Maximize ROI with a Content Audit: 8 Steps to Valuable Insights

Gretchen Crawford

CMO, Brightside Data

Atlanta, USA


Budget season is here, and it’s time to justify your spending. How do you know what’s working – and what’s not – for creating your native advertising content?  

It’s easy to look at top performing (and worst performing) content and make assumptions about what’s causing it to sing or sink. But when it’s time to stop guessing and start maximizing your return on investment for content creation, it’s time for a content audit.

The good news: Answers are within reach. A good content audit fully leverages the outcomes of published content to provide valuable insight on what is specifically working for your brand.

Not sure how to approach a content audit for your native advertising? Here are eight crucial steps that will ensure meaningful results:

1. Define the scope

It seems simple enough, but scope creep can happen if this step is neglected.  Define the scope of work by identifying the time-period and the type of content to be analyzed during the audit.  

For example, the audit may look at all native ad content published by your brand from January 1st – October 31st.  When defining the time-period, keep in mind seasonality or events that may affect the outcome of your results.   

Make sure the audit is measuring behavior that is important to your business.

2. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Make sure the audit is measuring behavior that is important to your business. For example, click through rate is a popular KPI used to measure engagement.

If brand recognition is important to your organization, impressions may also be an important KPI. If multiple KPIs are important to your brand, you can use more than one to measure success.

RELATED: It’s Crucial to Choose the Right KPIs

3. Identify variables

Make a list of variables that may influence content performance. Variables can be quantitative (such as the length of content or the number of product mentions) or qualitative (such as tone). Variables can be found within text, video or images.  

The audit will reveal statistical correlations between the variables, or potential “it factors,” and your KPI(s). Choosing your variables carefully will ensure you have meaningful results for your strategy moving forward.  

RELATED: The 5 Steps to Find Out What Makes Your Content Great

If you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.

4. Collect, scrub and code the data

The cliché is true: If you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.  While data collection, scrubbing and coding may become tedious, attention to detail is essential for meaningful results. When setting up data collection procedures, integrate quality control measures.

5. Analyze the data

At this point, look for mathematical correlations between the variables and your KPI.  This will provide insight into what’s causing some content to perform well – and what’s causing other content to fail.  These correlations will help you set the strategy for efficient content creation moving forward.  

RELATED: ‘Everone Seems Lost on How to Best Use Their Data’

Integrate the key takeaways into your content strategy moving forward.

6. Integrate results into content strategy

Whether the content audit provides the ammunition you need to support your gut feeling, or it reveals new insights that change the course of your content creation, integrate the key takeaways into your content strategy moving forward.   

7. Share your findings

You have the numbers to support your updated content strategy – now shout it from the rooftops!  Fully leverage your audit and refined content strategy to get buy-in from internal stakeholders.  

Content managers armed with clear direction and the statistics to support their strategy are more likely to have well-funded content budgets.    

RELATED: How to Ensure Buy-In on Native Advertising from Brands

8. Rinse and repeat

Content changes over time, and so does its environment.

Set a schedule for routine audits to ensure your content strategy stays on track.  Quarterly or biannual content audits will ensure your content strategy evolves with the ever-changing landscape.  

There is no substitute for insight on what’s specifically working for your brand.

Case studies, industry trends and best practices are helpful when creating a content strategy, but there is no substitute for insight on what’s specifically working for your brand. By using this methodical approach, content managers can build on success and set a clear direction for the content creators and publishers.

DOWNLOAD: Native Advertising Trends 2017 – The Magazine Industry