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How Do You Know Whether Your Content Is Good or Not?

10 December 2014 Svetlana Kuznetsova
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Is your content relevant, topical, and up-to-date?

But does it actually work?

We are overwhelmed with content around us. That’s why you don’t want to deliver the best. You want to deliver the exclusively best. You must bite more than you can chew when creating content.

It’s easier to explain why you don’t like a copy than to tell a reason it touched your heart. It’s easier to put mistakes of one copywriter than to explain the mechanics of writing a cool post. Good copy is a thing-in-itself.

That’s why at first we are going to explain the anatomies of good and poor content.

Great content clearly delivers a message

Poor content red flags

Duplication. Imagine yourself reading a post about Greece hot tours on a travel agency site. You don’t find anything new: the Greece story, facts about the awesome Greece cuisine and gentle Mediterranean sea. A copywriter collected all the one-type information over the internet and didn’t even try to rewrite it in some original way. He just replicated what had been already told before and composed a useless copy.

No core message in a copy. One post must explain one idea. This rule must become your law. People don’t like heaps of meanings, ambiguity, they don’t like when they don’t get an author’s position. No core message in a copy always embarrasses.

Clichés. Poor posts often start with the words, “It’s not a secret that…”, “Everyone knows that…”, “History of the (topic) goes back to...”, “It is said that…”, and so on.

No research. If a topic is something new to a copywriter, they can make several mistakes

  • Put some common facts and dummy digressions together, and provide no value (if a topic is not very complicated)
  • Misrepresent facts and make wrong conclusions (if topic is complicated – CCTV systems, financial management, and so on)

Wrong language. In case your readers are trading amateurs, you don’t want to use too many terms. Make sure that your audience is familiar with phrases like, “volatility smile”, “outstrike” and “amortization”, or, what is even better, gently explain these terms in your post.

Nothing but sales. Many people associate “commercial copies” with calls to action. Well, everybody says they work. “Then they should actually work”, you think.

You start littering with copies stuffed with CTAs. Exclamation tone rules the land here, while logic has gone.

Do you understand why it doesn’t work?

That’s because “obtrusion” doesn’t work anymore, people are tired of it. The task of copies in content marketing is to influence sales growth indirectly, but it’s possible only if people trust them. You have to be persuasive and use facts. From this point of view, a commercial copy is something opposite to what people think of it. Forget about obtrusion, calls to action, and exclamation marks – these tricks won’t give you a thing.

What works well?

These were the red flags indicating poor copies. You may think that signs of content that works are completely opposite:

  • Interesting and clear idea (sometimes unexpected or even paradoxical)
  • Deep research
  • Catchy intro
  • Proper language
  • Persuasiveness

However, a negative proof doesn’t work here. It’s not maths. It means that even if your copies don’t have red flags, it doesn’t mean that they are any good.

Such a paradox.

There is only one way to understand whether a copy is good or not – you should read it and then ask yourself:

  • Do you want to think of what you’ve just read?
  • Are going to think about it for some time after?
  • Was it helpful?

If the all answers were, “Yes”, then this copy has touched your heart. Poor content leaves no trace. People close it and never remember again. Good copies make you think. Brilliant copies evoke emotions. If a copy makes you think and evokes your emotions, it means that it works.

Any person can write at least one awesome post during their life – a post on a topic they really care about. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes they will make. If they express unexpected thoughts that no one ever think of before, then people will love it.

Potentially, a copy has chances to get great only in one case – if an author is genuinely interested in a topic. Let us stress out the word “potentially”, because there a lot of recipes for poor copies (for example, just mix all the red flags from our list), but you can’t find a recipe for a good one.

That’s how we come to a very interesting conclusion:

A copywriter should always be thinking. No, I’ll make it even clearer: a copywriter must be one of the most thoughtful person in your entire content department. That’s because a copywriter doesn’t act routinely. He is constantly thinking.

Putting proper words in a correct order is very complicated, but you have to do it if you follow the path of content marketing.

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Former editor at Texterra online marketing agency. She is a graduate of The Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. Svetalan started working at "glossies", then turned to PR, where she worked for a long time in different structures promoting the "ConsultantPlus" brand.. She has been engaged in online marketing since 2010. Favourite thing to do is to work with copies. Unfavorite thing to do is to do nothing.
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