17 May 2019

How good is your content? Find out with a content audit

The first job I always do for a new client is a content audit. This is the best way to quickly find out how your existing content is performing.

You have limited time and money. Spend it on content improvements that will get you the best return for the least amount of work.

In this post I’ll talk you through the basics of a content audit for a startup, SME or growth-stage company.

Audit all your content

Marketing content is super important because it drives customer acquisition. However, relevant and helpful content helps you increase revenue at ALL stages of the growth funnel. It helps you with conversion, retention, referral and revenue.

So try and audit all your content, not just your marketing content. Look at your:

  • website content (including translated content)
  • onboarding content
  • SEO content
  • marketing content (blogs, videos, podcasts, emails campaigns)
  • support documents
  • internal team documentation

Note down your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Either link to your key performance indicators or cut and paste results for the last 6 months directly into your content audit.

KPIs are important values that you can measure to see how well your business is doing. They could include paying customers, actual or monthly recurring revenue, organic search traffic, and customer lifetime value.

KPIs give the best high-level overview of how your company is doing and identify potential areas of weakness (high churn, poor conversion of trial to paid, etc.).

Your content audit should identify actions that will improve your KPIs.

At the top of your content audit, I also like to answer these questions:

  • What is your main growth channel at the moment?
  • What do you think the main problem is with your content?
  • What are the key qualities about your company that you want to communicate to your customers?

Measure basic quantitative metrics

Although the most important content metric for any company is whether your content leads to an increase in revenue, the overall answer can be slightly complicated.

If a page isn’t getting much traffic due to an architecture issue then it’s hardly fair to call this page a write-off.

With more traffic could it perform better and form an important part of your sales funnel?

So I like to measure basic quantitative metrics to give me an idea of the effectiveness of your content.

For your website, marketing, SEO content and support documents this might include:

  • page title and url
  • word count
  • date published/revised
  • average time on page
  • average page visits
  • exit rate
  • content format
  • keywords and ranking (SEO content only)
  • sign ups from page
  • assisted signups from page

screenshot of a content audit showing quantitative data

For onboarding content this might include:

  • content title
  • % of audience who make it to the next screen

For your newsletters/emails this might include:

  • open rate
  • click through rate
  • % of subscribers who take a revenue-linked action (sign up, upgrade, download pdf, whatever is relevant)

You can potentially add a lot more quantitative information to the audit. This is great if you have the time for analysis. If you don’t, even basic information will be helpful.

I prefer to do a basic analysis in a day or two rather than suggest a comprehensive analysis that will be too expensive and time consuming for many startups.

Grade content using a scoring system

Quantitative metrics give you factual information about your content’s performance.

Hopefully you can start spotting interesting issues: pages with hardly any traffic, content that has a high exit rate, help articles that lead to a surprising number of signups.

However, your information at this stage is limited. You need to add qualitative categories as well. These could include:

  • purpose (acquisition, conversion, referral, etc.)
  • audience (which persona or audience group does the content target)
  • findability (how easy is it to find the content? Does is appear in Google searches?)
  • accuracy (is it well written and still relevant?)
  • actionability (what is the content trying to get users to do? Is it clear what they should do next?)
  • content messaging (does the content communicate your company values/style/message architecture?)

For many of these categories you can use a simple scoring system of 1-5, with 5 being the best.

Choose the categories that are most relevant. Findability might not be relevant for newsletters and email campaigns. Actionability is super important for onboarding content.

screenshot of a content audit showing quantitative data

I use a ‘recommended actions’ category to note down some quick thoughts about what I’d change and why. This category also stops me prevaricating too much about the scoring, because I can always explain my decisions here.

I also like to give a rough idea of how easy a change should be to implement and what impact it might have. This is particularly important if you have a specific business goal in mind (like reduce customer churn from 8% to 4%).

You won’t implement all your suggestions, but these three columns give you a useful place to start.

screenshot of a content audit showing quantitative data

Draw your conclusions

Once I’ve finished a content audit, I’ll draw up a high-level list of recommendations, with reference to the business goals of the company.

I prefer to offer realistic suggestions rather than ‘ideal scenario’ ideas that will leave you (and me) feeling both stressed and useless :-).

If you’ve secured investment and need to double in size by tomorrow then your content strategy is going to be very different to a bootstrapped company that favours a lower-growth lower-stress model.

Implement the easiest and most powerful changes

Choose the easiest and most powerful changes to implement first. A few quick wins will give you the necessary enthusiasm to keep going!

Make sure you immediately schedule content changes in whatever project management tool you use. Don’t let them moulder in an excel file as you work on yet another new feature.

Also, work out who needs to be involved in your content changes. Do you need a developer, designer and subject expert to successfully push through a content idea? (often yes, in my experience). If so, make sure everyone has time to help.

screenshot of a content audit showing quantitative data

What next?

You now have a clear content roadmap that should nudge your key metrics in the right direction.

Once you’ve implemented changes from your content audit, check what impact they’ve had on your KPIs. Hopefully you’ll see a definite improvement – congratulations! If you don’t see the improvements you’d hoped for then try and work out why. Then move on.

Pay attention to content changes that work particularly well. Make a note of those that don’t. This way you can update your roadmap to make sure you’re implementing the most important content changes for your business.

If you’d like help with your content audit please get in touch: hannah@contentedstrategy.com. My day rate is £345 for startups and SMEs and £525 for enterprise companies.

Content Strategy for Solopreneurs, Startups, Charities and Growing Businesses

This book will help you tackle 12 common business challenges including making sure you're reaching everyone who could be a customer, persuading people to buy from you and not a competitor, and how you can get your team to produce useful usable content. Read more about the ebook.

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  1. How thinking strategically about your content will drive growth
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  3. How to create a content strategy for your company in 4 weeks
cover image of ebook