Content Planning: Should I Do A Content Interview?

Writer holding his smartphone in the office while working on a laptop to illustrate Content Planning Should I Do A Content Interview

When client content planning time comes around, writers and content marketing specialists are often faced with a recurring question: Should I do a content interview?

The answer(s):

It depends.


Sometimes definitely yes.

We content writers have many tools in our arsenal. We work in Google Docs and Google Sheets. We actively collaborate in ActiveCollab (or the project management software of our choice). We perform deep dives into SEMrush, Screaming Frog, Keywords Everywhere, and other platforms to help us design winning content plans.

We use all these nifty, swift-y programs to assist us in our content marketing strategies and content marketing plans — to brainstorm content ideas, interview questions, and to fill up our editorial calendars.

But some decisions require a more organic touch. Or perhaps it’s better to say that creating content that achieves marketing goals requires a little computing power mixed with some good ol’ fashioned brainpower.

Content Interviews: Considerations

What type of content are you writing? Is it a blog on a topic you’re familiar with — one that requires just a bit of research to create?

As we become more experienced, we find that there are many topics that we can research on our own. So if you know your client and you understand the subjects that make up the blogs and web pages of your content plan, then in all likelihood you can proceed without a content interview.

If, on the other hand, the client is new to you and your team or if the subject matter is tricky or technical, then a content interview is the way to go.

This is especially important in cases where the tone, jargon, nomenclature, and verbiage used by a client and others in their industry require precision and nuance in order to imbue the text with expertise, authority, and trust.

At Webfor, we work with a wide variety of clients engaged in all manner of industry, services, and production. Depending on the topic and the relationship with the client, we may need to interview the client about that subject matter or the tone.

We may also want to get an idea for roadblocks or nonstarters in the content. For example, there may be things the client wants to emphasize or deemphasize in the copy.

It’s always a good idea to clarify and verify details. This is also part of the client interview process.

A client interview can reveal all of these subtleties and nuances. (The approval and editing process provides another opportunity to get things just right.)

Remember, an interview can be 15 minutes or an hour. It can take place over coffee or over the phone. It can be a series of emails. Whatever gets the job done so that you can write compelling content.

Some content marketers prefer to interview a client during or just after a kickoff meeting — an initial step in the client onboarding process. If this suits your creative process and the client is keen on the idea, then get to it!

Other writers prefer to use the kickoff meeting as one part of their preparations, along with background research, a review of the client’s current website, and other considerations.


Should you do a content interview?


But sometimes no.

Trust your instincts and the expertise of your content team members, your content manager, and other in-house experts to help you steer the content ship. And be sure to pay close attention to client feedback on the copy you submit for their approval.

One final thing that’s important to keep in mind: Part of our jobs as content marketers is to make decisions about content on behalf of our clients. Just as we may not know every detail about their particular business, they’re unlikely to know every detail about content ranking factors, keywords, SEO, and other things that inform the content strategy and content planning processes.

An interview is a conversation; it can help clients understand these behind-the-scenes aspects of content marketing. It can also help them understand why we choose topics and web pages and craft them in specific ways in order to prime the pages for optimization and engagement.

Content creation is an ever-evolving process. We must adjust and respond to search engine algorithm updates. These force us to course-correct as necessary, keeping the needs of our clients at the forefront of our minds.

The key to navigating these often turbulent digital marketing waters: focus on establishing a relationship with your clients built on trust, knowledge of their products and services, and an awareness of their business goals.

And then phone ‘em up if you have any questions.