A good content audit will help your sales team get off to a strong start, fuel strong marketing automation campaigns, encourage reuse of some of your best pieces and give you a guide for what content gaps you may need to fill in 2014.
As 2013 comes to a close, it's a great time to start thinking about your content strategy for the next year. For most marketing departments, content marketing is an expensive and time consuming aspect of many team members' day-to-day roles. However, strong content is more important than ever, helping move prospective customers through the buying process or bringing in new leads.
As you put together your marketing plan for 2014, consider a thorough content audit. A good content audit will help your sales team get off to a strong start, fuel strong marketing automation campaigns, encourage reuse of some of your best pieces and give you a guide for what content gaps you may need to fill.
Here are five tips to help you achieve a thorough and beneficial content audit:
1. Inventory Your Content
Inventory every blog post, spec sheet, white paper, video, infographic, calculator etc. Consider several aspects of the piece: When was it launched? Who was the intended target audience? If you can, report on content consumption -- at what point in the sales cycle was this downloaded, clicked on or watched?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 33 percent of B2B marketers and 41 percent of B2C marketers cited the inability to measure as a significant challenge. If you are in this group, then 2014 is certainly the year to put in place processes and technology so that you can measure your content investment.
Note the optimal time for this content to be used - is this a top of the funnel awareness piece or a late in the buying cycle vendor selection aid? What is the title/role of the intended audience? If you have established buyer personas, then name the target persona for the content piece. Also, use your sales team. Ask which pieces they found most useful and how they used them. You might be surprised about some of your great pieces that your sales team isn't even aware of!
Once you finish your content inventory, create a simple to use spreadsheet or document to share with sales team. List all of the content pieces you want to continue to use and the associated pertinent information that's listed above. This will give your sales team the resources they need to provide the right content to the right individuals at the best point in the sales cycle.
2. Determine If You Need a Content Tune-up
Some content does have a limited shelf life and once you have passed a milestone, it becomes irrelevant or no longer useful. If that is the case, then that piece can be retired. Oftentimes, however, content items just need to be adapted or updated. This usually can be accomplished with minimal cost and might not even require the involvement of the content creator!
Slightly modifying "old" content is akin to a publisher having a strong backlist, or a lineup of books that continue to sell well beyond their publication date. Some of the strongest companies thrive because they have a strong content backlist, and your organization should be no different. If you have a highly successful piece, consider re-marketing it to the same audience that initially consumed it -- they will be flocking to get the latest version!
Challenge yourself: Can you create a content item that has this sort of quality? You too should strive for a strong backlist and a "go-to guide" among your content inventory.
3. Put Your Content into a Framework
Develop a grid of your various stages in the buying cycle (your spreadsheet rows) and all of your buyer personas or content consumers (your spreadsheet columns). Then, place all of your content into the framework where it makes the most sense. For each content piece, color code the primary delivery vehicle for the content -- for example, website, sales, social media or event follow ups. This should allow you to identify gaps where you might need additional content, or maybe where you have overdone it!
4. Consider New Formats
Once you go through the effort and expense of creating a substantial content piece, think about breaking that content up into "snackable" smaller pieces that leverage a different format. For example, can you take the statistics from a research paper and turn that into an eye catching infographic? Or, can you have the paper author introduce the piece in a video? The more formats you employ, the more likely it is you will get engagement and your message will stick.
5. Fill in the Gaps
Every time I travel to London, I immediately smile when I hear the automated tube voice say "Mind the gap." The same principle applies to content marketing. You may have worked very hard on content marketing over the last several years, but 2014 is the year to "Mind the Gap." Make it a priority to fill up those holes in your content framework where you have no content or your pieces are not in the right format to be attractive to the right audience. Invest the budget and resources to produce some fantastic pieces -- perhaps they can become a most valuable player in your content lineup!
With several years of focused content marketing under our belt, now is the time to get smarter about our content creation efforts. By taking inventory, using a framework to get organized, considering new formats and filling in the gaps, you will be creating fuel for your marketing automation initiatives for 2014 and beyond.
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Ellen Valentine has more than 20 years of experience as vice president of marketing/CMO for a number of technology companies. She has deep expertise in launching new products, evaluating product and market positions, designing go-to-market strategy, and managing all digital marketing initiatives. She believes that great people and effective technology are foundations for success, but great execution is the ultimate differentiator.
In her role at Silverpop, an IBM company, she's focused on coaching and mentoring Silverpop clients to adapt and thrive in marketing's changing role. She's also a sought-out speaker at industry conferences and events.
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