April 5, 2019

by Lisa Zone

In recent months, I’ve had a number of conversations with companies wondering how to best leverage the content they produce for greater overall organizational impact. Often, discrete business units or functional areas are heads-down developing content without collaborating with ― or even talking to ― other parts of the organization. Other times, marketers produce content to satisfy internal demands instead of developing content that meets the needs and wants of their audience. Content marketing activities work hardest for your business when they are aligned at the highest levels. The problem is, it’s hard to execute an effective content marketing strategy without doing some up-front foundational work first.

Here are three ideas you can use at the outset of a content marketing initiative to get your arms around the content you already have ― and, as importantly, what you don’t have ― and help define your path forward.

1. Content Audit

A content audit is a great way to inventory and evaluate all the content produced by each of your teams. Track not only content formats but also how each piece is distributed. To evaluate quality, develop a rubric to score each piece of content, which quantifies what is generally considered subjective. Using a rubric ensures each piece of content is assessed on the same scale, no matter who is grading it. Consider a 4- or 5-point scale in 5-10 categories, allowing you to assign a score to each piece of content you produce. This helps determine which areas of your business are supported by your content marketing efforts – as well as where you need to ramp up. This can be a laborious process. Depending on how much content your organization produces, you may want to work with an outside partner. Getting an outside perspective on the content quality also has the benefit of objectivity and editorial expertise.

2. Social Media Audit

A social media audit provides vital insight into not only what content resonates with your target audiences (read: highest engagement rates) but also on which channels that engagement is happening most. Start by using the free native analytics tools available on each social media channel. These tools provide important insights ranging from demographics of your followers to engagement trends for various types of content, and will provide a solid platform – based on data, not gut instinct – to inform the development of your content strategy. On a sophisticated social media analytics platform like the one we use here at D&E, you can see who is talking about your brand or products whether they’ve tagged you or not, taking your audit to the next level.

3. Persona Development

Once you’ve taken a look at the audit data, take a step back to really think about the different types of people you want to reach – and compare that against who your content currently reaches and is targeted to. Consider adding a column to your content audit rubric for each of the personas you develop, and score pieces of content against how many different personas it appeals to. You may discover big holes in your content mix. Better yet, you may find opportunities to leverage content that you’ve been targeting to Persona A to Personas B and C too. Certainly, the size of your organization dictates how many different personas you need to develop, but I would urge you to develop personas not just for those you already reach but also those you need or want to reach in the future. Understanding the full persona landscape at the outset helps define your go-forward content and storytelling strategy.

While there’s more to developing a content marketing strategy than these three components, they can jump-start your efforts and align your teams.

If you’d like to talk more about tackling an audit, persona or content marketing strategy project, drop me a line and let’s get the conversation started.