No matter how great your writing skills are, there will always be room for improvement in your content marketing efforts. Readers are so unpredictable: sometimes you produce amazing content that you're sure will go viral only to watch it fall flat. At other times, you publish content that seems boring to you but proves to be explosively popular on social media. There are lessons here, but you won't be able to learn them without conscientious content analysis.
What exactly is content analysis? And how can you use it to improve both your writing and your marketing?
Content analysis is simply the examination of your content to determine its effectiveness. A solid analysis will help you to find out what works well and what doesn't. It will help you to discover holes and redundancies as well as reveal themes and relationships. In other words, it helps you to step back and get the big picture. Armed with the big picture, you can move forward confidently, filling old holes and staying on target.
The following is a content analysis plan you can use to evaluate your current content and then create a plan for moving forward.
Step One: Create a Content Inventory
Content marketing has been around long enough now that many companies have years' worth of content, either on their websites or sitting on a hard drive somewhere. Some of this content is no longer relevant to their goals or current products, but some of it is highly usable and waiting for a chance to shine.
If you want to get serious, you can use a content inventory program, but many people just use a spreadsheet to track inventory. You'll find your inventory more useful and usable if you include the following field:
- Link Name
- Type of Content (product page, press release, blog post, etc.)
- Owner (the person who created the content)
- ROT (acronym meaning Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial)
- Notes (broken images, html problems, etc.)
This can be a tedious process, and part of the difficulty is simply finding all of your content. Be as systematic as possible as you go through the website and social media, and try to not miss anything. Don't forget to inventory your FAQs, email newsletters, videos, whitepapers, social media items, and graphics.
Step Two: Weed Out the ROT
As mentioned in Step One, the acronym ROT stands for "Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial." Some of this content no longer applies to the website, and some of it probably shouldn't have been written and published in the first place. Whatever the reason, eliminate the ROT from your site. It can mislead people and give a faulty impression of who you are and what you stand for.
Step Three: Identify the Winners
Using analytics data and social media feedback, identify the content that has been most successful. You may want to develop a numeric rating system to help you keep track of how your content performs. Choose the metrics that mean the most to your organization. For instance, page views might be less important than conversion rate, depending on the nature of the website and the company's goals.
If you're trying to elicit conversations, you may want to factor blog comments into your formula. Posts that receive the most comments but have fewer page views might be more successful than posts with high page views but few comments.
Step Four: Analyze the Winners
With a list of your top-performing pieces of content, you're now in a position to find out what has worked well for you in the past. With this information, you can create new content that capitalizes on past success.
For example, if you find that the tone of your top-performing content is humorous, you'll want to produce more humorous content in the future. If your videos are going viral but your infographics are not, spend more of your resources producing videos in the coming year.
Step Five: Create a Plan
Creating a content marketing plan based on solid information that stems from content analysis is more likely to be successful than a marketing plan based on hunches and outsiders' ideas. When you know exactly what has worked in the past and you know which gaps you need to fill with targeted keywords and content, you can move forward confidently.
Content analysis takes some time and commitment, but the rewards can be impressive and lasting.