The word “audit” strikes fear in many. (Financial or tax audits are probably the first to come to mind.) To others, conducting an audit may sound dull or tedious. We get it. But sometimes boring tasks are still really important, and in the case of a content audit, you can actually learn a lot of important information that you can use to improve your marketing.
Today we’ll examine the reasons for conducting an audit, how to perform one, and where to go once you’ve gathered all of your data.
Why should I audit my content?
There isn’t just one reason to conduct a content audit. Some marketers might audit every URL on their website to see what’s performing well (in terms of engagement and/or SEO). Others might audit a certain type of content to see where their content gaps are; then they can build out a future editorial calendar. Yet others might focus on how their existing content fits into their marketing funnel or ABM campaigns so their sales team can better utilize their existing assets. There’s a lot to consider, and there’s no one-size-fits-all goal and method.
That being said, gathering data about your existing content can help you move forward with your content marketing more intelligently. You can avoid creating redundant content, you can revive content that’s been ignored, and you can feel more confident that you know what you’re working with.
The big takeaway here: Figure out what you want to achieve. When you audit with a clear goal in mind, you won’t be wasting time and resources on a project that ends up going nowhere fast.
What does a content audit entail?
Any content audit starts with an inventory. If you’re auditing your entire website, programs like Google Analytics can help you export a list of all of your content. If you’re working with a smaller subset of your content, you can manually create a spreadsheet.
Your spreadsheet will likely have many columns. Start with basic data like URL, asset type, title, author, website metadata, etc. Then collect additional data based on your goals. This can include user behavior metrics, engagement data, SEO, and even sales data if you’re tracking the performance of assets through the whole buyer’s journey.
If you’re not sure where to start, the Content Marketing Institute has a list of basic analytics to use. If you’re interested in filling in gaps in your content marketing, also consider what stage of the marketing funnel (awareness, consideration, decision) each piece of content is applicable to, as well as the relevant buyer persona(s). A content audit can be as complex and detailed as you need it to be, so just remember to track data that’s important to your overall goal.
How can I improve my content marketing with my audit? What are the next steps?
The biggest mistake you can make with a content audit? Spending a bunch of time gathering all this data and then sitting on it, unsure what to do next. Now’s not the time for patting yourself on the back and taking a break.
The Content Marketing Institute makes a good point, though, about not immediately jumping into action based on surface-level assumptions about your data. They point out: “Some content types or topics will produce high volumes of engagement but lower conversions.” That means you need to give more weight to the metrics that matter. For example, if you’re really interested in which pieces of content drive sales, then pageviews might not be the best (or only) metric to track. Unsure about which data matters most? Bring in additional people to help you assess the situation—either internal team members or external marketing experts.
Once you have a good picture of your important data, it’s time to set up some next steps. For the purposes of content marketing, you’re likely focusing on how you can make the most of the assets you have and create new, highly effective assets. Some ideas for action:
- Update older content that’s still relevant with new links, CTAs, formatting, images/video, etc. Giving this content new life can help it perform better and help you avoid unnecessarily creating content from scratch.
- Fill in your content gaps. These gaps could be missing topics, missing types/formats of content, or gaps related to the buyer’s journey or your personas.
- Create new assets similar to those that performed really well in the past. This might involve new assets about popular topics or content types that have resonated with your audience.
- Consult your sales team to see how your data aligns with their efforts. Do they think they need the same new pieces of content you do? Have you compiled a list of content that they should be using more often, with a different audience, or at a different stage of their discussions?
Another thing to remember: Content audits work best when they’re not a “one and done” activity. Consider setting up a schedule or making yourself a reminder to reassess your content and its performance down the road. Maybe once a quarter, annually, or at whatever interval makes sense for your business.
Have questions about content audits? Get in touch. We’d love to discuss your content marketing initiatives.