The content audit is an invisible and often thankless task. But it’s also a critical component of B2B content marketing strategy that will save you time and money in the future.
According to the latest benchmarking study from the Content Marketing Institute, two-thirds of UK B2B marketers (65%) are stepping up their investment in content marketing in 2015. A content audit will help make sure that investment is channelled in the right direction.
Before starting on a content audit, professional services firms should have a solid understanding of their target audience and the content they’ll need to help clients and prospects along the B2B buyer journey.
This will provide you with a framework to take stock of your content, which is typically a three-stage process: auditing the content you already have, reviewing whether it is any good, and prioritising what you need.
1. What have you got?
Knowing exactly what content you have means you can see where the gaps are. Begin with the most popular of your key client profiles or personas and analyse what content you have for each of the decision-making stages. Be disciplined and honest.
You should include everything that can be reused or repurposed, including printed publications and event write-ups. At this stage you don’t need too much detail: profile, decision-making stage, topic, title, date and audience are the crucial components.
2. How good is it?
The second stage is to review whether this content is any good. The main criterion should be whether it helps move prospects along the pipeline, with a clearly defined audience and relevant calls to action. You should also rate it against the key attributes of quality content. Is it well written? Visually engaging? SEO-friendly?
Don’t forget to review service and sector descriptions and partner biographies as part of this process. This is some of the most valuable content you have but it’s notoriously variable in quality and often overlooked in favour of more high-profile thought leadership reports or microsites.
If you haven’t thoroughly reviewed your content for a while, you may want to think about culling out-of-date material at this stage. Articles introducing old legislation, past event listings and forgotten forecasts are all commonplace and may actually be working against your firm.
3. What do you need?
By the end of stage two you should have a clear view of what’s needed to bring existing content up to scratch, and a roadmap for new content creation.
Putting this into action can seem daunting, often involving weeks of editorial work and specialist resource. But don’t let the volume create paralysis – this is a perfect time to revisit your objectives and prioritise.
For instance, you may want to look at a particular client profile first, a sector or service line that you want to own. Starting small, creating a convincing business case, proving its worth and then sharing best practice is a sure way to get colleagues on board and secure the necessary resource.
Tracking the ‘before and after’ impact on your web analytics and lead generation should be all you need to develop a culture of continuous improvement.
A content audit is an essential part of best practice content marketing strategy. Learn more in our guide to content marketing strategy for professional services.