Most content audits are recorded using Excel spreadsheets. While this allows any business to create a basic list with some core parameters, there are some significant shortcomings.

To contextualise those shortcomings, you need to first ask yourself what the audit is meant to be achieving. In other words, what are you planning to do with the results of the content audit?

If it’s just an ongoing list to record everything that has been produced, then in principle Excel is broadly speaking going to be fit for purpose. However, simply creating a list of what content you have is a very limited scope and outcome for a content audit.

An audit should be about reconciling what you have so that you can plan for what needs to be created next. This isn’t about creativity, this is about identifying where more content needs to be created to engage target audiences and generate business value.

Content needs to be analysed by your products and services, and by target audience (i.e. personas). To do that effectively, you need to tag the content by those two criteria and in a mature content programme, layer that tagging with the customer needs that the content serves.

To find out more about what data to capture in a content audit, check out this article.

However, if you are trying to do this using Excel, then suddenly you have entered the world of spreadsheet hell.

That’s a lot of data to visualise and no matter how well the spreadsheet is designed, using Excel’s sorting and filtering functionality, it will quickly become apparent that it is in fact not fit for purpose. And let’s not forget the technical frustrations of spreadsheets not being able to store the actual content and having to instead link to folders and web links which frequently suffer the problem of items being moved and pages amended or removed. 

An effective tool for content auditing will provide excellent levels of visualisation, allowing the right information to be displayed while tagging the content with all the necessary information. By seeing what you have, you can spot the content gaps and plan what needs to be created next.

But what if you could go further?

What if the content audit could be extended to see how the content supports the customer journey? If it could, then the ‘gaps’ you see won’t simply be where you could be doing more to engage the customer or support a product or service. Instead, they would be the real gaps where you are currently failing to support the customer’s buying experience, retention experience or any other customer journey you choose to map.

If you can visualise the content by step within the customer journey, then the content plan can be designed to match products and services to customer personas and needs for every step of the journey. This means that you can have all the content in place to support the customer through every stage of their journey and put you in the position where you could connect the journey together.

Suddenly, the content audit has gone far beyond the content tracking log that you can achieve through a spreadsheet. Instead, it has provided the core foundation of a strategic content plan.

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