A content audit is an insightful exercise that gives visibility into a demand marketing organization’s knowledge of customers and the sales funnel, as well as its multi-channel marketing savvy.
Our experience conducting audits for diverse B2B clients points to common content challenges that marketers grapple with. I’d like to share five of the most common obstacles—and the advice we give on how to overcome them—so you can get the best outcomes from your content strategy.
Problem #1: Not enough content for each funnel stage.
Solution: Conduct an audit, identify gaps in each stage of the funnel and create new content that fills those gaps.
Explanation: For too many companies, content is concentrated in one or two stages of the funnel and they lack the assets needed to support diverse demand-gen campaigns. One of the main outcomes of a content audit is a map that places every piece of content into a funnel stage to ensure there is an adequate supply. Each campaign should start with a clearly defined objective and set of tactics, which in turn dictate the number of each type of asset needed. If there is a content gap, turn to internal resources or trusted content development firms to build the assets required. When you uncover gaps, time is of the essence in creating new content for pending campaigns.
Problem #2: Content that doesn’t directly address buyer/prospect business needs
Solution: Leverage and enforce the use of personas in the content development cycle to ensure content never wavers from targeting prospects and customers.
Explanation: You must have personas that accurately capture your customers’ and prospects’ business drivers. But just having personas isn’t enough. The content of the personas must be ingrained in the content development process and the thinking of content developers. This will come to life in verbiage that matches what buyers use to explain their business challenges. Our audits often reveal content that is not sufficiently focused—not targeted to a specific segment of buyers—or that barely focuses on the buyer at all. In the latter cases, content seems to be aimed at internal constituents as much as customers. That content won’t perform and isn’t worth an investment in internal or external resources.
Problem #3: Content that’s not informed by performance data and is therefore unlikely to meet performance objectives
Solution: Track analytics on all content. Use that data to drive the development and optimization of content so that it can support sales goals.
Explanation: A marketer recently told me their team had built a new type of content with no specific goal in mind because they didn’t know what to expect. While that approach was great for the content development firm they hired (which got to develop content and have no accountability for performance), it was a poor business choice. No content should ever be developed without a measurable performance goal. For example, a marketer could plan to capture 250 top-of-funnel prospects with one e-book, toward a goal of 1,000. Those prospects are worth $50 apiece, so the white paper would be monetized in this one campaign at $12,500. So $12,500 worth of prospects should be viewed as the bare minimum objective in determining the content development budget. It’s a straightforward exercise to track the contacts you capture from a given asset and perform this calculation—the key is to keep your eye on the performance ball.
Problem #4: Content that lacks a marketing (distribution) plan, resulting in a slow performance ramp—if the content ever gets off the ground
Solution: Build a content marketing plan that lays out a plan for content distribution tactics by channel in parallel with your content development effort.
Explanation: The plan should define campaign tactics and channels, target audience by channel, launch and completion dates, budgets and other critical details. Think about the oddity of investing in content with no defined plan on how to use it to reach the target audience. This is not an uncommon oversight.
Problem #5: Content that’s not reused broadly across channels
Solution: Develop only content that can be deployed across channels and reused liberally.
Explanation: Especially when budgets are tight, demand-gen orgs must be able to use every piece of content in at least two channels (the full list includes email, web, social, direct mail, phone). The more reuse across channels, the higher ROI you will realize on your content investment. After contributing to core demand-gen goals, ROI should be a top priority for content strategy.
We have deep experience helping demand-gen leaders overcome all five of these issues. We’d welcome a conversation to assess how we can help you drive great results with content. If you choose to go it alone, I hope these recommendations help you drive success.