, we have another term for “not sucking.”
We call it winning, and it’s part of a balanced breakfast.