Tips, techniques and inspiration for marketing communications from Richard Groom at Peterborough Copywriting Bureau.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Your ten-point copy and content audit tool

Is your content fit for purpose? Scary question, right? Most people involved in marketing know that too much of their copy or content isn’t as good as they’d like. But the task of going back through content to assess its quality and suitability can be daunting.

You wouldn't expect a doctor to look at a sick patient without any system for diagnosis. That's why I have developed this ten-point 'diagnostic tool' for copy and content. 

It's a method for assessing the suitability and quality of existing content. As a bonus, the tool can also be used to assess new content while it's still in the draft stage, helping you to strive for a better finished piece.

diagnostic tool for better marketing copy and content

A copy and content audit everyone can use

If an organisation has been around for a while there could potentially be hundreds of pages of content available to readers. Lots of it may no longer represent the business the way it should (and some of it probably never did in the first place).

I have spent the last few weeks developing a simple framework for checking the suitability of existing and new copy or content. This post introduces the ten criteria in the framework and over the next couple of blogs I’ll flesh these out.

Best of all, in May I am launching a 24-page e-book that will include detailed notes and examples for each category, a checklist and scorecard, and hints and tips for easy fixes for the most common problems. (Drop me an email now if you’d like to be among the first to receive your copy.)

With that as the background, here’s the framework that will help you make the most of the time you have available for assessing and editing content.

1. Context

Content written some time ago may no longer be relevant to your organisation’s strategy, or to how the world is today. Content that is no longer relevant can be deleted, or you can bring it up to date.

2. Clarity

You may publish a piece thinking it scores well on clarity, but when looking at it again after a break you realise it’s not so clear after all. Use this opportunity to look out for the use of confusing jargon, badly written sentences, weak structure, dense formatting and anything else that acts as a barrier to clarity.

Tip for writing better marketing content

3. Comprehensive

This doesn’t mean everything has to be a long copy piece with tons of detail. But check that the essential information is included, in the context of the piece. You may be able to use the ‘what, when, where, who, why and how’ list as a quick check that the essential information is there.

4. Customers

Is the piece really focused on the readers? Usually this will be customers, but other stakeholders may also apply here. In short, is this something they will want to read and then be glad that they did?

5. Clickable

This takes being customer-focused to the next level. Is the content something that readers would be attracted to and happy to share with their network? This is also the category where SEO performance can be assessed.

6. Competition

If your competition has created similar content you probably need to check how your piece stacks up against theirs. Maybe when you published your piece it was the best source of information around. But what if someone has since gone one better?

7. Credibility

After looking at the piece’s credibility, clickability and competitive performance, you’re in a good position to assess its overall credibility. Ask yourself this: if your most wanted customer reads the piece, will they be significantly more willing to do business with you as a result?

8. Creative

Assessing a piece of legacy content is an opportunity to be more creative than when it was originally published. Does the piece feel a bit dull now? Would it benefit from a refresh?

9. Call to action

This one is simple: if there’s no call to action, add one.

10. Correct

We’re talking accuracy here, and this covers everything from spotting typos and dead links to checking that you still have permission to use any images that are part of the content.

After you’ve used this audit framework

If the piece scores well across these criteria you can consider recycling it, perhaps as a new blog or landing page. Then raise its profile across your marketing activity. If it scores very badly, and you don’t have the time or desire to fix it, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to it.

Would you like the complete content audit resources?

In my next two blogs, I'll look at the above list in more detail. But the ultimate resource will be my new e-book. Drop me an email if you’d like your free copy.