The 8 Crucial Steps for a Content Audit

How do you know what’s working – and what’s not – for your content?  It’s easy to look at top performing (and worst performing) content and make assumptions about what’s causing it to sing or sink.  But when it’s time to stop guessing and delve into the data for real answers, it’s time for a content audit. 

The good news: The answers are within reach. A good content audit leverages the treasure trove of information accumulated by published content, and provides valuable insight on what’s specifically working for your brand. 

Not sure how to approach a content audit?  Here are eight crucial steps that ensure you get meaningful results:

1.    Define the scope:  It seems simple enough, but scope creep can happen if this step is neglected.  Define the scope of work by identifying the time-period and the type of content to be analyzed during the audit.  For example, the audit may look at all blog posts and whitepapers published from January 1st – December 31st of the last calendar year.  When defining the time-period, keep in mind seasonality or events that may affect the outcome of your results.    

2.    Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI):  Make sure the audit is measuring behavior that is important to your business.  For example, click through rate is a popular KPI used to measure engagement.  If brand recognition is important to your organization, impressions may also be an important KPI.  If multiple KPIs are important to your brand, a weighted KPI formula is an excellent way to reflect your brand’s priorities. 

3.    Identify variables: Make a list of potential “it factors” that may influence content performance.  The audit will reveal statistical correlations between potential “it factors” and your KPI(s).  Variables can be quantitative (such as the length of content or the number of product mentions) or qualitative (such as tone).  Variables can be found within text, video or images.  Choosing your variables carefully will ensure you have meaningful results for your strategy moving forward.   

4.    Collect, scrub and code the data: The cliché is true: If you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.  While data collection, scrubbing and coding may become tedious, attention to detail is essential for meaningful results. When setting up data collection procedures, integrate quality control measures. 

5.    Analyze the data: At this point, look for mathematical correlations between the variables and your KPI.  This will provide insight into what’s causing some content perform well – and what’s causing other content to drag.  These correlations will help you set the strategy for efficient content creation moving forward.   

6.    Integrate results into content strategy: Whether the content audit provides the ammunition you need to support your gut feeling, or it revealed new insights that change the course of your content creation, integrate the key take-aways into your content strategy moving forward.   

7.    Share your findings:  You have the numbers to support your updated content strategy – now shout it from the rooftops!  Fully leverage your audit and refined content strategy to get buy-in from internal stakeholders.  Content managers armed with clear direction and the statistics to support their strategy are more likely to have well-funded content budgets.  

8.    Rinse and repeat:  Content changes over time, and so does its environment.  Set a schedule for routine audits to ensure your content strategy stays on track.  Quarterly or biannual content audits will ensure your content strategy evolves with the ever-changing landscape.   

Case studies, industry trends and best practices are helpful when creating content strategy, but there is no substitute for insight on what’s specifically working for your brand. By using this methodical approach, content managers can build on success and set a clear direction for the content creators and publishers. 

Don’t have the bandwidth to conduct a content analysis on your own?  We can help!  Contact us today for a free consultation.

Gretchen Crawford is CMO of Brightside Data and a partner with PRSC Group LLC.  She is passionate about both the creative and analytical aspects of great content.