An enormous amount of pressure is placed on content marketers to produce results, to drive real revenue and pipeline for the rest of the organization. In reality, that can be incredibly difficult, not just in the tracking of performance but in being able to attribute it to marketing and prove the value of content.
Now try doing that in a recession with fewer people, reduced campaign spend, and the very future of your team (or worse, your whole brand) depending on pushing the revenue needle.
As we’ve learned from our (Re)Sessions series, one knee-jerk reaction is to stop producing content. But that only compounds the recession damage. Instead, we know we should lean in and amplify the content we already have. But we should be strategic about where we invest our remaining resources.
That means you need to know how all of your content performs, especially what’s at the top and should earn your attention. While content marketers are typically always tracking performance on individual pieces, a recession demands a bona fide content audit. This will help you prove your strategic decisions to leadership.
In this post, we’ll hear from content marketing experts about how to do a performance audit, the questions you should be asking about your content, and the goals you should be striving for to outlast this economic downturn.
Jeff Coyle, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at MarketMuse, says you need to know your content efficiency rate, and since he works for a content intelligence platform company, he knows how easy it can be to lose sight of efficiency and effectiveness as we race to produce as much content as we can. As he describes in his (Re)Sessions episode with Casted’s CEO and Co-Founder Lindsay Tjepkema, you’ve got to ask yourself a lot of questions about how much each piece of content costs to create and how much of that content actually performs the way your brand needs it to.
Jeff Coyle: “First of all, you’ve got to have that self-assessment. What is your content efficiency rate? How much content have you created or touched? First of all, do you know your why? Why you did it? Did you set goals? And how many of those achieved their goals? The average team I'll talk to is 10%. They create 10 things for one of them to be successful. Now, if you say, ‘Okay, well, how much does content cost?’ And you're like, ‘I don't know. $200?’ Okay, well now 10%, uh oh, that's $2,000. And by the way, it's not $200, if you put the all-in costs you're talking about. So people are really spending tens of thousands of dollars per effective page. So that's the first thing. You've got to know your true effective page rate. And by the way, if you bake in all the people who touch it, all the resources…”
Lindsay Tjepkema: “Oh my gosh.”
Jeff: “And you're actually below $1,000 per effective page, call me because I want to sharpen those knives. But, second, you would be in that upper echelon.”
Jeff: “Typically you're in that massively higher... So check who you are. But then it gets really, really, important to use data to decide what you're creating or what you're updating. Where you have momentum, where you have looked at your site, you know your strengths and weaknesses. Obviously the whole punchline here is I run a company called MarketMuse that automates all this stuff, but anyway… But the other one is make sure if you're spending money on content, on that raw material, the resource, that you have a plan of wringing the most out of it, getting the most bang for your buck. It sets the deck in your favor, if you have multichannel distribution, if you have multiformat distribution, already teed up with some level of automation, and those people who are doing those tasks are typically, not knocking them or anything, they're not the subject matter expert. You're able to put them into somewhat of a repurposing or redistribution assembly line effectively. And you can do that. So your first go at this might be, ‘Okay, well, for every audio recording I do, every webinar recording I do, I absolutely have to have a summary, maybe notes, and also a transcript that's formatted well so somebody could read it.’ That's the easiest way to mentally think about a distribution channel or a repurposing campaign. But as you go, you get into more and more ways that you can get a lot of value out of this hour we spent today, or the $5,000 we spent on an ebook, or the $50,000 we spent on that ebook or whitepaper, so that it can turn into n things. And when you get into that habit of n things per source material, you start maybe two things, then it becomes five things. You start to see which of the channels are producing the value.”
As Jeff says, you need to know what your n things are doing, because if you can identify the top-performing topics, you can get in some quick wins through both net-new content and repurposing existing content into other formats.
“So you've got to know your surgical quick wins at all times,” Jeff says. “And it should hurt you on the inside that you're not doing them. You should have a list of blogs that you know are going to win that you just haven't gotten around to. And that's kind of your job. If you're a content strategist, if you're an editorial lead, if you're a search engine optimization professional… is to always know what those things are. So when you're doing a content audit, really try to break it into the WHY. What we often see is people doing tail-wagging-the-dog content audits. So what does that mean? Traffic leads, sales, one team's KPI, the other team's KPI, organic, whatever. They're not aligned. That's another topic for another day. But then we're making decisions about keep, update, kill. That's the traditional content audit.
“It misses so many things. It misses so much nuance. What isn't being discussed is, was the article high-quality? What topics did it target? What audiences did it target? What was the goal of the page? This is the killer for bad SEO audits by the way — they only look at entrance traffic to determine the value of a page. What? What if that page is the wayfinding off of the main guide and a lot of people click on it like two paragraphs in and they go to this page, and it doesn't generate any direct conversions, but it's providing expertise?”
You can view or listen to Jeff’s entire (Re)Sessions episode here.
As the Founder of StudioPod, a full-service podcast media and production company, Julian A. Lewis II sees how intimidating it can be for clients to really grapple with the WHY, why you create particular content, what your goal for that piece is, and then measuring how effective that content is once it’s out in the wild.
“You mentioned earlier about starting with what you have,” Julian shared with us. “I think one of the biggest questions that I ask always is, ‘What is working well for you?’ Because taking audio and creating it into a podcast or creating it into a standalone video still means that you now have another push medium. And for a lot of clients, that's daunting. And so understanding, ‘Okay, what's helped to drive to your blog posts? What's helped to drive to your webinar? Don't forget about those ways in which to distribute them. In terms of creating the great content, you are the experts in whatever topic or subject that you have. Let us own making it interesting and engaging, whether it be the longer form podcast or the shorter snackable social pieces of content that are being created.’”
Julian goes on to say that even if your brand outsources content creation to a partner like StudioPod or Casted, the best partners absolutely want to push the business needle for your brand just as much as your brand does. The best partners and their solutions should support tracking content effectiveness.
“In the beginning it was like, ‘We're going to help you produce great content.’ For myself and my co-founder, TJ, now it's like, ‘Hey, at the end of the day, we want to be tied to business because we understand what percentage, what we're doing, means to the business today.’ Just from an overall understanding from leadership on down of where this kind of fits into an overall strategy. So we want to be tied to the business. And so actually discovering — I say discovering; I was searching for things, and it came up — but having different conversations across the industry about, ‘Hey, what are you doing to track success of this?’ Casted kept coming up and the whole Amplified Marketing Platform, it's like, ‘Oh, we can help to support creating all of this content.’ And now we can actually say, ‘Hey, this is tied to the pipeline, and this is driving business.’ I think there was always an understanding of that.”
You can view or listen to Julian’s entire (Re)Sessions episode here.
Share Your Genius
As the Founder and Executive Producer of the end-to-end podcast agency Share Your Genius, Rachel Downey knows how frightening a recession can be for content marketers. However, she also knows you’ve got to keep a cool head before you blindly slash content output. Instead, she recommends looking back at what you’ve already done and strategically going forward with your most successful and effective content.
Rachel reminds us not to panic: “And so often that's what people do is they throw in the towel because they're not seeing a ROI or they have to cut something, so why not cut this? And I always am like, ‘Don't do that.’ So to your point, to your question, if you're like, ‘I can't produce net new, but I've got a backlog, like a catalog of content.’ Then I would say leveraged the heck out of that existing content. And a couple tactical things that you can do, one is obviously take one piece of one episode and you can repurpose it into different forms of media, different forms of content. Simple things like going through and identifying the key takeaways and turning those key takeaways into social posts, Twitter threads, et cetera. Twitter threads are huge, and no one ever does it. The other thing that you can do is obviously if you're not using your podcast as a video, that's low-hanging fruit.”
You can view or listen to Rachel’s entire (Re)Sessions episode here.
Audit Your Content Effectiveness and Identify Your Best-Performing Content
As we’ve heard from our guests in this series, tracking performance and measuring content effectiveness should be an everyday part of the job already. But when resources are stretched to the breaking point, knowing the effectiveness of your content can help you put a solid strategy together to get through these tough times and continue building that trust and relationship with your audience.
If you need more on what content marketers can do during a recession to not just survive but thrive, check out the (Re)Sessions. For more on how amplified marketing can help you do more with less and keep creating outstanding content, check out The Amplified Marketing Playbook. If you’d like to see how your B2B podcast stacks up against the rest of the industry, take our 5-minute B2B Podcast Maturity Curve assessment. And if you’d like to see how Casted can help you do more with your podcast, video series, or content marketing strategy, request a demo.