We’re now into Q4 and at this point, it’s getting to be the time were we evaluate budget and strategies for 2015. As you begin thinking about and planning what you need to do to be more successful next year, don’t overlook the importance of the content marketing side of the marketing/social media equation.

Even if you don’t have a specific initiative labeled as content marketing, did you produce or share any type of content this year? Are you using it for sales and marketing? If you answered “yes” to either question, then you have a content marketing initiative, albeit maybe very informal, but it’s time to ensure your content marketing is strategic.

The Content Strategy Audit

Regardless of what you call your content, take some time to launch a content strategy audit. Objectively and subjectively evaluate all angles of your current content and future content goals. This will enable you and your team to determine what needs to be done to hit the ground running when the calendar flips one last time to close out 2014.

To help you out, here is a brief overview of questions to ask yourself and your team to conduct a content strategy audit and get into future planning.

1. What are we doing? How are we tracking what we’re doing and what exactly is being tracked?

By identifying what you’re doing (the beginning of the content story) and looking at how it’s being track (the end of the content story), you can get a feel for your current state of content. Focus on what you’re doing and what you want to accomplish.

2. How much content do we have and how are we using it?

Even if your focused hasn’t necessarily been on “content marketing” per se, identify the content you are producing. Figure out the volume and quality, and conduct a content analysis to categorize it and figure out where your content factors into your sales and marketing funnel. By reviewing the content and where it fits, you will find opportunities and “holes” that need to be filled.

3. How is our editorial process organized and managed? Do we need a revamp?

This is obviously a process-driven question; the answer could be as simple as “it isn’t organized and managed.” In either case, figure out if you need to create or revamp the process based on your internal and external resources. This is also the time to consider how existing, new, and curated content can be optimized.

After evaluating your efforts and progress with a retrospective point of view, then move into the questions that help with future planning.

1. What worked and, more importantly, what didn’t worked?

Understanding past efforts will provide you with factual information supporting any shifts in your strategy. This will also support tweaks to existing efforts and the information can be used when reporting to the c-suite.

2. Where do we want to go and where do we need go?

If you know what you did or didn’t accomplish for 2014, figure out what needs to be done for 2015 and then reverse engineer the goal to build the plan.

3. What do we need?

Take some time to think big. Think about that lofty goal of what you could do in the next 12 months and then scale back to what can actually be done (but hey, if you never think big, you will never get big). Decide what you need internally and externally to support the initiative. You may need skilled writers, someone to manage the process, or even an upgrade in your technology.

A few other things you can do at this stage include:

  • Evaluate your team and figure out if you have the right people
  • Take a quick look at your competitors to see what they are doing right now
  • Update audience personas if you feel they may have changed
  • Ensure that your content is adhering to your high quality standards
  • Consider venturing into a multimedia approach (if you’re not doing it already) and repurposing old content to make it new again

Overall, taking the time to conduct an audit will help in understanding your content strategy to its fullest and how you can continue making progress.

Happy [content] marketing!