Friday, August 9, 2013

Content Auditing – Why You Need a Content Audit and How to Do One

As a consultant, one of the tasks that I frequently help marketers with is content mapping.  A strong content audit and map is the backbone to your content marketing strategy. A good content audit should be able to help a marketer understand 3 things:

1 – What stages of the buy cycle the current content is covering, and where there are gaps
2 – If current content is addressing buyer personas, if so, the breakouts on those personas
3 – Identify strong content vs. weak content

These elements combined should be utilized to give clear action items to:
  •  Identifying the most relevant content
  •  Better targeting buyers with content at each stage (Relevance is the new king)
  •  Identifying gaps in content strategy as it aligns back to buy cycles

With this information you will be able to maximize the impact of the current content, and identify what your future content production should look like. Beyond that this mapping will help with the set up nurture flows and increase the efficiency of your marketing programs.

What are the keys to a successful content mapping exercise?

Front End Evaluation:

Buy Cycle Stages – before doing your map we need to understand that buyers will have different pain points and research focuses as they move through the buy cycle. Personally I look at it as 3 stages:
                Awareness – Figuring out there is a problem
                Consideration – reviewing different types of solutions for the problem
                Decision – gathering product specific information

Market Maturity – this is an important step that will help you understand how to address your prospects. Is the market you are selling into a mature market where the awareness and IT problem stage are already well known? Or is it an emerging technology? This will guide how much weight you should have in each of the buy cycle stages.

For example – these are very generic terms but for the sake of demonstration look at the difference here:

What you can see here is that the Mainframe market is mature. The problems associated with mainframe management are well known – these buyers have been in the market a long time. With this in mind a heavier emphasis on mid and late stage content is ideal. However with Cloud, you can see in late 2009-2011 it was being heavily researched (early stage). Now people know what type of cloud environment they are interested in and have a better understanding of the cloud advantages. As cloud is maturing, content needs to get more specific into the types of cloud which solve a buyer’s problems.

Personas – There is a great post about content mapping and the intersection of buyer personas over on the Fearless Competitor blog – however to sum it up – technology marketers need to know that IT buying teams are made up of multiple people (50% of IT buying teams are 5+ people – TechTarget Media Consumption Report). Those people will each have a different outlook on the problems and what benefits they value. For example a HR Software solution might have at a minimum a Technology person and a HR staff member researching. The Tech person will be concerned about integration with other apps and infrastructure, while the HR staff member will be focused on software features. We need to make sure we have content for each persona involved, and address their unique pain points in each stage.

Media types – This involves reviewing the media types you have available. Does your current content portfolio have White Papers, Case Studies, Infographics, Webcasts, etc. There are many types of content and it’s important in your map to understand what types of content work best. Layer media type consideration with the personas and the market maturity. As noted here, maximize the content you have by re-purposing it. Take a webcast, turn it into a series, podcast, transcript, blog posts, etc.

Going deeper: What are the sources of the types of content you have – do you align with 3rd parties? Do you use editorial content to go to market? Are you utilizing Native advertising? Media consumption studies prove that buyers trust 3rd parties more than vendors, which is why alignment with 3rd parties is critical to extend reach and gaining trust. This SAP B2B research report shows vendor content only gains trust by 9% of buyers, while that trust increases by 4X when content comes from analyst reports.

Back End Evaluation:
The above list covers much of the up-front considerations you need to evaluate during a content mapping exercise. However that is just half of the story, for a sophisticated content audit you should look deeper and consider the performance of the current content in market:

Primary Lead volume – This is about reviewing the content based on how many leads it can generate. From a lead volume number, what is top performing? What is unique about that asset, can that approach be updated and replicated to make more top performing content?

Conversion Metrics – Aside from pure lead volume, another import viewpoint on top performing content is based on conversion rates. What gets the most views, what has the most views to completed reg pages, which asset has the biggest drop off? CTR and Acquisition rate metrics are important to get insight on what titles and content types perform best. Again, identify those top performing, and replicate that.

Call to action – Do you include a call to action in your content – do you have additional links for users to click on and view more content? What asset is generating the most engagement via these types of calls to action?

Secondary touch point performance – use the above conversion and lead volume metrics – what content performs best when it comes to getting the second engagement? What is the best asset for driving users downstream?  Consider using these in your nurturing flows.

Engagement – this could be measured by dwell times, view to completion, etc. Take into consideration that the asset that generates the most lead volume might not be the same asset that captures the attention of your prospects for the longest time. Highly engaging assets will be better for nurturing streams.

Filling Gaps:
Use Google trends and do keyword searches. In the above search there are recommendations on what other keyword searches are similar. Make sure you use this information to help guide you on trending keywords/topics to use in your content to maximize reach. Additional options for getting deeper insights into what is driving buyer’s research are to work with publishers in the space. Many publishers have purchase intentions studies research showing what pain points drive buyers as well as other messaging tips/considerations.

Duh, but I have to mention it:
Optimize for Mobile…
Much of the traffic and email will be viewed from a mobile device, make sure during a proper content audit that all (or at least top performing) content is optimized for mobile viewing.

Placing your content:
An important consideration is where will your content live? Your website should be obvious, but then beyond that will you syndicated with other targeted networks? Will you use it to start conversations on social networks?  Will PPC be involved? “If you build it they will come”, doesn’t necessarily apply to content marketing. Sometimes even good content is going to have to be shared, promoted, and marketed to gain traction. 

What to do with your content audit:
What all this boils down to is being able to better understand the buyer’s journey so you can help them navigate through it better and faster.

This exercise serves several purposes. In today’s marketing world there is a significant evolution occurring, and only the marketers that are adapting will survive.  

Content Marketing is about helping marketers understand where their content stagey has holes, helping them communicated more effectively with prospects, and understand which content will be best for nurturing. As noted in the B2B content marketing report from SAP too many organizations lack a clear plan and are practicing random acts of content development. This mapping will give you the tools you need to make a good plan.

As an end result you should have something that looks like this:

Leave a comment! When was the last time you did a full content audit? Did you take all of the above into consideration? Did you use other metrics to further enhance your content audit? 


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