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Content Marketing Is a Waste of Time Without This 4-Step Assessment

Mike Sweeney | September 10, 2021
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Having worked with nearly 100 B2B organizations in the past decade and having witnessed hundreds of others from the outside, I can’t think of a single successful organization that hasn’t embraced content marketing. Most are producing and distributing content at a decent clip nowadays, even if they had to fight for the budget and staffing to do so at first.

That’s the good news.

The not-as-good news? Many think their work is done after creating their initial content marketing plan, pressing publish a few times, and doing some basic distribution.

Not so fast, my you’re-only-as-good-as-your-last-quarter’s-performance friends.

You need to stop, assess, and measure how well your content marketing strategy is working. Otherwise, you risk creating stale, under-performing pieces now and uninformed plans in the future. Not to mention you’ll have zero insight into your competitors’ content strategies without an assessment.

Despite their importance, most companies don’t make time for content assessments, at least not on a regular basis. And even if they do perform an assessment once in a while, frankly, they don’t do it right.

A holistic, expert-driven content assessment is clearly in order. One that ensures you’re maximizing your current content efforts and planning properly for the future.

Most Content Assessments Are Bullshit. Here’s Why.

Did you notice we prescribed a “holistic, expert-driven” content assessment? That’s because most content marketing assessments suck.

For one, they’re often completed internally. This is problematic for three primary reasons:

  1. You’re not a content marketing expert. Do you go to the doctor to get an MRI? Do you hire an accountant to do your taxes? Then ask a content marketing expert to measure content performance, not Lynda the intern who once did some “content stuff” in her sophomore year of college.
  2. Even if you are a content marketing expert, you can’t read the label from inside the bottle. An outsider’s perspective is invaluable. Plus real-deal content marketing agencies have worked with tons of other companies in your sphere. They can tell you how you stack up and relay industry norms.
  3. The goal of the assessment may be sullied by stakeholder pressure. A content assessment is meant to bring the good and the bad to light — objectively — so you can keep what’s working and fix what’s not. But you’re under a lot of pressure to prove content marketing’s value to your boss. We wouldn’t blame you for presenting the best stats and sweeping any less-than-ideal results under the rug. Especially if your options are to show it’s working or lose your content marketing budget — or even your job. Generally, stakeholders respond better to an outsider’s take, even if it’s not all rosy. 

Most content assessments are also bullshit because they don’t employ the right tools to get meaningful, robust data back. We use half a dozen different tools — like Ahrefs and Google Analytics — on each of our content assessments. And say you do have access to tools and quality data, do you know how to interpret that data? It’s unlikely. 

RSM Content Assessment

Last thing: Don’t even get us started on those free automated online assessments. They’re in no way tailored to your business, and they’re literally programmed to spit out generic advice. At most, you’ll get a tip or two that improves your website. But nothing that helps you make strategic content decisions.

What You Need to Know About Right Source’s 4-Step Content Assessment

Our Content Opportunities Blueprint is the opposite of what we detailed above. First off, it’s executed by us, an external partner steeped in the content marketing world. None of those internal challenges apply. And we’re real human people, decidedly not an automated tool.

But for us, it’s about more than just not sucking. Our assessment focuses on art and science. Production value and SEO value. Brand value and lead generation value.

Here’s how it works. 

Step 1: Ensure You Qualify for the Assessment

Before we perform a Content Opportunities Blueprint, we need to know your company takes content marketing seriously. Do you consider it a true strategic initiative worthy of investment? Does your budget reflect that?

It might sound like we’re being a-holes. But if you’re legit, you’ll appreciate that we’re legit, too. 

Step 2: Conduct the Discovery Meeting

Next comes arguably the most important part of our process: the discovery meeting. This is the step that truly sets us apart from those automated tools because we’re digging into your background in a way no algorithm ever could.

In the discovery meeting, we’ll ask your team questions like:

  • What tools are you currently using?
  • What types of content have you published so far?
  • How often are you publishing and why?
  • What results have you seen?
  • What are your goals for content marketing?
  • How does content marketing fit into your revenue generation model?

Without this context, our assessment would be too general. Instead, we tailor our next steps to your answers to get you recommendations that matter to your business. 

Step 3: Evaluate the Art and Science Components of Your Content Marketing Tactics 

Now onto the actual assessment. But again, it’s not just any old content assessment. At Right Source, we believe that effective content is part art and part science.

For the record, we define the ‘art’ as the quality — writing, design, and production — of content, regardless of its format. And the ‘science’ is SEO and distribution, plus the accompanying data analysis and adaptation.

We analyze and assess your strategy with both in mind because any recommendations we make will incorporate both. It’s the only path to long-term content marketing success.

Evaluating the ‘art’ side includes understanding details like:

  • Does your content engage your target audience?
  • Does your content solve problems and address pain points?
  • Is your content consistent when it comes to messaging and branding?
  • Are you using the proper content types to achieve your business needs (i.e., blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, case studies, etc.)?

On the flip side, evaluating the ‘science’ side includes diving into your Google Analytics as well as a variety of other SEO and AI tools we subscribe to. We gather information on keyword rankings, technical website problems, backlinks, etc. We also benchmark your competition.

By the way, we never stop at vanity metrics, like website traffic and pageviews. It’s not that these metrics are bad. It’s just that they don’t provide a full picture of your content marketing’s efficacy. We always go a step further to metrics like revenue attributed to content and conversions influenced by content. The stuff that genuinely speaks to content’s lead generation ability and ROI. 

Step 4: Interpret the Findings and Recommend Next Steps

While our Content Opportunities Blueprint stops short of being a full blown content marketing plan, we never leave you with an ass ton of information and move on.

We’ll absolutely help you identify the best way to apply our findings and show you what steps to take towards improving your content marketing performance. And of course, everything is specific to your company.

The reality is, once you have a content marketing budget, you’re under the microscope more than ever. Your CEO wants you to report back and tell them how it’s going, so you better have some good soundbites in your back pocket.

Our outside assessment goes beyond the surface level to reveal how to maximize your content marketing investment moving forward. That way, you can make strong content decisions for your company’s success. Bet the CEO will love that.

Ready to get started? Contact us.

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About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on Twitter and LinkedIn, or read his other posts.