Content Audit Results: A Blueprint for Content Strategy (Part 2)

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Strategic growth and revenue leader Christine Elliott joined Content4Demand in a recent webinar to discuss the value of content audits to her marketing programs. Cashing In on Content Audits: Uncovering the Hidden Potential & Pitfalls in Your Content Library covered a lot of ground.

Want to start at the beginning? You can read Part 1 of this post here.

Today, I’ll recap what the experts said about what to do after the audit. This is where the real value of a content audit begins to take shape and become a blueprint for content strategy.

You’ve done an audit. What do you do next? What actions are you able to take with the data?

Christine Elliott, Strategic Growth and Revenue Leader: Receiving and then analyzing the results is such a fun part of a content audit. What I’ve found is that it’s an outstanding way to initiate conversations about content with business stakeholders.

With many of the audits I’ve done at multiple organizations, we’ve looked at multiple business units or industries and have tabulated the results for those individual groups. People want to know how fresh their content is and what the makeup is of early, mid and late.

But it also allows you to open that conversation with business stakeholders on why a content format matters. Also things like stages of the buy cycle. I’ve often been able to predict what the makeup of buy cycles might be in content. But that doesn’t necessarily resonate just as early, middle and late with business stakeholders. You can turn that into a story, though.

Most professional services firms that I know are very heavy on early-stage content, which is about the issues and challenges buyers are facing.

If you’re a prospective buyer and you already know you have an issue, you don’t want to read another article about that issue.

You want to read more information about how to solve that problem with possible methodologies that your organization can bring to the table–which is mid-stage content.

And ultimately, you want to get to how your organization is uniquely qualified to help, how you differentiate yourselves from your competition and why they should make the investment to take action now. Visualizing the data and sharing with business stakeholders can be absolutely critical.

Using that blueprint of results in your content planning efforts and content strategy efforts moving forward is amazing.

The other thing that the audit does in terms of the evergreen score, or shelf life, is that if you don’t already have one it allows you to establish a content review process. You know if you need to develop a lot of timely content, you need to review it more often. So maybe you want to look at it every six months versus something that’s more evergreen and you might want to evaluate that content every 12 to 24 months.

Using that criteria as part of your audit, you can establish review timeframes for your team to pick up on those efforts moving forward. There’s so much to do, it’s almost limitless.

Brenda Caine, VP of Content Strategy: It helps if you have an outside auditor and that auditor provides recommendations for you. What does it mean if you have a certain percentage of content that’s aged out? What does it mean if you have a certain amount of content that’s all targeting one persona?

If you have the analysis that goes with it and the recommendations, that objective outside voice gives you credibility when you want to make the business case: Here’s why we need to develop this new content, and here’s why we need to make the investment in content, because we have these gaps or we’re not putting out the message that we really need right now because we have this new messaging, new campaign.

Gap Analysis: Topics

How many stakeholders should you include in audit presentations?

Christine: It depends on what your reasons are for doing the audit. For example, a website redesign effort is going to require different stakeholders to be involved than in certain segments, like a video audit. I encourage people to think through these things in advance of doing the audit, because you’re doing it for a purpose. You need to think about who is going to need to be involved and how are you going to bring them into the process?

For a website redesign effort, we’ve always made very bold choices about anything that receives a quality flag, which means it’s typically it’s aged out, which means it’s not timely anymore or has some other issue.

We’ve made a hard and fast rule and said we’re retiring that content.

In every content audit I’ve done, the percentage of content that’s “bad,” meaning something needs to be addressed, is anywhere from 35% to 50%. That’s a huge number.

In a monumental effort like a website redesign effort, I think you need lots of stakeholders involved—and from the beginning, so that when you get to the point that you’re retiring that content, they already have some understanding of why it’s being done and hopefully they’ve already bought into the reason for retiring it and the reason for getting rid of content that’s no longer up to date.

Tie those things together in terms of a strategic purpose to determine which stakeholders to involve. Communicate early and often, because it is such a great jumping off point to talk about content.

What advice would you give marketers to make sure they’re getting the most value from an audit?

Brenda: From a practical, administrative point of view, make sure your criteria is clearly defined before you start. Once you’ve started and your auditors have reviewed 300 assets, you can’t go back and add another criterion. Define things well, know why you’re doing the audit, and agree upfront about definitions of everything. Make sure everything is clear before you start.

Christine: Look into it. Do an audit. Talk about it within your organization. Be very strategic about it. Identify what could be really helpful to you. What questions, if you could answer them, would be very helpful you in, as Brenda said, procuring additional content investment? If you can show clearly where your gaps are, you’re more likely to get buy-in for investment. Take your time and use an objective, consistent outside agency.

Watch the on-demand webinar for more of the conversation with Christine, Brenda and Lisa—including discussions about four strategies for driving growth with content, what a content audit really is, the reputational risks that a content audit helps mitigate and defining the criteria that will answer your questions about your content library and identify the content best suited for your next initiative.

Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.


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