Content is a business asset. And like any other business asset, whether it be real estate, equipment, intellectual property or personnel, it has value. That value can depreciate over time if care is not taken to regularly inventory and audit content against current and future business objectives.
The High Cost of Low-Quality Content
How do we measure the return on investment for content? We can add up the costs for its creation, publication, storage and promotion, but calculating the value it brings to the business is less straightforward. Ask yourself:
- What is the value of a lost customer?
- How important is your brand integrity?
- How much is your staff’s time worth?
- How can content quality affect those issues?
Outdated, inaccurate, poorly written content can negatively affect your customers’ perceptions of your business in tangible and intangible ways. If you are selling products and your customers can’t find the information they need to make a purchasing decision, this results in a direct loss of revenue. If your staff is spending time on customer service calls to help people use your site or answering questions when the answers exist on the site but are too hard to find, you are losing money. If the quality of the writing is poor or the tone of voice in which it is written isn’t appropriate for your audience, the damage to your brand may be equally significant, even if it’s less directly traceable.
Evaluating Content Value
The key to understanding your content assets and their value is to regularly inventory and assess them—much like taking inventory of physical stock and identifying any goods that aren’t saleable or equipment that is not functioning correctly. The processes for performing this assessment are the content inventory and audit.
The inventory is a quantitative analysis of all content assets across all channels—digital content such as Web pages, images, documents, videos, newsletters and social media content; and offline content such as catalogs, brochures and mailing pieces. Before any qualitative assessment can begin, we need to know what and how much we’re dealing with, where it is stored, and where it is distributed. This detailed list will allow us to assess the scope of any resulting project and gives us a framework for the content audit.
The content audit is the logical follow-on to the inventory. When we know what we own, we can take a deep dive into the content and what we know about it to start to find patterns and problem spots and assess it from a qualitative perspective.
An audit forces us to look at how our organizations measure value and the role content plays in creating that value. It gives us the opportunity to revisit our business objectives and form a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs and their current experience with our content. We evaluate content within that context so we can begin the process of identifying what needs to change, what needs to be removed, and what needs to be created in order to maximize the business value of our content assets.
In part 2, I explain how to get started with a content audit
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