Content Marketing

Why Quality Content Has These Three Attributes – Here’s Why #139

Will Eric be able to guess under which of the three cups Mark has hidden the ball? More importantly for you as a content marketer, why does Mark believe the most effective content can be characterized by just three marks?
In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark explains his three marks of high-quality content, so that you can begin to create content that reflects well on your brand and brings you customers.

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Eric: Mark, I don’t think that anyone disputes that marketing content, whether it’s for SEO, branding, lead generation, or whatever, the content has to be really high quality to be effective.
Mark: For sure Eric, but when it comes to judging the quality of content, many of us know it when we see it. But we have a hard time quantifying what separates it from poor content.
Eric: But you think you can articulate that?
Mark: After studying many hundreds of content pieces that proved to be highly effective marketing for the brands that produced them, I believe I’ve distilled the common characteristics of such content down to just three marks or qualities. Now, all the best content I’ve researched possessed all three of these marks.
Eric: Okay then, let’s dig in. What’s the first mark of quality content?

Great Content is Useful

Mark: Mark number one is great content is useful. And by that I mean, it is useful to the user, the reader, the viewer of the content. The user gets something out of it, something he or she can take away from the content. It might just be a bit of enjoyment, or maybe makes them think about something, or perhaps it answered a question or helped them to accomplish a task.
Eric: And because it’s useful it gets attention?
Mark: Yes. And it also earns the right to market.
Eric: The right to market?
Mark: I mean, it opens the door for marketing opportunities. People are more open and receptive to those who have helped them, and that goes for brands, too. Useful, helpful content creates a positive atmosphere around your brand, making prospects more open to your marketing messages.
Eric: And in some cases, if you’re selling some kind of service or know how, useful content can establish your authority, that you know what you’re talking about and should be trusted.
Mark: Exactly. I have other thoughts about what makes content useful, but for now, I’ll just mention briefly that useful content is also credible, trustworthy, interesting, and engaging, and provides a great user experience. 

Great Content Has Alignment

Now, the second market of great content is that it has alignment.
Eric: Alignment?
Mark: By that, I mean that it aligns with two things simultaneously, your company’s business goals, and the needs, hopes, and desires of your prospects. Now, it’s a two-way street. A lot of content that fails falls short because it’s out of balance. It either emphasizes the business goals too much, forgetting about the customers, or it works so hard to please prospects, or to give them what the business thinks they want, that it accomplishes no marketing purpose.
Eric: So, content that’s out of balance on the business side might be trying too hard to sell something?
Mark: Yes, right. Or it talks so much about the company or its products that it fails to connect them with the needs of the people. Now, you might have the greatest widget on earth, with five more features than any other leading widget, but if you haven’t shown me how your widget solves my problem or makes my life better, your content has failed.
Eric: How can you be out of balance on the user side of things?
Mark: I’ll use a real-life example. Now, I know of marketers who get a lot of views and shares for their content, because it’s all about topics people like to see, such as self-help, life hacks, pop culture and such. Such content is very popular, but I seriously doubt it helps build a business because it’s just nothing to do with the business.
Eric: The trick is that you’ve got to create content that is relevant to your business, yet at the same time is helpful and useful to your readers.
Mark: And that is the sweet spot indeed.

Great Content is Unique

Now, the third mark of great content is it is unique. By that, I don’t necessarily mean it is entirely original in every aspect, that everything about it has never been seen before, but rather that it brings some fresh approach or new ideas, something that isn’t the same old thing you’ve heard everywhere else in the topic.
Our friend, AJ Kohn, puts it this way, “Be memorable.” That’s the best thing your content can accomplish. It has to contain something different enough that people will remember it, and that they will remember you for having shared it.
In fact, I learned that in a post that AJ wrote in 2012 and I still remember it today. So, I’d say that post succeeds the uniqueness test.
Eric: Great. Quality content is useful, aligned and unique. Thanks, Mark. I think this video meets all three marks.

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About the Author

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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Thoughts on “Why Quality Content Has These Three Attributes – Here’s Why #139”

  1. Hi guys!
    Great video again.
    I have my own three principles of quality content as well, and it is very similar to yours 🙂
    1) Create content that is relevant and useful for your audience.
    2) Create content that meets your business goals.
    3) Create content that is following Google webmasters guidelines (unfortunately it is important to remind this one as there are still some people that use for example forbidden optimization technique).
    Keep doing a great job!

  2. If content is out of alignment, how long does it take you, typically, to figure that out?
    Also, what method do you use to investigate alignment? I use keyword research. Is that what you do?

  3. Thanks for your question, Gregory. I think this is more of a qualitative than a quantitative assessment. That is, it’s not something you and measure with tools. But regularly evaluate the results your content is getting.
    Does it lead to sales or new customers? And by that, I don’t mean necessarily that people convert directly from the content. But do you have confidence that the content helps build confidence around your brand that helps your target prospects to feel positively toward you, to believe that you are the brand that “knows its stuff” in your vertical? If so, then you’ve got the business goals side well in hand.
    On the other hand, on the customer/prospect side, how does your audience react to your content? Are you getting meaningful engagement? Do people share it with their friends? If so, then you’re doing well on the user side.
    The trick is to keep tweaking your content until you find what does well on both sides.

  4. Great ways to say it, Gabka! I wouldn’t ever want to say that my three marks are the only way to define quality content. Like you, I’m just looking for a way to boil down all the complexities of evaluating content to something people can easily remember and apply.
    As to you last point, about following Google’s guidelines, I think that actually does fall under “useful” content. If you’re obsessed with creating content that tries to spam Google, it isn’t going to be appealing or useful to your audience.

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