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March 7, 2018 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
Goodbye, quantity content strategies, you will not be missed! These days a content marketing campaign needs to reach a balance of quality and quantity, with more emphasis on putting out the best work possible to a target audience. But when you hear the same term over and over, sometimes you start to lose any sense of what it means.
That leads to a simple question: what is quality content, really? Fortunately, there are concrete answers to stand by that will help you as you develop content for your campaign. Check out the guidelines below on how some content stands far above everything else, and what that means for its performance and the brand that released it.
Your content shouldn’t just be a boring list of ideas, as that won’t inspire people or provide appropriate context. But even with lengthy content, every part should be vital, so that if you cut a section out it would no longer make sense. Telling a story, providing context, building to a point, these are all ways to respect a person’s time, but they can also be abused. If your content has something of value to offer, hiding that in a fake promise, like through click-bait titles and overly stuffed and padded content, is disrespectful of your visitor’s time.
Move away from the annoying, cliche, mile-long sales page format, where you have some amazing trick you want to teach your audience, but first there’s a story about you, and an offer for a paid product…etc. Everyone has seen this nonsense and it’s on its way out, so always put respecting your audience’s time at top priority. If something can be said briefly, and in the same impact, then say it briefly.
Serving An Audience
As well as not wasting time, quality content knows the type of person it is made for, and is crafted and presented accordingly. Quality content is based on not only having a specific intended audience to point at, but is researched to prove that that audience will love it. There are all sorts of directions you can take to make content your audience will love. Sometimes that’s a specific insight or detail on a topic, and other times it’s a motivational piece fighting against the apathy brought on by the audience’s pain points.
Quality content may also serve an audience in unexpected ways. It could present ideas and perspectives that they never would have considered otherwise, but that leave them better informed. Don’t chase the most obvious solution when you get a hint of how your audience thinks and what they care about. That’s nothing but pandering. Instead look at what they care about and decide what it is you think you could give to them.
Image via Flickr by Thairms
This is tough in the massive sea of ideas that is the internet, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. Originality should mean that no one can get fundamentally the same sort of thing that you made from someone else. By virtue of the online world’s size, there will be others who have talked about what you want to make content about. That’s why you should focus your energy more toward making the content original, rather than the ideas. Keep the following question in mind: “How can my brand deliver this concept in a way that no one else can emulate?”
Sure, if you suddenly have a brilliant insight that no one else has ever put online, go for it. More likely, however, your content will be similar to that of competitors on some level. Let everything else, from style to delivery, be unique. Take time to find how you could do something better than your competition. Studying their negative feedback might give you some ideas.
Quality content is usually, but not always, something that inspires people to share it with others, especially on social media. Think about what makes something shareable for your audience.
Usually someone is interested in sharing something if they think it will inspire others, make others laugh or be entertained, put out a message that they feel is important, or if it invites some sort of interesting discussion. We say it a lot, but think about your own audience and the sort of contexts under which they might share something. A coffee company, for example, might make an article covering the pros and cons between pour-over-machine and French-press coffee, inviting people online to state their own cases for one or the other and inviting a lighthearted debate.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that great content should also be valuable to you and your business, which means it needs to drive conversions. You can create something that entertains or distracts your audience for a little while, but if their attention isn’t ultimately drawn toward some deeper level of engagement, then you’re practically fishing with a ripped net. Fortunately, making something your audience likes can cause those precious conversions to roll in. You just have to make sure the content works for you as well.
Sometimes this means forming a simpler, broader content format, allowing you to make the same content piece in blog post, video, infographic, and other formats for maximum reach. Other times it means improving the accessibility, attractiveness, and SEO ranking of your website.
Every business is different. Your audience might prefer short blog posts, or massive in-depth white papers. They may find video more engaging than text, and they might find a serious tone more credible than a lighthearted one. You can at least rely on the following definition: great content is original, serves an audience without wasting their time, drives conversions, and is usually sharable.
If you want something concrete to take away from all this: great content usually is the result of an experienced team, a group that can delegate different tasks like ideation, writing, editing, and posting to those who know them best. Make sure you have a team equipped to handle all aspects of content marketing, and if you don’t, entrust respected groups outside your business to fill in the gaps. Consider experts such as those at CopyPress, whether you need assistance solely in content creation, or in everything from content strategy and onward.
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