It takes a website visitor about 50 milliseconds (0.05 of a second) to form a decisive opinion of your website - whether they stay or go, and what they think about the design of your digital office.
That's not a lot of time. And it's mostly based on the look and design feel of your website - the big things of your website. And while these count for a lot, it's the quality of your website and content that will keep your readers coming back.
Funny how the little things still matter a whole lot in producing content that has the intended effect. But, that's to be expected, I guess. There are few things that undermine your argument faster than a stray typo. This article is about five things you should implement to drastically improve the quality and flow of your content. These might not be things that you would immediately consider, but when they are implemented, will result in highly polished and professional content that delivers results.
1 - Invest In Proofreaders/Editors
As I mentioned in the introduction, typos have a habit of undermining your argument. Imagine for a moment that you're watching a story unfold on the news, and the camera changes from studio a field reporter. It'd be professional enough, had the accompanying caption on the bottom of the screen not had a glaring misspelling, or read something completely irrelevant to the story. When something like this happens, it doesn't matter what the bulletin subject is, or who's speaking at that present time - you're probably not going to take the rest of the segment seriously. In the same way, correct spelling and punctuation are needed to assure your readers on a level that they aren't even consciously thinking about that you have a full and complete understanding of the given topic, and that you know how to spell the words you need for the argument correctly.
This is where your proofreaders and editors come in, since they are trained and are often able to see errors that we might not. Having a second set of eyes on your written content before it goes live can be of great benefit, and it's reasonably easy to outsource or appoint a content editor for your content marketing team.
Proofreaders are there to check for typos, repair any misused punctuation, and to give a good once-over to your grammar, just to make sure that the text in and of itself makes sense. Editors have a slightly different job, in that they are appointed to identify issues with a given piece of content and will need to articulate the best way to fix that issue.
These two jobs are often rolled into one, but it is important to note that while a proofreader specialises in improving the finer details of the content, an editor will be tasked with ensuring the content adheres to an overall direction, and will therefore need to have some knowledge of the content topic. If you have experienced writers, chances are they will also have an eye for good editing, and competent proofreading. In either case, handing content to someone else for proofing will help catch the errors or inconsistencies that the original writer might have missed otherwise.
Furthermore, having your content consistently edited before publication will help maintain the professional tone, feel, or style of your entire content library.
2 - Establish A Style Guide
Speaking of tone, feel, and style, what are you looking for when writing content to appeal to your ideal buyer? Will your tone/feel/style vary according to the ideal buyer you're marketing to? These are small things that will help maintain a consistency to your content that will help build rapport with your buyers.
A style guide is a set of guidelines that help define the small and big things that you need to ensure consistency in what your business outputs. Your web designers probably have their own style guide, which dictates things like appropriate colours and fonts to use on your website, which versions of your logo to use in different places - even the naming hierarchy for files, so that it's much easier for the right people to find the right files.
For content writing, your style guide will help give writers a place to start, and will mean less corrections for your editors. In it, you should seek to define the grammar conventions that you'll adhere to (like whether or not you use the Oxford comma, for example), decide how you'll cite data sources, and define what kinds of humour, satire, or language forms are most appropriate for your business' content. Do you use modern slang in your content? Would you make observations on current affairs that might quickly become dated but will have a great impact in the present? Does all of your content follow the same pattern of introduction, three points, and then a conclusion?
These are things that you can nail down in the style guide to help shape how your content will be produced.
3 - Put Together An Editorial Calendar
Not going to lie, writing content on the day it is due is not my favourite game. Chances are that unless you've got a muse sitting on your desk, you probably need to consider what you're going to write your content on before publication time. Here's where an editorial calendar comes in. These helpful tools allow you to do two things particularly well - one, an editorial calendar will let you lay out a campaign to deliver a particular result. Perhaps you're about to launch your newest marketing offer, or the season of year makes it ideal for you to promote a particular product or service. Setting up an editorial calendar will help you plan the bigger picture. The second thing that an editorial calendar will let you do is plan ahead for content that you might need in the future. What questions will arise from your buyers in your next campaign? Will you need to pre-empt them and do some research before signing off on it? An editorial calendar helps you take these factors into account as well.
4 - Start Planning Your Content And Relevant Marketing Strategies
Speaking of planning things in advance, another advantage that an active editorial calendar gives is the ability to plan your blog post topics in advance. When you're planning in advance, you can shape the big picture of your campaigns, and the plot out how you'll work through it with smaller-picture topics and micro-points to make. If you can plan your topics in advance, you'll be able to set up successful marketing campaigns, and plan your content to fit themes, concerns, offers - even different seasons of the year, if seasonal variation is a thing for your business. Planning your content means being able to sort out which keywords you'll target, which offers you'll promote, and which buyers you'll look to appeal to, meaning that your campaigns will have a higher success rate than something that is haphazardly maintained.
5 - Write Content In Advance Of Its Publication Date
Rushed content just doesn't have the same impact as planned content - there's no time for planning where it's going to fit in with the bigger picture, you can't use the keywords or links that might have helped; you may not even have time to get it proofed or edited. All of these factors can result in sloppy content that was quick to write at the time, but has lacked greater quality and ages poorly. If you are able to plan in advance, and write content in advance, your content will have enough time to be planned and written properly, and, should one of your planned pieces of content fall through, it will be relatively easy to substitute it with another that has also been written and planned in advance.
As you build your website up, brick by brick, ensure that you are remembering to put mortar in between said bricks to ensure the finished product is seamless and holds together. These five things by themselves can easily be left by the wayside or forgotten, but to do so is a mistake, as they help hold your content marketing strategy together. By planning content in advance, you can consider the long term marketing campaign as well as looking at this week's content and judging its performance. By remembering the little things that matter as well as the elements with greater impact, you prove to readers and buyers alike that you not only know what you're talking about now, but you know what you're talking about in the future, too, and your opinion can be trusted, as well as the services and products you offer.