What is promotable content?
Promotable content is pitchable content
Promotable content differs from the other content we publish on our websites because it can be pitched to other content creators who aren’t Intuit employees — such as journalists, bloggers, and influencers. It never promotes a product.
Promotable content reaches new customers faster, in more places
A successful pitch inspires journalists, bloggers, influencers, etc to create content based on ours and share it with their readers/viewers/listeners/followers. This supports our SEO, brand awareness, thought leadership and other marketing-communications initiatives.
5 characteristics of promotable content
- Authoritative: in-depth, high quality, and closely related to our areas of expertise
- Unique: revealing new or surprising facts or insights that cannot be found elsewhere
- Objective: not overtly promoting Intuit products
- Topical: relevant to the world beyond Intuit and its customers
- Inspiring: persuading busy people to write about our content and share it
How your content looks when it is published is critical to its success. Involve a designer at the earliest opportunity so you can write to an agreed wireframe. Remember that objective, authoritative content that does not try to sell a product performs best. This means our content should not look like a product page — even when it is published on a product page. When publishing the results of a survey, scannable content works best (see Body copy below), with short paragraphs broken up with punchy subheadings and beautiful graphics. See also Bylines and Datelines below.
When writing a data report (see Data guidelines below), graphics are critical to its success. They will tell your story. They will attract backlinks. They will earn social shares. Partner with your XD resource at the earliest opportunity so they know which elements (e.g. statistics) are most important to your story. Be sure to provide concise copy for XD to work with. See Content for graphics, below.
Exceptions to general rules
There are three exceptions to the Intuit style guide when writing promotable content:
- Promotable content is objective. Don’t mention or try to sell a product.
- Promotable content is newsworthy. It’s okay to lead with a negative.
- Promotable content is eye-catching. It’s okay to highlight problems that small business owners face. But always try to include potential solutions as well.
Google rewards authoritative content with better search rankings. Content published with an author’s name is considered more authoritative by Google than content published anonymously. We should always include an author’s byline in promotable content. As often as possible, this author should be a recognized expert on the topic.
Google also rewards recent, up-to-date content. When journalists and bloggers cite or link to our content, they will want to know when it was published. As often as possible, promotable content should be published with a dateline.
Headlines need to grab people’s attention. They should be 7 to 14 words and written in sentence case (see Sentence case, below). This is your H1 so include key terms — including the most valuable keyword you want the content to rank for — and the most important information (the news) upfront. Use numbers (written as numerals, not words), use a unique rationale, be sharp. Avoid ambiguous phrases, wordplay, and generic topics. And don’t try to sell a product.
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Give your reader a reason to read on. Get them hooked. Give them a reason to believe. Give them something they didn’t know before. Surprise them. Show them why this content matters. Ask yourself, why should they care? Use the “so what?” test. Find your angle and start to reveal it here — intriguingly — connecting it to current trends and events in the outside world (e.g. the economy, important regulatory changes, etc) wherever possible. Avoid waffle. Deliver on the promise your headline makes. Make every word count.
Now you’ve got your reader hooked, what’s the story? Use your H2s to convey this, and take time to get them right. You might have 10 points to make but writing is a linear medium, so something has to come first. Your subheadings need to reveal your story layer by layer as your readers scrolls down the page. Include key terms — including the most valuable keywords you want the content to rank for — and the most important information (the news) upfront. If your reader only reads your subheadings, they should come away with the complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. The best subheadings usually read like the headlines of articles that other people would want to write. Remember to use sentence case (see Sentence case, below).
It’s okay to write long, in-depth (skyscraper) pieces of content. Trends show that telling comprehensive, researched, authentic stories work. Include keywords and make sure every word, and every heading, is meaningful. When publishing the results of a survey (example), scannable content works best, with short paragraphs broken up with punchy subheadings and beautiful graphics. When publishing curated content (example), similar rules apply; scannable content that emphasizes the names and faces of the people you quote will perform better, because these same people will be more inclined to share it.
Use it everywhere in headlines and subheadings except when writing official names and proper nouns.
Find an accountant for your business
Find an Accountant for Your Business
Call to Action buttons
CTAs to “buy now” should generally be omitted from promotable content (particularly when the content is still being promoted — though they can be added in later when the promotion phase of a campaign has ended). But if they are very relevant to the content, or promoting another piece of content, they can be included at the bottom of the page. With buttons, stick to a max of 3 words. When writing about interface actions, be device-agnostic. Never write “click” for buttons. Instead, write a verb phrase that links to the destination (an article name, page title, or process) or initiates an action.
Don’t overuse exclamation points!
If the subject’s gender is unknown, write your way around it. Don’t use “she/he,” “s/he,” “they” or “them,” or “one.” If you absolutely can’t write your way around it, then it’s OK to use they, them, or their. For example, instead of “ladies and gentlemen,” use something like “distinguished guests” or be more specific and say “customers” or “developers.”
In promotable content, always look for opportunities to link to useful internal resources such as tools, templates, and calculators or further information on the subject you are writing about. Linking to external sources — especially those that rank for the keywords we are targeting, if they are not competitors of Intuit — is also good practice when publishing curated content because the authors will be more likely to share or link to your article. This helps our SEO.
Don’t mess with the facts
Promotable content is factual; often based on data collected from independent surveys. Take care to report this data accurately and objectively. Never change factual information and always add proper attribution. See Attribution below. Unlike data used in marketing claims, data used in content should be rounded up OR down to the nearest decimal place. This is contrary to the guidance given in the Intuit style guide. See Rounding statistics, below.
Every survey we publish needs an authoritative, eye-catching name; ideally including the most important keyword we want the content to rank for. For example, “State of Employee Time Tracking Report 2019” not “Time & Attendance Survey.” The survey’s official name should be referenced every time the data is cited, internally and externally, with a link to the source.
Content for graphics
When providing content for graphics, take care to ensure the copy is concise and the data is accurate. Concise copy makes for better graphics. Accurate data is essential (see Don’t mess with the facts).
How does your employer allocate paid time off?
Accrue and carry all my time – 33.74%
Accrue and can carry some days – 27.91%
Accrue and cannot carry days – 16.26%
Annual allowance and carry all my time – 5.28%
Annual allowance and carry some days – 4.47%
Annual allowance and cannot carry days – 10.70%
Other – 1.63%
How does your employer allocate paid time off?
I accrue paid time off and can carry all my time over into the next year. – 33.74%
I accrue paid time off and can carry some days over into the next year. – 27.91%
I accrue paid time off and cannot carry days over into next year. – 16.26%
I get an annual allowance up front and can carry all my time over into the next year. – 5.28%
I get an annual allowance up front and can carry some days over into next year. – 4.47%
I get an annual allowance and cannot carry over days into next year. – 10.70%
Other – 1.63%
Percentages should be rounded to the nearest decimal place (e.g. 44.49% = 44% but 44.5% = 45%) following the Associated Press Style. (Note that this differs from the way product claim data is rounded. Product claim data must ALWAYS be rounded down. As a result, data collected for content promotion cannot be used for Intuit product claims unless you have prior approval from the Intuit legal team. See Disclaimer below) The frequent use of graphic data visualizations is encouraged, to help bring the data to life. As much as possible, use fractions like “almost 1 in 3,” for example, in place of 32%.
Multiple choice statistics
Some of the data in promotable content comes from survey questions that have multiple-choice response options. Take extra care when publishing this data. If you use the percentage of the number of respondents in your content, it will better reflect the number of people who chose that particular option, but remember that this data will add up to more than 100% — so it cannot be used in pie charts. If you want to compare the proportions of people who chose one response over another, or display the data in a pie chart, you will need to refer to the percentage of the number of responses. This will add up to 100%.
Full survey results
Data reports should focus on the most eye-catching findings (see Subheadings above). But always include the full survey questions and results at the bottom of the report in a separate section for people want to dig deeper and cite other statistics not included in the main body of the content. Here, percentages may be taken out to 2 decimal places to show exact figures. When showing full survey results, any “other” responses should be included.
Ensure the sample is statistically significant and representative of your target population. When writing survey questions, never use leading questions (e.g. not “What do you like about X?” but “What is your opinion about X?”) and always include a neutral option when asking people’s opinions. When writing screening questions, be careful to disguise the “correct” answers to protect the quality of the survey data by only screening in qualified respondents. If the survey respondents were incentivized to complete the survey, this should be disclosed in the methodology statement (e.g. “respondents were remunerated”). When publishing survey results, you should always include the methodology — including the survey name, sample size, target population, confidence level, margin of error, and survey partner (e.g. Gallup) — at the bottom of the page. An example would be:
For the QuickBooks Payroll “Pay & Benefits Survey 2019,” QuickBooks Payroll commissioned Kelton Global to independently survey 1,396 U.S. employees age 18+, using a 23-question questionnaire, to establish current opinions about, and changes to, pay and benefits in the workplace. The poll was conducted in Month YYYY with a confidence level of 99% with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.
On subsequent write-ups of survey results, link back to the original survey results using the full survey name.
At the end of a data report, always include an invitation for people to re-use the data in their own content, providing they provide full attribution with a link back to the source. Remember to request the most valuable link for the keywords you are hoping to rank for. This may be a different URL to the page you are actually publishing. Also remember to include the correct product name of the Intuit product you are raising awareness for (e.g. QuickBooks Payroll). For example:
QuickBooks Payroll welcomes the re-use of this data only under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original source is cited with attribution to “QuickBooks Payroll.”
Data published for content promotion should not be used in claims about Intuit products (unless the legal team has given explicit approval). To discourage other Intuit teams from using content promotion data in product claims, the following disclaimer must be added at the end of all data reports:
The data provided above is for information purposes only. The survey participants are not Intuit customers and their responses are not intended for use in any marketing claims about Intuit products. Their responses do not represent the views of Intuit or its employees.
More about content marketing
Why we create promotable content
We create promotable content to reach our customers faster, and in new places. We do this by inspiring other content creators to use our content in their own because they see the value in it for their audience.
When these content creators publish backlinks to our content, it can boost our website’s page authority, rankings, and traffic. When they share our content on social media it also boosts our website traffic, rankings, and referrals. When people are citing us as an authoritative source on topics that matter not only to our customers but to small businesses generally, we are raising our brand awareness and being seen as a true thought leader.
6 examples of promotable content
- Curate big data: use a data visualization to reveal new insights from public datasets
- Publish new data: use surveys to reveal new, surprising, or topical insights
- Share product data: use anonymous customer data to reveal industry trends
- Expert analysis: interview several leading experts to create an authoritative resource
- Head-to-head: interview two high-profile experts with opposing views
- Harness other brands: create top-app lists or work in partnership with other brands