10 ways to govern the quality of your content

Estimated reading time
5 minutes
7th July 2020
Author: Dani Mansfield
Posted in: Strategy & planning

In businesses that build and use a lot of content, the quality of your operations directly underpins the quality of your ecosystem. Whether your company’s content is produced in a center of excellence or decentralized across product areas, regions, or functions, alignment is key. Making sure output reflects your brand and the quality of your proposition requires clear and standardized processes from ideation through content maintenance. Here are 10 ways to do so:

1. Define and implement an idea validation process

Quality control starts at the very beginning of your content planning process. People across your business will have ideas for content, and it’s rare, if not impossible (in enterprise businesses) for a single agent to oversee every single idea that gets put through for further development. A bar needs to be set centrally that defines which ideas to action, and which to leave on the bench. The bar needs to be simple enough to encourage adoption, but contain core criteria reflecting what a good idea looks like. This could be in the form of a simple questionnaire that tests the suitability and potential of an idea against your brand identity, market events, and target audience.

2. Create idea development guidelines

Once an idea has earned the green light, it needs to be developed before it’s production-ready. There are opportunities at this stage to standardize how this is done to ensure the right kind of research and thought goes into each before the grunt work of production begins. This could involve testing out your idea in a cheap and cheerful way to see how your audience engages with the topic. Here are a few examples of how to do that. You could also set guidelines around cross-functional input on ideas to make sure content creators have consulted with relevant internal experts and those who work closely with target audiences to identify the best hooks and anchors to move forward with.

3. Standardize your content ops tech stack

Processes can only take your output so far. You need a well-designed cross-business tech infrastructure to enable them – particularly when scaling your content operations.  Certain content tools (like Turtl, wink wink) can help you to centrally control the branding, substance, and quality of core content pieces while equipping satellite teams with the means of quickly identifying and customizing relevant assets for their particular use case and target audience. Tools like Grammarly can help decrease errors, improve copy quality, and provide support to creators who are producing content in a second language or are dyslexic.  

4. Create core content models & templates

All kinds of content will be produced on repeat across your business. Think landing pages, case studies, onboarding documents, job descriptions, social media posts, articles, and so on. Create models and templates for reoccurring content types that weave design and editorial best practices into the production process. This gives every creator the same starting point and parameters. Your strategists can then focus more time on improving the central models and templates for the benefit of lots of comms, rather than spending endless hours consulting on individual projects. 

5. Establish a modular content strategy 

Modular content involves you centrally creating components or modules of content that can be used in all sorts of contexts and content builds. The benefits of this approach include less time spent recreating the wheel, reducing sign-off requirements, and the ability to customize content quickly and easily. When it comes to quality, modular content strategies allow businesses to update and manage content centrally – ensuring consistency and accuracy – and then remotely update instances where those modules appear across decentralized assets produced around the business. 

6. Produce and implement content style, design, and editorial guidelines

One of the most valuable assets for a company that has a lot of people producing content or written communications is a set of accessible and robust content guidelines. These should ideally cover content style, editorial dos and donts, and content design. Style guidelines lay down a common language and way of communicating. Editorial guidelines clarify what kinds of things you do or do not talk about. Content design guidelines ensure the correct tagging, accessibility, and structure of content. Making sure that these guidelines are available and used across the business is the main battle, but their implementation reduces the effort needed down the line to fix content that’s gone astray.

7. Deploy checklists to make sure all the ‘t’s are crossed

The people who sign off content are typically strapped for time and torn between a hundred different tasks. There’s often a lot of content that is sent out without any kind of oversight. A simple checklist to be completed before delivery can be all it takes to catch common lapses in quality or content design missteps and limit the amount of support and feedback needed when sign-off is required. This could include things like checking whether there is a call to action at the end, if the metadata optimized, and whether the writer has double-checked the spelling of interviewees’ names, etc.

8. Manage stakeholder feedback & interference

86% of B2B marketers experience stakeholder interference with the content they produce, according to recent research by Radix Communications. This not only causes significant delays in content delivery but often negatively impacts the final quality of the content in that classic “too many chefs spoil the broth” kind of way. The best way to address this is to align internal stakeholders on what good content looks like, what it does, and what is and isn’t important when it comes to creating something that delivers results. Make sure you’re involving the right stakeholders in the right way, so they focus their expertise on the aspects they can help improve the most. A great tool for this is content review guidelines, where you give stakeholders and anyone involved in reviewing content very specific instructions on what they should be checking.

9.Build content reviews into your modus operandi 

Part of governing the quality of your content is understanding how people are interacting with it and reviewing whether it’s delivering on expectations. This requires you to be tracking engagement with assets and ideally being able to aggregate that data. Monitoring and evaluation is key to improving quality over time. A lot of enterprises will be struggling with fragmented data, but improving ROI on content is just one more argument for why your enterprise should invest in a rigorous data infrastructure. 

10. Manage and groom that ecosystem

Quality isn’t static. Once you send content out into the world, you are far from done with it. It needs to be monitored, reviewed, assessed, and improved over time –  assuming you want to see the most value from it. If something stops being relevant or falls out of line with the brand somehow then it could need removing full stop. Regular content audits and updates are critical for staying on top of the quality of vast libraries of content used by enterprises, and it can be a full-time job. If you’ve not done an audit in a while, you could easily uncover some hidden gems that are just in need of a quick polish!

Want to learn more about how to power up your content operations? Sign up to our free Turtl Academy course on exactly that. Check it out.