blue-stripes

Content Playbook

This document provides all the resources and guidelines for writers and marketers to produce on-brand content and copy that will bring the Canopy brand to life. In this document, we’ve included both universal copy guidelines and content creation guidelines to quickly orient writers, editors, and managers, and other stakeholders to the goals and requirements of the content they’ll be producing and reviewing. This document should be read in conjunction with Canopy’s in-depth persona frameworks.


OUR KEY GOALS ARE:

Provide insights, best practices, tips, and updates to establish Canopy as the standout thought leader in the cloud-based accounting industry.

 

DO.

Scale appropriately for application.

Educate customers and prospects about the Canopy platform and capabilities in a masterful yet digestible, easy-to-understand way.

 

DO.

Scale appropriately for application.

Position Canopy as a go-to source for expert services and specialized knowledge for the key buying personas we’ve identified by role and responsibility.

 

Don’t.

Use multiple colors.

blue-stripes

Voice & Tone

When it comes to speaking to our audience, we want to convey that we’re talking to actual humans (rather than businesses as a whole) about issues that are important to them and relate to their work. We should write the way we speak. This doesn’t mean sounding informal — this means following common patterns of speech. Write to an individual. Use words that people understand and avoid word speed bumps that slow reading. We can do this and still educate our audience on critical industry terms and product specifications. The voice of the Canopy brand will never waver — however, the tone we speak will vary based on who we’re speaking to, as well as their priorities, and roles and responsibilities.

 

DO.

Streamline each sentence so that it offers a clear takeaway for readers — what is the most important thing we want them to learn or do?

DO.

Use short, direct sentences whenever possible. Offer just enough color to provide context and make communications feel personal, but don’t over-explain.

DO.

Long-form content: Strong intros pull readers in quickly and get to the point. Ideally, your intro sets up the story in 3-6 sentences, not 3-6 paragraphs.

 

 

 

YOU ARE THE CONFIDENT GUIDE—SOUND LIKE IT

 

Our audience knows their industry but knows how convoluted it can be—they trust you to field questions, lead the way, and assuredly navigate to solutions. Use technical details moderately. Go too light and risk losing credibility, but go too heavy and you’ll overwhelm or bore readers. Whenever we create new content, it should deliver on at least some (but not necessarily all) of the following:

  • Add perspective on a trend and bring in a new angle to the conversation.
  • Give access to Canopy’s thought leaders and trusted suppliers.
  • Showcase outside expertise from thought leaders and trendsetters
  • Present data and new research with a clear narrative/takeaway
  • Educate readers on a new (or improved) way to do something
  • Share best practices that help readers improve their practice management
  • Provide insights and tools for doing their jobs better or more efficiently.
blue-stripes

Content Creation

SEO-BASED IDEATION

To ensure that the content is relevant, useful, and strategic, internal expertise will inform the keyword research strategy.


IDENTIFY DEMAND

Content creators will work with the Canopy SEO team to assess a data-driven keyword strategy. This will help us understand which topics to cover at each level, from high, to middle, to niche/granular.


INTERPRET INTENT

We’ll analyze keyword research—questions, related keywords, etc.—to analyze and extrapolate what topics users are most interested in learning.


DETERMINE PERSPECTIVE

We’ll use data analytics to understand what types of content is driving engagement, and seasonal patterns to determine when the content will be most impactful.

Each content brief will include target SEO keywords. SEO keywords should not be forced into content. In addition to SEO research, we will consistently derive insights from the content we produce—through Adobe analytics, blog and (newsletter?) data and other digital channel analytics.

blue-stripes

Sourcing/Citations

  • Facts, stats, tips, or data need to be cited to an authoritative, reputable third-party source using inline link citations. Include hyperlinks to all relevant sources.
  • Vetted internal sources can be quoted.
  • There is no need to cite a fact that can be found on multiple sources, and all sources agree, or is common knowledge.
  • If the article linked is written in the first person, include the author’s name.
  • Mention the proper name of a study or publication source within the body of the story only if it’s recognizable or well known. If the name of the source is obscure and probably won’t add value for the reader, then, refer to the source in a general way.
    • Example: “a 2017 survey”
  • Use sources published within the past three years to ensure relevancy.

 

DO.

Scale appropriately for application.

DO.

Scale appropriately for application.

Don’t.

Use multiple colors.

blue-stripes

Style Guide

 

CAPITALIZATION

Capitalize proper nouns, proper names, regions, trade names, languages and words that are derived from proper nouns.


CASE

  • All Headlines Are Title Case, with the exception of a, an and the and prepositions – 5 letters or less
  • All Subheads Are Title Case, with the exception of a, an and the and prepositions – 5 letters or less
  • All Email Subject Lines Are Title Case, with the exception of a, an and the and prepositions – 5 letters or less
  • All bulleted lists and preheaders are sentence case.

 

CONTRACTIONS

Use them.


EM OR M DASH (—)

Use when creating a strong break in the structure of a sentence.

  • It can be used in pairs like parentheses—that is, to enclose a word, or a phrase, or a clause (as we’ve done here)—or they can be used along to detach one end of a sentence from the main body.

 

EN OR N DASH (–)

Use as a minus sign to indicate a negative number.

  • Use between number ranges and years. Ex: 4–6, 2019–2020.
  • If used elsewhere, put a space on each side of dash.

 

HYPHEN (-)

Use between words to form a compound modifier (e.g. “in a two- or three-dimensional model”), with some prefix or suffix combinations and to form adjectival number compounds (e.g. “It’s a five-minute task.”).


JARGON

In general, avoid jargon. When it’s appropriate, include an explanation.

 


NUMBERS

Spell out whole numbers up to (and including) nine (e.g., zero, one, 10, 96, 104).

  • Spell out casual expressions: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a really good one is worth a thousand dollars.
  • Write out “percent” versus % (except: visual content where space is a concern)
  • Never start a sentence with a number. Exception: Headlines. Ex: 8 Ways to Delight Your Clients

 

PUNCTUATION

  • Use a single space after a period.
  • Use the long em dash (—) over a semicolon
  • Oxford comma: Use them. Oxford commas save lives.

 

FORMATTING

Make content scannable.

  • Readers on the web normally scan the most visible parts of a page, focusing on the information most relevant to them. We should always write content with this in mind, using frequent, clear and interesting subheading.

 

HEADLINES - WEB COPY

Headlines are the first thing our audience reads. They should be informative and clear, but also attention-grabbing and actionable.

  • Good headline: 5 Productivity Tips for Accountants
  • Better headline: ****

 

HEADLINES - LONG-FORM CONTENT

Actionable, listicle-type headlines perform well, but don’t overuse

  • Good headline: 5 Productivity Tips for Accountants
  • Better headline: ****
  • Whenever possible, incorporate the top SEO keyword target in the headline. But never force it.
  • Avoid jargon
  • OK to not spell out numbers below 10.