We all know that creating content takes a lot of time, money and effort. We spend countless hours interviewing subject matter experts, developing outlines, crafting copy and designing assets. And yet, after we finally launch an asset, little time passes before we tuck it away and let it collect dust.
Many B2B organizations, as a result, are not getting the most value out of their content investments. Their potential reach, impact and ROI are cut short. Only 34% of B2B organizations say their strategy is extremely or very effective, and one of the key elements of an effective content strategy is ensuring that all content adds value to the organization and contributes to key business goals.
A content audit can give you a comprehensive picture of your organization’s content library, ultimately empowering you to reuse, repurpose and reversion high-quality assets. It should be a living resource that is updated every time a new piece is created and a new campaign is launched.
Of course, every content audit is unique, customized to each company’s unique structure, business needs, solutions/offerings and more. But over time, we’ve found that there are a few methods that all companies should apply to ensure they’re getting the most value out of their auditing process and, ultimately, their content library. Here are some of the key lessons learned we’ve uncovered by conducting audits for some of the largest B2B brands:
STEP 0. Make sure your audit is spick and span
Yes, this step needs to be taken before you even start to look through your library to find content fuel for your next campaign. Some folks think that a content audit just means slapping asset URLs and landing pages into an Excel spreadsheet and storing it in a central location for all team members to use at their leisure. Well, I don’t know about you, but the mere sight of a dense spreadsheet filled with random links triggers my gag reflex. It makes me want to close out the document and never look back, let alone use it daily to find content for my campaigns. Adding more descriptive details, such as publish date, target persona, solution/service group, and even buyer stage, provides helpful context for you colleagues. If they’re building a campaign and need content for the middle stage of the buyer’s journey, they’ll be able to quickly narrow their focus.
STEP 1. Determine what you need
All campaigns have a desired audience, amplification/promotion strategy and a product or service they connect to. Most of all, all campaigns tie to specific messaging developed from the buyer’s point of view. When you have robust messaging that aligns with each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to gauge what content you need, what topics you need to touch on and what thought leadership you want to convey. This is where having a really robust categorization process comes in handy. If all assets are labeled and organized, you can easily sift through the audit and see if any existing assets can meet your needs.
STEP 2. Weed out the oldies and not-so-goodies
We’re all for reusing and repurposing content, but there will be some assets that have simply aged out. Solutions change, branding shifts and new messaging is created. If you find an asset title that sounds like it could be useful, look at the publish date. If it’s past the two- or three-year mark, take a closer look at the content to determine whether the information is outdated. When you use content with old data points and aged-out concepts, it severely impacts your brand’s image and how your audience perceives you. So do your due diligence and label any and all outdated assets you come across.
STEP 3. Look for glaring red flags
We recommend that marketing teams use a flagging system to call out whether assets are severely aged out, links are broken or if content is poorly executed. You don’t want to reuse an asset riddled with myriad spelling and grammatical errors, after all. Even if you do have a flagging system, it’s wise to give all content you’re thinking about reusing a thorough review. There is always a chance that errors and issues wll slip through the cracks.
STEP 4. Take a closer look at content relevance
Once you find an asset you think ties to your campaign and you’re confident that it’s in tip-top shape, you need to take a closer look at the copy and design. Is the layout and imagery used in line with your current branding guidelines? Is the “about” copy accurate? Is the body copy aligned with your company’s core messaging and value proposition? Does it effectively speak to the topic, buyer and buyer’s stage you want to use it for? Does it need to align with a specific industry or job function? Asking these more detailed questions will help you determine what updates and revisions need to be made to the content before you use it. This will undoubtedly help save you and your team members from a lot of headaches in the long run.
STEP 5. Make your revisions
After you do a thorough review of your content, you can prioritize your edits and delegate to the appropriate team members. Keep a close inventory of the changes you want made, and refer back to it during each stage of the editing process. Sometimes, the updates are minor: finding more timely data points or updating a logo. Other times, they’re more detailed, such as refining content so it aligns with a target industry. Make sure your campaign timeline (and asset launch date) is realistic based on your needs.
STEP 6. Look for gaps
Congratulations! You’ve found one (or a few) assets that align with your campaign messaging! Make notes in your messaging map indicating the content asset title, updates that need to be made, estimated completion date and even how much budget it will take to complete the project if you’re using freelancers or hiring an agency. Fill out all stages that are represented, and take a step back to see if there are any gaps. These gaps represent net-new content that needs to be created to flesh out your campaign.
When this six-step process is complete, you’ll be able to kick off the content ideation and creation process. This is when you can really get your creative juices flowing and come up with some great content ideas that will captivate your audience. Because you went through the audit process and took the time to assess, reuse and update content, you’ll be able to dedicate more time and money to creating new assets!
If you want to learn more about why content audits are your secret weapon for successful content creation, check out our iPaper now!