Performing a marketing content audit is an important early step in the development of a content marketing system. I believe it is also something that should become part of your regular content planning process.
The content audit should not simply be another item to check off the marketing to-do list; it should provide insight and answer key questions that will improve your content marketing efforts and grow your bottom line.
Generally speaking, during a content audit you perform a full assessment of all of your marketing content assets and categorize them according to type and purpose. This allows you to compare and contrast each of your items and determine which ones are performing – attracting traffic and converting prospects and leads.
Most of your marketing content is probably part of your website, but don’t forget to include your other marketing content as you well. For example, many accounting firms, law offices, and other professional service firms have presentations, articles, and other materials they have not yet shared on their websites. These items could be shared as is or repackaged and/or re-purposed for future marketing campaigns.
Once your audit is complete you should have a better understanding of your existing content and the gaps which exist. Specifically, a content audit should help you answer the following questions:
1. Are all of our buyer personas being addressed?
In order to provide the right types of information in your marketing content, you must understand the needs of the people involved in the buying process. Depending on the nature of your business, you may offer solutions for single buyers, or you may sell to companies that include several individuals in their buying process. Your marketing content needs to address each of the buyer and influencer personas in your ideal customers’ buying process if you want to maximize your chances of winning the deal.
If all of your marketing content is geared to the final decision maker, but ignores the needs of the people who do the initial research, you may never make the short list. Conversely, if all of your content focuses on the problem definition, but fails to raise the issues that are important to management, you will likely generate a lot of leads that never convert.
The content audit process should help small business owners identify these gaps and help ensure that all of the individuals involved in the buying process are addressed.
2. Do we have content for each stage of the marketing hourglass?
In Duct Tape Marketing we use the concept of the marketing hourglass to define the stages of the customer lifecycle (Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, Refer). Others may use a different model to outline their Buyer Cycle Stages (i.e. Awareness, Interest, Trial, Purchase, Support, Loyalty, Referral). The important thing to remember is your customers have a process they use when making purchases. Our job as marketers is to understand their process so we can provide the information they need to see and hear in order to feel comfortable enough to move to the next stage.
It is common for small business to have plenty of content geared towards generating awareness and interest but then to have little or no content that helps build trust, moves customers to a trial phase, or helps close the sale. A content audit should identify these gaps so you can address them in the next marketing planning cycle.
3. Are there opportunities to use other media types?
Keep in mind that different people like to learn differently. Some like to read while other may prefer to watch video. Some media formats may also lend themselves better to certain stages of the marketing hourglass than others. Don’t get bogged down thinking that “marketing content” is just web pages and blog posts – consider how you might be able to use each of the following media formats to communicate with your ideal customers in each stage of their buying process:
- Case studies
- Social media updates
Savvy marketers often get more bang for their buck by repackaging their content in different media. For example, an eBook may be several blog posts, a video, and a slide presentation.
4. Do some authors’ content perform better than others?
If you have more than one author (employees, guest authors, strategic partners, etc.) contributing marketing content, it can be helpful to identify those who produce high performing content so you can learn more about what makes their content successful.
5. Which Content is Performing ?
Not every piece of marketing content you publish is going to lead to an immediate sale. However, each piece of content should still have a purpose.
As mentioned above, much of your marketing content will be geared to helping your buyers move to the next stage of their buying process. These goals may include calls to action, links for more information, follow-on items in a series of posts, a sign-up page or a purchase page.
Your audit process and tools should help specify conversion goals and track which pieces of content contribute to the completion of those goals.
Building a Content Planning Rhythm
The first time you perform a marketing content audit it may feel (and can be) a huge undertaking.
Depending on the amount of content you have, it may make sense to start with a sample of your most popular content and build from there.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I believe this process of classifying your marketing content, identifying gaps, and evaluating which content is performing is important to do on a regular basis.
In order to do this efficiently, you will want to adopt a process and tools that record this information as you go along. If gathering the data you need becomes a huge project every time you want to review and plan, chances are it won’t get done.
Some editorial calendars allow you to classify and label content with the data you need during the planning stages. These tools can save you a lot of time and even help you identify gaps before you start producing content.
If you don’t use editorial calendar software, or if the one you use doesn’t capture the information you need for an audit, I would highly recommend adapting your planning process to capture this information as you go rather than waiting until audit time.
If you would like to see a demo of the editorial calendar software we use with our customers, and how it helps speed up the content auditing process, feel free to contact us.