[Heather’s note: I originally wrote this post in 2011 and started with 31 questions. Since then, I’ve added 25 more questions you can ask your new SEO writing client, for a total of 56! Enjoy!]
Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to ask a lot of questions…
Why? Because that’s how I learn.
When you’re onboarding a new copywriting client — whether you work for yourself or an agency — asking lots of questions is the key to success.
Sure, that means that you’ll be spending an hour (or more) on the phone. But just as you wouldn’t enter a marriage without a pretty solid “getting to know you” process, you shouldn’t start writing without a solid customer interview under your belt.
After all, how can you write specific, action-oriented content if you don’t have any detailed information?
Here are 56 of my favorite questions to ask a new copywriting client – enjoy!
Important: Ask these questions after your client has signed on the bottom line. Although you may touch on some of these topics during the sales phase, it’s best to save the “meat” of your questions for the kick-off client call.
- Can I review your analytics?
- Do you have any customer persona documents? Can I see them?
- Can I see reports outlining your SEO/content marketing success to date?
- How do we measure success? Conversions? Page positions? Social media love?
- Which social media platforms are working for you?
- What is your per-page keyphrase strategy?
- How did you arrive at your keyphrase choices? Do you focus on keyphrases with a bigger search volume? Or are you more interested in answering questions and concentrating on long-tail searches?
- Do you need me to create the strategy and research the keyphrases?
- How important is it for you to position for a particular keyphrase? If it is a competitive keyphrase, are you prepared to spend the time and budget to make this happen — or is this an unrealistic Google expectation?
- What’s the one thing that drives most of your current content marketing success?
- What tools/platforms do you use? (Semrush? BuzzSumo? Moz?)
Marketing and SEO questions
- Who is your online competition? Why would you consider them competition?
- What is your unique sales proposition?
- Why should a prospect purchase from you rather than your competition?
- What are your company benefit statements?
- What content approach has worked in the past?
- What has not worked?
- Do you like your site’s “voice” (how it reads and sounds)?
- If not, what’s an example of what you would prefer?
- How do you follow up with prospects?
- How do you follow up with current clients?
- Can I see your other marketing materials (autoresponder emails, print materials, etc.)?
- Are there any keyphrases that you’re not currently positioning for, and you want to gain a stronger position?
- How do you currently promote new content (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?
- Who is your “perfect customer(s)”?
- What benefit statements are important to those customers?
- What customer profile would not be a good fit for your business?
- Can I review your customer testimonials? (Or better yet, can I chat with a few of your happy clients?)
- Has your company won any awards? Can I see the documentation?
- What are the most common questions that customer service answers? How do they answer them?
- Can I talk to your best salesperson to get their perspective?
- What are the most common objections to overcome?
- Has your product/service been featured in a book, endorsed by an organization, etc.?
- What immediate action do you want readers to take?
- Is there a secondary call to action?
- What is your biggest sales “sticking point” right now?
- How will the content be promoted?
- What is your influencer outreach strategy?
- Is there anything you’ve wanted to try (for instance, white papers) but you haven’t had the time?
- What content types have been most successful? FAQ pages? Comparison review posts?
Process and procedure questions
- Who else will I be working with (for instance, an external SEO company)?
- Who is my main point of contact?
- What is the expected content turnaround time?
- Who will review the content?
- How long does content approval take?
- How would you like me to send you the content? For instance, in a Word document?
- How often would you like to receive project updates?
- How will I know if the content is working? Will I have continued access to your analytics?
- How is the editorial calendar created, and who is on the editorial calendar team?
- How often do you publish new content?
- How often do you deviate from the editorial calendar?
- How often do “quick turnaround” posts happen?
- Do you have an SEO style guide or any requirements that I can review? (Warning: beware of style guides with funky SEO writing formulas like this and this.)
- If there’s no style guide, are there any content structure or wording no-nos? (For example, not using the word “cheap” in the content.)
- How is the article and page word count determined? Can blog posts be different lengths, or must they all be long-form?
- Do you have a content repurposing strategy? If not, would you like one?
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