Editor’s Note: This is part four of The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series on building an inspired (and inspirational) content strategy for your hospitality or tourism business. (Still not convinced you need content or a blog? You do.) As I publish each new installment, I’ll link it at the bottom of this post.
Well, you’ve done it! You’ve developed your travel content strategy. You’ve dug deep to develop your guest personas. And you’ve discovered where travelers congregate online. Believe it or not, it’s time to actually talk content.
Exciting, I know! But just a hot second. Close that blog prompt. Step way from Twitter. We’re not to content creation quite yet. Before you write one new word, you must first review everything you’ve already written – your existing content. Because unless your company is brand new, chances are you have some good content already floating around – brochures, newsletters, attraction information, and other text just begging for some attention.
This is the week of the content audit: the week you sort through all your raw materials and evaluate each on its performance and effectiveness. This is the week of repackaging, reworking and rewriting the best of the best. This is the week your content marketing team puts their heads together. And this is the week you ask yourselves:
- Does our content speak to travelers’ pain and passion points?
- How engaging is our content?
- Is our content sharable?
What is a Content Audit?
So what, exactly, is a content audit? In a nutshell, a content audit consists of:
- Inventorying your current content, or content “assets”;
- Analyzing content performance; and
- Evaluating content potential
The goal: Understand what kinds of content you’ve already created, determine whether this content is effective at driving sales and engagement, and figure out what content gaps must be filled.
Inventory Your Existing Content
The first step of a content audit is to take an inventory of your existing content. And I mean that literally – an actual accounting of all your content.
Gather up ever scrap of content – digital and paper – your company has ever created:brochures, travel guides, packing lists, destination & attraction descriptions, blog posts, welcome emails, videos, photos, etc. (Do remember that content is not just text; it includes photos and video, too.) Everything. Then call a content team meeting and spread your content assets out in front of you. Now begins the inventory.
If you have a great database system already in place, go ahead and use that. If not, any spreadsheet program (MS Excel, Google Drive, Libreoffice, etc.) will do the trick. Create columns to account for:
- Unique ID: You can give each content asset its own ID, or categorize by type. For example, blog posts could be 1.x; videos 2.x; brochures 3.x, etc.
- Item Type: Blog post, pdf doc, Word doc, image, video, etc.
- Item Title: The title of your document, image or video
- Location: Web address, central database file, or physical location
- Age: When the content asset was first created
- Update Status: Last update. At the very least, you should update travel content at least once a year.
- ROT Status: A content ROT status determines whether content is Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial.
- Page Views [all time]: From Google Analytics
- Page Views [last month]: From Google Analytics
- Total Unique Visitors: From Google Analytics
- Goals: Every piece of content should have a goal or purpose, whether it’s to drive newsletter signups or direct sales via the Book button.
- Notes: A field for any notes/thoughts your team may have
There are many other fields – reach, social shares, conversion rate, etc. – you could include on your spreadsheet. Here’s a good overview, complete with a downloadable spreadsheet already pre-loaded with some great fields.
Analyze Your Content Performance
When it comes to content, there’s a big difference between quality and quantity. Simply having content does not mean that you have effective content: in order to be effective, your content should always work for you.
A major goal of your content audit is to gather the information you need to make good content decisions – in other words, to determine what types of content work best for your business. Several metrics can help you determine content performance, among them:
- Engagement: Does your content touch on travelers’ passion and pain points, to the point that they comment, ask questions, and otherwise interact with your brand?
- Searchability: Does your content rank well in Google, Bing and other search engines?
- Sharability: Do travelers share your content on social networks or via email?
- Branding Consistency: Does your content adhere to your brand goals and message?
- Accuracy: Is your information accurate and up-to-date?
- Awesomeness: Yes, this is a stick you must use to measure your content: how awesome is it? Does it kick your competitors’ content butts? Because if you’re not dedicated to creating absolutely incredible content, then you should spend your time and resources elsewhere.
Evaluate Your Content’s Performance & Potential
The next step in your travel content audit is to evaluate current performance:
- Internal Links: An internal link strategy is integral to link-building: where does your content currently link, and where else could it link?
- Broken Links: Run a URL validator to find broken links – then correct them.
- Meta Information: Make sure to optimize your on-page SEO, including meta description, title tags, and meta keywords.
- Keep Current: You should update travel guides, destination & attraction info, and other content at least once a year. Do the required legwork – call attractions, double-check phone numbers & emails, etc.
- Calls to Action: Be sure that all your content has strong calls-to-action that target your current goals.
Once you’ve checked and corrected any problems with your content performance, it’s time to talk potential. Brainstorm with your team the who, what, where and when of your content:
- Which personas will each content item best engage?
- How should you repackage each item into content that touches on traveler pain and passion points?
- Which content channels are most appropriate for distribution?
- When should you roll out your revitalized content?
Now ask yourself, what content performs best? What has the best conversions or sign-ups or social shares? And what content needs more development? What are your content weaknesses – do you blog too sporadically or do your travel guides need a complete overhaul?
Because these questions – your best performances and greatest weaknesses – are the foundation of new content creation. But that’s a story for another week…
This week’s homework is pretty straightforward: do a content audit. Organize a meeting with your content marketing team, and go through the above bullet points one-by-one. Let me know how it goes!
Other installments in The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series: