Want to know the truth about creating great content?
It isn’t easy. In fact, producing great content that stands out and helps meet your business objectives takes a lot of work. Fortunately, there are some best practices you can follow to make the process easier, while also dramatically increasing your chances of getting results.
Creating great content is a lot like cooking. Bring together the right combination of ingredients, and the result can be a triumph. Leave a few key ingredients out, and you might be left with a bad taste in your mouth. In this quick reference guide, we outline the nine main ingredients for creating better content. We also explain how Acrolinx can help you automatically incorporate each ingredient into your content creation efforts enterprise-wide.
If you use Acrolinx to ensure that your content contains each of the following ingredients, you’ll save a lot of time and energy. Plus, you’ll wind up creating content that your audience will love to gobble up.
Table of contents
When it comes to creating great content, consistency is key. In fact, it’s a critical ingredient for building credibility and a strong reputation. That’s because it’s not just what you say that matters, but also how you say it. When your language, style, structure, presentation, and branding are consistent, it helps create a unified experience that your customers are more likely to trust.
Meanwhile, if your content is inconsistent, you run the risk of confusing your audience and potentially damaging your brand. Not only that, it makes translation and localization more difficult and expensive, while making it all the more challenging to scale your content operations.
Although creating consistent content may seem easy enough at first glance, it’s actually quite difficult and often gets overlooked. That’s particularly true if you’re a big organization with hundreds — or even thousands — of writers spread all over the world.
If your content isn’t clear, it can confuse your audience. That’s a big problem, especially if it’s designed to educate or help your prospects and customers. Not only that, content that lacks clarity can also increase your expenses. For example, when customer-facing content is unclear, it results in more calls to customer service, ratcheting up costs and potentially lowering customer satisfaction. By contrast, having clear and concise content goes a long way toward helping your audience understand and recall the information that you’re sharing.
Translation is another area that can suffer as a result of having unclear content. Content that’s weighed down with extra, unnecessary words will quickly inflate your per-word translation costs. If, however, your writing is clear and concise, not only will the quality of your content be better, your translation costs will be lower too.
In business, the words we use are powerful and important. That’s because they establish your tone of voice — a critical ingredient for building a connection to your target audience. Your tone of voice gives your customers a clear impression of who you are as a company, and what it’s like to do business with you. It can also help differentiate your brand by giving it a distinct and recognizable voice.
When your tone is consistent, your audience hears the same person speaking, whenever and however they deal with you. That’s a subtle but important way of showing them that you’re a consistent, reliable company. It also makes it clear that every part of their experience with you will be of the same high quality. A strong, consistent tone of voice provides other benefits, too.
For example, it can:
- Make your more brand more personal and approachable
- Help your messages stand out from your competitors’
- Build your credibility and authority
If you’ve ever created a corporate style guide, then you know it isn’t easy. Documenting an organization’s individual preferences — about everything from spelling and punctuation to its unique terminology and tone of voice — is no small feat. And, even once you’ve created a style guide, enforcing it is another challenge altogether.
Yet despite these hurdles, having style guidelines is incredibly important. At large organizations, it’s one of the only ways to reliably ensure your ability to create consistent, high-quality content that accurately reflects your brand.
Large organizations often have hundreds, if not thousands, of unique words and phrases that they use to describe themselves and the way they do business. Ensuring that those words and phrases are used correctly is critical to maintaining your company’s tone of voice. It also ensures that your content is credible and authoritative, and it avoids the kind of confusion that can erode brands over time.
Product names are a good example. They’re an important part of your brand language, and making sure that they’re used consistently is key. For example, if your product is called “SmartTech,” would you want someone referring to it as “Smarttech” or “Smart-tech”? Unfortunately, errors like these can easily creep into your content.
Being able to capture, manage, and enforce the usage of the right words and phrases is an important part of developing a mature content strategy. All the more so if your company translates its content into other languages, which can quickly make terminology management exponentially more difficult.
In today’s digital world, content is a critical tool for communicating with existing customers and attracting new ones. It’s also an important expression of your brand and a way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
But if your content is just average, it’s going to be overlooked. For example, if your content is old and stale, it may no longer be accurate and will therefore be less effective. If lots of different people are creating it, your content might be inconsistent or off-brand, which can undermine the experiences you create for your customers. Or, if it’s unnecessarily complex, people might not understand your content and either give up or call your customer service center for help.
Fortunately, with the right analytics, you can avoid these and many other problems. Plus, they help make your content creation a smarter and more strategic process.
You spend a lot of time and money producing content and putting it out into the public domain. But if no one can find it, you’ve missed a critical opportunity to connect with your audience. For people to be able to discover your content, it needs to contain the right keywords. Not only that, you need to use them at the right frequency and ensure that they’re in all of the right places. In other words, you need to ensure that your content is optimized for search.
Although optimizing a piece of content for search doesn’t have to be difficult, when you’re creating content at scale, it’s just another task that can slow writers down. That’s particularly true if they have to come up with new keywords themselves or keep track of which ones have already been used.
Content governance refers to the systems and processes you use to determine how content gets created and published within your organization. It’s a framework that everyone can lean on for support, guidance, and efficiency. A good governance framework can be additive and assistive to content creators, can create alignment and clarity, and can increase the overall velocity of content creation.
Content governance provides transparency into the process of content creation. It also adds visibility across the whole content machine. That makes it possible to identify issues, gaps, and challenges, and then eliminate them, resulting in a smooth, streamlined process.
The first step to building a successful content program is developing a strategy to guide you. Unfortunately, many companies never do and, as such, they lack the organization and focus it takes to get real results.
A sound content strategy includes some key components, such as:
- Knowledge of your target audience
- The actions you want your audience to take as a result of consuming your content
- The actual content you plan on creating
- The ways you intend to deliver that content
- How you’ll measure your content’s performance
Developing and executing a content strategy that works and delivers everything your company needs isn’t easy. All kinds of companies struggle with this. Fortunately, agile content development practices and technology can be very useful here.
A Recipe for Content Success
In cooking, every ingredient matters. Each one brings a unique element to a dish that helps makes it complete. Leave any of them out, and at best, the food you’re making might taste a little off. At worst, it could be completely inedible. The same is true for content. While there’s no single right way to create it, there are clear ingredients that every content program should contain to be successful:
- Style Guidelines
- Terminology Management
- Content Governance
- Content Strategy
Although you can add in each of these ingredients by hand, smart content creators are increasingly relying on expert tools for help. Acrolinx’s linguistic analytics engine is a perfect example. As we’ve seen, it can help you automatically incorporate all of the ingredients you need to create great content. That takes a lot of the burden off your content professionals, freeing them up to focus on the higher-level work they need to do.