The ultimate content promotion checklist: 97 questions to optimize every aspect of your content marketing

So you have written a compelling article. Congratulations! That’s no small feat.

But now what?

You probably know that content alone isn’t enough. Promotion or marketing is what makes the difference.

Why?

One reason – the bottom line.

  • Will it engage people?
  • Will it drive traffic?
  • Will it help drive sign ups?

By optimizing your content marketing, you get to support your bottom line objectives.

But where do we start to do this right? After all, creating content and promoting it is hard.

Consider this – according to the Content Marketing Institute:

60% to 70% of B2B content created is never used. Most cited reason why B2B content goes unused is that the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience.

And according to a study by Inbound Writer:

Only 10-20% of a company’s website content drives 90% of its Web traffic, and only 0.5% of a website’s content drives more than 50% of its traffic.

Not to worry, help is here.

A step by step guide

To save your content from the dark depths of oblivion, I have put together 97 questions that will help optimize every element of your content marketing.

The guide breaks the process into 5 key elements that you need to cover with any piece of content. You don’t need to answer every question under each element in order to get the traction you need. However, the more you cover, the better the chances of increasing your reach and traction.

If you are just starting out, this can seem a bit overwhelming. So start with the on-site elements and a few others that you can comfortably handle. Once you get the hang of them, you can look at scaling your efforts.

On site

How well does your content stand up? Not just from a technical viewpoint, but also from the perspective of trust, intent, quality and authority.

Treat your content like a product. @TPLDrew Click To Tweet

As you finalize your content, consider each section and ask yourself the following questions:

Headline

According to David Ogilvy: On the average, 5 times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. Copyblogger backs this up, saying that 80% of people will read a headline, but only 20% of people will read the article. Hence why we need to start with ensuring the headline is magnetic enough to draw readers in.

  1. Does your content solve a problem?
  2. Does your headline address your audience?
  3. Does the headline tackle an issue your target audience can relate to?
  4. Is your headline “tweetable” and does it evoke curiosity?
  5. Is a sentiment verbalized in your headline?
  6. Does the headline tell the audience what they should expect in your content?
  7. Does the headline encourage the reader to read the opening paragraph and sub-headline for an answer or solution?

Sub-headlines

Sub-headlines tend to be the next most read part of your content. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most people tend to scan and skim over content.

Subheadlines aid such reading behavior. They form a part of the content’s usability and accessibility strategy in helping readers digest the overall outline of the article. They also indicate to a reader what the content is about in a particular section.

  1. Are the subheadings invoking curiosity and aiding the reader to read on?
  2. Are the sub-headlines breaking up the content into digestible chunks?
  3. Are they scannable and encouraging readers to engage with each section of content?

Introduction

It’s no surprise that readers are being overwhelmed with information, and so are purposefully skimming over content for their own sanity.

So how do you get readers to read?

Give them a reason. Your introduction is like an elevator pitch. It’s the reason that they would read on, share it or subscribe to your email list for more. Here are a few questions to ensure your introduction resonates with your target audience.

  1. Does the opening sentence show empathy with your audience’s pain or issue?
  2. Are your sentences easy to read and emotionally evocative?
  3. Does it intensify the emotion contained in the headline and or subheadline?

Persuasive elements

A challenge for most people is to ensure that the content being produced performs the intended function – getting people to take a specific action.

People need to be persuaded to do something, and persuasion comes about when you create understanding.

Here are a few questions to consider.

  1. Is your content valuable to your audience and available for free?
  2. What emotion does your content evoke?
  3. Does your content invite a small, low friction commitment to engage with you?
  4. Does your content reflect views or input from industry experts or people similar to your target audience?
  5. Does your content establish similarity with your audience through the use of relatable language and humor?
  6. If appropriate, does your content include elements of scarcity?
  7. Have you included obvious and simple calls-to-action that shows your audience what they should do next or expect on your page?
  8. Does the content help your audience understand the overall context involved in achieving what they want?
  9. Does the content help your audience understand the benefits of solving their problem in a particular way before appreciating the benefits of your product or service?
  10. Does the content provide contrast from an educational standpoint to change your audience’s perception?

Content voice

Your written voice can create an emotional atmosphere and plays a key part in how your audience will perceive you. It also adds a distinctiveness that differentiates you from your competitors.

  1. Is the content free of jargon and insider language that could turn your audience away?
  2. Does the content have a conversational tone?
  3. Does the content speak directly to your audience? Does it use the word ‘You’?
  4. Is the content consistent with your brand voice and tone?

Summing Up

For a lot of people, concluding their content is one of the hardest parts of creating it. You know that you need to seduce your audience with the headline. Entrance them with your opening. But without a powerful end to your content, all that effort is wasted.
Why?

Because the conclusion is why people come back for more. Consider these questions to sum up better.

  1. Does the post end in a climax that is consistent with the overall sentiment being generated by the content?
  2. Does the conclusion end in a way that drives the reader to take action? Is the path to action simple, clear and actionable today?
  3. Does the post end in a way that generates discussion?
  4. Do the post summary and conclusion encourage people to read the content?

Shareable and scannable components

You know by now that your content needs to be presented and formatted to enhance readability and usability. This in turn could lead to increased sharing of your content on social media.

Here are a few additional questions to consider.

  1. Is the content properly formatted?
  2. Are paragraphs no more than 5-6 lines long?
  3. Do you use custom or high quality images for your content?
  4. Are your existing images inline with the dominant sentiment that you wish to evoke in your audience?
  5. Does the visual media used relate to and support the content?
  6. Have you linked your content to related topics on your site?
  7. Are you giving your content the best chance of being shared by writing long-form posts?
  8. Do you mention influencers in your content?
  9. Have influencers been involved in the content creation process?
  10. Are data sources and claims properly referenced?
  11. Are your social sharing buttons prominent?

Marketing plan

Once you have covered optimizing content on your site, you can get into the planning details for your content promotion.

  1. Are you promoting your content via your daily/weekly/bi-weekly/monthly blog digest email?
  2. Have you identified the right niche network that matches your target audience?
  3. Are you actively guest posting on blogs that your target audience already visits?
  4. Can you leave great blog comments on authority sites?
  5. Can content be reposted from your archives to give it more mileage?
  6. Can you submit your content to online communities?
  7. Can you repurpose your content into a video?
  8. Can you create a podcast episode from your content?
  9. Can you create a SlideShare from your content?
  10. Have you published your content in PDF format?
  11. Does the content link out to relevant articles and individuals?
  12. Do the headline and content contain suitable key phrases?
  13. Have appropriate social media meta tags been used?
  14. Is the post being published at an ideal time of the week?
  15. Is the content part of a larger campaign that has follow up stories and keeps interest in the content alive for longer?
  16. Do visitors to your content have the option to subscribe to your list, get a lead magnet or a content upgrade?
  17. Are you using weekly link round-up posts to drive shares and interactions with other content creators?
Create content that reaches your audience's audience. @annhandley Click To Tweet

Social promotion

Social media can play a vital role in your content marketing strategy.

How?

With audience listening so you can better understand them. It helps you understand what they care about so you can create appropriate content. It can also help with the distribution of content.

Here are a few questions to consider.

  1. Are you reposting your content on social media platforms frequently?
  2. Are you timing your social media posts to when your audience is online?
  3. Are your social media post excerpts able to generate curiosity and interest?
  4. Do you know what social media post types work well for each of your social media platform audiences?
  5. Are you leveraging the power of appropriate hashtags with your social media posts?
  6. Do you have 20+ snippets of your content to share on social media platforms?
  7. Do you mention your expert sources when sharing?
  8. Are you uploading images and videos separately on Facebook to make your posts harder to miss?
  9. Are you promoting your content on Facebook to (lookalike) audiences that share similar characteristics as your existing followers?
  10. Are you actively participating and sharing relevant content (not just your own) on Google+ communities?
  11. Are you actively participating and sharing relevant content (not just your own) on Facebook Groups?
  12. Are you actively participating and sharing relevant content (not just your own) on LinkedIn Groups?
  13. Are you an active contributing member generating a lot of karma on relevant Subreddits?
  14. Are you connecting via real time discussions with your target audience on Twitter Chats?

Promotional tools

There are a number of tools and services that can be utilized in your overall content marketing strategy. In fact, a number of them can play an integral part in your content marketing strategy. Here are a few questions to consider along with suggested tools to help with implementation.

  1. Are you creating popular content and reaching out to those who share similar content with a tool like Buzzsumo?
  2. Are you attaching a call to action to every link you share to bring traffic back to your site with a tool like Snip.ly?
  3. Are you curating your internet style newspaper (with a tool like Paper.li) on an interesting collection of topics and themes that your audience is interested in?
  4. Are you able to curate content and publish it in an ezine format with Scoop.it?
  5. Are you responding and tapping into online conversations about your brand, industry or topic with BuzzBundle?
  6. Are you able to get your content shared by influencers for free with Viral Content Buzz?
  7. Are you easily identifying influencers in your industry, discovering topics your audience is interested in and monitoring developing industry trends with Little Bird?
  8. Are you curating your internet magazine with a strong visual focus with Issuu?
  9. Are you able to create a custom content hub to drive lead generation with Uberflip?
  10. Are you able to drive traffic through a magazine style publishing system with Flipboard?
  11. Do you have at least 2-5 Twitter call-outs in your content with Click to Tweet?

Outreach

Traditional networking and advertising is another way to promote your content. These marketing techniques in a digital context can lead to content marketing gains as well. Here are a few questions to consider.

  1. Do you email influencers mentioned in your article?
  2. Have you sent direct messages to influencers on LinkedIn?
  3. Are you reaching out to people who have shared and linked to similar content?
  4. Are you submitting to content communities like Triberr and BizSugar?
  5. Are you creating ads on Outbrain?
  6. Are you remarketing to past visitors?
  7. Have you deployed traditional press releases?
  8. Have you taken advantage of earned media?
  9. Have you tested native advertisements?
  10. Have you tried StumbleUpon’s paid discovery feature?
  11. Have you used HARO to reach out to journalists and authors?
  12. Have you considered sponsoring events?
  13. Are you building an engaged following by curating epic content from others, not just your own?
Content is anything that adds value to the reader's life. @avinash Click To Tweet

The one thing your content must do

Answering the questions above will help ensure that your content holds your audience’s attention and reaches them effectively.

Why does your content need to engage your audience?

Because if it isn’t read, then it just gets lost in the content scrap heap, and you aren’t building an audience.

More importantly, from a bottom line perspective, that’s just a waste of time, money and energy.

Remember to download the checklist and use it to make your content more engaging and relevant to your audience.

checklist

Grab the free content promotion checklist

The printable checklist contains all the key points from this post and will help you and your team get started with your content promotion. 

Get the checklist!

About

Vinay is the content marketing manager for WP Curve. Follow him @wpcurve

7 responses to “The ultimate content promotion checklist: 97 questions to optimize every aspect of your content marketing”

  1. SpeedyAdd Scheduling says:

    Thanks for putting this article together. Very helpful!!

  2. Vinay Koshy says:

    You are most welcome. Glad you found it helpful.

  3. Nathan Chan says:

    Extremely solid! Well done @vpkoshy:disqus

  4. Dan Chapman says:

    yikes! usually i cant stand posts with this format headline but for this i’ll make an exception… tons of quality here. great job!

  5. Ali Schwanke says:

    Great article! Goes to show that blogging is much more than writing an article!

  6. Vinay Koshy says:

    Thanks @chany_the_one:disqus

  7. Vinay Koshy says:

    @dandoesdigital:disqus glad you found it useful

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