A content marketing audit is something every small business needs to do from time to time. It ensures that you are using your content budget correctly, and that your website and copy are aligned with your wider business goals. It might seem challenging, but it’s a necessary part of running a functioning — and successful — business. Before you set out, read our handy guide to do your audit right.
Set out your KPIs before you start
The biggest mistake small businesses tend to make with their content audits (and content strategies overall), is not being clear on the overall goals of the exercise.
What is the mission for the piece of content in front of you? Identifying what exactly you want from your content will help guide you as you work through your audit. Set out your key performance indicators early on — it is these that will help steer your audit throughout.
Ask yourself: What is the end goal of this particular content piece?
These goals might include:
- Sales & lead generation: 80% of your results tend to come from 20% of your content, but if you’re not achieving even that, then this might be a strong KPI. How much effort are your really putting into selling through content marketing? Be honest with yourself, and don’t judge your content too harshly if it isn’t raking in the sales — this can be hard to achieve at first.
- More traffic: without regular traffic, your website (and your business) will suffer. Does your content rank? Does it drive traffic?
- Brand perception: in the social media age, brand perception is vital to business success and should be addressed in your content strategy.
- Internal brand and training: better understanding your brand from within will help inform your strategy as you go on, and prove a vital resource for team morale and training.
- Promotion: an audit can help you align and enhance future content marketing efforts. Do you need to improve the way you promote your content by including more channels for example?
- Community outreach: are you doing enough to improve your local image and CSR?
If you are clear on what you are judging your content against (and why) you will be able to make smarter decisions for your business.
Map your content onto a (loose) funnel
Your content strategy shouldn’t be a flat structure with no discernible direction. Different types of content play different roles at various stages of the content marketing funnel. A comparison guide for example might be great at the initial discovery stage, but might not work so well further down the funnel.
As such, you should map each piece of content onto your marketing funnel to identify how it should be used. It doesn’t need to be rigid, and your content may well play multiple roles in your funnel, but having a rough plan can help when you’re auditing your strategy.
Examples of which format works where include:
- Awareness/discovery: product comparison guides, useful blog posts, video content
- Consideration: detailed instructional guides, UGC such as 3rd party product reviews
- Conversion: discount codes, in-depth product reviews, customer testimonials
As you audit, consider whether each stage has enough content to support them. An unbalanced funnel at any stage leads to poor conversions, so take the time to ensure each one is sufficiently catered to.
Use tools to help you find the right data
Content marketing is a labor of love, but you would be a fool to not embrace the powerful tools that can help you quickly sort and shift content data. There are a number of tools available that can make your content audit easier and quicker.
Naturally, Google Analytics will rank at the top of your list. This can provide you with vital insight into how your content is performing, both on its own and as part of a wider strategy. And if you have a developer on hand, Google Data Studio is an ideal next-level tool to take your data audit further.
But that’s not all. Running SEO is a free tool that rapidly identifies key error hotspots in your web content, and provides tips and advice on how to rectify them. This is a good option for brands on a budget, providing quick fixes when you need them most.
There are any number of affordable, effective content auditing tools available on the web. Investing in even one or two of them will not only speed up your content audit, but also help you get the most out of it too.
Prioritize your content for maximum return
When you undertake a content audit, it can be tempting to spread yourself thin and try to cover everything. But it’s ultimately a strategy that will fall flat. It’s important that you think about what channels are working best for you and focus your efforts on them. If something doesn’t bring you good ROI, don’t waste your time with it.
A good place to start is competitor analysis. For example, let’s say that you’re in the tech business. Identify some of the biggest brands in the business and analyze their SEO with a tool like Ahrefs. This can help you gauge your competitors and the market as a whole. You’ll also want to look at rising trends in your industry, so checking out starter tech and gadget stores is a good place to gauge where your market is headed next. Finally, analytical tools such as Google Trends are also very useful for hints as to where things are going in the tech industry. Once you’ve gathered all this information, collate it all into a handy crib sheet. You can then use this as a benchmark to assess your content against. Are you on the right track with your strategy? Are you covering current trends? Is your content competitive?
For example, as you audit your blog content, compare it against that of your competitors based on factors such as frequency, imagery, video content, quality, word count, and so on. These granular factors might seem small, but they all go towards an effective content strategy, so are worth drilling down into.
Your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it’s part of a content marketplace. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize by doing rigorous analysis.
When you’re running a small business, audits are a necessity. But they don’t need to be arduous. Set out a plan and identify your key performance indicators before you start. And don’t be afraid to lean on free or affordable tools to help you source the data you need. Your audit is a vital part of your business strategy, so it’s worth doing it right.
Patrick Foster is lead writer at Ecommerce Tips, an online resource and community where he shares his wealth of ecommerce expertise and know-how. From UX and marketing to entrepreneurship and dropshipping, Ecommerce Tips covers it all. For all the latest, find Patrick on Twitter @myecommercetips.