August 22 2017
Your 7-Step Checklist to Creating Content That Works
In our previous blog, we wrote about “naked content,” our theory that high-quality content cannot stand on its own. We, as content creators, also need to look at how that content functions as part of the digital landscape. In this installment, we will give you a practical “before, during and after” guide to make sure you don’t leave your content exposed.
Define your channel.
Before you make your newest, “awesomest” piece of content, know where you want to promote it and ensure that your co-workers are not all planning the same thing. If everyone else is making an infographic to promote via Facebook, yours will just get lost in the noise. If you create a new amazing video for your website, first make sure that there is room on your site on a page that makes strategic sense, and is also highly trafficked with a history of good engagement. Even Game of Thrones might have risked obscurity if it had appeared below the fold.
- Create an SEO strategy.
Always, always, always consult with an SEO expert. If you don’t have an expert handy, start doing some research yourself. You don’t need to be a front-end developer to use Google Trends, plan for backlinks or make some simple usability recommendations.
- Use your budget wisely.
Don’t use up all your budget creating the asset. If any of us truly knew what our customers wanted, we would be billionaires. But we can’t predict, so leave resources to optimize the asset based on your visitors’ behavior. Small changes can add up to big wins.
- Consider consumability.
Build your content with the consumer in mind. Make your articles scannable. At the beginning of a video, add a timestamp. We are inundated with content and messaging all day, and even a few minutes is a lot to ask. Give your visitors opportunities to decide if they want to offer you that time. If you don’t, they won’t.
- Review for usability.
After you have created your new asset, don’t just review it for edits—test how easy it is to read, watch and/or interact with it. Create a test group and get their feedback. Did they stop hearing the information after a certain point in the video? Did they try to scan your article but couldn’t find what they needed?
- Plan the journey.
Before posting, find a place for the content to live. If you have a hard time navigating your website, your visitors will most likely have trouble, too.
- Marinate in the numbers.
Once the asset is live, take a look at the numbers and think through how to allocate your optimization budget. Here are some suggestions:
- If your bounce rate is high, check the page load times. We often attribute bounce to market fit, but according to Kissmetrics, high load times can be one of the biggest detriments to getting a visitor to consume your content.
- If your unique visitors are low, check your last touch channels. Did that SEO consultation work? A knee-jerk reaction might be to throw money at a promotion or to blast your social followers, but nurturing an SEO program will have a longer-term payoff. If your content is not on the homepage, then look at what the navigation to your page is, or consider the role of the microsite and digital journey. How many clicks and scrolls does it take a visitor to find you? Remember, the first rule in usability is “don’t make me think.” We like to add “or work.”
- Take a look at your clicks/visits and the click tags to see if users who come to your page are clicking where you want them to. If not, work with your agency partners to deploy a “heatmapping” tool that can let you see how and where people are accessing your content and messages. This way, you can see if visitors are reaching your content where it lives. If they aren’t, it’s time to talk to your usability expert. Don’t have one on site? Then go to the page yourself and figure out how much work you need to do to find your content. For example, if you live below the fold on a page, is it easy for a first-time visitor to realize something lives just below the scroll line?
Ardath Albee, CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions, once said that “pushing out content you want to publish is a lot different than executing a successful content marketing program that connects with customers by delivering meaningful experiences that are contextually relevant.” We couldn’t agree more.
The path to content reaching the right people at the right time in the way they want requires listening, understanding and then setting up the right technology and insights to apply science to the art of good storytelling and connecting.
What do you think of our list? Anything we’re missing? Or, do you have any successes to share for how you’re applying some of these steps to your content? We want to learn from you. So, let us know!