Content Audits: 3 Things You Need to Consider
Content audits can be a tricky beast - especially if it’s your first audit or you’re not sure what it should accomplish. For enterprise tech content marketers, the confusion can be compounded if you’re also tasked with tracking documentation, reference architectures, and sales materials.
Earlier this week, there was a fantastic Twitter Chat (#contentchat - Mondays at 12:00 p.m. PT) with Carmen Hill (Twitter), hosted by Erika Heald (Twitter), that tackled some of the challenges that content teams face with content audits. That conversation inspired a few thoughts that are worth considering as you tackle your next content audit:
Use Your Content Audit to Force Hard Decisions
As you know, more content is not necessarily better. Too much content can hurt your customer experience by confusing what your audience should be consuming. Content that was created last year may be performing well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be maintained - especially if it’s off brand or out of date. Content audits are a great starting point to prune your content, and will help drive the conversation on what content should be kept, updated, or retired.
Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward set of questions you can ask to identify which assets you need to have a hard conversation about:
Is this asset still accurate?
Does it still represent my brand well?
Has anything changed (style, campaigns, products) that makes this asset out of date?
Your goal here is to clearly delineate which assets you want to “keep” or “update/retire.” Once you have the assets segmented, you have to ask the really hard question:
Is this asset worth the resources to update or maintain?
If you can’t justify the resources to update out-of-date content, it may be time to put the asset out to pasture. But keep in mind, that these decisions should be made in the context of your content matrix, so you’re not unintentionally creating gaps in your buyer’s journey.
Content Audits & Content Inventories: Both Matter
One great point that came up during the chat is that these terms are often used interchangeably. It makes sense, given that you need to create an inventory in order to perform the audit - you can’t audit content if you don’t know what you have!
A content inventory is intended to be a comprehensive list or library of all of your assets that can be used externally.
A content audit is a comprehensive review of your organization’s content, typically including a deep dive into performance, quality, and branding.
An inventory is typically the first step of a full audit, creating a consolidated list of the assets that need to be reviewed. The audit will result in the set of activities needed to fill content gaps, and identify the assets to be updated or retired.
That said, a stand alone content inventory is valuable in its own right, especially for enterprise B2B tech companies. For example, the inventory can be shared with your sales enablement team to help drive a conversation on which assets reps should be using for prospecting. One way to drive leverage from your assets is supporting business development rep (BDR) outreach. When targeted and relevant, your content gives your sales reps something valuable to offer to potential customers, rather than relying on cold emails to book meetings.
Should I include PR results in my content audit?
This is a really hard question. From a strategic standpoint, all content produced by your company should be viewed as usable for content marketing - that’s what it means to have a holistic approach to content.
But depending on your company and its approach to PR, there’s a chance the PR team is delivering results at a cadence that isn’t feasible to track by the content team. In other cases, the PR team has drastically different goals (share of voice vs. conversion, for example).
So what’s the answer? It depends. Try to be pragmatic (or opportunistic, if you prefer). If a placement or media hit has a place within the campaign you’re supporting, then include it as part of your audit, but this should be a fairly high bar. Everything that you include in your audit should be trackable, so you’ll need to make sure you have an explicit goal for that type of content within your strategy or in the campaign. Pro tip: it’s super helpful to have a documented content strategy, before having this discussion with your PR team!