About 86% of companies use content marketing to reach their audience. Unlike the influencer boom and steep decline of this year, written content is here to stay.
With so many companies pumping out written content daily, the market gets saturated, and it’s not with the good stuff.
Some attempt to keep up by following suit. They publish low-quality, bite-sized posts to seem active. But when their lack of quality shines through false statistics or meaningless advice, it turns customers away.
The only way to keep up while maintaining quality is through a rigorous quality assurance process. Establishing and implementing strict guidelines keeps your content high quality and engaging for readers.
Of course, it’s easier said than done.
You could publish a simple editorial guideline and keep it at that. Or, you can add quality checks, tools, and expectations throughout the process. That shifts the burden from sitting exclusively on your editors’ shoulders to raising the bar across the marketing team.
With the right techniques, you can stand out from the 7.5 million blog posts created every day. Here’s how you can build an effective process from scratch that’s responsive and scalable.
Why Is the Quality Assurance Process So Important?
Without quality assurance, issues from being off-brand to factually incorrect start to arise. When this low-quality content hits your customers’ screens, it can do more damage than good.
If your information is incorrect, consumers immediately lose trust in your brand.
Trust is a valuable commodity you can’t afford to lose! For example, 85% of consumers won’t buy from a brand again if they’ve lost trust in it. Even worse, they may never give it back but turn to a competitor they view as more trustworthy.
Even if your content is accurate, if it isn’t what your customers are looking for, they’ll gloss over it. All the effort and funding you invested in the content will be wasted. Content that doesn’t resonate with your audience won’t earn a return.
What Does Quality Content Look Like?
Clearly, high quality should be a given. But what does quality mean to your company? What goals should you set in the quality assurance process?
For many, an editor’s job comes to mind. That is, checking for grammar, flow, and broken links in the text before publishing.
But high-quality content doesn’t just mean an absence of errors. It means your content is engaging, motivating, shareable, and converts customers.
Therefore, before you even start to build a quality assurance process, establish goals. What do you want your content to achieve? Is that a universal rule, or will it change piece by piece?
These goals should reflect your corporate goals. For example, if you focus on customer lifetime value, your content should be heavily middle-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel. Or if your customers face a certain issue, your content should focus on addressing it.
Only when your company vision and content messages align can your content be of good enough quality to generate a decent return. It will effectively support your business long term by addressing your customers’ needs.
How to Build a Quality Assurance Process
The best quality assurance processes make quality everyone’s responsibility. At every stage, from keyword selection to promotion, your team should focus on quality.
The key to pulling this off is a clear, well-communicated process. Everyone should know the boundaries and expectations of their roles. For example, is your writer or editor the fact checker, or both?
For this process to be clear and maintained, it needs to be documented and accessible to all on the team.
These documents, or style guides, break the process down into individual steps. They explain what should happen at each stage and under whose watch to ensure the content is of high quality.
Writer Quality Assurance Guide
This begins with the writers.
The first stage of creating written content is generating ideas. How can you ensure quality is the focus even at this stage?
In your guide, lay out that ideas should all be in line with company goals, customer needs, and current trends. If an idea doesn’t fit within those categories or others that you’ve established, it’s not up to standard.
Once an idea passes this test, the process moves on to keyword generation. Specify that keywords and online usage statistics should always be checked. A keyword should never make it to the next stage based on a writer’s opinion alone.
As the creator progresses in writing the article, guidelines become more stringent.
Formatting and spelling should be consistent across the board. Specify which types of dashes, apostrophes, and other punctuation rules should be followed.
Does your content aim to reach multiple countries? Then specify whether writers should change spelling for other audiences, such as British or Australian.
With those technicalities out of the way, your guidelines should address the goal of the text itself. Think about the following questions:
- How formal should the text be?
- What tone should the writer use?
- Do either of those answers vary depending on the type of content?
- What company goals should the text work in harmony with?
- Should writers take readers on a journey or use a simpler factual voice?
Your guidelines have succeeded if your writer never has to guess when deciding. Then it will pass through to the editors at a high standard.
Editor Quality Assurance Guide
But doesn’t that nullify the work of the editors? Not at all.
If an article is bogged down with basic grammar or formatting errors, editors are unlikely to focus on the bigger picture. They may send it down the chain as soon as the errors have been corrected.
But when a high-quality article comes through, editors have the bandwidth to address voice, tone, or formality issues. This more in-depth editing is how to take your quality to the next level.
Editors also shouldn’t be left guessing when it comes to how your content should come across. Provide detailed guidelines, and update them regularly.
Social Media Quality Assurance Guide
The perfect piece of content released at the wrong time might as well not exist. That’s why content calendars have become a staple of the industry.
Your quality assurance guide should establish the following things:
- Which platforms your company posts on
- How often you want content uploaded
- Which times of the day they should post
- Which days of the week they should post
- How many platforms they should post the same content on
- Whether you repost content or link back to a single piece
Obviously, social media experts will have an opinion on these points. They should therefore be invited to have a say in the guidelines. And as they observe changes in social media, the guidelines should adjust with them.
By having these requirements outlined in one place, everyone knows what to expect. Even for your writers and editors, it can make deadlines more clearly understood.
As you can see, the quality assurance process should be highly detailed. One of the cons of such a specific guideline is that it can be overwhelming. If your team misses details because your guide is so large, it negates its existence.
To overcome this, make your style guide as logical as possible. Teams should be able to go through it step-by-step, never needing to return to a previous step.
Some companies use modern technology to make their guidelines interactive. Instead of a long document, they create computer programs that ask the questions in the correct order and allow users to check the boxes to proceed. This small difference in approach keeps quality assurance a natural part of the process rather than a burden.
How to Scale Your Quality Assurance Process
Content creation is a very interdependent process. All the cogs must work together if you want to maintain a high standard. This can make scaling up your content quantity a challenge.
Here are four tips to make the content creation process more effective. Together, these approaches ensure your content stays high quality as you grow.
1. Manage Demand
You may desperately want to become a content juggernaut overnight. But it’s far more sustainable to make changes incrementally. If not, you could have an imbalance of talent that puts on too much pressure.
If you don’t have enough writers to editors, your brand voice will start to vary as writers race to keep up. Overworked editors, on the other hand, begin to make mistakes. And not enough social media users will disrupt the content calendar, i.e., your content’s impact.
Hiring each of these roles as needs increase is a valid solution. But 62% of companies say they prefer hiring freelancers over staff because they complete projects faster.
Freelancers are an invaluable tool for managing growth flexibly in the interim. Other pros include reduced costs and increased transparency. Retain freelance editors and writers when you need an extra hand to scale up smoothly.
2. Streamline the Content Creation Process
High-quality content doesn’t have to be free of AI assistance.
Writing and editing apps get a bad rap for their inconsistency and lack of understanding. They’re no human editor, but they can still take a mental load off your team by pointing out simple errors in the text. Encourage your team to use writing tools that help them focus on improving the text rather than proofreading it 10 times out of paranoia.
Even more basic tools can streamline your process, giving your team more time to focus on quality.
CMS templates set the formatting for your written content. This saves editors and social media managers time to focus on high-value work. Creating templates for every platform on your system can have the same effect.
3. Take and Apply Feedback
Creating a process from the outside will lead to flaws. Only your writers, editors, and social media team can tell you how effective and intuitive your quality assurance process is.
So, ask them!
Use their firsthand experience to optimize your process. Their input will create a happier team and ultimately better content.
This is especially true when testing new content types. It’s new territory for all involved, so keep communication open. Let your team suggest guidelines for the new content rather than trying to set rigid rules ahead of time.
4. Monitor Your Metrics
When scaling up your content creation, you don’t have to scale everything equally. Regularly check how your content performs. Then you can choose to invest more resources in the most successful type.
These metrics should also inform your quality assurance process. Which types of content don’t perform as well, meaning they likely don’t resonate with your audience? Does a certain length, tone of voice, or publishing time tend to flop?
Based on this analysis, adjust your writing and social media guidelines. Then they can focus on creating the most effective content.
The Most Scalable Editing Solution
The best quality assurance processes are so intuitive that they become a natural habit. And an expectation of quality across the board can even influence the thought process of your team.
The ultimate success comes when prioritizing quality becomes second nature.
Regardless of company size, this is a daunting challenge. But with the right tools, it’s achievable. To help you get there, we suggest bringing on freelance editors.
Our expert services are completely scalable. You get access to the best editors in the industry without hiring one full-time. Sound interesting? Schedule a call with us tday.