In this series, we've outlined a framework for content improvement using the DMAIC model. In Part 1: Define, we looked at how to determine the business and user goals against which content is audited. In Part 2: Measure, we addressed how you can collect data to set a baseline against which to measure. Part 3: Analyze addressed how to actually interpret that data. Part 4: Improve presented the idea of ongoing audit and continual improvement. And finally, today we talk about setting up a plan for putting all that into place.
You can future-proof your content by establishing standards and guidelines, training personnel on new processes, and putting measurement plans into place.
Creating a systematic way to measure improvement and govern ongoing processes completes the picture. Defining and quantifying the return on investment for making the recommended changes helps gain organizational buy-in.
Proving the need for change to the stakeholders may require more than revealing the content issues you’ve discovered. You may need to provide justification based on numbers that show the hard costs of missed opportunities and process inefficiencies. Can you calculate how much your time is worth? How much is your customer’s attention and loyalty worth? What is the competitive disadvantage incurred by having outdated, inaccurate, or unengaging content?
Your organization’s decision makers need to understand that a comprehensive, unbiased assessment of the current state of your site’s content is critical to the creation of an effective content strategy and justifies the costs of doing the time-intensive inventory and audit. Business justification usually relies on making a case that the proposed initiative will help the company save money, make money, or both. For example, you might quantify potential benefits like these:
If you need to convince the decision makers to allow you to spend time and resources on a content inventory and audit, think through how your organization generates revenue or otherwise shows value. If you can prove that the findings and outcomes of an inventory and audit will help the organization’s bottom line, it will be easier to get approval.
The costs and benefits can be both “hard,” such as increased sales, process efficiencies, reduced production costs, and fewer calls to customer support; and “soft,” such as greater customer engagement and brand consistency. When you have established the goal, doing some tests of the current experience and projections of what they may be costing the organization could help you make the case.
By calculating the time it takes to regularly inventory and audit your content, as compared to the time required to do a major overhaul later—or the cost of losing customers and sales—you should be able to justify the expenditure of resources. Using automated tools to regularly assess and track your content is a quick way to show cost savings over manual efforts. Finding issues early and addressing them as they arise prevents content from getting out of control and failing to deliver on business and user needs.
Content inventories and audits provide a valuable window into the current state of your organization’s content. When you inventory and audit within a framework of business goals and measurable outcomes, you help drive positive change. The time it takes to think through and document your goals and to get stakeholder buy-in at the beginning of your project is time well spent; it ensures that you’ve captured the right kinds of data and have a clear sense of how you will use the information you glean.
This series was adapted from Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook, by Paula Land.
Paula Land is co-founder and CEO of Content Insight and author of Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook.