Few companies are seeing the inbound marketing results they want. Some are thrilled with their results, and some are doing abysmally, but the majority of businesses out there are doing “okay,” but would love to be seeing better results. The abysmal performers and “okay” crowds both have one strategy they can use to almost instantly start working toward a higher ROI, but they’re often too intimidated or apathetic to try.
The phrase “content audit” tends to call upon our societal associations with a financial audit: a long, arduous, sometimes painful process that stresses us out and makes us miserable. But, like a financial audit, a content audit can uncover things you’re doing wrong that you didn’t know you were doing wrong—and give you a chance to correct those mistakes. Fortunately for you, content audits aren’t nearly as scary as they sound. In fact, they can be done in as little as one hour—and I’m about to prove it to you.
This first step is probably the quickest, especially if you don’t have a content plan to begin with. Gather up any materials or individuals responsible for producing your brand’s original content strategy. What were your goals? What were your plans? What was the outline for your brand voice and topic selection? At this point, you don’t have to do anything else. Read over or contemplate these items, then set them aside for the next few steps. It’s important to keep these goals and ideas in mind for the next several minutes, but we won’t dig deep until later.
Next, spend about 15 minutes taking inventory of everything you’re currently doing for your content strategy, including any formal processes you have documented and any staff members you have dedicated to execution. Editorial calendars are also helpful here. If you have all this formally documented already, you can almost completely skip this step—but chances are, you don’t.
All these questions should be kept as high-level as possible. You’re looking at structures and processes here; in the next step you’ll dive a little deeper.
Ideally, you’d be able to read every piece your company has developed in the past few months, but we’re 20 minutes into a 1-hour audit—we don’t have time for that. Instead, choose two to three pieces for closer examination. If you can, choose different formats of content, content written by different writers, or content featured on different publishers. Read these pieces as closely as you can in 15 minutes and ask yourself the following questions to start things off:
Now that you have all the information in front of you, decide whether or not you’re meeting your current content marketing goals. Are you seeing the traffic or conversions you wanted? Are you following the processes as you outlined them?
If you’re already meeting your goals, but you think you could see more progress, you’ll need to update those goals to be higher. If you aren’t meeting your goals but you feel like you’re doing everything you can, you might have set unrealistic expectations, warranting a goal change. Most other situations will fall into a gray area. Decide whether you want to change your goals or keep them the same. Either way, you’ll likely have to make modifications to your approach, which is the final step.
Whether you’re following new goals or still aiming at old ones, there are definite improvements you can make to your approach. Is there a new, more efficient way you can produce content? Can you reprioritize things like brand voice consistency and unique topic selection? Can you go after newer, more relevant offsite publishers? During the course of this audit, you’ve likely found at least a handful of potential improvements, so make a solid list of them and put them to good use. You don’t have to catch everything, as long as you have a direction to move forward.
This exercise was designed to show you that a content audit can be performed in an hour or less—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should. During the course of this one-hour, high-level exploration, you’ll likely find specific areas that warrant further research and consideration. For example, when you review two or three recent pieces of content, you might develop questions that can only be answered by diving deeper into your past content productions. When brainstorming new ways to supplement your strategy, you may be driven to perform more research to explore your options.
In any case, this one-hour content audit will give you everything you need to get started. If nothing else, it should help you overcome that all-too-common audit anxiety, and get you working toward a better, more comprehensive strategy.
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.