Content Grading Definition & Content Grading Strategy (how-to)
Content grading is the process of evaluating the quality of content based on various criteria to drive user retention.
Content grades can help you determine what to deliver to your audience, at what stage of their journey to deliver it, and which content is the most valuable and the best representation of you to your audience. With this information, we can more easily and objectively determine which content to leverage for gating behind a form — to take unknown contacts to known contacts or nurture them through your marketing funnels. Gating low grade content will negatively impact your reputation and a user’s trust of your brand, and ultimately decrease user retention.
Content gates are not bad. Gating bad content is bad. — @crrollyson
Content grading is the equivalent of giving your content a report card — evaluating factors like relevance, readability, and engagement. This grading system provides insights into the quality of your content, helping you understand what resonates with your audience and at what stage of their journey with you and your marketing efforts.
Content grading can sound daunting, but the process of content grading should not require time consuming matrixes for most of our marketing efforts to rapidly reap the benefits.
Let’s run through an example:
- You have a goal to capture 100 leads.
- You have 2 lead-magnets — both are eBooks.
- You can gate one of the two, but not both.
- You are good at what you do and know you need to add as much value as possible right out of the gate, so the next time you have a content offer, your audience will trust it has value worthy of their effort and trade-off.
With a grade — even with a basic lower school methodology applied — you can objectively choose the top-tier content to be gated for your lead-generation and nurturing efforts.
Example comparing two content pieces:
Evaluation: Content piece 1
“On topic, well-written, uses conversational language and familiar terms, and includes proprietary information with a point-of-view and expertise” — give it an A
Evaluation: Content piece 2
“On topic, structurally formatted, non-conversational language and unfamiliar terms, and includes general information with no point-of-view”—give it a B
General Content Grading Strategy:
- Map out a grading strategy that works for your content strategy:
Identify the criteria that most of your content shares and can be evaluated against, such as readability, accuracy, relevance, and tone for your audience. Start board and focus in. Compare eBooks to eBooks if you have them. Or move up the ladder and simply compare content types — like eBooks to White-papers to Articles.
- Choose a grading system that works for your content strategy:
Decide on a numerical scale or grading system that you will use to rate each criterion. For example, you could use a scale of 1–5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
- Evaluate and document your content grading:
Apply your grading criteria to your content to determine its overall quality. Use your scoring system to assign a score to each criterion and an overall score to the content. Don’t get hung up, read it — if it read like something you would put in an email or can explain in a conversation, give it an A. If it doesn’t, give it B. Get the process flowing.
- Analyze your content grading results:
Look for patterns and trends in your scores to identify areas for improvement. For example, if readability is consistently low across your content, you may need to simplify your writing style. Be objective.
- Prioritize high grade content and revise and improve or shelve your lower grade content:
Use the insights to establish standards for identifying and creating high grade content. Create content development standards. Revise and improve the quality and relevance of your content to maximize engagement. Remove the distractions.
- Repeat the process:
Regularly review and grade your content to ensure that it meets your quality standards and continues to engage your audience. Prioritize your highest value content and keep it up-to-date or refreshed. Establish a review process. Keep it simple.
If they only do one thing, you want to ensure you deliver the best you have for who and where they are in their journey. And when you do, they will come back.
Read more about how content grading impacts user retention in my recently published related article: The Content Grade Chronicles: A Deep Dive into User Retention