By Dr Thomas Brown | September 05 2017
Discover how to do a content marketing audit for your business, get full visibility over all your content assets, and make your content development process more efficient.
The chances are high that you've already created a reserve of articles, white papers, or case studies, and that’s only looking at your company's online content. What about the printed brochures and collateral being used by the sales team?
Doing a content marketing audit will help you to:
1. Get clear visibility of the content already in your business to understand what is missing, what should be binned and what could be repurposed
2. Ultimately, save time and resources by not having to start from scratch
Now you’re on board, let’s dive in.
It’s time to create an inventory of both your online and offline content.
First, create a spreadsheet to keep track of everything. We’ll go through all of the columns you’ll need throughout this article but start off with the name.
(I've put together a content audit spreadsheet template to make it a bit easier for you to get started.)
Secondly, make sure that you look in all areas of the business. Here are a few examples of the types of content you could find just in marketing and sales.
If you have a lot of customer testimonials, you might want to track these in a separate tab, noting where they are currently used. They will act as a really useful resource when you're creating content in future.
Add columns to denote the format of the content. That might be an article, white paper, video, infographic… The list goes on, but my main advice would be to keep it consistent and simple, so that you can filter by type at a later stage.
I mentioned before that you will have already sorted out your topics. If you haven’t, I'd recommend reading this article to get those sorted as this will make it much easier to marry up your existing content with that which you will be creating from scratch going forward.
There are three areas we’re particularly looking at during this stage: Persona, Stage of the buyer’s journey, and Purpose
This is the part that will give you some really interesting insight into the content. It may be that it was created before you looked into personas and the buyer’s journey, so don’t worry if it straddles a few — just make sure that it’s all noted down.
Knowing the objective of a piece of content is crucial as even if it seems like it’s unnecessary to you, another person in the business could find it invaluable for a reason you hadn’t considered. Make sure you interview the people who actually use the content to understand its purpose.
Here are a few examples of different objectives for a piece of content:
At this stage, you will also want to take note of where it is. Is this something which only gets sent out directly to prospects by the sales team? Is it gated on your site or is it sat open for anyone to read?
A successful content marketing strategy depends on content that delivers on the goals set out for it. To really understand the role of each piece of content you need to see how it is performing. Doing that is really a two stage process:
Now that you’ve discovered, categorised, and analysed your content, it’s time to start working out what to do with it. Not everything will need to be kept, so aim to attach one of the following categories to each piece of content:
No change needed. This piece of content is working really well and doesn’t need changing at all
Delete. It could just be badly executed or it could be so old that it no longer makes sense for your business — either way, it’s not staying
Update. You see promise in this piece of content, it just needs a few tweaks to get it right. That could be adding some up to date information or doing a quick copy edit
Completely re-write. If you need to make significant edits, you can add an editor’s note to the bottom to say it was originally published on X date but has been updated, and re-publish it. That way, you’ve basically got a new piece of content and it’s showing that you’re keeping up to date with things rather than just churning out content for the sake of it
NOTE: If you do re-write it, consider its past performance before changing the URL as it could affect your SEO.
Repurpose. You might have an infographic that’s just been floating around — consider putting it into a blog post and making more of it, then sharing out on social media with sections of the infographic as preview images. If you find a valuable piece of un-gated content that’s currently in a PDF, consider turning it into an article that could help you to be found via organic search with a great conversion point
Combine. Now you’ve got a clear view of your content, you might find that you’ve got a few pieces which could actually be combined and condensed to make one valuable blog post on its own. You may find that multiple articles combined would actually make a great guide to gate and generate leads
Remember, with so much content out there, yours need to be high quality. Make sure that if something isn’t hitting that mark, you mark it as needs work or even consider getting rid of it — articles that come in at 200 words and just announce an award you won? Maybe it’s time to delete it and add a section to your site which displays the awards you have won instead?
So by this point you’ll be looking at your spreadsheet and thinking one of two things:
1. 'There’s basically nothing on this, we really have a long way to go'
2. 'So. Much. Content. Tom, why did you make us do this?'
Either way, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed. But don’t panic.
If you haven’t found very much at all, then go ahead and work with what you’ve got (or bin it, repurpose it… whatever you decided to do with each piece) but also really invest some time in finding out what content you need. You’ve probably made a great start at identifying those gaps by talking to others in the business. If you need to do a little more investigating, you might find this article on getting content ideas out of the rest of your business useful.
Not everything can be done at once, especially when you will also need to be creating new content to fill the gaps that you're starting to notice.
What can be changed quickly to make a big impact? Go through your newly populated spreadsheet and work out which of your next steps will need the smallest effort to see the biggest results. Start there
Creating a content calendar to plan in your decided next steps with this old content, and to schedule pieces of new content can be a great way to draw everything together and make it seem more manageable.
You’ve now got all the steps you need to audit your content and make a plan of action for how to tackle each piece.
I know it can seem like a challenging task, particularly when some of that content might be hidden in the inbox of the sales department but honestly, it will be worth taking the time.
Completed your content audit and not sure what to do next? Click below to download our free resource, 'The Beginner's Guide to Content Strategy and Implementation', and turn your audit into content that works.
Head of Content at BabelQuest responsible for steering and implementing the content roadmap. PhD Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and novelist with Sparkling Books.
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