By Christina Cranley
President, C2 Marketing
A common marketing quip: Content is king. While content may be king, a content audit is the kingdom’s foundation. To build a super content structure in today’s complex and cluttered marketplace, having a solid base that is built with reinforcements and to scale is essential.
One of the best pieces of marketing advice I’ve ever received: Do a content audit before investing another dime or hour in content development.
No time. Not enough resources. No budget. Not enough content. These are all preventative thoughts to doing a content audit. Here are the top five reasons you should ignore them:
- Content audits provide a deep understanding of the breath and depth of available content.
- Produce multi-channel analytics and insights to create efficiencies and instill governance.
- Establish benchmarks and produce actionable insights to create new content that will get read.
- Rediscover great content for recycling and repurposing.
- Help with communication across the enterprise and demonstrate the need for heighten collaboration and buy-in for cross-platform publishing.
Reverse Engineering Content Strategy
It’s not about working harder, it about working smarter with what you already have. By learning from the past, you can create a better future for the brand.
A content audit is by far the least sexy part of the content world today, but it’s where you can find some of the deepest insights and diagnose the how, what and why you are publishing so that you can build an infrastructure that is stronger for the brand. To do it well, it will take time and dedicated resources, but you’ll learn how to create efficiencies over the long term and have immediate actionable intelligence to build a meaningful and ROI driven content marketing.
The Project Scope
A large-scale content audit holistically evaluates the company’s online and offline footprint both qualitatively and quantitatively. It’s automated with analytic tools and manual with human intervention.
The scope of the audit depends on your goals. Many brands start with social and the blogs before moving to the website. Those who start small learn quickly that going deeper will yield exponential results.
A small audit of a B2C brand’s YouTube channel led to content reorganization and the addition of a welcome video from the brand’s existing video library. Within six months, there was an uptick in views (30%) and subscribers (200%). Soon after, there was an expansion of the audit to Twitter, Facebook and the brand’s blogs. More learnings and more results.
Larger audits look at the website, social publishing, blogs, email marketing and direct mail to more fully map out how the brand is communicating to uncover, among other things, where content can be further or better cross-pollinated. The potential is only limited to time and budget.
Quantitative & Qualitative
A content audit is both quantitative and qualitative. It begins with an inventory of where content lives, how it is found, promoted, tagged, constructed and organized within categories of content. An overlay of engagement analytics is included.
If one content category accounts for more (50%) of content published and drives only the least (3%) engagement rate, a quick recalibration of posted content to a category with a higher engagement rate can make an immediate difference. Audits deliver actionable results at a micro and macro level.
Another purpose is to make sure the content is still relevant to the brand, is not old, outdated or a dead end on the website. It’s also an opportunity to determine the overall effectiveness of content, to make sure content includes strong calls-to-action. A scoring system can be used to help decide which pieces should be re-edited or removed. When auditing a website, you may learn that where the web team is spending time, isn’t where the customers are.
The Aha Moment
Audits can surface surprising insights. For one consumer brand, more than half of the comments on YouTube and on the Blog all referenced one solution they needed from the product. While it was commonly known and incorporated at times in product benefits, the brand doubled-downed on the insight with a redesigned home page featuring images and targeted messaging and dedicated and ongoing marketing initiative.
We don’t have enough content?
Another benefit is discovering previously published high-performing content, which can be recycled, repurposed and reused again. Good content is a gift that should keep giving, especially if it is what resonates with the customer.
Digital marketing for years has been output versus outcome driven.
With a content audit you can repurpose existing content to make it stronger and develop new content from something that worked well in the past. Consider doing more with less. Given that 70% of new content doesn’t get read, focus on and scale what works.
Subscription Conversion, SEO and Keywords
I recently audited a blog that offered compelling information and was well written with little to almost no engagement and few new subscribers. The audit uncovered the lack of:
- A consistent call-to-action
- A pop-up prompting readers to subscribe (conversion trigger)
- Few keywords in the post name or in the copy (SEO)
- Weak tagging (SEO)
Before investing in content that you “hope” your audience will love, you need to know what they will fall in love with. Brands pursuing a content strategy need not create content for content sake, but need to create content that is insight-based and has a proven track record among the audience. Start with a content audit.
Christina Cranley is a marketing and media industry veteran known for producing extraordinary results and launching 15 media brands while working at globally recognized media companies. In her current role as President of C2 Marketing, she is working with clients on strategic brand marketing with a focus on digital content and digital communications to drive engagement and lead acquisition. She previously worked for SocialFlow, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Time Inc. in executive leadership, sales and marketing roles. Christina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.