A majority (55%) of B2B buyers said they relied more on content to research and make purchasing decisions in 2022 than they did in 2021. The typical B2B buying group is made up of six to 10 people, each armed with several pieces of content they’ve found. Stats like these are a clear content imperative. If you’re going to succeed in a landscape where complex buying decisions are the norm, you need content that isn’t just insightful — but also inspires people to spring into action.
So what’s the state of your content marketing program? How do you compare to the rest of the market? Are there any changes you should make? Answers to these questions are only a small sliver of what you’ll learn about your startup during a good content marketing audit.
First things first: What is a B2B content audit
It’s a deep dive into your content marketing strategies, tactics, and data that:
- Analyzes your entire buyer journey — from Awareness to Close — and the content assets that support it
- Identifies critical gaps and key opportunities
- Determines which content channels, topics, and formats resonate best with your target audience
- Creates a path forward that aligns with your organization’s overall business goals, maximizes internal and external content marketing resources, and establishes ongoing best practices to drive the biggest impact
In other words, it’s an opportunity to see the forest from the trees. It pulls you out of the day-to-day grind and shows you what all of that work is actually accomplishing.
The best part? A content audit answers five giant questions about how you’re working, how you’re performing, and how you can do all of it even better
1. “Are we spending our time as wisely as possible?”
More often than not, startup content marketers simply want to get new assets out the door. After all, their responsibilities span blog posts, lead generation magnets, email campaigns, case studies, and so much more. At a time when startups need to master the art of doing more with less, they need a content deep dive to discover where their time is being spent and where it could be spent better.
A good content audit maps your existing assets to their location in the marketing funnel. If yours doesn’t span the full funnel, it will be easy to spot. You wouldn’t believe how many clients tell me “Oh we’ve got great content!” and then we discover in the audit that their great content only sits in one portion of the funnel. Witty, insightful blog posts are lovely, but if you don’t have any middle- or bottom-funnel for readers to consume next, you can’t guide them deeper into the buying process. Nearly 90% of tech decision-makers say it’s important for vendors to provide relevant content at each stage of the buying process, and your content audit will determine if you’re really giving them what they want and expect.
Even if you have tons of assets in every portion of the marketing funnel, the comprehensive data analysis in a good audit will discover areas to get more from your time. For example, if you only get a few dozen page views for those witty, insightful blog posts, is it worth your time to write a new one each week? Or if your whitepaper landing pages only have a 2% form fill rate, wouldn’t your time be better spent optimizing those pages instead of researching, drafting, and designing new whitepapers? Or if your newsletter has a terrible click through rate, shouldn’t you spend some time digging into why before you create another one?
Being armed with all this information allows you to make data-driven decisions that maximize every moment. In fact, a recent survey from Semrush found that the majority (53%) of organizations that had done a content audit saw their engagement rates increase afterward.
2. “What’s it like to be one of our leads?”
One of my favorite things to do in a B2B content audit is fill out a form to download a piece of gated content, then wait to see what happens next. Almost every time, I have an email (and sometimes even a voicemail!) within an hour from a sales rep asking me to book a demo. It’s like asking me to get married on our first date — way too much too soon.
Yes, the pressure to turn leads into closed-won revenue is immense, but this chain of events doesn’t match what B2B buyers want. When they are considering a purchase‚ B2B buyers only spend 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. In other words, 83% of their buying journey consists of consuming content that helps them identify and consider potential solutions.
A good B2B content audit uncovers critical opportunities to improve your leads’ experience. One of the most common I see is simply taking a couple of weeks to warm leads in an email nurture campaign. Clients almost always have an Aha! moment when I tell them that 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales and that a lack of lead nurturing is the common cause for this poor performance. Giving leads relevant, helpful content in an automated email sequence helps them do their due diligence. And since your existing content assets have already been mapped, it’s easy to plan out nurture sequences that can be launched quickly.
3. “Are we able to reach people in the Dark Funnel?”
It’s not just about leads you know about. There are countless people researching solutions like yours, and you have no idea who they are. They’re not ready to hand over their email address yet, but they’re busy consuming content, trying to get answers to their questions, and figuring out which organizations have the best experts.
A good B2B content audit will uncover how much of your time is being spent creating ungated assets that these people can consume at their own pace. It will also analyze your distribution channels and determine where you can get more eyeballs on your content. Here at Firebrand, part of the process is an extensive website content audit where we dig deep into engagement data — like impressions, page views, average engagement time, and exit pages — to determine how everyone (not just known leads) is interacting with the content and what’s resonating best.
4. “How do we measure up against the competition?”
Content marketing metrics don’t exist in a vacuum. To truly understand and take action on them, you need to know how your industry and B2B content as a whole perform. This is why a good B2B content audit will go channel by channel, putting your numbers up against benchmarks. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise — like email open rates that are 2x industry benchmarks. Sometimes, though, it’s a wake-up call — like an average website engagement time of 0:10.
This is where we identify a number of gaps and key opportunities in a content audit. Oftentimes, there are small changes that can make a big difference in engagement. Other times, taking action is a longer game. Either way, not having this information is a massive blind spot that hurts your competitive edge.
5. “How can we make a bigger impact on the business?”
At the end of the day, it’s not about how many whitepapers you write or how many case studies get downloaded. A good B2B content audit goes much further than that by showing how your efforts align with your organization’s biggest business goals and giving you a path forward that empowers you to make a bigger impact on them. Whether it’s shortening sales cycles, generating higher-quality leads, or driving more brand awareness, your content is the foundation for the solution — and a good audit will point the way to success.
Want an audit — complete with a path forward — that turns your content marketing efforts into closed-won revenue? Check out our Content Marketing Audit service.
Nicole Pytel is Vice President of Content Marketing at Firebrand Communications. With 15 years of content marketing and branding experience, she loves combining multimedia creativity with strategic data analysis to help clients reach their biggest goals.