The content marketing strategy, an ever-evolving plan to use the power of words to win over new customers. It’s a comprehensive document that serves as a guide to the content-savvy marketer. However, often times, a common pitfall of content marketing strategy creation is it is put together without a comprehensive audit.
Without having a deep understanding of the way users interact with your product, and also of how your content has historically performed in the past – it is difficult to craft a content marketing strategy that works.
The truth is data speaks volumes, and if you can harness it, you’ll be able to strategize like a champ.
Which is why we put together the ultimate content audit checklist, inspired by our own experiences, so you can be more surefooted when building your next content marketing strategy.
1. Create a sample size
Your first step should be to do a comprehensive audit of your existing blog content. Our content specialist, Immanuel, who was the wizard behind our new content marketing strategy – collected and analyzed a number of different metrics at the start.
In total, we analyzed 636 articles and used page views to create a list of our “top 100” blog posts. An interesting thing to point out here is that while our top 100 blog posts made up just 15.8% of our sample, they accounted for 9 out of 10 of our total views.
2. Time for data analysis
Then it was time to begin crunching data, and Immanuel then proceeded to spend long days in Google Analytics and KissMetrics before putting all his findings into spreadsheets.
At this stage, he took an in depth look at a handful of really important metrics.
When it came to views, he combed through the Google Analytics data on virtually every blog post that we’ve ever published, and compiled a list of the top 100 articles that earned the most page views.
Out of those, he then sought answers to two questions that are important to any product company:
- Which articles got the highest number of signups
- Which articles had the highest conversion rates
When it comes to backlinks, Immanuel found that educational posts that weren’t directly linked to our product and design-related “inspirational” articles actually receive the highest amount of backlinks.
Backlinks matter because they signal to search engines that others are “vouching” for your content, which is why you should aim to get as many as possible (not sacrificing quality for quantity though!).
iii) Social shares
Another great way to amplify content is through social shares, which is why Immanuel got to work to determine which channels were actually generating the most shares. What we found was that Facebook and Pinterest, both great platforms for visual brands, unsurprisingly brought on 90% of all social shares within our top 100 blog posts.
Besides figuring out which platforms were the best for us to focus our efforts on, the content audit also looked into which types of articles were performing well on which platform.
In our case, we discovered that “design tips/how-to” and “inspiration” topped the list for the majority of the platforms, with the exception of Twitter – where a product announcement and contest performed the best.
iv) How does content length factor in?
When it comes to content length for your content marketing strategy, it goes back to your content identity. If you’re a content powerhouse, you’ll likely be publishing short and sweet articles at a higher frequency. And if you’re more after the “infrequent but meaningful” kind of approach, like we are at Piktochart, you’ll probably put more effort into long-form content.
Here’s an example of one that we did recently, where we compiled 50 visual marketing statistics. It performed very well in terms of backlinks and social shares.
What Immanuel discovered during the content length stage of his audit, was that the bulk of our blog posts ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 words. The elements that he considered for content length were:
- How they impacted views
- How they impacted time spent on page
- How they impacted signups
- How they impacted backlinks and social shares
3. Come up with conclusions and make strategic decisions
Finally, it goes without saying that, beyond gleaning data on your blog, taking note of your audit takeaways and coming up with an actionable analysis is a very important step on your content audit journey. Here are a handful of very valuable lessons that we took away from our content audit.
i) Longer articles are far stickier than shorter articles
This was measured based on the time spent on page. We also found that longer posts generated more backlinks and signups, although this finding was taken with a grain of salt because of a smaller sample size (more than 50% of our top 100 articles ranged from 1,000 – 2,000 words, while the 2,000 word+ posts made up only a third). This helped us be more purposeful in the reason of why we published our content to begin with.
ii) A select few do all the work
An interesting thing we discovered was that out of the top 100, there were just a handful of posts that was pulling most of the weight. As an example, one single article “Layout Cheat Sheet: Making The Best Out Of Visual Arrangements” brought home almost a quarter of our total signups (22.45).
This got us thinking – what if we could repurpose the “greatest hits,” the articles that performed the best, and leverage on their success?
iii) Determine what works, and what doesn’t
Design How-To’s and Inspirational works
We discovered which article categories were top-performing, and which ones were the underperformers. In our case, we realized that our users much preferred to read about “design how-to’s” or “inspirational” blog posts, and less about our culture-related articles (which focused more on topics such as remote work and startup building).
This helped us fine tune our focus on publishing content that our users wanted to read about, and nothing else.
Culture doesn’t work
As a semi-distributed startup, remote work had become a big part of our cultural identity which is why we wanted to publish more content based on it. And we’re also a startup, albeit a more mature one, which is why we wanted to share more about our experiences in that arena.
But considering that the web is almost fully saturated with content on remote work and startup business tips, our audit showed us that culture was continually under performing and it became clear that we shouldn’t continue spending precious resources on it.
iv) Becoming a blog that published “infrequent but meaningful” content
After doing an audit of all our blog posts, Immanuel then asked a very important question, which would determine the course of our future content identity:
Did we want to be a content powerhouse or post infrequent but meaningful content?
Determining our content identity ultimately determines the frequency that we would be publishing articles. Previously, we were somewhere between ‘content powerhouse’ and ‘infrequent but meaningful’ running about three articles per week.
There are endless streams of information on the web, battling for users’ attention, which meant that if we wanted to stand out from other content creators – we would have to produce less “regular” content but more of rich and valuable experiences that people truly appreciated.
After determining the content identity that we wanted to have, Immanuel then made a suggestion for our new content publishing cadence – which would include the frequency and length of the articles.
4. Come up with an objective and overall content mission
Ultimately, what we discovered that what is great for awareness is necessarily bringing the kinds of conversions that we need. While signups are paramount, brand awareness is also essential.
We realized that the user journey (from the moment that someone searches for Piktochart to when they sign up and become evangelists) is quite short, as seen in the below screenshot.
Also worth considering is that since different types of content accomplishes different, and equally important goals, we would have to assign our content types to different stages of the user acquisition funnel (interest vs. action).
And this could be done through narrowing down the specific articles that performed well at each stage – as seen in the below screenshot – and focusing on those.
To this point, we then made a strategic decision to only run articles at the intersection of our “design / tips” and “inspirational” articles, in short – our sweet spot.
And it’s this very sweet spot that has inspired our content mission, as seen in the below GIF.
And there you have it, the ultimate content audit checklist based on our own experiences here at Piktochart. If you liked the look of Immanuel’s content audit presentation, you can make your own in Piktochart here. We’d love to hear about your content audit learnings as well, so feel free to get in touch with us on social.
Til’ then, happy Pikto-charting!