Reviewing B2B copywriting? Steal our 16-point quality checklist

Here's a secret: writing B2B content is hard... and reviewing it is even harder. So to help, we score every draft on a 16-point scale. And we're happy for you to make it your own.

16 numbers on a board

In any industry where quality matters, there are a series of objective quality tests that a product has to pass before it’s released. But somehow, B2B marketing content seems to have evaded the draft.

Maybe there’s a belief that creative work is exempt from objective judgement, or a fear of provoking arguments and resentment among writers and stakeholders, but nobody reviewing B2B writing seems to have a clear idea of What Good Looks Like.

And that’s ironic. Because in any other context, a simple checklist of definable yes/no tests – making quality a little less subjective – is exactly the thing that prevents disagreement.

At Radix, we wanted to challenge this idea that subjectivity is exclusive to writing. So we’ve been piloting a clear, 16-point QA checklist for all our internal reviews (the ones our content leads do before the client sees the work).

We aimed for a list that would safeguard quality and improve consistency across our writing team, and highlight areas for development with writers and client briefs alike.

(Spoiler alert: it works.)

Steal this 16-point quality checklist when editing your B2B content. Click this image to download a printable PDF.

(Click the image to open the checklist as a printable PDF)

A 16-step quality check for your B2B content

The sixteen questions are grouped into five tests, reflecting the five key B2B copywriting competencies: accuracy, clarity, authority, empathy, and wizardry.

Test A: Accuracy

Q1: Is the copy free from factual errors?

Readers will struggle to take your content seriously if it’s littered with factual inaccuracies, or worse, straight-up lies. This is basic integrity.

Q2: Have you screened for typos, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes?

Writers are only human, and typing is hard. But your reader may not be so forgiving, so take the time to proof properly.

Side note: at Radix, we’re looking to safeguard quality and identify issues for development so we need a scoring threshold that separates consistent errors from occasional slips. If you’re interested, our actual wording is: “Are there two typos or fewer per 500 words (100-250 words = <1 typo, <100 words = 0 typos) AND is the copy free from grammatical and spelling errors (that aren’t obvious typos)?”

Q3: Does the piece meet the technical requirements (word/character count limits, templates, style guide, SEO)?

This might seem a bit niche, especially if you’re not writing for a client. The point for you to take away is: your copy needs to meet the technical requirements of the format.

Besides, if a client has a house style, it’s basic courtesy to stick to it. And file-naming conventions make content easier to manage for everyone.

(Even where people have content QA in place, these three questions are where they usually stop. But we’re just getting started…)

Test B: Clarity

Q4: Does the copy have a logical structure that presents a compelling argument?

Usually, a B2B decision-maker isn’t interesting in reading pseudo-intellectual subversion or meandering walls of copy. Your content is allowed to be long, but you need to take your reader with you. That means you need a strong structure, that always makes sense.

Q5: Is the point of the piece obvious – from the start and throughout the narrative?

If you’ve got to the end of the introduction and still aren’t sure why you should carry on reading, or if the piece completely tails off towards its conclusion, the result is the same: you’ve lost your reader (and your mark for this question).

Q6: Is every sentence easy to read?

If you find yourself re-reading sentences, tripping over grammar, or referring to Google just to understand the language, the piece won’t work. If your reader is a senior decision-maker, time-poor, or reading on a mobile device, that only adds to the pressure to ease the cognitive load.

The “every sentence” part sets an incredibly high bar – B2B tech can be complex, and almost half of first drafts require at least one tweak – but this is important, so we make no apologies for that.

Test C: Authority

Q7: Is there appropriate use of technical or industry terms that are relevant for the intended audience?

There’s no point claiming expertise if you don’t speak your reader’s language. If the content is for a specialist B2B audience, it’s likely the writer will need to use relevant technical jargon where appropriate. And they’ll need to handle it correctly – too much B2B content sprays industry terms around to mask a lack of confidence, and it always shows.

Q8: Are the claims supported by evidence and specific details?

Talk is cheap, so make sure every claim is specific, and appropriately sourced. Don’t just say it’s fast; say how fast. Don’t say a viewpoint is widely acknowledged; link to an example. If there are references to studies or ongoing news stories, ensure the sources cited are the most recent available.

Q9: Is the copy free from waffle, hyperbole, clichés, and overly formal language?

Hyperbole can end up having legal implications if it promises the impossible, but inflated language also makes you less believable. If the writer seems a bit too in love with their thesaurus, they might be making up for a lack of relevant knowledge – and the reader knows that.

“If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.”

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

Test D: Empathy

Q10: Is there evidence that the writer understands who the target audience is?

This is fundamental to effective B2B marketing content. If the brief failed to define the audience, the writer should’ve pushed back before they even got close to writing.

Q11: Does the piece avoid making assumptions about the audience?

This is a tricky one. When you’ve done your audience research, it’s easy to go too far, and lapse into telling the reader what they must think. Some writers will do this without even realising it, but making ill-advised assumptions only serves to alienate the audience or dilute the credibility of the piece.

Q12: Are the content and tone appropriate to the audience’s interests, priorities, and knowledge level?

How many B2B content pieces aimed at a certain sector start by defining the size of the market, or saying why it’s important? Newsflash: if you work there, you already know.

You need to understand what your audience knows and cares about. It’s partly about the language, but it’s also about being excited by the right things, and going beyond features and benefits to understand the real difference a product, service, or idea will make to someone’s working life.

Test E: Wizardry

Q13: Does the piece offer original insight and value to the reader?

Not every piece needs to reinvent the wheel, but it does need to offer tangible value to the reader  – and more content pieces fail on this count than any other. It might be new primary research, an original point of view, or a handy 16-point checklist (ahem), but the reader needs to gain something in return for their time.

Q14: Is it written in the right voice?

This is a little easier if you only write for one brand, but still: the piece needs to sound right.  If you cover up the branding, is it still clear who’s speaking? Whether you’re writing on behalf of a brand, or by-lining to an individual, reading should feel like the client is sat in your head, dictating it to you.

Q15: Is it engaging and enjoyable to read? OR is it likely to incite readers to action?

Place yourself in the reader’s shoes. Does the end arrive quicker than you thought, or does it feel like hard work? Do you naturally want to take the next step, whatever that may be?

What interests this audience may bore you to tears, but if a piece is well written, you should be able to get to the end and say “Yes, that would work for me if I was a slurry engineer.” If that’s the case then hey, good stuff.

Q16: And most importantly…does the piece meet the brief and reflect the right messaging?

After meeting all the points above, it’s important to think about whether the piece actually reflects the initial brief. If your answer is no, you’ll need to take a few steps back and identify where you went wrong.

Even if you’ve produced the most well-written blog post of the year, it won’t be any use to your client – or your campaign – if it doesn’t reflect what you set out to achieve.

If your content scores 16/16, it’s ready to go…

This checklist suits our needs, as a team of thirteen B2B copywriters reviewing each others’ work, and writing across up to 100 B2B tech brands. And having reviewed more than 200 pieces of content to date (from individual emails to messaging frameworks and entire websites) we find it’s working pretty well.

Your needs might be different, though, and some of the questions could be more relevant than others. You may also have other technical requirements we’re not generally asked for.

If that’s the case, feel free to download our B2B content scoresheet, and make your own version. Maybe you’ll want to change the questions, or weight the scoring somehow. Get creative.

But the point is this: asking clear, objective questions makes it much easier to tell whether your content works or not, and reduces the number of arguments you’ll have about preferences. It can help you spot issues, and change the way you brief, write, and review. And ultimately, it’ll stop you rushing out weak content.

If it helps to improve the quality of B2B tech content overall, then by all means steal away. We’ll be delighted.

Further reading…

Webinar: 5 terrifying risks you should definitely take with your B2B content

In the first ever Radix webinar, you'll learn five calculated risks that'll make your B2B content stand out... and some smart ways to get your stakeholders to agree. *This webinar has now ended.*

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