Content marketing is a central player for marketing and comms teams and promises a high return on investment. However, though content consumption is rising, people’s attention spans are short.
Research in the B2B world indicates that content consumption rose by 33% from 2021 to 2022, but the average time professionals spent engaging with content dropped by four hours. Your content needs to stand out from the crowd to make an impact.
Inconsistent formatting, language, and brand voice and messaging are not the makings of unique content — at least not in a good way. Editorial guidelines provide a framework for content structure and style, and incorporating them into your content strategy ensures they align with your goals and remain consistent across your content marketing efforts.
Let’s clarify what we mean by editorial guidelines and go over five you should include in your content strategy.
What Are Editorial Guidelines?
These guidelines provide your content marketing team and any external contributors with standards for the content they create. You can think of it as a content manual.
Adherence to the manual’s directives leads to high-quality, consistent messaging. Customers and prospects who engage with your content often equate content quality with your brand’s products and services.
Your guidelines also ensure your creators speak to your target audience in a relatable and appropriate manner and with integrity and authenticity. Your guide should include formatting, style, standards for visual elements, linking requirements, and brand identity guidelines.
Hopefully, you are one of the 40% of businesses with a documented content strategy. If so, weaving your editorial guidelines into it makes sense, since your strategy provides an overall framework for your team’s approach to content marketing.
You can use these guidelines to craft content style guide briefs for your creators, with variations for different content types, channels, and buyer personas. DivvyHQ’s platform makes it easy to communicate your editorial and style guide briefs to internal and external collaborators, allowing you to attach pertinent documents to and send messages within the content workspace.
What 5 Guidelines Should You Include?
When creating your guidelines, you should take a comprehensive look at what standards you need to establish to ensure your team consistently produces high-quality content that reflects your brand’s identity, offerings, and authority. We recommend you develop editorial guidelines that include the following five categories.
1. Brand Attributes
You don’t want to assume that all content contributors understand your brand well. At any given time, you might have new team members.
If you outsource content writing, your creators won’t be as involved in your organization as an employee, even if you regularly work with the same writer. Additionally, if you invite external contributors, they will need information about your brand to ensure they produce content that aligns with it. The most important brand attributes to define within your guidelines are:
- What your brand does
- Your brand’s values
- Your brand’s voice and tone
Publishing content inconsistent with your brand’s attributes can disorient your audience and lead to a lack of trust in your authority.
2. Audience Definitions
Your editorial guidelines should define your audience, including buyer personas for each segment. Clearly describing your audience and the various segments makes it easier to target your content. You should include the pain points, needs, and interests across personas.
Divvy’s platform helps you keep track of the content you produce for various audiences. Our content calendar has multiple viewing options, allowing you to filter by audience type and view scheduled content for the day, week, month, or longer. Using our analytics tools, you can determine how well your content hits the mark and adapt your strategy as needed.
3. Content Attributes
Your content strategy should identify your goals for the content your team produces. You need standards that outline content attributes to help you achieve these goals. Editorial guidelines for content attributes include:
- The formats your audience prefers
- The channels your audience uses
- The topics you do and do not cover
You should also identify preferred terms and phrases. Be mindful of any industry jargon that would confuse your audience, translating it into layperson’s speak and including the translations in your list of terms.
4. Formatting Standards
With the background framework in place, it’s time to focus on providing consistent formatting instructions. The formatting guidelines ensure consistency in how your content reads and looks. Consider your preferences for:
- Grammar: Standardizing grammatical structure includes language (British or American English?), punctuation usages — such as exclamation points and hyphens — and sentence structure.
- Text: Include text formatting considerations in your editorial guidelines, such as header and sub-header usage, paragraph length, and document length.
- Image: If you use graphics, determine whether you’re OK with stock images, sizing preferences, and how to credit the image.
- Links: Linking is an important SEO strategy, so make sure you standardize your linking requirements.
- Design: Paying attention to design elements such as typography, color palettes, and whether to include your logo helps establish your content’s look, feel, and personality.
- References: If you use statistics or external expert information, you should establish how to handle references, whether linking to the source or providing a source list or footnotes.
Establishing formatting standards is more than just getting picky about the technical stuff. It provides a flow for your readers and viewers.
You can transfer your formatting standards to style guide briefs and upload those into Divvy’s sandbox, allowing creators, editors, and approvers easy access to the requirements identified in your editorial guidelines.
5. Publishing Process and Cadence
Creating high-quality content consistently is hard, but having the tools to collaborate and move content through the publishing process effectively makes it so much easier. Your guidelines should include a standard content production process, including publishing frequency.
Divvy’s platform helps your team stay on top of your production processes and schedule. Our collaboration, notification, and messaging tools increase efficiency and reduce the disorganized chaos often resulting from external communication systems.
Can Divvy Simplify the Editorial Guidelines Creation Process?
Divvy is all about making content marketing more manageable. Our platform provides a central hub for your entire content marketing team, including internal or external stakeholders. Our content calendar, communications tools, and analytics capabilities make incorporating your editorial guidelines into the production process easier. Request a demo to check out how we simplify your content marketing life.