Whether you’re not getting the results you were anticipating or you’re just trying to reevaluate your brand’s direction, a content marketing strategy audit is invaluable in helping you find key areas for change and improvement. While each written post is unique, requiring in-depth research in addition to drafting and revision, most content strategies on the whole run on autopilot. The general direction is set, and the individual moving parts that carry out the work simply repeat the same tasks over and over.
This type of consistency is a strength for content marketing; with the right strategy, repetition breeds familiarity and eventually, a greater impact. But when that strategy is lacking or imprecise, your consistency can be doing more harm than good. Performing a content marketing audit can help you determine whether or not your consistency is beneficial, and if not, how you can drive meaningful change to restore it.
There are two main situations that should trigger you to perform a content marketing audit. The first is a failure, or a set of results that do not meet your expectations. Let’s say you’re evaluating your organic search visits, a key measure of traffic generated by your content strategy, and you’ve noticed your numbers slipping or remaining stagnant over the past two months. This is an indication that something is wrong with your campaign, and should trigger you to perform a content audit to determine the root of the problem. Of course, any metric or indication of lukewarm results can and should trigger you to perform an audit.
The second situation is more subjective, and has to do with the amount of time that has passed since you last critically evaluated your strategy. The consistency of your efforts tend to degrade over time, and the environment is always evolving with new technologies and new audience demands, so it’s worth auditing your content strategy at regular intervals even if you’re seeing decent results. There’s no set interval that works better than any other; it all depends on your resources and your needs. If you’re just starting out, performing an audit quarterly may be effective for you.
No matter why you’ve chosen to perform a content audit, there are five major steps you’ll need to follow:
If you’ve already planned for this, this step should seem redundant on the surface. But there are two possible discrepancies that could be interfering with your content campaign’s success: first, it could be that new factors have arisen—new competitors, new technologies, or changes in your customer base. Have you accounted for these changes? If not, now is the time to do so. Second, it could be that your ongoing content strategy has meandered away from your initial goals. Even if your primary goals haven’t changed, it’s possible that you’ve lost sight of those goals in the day-to-day execution of items.
This step is very similar to step one, but it has more to do with the execution of your campaign than the high-level vision of it. What channels are you using to distribute your content and why? Are there any new social media or syndication platforms that you could take advantage of? What portions of your audience are you currently neglecting with your current strategy? Are there any channels that aren’t generating the results you’d like? Reshape your syndication strategy from the ground up for the best results.
You don’t have to thoroughly review every piece of content you push out, but do take a random sampling of recent blog posts and social posts, then inspect them for quality. Is the voice in line with your brand? Are your topics original, interesting to your target audience, and searchable? How well-written are your articles? Are they full of details or mostly fluff? If the quality of your content is off, the entire campaign is jeopardized, so in most cases, this is the most important step of the process. Get an outside opinion if you can.
Sketch out a visual diagram of your content creation, publication, and distribution process. Include the members of your team who are responsible for each point and try to objectively analyze the effectiveness of each step in the process. Are there any points where your strategy is being held up? For example, is your content writer only completing posts half as often as you’d like? Are your Facebook updates few and far between? Are only a handful of your posts getting syndicated? Identifying weak points here can help strengthen your entire campaign.
Hopefully, after these first four steps, you’ve been able to identify several key points for improvement in your campaign. But it isn’t enough to simply know about your fault points; you have to actively improve them if you want to see better results. Put an action plan into place, with firm objectives assigned to individuals on your team and realistic timelines for the completion of those objectives. Then, follow up to make sure everything is executed according to your direction and schedule.
These five steps should be performed every time you audit your content marketing strategy, even if you feel they are redundant. Your content voice may change without you ever knowing, putting your message at odds with your delivery, and going through these steps is the only way you’ll be able to detect it. Only through revision and refinement will you be able to perfect your content approach
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.