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The Content Audit Process

By | Content Marketing, How-To, Our Process | No Comments

Content is quickly becoming one of the most influential and impactful tools for digital marketers. Good content educates, appeals to, and ultimately influences your customers. The Content Marketing Institute reported that in 2015 an astounding 86% of B2Bs (business-to-business) used content marketing, and of this percentage only 38% believed their content was effective.

How is it that only 38% feel their content was effective? One major issue that we see on a constant basis is businesses don’t have a clear content strategy. In order to make content marketing work you need to have some kind of strategy in place so that you can measure what is or isn’t working and then adjust accordingly.

We help clients build a strategy utilizing a content audit process, which takes a detailed and holistic look into your business from the ground up. We create content based on our audit results to make sure we are effectively creating content that will impact your market. This process includes:

  • Developing Personas
  • Understanding Buying Stages
  • Content Audit
  • Content Inventory
  • Content Calendar

Going through the process above has been useful to setting up an effective content marketing strategy. Here is what we do for each step in the process.

Step 1: Develop the Personas

Step 1- Develop the Personas
What is a buyer persona? It’s a breakdown of the different types of buyers who are looking at your product. Developing and then marketing to your buyer personas will lead to stronger messages, maximization of successful advertising, and overcoming buyer objections. Each buying persona includes demographic information, problems they’ll encounter, and values they hold.

A buyer persona will reflect the types of customers you currently have or the types of customers you are hoping to gain. A buyer persona defines the audience your content will be created for.

For help creating a buyer persona, feel free to check out some of these resources:

  • Buyer Persona Profile from Epic Content Marketing
    • This quick one-page worksheet from Epic Content Marketing allows you to create a snapshot of a buyer persona, their job description, priorities, and challenges.
  • 5 Rings of Buying Insights Template from the Book Epic Content Marketing
    • When used in conjunction with the worksheet above, the 5 Rings of Buying Insights template will help you glean additional insights around the journey of each buyer persona.
  • How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business from Hubspot
    • Hubspot provides a great step-by-step post and downloadable template to support your buyer persona creation initiatives.

While the buyer persona is a great start, the true gold is found in the buying stage/cycle for each persona. It is vital to understand the questions being asked in each stage for the buyer’s journey so that you can effectively answer those questions on your website, through blog posts and videos or other forms of content.

This should be your top-priority focus once you have established your buyer personas.

Step Two: Understand Buying Stages

Step Two: Understand Buying Stages

There are three basic stages for buyers based on each persona. The early, middle, and late stages, or as some in the content marketing world refer to them: the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.

Early (Awareness) Stage

In the early stage, customers are unaware of problems they currently have and need education on what solutions you can offer. They are gaining awareness of their problems and their need for a solution.

Middle (Consideration) Stage

In the middle stage, customers need a demonstration of expertise or differentiators between you and your competitors. The middle stage is also known as the consideration stage, where customers understand their problem and want to find a solution through consideration of your product. They are spending their time researching various solutions to find the option that fits their needs.

Late (Decision) Stage

In the late stage, customers are looking to validate the product or the company; they are in the decision-making stage. They have a good idea of what they want, now they just need to compare their top choices, maybe review each company’s costs and look into any references they can find, to ensure they make the right decision.

Content is created specifically for each persona in these different stages to target what questions or answers they need the most. It is important to understand the types of content that can be used at each stage of your buyer’s journey as well. Understanding the buying journey for each persona along with the types of content they consume along their journey is key to effective content marketing.

For B2C, an example of mapping content to the buying journey is provided below:

Content Mapping - Customer Journey for B2C Customers

Step Three: Current Audit Process

Step Three: Current Audit Process

After developing buyer personas and understanding the journey buyers take, it is necessary to take an audit of your site’s current content. To do this we recommend using Screaming Frog.

Crawl Your Entire Website for Content

Screaming Frog is able to ‘crawl’ an entire website (crawling is a fancy term for ‘pulling all data e.g. – meta data, URLs, word count of a page, CSS and other data from a website). Once you’ve crawled your whole site, simply filter the data by HTML pages. Example below:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.41.19 PM

This will remove all JavaScript, Images, CSS and other files that you don’t need for your content audit.

Then export the data. The exported CSV file will give you a TON of data for each URL. We suggest only worrying about the URL and Title tag , which will be used for further analysis.

Separate and Filter Your Data

Next, you can separate/filter these URLs into different groups. Some suggested groups could include:

  • Key landing pages (home page, services, about us, etc.)
  • Blogs, articles
  • eBooks, white papers, resources

By separating the URLs into various groups you can start to analyze each group.

Analyze Your Current Content

Once these groups are separated out you can start to understand the social media impacts of each URL. To do this, you can use a tools such as Social Tally, SharedCount or SocialTally that allows you to identify social shares on all types of media platforms and analyze each URL’s social activity.

After you’ve analyzed each URL’s social activity, you should map it to one of your buyer personas. Finally, map out how your content influences potential customers at each stage of the journey – e.g. – Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel and Bottom of the Funnel. This will be extremely useful when taking an inventory of all of your content.

Useful information to include in your Content Audit is:

  • Type – what kind of content is this – e.g. – Blog Post, Landing Page, eBook, Category or Product Page etc.
  • URL
  • Title Tag
  • Social Shares – Tweets, FB Shares, Pins, etc.
  • Buyer Stage
  • Persona
  • Call to Action
  • Keywords

Once you have all of this data you should have a massive content audit spreadsheet that looks something like this –

content audit process

You might want to also add any relevant notes about pages, styles, social trends, page view patterns, etc., that come up during the audit process.

Step Four: Content Inventory Process

Step Four: Content Inventory Process

Once you’ve organized all the current content, you should do an inventory based on the buying personas and stages in relation to the number of resources that correlate. Filter your large content audit spreadsheet by persona first and then by each buyer stage to get an idea of how much content you have for each individual.

As you work your way through each persona you should build out an additional spreadsheet to connect the number of content pieces you have to the stages of the buyers journey. This will give you a quick snapshot of where you are. Here is an example of what that might look like:

content inventory process

You can quickly tell which parts of the buyer’s journey are not being addressed. By creating content for these holes we can create a more fluid journey and eventually give customers all the information they need to choose your product or service.

Step Five: Competition Content Audit

Step Five: Competition Content Audit

The competition audit is a key step in understanding your company or product’s place in the market. An audit of the competition’s content is twofold. First, it helps you understand how many other people are competing within your market. Second, it gives you ideas for content that have performed well in the past.

The competition audit is similar to the original content audit—you use Screaming Frog to crawl the competition’s sites, and then use Social Tally or Social Count to see their activity on social media.

After using Social Tally you should be able to identify the top 5-7 posts that are performing on social media platforms.

Finally, you should identify why these pages are performing well on social media platforms then analyze if the content was written well, hit a target persona, answered questions, etc. Mostly, you need to identify what need it is filling within the buying cycle. This is perhaps the most important step in the competition audit because it helps you understand how and why the competition is successful.

Step Six: Content Editorial Calendar

Step Six: Content Editorial Calendar

The last step is creating an editorial calendar based on all of the data you have collected. The editorial calendar allows you to plan content initiatives moving forward. You need to identify what content is needed based on holes in your buyer personas and buying stages. After identifying these holes you should generate content ideas and modify what has worked for the competition.

An editorial calendar is a way to focus on your content marketing efforts, and measure, monitor, and modify the content within one document to ensure you meet your content marketing goals. It provides detailed content plans, anywhere from 1-3 months in advance, keeping everyone up-to-date on past, present, and future content.

Here’s a sample of how weekly content can be planned and recorded:

Stryde content calendar

The content audit process is vital to your success. By taking the time to really research owned and competitive content, you can develop a holistic content strategy. Content marketing is one of the most useful tactics to leverage for a successful online presence. Your customers are looking for information online, usually via blogs and other content resources, to help them make an educated decision on what products or services to buy.

By utilizing a content audit process you can develop content ideas that will add to your current visibility and truly make an impact on your potential customers.

Three Crucial Components of Ensuring Your Content Gets Shared

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connecting peopleAs many digital marketers have learned the hard way, SEO is no longer “optimize your page and chuck a whole bunch of anchor text links at it”. Instead, SEO is more of a “make sure your site is optimized, produce amazing content, and get linked to and shared”.

The problem for most marketers is, this is easier said than done. Seriously! Sure, any SEO can tell you that it’s all about content and “attracting” links and shares (because that’s all they’ve heard from thought leaders over the last two years), but very few can actually execute. In today’s post, I want to talk about three critical components that your content must have in order to truly attract links and social shares. These three components are relevancy, timeliness, and the ability to go viral.

Content Relevancy

The first component and in my humble opinion, the most important, is how relevant your content is to your target audience. If you don’t understand who your customers are, what their pain points and needs are, and how they use the internet to reduce their pain and fulfill their needs, then you aren’t going to be able produce content that’s relevant to them.

To create relevant content, you have to truly understand your target audience. I like to do this through buyer persona creation. Going through the process of identifying demographics, needs, goals, and marketing messaging is a huge step in creating content that’s relevant. If you are unfamiliar with personas, HubSpot does a great job at explaining it and they even have a nice little template to help you with your efforts.

Content Timeliness

The second component is how timely your content is. This one is tough, because not all content can be timely. I mean, a new iPhone is released only once per year, but when it’s released, everyone needs new screen protectors, cases, etc. You see where I’m going with this? To make sure that your content is timely, you need to on top of your industry and monitor changes or updates on a regular basis. To do this, you should subscribe to trade magazines and have an RSS reader set up that monitors news and chatter in your industry. When there’s news, make sure you have the resources to create content for your website (and external websites if you really want to kill it) and get it out fast. Doing so will help you become the thought leader in your space and will help you generate new business.

Ability To Go Viral

The third component is the ability to go viral. Before we jump into this, I pose this question: How many pieces of “text only” content have you seen go viral? Very few, right? I’m not saying that you need an interesting infographic or video to go viral, but when you put some time and resources into adding stunning photos, charts, and graphics into relevant and timely content, you have a better chance of your content going viral.

So when you are putting together your content strategy, don’t just think of fun or creative pieces that people might like. Take the time to strategize and work in these three components. Doing so will help your business grow by leaps and bounds.

Step By Step Guide To Creating Buyer Personas

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buyer-personaIn my last post, I talked about why creating and marketing to buyer personas is critical for your business. In today’s post, I am going to walk you through the process of creating buyer personas. Developing buyer personas involves a range of activities that are helpful in identifying groups of customers with common characteristics that you can apply to a common identity aka… persona.

There are six steps in the process. Let’s get started.

Customer Attribute Identification

Any business owner knows that there are two types of customers, those who you want to do business with and those you want to avoid at all costs. You’ve worked with both of them and you can probably list the key attributes of both 🙂 What you need to do is think of your ideal customer and write down as many attributes as you can. Think about what they care about and what their goals and behaviors are. You should also do this for your those customers you don’t want to do business with and any in between that you can think of.

Data Collection

After you have written down all the customer attributes you can, the next thing you need to do is collect some data on them. The first thing you need to do is identify demographic information. After you have that, you should collect the following:

  • Job Title
  • Time In Current Role
  • What Industry They Work In
  • Job Responsibilities
  • Job Satisfactions
  • Job Dissatisfactions
  • Concerns, Needs, Interests Relevant To Your Solutions
  • Role In Buying Process & Where They Fit In The Buying Cycle
  • Search & Social Preferences
  • Buying & Product Preferences
  • How They Prefer To Consume Information


After you’ve collected enough data, you will clearly be able to see patterns, trends, and common characteristics of potential customers. At this point you will be able to start segmenting your data. Look at your customers who convert from search, do they hold different job titles and have a different role in the buying process than those who buy from social channels? Are the motivations for purchase different across different job titles, roles, responsibilities, and interests? For example, a marketing manager might engage in SEO to help build brand awareness or protect their online reputation, versus a sales manager who needs more leads for his/her sales team. Properly segmenting your data will help you with your next step.

Persona Creation

The next step in the process is actually building the buyer persona. Depending on the company and how many products or services you offer, you will most likely have around 3-5 personas… maybe a few more. You should create a profile for each persona that includes the key data points that help you truly understand who your target audience is. It is recommended that you name your persona and reference the personas name throughout your marketing plan. This will help you create and keep consistency in how you implement and measure the success of your marketing efforts to that particular persona.

Keyword & Topic Identification

Once you have created each of your buyer personas and understand EXACTLY who they are, you can start to develop target keyword groups, content topics, and messaging for each of them. Through the entire process, you will come to learn that certain personas are drawn in to different topics, types, and forms of content. Persona guided content, optimization, and social engagement helps create a better experience, shorten the buying cycle, increases satisfaction and increases your chances that your content is spread even further via social media and increases your chances for harvesting referrals in the future.


The last piece of the puzzle is to pull it all together and align it with the customer buying cycle and unique buying journey. It doesn’t matter if your customer’s buying cycle is four hours or seven months, you can and should address each of their pain points and motivations to purchase in a logical order that is aligned with their unique buying cycle. You should then use optimization and promotional strategies to get the content into your personas hands based on when they need it most during the different phases of their cycle.

There you have it! The six steps you must go through to create buyer personas. You can expect two more posts on the topic in the next few weeks. In one, I will be discussing how to collect your data to assist you with step two, and in the other, I will be discussing how to create, optimize, and promote the content created for your personas.

If you have any questions, please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section below.

Five Ways To Generate Hundreds of Blogging Topics In Less Than An Hour

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Most businesses understand that in order to compete in the search engines, they have to have a content marketing strategy that not only includes creation and promotion of digital assets, but also includes regular blogging on not only their company blog, but on other industry blogs. Producing a mass amount of content can be very hard and time consuming, but what’s harder is coming up with the topics to write about. In today’s post, I’d like to quickly run through five ways to generate hundreds of blogging topics in less than an hours time.

Mind Mapping

One of the first things I do when trying to come up with topics to write about is mind mapping. When I do this, I start with my primary keyword or theme and begin to brainstorm topics that are related to the original word. This is also referred to as word association. Here’s a mind map that I put together around the topic of photography:


In just a few minutes time, I was able to come up with 28 topics to start writing about. If you need a mind mapping software to get started, I like to use XMind. It works both on a Mac and a PC and is a robust mapping software.

Polling Customers

Another way to generate great topics to write about is to ask your customers what questions they have about your industry. Once you have a nice list built up, you can easily task someone in your company to start banging out posts that cater to your current client base. Producing this type of content not only helps with your search engine optimization, but has also shown to help increase customer life time value by solidifying in their minds that you are a thought leader and the right company to continue doing business with.

Creating Buyer Personas

Another great way to come up with blogging topics is to go through the process of building true buyer personas. Once you define who your target audience is, what their interests are, and what buttons you need to push to get their attention and have them take action, you can then write content that caters specifically to their needs. For example, if I knew that one of my buyer personas is a stay at home mom, in the age range of 25-40ish, has three kids, and loves doing crafts, the topic for my content might be different than if I were targeting a dad, same age range, same kids, and loves the outdoors.

Competitive Research

One very easy way to come up with content topics is to do some competitive research. Check out each of their blogs, see what they are writing about, and what is getting linked to and shared socially the most. Don’t just copy their content, but create a similar piece and begin to promote it.

Content Roundups

Very similar to competitive research, another super easy way to come up with content topics is to monitor content roundups. See what authoritative figures in your niche are curating and get some ideas from them. The beautiful thing about roundups is that you can get dozens of ideas just from one post. If you don’t know what I mean by roundups, Kristi Hines is the queen of producing some amazing roundups. Here’s one she put together on link building.

What other ways do you brainstorm topics to write about? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.