Not everyone can write effective content marketing. Sure, writing skills are important. So too is the ability to tell a story in a way that engages the reader and calls them to action, converting them from consumer to customer. The true skill, however, lies in being able to step into the shoes of the marketer and persuasively tell the story that they would tell, often without more than minimal instructions.
In doing so, however, not only must you tell the story the buyer/marketer wants told, you should also consider the same factors the client must address when publishing the content you've written. Such as? Well, ensuring that the content is compliant with legal and regulatory requirements and doesn't run afoul of mandated privacy protections, for example.
"Wait, what?", you may be asking. "I'm only a content marketing writer. I don't publish what I write, the client does. Legal issues aren't my problem." Technically, you're probably right. Realistically, however, being right won't necessarily appease the company that has published your content and has run afoul of some statutory or regulatory provision in so doing.
Your position that you're not responsible for making your content fully compliant with applicable laws because you're not the publisher may protect you from liability. It likely won't, however, protect you from losing the client. That may not be a big deal if you write content marketing for a site such as ours, supplying one or two pieces for multiple different buyers. It is, however, potentially a really big deal if you write a lot of content for only a few marketers (or perhaps even just one).
Our point is simply this: While it's true you can't be expected to be an expert on whether your content marketing meets legal requirements, you can add value to any content by being aware of some basic but important compliance issues that may apply when your content is published.
Here, then, are some things you'll want to consider (or advise your customer about) when writing content, whether it's for a blog piece, a white paper, marketing materials or a website page:
Today only! Have I got an offer for you!
If your content marketing is published via email by your client, be aware that the CAN-SPAM Act applies. This federal law governs commercial email, from establishing message requirements to setting penalties for violating its provisions (up to $16,000 per non-compliant email). One such requirement? The email must provide a valid physical postal address that tells recipients where the marketer is located.
This would seem to go without saying, of course although "puffery" has long been associated with sales and marketing. As the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the FTC states: ...no matter where an ad appears...[including on the Internet] the...truth-in-advertising standard applies." If you're writing about something, make sure that what you write is arguably factual.
The FTC governs business privacy laws and policies that affect consumers. While your content may not directly involve any privacy issues, it may be used as part of a marketer's efforts to engage consumers and obtain information from them (health-related, financial or otherwise). What the marketer does with that information is where the potential liability lies.
Websites must be mobile friendly.
The FTC recently updated its digital advertising guidelines and now mandates that Webmasters of PC sites/PC advertisers must make disclosures relating to any information-gathering (e.g., purchases) explicit, obvious and readable, regardless of the screen size of the viewing device.
There are many compliance issues related to content marketing. The more you know, the better your content.