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A Guide to Providing Content Writers with Useful Feedback

Whether your organization is creating content in-house or partnering with an agency for content development services, feedback is key to getting the results you want. Unfortunately, not all feedback is created equal. In fact, ineffective feedback can drag your content down every bit as much as useful feedback can elevate it.

Use these guidelines to optimize your feedback for effectiveness, efficiency, and excellent end results.

How to Give Useful Content Feedback

You want great B2B content writing, and your content team wants to give it to you—but even the best writers aren’t mind readers. We rely on your honest feedback to help us develop a voice, tone, and style that’s unique to you and your business and targeted to your audience. Here are some rules of thumb for approaching the feedback phase:

Set clear expectations 

Expectations surrounding feedback can vary wildly, so getting everyone on the same page is crucial. To begin, you and your content team should agree on what feedback entails. Are they merely looking for your stamp of approval, or do they expect you to act as an editor and make extensive changes to the content?

When you know what’s expected of everyone involved in your content’s creation, the feedback phase becomes more intuitive, and your content becomes stronger. 

Use the 80/20 principle

You may be the kind of person who never requests a single edit. You’re happy with the content your team produces and don’t care to spend your time making minor modifications.

Alternatively, you may have a visceral need to put your fingerprints on every piece of content that gets published—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Your tweaks can teach us a great deal about your preferences.

Whatever your ideal level of involvement in finalizing each piece of content, the 80/20 principle offers a reliable framework for contributing feedback. 

If your feedback includes change requests to less than 20% of an article, you and your content team are on the right track. They’re developing content that aligns with your goals and adequately reflects your message. 

However, if you find yourself regularly requesting edits that comprise more than 20% of a piece, you may need to realign on strategy and style. Don’t try to tackle this challenge in your feedback. Instead, schedule a conversation with your content team to review your concerns and clear up any confusion. 

Here at Every Little Word, our long-term clients enjoy a content approval average of nearly 97%, meaning they approve the majority of their content as-is. You can expect 80% at the start, 90% as you and your content team develop a familiar rhythm, and even higher as the relationship strengthens. 

No matter where you are in your content-building process, we take notice if you commonly give critical feedback on more than 20% of your content. At that point, we’ll review your documentation, reach out for clarification, and adopt whatever changes are necessary to eliminate future issues.

Give feedback fearlessly

If you’re hesitant to give “too much” feedback, remember that feedback isn’t only allowed; it’s necessary! Well-structured feedback, especially at the beginning of an engagement, helps your content team understand your preferences and objectives. The goal is that, over time, you’ll have fewer and fewer requests for changes. 

Remember that without feedback, your content team will assume you’re 100% happy. Withholding vital feedback doesn’t benefit anyone—least of all you!

The Feedback Methods that Work Best

Many companies that provide content marketing services use Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets to create, share, and edit content, from blog articles to social media posts to email newsletters. Why are Google’s tools so popular? Because their highly collaborative solutions make it easy for clients to engage with their content in real-time, ensuring everyone is always working in the most current content version. 

You can provide feedback in three ways:

  • Editing mode. You can open your content document and type your changes within the existing content. The downside of Editing your content directly is that Google doesn’t automatically highlight in-line changes, meaning your content team won’t immediately know what—or how much—you’ve changed. If you’re a strong writer and want to insert a paragraph, for instance, consider manually highlighting the addition to draw attention to your new content.
  • Suggesting mode. This mode is similar to Word’s Redline tool, which reveals your modifications in red. When you alter a document in Suggesting mode, Google Docs draws attention to your changes and allows the document’s owners to review, edit, and accept or reject your suggestions.
  • Comments. When you use the Comment tool to leave feedback, you can convey your ideas while leaving the wordsmithing to your content team. Be sure your feedback is specific enough that your content team knows exactly what you want. Statements like these are sufficiently clear: “Please add this link,” or “Change this word to that word,” or “Focus this section on X instead of Y.”

Pro tip: Stay in Google Docs

While Google Docs is a highly collaborative tool, MS Word is not. For this reason, we advise against opening a Google Docs file in Word before making edits. As different versions of your content documents enter the project, changes get mixed up and lost, and your team may lose track of the most recent version of your content. You can prevent any confusion by remaining within your content team’s established workflow and adding your feedback to the document they provide.

8 Ways to Give Seriously Effective Content Feedback

When reviewing a piece of content, look for opportunities to make the content stronger. Above all, your finished content should: 

  • Communicate the intended message
  • Speak to the target audience
  • Reflect your brand’s values
  • Provide the necessary information
  • Support your organization’s goals

By providing useful, effective feedback, you’ll build a high-quality content library that you’re proud to publish. Here’s how:

1. Be specific

Vague feedback doesn’t give your writers any direction; it only causes confusion and drags out the editing phase. Specific feedback, on the other hand, leaves no room for doubt. Here are a few examples:

❌ Vague feedback: “I don’t like this.”

✅ Specific feedback: “Please rewrite this sentence with a positive spin.”

❌ Vague feedback: “Not on brand.”

✅ Specific feedback: “Please avoid exclamation points in all of our content.”

❌ Vague feedback: “Fix this.”

✅ Specific feedback: “Please capitalize this product name.”

2. Explain why

If you know your content hasn’t quite hit the mark but aren’t sure how to fix it, tell your content team why you’re not fully satisfied. For instance, you might say, “Could you make this blog post a little shorter? Our audience has a short attention span.” When your writers know your audience prefers shorter articles over long-form content, they can adhere to this preference in every future blog post.

3. Share examples 

While we certainly need to know what you don’t like, we also want to know what you do like. Often, the best way to communicate what you like is to provide an example. Share a blog article with a tone of voice you’d like to imitate or link to a social media post that resonates with your values. We can take inspiration from any B2B content writing that inspires you while still making your content wholly unique.

4. Work smart

Imagine you’re providing feedback on an article about e-commerce—only your company always uses a capital E. Instead of calling out every instance of “e-commerce” in the article, comment on only the first instance, like this: “Please change to ‘E-commerce’ throughout.” We’ll take care of it.   

5. Be actionable

Avoid leaving open loops by including all the information your content team needs in your feedback. If, for instance, you want your writer to include a full list of your services, provide a direct link to that list. Otherwise, your writer may need to go searching for your services list, and if they can’t find it, they’ll be forced to leave a comment asking you for guidance. Closing this kind of open loop can be time-consuming, so it’s wise to proactively deliver all the details your writer will need.

6. Avoid comment wars

Comment wars are a common byproduct of too many cooks in the content kitchen. What’s a comment war? This occurs when you leave feedback, another stakeholder leaves conflicting feedback, and then the feedback thread devolves into a debate among stakeholders. These discussions tend to stall your content completely as your content team waits for final guidance. You can prevent comment wars with a couple of simple steps:

  • Resolve conflicting opinions offline; don’t try to tackle them in a feedback thread.
  • Don’t add last-minute stakeholders who may not understand your content goal.
  • Trust your Content Champion (the individual responsible for managing your content) to make the final call on all feedback.

7. Remain respectful

When you provide feedback, keep in mind that you’re communicating with real, hardworking people who want to create exceptional content that meets your needs. Communication in both directions should always be clear, professional, and respectful.

8. Confirm completion

Last but not least, email us when you’ve finalized your feedback. Without a message confirming that you’re done giving feedback, we might jump in too soon or leave your content hanging for too long. Maximize your time by establishing strict internal deadlines for your content stakeholders, and then give us the thumbs-up when you’re ready for us to implement your edits. We’ll have your finished content ready to launch right on time.  

Honestly Assess Your Content

When your content doesn’t turn out the way you expected, your content team should seek to identify the root of the problem and fix it. Every Little Word sees every challenge as an opportunity to improve your content, now and in the future. 

A number of issues can push a piece of content off course, but we’ve found that most major concerns stem from one of these scenarios:

  • Your preferred subject matter expert (SME) wasn’t part of the Content Conversation℠.
  • The SME didn’t have enough time to prepare,
  • Your team is still adjusting to working with content creators.
  • You’ve only recently realized the full depth of information you wanted this content to convey.

We will work closely with you to resolve these challenges and more. Talk openly with us about your concerns, and acknowledge where you believe the problems lie. Together, we can determine the best course of action to get you the content you want and need.

Your Content Team Is Your #1 Advocate

Content creation can feel overwhelming when you’re new to it; that’s why we’re here to help! As expert content creators, your Every Little Word content team will guide you through our processes until they become second nature for you and your stakeholders.

Ask questions, share concerns, and never hesitate to request a one-on-one call for some added support. Creating content is a collaborative effort, and we want to work closely with you to understand your goals, develop a streamlined style, and build a broad catalog of content that will carry your company into a successful future.

If Every Little Word’s B2B content writing is just what you’ve been looking for, Book a Discovery Call!

This content was crafted with purpose by Every Little Word’s all-human content team. Kristen Sweeney provided the thought leadership, Lindsey Bergeron led the Content Conversation℠, Anne Simone wrote the article, and Jessica Sullivan served as editor.

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