Marketing is a complex system, and works best when all the various pieces, from an organization’s website to TV spots to direct mail, are all working in concert with each other. Your company website is its own complex system, so it’s a good idea to perform an occasional content audit to make sure the site is doing everything you need it to do—and not causing your brand any damage.
A content audit simply means looking at your website through the lens of your overall content strategy. Have you provided relevant and engaging content that answers questions your prospects may have? Are you presenting yourself as a trusted resource? What are your customers and prospects looking for? And, just as important, what information do they need that they don’t even know they need?
Answering these questions can help you see a stronger ROI from your website and grow your business. Here are a few ways to approach your website content audit.
Unpack Your Objectives
The most important part of any marketing strategy is to lay out the objectives. What do you want your website to do? Are you hoping merely to provide information, or inspire prospects to pick up the phone and place an order?
Every business is different. For instance, the goal of an e-commerce site might be to get viewers to place an order today. At FIVE19, we regularly build websites and develop content for senior living communities, which tend to have a longer sales process than, say, an online shoe store. A senior living community website might be more like a media company, with the goal of providing relevant content that will keep prospects engaged while they navigate big decisions.
The reason objectives are so fundamental is because they drive everything else. Too often, businesses seem to take a haphazard approach to marketing. They throw everything at the wall one day, and then pull back and don’t do anything for a few months. This approach leads to inconsistent sales and wasted efforts. Clear goals allow you to lay out a strong—consistent—plan.
Examine the Sitemap
The sitemap is a blueprint for how information is organized on your website. A basic small business website might only need four pages: home, about, services and contact. The home page reinforces your brand, the about and services page offer more details, and the contact page shows how to reach you.
Meanwhile, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) might have dedicated sections for each level of care, where the independent living section is organized like a website within itself: a landing page, a services page, a residences page, etc. Ideally, the sitemap will have a logical layout that clearly indicates how the content fits within a larger marketing strategy.
Consider Your Audience
One nuance we see in CCRC websites is that there are often multiple audiences. A retired senior may be the target audience for the independent living section, so you want the content to appeal to them and showcase the freedom and amenities independent living provides. Meanwhile, the audience for the memory care section might be a son or daughter researching care for their loved one, or a medical professional who needs to refer a patient.
In such websites, the audience drives the sitemap. You should be able to map your messages to your different audiences, and let those messages determine the level and tone of your content. It might help to create customer profiles, or customer personas, to fully understand what your viewer already knows, what they know they don’t know, and what they don’t even know to ask.
This last point—answering questions your customers or prospects didn’t know they had—helps establish your business as a trusted resource.
Here we are, back at the beginning: Marketing is a complex system. You have to know your customer to lay out your objectives. Your objectives determine your content. Your content helps grow your business, but as your business grows, your service offerings (and therefore your customers) will evolve, so you have to constantly evaluate your strategies. To dive in, here are some specific steps you can take this quarter to perform a content audit:
- Schedule time for the audit. You can’t build a strategy while running a hundred miles an hour.
- Poll your customers. Send out a survey asking for their perspective on your business, what you offer, and how you’re doing.
- Map your current website. If applicable, tag each page by audience and function (what is this page’s job, and who is it for?).
- Try to find obvious gaps, redundancies, or weak spots. Take a ready-fire-aim approach to fix a few things quickly.
Finally, look one year ahead and build a content strategy for next year. Start solving tomorrow’s problem today.