content marketing

Content Marketing Strategy, Part 2: The In-Depth Content Analysis — Audit

For an organization that has some content marketing efforts underway — whether it’s a scattered approach or a fully planned program — a detailed analysis of where you are is a great place to start the strategy process (and measure success after you’ve been running for a while).

I divide my analysis into three stages: Audit, Listen and Evaluate. Today, let’s talk about the Audit.

An audit is basically just an accounting of what you’ve done or currently have out there in terms of content marketing. I like to take the near look and the long look back (or What have we done this year? and What have we done this quarter?). It can be as simple as a laundry list:

  • What topics did we have content for this year?
  • What formats did we publish in? (Don’t just think of “permanent” content like papers, blogs or videos — include webcasts and presentations too.)
  • Who were our target audiences?
  • How did we distribute the content?
  • Which “owners” and subject matter experts within our organization participated and produced content?
  • What were our key messages?
  • What were our desired outcomes?
  • Where are the materials now? (Both the external facing homes and the location of any design or production files)
  • What were the key publication dates or events?
  • How much did we spend on production and distribution?

One thing to notice here, is that there isn’t a lot of measurement —yet! Right now we’re looking at the full scope of what’s out there and how things were developed and distributed. It’s important to be thorough, and try to look at all efforts with unbiased eyes. You might already know that such and such piece of content was a huge success and another was a failure, but if you don’t know the full range of what you’ve done, you can’t really do a great comparison to find out why, or look at how you can make changes to get better results.

Next, we’ll take a look at the feedback and measurement to get a better grasp on strengths and weaknesses of the content and the content marketing efforts as a whole.

Intro to Content Marketing

I’ve been working on revising the content marketing strategy for my company, and as part of that, I’ve been on a quest to educate some of my colleagues about what content marketing is and how it benefits our company. Since programs vary from organization to organization, I thought it might be useful to share our approach here.

What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of materials that provide value to the customer, with the purpose of building brand credibility, showcasing leadership or expertise and influencing customer behavior. It is a “soft sell” approach, focused on thought leadership rather than product pitches. At its best, content marketing is an integrated part of an overall marketing plan, strengthening customer relationships and sales efforts while promoting industry leadership and insight by delivering the information the audience wants. Content marketing materials can include articles, blogs, videos, papers, social media content and more.

The benefits of content marketing
The sales cycle is evolving, and customers are more likely than ever to do preliminary research before reaching out directly to a company or sales representative. With a thorough understanding of customer desires and questions, our company can use content marketing to build trust and credibility with potential and current customers by providing meaningful, insightful and informative content that enhances our reputation as an industry leader and innovator.

A well-executed content marketing program is not just a reputation- or awareness-building effort. It can create a foundation of understanding that helps both customers and employees discuss our company and our products, technologies and services and make more intelligent and informed decisions. When properly integrated with strategy and communication efforts, content marketing can help provide a framework for discussing the ideas and offers that underlie our tactics and messaging.

For my fellow content marketers out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on our approach. Is your definition different? Is there a benefit that I missed?