Brands

What Is a Content Audit and Why Do You Need One?

Few activities in B2B marketing yield immediate results. Long sales cycles mean it can take months, if not years, for your work to positively affect business. Luckily, there is one exercise proven to help you out right away: a content audit.

What is a content audit, exactly? It’s the process of tracking down and organizing all content produced by your company.

There are different ways to structure the audit. SiriusDecisions has an intensive seven-step process. Moz, meanwhile, has a good guide for completing one with an eye towards SEO. Whichever template you reference, make sure to include these three key steps:

1. Find every asset produced in a certain time period

This is the most time-intensive part of the process. But the trick is setting boundaries. You don’t want to waste time going back 10 years, because any data or commentary you used then probably lost its relevance. Reviewing content from the last two or three years is a better bet.

Also pay attention to how much you struggle during this exercise. If the audit feels like a death march, your company has a problem labeling and archiving content.

2. Map content to your marketing infrastructure

Once you round up all your content, the next step is to tag everything. Not only will a sound tagging structure help you organize all of your old assets, it’ll also give you direction for new pieces you create. Common tags could apply to parts of the marketing funnel, personas, topics, industries, and so on. Our editor-in-chief goes into a bit more detail on this step here.

3. Identify what’s worth keeping

This is the fun part. As you’re applying your taxonomy, a good audit will reveal what content you can reuse, repurpose, or discard.

So that’s the basic structure of a content audit. But why should you do one in the first place? I touched on some of the value by describing the process, but here are the main benefits.

Save money

I’ve written about this in previous articles, but brands waste a lot of content. SiriusDecisions estimates that 65 percent of B2B content ends up languishing unused.

When surfacing forgotten assets, you might find content immediately ready to go live or assets that only need minor revisions. After Contently conducted an internal audit earlier this year, we discovered an interactive project that we’re resurrecting. Rather than start from scratch, the audit saved us time and money that can be redistributed elsewhere.

Increase efficiency

Wasting 65 percent of content is bad, but this stat is even more disheartening: 80 percent of B2B marketing assets aren’t used by salespeople, according to a Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs study. Why? Because content is either unusable or unfindable.

Either way, your content ecosystem has a problem. If people can’t easily find the content they need, it doesn’t matter how good it is. And if content is easy to find content but not very good, it won’t get used either.

An audit is the perfect opportunity to assess why content goes unused. Perhaps there is a workflow breakdown or your salespeople don’t know where to access the content they need. Whatever the reason, make it a point to decrease the clutter. So if you find a piece of content that can’t be repurposed, delete it.

Maintain consistency

Marketing departments reorganize all the time—software systems change, brand guidelines evolve, and goals adjust. As you’re deciding what content to keep, make sure old assets fit these changes. Getting to this point may require updating tags, tweaking language, and uploading content into a new system.

Once you’re done auditing, you’ll have a great opportunity to do a broad analysis of what content performed well and why. You can then use that historical data to inform your strategy moving forward.

Companies that take the time to carefully perform audits can see big results. Our client Manulife has already seen over $1 million in cost savings. Going back through the records may be a painful process, but if you want to be a hero for your department, it’s one of the most effective projects you can take on.

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