March 14, 2018
6 Best Practices for a Content Marketing Audit & Strategy

Whether you are creating a new website from scratch or migrating to a new CMS and building a brand-new website, a content marketing audit is one of the first things you need to do. To help you get started, we look at six best practices you should follow to ensure your audit gives you the information you need to build a great website.

Define Goals and Metrics

What is the purpose of your content marketing plan? Who is your audience, what are you trying to achieve? How will you know if you have achieved your goals?

The first and most important part of a content marketing audit and plan is to understand its purpose. Without a clear understanding of its purpose, you won't know what content to focus your efforts on. You may have a website that attracts a lot of visitors and have a lot of content downloads but still aren't seeing the subscriptions or conversions you want.

Clearly defined goals help you focus on the right content. Clearly defined metrics help you understand if your goals are getting met.

The Content Inventory

You've heard all about the content inventory. That is because it's a critical piece of work that must happen. A content inventory tells you what content you have now, where you are using it, who owns it, who must approve it, and all other key information about that content.

Maybe this content is on the current website. If it is, then you should analyze its use through your analytics tool (like Google Analytics). Is this content read often? When was it last updated? How long do visitors stay on the web page reading it? Does it appear in search queries often? Is there a CTA (call to action) on the web page and is that CTA still relevant?

Some content you may know about but aren't currently using it. It could be in development for the website, or content you are using for other purposes, like customer service or sales. It's important to record this content as well because you may be able to use it for your digital customer experiences going forward as you'll see next.

Map the Customer Journey and Key Touchpoints

If you planned your initial web experience using a customer journey map, then you are ahead already. But not everyone thinks about the customer journey when they develop a website.

For those who already have the journey mapped out:

  • Note your key touchpoints and what content is required at those touchpoints. Go back to your content inventory. Do you have that content already? Is it already on the website? Is it performing well, or do you need to update it? Does it answer the questions your visitors are asking?
  • If the content is there and working well, then you can move to the next touch point. If it's not, make a note to examine it in detail and plan to update or replace it with better content.
  • If the content isn't there, then you create a new tab in your content inventory spreadsheet and note the new content that you must develop. Fill in as much detail as possible, including who has the expertise, who will write it, review and approve it, where it will go on the website, where else can it be used and so on.

For those who don't have their customer journey mapped out, you need to do a mapping exercise that looks at how prospects go through the process of researching and making a purchase decision. This process is much bigger than your website, but if you are only able to do it within the focus of your website strategy, then try to think about where visitors use your website (or mobile app) in their purchase journey and focus on those alone.

Another point to consider when documenting the touchpoints in the customer journey that focus on the website and other key mobile and social channels is whether you need to personalize that content. Often, personalized content performs better, but it requires you to plan that content carefully, including developing the content for re-use (discussed later).

Perform Keyword Search 

Keyword research is another common content audit tactic. It requires looking for the keywords and phrases that you should try to incorporate into your content so that search engines will index your content and move it to the top of query results. Keywords are not used as much as they use to be – well written, useful content takes precedence, but you should still be thinking about keywords and phrases.

When you know what words and phrases you should have in your content, then you must look at content already created to see if they are used (and not over-used).  Note what content to update to support the appropriate keywords. 

Develop Your Content for Reuse

The best way to create content is to structure it for re-use. When you structure content for re-use, you can create it once but use it in different places in different ways. For example, you create content about a blog post where you want the entire blog to show in the blog section, a summary with a link on the home page, a shorter tweetable byte for Twitter or LinkedIn, and so on.

Learn more about the benefits of developing content for re-use from Ann Rockley herself.

The important thing here is to think about how you will use your content on your website, but also other digital touchpoints to understand how you can develop it once for re-use in these other locations.

Plan Your Governance Strategy 

Governance is a critical part of your content marketing audit and on-going strategy. A well-defined governance strategy ensures you have the processes and capabilities in place to make sure your content meets the brand, quality, and accessibility requirements you defined. 

When you plan your content, you should also consider how you will apply key governance tactics such as accessibility, workflow, grammar checking, and link checking when it's published, and on-going as the content gets updated.

Web governance is a topic we've dedicated an entire blog series on - you can check out that out here.

Regular Monitoring is Critical 

A content marketing audit isn’t something you do only once. The first time will take the longest if you have never performed a content inventory or completed a customer journey mapping exercise, but keep in mind that things change – new channels arise, old channels loose interest, new types of content gain in popularity while others dwindle. 

You need to be continually checking back against your current plan to make sure you are still doing things that meet the needs of your customers. Monitor keywords, track your industry and customer preferences, ask your customers directly, monitor analytics. The key is to always be improving. 

Posted by David Hillis
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