Content Marketing Strategy - Step 1: How to Perform a Content Audit

With the increased attention on content strategy and how it drives the buying process, the content audit is becoming a routine exercise for many b2b marketers. If your organization has not performed one, I would highly recommend it. Tedious and time-consuming as it may be, it’s well worth it and will pay off when you’re developinglead nurtures and building your content strategy. I recently completed a large content audit and thought I would share my approach and some tips that might help save you some time and get a comprehensive audit done. I’ve heard content audit defined several different ways, so let me first clarify how I’m using the term. An audit helps me understand what kinds of content we have and how it maps to buyer personas and buying stages. Additionally, I noted the details about each piece of content that will be helpful in determining where we have content gaps or room for improvement. If you’re the lucky marketer tasked with the audit and have quite a few other responsibilities as most of us do, I would break your audit into 3 phases so it won’t seem so overwhelming. Start with your collateral pieces or offerings, such as webinars, whitepapers, videos, eBooks, reports, and case studies, then look at blog content, and finish with additional web pages, emails and third-party material.

The Preparation

If you haven’t already done it, meet with your team to discuss buyer personas and buying stages:

  1. Developing Buyer Personas: A buyer persona is description of anything that you would want to know about your most ideal buyers. For B2B companies, there’s typically more than one person involved in the decision-making process. You can start by looking at some of your customers and analyzing the decision-makers and influencers involved in their buying process. Your buyer personas might cover job titles, pain points, and work responsibilities for the key people participating in the buying process. Once you develop a list of buyer personas, you can map your content accordingly.
  2. Defining stages of the Buying Process: There are many available resources to help you define the stages of your buying process. Most experts site between 3 and 8 stages. I recommend looking at the buying processes of some of your customers for this exercise as well. Analyze their online activity, interests and interactions with your sales team throughout the process to determine how your existing content corresponds to each phase. As a team, look at a few pieces of content and map them to buying stages together to ensure you’re on the same page.

You might want to also discuss the details of the audit with your team and see if they have any additional ideas/suggestions. The more input and buy-in you have from your team, the more successful your content strategy and lead nurturing programs will be. Once you’ve taken these steps, you are ready to start your audit.

The Audit

There are tools available to help you complete a content audit for all your online pieces, such as iGooMap, which scans your website and generates an XML sitemap. However, if you have quite a bit of gated content or content that is not published as a web page these types of tools will not be as useful for you.

I did my audit manually and created a spreadsheet with the following categories:

  • Content Piece: The title of the collateral piece, web page, video, presentation, etc.
  • Subject Matter: The goal here is to identify how much content you have for subject matters that are important to your buyers. Therefore, you want your subjects to be broad enough to group content but specific enough to segment. I created 10 subject matters, which were consistent with search phrases and key words buyers typically use when searching for our solution.
  • Secondary Subject: I noted if the content was targeted at a specific industry or user group.
  • Type of Content: whitepaper, webinar, video, article, blog post, interview, case study, analyst report, etc.
  • Targeted Buyer Persona: Here I assigned the buyer personas that my team and I had developed to pieces of content. Several pieces targeted more than one persona, so I added a secondary persona column. I used decision-maker, financial buyer and influencer/user, which is a good place to start. However, as your gather more information about your prospects, you can create more detailed buyer personas and more targeted content.
  • Department: If you create content that targets specific departments involved in the decision-making process, note which department your content best targets.
  • Delivery method: PDF, AV presentation, webpage, etc.
  • Purpose: This will vary from organization to organization but I used the following categories: Thought Leadership (new idea or concept); Education (how to; tips, tactics and strategies); Entertainment (attention grabbers); Customer/Product Support (product and customer-specific technical support); Proof Points (case studies, customer videos & testimonials, analyst reviews and buyer guides); Sales Enablement (sales presentations, company/product information, competitive comparisons)
  • Buying Stage: I used Awareness, Research, Consideration and Decision. I looked at each piece of content and chose a corresponding stage based on the nature and purpose of the content. This part is the most subjective so your team’s input and the exercise I mentioned above is important.
  • Authorship: I didn’t list the specific author but broke it down into 3 categories: Internal (Manticore employee); Partner (Manticore partner); Third-party (analyst, reporter, industry expert).
  • Ownership: Do we own the content and have the ability to change or update it? Yes or No.
  • Last Updated: Year or month the piece was written or updated.
  • Location: Link or file location
  • Action Needed: I noted if the piece of content needed to be updated, reformatted, repurposed or deleted.
  • Other: Here I recorded anything else that I wanted to mention.

The point of listing the 15 categories I used when performing my content audit is not to show you exactly what your audit should cover. Your audit will probably look different, but I thought showing you my approach and analysis of our content might help you think through your process. There are a ton of good resources available regarding content marketing, buying stages, and buyer personas. I encourage you to do a quick search and check out some other articles before your start your audit. Jeff Ogden posted a good content audit article on B2Bbloggers, and Cari Baldwin’s interview on the Content Connection blog discussing content mapping is helpful as well.

The Take-away

Congratulations, you’ve made it through the audit. Now you can analyze the information and determine if you lack content for any particular subject matter, buying stage or persona. I created graphs comparing how many pieces of content we had for each area, which showed some gaping holes in our content mix. The presentation helped me secure budget for creating the appropriate content to fill those gaps and have a more cohesive content strategy.

Hopefully these tips will help you get started and make your content audit easier and more useful. Good luck!