November 15, 2021 Content Chat Recap: How to Audit Your 2021 Content Strategy to Drive Your 2022 Strategic Content Marketing Planning

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how to audit your 2021 content to drive your 2022 strategic content marketing planning with guest AMy Higgins.

Have you started your 2022 content marketing planning? Before you start to put pen to paper for your plan, it’s crucial to audit your 2021 content and uplevel key insights that can boost your team’s success next year.

In this #ContentChat we explain how to lead an effective content audit with Amy Higgins, director of content strategy at Salesforce for its Service Cloud. Read the full recap below, where we explain how to structure a content audit, the channels to prioritize during an audit, how to turn your data into insights, and more.

Q1: Why is an annual content audit essential for effective content marketing planning?

A content audit should not be a one-and-done exercise. An annual audit is necessary to understand how to best allocate your marketing budget and resources to meet your community needs.

A1a: Auditing content should be part of your ongoing strategy in order to learn from the past and optimize for the future. #ContentChat https://t.co/wYG1afIO42

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

A1b: With annual audits, you can see a high level trend of what worked/didn’t work to help optimize and uncover gaps in your content. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/sKgx9YsuVr

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

A1a: In some organizations, a content audit is a one-time exercise. This is a HUGE missed opportunity!

If you are not auditing your content every year, and making budget and resource allocations without your content performance data in-hand, how can you budget? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

A1 It lets you know if your content is doing what it’s supposed to do!
It’s essential for producing content that works for both you and your audience, sends the right message, and is to get the brand seen
-Alyx#ContentChat https://t.co/QllSz1AjFn

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) November 15, 2021

A1: A content strategy is a living, breathing mechanism. It feeds off of results of previous content. Without a quarterly audit, a big org is wasting marketing spend for sure.

One must have their finger on the pulse of what is getting results.#ContentChat

— Brett Pucino 👻 🖊 (@BrettPucino) November 15, 2021

Most readily available marketing data is just one piece of the puzzle. An audit helps piece everything together.

A1b: Yes, you can look at your leads dashboard to see what content has contributed to your closed deals, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to identifying your #contentstrategy for the coming year. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

usually leads is the end of the funnel. Don’t forget to audit how they got there in the beginning. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

An audit can also uncover how your customer content needs have shifted over the last year.

Over the past 18 months, in particular, we’ve seen just how quickly customer content consumption and needs can shift—if you didn’t shift your content strategy appropriately, and quickly, you really left your community hanging. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

To reinforce this, @MarketingProfs and @CMIContent found that 55% of B2B content marketing strategies are now at least “moderately different” than pre-pandemic. Only 14% of teams have a strategy that is “not different at all.” https://t.co/Yz6UAK2W9T #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/oLL7U7dkIy

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) November 15, 2021

Q2: How do you structure your content audit? Do you have a template you can share?

Erika shares her blog content audit template below for you to download.

A2a: My #contentmarketing audits are always tailored to the data I am able to obtain which varies by client. But I do have a basic blog content audit template I can share. https://t.co/tWNbyB7KAN #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

At Salesforce, Amy structures her content audits in two ways. One as an overall content performance to identify trends, and another by program or initiative.

A2: I structure content audits in two ways:
1. Overall content performance to see trends.
2. By program or initiative. For us, we have key themes we focus all of our content around. #ContentChat https://t.co/6AqeSZNwod

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

It’s important to focus on actionable data. You need to understand how your content is performing by topic, length, SEO, location, and author.

A2b: Make sure to align your audit with actionable data. SEO, Topics, Authors, Length, Location, Conversion Rate #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Now that I think about it, there is a structure
We collect data on all the content we create and depending on how each individual piece performs helps us determine how we create content in the future
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) November 15, 2021

Reaching the right audience, getting them to engage with your content, and ideally advancing them to the next stage of the journey is the ultimate marker of success with content.

+1 for Quality over Quantity. Do you have a good way to measure quality? #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) November 15, 2021

Quality to me means it’s high in 3 areas: Attract the right audience, who engage with the content, and ultimately take the next stage (CTA) #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Attracting the right audience is so important. Frequently, news-jacking content, for example, gets a lot of engagement and generates traffic, but it’s frequently not the RIGHT traffic. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Amy tags all content based on its stage in the audience journey.

Do you also define where in the funnel or customer journey that each piece of content is useful? #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) November 15, 2021

Yes. We tag all of our content per audience journey. That tag is in @kapost. We can then see which channel, content type, and tone works best where. For example is C-Suite thought leadership diving awareness or end-stage sales? #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Erika starts her audit by exporting the website’s analytics data and appending it with BuzzSumo social sharing data. Then, she tags each row with the topic and audience persona, and she reviews and flags each piece of content for archiving, updating, or repurposing.

A2b: I frequently start with an export of a website’s analytics data, append it with @buzzsumo social sharing data, and then build from there. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

A2c: Next, I tag each row with the topic and audience persona tied to each piece. I review each piece of content. I flag outdated content for archiving, content that needs updating, and content that can be repurposed. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Amy recommends Kapost and Tableau in addition to BuzzSumo.

Love that you start with @BuzzSumo. I start with @kapost to gather all.the.things. Then jump into GA or @tableau dashboards to look at performance data #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Q3: What channels should marketers audit as part of their 2022 content marketing planning? Do you include distribution channels in addition to publishing channels?

As Joe Pulizzi says, don’t build your content house on rented land. So, we recommend you start your content audit with your owned content channels.

A3: @JoePulizzi says “Don’t publish content on rented land”. Start auditing your content on your land. Part of the audit should include how people found the content. What directed them there? #ContentChat https://t.co/tspYkydVmW

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Thank you for the shout out. It’s not “don’t publish” – it’s “don’t build your content house on rented land” – I have no problem with social, but know that you have no control #ContentChat

— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) November 15, 2021

A3 I agree with this to a point
I use auditing content on ‘rented land’ to make sure it’s correctly directing traffic to the ‘owned land’
A lot of people start with content for SM because it’s free and gives them a chance to build/invest into ‘owned land’
-Alyx#ContentChat https://t.co/5pgtctGh30

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) November 15, 2021

For my #B2B clients (which is most of them), if I am not seeing clicks as the primary engagement metric, it’s usually a red flag that they need to take another look at their social strategy. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

However, it’s important to look at all your active channels. This will help you understand how and where your content has been most effective so you can identify content gaps to fill or channel strategies you need to refine.

A3a: My content audits include data from all my active channels. Yes, this means there is often some manual mapping and consolidation of data. But it’s so important to see how content has performed within the context of the distribution channels, not just top-level. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

A3b: Publishing your content is just one element of your content strategy. You need to understand how + where that content has been used most effectively to identify content gaps you need to fill, or channels that need a closer look to update their channel strategy. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters can help you track how your content is performing.

Properly implementing Google Analytics UTM parameters can illustrate what campaigns and channels are driving people to content, but it is often underutilized.

It’s great to know LinkedIn sent people to the content, for example. But what campaign or program was it? #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) November 15, 2021

HUGE 💕 of UTMs! We use it to track employee, executive, influencer, and community shares. Helps us track the engagement across all of our shares outside of brand shares. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Here’s a public copy of the UTM form: https://t.co/FkqafV59Sn #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 16, 2021

Q4: What do you look for in a content audit? What data and metrics do you assess?

Before starting your content audit, review your previous content strategy document and the KPIs you set.

A4a: Before I start on a content audit, I review our content strategy documentation to refresh myself on what we set out to do with our content. Then, I look at the defined KPIs we agreed upon as our success measures. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

For each piece of content, assess the total views, engagement rate and types, what drove people to the content, and what page they went after.

A4: Always look for actionable data in your audit. How many people viewed it, how they engaged with it, what was their journey to and from it #ContentChat https://t.co/dTPPwuDvkd

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

And this is exactly why you have to make the case for multi-touch attribution. If you only track first and last touch, you really have no idea what content is getting someone from point-to-point. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

YES! Multi attribution can be difficult for many. You can also look at “influenced” pipe. You may not be able to track 1-2-3 steps, but you can tell 1 started people on their path to 3. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Find which content performs well through organic search, and assess where you can further distribute that content.

A4b: From there, I dive in to look at what content has been performing well through organic search, and see what channels we haven’t used to distribute that content, or where we could do a better job. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

For low-performing content, check if there is a way to rework or salvage the piece.

A4c: Next, I look at the worst-performing content. What content didn’t engage on social and isn’t being found in search? What went wrong? Is there a way the content can be reworked to salvage the investment? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Is it really about “salvaging the investment” or more revisiting the intent? Was your intent misaligned to your audience’s needs? #ContentChat

For us, sometime we have so many approvals that the original intent is buried.

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

I think they are separate considerations. I think you evaluate the intent to gauge its effectiveness. But, separately, you want to see if there is anything from the content itself that could be reused/repurposed. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Amy’s team reserves time specifically for optimizing older assets.

Our team reserves time specifically for optimizing older assets. That helps us continually learn and shift with our audiences needs. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Finally, Erika uses a multi-touch attribution strategy to understand how the content helped to win deals.

A4d: Then, with a grasp of those elements in hand, I take a multi-touch attribution strategy approach to understanding the contribution the content had (or didn’t) to closed-won deals. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

We previously shared a step-by-step walkthrough of how to audit and refresh your blog content in this post.

Q5: After conducting the initial content audit, how can marketers turn their insights into action? What are some examples of taking a data insight and applying it to the planning process?

A content audit can uncover plenty of ways that your team can optimize its content. First, look at your SEO and address any missing keywords.

A5a: So many ways! After conducting an audit, don’t forget to look at your SEO. Are you missing keywords? Do you have an opportunity to optimize low-hanging fruit? Are your competitors out ranking you? #ContentChat https://t.co/JY86C7bVi8

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Assess the UX of your site and content. Consider rewriting your blog intros if page visitors quickly bounce.

A5b:Bounce rate too high? Look at how the experience begins for your audience? Is the UX working? Can you rewrite the intros? Understanding why people bounce is helpful in learning how to start the dialog with your audience. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Review your blog post authors. Whose content consistently performs well? What learnings can you apply? If an author consistently does not share their content on their social channels, it could make sense to prioritize other authors for content opportunities.

A5c: Does authorship matter? Look at your lowest and top performing authors. Why are their posts working? Is it tone, share ability, subject matter? #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

So important and way too often overlooked! See also: please don’t have generic Brand bylined content on your blog. #ContentChat https://t.co/G2dEASVEYc

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Ultimately, your audit should give you the data you need to understand whether your team should shift its content marketing strategy.

A5a: You know all those projects that got pushed through “because we’ve always done it this way”? You now have data to bring to the table when they get tee’d up again for next year. (Like those emails no one has ever read or taken action on that you send every year) #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

A5b: Has one of your content channels become more or less effective since your last audit? If so, you will want to adjust your planned budget accordingly. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Q6: What questions should teams ask themselves throughout the audit process to ensure they uncover the right content marketing opportunities for their team?

Align your audit back to your business goals. How can content help drive the business forward?

A6: Simple! Align your audit back to the business. How can you create quality content that drives the business forward? #ContentChat https://t.co/WCbstexcmU

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

Challenge your expectations. Did you deliver on your last content strategy goals? Is there something you learned that you can apply to your new strategy?

A6: Challenge your expectations, and always go back to your content strategy and creative briefs. Did you deliver on what you said you would with the content? Is there something you learned is working really well you can apply elsewhere? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

Q7: What tools do you use during a content audit to improve or accelerate the process?

Erika and Amy both use spreadsheets to organize their audits, and they both recommend Agorapulse, BuzzSumo, Google Analytics, Kapost, Brightegde, Semrush, and TrackMaven to assist in the process.

A7: My content audits are usually organized via a spreadsheet, with data inputs coming from individual social platforms and @Agorapulse reporting, @BuzzSumo, @googleanalytics, any content workflow apps, and marketing automation platforms. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

A7: We look at @Kapost to help drive our audit. All of our content is organized there, so it’s easy to pull metrics. Look at GA, Google Tag Manager, and your SEO tools too (@brightedge and @semrush ) https://t.co/ww9jx6NbMH

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) November 15, 2021

I really liked how easy it was to connect @Kapost with @salesforce to get meaningful content performance insights. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

If you use @TrackMaven they have really nice UTM tracking built-in, down to the individual post level. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 15, 2021

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