Congratulations, marketer.

You’ve implemented your shiny new marketing automation (Marketo, Pardot, HubSpot, or some similar tool). As part of the demand-gen effort, you’ve built personas for the purchasers and influencers involved in your buyer’s journey. You’ve created lead-generation campaigns and assets to capture and incubate leads. As a result, you’ve captured some marketing-qualified leads, and have even transferred some sales-ready leads to your sales team.

But something is amiss.

Your marketing engine just isn’t living up to expectations. Sure, you’re doing A/B testing on the creative, and seeing some performance improvements. But overall, the opportunity pipeline should be much bigger, and more actual sales should be closing much sooner. The marketing engine isn’t firing on all cylinders. Management is not happy.

So where’s the problem?

Start with personas. If your personas are based on opinion rather than fact, you should revisit them after reading this post by our partner, Ardath Albee.

But let’s assume your personas are solid, research-based representations of buyers and influencers and they accurately describe which informational needs are most relevant at each stage of the journey. If so, your content may not be getting the job done. Maybe you’ve got the right assets, but the wrong timing. Or maybe you have the wrong assets altogether.

It’s time for a tune-up. You need a lead-gen content audit.

What does a lead-gen content audit accomplish?

A lead-gen content audit can evaluate how well your content serves the informational needs of your personas at each stage of the journey, identify content gaps, and flag areas where you can repurpose existing content to accelerate the journey.

A prerequisite for a lead-gen content audit is crisp messaging for each persona. By “crisp messaging,” we mean a clear marketing positioning statement, an understandable value proposition, and differentiating claims and proof points. Creating assets without thinking through the messaging for each persona is putting the cart before the horse. Your target audience won’t respond to assets or offers that are not tuned to relevant pain points or interests. In those situations, you may need to refresh your content to better support your story and meet the needs of individual personas.

There are a myriad of ways poor content execution can gum up your marketing automation system. We see some companies struggling with this part of the puzzle because the people creating content aren’t in touch with the folks running campaigns. In some companies, these people are split into separate organizations that compete internally for headcount, influence, and budget.

Not an ideal situation.

What goes into a lead-gen content audit? 

When TDA conducts a lead-gen content audit, we collect and discuss your personas, explore the information needs of your highest priority audiences, and examine the buyer journey as implemented in your campaigns. We also review messaging by persona, and help select the content assets to be included in the inventory for the audit.

The size of the inventory can be broad or narrow, depending on your specific situation and budget. The inventory can include web pages, emails, videos, and other content used in your marketing automation system, as well as assets used by your sales team or business partners.

Experience suggests the effort required to find a golden needle in a haystack full of all of your old assets is rarely rewarded. While a light review of a large inventory can identify background materials for new assets, more frequently it results in a list of content that should be retired.

For each asset included in the inventory, TDA editors evaluate the content against specific criteria that includes how well the asset supports the messaging you defined for each persona, where in the buyer’s journey the asset will be most effective, which segments it best serves, which messages it delivers, and so forth. The evaluation also identifies gaps where assets are not available and areas where assets are being misused.

This information becomes key to prioritizing and focusing your marketing spend on content that’s most needed to reach your audiences. It’s also critical for building an editorial calendar so you can plan and execute content that best supports the journey as defined in the marketing automation system.

Using off-target, unfocused, sub-optimized, or misdirected content in your lead-gen initiatives is akin to putting cooking oil in your car’s gas tank. The car may run, but not well. You may start down the highway while all looks good until suddenly the engine starts sputtering and spewing smoke. Think of us as the experts, the diagnosticians and mechanics who can help you tune your content marketing engine for a high level of effectiveness. Stop in, and we’ll check that warning light.

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