Dan King, Melbourne MD of content marketing agency Edge explains how with the explosion of content, companies should be taking a step back and investing in content audits as part of their content marketing planning.
In an age where we have seen the expansion and growth of content creation at such a rapid rate, too often, websites and social channels are launched and subsequently forgotten in the rush to create more content than we can actually keep track of.
In Australia, many major brands have hundreds of live websites with some larger websites having up to or more than 1,000,000 indexed pages. Furthermore, from 2010 to 2016 there has been a global fivefold increase in websites from 200 million to over a billion.
Between 2004 and 2010, our dominant social channels emerged, allowing brands to reach and engage audiences by becoming brand publishers.
According to Netbase, Australian brands including Telstra, Qantas, Woolworths, and our big banks are the most loved in social media.
These brands are positively reaching and engaging with part of the 15 million Australians on Facebook, 14 million on YouTube, five million monthly users on Instagram, four million daily users on Snapchat, and the 3.6 million on LinkedIn.
So it’s fair to say that branded content is growing at an exponential rate. Some branded content is well organised and effective, but for some brands their content is out of control.
Since around 2010, the concept of content auditing became mainstream, yet very few brands have undertaken a recent content audit, or have undertaken a content audit at all.
There are many causes and reasons for content expansion beyond what is manageable. Often, larger brands with internal marketing teams will create content that targets the same audience through different messages under the one brand umbrella, or create content that doesn’t have a clear audience and is not properly managed after conception.
Policies, procedures and changing responsibilities are all adding to the confusion about content management. A lack of maintenance across channels and user journeys means this may go unnoticed and, in turn, clear content governance is lost.
For brands with large numbers of websites and social channels, management of these content assets may be spread over a range of departments – IT, digital, or marketing.
With channels handled in this way, knowing who is ultimately responsible and how the content is going to be created, managed, reviewed, and removed inevitably becomes unclear.
Through the evolution of hardware, software and consumer-driven technology, brands and content creators continually see a need to change IT infrastructure and marketing strategies to keep in line with consumer trends in changing devices, social platforms and ways of communicating with each other and brands.
With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to regain control over your content, and to do this, you’ll need to carry out a content audit.
To start, you’ll need a content inventory, but content auditing isn’t the listing content inventory that explains ‘what’ you have. A content audit is a detailed analytical process that identifies if your content is good enough; if it’s driving brand and sales results, and if it’s meeting your customers’ needs and expectations.
Content auditing will allow you to most accurately uncover what content assets you have, and whether they are working for you and/or your customer.
Once you have a clear overall picture of the content assets you’re dealing with in a content inventory, you’re then able to start to assess who makes the content, if people find it and engage with it, if it’s current or outdated, if it’s on brand and if it achieves the expected objective.
Once you’ve completed the audit, then you can make a content plan to clean up the seeming mess of content in the form of websites and social channels that may have unravelled, expired, been duplicated or are deemed to be ineffective, and then restructure your content for success.
The idea of content auditing is to enable a brand to streamline its approach to any brand management and future marketing efforts, and this will impact all aspects of that brand – its social and web channels, its staff and structure, content creation, technology and consolidation.
In streamlining the processes in each of these areas, web and social channels are not left unmanaged, staff will have visibility across different departments, as well as a clear and unified goal when creating content.
Over the past two years, Edge has been auditing clients’ content using a bespoke process and proprietary tech and, invariably, it has had a fundamental impact on future content planning for the brand.
These audits enable clients to rein back control over their extensive digital and printed materials. The audits identify high-performing content both online and offline, which will in turn guide future content development, and also assess the gaps in content that impact the customer journey.
As a result, the content audit typically follows with recommendations on quality assurance/accuracy, a consolidation of content including recommendations for relocation or retirement of certain content, improved visibility, recommendations on style and tone, an assessment of common user journeys, identification of content duplication, and guidance on what the appropriate content media split should be.
There are a myriad of Australian brands with large numbers of websites, some with websites that have up to or more than a million web pages, and many, many social media channels that would greatly benefit from an in-depth content audit. The benefits of reining in brand content would impact customer satisfaction, improve brand reach, preference and choice, deliver marketing cost savings and regain organisational control.