If there’s one thing we know at Pace, it’s that content is king. We love to produce and put out engaging, informative and all-around awesome stories for our clients, but how do we know what really works, and why? Often we find ourselves surrounded by more content, and more measures of success for that content, than we know what to do with. Enter the content audit—a simple yet richly informative process that can help you uncover the trends that drive the success of your brand’s content strategy. So, we’re going to break down what a content audit is and why it can be valuable for your brand.
A content audit is an in-depth examination of a brand’s entire content repository, designed to evaluate and analyze how different pieces perform across the brand’s digital footprint. Long-term performance trends uncovered by the audit can be used to inform future editorial direction. The main analysis of content is usually achieved through some kind of composite score, using a variety of page-level awareness, engagement and conversion metrics.
Simply put, the results of a content audit provide you with a data-driven roadmap to guide your future content strategy. You can uncover emerging or changing trends in your content’s success that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, and you can use those trends to make better decisions on promotion, site design, article formatting, A/B testing and more in order to optimize for content relevancy and engagement.
The process behind a content audit demands the expertise and input of various people. Editorial teams provide the content to be analyzed, along with other information like article characteristics and promotion schedules. Analysts and strategists advise on which metrics to include, and their order of importance for composite scoring. The findings and resulting decisions to be made using those findings should be implemented with the input of everyone involved in the process.
How often to do a content audit depends on the needs and goals of your individual brand. Results are typically more meaningful when content has had longer exposure, and the time and depth involved with the analysis usually requires at least a few months between reviews. Your analysts and strategists can advise on when there’s enough data available for an audit, in order to deliver the best recommendations for editorial direction.
You might find yourself overwhelmed when it comes to implementing the results of your content audit. Here are a few questions to help you get started.
What kinds of article titles attract the highest performance?
You can compare results between question vs. statement titles, numbered vs. non-numbered titles, or titles with certain keywords or phrases. You can also test whether the length of the title matters when it comes to performance.
What is the optimal length for content?
You may suspect that longer or shorter pieces tend to perform better. A content audit can confirm this.
What types of content are the most effective?
Listicles, infographics, videos, long-form articles, quizzes, etc., all clearly have their own merits, but one or more formats might be especially effective for your brand. A content audit can tell you which types had the highest performance.
What effects do images and/or artwork have on content performance?
Your editorial team can identify which pieces feature various forms of artwork or images, such as illustrations, images of people, or icons/logos. You can then compare performance across different types of art to determine its effect.
What is the effect of promotion on content performance?
You should take a look at how content promoted through email or on social media performs compared to non-promoted content. This one may seem obvious (promotion helps!) but knowing its exact effect can inform a more strategic, data-driven promotion schedule. You can also examine if promotion tends to have a higher effect depending on the time, day, etc.
How does content placement affect my site?
A content audit can even provide a starting point for changes in user experience and/or site design. If your site has a main navigation with categories, you can see which categories performed best and use that information to test a reorganized navigation structure. Or you might use audit results to inform decisions on which content to place in a right rail or featured content section. Any preliminary UX results discovered through a content audit should be formally tested and confirmed before ultimately redesigning or reorganizing any elements of your site.
While the process behind a content audit may seem overwhelming, it’s actually a straightforward and collaborative exercise that can result in a world of insights. It’s a great starting place for better understanding your audience and how they choose to interact with your content, which can then influence larger business decisions. Plan a content audit for your site, and you’ll be well on your way to making the best strategic and data-driven choices for the success of your brand.
Written by Brynne Parmele