You’ve done the content inventory. But now what? Follow these actionable tips on what to look for within the data, how to find hidden content gems, and how to use it to guide your content marketing strategy.
I’ll cover practical steps to put the audit findings into action without overworking your team. Let’s explore three areas: 1) what to look for, 2) what to track, and 3) what to do with the information you discover, including how to map your content.
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What to watch
Keep in mind several key thoughts when evaluating the data in a content audit:
- Don’t make assumptions from surface-level data. Some content types or topics will produce high volumes of engagement but lower conversions. Evaluate content based on your strategic goals and how content topics and content types contribute to those goals.
- Recognize patterns. Look for topics that are important to your target customer. You may get tired of writing about certain fundamental topics, but if it’s where your customer lives, you need to make sure you fully exhaust the subject.
- Evaluate content from all angles. Think about persona, content type, topics, industry, size of business, and how the content supports your line of business or products. It’s important to discuss the pain point and make it as relevant as possible for the point of view of your desired customer.
Before you can look for strategic insights, it’s necessary to set up measurement discipline within your organization. Here are several key areas I like to measure, and what to do with the information you glean from a content audit.
What to track
Ensure that your content audit has tracked these common metrics:
- Overall content performance – Assess the activity of sessions, conversions, form fills, etc.
For instance, you can look at how traffic driven by inbound content activity contributes to form completions.
- Performance by content type – Track the same metrics as above by content type (blog, guides, webinars, etc.) and analyze how each type contributes to the overall strategy.
- Performance by publication date – Determine what content performs well over time. Identify how long new content needs to “take hold” and start winning on the long tail.
- Performance by topic – Figure out the winning topics.
- Marketing attribution – Determine how the content (by campaign, topic, or type) contributes to pipeline and revenue. Use a marketing attribution tool, such as BrightFunnel (paid), Bizible (paid), Engagio (paid), or LeadsRX (paid), to help track the impact on sourced and attributed revenue.
- Evaluation by buying stage, across personas – Look at the performance of content across each focus area. You can look at sales velocity (days to close) and revenue performance. Here’s an example pulled from the Mura Experience Platform, which can be used on the Mura CMS (open source).
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What to do
Let’s discuss several ways to use what you learn in the audit to improve and exploit existing content:
- Promote highest performing content. Use an always-on approach to promoting your best performing content. Use cross-site linking and social to amplify it. Develop a social marketing schedule rotation, which focuses on your top 50 blog pages, top 10 “big rock” assets, top 10 videos, and the highest performing on-demand webinars.
- Improve CTAs. Once you understand the highest performing content, use heat maps to learn which calls to action work best within high-performing content, and replicate the same CTA throughout additional content. My team has found that within blogs, inline CTAs outperform right rail CTAs two to one. You should test this with your market and audience to verify.
- Update CTAs. When launching a big rock asset, for example, revisit relevant existing content to update the CTA to point to your most desired and highest performing assets. With or without new content, it’s a good idea to revisit CTAs every six months or so to make sure you are driving people toward your current strategy.
- Exploit the best topics. One of the best ways to capitalize on a content audit is to compile high-performing single content pieces into big rock assets. On the flip side, you may be able to build derivative assets from high-performing, long-form content.
For example, from your best performing webinars, build a guide, infographic, or blog series to correspond with it and amplify the subject. Better yet, make this multi-factor content planning a regular part of your webinar strategy so that every webinar includes a corresponding blog, guide, and infographic. This will help entice and educate your audience through multiple form factors, drive demand for an integrated campaign, and ensure that you are taking a strategic approach to content execution. If you are not able to create this content for every webinar, it may be time to reduce the quantity of webinars you’re producing to get more coverage from each one.
- Check and update backlinks. As you review the audit to see what sites pick up your content, check to see if they’re including backlinks. If backlinks are missing, ask the site to include them. Be specific about the ask — include the preferred link and the preferred words you would like highlighted in the link.
It’s also a good time to cross-check your internal links. Many marketers have good standard operating procedures to include appropriate cross-site links for newly published content, but don’t have a process to re-evaluate older content that still performs well and can help drive performance of more recent content.
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Plan your content
Using a content map is one of the most fundamental, yet effective, ways to turn your content audit into an actionable planning process. A content audit gives a historical view of what and how your content is performing. A content map allows you to take the information you’ve learned and apply it proactively to your content marketing strategy.
Your content map, which could feed into your editorial calendar, is a great way to align the product marketing, demand generation, and content marketing teams against a common goal and go-to-market strategy. My team does content mapping exercises to help verify that we are supporting strategic business initiatives such as moving up market, positioning as a thought leader, or other market-facing messages.
When building a content map for your organization, include these components at a minimum:
- Buyer stage
- Content types
- Content description or approach
- Inventory status – Is the content available or does it need to be created?
It’s also important to rank content based on your audit results. The best performing assets should be highlighted in outbound emails, sales-enablement materials, direct mail kits, PPC campaigns, social campaigns, etc.
From your content map, you can further put your audit into action with an editorial calendar. (It’s also an effective ongoing reference in your content planning meetings.) You can plan using a simple spreadsheet or one of the available content calendar tools such as Mintent (free at basic level).
By using a tool to help manage your ongoing content operation, your audit will always be up to date. More important, it’s critical that your team develops the content planning muscles based on the directional data found in the audit and inventory. Going through the initial audit helps give an organization the awareness of where it is strong, or where it needs to deepen certain content areas. Putting the audit into action is a series of small but impactful steps that can be executed in a systematic way, based on the priorities set forth by the data.
Dig deeper with Peg Miller in her presentation on what to do after a content inventory at Content Marketing World. Register today for Sept. 4-7 event in Cleveland, Ohio. Use code BLOG100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute