Content is the lifeblood of any successful marketing initiative, so it’s important to keep your content informative, exciting, and up to date. But that can be easier said than done, especially if you don’t have the right processes in place to track your content assets and their performance.
Today, we’re going to explain how to execute a content audit, which will help you better understand your content gaps, metrics, and opportunities. By knowing what’s working and what isn’t, you can improve your marketing mix and achieve a great content marketing return on investment.
What Is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a marketing initiative that inventories all current your marketing assets, campaigns, and metrics, gauges their performance, and uncovers critical gaps. They help marketers develop a comprehensive understanding of their past and current efforts, and empower them to create new content marketing strategies based on the company’s direction and top priorities.
Your content marketing team is usually responsible for performing this audit. However, you should involve stakeholders from every team. This will ensure that you’re supporting your company’s mission holistically while also providing effective messaging throughout the customer lifecycle, from awareness to advocacy — and beyond.
Identifying and Filling Content Gaps
The first and most critical element of a content audit is identifying existing content gaps so that you can satisfy every stage of the buying journey. To do so, you need to compile all existing content assets into a simple spreadsheet. This should include all internal and external content materials, such as:
- Case Studies
- Editorial Calendars
- Sales Decks
- Email Campaigns
- Social Media Campaigns
- Landing Pages
Create individual tabs for each of the asset types and be sure to label which materials are customer-facing and which are for internal use. Each line item should link to a PDF, URL, or Microsoft Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation so that every team member can easily review critical content assets.
Most importantly, to ensure an effective buying journey for every client, you should label each piece of content according to its position in the sales funnel and its intended audience type or persona.
Here are the stages of the sales funnel you’ll need to accommodate:
- Top-of-Funnel (TOFU): Designed to drive awareness and generate conversions, TOFU content consists of blogs, infographics, lead nurturing emails, and ebooks.
- Middle-of-Funnel (MOFU): The stage at which brands begin to promote their offerings and position themselves as leaders in their industry, MOFU content consists of datasheets, whitepapers, videos, lead nurturing emails, and webinars.
- Bottom-of-Funnel (BOFU): At the bottom of the funnel, you’re hoping to finalize the sale, so BOFU content consists of case studies, product demos, personalized emails, and customer testimonials.
- Retention/Upsell: To retain and upsell existing customers, you need strong product adoption, which means content for this funnel stage must be the right mix of all your content types. These materials should focus on improving the customer experience.
- Advocacy: Turning satisfied customers into true brand champions requires organizations to go above and beyond, so brand advocacy content includes promotional materials via email, direct mail, and digital advertising campaigns.
And here are a few common personas that apply to the customer lifecycle:
- Primary Decision-Maker: The person or persons with the authority to make the final purchasing decision, typically VPs or C-suite level executives.
- Influencer: Invested parties who are interested in the purchasing process and outcome as the product or service will directly impact them.
- User or Practitioner: The individual or team who will be regularly using the product or service and must have full understanding to ensure proper adoption.
On your spreadsheet, add rows and columns with your buying stages and persona types. Then, enter links to relevant content in your current inventory. A good practice is to create a simple color-coding system to signify which content is in good shape, which content needs a refresh (either copy, design, or new branding), and which content should be either completely overhauled or removed.
This exercise will likely help you uncover one or more content gaps. For example, you may have a lot of good TOFU content, but might need to beef up your email nurturing campaigns for the bottom of the funnel or your promotional advertising assets for the advocacy stage. Either way, there’s a lot of comfort in knowing where you’re covered and where you need to focus your efforts, and a thorough content audit will help you define your content marketing strategy and develop an editorial calendar for the upcoming quarter and beyond.
Critical Content Audit Metrics
At this point, you’ve got everything down on paper, and you know where you stand from a qualitative standpoint. But what about the actual performance of your content — the quantitative aspect?
Content will perform better the more it is used. If you’re promoting an infographic on your homepage, across your paid advertising campaigns, and as part of your lead nurturing email campaigns, that infographic is probably going to get a ton of views and hopefully drive a lot of conversions. Since content is only as effective as the campaigns it’s attached to, make sure to consider context whenever considering a content asset’s performance.
Depending on where you’re focusing your marketing efforts and how your teams are leveraging your assets, performance will vary. Still, tracking key performance metrics is critical, so be sure to add additional tabs (as necessary) to your content marketing audit and list the following analytics next to each asset.
- Blog: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Organic Pageviews, Exit Rate, Time on Page, Conversions, Shares
- Webpages/Landing Pages: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Organic Pageviews, Bounce Rate, Time on Page, Conversions
- eBooks/Whitepapers: Conversions, Downloads, Shares, Views
- Infographics/Datasheets: Conversions, Downloads, Shares, Views
- Case Studies: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Organic Pageviews, Exit Rate, Time on Page, Conversions, Shares
- Emails: Opens, Open Rate, Click-Throughs, Click-Through Rate, Conversions
- Webinars/Video: Views, Unique Views, Time on View, Conversions, Shares
Once you’ve compiled the metrics for each content asset, reverse engineer the process to gain an understanding of where these metrics are coming from. How are people arriving at your content?
- Organically from search
- Organically from another page on your site or a backlink on an external page
- Paid search, display, or remarketing campaigns
- Shared with a client via sales
- Content syndication
Weigh the referral source against the metrics themselves to get an objective understanding of your content’s performance and the effectiveness of your paid and organic content marketing campaigns.
Internal and Competitive Keyword Research
Now that you’ve audited your content, determined performance metrics (and the underlying reasons behind them), and identified existing gaps, it’s time to conduct keyword research to begin optimizing your current efforts and creating a plan to address any gaps you’ve discovered.
There are two main types of keyword research: competitive and internal.
1. Competitive Keyword Research
You want to outrank your competitors for high-volume, on-topic keywords. As you assess your content strategy, it’s a good idea to identify your competitors’ top-performing keywords and start building content that outperforms them on search engine results pages (SERPs).
For competitive keyword research, you’ll need to speak with your sales team. They can help you learn who your competitors are and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. From there, you can use a tool like Moz or SEMrush to enter their domain URLs and get a full report of their keyword rankings. If they are currently ahead of you for desirable terms based on your internal keyword research (see below), but within striking distance, you should consult your content audit to find existing assets that you feel you can improve in order to overtake your competitors on the SERP. Add a “Competitive Keyword Research Notes” column in your content audit spreadsheet to document these metrics and jot down a few suggestions on how you can take advantage.
2. Internal Keyword Research
You also should research your current SEO efforts to learn which keywords you’re ranking for and to determine where you can make minor adjustments to improve your positioning on search engine results pages. For internal keyword research, you’ll again want to reference your content audit to review each external asset individually. Enter the primary search term for that asset into one of the tools listed above to learn where you rank and how you can tweak the asset to improve your SERP positioning. Again, add another column (this one labeled “Internal Keyword Research”) to make a note of your existing metrics and include suggestions for improvement.
Lastly, take note of every content gap. You’ll want to conduct keyword research around potential topics to fill these gaps. Start by entering root keywords, and then begin researching your preferred platform’s suggested long-tail keywords. Look for terms that have good volume (not too many impressions, as you probably can’t make up this ground and enter the first page of the search results — and not too few impressions, as even if you achieve great positioning, your content likely won’t get a lot of traffic.) Add these terms and phrases to your “Internal Keyword Research” column and then transfer those notes to your editorial calendar to help with your content creation efforts.
LaFleur Is Here to Help With Your Content Marketing Needs
When done correctly, performing a content audit will vastly improve your marketing campaigns and sales processes, resulting in more engagement, conversions, and revenue. It will also help you create a roadmap for the future that will keep your team organized and on track. Unfortunately, auditing your content is also a complex and time-consuming process that can hold up your company’s progress while you figure it all out and implement strategies for improvement.
At LaFleur, we’ve performed dozens of content audits for our clients, and we regularly review our internal content marketing initiatives to measure performance and provide direction for the future. If you’re looking to better understand and improve your content marketing efforts, we would love to discuss your current inventory, gaps, metrics, and SEO strategies and provide suggestions for how to proceed.