Content Marketing Strategy, Part 1: Conducting a Preliminary Content Marketing Audit

The first step for any content marketing program is getting a clear idea of what your organization is already doing and how successful these efforts are. This is known as the content marketing audit. Next week, I’ll come back with a post about what goes into a content marketing audit for an established or robust program, but today I want to talk about doing a preliminary audit when you’re looking across your organization and you aren’t sure who has been doing content marketing, which audiences they are targeting, how or even if they are measuring results, etc.

 

I tried to hike at this lake, Echo Lake in Colorado, with a friend on Memorial Day weekend. But it was still too snowy so we had to move down to a lower elevation for the hike. Consider this the lower elevation version of the content audit, for when it’s too early for a deep audit.

This is what I ask when I’m starting from scratch and don’t know what efforts have been going on throughout the organization.

First, I try to make it clear what I want us to be talking about when I talk about content marketing. You can find my outline of what it means and what it does here and a basic list of definitions I use here. Shared understanding about what we’re talking about when we discuss content marketing is a key first step. (For example, I went into a meeting a few weeks ago where a colleague said “Well, we’ve been doing a lot of content marketing. I mean, it’s all content for marketing.” She then went on to discuss a direct mail campaign that highlighted product features and website copy, neither of which is content marketing as I, and our program, define it.)

After you’ve established that you are all talking about the same thing, the next step is to get a basic idea of who has been producing content marketing materials and what they’ve been doing. I recommend a multiple choice format:

What types of content marketing materials did your team produce in FY2014?

  • We did not do any content marketing in FY14
  • White papers (produced and distributed by COMPANY)
  • White papers (partnered)
  • Articles through owned channels
  • Articles through external channels
  • Blogs through owned channels
  • Blogs through external channels
  • Research reports
  • Videos
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Webinar or webcast
  • Live event

I created my list based on what I know we do and what’s considered content marketing at my company — your list will vary based on what your organization prefers. I also ask which formats they feel were most successful.

Next, I ask them who their key targets were and include a list of our customer types (again, something that will vary by organization).

I go on to look at what their primary topics were by quarter, if the topics were tied to other marketing efforts (such as an ad campaign or sales initiative), and which topics got the most attention both internally and externally.

It’s only after all of this that we get to the question of measurement. I ask if they’ve been formally measuring and, if so, which methods they’ve been using. This is another good opportunity for a multiple choice question. It’s also good to know if there are additional measures they’d like to use next year.

Lastly, I ask the open ended question: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your Content Marketing efforts for the year?

Now, I use a questionnaire for a first pass at this because I need to gather information from multiple regions globally and different marketing roles and departments within those regions (Communications, Marketing, PR, etc.). There’s well over 20 people who might be doing content marketing. After I do the survey I either have a global call to talk about results or conduct a bunch of smaller meetings with individual groups, depending on what the situation warrants. If you have a smaller organization, an actual conversation is probably a better/easier way to go. I find that having the follow up conversation is vital because you get to move into the listening phase of the audit, which is where the intel that helps you garner internal support and understand past successes and failures surfaces. I’ll talk about that phase in more detail soon!

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