While it may feel like you can document your annual content marketing plan and let it run its course, it needs a mid-year check-in. What new opportunities and threats exist? Have your team resources changed? Can you still meet your goals without setting fire to all other priorities?
It can feel frustrating for content teams to execute a strategy that was developed under now irrelevant business circumstances, especially when that plan is clearly not meeting today’s goals. But a quick content marketing audit and a few simple updates to your content strategy can rally your team behind a new, attainable vision.
Let’s examine how to effectively audit your content marketing each Summer to keep your team on the right path to end the year strong.
Who Should Be Involved in a Content Marketing Audit?
Your content marketing audit should uncover the various internal and external considerations and needs across your company.
At a minimum, your marketing leadership and any content-creating professionals should be involved in your content marketing audit. Start with two to three people to conduct the initial data gathering, and then loop in representatives from every customer-facing role, which includes sales and customer success, as well as key C-suite leaders.
“I always like to include any SEO or SEM person that you have on staff, whether they’re in-house or external,” says Melanie Graham, a seasoned writer and content marketer specializing in the healthcare industry. “They tend to be monitoring a lot of things in Google Analytics and they can offer some great data insight that you may not have as much of a pulse on.”
8 Steps To Conduct a Content Marketing Audit
The goal of a content marketing audit is to quickly assess your results to date and identify the best plan based on your current realities. Be efficient when conducting a content marketing audit—if you take too long to gather data or review results, you’ll miss your window to drive effective change this year.
Follow these steps to perform a complete content audit that surfaces the best insights for your marketing team to adapt its strategy:
Step 1: Review Your Annual Content Marketing Plan
Before you start auditing your content marketing results, you need to understand what you set out to do at the start of the year. What were your content marketing goals? What strategies were instrumental in achieving those goals? What metrics would you track in support of your goals?
When reviewing your initial plan, Carmen Hill, founder, principal strategist, and writer at Chill Content, says it’s important to ask how your “goals have shifted or evolved based on changes in your organization or the market environment and whether your audience or customer needs have changed. For example, worries about inflation and looming threat of recession have intensified since January—that’s likely affected budget priorities, staffing, and investment considerations.”
Step 2: Document Your Output and Results Across Channels
Once you revisit your content marketing plan for the year, review each of your content marketing channels and quantify your output and results. Where you look will depend on your goals, but you will likely review at least one of these key content marketing channels:
- Owned content sources, like your company blog
- Social media channels
- Online brand communities
- Your company intranet
- Email newsletters
Track quantitative and qualitative metrics for each channel, based on your annual goals. How much content did you create, how many people did it reach, and how did they respond to the content? Did you use your entire budget?
“Make sure you’re tracking content that not only leads to engagement but also moves customers down the funnel and ultimately converts them,” Melanie says. “It’s especially helpful to talk with the sales team and understand what’s working at the bottom of the funnel.”
We recommend you create a simple content audit spreadsheet that captures only the relevant information that ties to your goals and measurable results.
Step 3: Perform a Content Gap Analysis
As an extension of your content marketing output and results, you should assess how your existing content can be changed to help you meet your goals.
“Your new content marketing plan shouldn’t just focus on new content,” Melanie advises. “Look at what existing content you can update and refresh to better leverage in your strategy. The audit may also reveal content that you need to delete or overhaul because it is no longer accurate or targets outdated goals or personas.”
During this process, figure out where you have content gaps in your sales funnel to show where you should focus next. Carmen says that “repurposing or repackaging existing content can be a useful, lower effort way to fill those gaps. Do you have a broadly focused ebook that could be versioned for different buyer personas or to fill vertical content gaps? Are there newer stats or examples you could cite to replace older ones on articles that are otherwise evergreen and still relevant?”
Step 4: Assess How Your Competitive Landscape Has Changed
Looking at your content marketing results across channels, what could have contributed to your successes or shortcomings? Was there an industry shift that your content team could not have anticipated? Were your internal resources slashed before you could hit your stride? Did a new competitor gain traction?
Document any factors that may affect your ability to deliver on your goals. Simply, would you have set those same goals today knowing what you now know?
Step 5: Review Your Internal Resources
Now that you understand your recent content marketing output and your competitive landscape, you should review your internal resources to identify how you can keep pace while overcoming any internal challenges or limitations.
Carmen recommends you ask each of these questions:
- Did a bylined author leave the company?
- What is your approach to handling changes in your thought leadership ranks?
- Have the people you quoted been promoted or changed companies?
Step 6: Brainstorm With Your Marketing Team
With this base work complete, it’s time to loop in the rest of the marketing team. Schedule a meeting with your marketing leadership, key sales partners, and customer success team. Clearly explain what your content marketing goals were at the start of the year, how you’ve tracked them so far, and what you identified as potential inhibitors to your success.
Encourage an open and safe dialogue about why things are or are not working. In addition to a group brainstorm meeting, this process can include 1:1 conversations with content leads to discuss your audit and how they respond to the findings.
Step 7: Adapt Your Content Marketing Plan
Following your team brainstorm, you can now adapt your content marketing plan. Adjust any strategies that are no longer viable or that will not drive the envisioned results. Work goal by goal, strategy by strategy, and metric by metric to ensure every element of your plan has been reviewed and adjusted.
When reviewing all your potential strategy changes, stay realistic about your resources and understand what you’re working with. This is your chance to set a new content strategy that reflects your current resources and competitive landscape.
Share the updated plan with your marketing leadership to get their final approval, and then you can activate your team.
Step 8: Implement Tools For Success
Help your team work smarter by providing them with the marketing templates and tools they need to streamline their work and answer questions faster. Keep an open dialogue with your marketing team to understand what tools they’re using, what they need, and ways you can help them make the most of the available resources.
Ongoing Measurement Allows Your Content Marketing Team to Thrive
Your mid-year content marketing audit is essential, and monthly or quarterly audits are also valuable for adjusting your strategy (and reducing the mid-year audit lift). After you complete your initial audit process, integrate these same practices into your monthly and quarterly to-do’s to ensure your team is always ahead of changing market conditions.
If your marketing program is struggling to achieve its desired results, it can be valuable to bring in an outside expert to examine your brand from a neutral lens. We’ve partnered with countless companies to assess their marketing strategies and develop a plan that will shore up their weaknesses and amplify their strengths. If you’d like to learn how a content marketing audit can help your brand, reach out to us today. We’d love to see how we can help you!