If you’ve been consistently producing content, even amid a pandemic, you’re already doing better than most brands. Not only have you been putting in the work to educate yourself on content best practices, but you’ve also rolled up your sleeves and executed on those guidelines or at least hired expert help to do it for you.
It seems like you have it all under control, right? What if we were to challenge you and ask your content team the following:
“How can you ensure your final content is mistake-free?"
From content creation to content mastery
Even the most experienced companies make epic content mistakes that make them lose entire segments of audiences overnight. Two quick examples of social media and email campaigns that went terribly wrong?
That time when purse and handbag brand Vera Bradley created several Instagram posts as part of their “Why It’s Good to Be a Girl” campaign with captions such as “Needing 5 shades of lipstick” or “The amazing feeling you get when a gentleman offers you his seat.”
Airbnb’s “Floating World” email marketing campaign wasn’t received any better. While the message was harmless (a water-themed house floating on water with the caption “Stay above water [...] Live the life aquatic with these floating homes”), the timing was disastrous.
This campaign ran in August 2017, when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston.
These brands had good intentions, but they forgot to be consistent with everything that makes them unique in their customers’ eyes, from messaging to visual style and tone of voice.
Today, we’ll show you how to create your own Consistent Content Checklist and prevent slip-ups like these from harming your business. You’ll also learn how to adapt your content on the go, so you can offer sensible and well-thought out reactions to real-time events, good or bad.
1. Invest in a content calendar
While not a cure-all solution for content issues, this tool is extremely efficient at channeling your content efforts in the right places and at the right time. Knowing what your content would look like 6 or 12 months from now will help you:
- Align your content with important business milestone releases.
- Create audience-specific items.
- Avoid over or under-producing content.
- Have a list of well-thought-out ideas, rather than relying on inspiration.
- Remain on your audience’s radar with consistent and relevant content.
- Create transparency across departments, so everyone can follow the overall marketing plan.
- Identify top-performing pieces and promote them.
For certain industries in which brand trust is crucial, a content calendar is a must-have.
In healthcare, for instance, maintaining a consistent publishing schedule is closely tied to establishing credibility and authority. Some high-priority content events for this type of business include:
- Healthcare awareness dates that match specific practice specialties.
- Workshops, discounted services, or limited services.
- Internal awareness celebrations such as a centennial of commitment to community care.
If you own a health practice, scheduling press releases, events, and workshops will allow you to easily spot themes and optimize your content accordingly.
2. Design clear voice and tone guidelines for your brand
Take a look at your website copy. If some articles use a tongue-in-cheek tone, while others are written in a more serious tone, it’s a telltale sign that your brand’s tone and voice is lacking consistency. Successful companies have content guidelines reflected throughout their digital touchpoints, from their website and emails to advertising campaigns and social media.
Starbucks’ guidelines, for example, includes a set of key elements that contribute to a functional and expressive voice. “When we have the space, we tell a passionate coffee story. But even with just a few words, our copy can make you smile,” the document reads.
In contrast, with a copy like “Grab life by the bars,” Harley-Davidson’s voice is bold, almost aggressive.
If you’re unsure what your brand should sound like, start by looking at your values and think about the best way to reflect them into memorable vocabulary.. Make a list of 10 words that best describe your brand and expand on them. Even if you decide that “funny” or “laid back” don’t quite describe your brand, find a way to infuse some lightheartedness into your copy. Whether entry level or C-suite professionals, audiences tend to gravitate toward companies that speak to them in an authentic way. Humor, even dialed down, can create a successful connection with your clients.
3. Create a consistency checklist around grammar and formatting
A reader might not immediately catch subtle vocabulary or punctuation differences between your homepage and your latest newsletter, but they will subconsciously be thrown off by your content. In time, they might even unsubscribe or unfollow without being able to pinpoint what made them fall out of love with your brand.
At Americaneagle.com, we have specific rules on how to write anything from dates and measurements, to names and titles. We also have clear formatting instructions that help us “chunk” content into bite-size nuggets of information, using headers, bullet points, and bolding.
If grammar is not your strong suit, get inspired by companies with a reputation for building great content, like Hubspot. Their “30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making” will help you and your team prevent grammatical errors in lieu of an in-house editor.
4. Focus on driving engagement
It’s not uncommon for ecommerce websites to experience high-traffic, but low conversion rates. One of the main culprits is the lack of engaging copy.
To keep users going from page to page until they reach the point of conversion, try implementing some of these copywriting elements:
- Learn to write like your customers speak. Take the time to know your audience and start incorporating their vocabulary into your copy. It’s best to keep your writing simple. If your prospects need a dictionary to understand your content, then you need to choose better words.
- Show you’re human. Let customers know the people and stories behind your business. At Zappos, for instance, the call-center representatives are encouraged to form a personal, emotional connection with the customer. They also consistently post behind-the-scenes content like this fundraising 40-mile company hike.
- Pique customers' interests using “greased-slide” words and phrases. This novel copywriting technique keeps users captivated by using “connector” constructions. Readers are typically intrigued by questions such as “So you want to learn how to __?” “Can you guess the number one reason why ecommerce businesses fail to __?” The combinations are endless. “And that’s just the beginning,” “Here’s the truth,” “It gets better,” are just a couple of the most effective examples from this comprehensive list.
Make Consistency a Lifestyle
Maintaining the consistency of your brand is an ongoing effort that over 70% of organizations already committed to for 2021. Consistency is what will help you create a unique content blueprint for your brand that customers know and expect. If any of these ideas sound like too much to handle, Americaneagle.com has the exact expertise to ease your burden. Contact us today and learn how our digital marketing experts can help your team create content that reflects the company’s mission and turns prospects into loyal customers.