Don’t suffer from these soul-sucking mistakes in your content.
How do you fight them? All you need to do is think happy, error-free thoughts.
I'm Logan, the Quality Assurance Specialist for Pilothouse Digital. Pilothouse is, as you've come to know, a professional and highly-polished agency with a crew of experts behind the curtains of every single ad. Pilothouse was all those things before I showed up, too.
So, what do they need me for?
I'm here to reassure myself and everyone else that two English degrees was worthwhile to tell you how to make your content highly polished. I don't doubt that your team is full of experts in their fields, just like Pilothouse is. I do come bearing a simple and bleak fact: human-made material will have rough spots. No matter what you do. No matter how good you are, there’ll be the odd thing that could’ve used an extra set of eyeballs.
Before anyone says it: yes, some "mistakes" aren't really mistakes. Ads break rules. Fragments? Those work! And sentences start with and. And you like it that way. You don't want some NERD messing up your stylized content with their nit-picking, right?!
Wrong! Obviously you, or your QA person, will know what to look for. Your ads don't need copyediting class. They need Polish School. 😤
So, the following are either common fixes and adjustments I make to Pilothouse content before it goes public- or client-facing, or are typical issues I see in the wild. Check for these things consistently so that you don't end up like the bargain-bin Hot Wheels with wobbly bits and wiggly paint.
- Hyphenation. Every agency and brand should have a go-to rule for hyphenation. If you don't, consider making one. If your clients don't, ask them for one (or make them one and you'll get a gold star).
Are your meticulously-chosen compound modifiers always hyphenated when they precede the noun? What about when a noun and a number form a one-thought modifier? See what I did there? Speaking of numbers,
- Numbers. Spelled out, or shown as digits? Consistency is key here, so you should create a rule – or follow one that’s appropriate for your content, your voice, your brand, or your audience.
DTC spells out numbers one to nine, and depicts numbers 10+ with numerals (unless showing data, like 7%, $3B, or the likes).
- Bullet points. These are SO COMMON in landing pages, email newsletters, presentations, pitch decks, carousel ads, and virtually everything else. And... yup, they're frequently all over the map.
Some things to keep in mind: if you punctuate one bullet point, punctuate them all; if one bullet starts with an emoji, they all should; all bullets should be evenly spaced (and they should be properly aligned with trust badges, if applicable); bullets should all start with either a capital or lowercase letter, not a mix of both; bullets probably should not use Title Case Because It's Not a Pleasant Format to Read When You're Not Expecting It.
- Emojis. Common in eCommerce, as you've seen. But these aren't your group chats’ emojis! Advertising is still advertising, and branding is still branding! Consistency is important for image retention, trust, and ease of understanding.
Make up some rules for your emojis' spacing, how they relate to punctuation, and how frequently you want to use them – ie. for emojis that close a phrase or paragraph: DTC punctuates the phrase, then uses a single space, then places the emoji.
I also recommend choosing a handful emojis that compliment your brand voice (so that when you're blanking on how to bling-out your text block, you can throw one in). Oh, and Mechanized Strong Arm is officially part of the brand voice for Pilothouse Quality Assurance. 🦾
The above are some areas you may be able to polish, smoothening your ride to unbeatable public perception and heightened client trust.
I'm sure once you start looking you'll find some other areas that could use a coat of lacquer. I know it's tedious to start down this road, so if you have a lackey-budget, that's even better! Hand the checklist off to a trusty minion. Your ads won’t be slacking, lacking, or lackadaisical once your scrappy lackey slaps that lick of lacquer on.
Okay, this wack schtick is already too long. You know what to do: keep your eyes on the DTC newsletter for more QA tips next month!