The 10-Minute Content Audit

Presented live on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – register for our next tutorials

When you know what your competitors are messaging, you’re not powerless to their changes. You know what cross-shoppers are being told. And you’ve got more solid footing to make your own home page and copy decisions. In this Tutorial Tuesday, see how to make short work of your competitor content audits.


Joanna is writing in Airstory, the beautiful drag-and-drop document platform. 

TRANSCRIPT

Joanna Wiebe:                     Hello, everybody. Joanna here from Copy Hackers and Airstory. Welcome to Tutorial Tuesdays. And yeah, today we’re talking about the 10-minute content audit. I almost called it the 10-second and that would have been a little too fast. 10 minutes is already going to … it’s already a fast time in which to do a content audit. And we’ll show you just how much you can get done in that 10-minute period.

So, before we get started, though, a little bit of housekeeping. We are recording. So never fear. We’re recording in case you have to drop off, but we are going to try to make this about 10 minutes for the actual audit when you see the tutorial happening and then some time for questions. We should be done by 20 after the hour, which is very, very cool. I hope so, at least, so hopefully nobody has to drop off. We’ve also got myself here. Sarah is joining us if she hasn’t already joined us. She will help take some questions.

I’ve got chat open, so if you have questions as we’re going through this, I’ll do my best to respond to them but once I’m in the audit, it’s hard to pull yourself out and I’ll already be narrating my thoughts. So, it’ll be 10 minutes, Mark. Mark’s like, “It’ll never be 10 minutes.” It will be. Excuse me. And we also, Lance isn’t joining us on this tutorial, but in this little area, but he will be involved. I’m going to show you what that looks like and that’s the part I’m slightly scared of today, is yeah. But no, it’s going to be really fun. So, okay.

Why do we do content audits? Especially what we’re showing today, which is a competitor content audit. Why would you bother looking at what your competitors are doing? Obviously, that is one of the top things that marketers do is just keep aware of what their competitors are up to. In particular, when we’re talking about a home page, what are they saying to people who are also our prospects. It doesn’t mean that every visitor you have is going to look at your competitors site, too, but it’s still good to get a sense for what those messages are that are shaping your prospects experience on somebody else’s site and that might convince them. What if they convince them better than you do?

Now, the goal is never to swipe copy from your competitors ever. You don’t know if they’ve tested it. You don’t know if it’s working. Just because you might like the sound of it or might like the strategy you think is behind it, doesn’t mean that it’s working. All we’re doing here, with this audit, is looking objectively at what is actually showing on the screen and copying it over into a space I’m going to show you right away. From there, we can start having discussions as marketers in a team about what is really happening and what we need to consider, et cetera, et cetera.

Okay. Any questions about what a content audit is or why we do them? If you have a question, let me know. If I don’t see any chatted over, then I will assume we’re good. Okay, I’m all business here taking notes and I see the cat. Oh, Lord, of course there has to be a cat appearance in every … I don’t even know where the cat is at this point. Oh, down. I don’t know if you can see. Anyway, yes. Cats will appear. We’ve got two. The little, scrawny white on is named Puff. He just got his fur trimmed so he’s tiny when he’s usually very puffy. And the other it Lilly because Jesse asked, or Heidi asked. Okay, cool.

Jesse asked, “At what point in the research and development or discovery event phase should we be doing the audit?” I recommend you do audits regularly. If you’re a marketer or a copywriter, it’s good to keep just abreast of what your competitors are saying and what they’re doing. Doing it quarterly because you can do it so quickly as we’re going to see today. Why not just do it quarterly? Then you’ve got a good record of what your competitors have said and are saying. It can also help you kind of see the strategy as it’s forming for them if you keep track of it. If you do it just when you’re going to re-write your home page … I mean, that’s fine, too, it’s just not as necessarily as useful as checking in pretty regularly and just looking at what their top messages are and things like that. Okay?

All right. I’m going to share my screen now. We’re going to begin this. Cool. Awesome. Thanks, Jesse. I’m going to share my screen. Here we go. Okay. You should be able to see my screen where I have got the Airstory interface showing. It looks like it. I’m getting a green light around it from the zoom. If you don’t, if you can’t see it, please let me know. Okay. What we’re looking at here is the basics of a content audit. I’m going to walk you very quickly through it with everything showing here as this outline over here. We have just a homepage audit and this is the order in which to do the audit, as well.

Then, I’m going to go do it. We want to mark down your reaction when you first arrive on the page. What is your reaction? You might say, “Do I have a reaction as a copywriter or as a user, visitor, or prospect?” The copywriter always has to kind of walk that line because the copywriter is really the voice of the customer or they’re trying to express what the customer most needs to hear. You have to kind of find that balance. I find that it’s best to have whatever reaction is natural. What are you seeing here when you arrive on this page? What is your initial reaction to it? We have that. We start with that.

Then, we get into our value problem. Because this is all about a homepage, we’re talking about a homepage here, more often than not you’re going to see the headline on a homepage as a value prop. It’s there to try to express the value to the broadest number of prospects that you’ve got, which is the problem with homepages, right? Because so many different types of people are coming in and you have to say one thing that’s supposed to grab all of their attention to make them want to stick around. The value prop tends to be a good way to do that for a good percentage of those people.

When I say value proposition, that really just means homepage headline. If you’re there and you’re like, “Well, I’m doing this and the homepage headline doesn’t seem to be a value prop,” still take it down as the value prop, tag it as the value prop, and then you can always comment on that as well when you’re going through like, “I don’t know if this is a value prop at all.” But right now, for the audit itself, we’re just going in and taking what’s actually on the page and moving it into this space so we can make sense of it later.

Then come the top messages in the order they put them in. This usually means, what are those three or four big blocks, this is almost always the case, three or four big blocks, or the three columns across the top, or whatever it is that they’ve got, and the order in which they put them. This can start to help us understand their messaging hierarchy. Then, we get into the primary CTA. If they have an additional CTA, any other calls to action, then you put those in there as well. You capture those.

Social proof. And this is, again, the order to go in because it’ll be really easy for you to go through and do kind of sweeps like we talked about last week with the specificity sweep. You’re really going through and identifying these things just by sweeping the page. Social proof is easy to point out. It’s easy to identify. I recommend you do it after you’ve identified the top messages. Any guarantees, promises, assurances, just the risk reduces. Do they have any of those? It’s rare to have these on a homepage, so if you find something here, wow. That’s going to be interesting. And you’ll see that as you do more content audit as you go across different audits that you complete, you’ll see that.

Interesting. Good. Is there anything on the page that you’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting,” in a good way? And then is there anything on the page that you’re like, “I don’t know about that?” It’s your bad reaction to something. Then, you want to mark those down, as well, because that’s important information, too. The target audience as you believe the target audience to exist. Can you tell? And if you can’t tell, you don’t mark anything down or you say, “I can’t tell.”

But the goal is still to really just understand. Did they write this homepage for somebody in particular? And if you know who that is, great. And then you finish off with your reaction at the end. What happens in the end? What’s the reaction that you’ve got to it? You might’ve started off thinking, “Oh, this is a really cluttered page.” I know I audited Basecamp’s homepage and when I first got there it felt cluttered. I love Basecamp, but it felt cluttered. And then when I got to the bottom of it, by the time I’d gone through and audited it, paid attention to it, it no longer felt cluttered. It felt really persuasive and filled with a lot of social proof. The whole page is just social proof. You just don’t really know that until you start looking at it. So, I had that different reaction at the end, but those are both good things to capture. Okay.

I’m going to begin with adding a tab here that I’m just going to call Joanna. This is where I’m going to do my audit. But I’m also going to invite Lance. We’re going to make much shorter work of the task of auditing our competitors, let’s say we’re going Shopify and Magento. Actually, they’re not our competitors in any way, shape, or form, but they compete with each other. So if we were to pretend, okay, I’m a Shopify competitor and a Magento competitor, what would I do then? I would audit those pages.

I’m going to invite Lance to join me. Lance Jones. All right. I just sent it right off to him. Sorry, I forgot to edit it because I got distracted by somebody putting up their hand. Normally, I would just go in and say, “Hey, can you do this?” But for Lance, he already knows that his job then is to add a tab to the bottom here and do his own audit. We’re going to go through and do these now. I’m going to go into mine. I’m going to drag this homepage audit template in here and get started. Okay.

Now, my job is to go over … I’m going to quickly just fill this in. March 28th. The company will be Shopify. The URL is going to be shopify.ca because I’m in Canada and getting the dot com is never as easy as getting the dot ca when you look it up. Okay. And then, at the end of it, we’re going to see … This is after the audit’s done. You’re going to want to go through and identify key opportunities as you see them. That may be there’s none. But what is your takeaway? What are some of the learnings that you’ve got? Okay.

We’re going to go in now and head over to Shopify. Importantly, I want you to notice these tags here at the end. We’ve got little hashtags at the end of each line. Start, VP, M1, M2, M3, and MS for additional messages. These tags are going to be things that you’re gong to use as you’re going through and doing your audit. You can change those tags if you want to, but they’re really straightforward and easy to use. I recommend you just use them. We’re going to go over to this site and then go through and clip messages and tag them so that we can then organize them on the page.

Let’s begin with our initial reaction at the start. So, I look at this page. Looks clean. Looks nice. There are people on it. Looks friendly. Okay. I can have a reaction. I’m just going to up the Airstory researcher. I’m going to hit start highlight. [inaudible 00:11:36] have to highlight anything. That’s just the initial action that you can take. And then, I’m just going to say what my reaction is at the start. So, clean, friendly, lots of people. Good. I’m going to save it to my Airstory project. Cool. Done.

Okay. I’ve got my one card done, one tag in there, one thing that I’ll be able to use. Now, I go through. An eCommerce platform made for you. Okay, that’s our value prop. I’m going to send that off. Lance is doing the same thing. I can hear him. He’s right next to me. Lance is over on the Magento site doing the same. This is our … Sorry, my mouse went off the page … value prop. Okay. There we go. Cool. Moving on. Okay.

Whether you sell online, that’s a subhead. I am going to … I’m looking now for those messages. Message one, two, three, and any additional ones. This is a message. I can’t pull away from that being a message even though it’s not this is where I’m really going to go when it’s those top three messages. Whether you sell online, on social media, in-store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify has you covered. This is an important message. They’re trying to say, “Based on all these different things, so no matter really who you are, Shopify has you covered. If you’re in eCommerce, Shopify has you covered.” And then they support that with all of this stuff.

Now, this is one of those points where I’m like, “Okay. Well, I have to make a call. Is this message one or is this message one?” I believe because it comes before this block, that it is message number one. So, I’m going to take this and I’m going to say, “This Shopify has you covered,” is probably message number one. I will, when I’m auditing, say that. You just have to make these calls. Usually it’s not the world’s, nothing’s going to break if you get message one a little out of order, but this is the order in which it’s showing so I’m going to do M1 and send that off to this page. That project. Okay.

I’m not looking at CTAs yet. We’re still just looking at messages, but there’s a CTA right here. There’s one up top. There’s all of this stuff. There’s social proof here. But I’m looking at messages. We’re just focusing on those. I’m going to go through and say, “Your brand, your way,” is message number two. Or, yep. Let’s save that text and tag it as M2. Cool. You can image when you’re doing your own audit how this will work for you as well. It’s really straightforward. I’m removing all the titles that automatically come with it because I’ve done these a lot and I don’t need those to help me out. Mission control. Okay, cool.

Whoops. I highlighted everything there. Oh, someone just … Hello, who is off mute? How did that happen? That’s weird. Sorry. I don’t know. I guess maybe that was Sarah. This is M3. Audit. Sarah, if that was you, sorry. I didn’t know you were there. Okay, cool. Great.

Message two and three and now get straight to growing your business is also a message that seems to be worth mentioning as well. So, it’s going to go under additional messages, which is just MS. Save text to … Done. Okay. MS. It’s just plural messages. Audit. And again, I want to delete that. Okay, cool.

All right. We’re moving along. I’m just going to pop back here and show you what we’ve got going on so far. Now, what we can see is that I’m doing the audit while Lance is also doing an audit. Any cards that are Lance’s in this case, of course, when you invite team members to make short work of your work with you, obviously, then you’re going to have them doing stuff in the same project. For me, my cards do not have my picture on it, but I can see I’ve got that first message, message three, two. I’ve got my value prop, or sorry, my start, what began message one, et cetera, et cetera. We can keep going on with that.

Now, the next step is to look at the CTAs. We see get started, get started with an email address in there. Then the additional secondary ones are start selling online, get started, and get free resources. CTA one is going to be get started. That’s important. And any notes you want to make as you go through, we’re doing this in 10 minutes and I’m narrating as I go, so it’s like you could do it in five, easily. But we’re going to do CTA one and we’re going to say, “Get started.”

Now, if you wanted to add a note to self. Right? If you were like, “Okay, well, they had this three times on the page, four times on the page, and they had an enter your email address at one point.” You could do that. I would do that. Appeared three to four times on the page with an email address field in [hero 00:16:33]. Okay, cool. Whatever you want to do, cool, but that is our, just part of the auditing process. Save. Cool.

We’ve got that. We’ve got additional CTAs, as well. I am making these separate cards and you would do that anyway when you’re doing any sort of audit. And so the additional ones are, well, we have start selling online, which is different language. Get started. And get free resources. Start selling online and get free resources. That is CTAs. Again, those are just additional ones. Cool. Going to get rid of that. Awesome. Okay. Great.

And then we’re moving on to any social proof. We’ve done the core messages. We know what the core stuff is on the page. Unless like Basecamp, they built their whole homepage out of social proof, in which case you’d be doing both at the same time, but yeah. In this case, we can see that the social proof is really this hero, it’s not hero because it’s just below it, but it’s this top of page, above the fold flow where we’re seeing primarily women, which is actually an interesting note.

I’m going to add that as interesting but I don’t know if it’s … I’m not going to say good or bad. I’m going … It’s hard there. Definitely hard in that point. I’m just going to add that as a note, but definitely for social proof at this point and then just make it a note in there. We can say, some proof, scrolling banners with three, well, they are, female shopper owners. Okay. That’s an interesting note that we might want to think through later when we’re going through it. It doesn’t mean that it means anything. Could be completely random, but we’re just here to capture information. Okay.

Nothing there that’s very … there’s no social proof. And then we get into quite a lot of social proof. We see a lot of it, a lot of different people, and the different stories that they’ve got. I’m going to take this one as an example here. Let me save that. Done. Okay. And then I’m just going to give myself a note because it’s not a testimonial, but it’s kind of this interesting thing where you’re seeing … they’re summarizing an outcome for their users and then putting pictures and names along side it. Summarizing outcome for actual users but not testimonials. Photos and names with summaries. Okay, cool. That’s the summary there. Cool. Away we go.

We’ve got a lot of them, so that’s something interesting to note. And then we’ve got a whole bunch of social proof to finish the page off, which includes this headline here. These quotes also from people and their bar of proof. Here we go. Again, here we go. Save text to Airstory. Good social proof there. Very strong social proof. Sorry. Ah, proof. Sorry, I’m used to in the Airstory itself you can just, it auto completes your text for you. That’s coming soon in our researcher. Okay.

So then we finish off with these notes, as well. Not sure how to start, et cetera. We capture those. I mean, we’re really at a place where we’ve got most of it covered. Anything good or bad that’s interesting. I don’t know about interesting. Nothing that’s so interesting where I’m like, “Oh, okay. That would be cool to do.” Or, “That’s so wrong. That’s like, ah! Let’s never do that or let’s not even try that.” There’s nothing, in my opinion, and it is, of course, that’s the part of the audit where it’s like, “Okay, well, what’s good or bad?” That’s completely a subjective sort of thing based on what you’ve seen in this world, of course. But I don’t have anything to add there, at all. There’s nothing. Nothing. I’d be searching to look for that.

What is my reaction in the end? What do I walk away with? I don’t really have a strong reaction to it. It still feels clean and friendly and used by a lot of people, I guess, is the one other thing that I would add here. Let’s just go there and do that as our final note. I’m looking at the time. I know Jesse is like, “Haha, you didn’t do it in 10 minutes.” Lance is done. I’m narrating as I go. Okay. So, still clean, friendly. Lots of people are using it. And frankly, they all seem to be … I would go and say so far as they appear to be [youthful 00:21:27]. Everybody we saw/trendy, I guess. I’m not sure what that is, but yeah. That’s my reaction. I definitely don’t walk away thinking the opposite of that. That’s what’s going on in my head right now. Okay.

We go there. We’ve got these all saved. We go back and now we can drag those in. I’m going to see what Lance has done since I don’t hear any typing going on over there anymore. He got to do it without the benefit of actually narrating as we go. I just wanted to give this as a heads-up to you. I just saw something in our audit, doing this whole audit today was inspired by some people that have showed us how they use Airstory to do their own content audits, as well. I didn’t mention that at the beginning but I wanted to shout out to those people, thanks for that. Okay.

Lance has gone through and done the same. We can look in our outline view and see that he’s filled this in. He’s got his reactions, his value prop. You just drag these cards in based on their tag. All he needs to do at this point then, is merge them all. And then he can go back to the top and do opportunities presented. Oh, he just merged it. Okay. I don’t have to merge it. And, of course, we’ve got little citations and things attached, et cetera, et cetera, which sometimes you’ll need to use it and in some cases you won’t need to use it. He’s got social proof galore there. Cool.

That is completed and at this point, all he has to do is say what the opportunities are, which is usually good to do once you have looked across all of the different audits that you’ve done. Once this is done and we can see, okay, we’ve got Shopify here, Magento here. What is our takeaway? And, of course, then we can also, which I think is especially cool, is drill down and see, okay, what are the message ones that we’re seeing? M1, they’re both tagged M1.

The message, the topmost message for Shopify is whether you sell online, in social media, in store, or out of the trunk of your car. Shopify has you covered. I’m just going to zoom in on that so you can see. And then, on Magento, they’re leading with the different places that people can buy. This is selling online. This is where the seller can sell. This is basically talking about where your customers can buy from you.

That’s an interesting thing to be able to see the difference between those two. Magento powers amazing omni-channel experiences wherever your customer is. As we’re going through and looking at this stuff, we can say, “Huh. I don’t know. The tone is very different.” Yeah. Isabel just said, “Channel versus place.” Exactly. That’s an interesting thing to take away. If we had another competitor that we’d done, we could look at theirs and we could compare theirs, as well.

The message number two here for Magento is customers hungry for your product. Enjoy sales spikes with the platform that scales with your success. Busy businesses thrive on Magento. M2 sounds right now, just in contrast to that, kind of smaller business. Your brand, your way. Complete control over the look and feel of your online store. Very interesting. You can keep going through and every tag that you’ve got, and the more stores that you’ve got, the more you’ve done this content audit on their homepage, the more information you’ll have to work with when you start to make decisions about what you might do with your messages hierarchy, with the audience you’re targeting. Oh! I didn’t go in and do the target audience. Sorry. But we can now, of course, still look back and do that. Cool. Okay.

That is the 10-minute content audit. When narrated, it takes 12. All right. Fine. When but when you’re not narrating, it doesn’t take 12 minutes. Mark says, “You over delivered again.” Well, we’ll call it over delivering. That’s what we’re going to go with. That’s our story. But do you guys have any questions? Or do you see how you can use this for auditing your own competitors or how this sort of flow can help you get a sense for what’s really going on with your competitors and how you can make decisions for yourself? I certainly hope so. If you do have any questions, feel free to let us know. I’m not seeing any come in, so that’s a good sign. Hopefully. I have no open questions at this point. Good. People are saying, “Very useful. Thank you.” Thank you, Tina.

Sarah just sent me this. Jesse wants to know, how many do you normally do per client? Very good. Normally at least three, but that depends. You don’t want to … You have to decide sometimes. Are we going to do big competitors? Or little competitors? Or both? If I’m QuickBooks, I might be interested in doing a competitor content audit for Sage. They’re my primary competitor. But then, there’s all these new people that keep coming in and trying to take away market share. I might be more interested, of course, now today I’d do Fresh Books as well. But what about Zero? Are there others that I should be looking at?

And so, make that call going in. But yeah, hopefully that that will be useful to you. It’s really a variety. And of course, if it is like, we’re just going to look only at our smaller, up and comers. Then, cool. That’s where you would look at where QuickBooks would say, “We’re not going to worry about what Sage is doing. We’re going to worry about what Zero’s doing and Cashew is doing and things like that.”

Okay. Cool. Awesome. Everybody’s saying nice things. I’m glad that it’s useful to you. Cool. Thanks, guys. This recording will be posted online and we’ll have another cool tutorial Tuesday for you next week. Thanks, again, guys. Okay. Bye.