Consistency in content: is it really that important?
Its presence or absence can have a real impact on your brand’s credibility and reputation; Techipedia found that consistent brands are worth 20% more. So, you need to start giving this some attention!
Here, we’ll explore the concept of consistency in content, and offer some advice on how to achieve it. So, let’s start!
What is consistency?
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
‘consistent behaviour or treatment’
We think it’s rather odd to define something using its root adjective, so we’ve come up with our own definition:
‘doing the same thing in the same way every time’
We know this might sound a little boring or robotic but bear with us, it will soon make sense!
Why is consistency important for marketers?
Consistency in content is important for one core reason: brand image.
If there are conflicts or variations between pieces of content, brand image will weaken and followers will disengage.
We’re not the only ones who believe this. McKinsey and Company found that a consistent customer experience across the entire customer journey increases customer satisfaction, builds trust and boosts loyalty.
The organisation claimed, “It may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy”.
Jack Sorofman, the VP of Gartner, is on our side too. He said that “in the game of customer experience … consistency will always trump delight”. He argued that delight is short term and episodic, while consistency gives you the ability to scale up and develop relationships with your followers. That’s what we’re all striving for, isn’t it?
In what areas should marketers be consistent?
The short answer is, in every area! However, there are a few that stand out, including:
- Goals and overall direction
- Voice & tone
- Writing style
To be effective, you need to be consistent in these areas across all content types. Blogs can’t just be consistent with other blogs, they need to be aligned with other content, such as social media and white papers too!
If you’re not consistent, readers won’t recognise your content as part of your brand offering and will instantly disconnect. According to Forrester, having a consistent experience across all brand touchpoints is a key driver of brand trust.
If done well, consistency in content should go unnoticed. It’s when it goes wrong that people start to pick up on it.
How do you achieve consistency in content?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to achieve consistency in content.
Some businesses think it’s enough to have the same person creating all their content, but we know better. Discrepancies – especially with grammar and punctuation – can occur in anyone’s writing at any time!
So, you need to do something about this. We suggest a systematic approach that incorporates your brand’s preferences. Here are some of our suggestions on how to promote consistency in content for your brand.
1. Create a tone of voice document
A tone of voice document is a great way to ensure that your entire writing team use the same voice and tone, every time.
This is important as your tone (or how you say something) is what sets you apart from other brands and builds trust among your audience.
Start off by pinning down your brand’s values and way of thinking. Establish what you want to tell the world and how you want to say it.
Then, distil this into a few core words. Adjectives (funny, professional, formal etc) work well, but phrases and non-descriptive words work too.
Provide examples of how phrases should and should not be written in your tone of voice document. And explain why, to really drive the message home.
Don’t do this on your own, ask your colleagues for their input too – especially if they’re going to be doing some writing. That way, you’ll get a comprehensive overview of your brand and a tone of voice that everyone is comfortable using.
2. Build an editorial style guide
An editorial style guide allows your entire team to create uniform content in line with specific brand requirements. It also prevents discrepancies across your content – which can cause some readers to switch off.
An editorial style guide should cover:
When working out what to include in it, you should be aware of the most common spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and document any spelling preferences your brand has.
3. Conduct a thorough content audit and make amendments
An effective content audit will make sure your existing content aligns with the new rules set out in your tone of voice doc and editorial style guide. It’s also a good opportunity to clear out some of the junk on your site that you no longer need.
It’s a huge task, but is well worth it. An audit identifies the weak and inconsistent pieces, allowing you to improve all your pieces of content – past and present.
Create an inventory and determine your strategy for auditing each piece. Then, just start ticking them off your list – simple!
4. Plan each piece according to a pre-determined content schedule
Rushing is the primary cause of inconsistencies!
You’re much more likely to make a mistake, or forget to check something against your style guide, if you’re pressed for time. So, you need to stick to a content schedule and workflow that allows you time to create error-free, consistent content.
Planning your content in advance is a great help. It ensures your content sticks to your brand values and overall direction, and saves on rewriting later!
5. Have an editor check through every piece
An editor is the last line of defence when it comes to consistency in content.
They’ll scour through your content word by word looking for anomalies. They’ll use editorial and tone of voice guides, as well as their own knowledge, to make sure everything is ship-shape before publishing.
You need a strong quality assurance process in place to ensure consistency and accuracy in all your marketing output.
So, that’s about it for consistency in content. It’s a great tool for building a loyal customer base if done correctly. Why not give it a shot?