How Content Auditing Can Shape Your Brand Strategy
We came across an educational institute once. They wanted conversions, not just leads. Within a span of 6 months, they wanted over 1000 enrolments.
You’d think, wow! That’s being ambitious. Good going! Surely they had a solid strategy to get there?
But that’s where the good part of the story ends. Their strategy was to do whatever it took (basically build content) to showcase their infrastructure and get students to enroll. Like saying, we have 100 CCTV cameras installed in our premises, and so it’s safe, and so enroll with us.
We came across another educational institution, a competitor of theirs, that had over 200 CCTV cameras. And they weren’t even talking about it to get enrolments.
Do you see the problem?
Your brand is your message. And your message lies in your content.
“100 CCTV cameras!” is no message/content because there’s always someone who has more CCTV cameras than you do.
So how do you decide what your content should be?
Get a content audit done. Simple.
Read on to find out how content audit is significant in shaping your brand message and strategy.
What Does a Content Audit Cover?
Earlier, content meant printed literature like brochures that you handed over to your prospects. There was also a lot more like mainstream print or television advertising. But that was way too expensive for most businesses.
You now have the technology to produce all kinds of content much more cheaply and by bypassing all the expensive media planning and buying agencies.
Content is what you are saying. It may include any or all of the following:
- Text: blogs, whitepapers, case studies, etc
- Audio: podcasts etc
- Video: product demos, long-form, micro-videos
- Images: PPTs, pictures, infographs, illustrations
- Other: webinars etc
The above list is not exhaustive. Every industry and even every business produces a unique mix of content.
Content appears in several places. A content audit will examine all these spaces. Some of these areas are:
- Your website: Your content includes website copy and all your textual, audio, video, pictorial resources like blogs, whitepapers, videos and so on.
- Your social network activity: Your content includes your posts, your engagement efforts, and campaigns.
The angles used to audit content are:
- Website: SEO as per the Sales Funnel, Responsive to Multiple User Journeys, Analytics, etc
- Social Network Activity: Quantity and Quality of Engagement, Industry Benchmark, Analytics, Website Traffic Analysis, etc
What Does a Content Audit Do?
Like any other form of audit, content audit tells you how you’ve been doing in what you claim to be doing. And most of the time, it comes as a surprise. It’s like looking at your passport size photograph and wondering, “Is this what I look like?”
Or listening to an audio recording of your voice. The first reaction invariably is that of surprise. You never thought you sounded like that.
Content audit, like a mirror, reflects:
- What are you saying?
- How are you saying it?
- How is it being received?
Content audit goes a step further and also suggests:
- What should you be saying?
- How should you be saying it?
Some of the Most Common Findings from Content Audit
Like the example of the educational institution we started with, many businesses fall short of taking their message/marketing strategy seriously. If they don’t see disastrous results, they see zero results. Let’s see some more examples.
Example — Financial Services Provider
There was a financial planning company that wanted more people to invest through them. And their message was exactly that direct: come and invest with us.
There was no context accompanying the message. Why invest? What are the investment options? There was no attempt to bust any myths around the investment. And there was no attempt to demystify finance as a whole.
Financial planning is a domain that scares people. People see risks more than they see the benefits of investing. Most people (this company’s target audience) assume they need to far richer in order to start investing.
So, this company’s message of “come and invest with us” was falling on deaf ears. It was targeted at middle-class people and they weren’t listening. If they could raise the aspirations of their target audience by talking about benefits of investment like being able to afford a vacation, that could have meant something. But they were offended by the images in a blog that showed women dressed casually on a beach.
Suggesting vacation is a random example. Their objection to “casual” images in the blog is also a random example. But these examples represent the most common problem related to content marketing. And that is:
You as a business owner or as a brand custodian want to give reasons to your buyers to consider buying from you. But more often than not, these are not the reasons that your buyer wants to hear. Consider doing a content audit to get some feedback.
In a nutshell, most common problems with content are:
- Wrong message: You are not saying what will get you buyers’ attention.
- Content fatigue: Because there’s no solid idea behind your content, your content team gets bored or runs out of ideas to write about.
- Lack of consistency: Because you don’t have a content strategy, you start off by producing a certain number of content pieces a week but soon that number becomes zero.
Solving these kinds of content issues require a change of mindset.
These are not the right kind of content problems to have if you claim to put serious effort into content. If you are clear that you need content to widen your sales funnel and increase your conversion rate, you’ll face a completely different category of challenges:
- Content Experimentation
- Content Workflow
If you face these problems, you’d need process-oriented solutions to do better.
Rethinking Content after Audit
The audit will give a detailed report on all analytics and matrices like the content meter.
After the audit, you’d be sitting with a lot of questions like:
- How will you build your credibility so that prospects turn to you to find solutions to their problems?
- What are the zones where you can become thought leaders?
- What and why should you post on your social network accounts?
- Are you solving a problem of your customer through a piece of content?
- What content do you want to use to stay in touch with your audience?
- How should you change your practice from posting aggressively only to promote discounts/offers/launch to defining what your brand content should communicate?
- How soon and how often do you respond to others’ comments on your posts/content?
- Do you only respond while handling their negative comments or reviews?
- Do you ever get in touch with individual users on your own?
- Do you post natively on each platform? Or is yours a one-piece-of-content-fits-all approach?
- Does your own staff (outside your content team) consume your content? What do they have to say about it?
- How do you set guidelines for using specific copy and creatives for awareness and lead generation campaigns?
- Which of your content pieces or types is doing well?
- Which of your content pieces can be optimized or updated?
- What can you scrap from the pool of content you have?
- Which content can you use to gain traction from campaigns?
- How will you repurpose the content you already have?
- What should your content calendar look like?
- Do you have an agenda regarding content performance vis-à-vis your competition?
- How will you communicate this agenda to your in-house content team or your content agency?
- Has your team or agency been doing a good and consistent job? How does the audit change your equation with either of them?
- How much are you willing to collaborate in the process of content ideation?
Content is a fascinating domain in which you can involve everyone from the top-level management to customer-facing personnel (and all the intelligence you have about your leads and buyers) to get interesting ideas.
Your content is as interesting as the ideas you bring together and channelize. As you begin to take content seriously, you’ll come across various models and theories that consultants and practitioners follow. Some of the examples are:
Content Audit and Branding Strategy
A content audit thus pushes you closer towards finding your own voice and style. This uniqueness gives you far better returns on investing in your brand. There are far higher chances that people will consume your content in spite of an average design or interface. Because people want quality. There are 3 main attributes of good content. It is:
As per your brand pillars, you’ll be coming up with your content’s:
If you think your brand should communicate trust, you’ll focus on producing content that can be trusted. If your content is truly credible, it’s going to attract backlinks and build you a higher domain authority. And these are a bonus, apart from getting you better leads and general goodwill.
If you think your brand should be seen as fun by prospects and customers, you’ll focus on creating content that uses humor or popular culture to connect with others. More often than not, fun goes viral. Virality means huge SEO benefits and greater organic visibility on the social networks bypassing their restrictive algorithms. And again, these are bonuses, apart from getting you better engagement.
Your content, through its shareability online as well as offline, helps people spread your message. The more they talk about you and share your content, the better it gets for you. And then your content begins to drive itself. You’ll find you don’t have to struggle to make people aware about you.
A Glimpse of Content Audit.
To make you aware of how a content audit report looks like, here are few samples from the audit report:
To maximize the returns on your investment in an audit, produce more content. An audit gives you very specific actionable tips that you can start using immediately, provided you are up for some serious hard work.
And that’s big in terms of returns because understanding content from the scratch requires a reading of up to 2 hours a day. Even then, there’s a very high chance that you’ll not end up creating anything. You’ll just end up consuming content.
Digital marketing veteran Gary Vaynerchuk knows this too well. He recently shared his ideas on producing an insane amount of content everyday — 64, to be precise. And he followed it up with an announcement of a challenge: use his framework, create more content and tag it. He’s promised to feature the best content on his social network accounts. That’s a good way to find out if you’re creating good content. That’s a free audit in itself!
Then there’s another approach. You do not have to tag him. But it’s a good inspiration to get started with. While you learn a thing or two in the process of making enough content, you’ll know when to ask for an audit and get specific answers.
Let us know what challenge you are willing to commit to.