How to Create Content with Purpose
You’ve probably heard that content is King.
Content creates fans.
People know they need content. And a lot of companies are getting better at creating content. But a lot of companies still don’t know whether or not their content is actually working.
If that sounds like you, then it’s probably time to do a content audit.
If the thought of a content audit terrifies you because of what you might find, then it’s DEFINITELY time for you to do a content audit.
Here’s the thing. ‘Content’ is such a buzzword right now. Everyone knows they need content, so everyone is out there trying to create content. But they’re not asking “why?”
- Why am I writing this article?
- Why am I recording this video?
- Who cares? Why do they care?
These questions should come before you ever even sit down in front of your computer. If they don’t, you might as well not get content. Because if you’re creating content, without identifying what goals you want to achieve or who that content is for, then you’re leaving money on the table.
Let’s see if this next scenario resonates with you…
Your blog hasn’t seen much action in a few months. It’s not a high priority for you, but every time you see the “blog” tab on your website, you’re filled with a bit of anxiety. So you do what most people do and hire a freelance writer to whip up something so you look active.
Here’s what happens. You spend a little bit of money, not enough that it causes you any stress, and get back a subpar post that’s “enough” to keep up appearances and alleviate a little bit of that weighing feeling you have. The outcome is that you feel a tiny bit better.
But realistically, no one is looking at your post because it’s crap. Because there was no thought or strategy behind it. It was nothing more than a check off of a box on your marketing to-do list.
Imagine if your content could inspire people. Help them learn more about your brand while giving them the tools they need to achieve things related to your mission.
A lot of people think giving away value for free will hurt their brand and talk themselves out of a job.In fact, it’s the opposite. Adding value to your audience and giving away your most important knowledge, will earn their trust and build lifelong brand advocates.
Now it’s time to ask yourself. Do you want a one-time customer or a lifelong brand advocate?
So, if you want someone that will support your brand, tell their friends and help you grow long-term, it’s time to do a content audit and assess how well your current strategy is working.
In this audit, you’re going to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I creating the right kinds of content?
- Do I know what my audience wants to see?
- What do I want to achieve by creating valuable content?
- Am I using the right tools and strategies to learn about my audience?
- Am I on the right platforms and channels?
- What are my competitors doing?
- Is my strategy consistent?
- What’s working well in my industry?
I won’t sugar coat it. Conducting a content audit on your website is a pretty time-consuming and involved process. You need to really dig deep as to who your audience is and why you want to create content for them. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to draw lines from that content to how it will help you meet your marketing and business goals.
I’m a fan of working backward, which leads us to step one:
1 – Identify your goals
Determining your overall business and marketing goals will give you more clarity on what content to create and how it could potentially impact your future. Your goals could be data-driven like increasing traffic to your website, or generating more leads for your sales team. They could be reputation-driven like getting more media placements to establish yourself as an authority.
Each of these goals requires different deliverables and strategies, and once you determine what your overall marketing goals are, it will be much easier to identify gaps in your marketing strategy.
2- Compile your current numbers
A simple way to find out what your audience wants to see, is to see what they’ve looked at in the past. Gather up all of your website analytics, social media reports, engagement numbers and so on, and put them in a spreadsheet that you can look at holistically.
Start at the source and identify your highest performing piece of content for that quarter, depending on what your goals were. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, then you need to look at which content got the most opt-ins. If you want to drive more traffic, check which content generated the most traffic for your site.
Then trace it back. Where did that traffic come from? What channels did you use to promote the content?
If you haven’t been tracking your analytics, begin doing that immediately. A content audit only works if you have data to look at, and you can only tell if your strategy needs adjusting by checking the numbers.
Using the goal you set in step 1, determine what types of content are going to contribute to your goal directly. They can include anything from blog posts to graphics to downloadable content. Anything you put out on your site with the purpose of achieving your goal is fair game.
You can make this processes feel more achievable by setting a boundary or timeframe for the content you want to look it. You can start by only auditing content you’ve put out in the past six months. Or begin by assessing only one channel, like your blog.
Thinking you need to tackle everything from blog content, videos and social media all at once can make the processes feel overwhelming. Plus, once you look at one channel it will begin you give you insight on what to expect on the other channels and what behavior patterns to look for.
3 – Analyze the data
So you have all of the numbers in front of you. Now what? This is where most people get overwhelmed and suffer from analysis paralysis.
Just remember that what you look at should all relate back to your overall marketing goals. If your goal is to increase leads through website conversions, you may want to take a close look at your downloadable content. If you want to improve SEO and traffic, then focus your attention on how blog posts and articles are performing.
You can tackle this process in a few different ways.
Identify your highest performing content. Again (I know I’m getting repetitive here, but it’s important) how you define “highest performing” should relate directly back to your goal from step 1. It’s easy to look at vanity metrics like clicks, views and likes and think those factors create “high performing” content, but if they’re not helping you meet your goal, they don’t matter.
If you have high vanity numbers but aren’t meeting your goals, that means there are serious discrepancies in your strategy.
If you have high numbers but low conversions to your goal, look at the data subjectively and identify key trends. The vanity numbers mean people are looking at your content, but if they’re not taking action, you need to know why.
If you’re stuck, here are a few questions to consider to help you dig deeper into your content:
- Does your audience gravitate towards posts regarding a particular niche?
- Do photos and stories about people in your organization generate more attention?
- Do you get more website traffic when posting high-resolution images rather than long-form copy?
- What day(s) of the week did I push it out?
- What time of day?
- What platforms did I use to promote it? (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Which platform generated the most engagement around the content?
4 – Identify next steps
So by now, you’ve identified the types of content you created. You’ve identified how different types of content perform. Now it’s time to think of ways to capitalize on the information you’ve found to make sure it is directly contributing to your goals.
In other words, you’re ready to craft a new marketing strategy that aligns with your goals and most importantly, gives your audience what they want.
Now, I understand this process can feel tedious and overwhelming. That’s why I’ve created a step-by-step guide that will help you break the audit down, dig deeper into the reasons for conducting it, and set you up for success in implementing your new plan. Sound good?