We recently wrote about the importance of doing a mid-year marketing checkup. At least twice a year, you should audit your marketing programs, analyze them to see if they’re meeting your goals, and take action based on their performance. We provided eight steps for a six-month marketing review. Today, we’re focusing on one of those steps: content. Custom content has always been an important part of B2B marketers’ strategies. An unprecedented number of clients invested in custom content during the pandemic using our SmartStudio solutions. Much of the content focused on how the pandemic affected various industries. Things continue to change. Not only have live events returned, but customers’ buying habits have changed dramatically; in some cases they’ve changed permanently. Marketing dollars are being allocated elsewhere. Custom content has taken a back seat. This is a fatal mistake for any B2B marketer. Thankfully, it’s easily remedied with a content audit.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a pretty simple concept. It’s a systematic review of all the content you’ve created, like blogs, whitepapers, even landing pages; the places where the content lives, such as your website; and the analysis of whether the content has met your goals and reached its audience. This might seem overwhelming, but the benefits are worth it.
Benefits of a Content Audit
No one likes to visit a website or open an email to see year-old (or older!) content. A content audit helps you:
• Identify which pieces of content are (still) timely and relevant. Those that are likely should be refreshed. Those that aren’t should be retired and removed from your website.
• Improve search engine optimization. Of course, SEO involves more than just content, but keeping your content fresh and engaging through SEO will ultimately help your search engine rankings.
• Achieve data-driven insight into content performance. Using tools like Google Analytics, your marketing automation platform and your CRM, you can drill down on metrics like the total number of people who engaged with the content; whether the people are qualified (is your content converting?); how often a person spends time on a webpage; and your bounce rate, to name a few.
How to Conduct a Content Audit
There’s no one-size-fits-all content audit. (Sorry.) So before you start, the most important thing to keep in mind is that simply conducting an audit is key. To fully gauge if the content you’re producing is meeting your company’s goals and objectives, you might need to add an extra step or two to the process. That’s OK. To get you started, here are six steps for conducting a content audit:
1. Set Goals and Timeline. Your goal determines everything you do in your audit. It can be as simple as eliminating outdated content. If this is your first time doing an audit, start with your top three goals. As you continue to do audits regularly, your goals will change and become more complex. Other goals could include: determining SEO effectiveness; evaluating content for consistent, on-brand messaging; increasing engagement/conversion; and improving processes for creating content. Set your goals early, then determine a reasonable timeline to complete the audit. This could take as little as week or as much as six months. The timeline comes down to the total number of assets to be audited, staff resources, and your goals.
2. Identify, Collect, and Categorize Your Content. First, identify which pieces of content will be included in the audit. Go beyond basic categories, such as whitepapers and webpages, and look at meta tags, images, captions, and even alt text. If this is your first time doing a content audit, you might want to start small and focus on a single type of content.
Next, collect all of the content pieces you’re going to audit. Then, categorize your content into groups. Remember, the end goal is to determine the value of each piece of content as it relates to your goals.
Pro Tip: Create a spreadsheet or some type of shared tracking document to inventory each content piece. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Audit Your Content. Time to audit! Go through each content piece and evaluate the efficacy of all components. For example, if you’re auditing an infographic, look at each data point. Is each one accurate? Look at the messaging. Does it align with your company’s branding? Does each graphic support the data and tell your story effectively? Is the overall content still relevant? If so, can it be used for additional marketing campaigns? If it’s not, does it need a refresh? Should it be retired from your website? These are just some of questions you could ask about one type of content piece. All of the questions and answers should be tracked in one place – not your head – so you don’t forget decisions made, so others can review them if necessary and so you can refer to them when you do your next audit. Remember, this is just the audit, not the action. Don’t try to fix each piece as you come across it.
4. Analyze Against Your Goals. Review all of the answers to the questions posed during the audit. Analyze them against the goals you set in step one. If a content piece was created as part of a marketing campaign, did it meet the goals of the campaign?
5. Create an Action Plan. Once you’ve taken a much-deserved break from your audit, it’s time to decide what to do with each piece. One way is to put each piece into a category: keep, reuse/refresh, or retire.
The keep pile means that the content piece met its goals and is still viable to your overall marketing strategy. (This can include evergreen content as well.)
The reuse/refresh pile is for those pieces that might have met their initial goals, but are in need of some tweaking. The overall content might be relevant, but maybe some data points need to be updated. Perhaps you rebranded since the piece was created and the piece needs a refresh to match your new branding and style guidelines.
The retire pile is for those pieces that didn’t meet their goals; met their goals, but are outdated and no longer useful; or a collective decision was made by your key stakeholders to remove the piece.
6. Define Steps for Future Audits. The first audit is always the hardest. Once you’ve complete one, you’ll have a better understand of your needs for a successful future audit. Debrief with your team after the audit to find out what worked and what didn’t. Then schedule your next one. We recommend performing a content audit twice a year. Depending on the size of your business, you might want to perform them quarterly or annually.
Turning Your Audit Into Action Items
After you’ve completed your content audit, you may decide you need new content to meet updated goals. Perhaps some of your content is still relevant but needs a refresh. We can help. Our SmartStudio content professionals are fully equipped for your B2B custom content needs.
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