A Comprehensive Guide to Content Gap Analysis
How Content Gap Analysis Can Help You Communicate Better With Your Customers And Provide You an Edge Over Your Competitors
It seems everyone online has their own view of what a content gap analysis is.
To some people, content gap analysis is the difference between what people are searching for and what people find online.
By this theory, the gap represents a subject people are looking for information about, but there is not enough content covering it to address the current demand.
To others, a content gap is basically competitor analysis where you look at your competitor’s content structure to identify topics and keywords they are currently ranking better for so that you could also target them with your new content.
These two views do have some level of truth to them but they fail to consider the customer needs or goals. They fail to show how relevant a specific piece of content is to a company’s customer at any stage of their journey.
According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, of the companies employing content marketing, fewer than half say their efforts are effective. Many content marketers are turning to Content Gap Analyses to identify and fill gaps in their content inventory.
Content Gap Analyses can help improve overall engagement by creating value and dialogue that will resonate with different target audiences and personas at different stages of the consumer journey.
A summary of what I am covering here:
- What is a content gap analysis?
- Reasons why you should conduct a content gap analysis.
- The content gap analysis process.
- How to set your content gap goals?
- Aligning your content to your customer needs.
- Customer journey mapping
- How to use your Content audit results to identify the gap?
- Content matching
- Designing an action plan.
What is a content gap analysis?
By definition, Content gap analysis compares the current content offerings with the desired offerings of the audience and attempts to identify what is necessary to fulfill those desires.
For me, a content gap represents the link between your current content performance and the desired results and goals of your content strategies.
It is the content you need to be creating next in order to attain your content goals.
The content gap analysis is the process of reviewing and then identifying the content that is needed to fill the “gap” between the current state and future state.
A content audit is the best way to get a complete understanding of your website content. Once this process is completed as discussed in this article, you will know which content you have at the different stages of the funnel, how it’s performing and how to improve it does not identify what new content you should create and promote.
This is where Content gap becomes a necessary analysis.
Here is a scenario, let’s say you are a footwear-brand selling “the best cheap” footwear online.
So far, your content only targets visitors looking for cheap and durable footwear for daily use and you are currently ranking well these keywords.
But what about content that’s relevant to your customers that will help them better understand your brand like footwear types. Do you also sell designer footwear? Or the footwear meant for XL sizes? Or do you also customize the footwear based on the users’ choices? How does your brand compare with others? Are there any customer reviews? Do you have any offers?
These are some of the questions visitors will have along their journey and providing this kind of relevant information can help them solve some of their pain points and convert into paying customers.
This is what the content gap is. Although you receive a huge response from people who are looking for cheap footwear, you failed to connect with users at other stages of the funnel and other users looking for any other variations of cheap footwear.
If you’re neglecting a persona or customer segment from your content strategy, you’ll miss out on key relationship-building opportunities. You’ll also create space for competitors to sweep in and forge bonds that could otherwise be yours.
In this age of content marketing, creating content is not the only factor that determines your success. Google a search term, and you will find millions of results which itself is a clear indication of how tough the competition is.
Reasons to Conduct Content Gap Analysis
There are mainly two reasons for a content gap analysis;
1. Communicating effectively with potential customers through their customer journey.
It’s a common misconception for people to think of the content gap as a gap between a company and its competitor yet in the actual sense, it is the gap between a company and its potential customers.
This gap represents how best your content strategy meets your customer needs at every stage of their journey.
The goal for any content strategy is to create the go-to content for prospects and customers.
If you do not provide your customers with all the information that they are looking for, be prepared — they will go somewhere else to have complete information. A content gap analysis makes sure that you do not give such an opportunity to your competitors and helps you by filling in the gaps so that the potential buyers can stay on your website for longer.
Content gap analysis also helps you determine if your content is good enough to convert your leads into customers. It is necessary that your content answers the questions of your prospect customers while they are transitioning from the awareness stage to the decision-making stage.
You can generate amazing content in the form of sequential site pages and blog posts. Even properly timed social media updates and email workflows can help you in this direction.
2. Utilizing SEO opportunity.
Content gap analysis is about developing content ideas and topics to drive valuable traffic. But because today’s industries have more than one player, you’ll see overlap between your content and competitor content.
This is why you have to make sure your content ranks higher than your competitors for specific keywords and a content gap analysis identify high-value content and topic opportunities to improve your search visibility specifically for topics you don’t currently rank for.
Content gap analysis makes the picture clearer and helps you know all the keywords your competitors rank for but you do not. This would provide you with enough insight in two ways:
First, you know the keywords on which you are ranking properly and your competitor is not. You can use this as an opportunity to have the upper hand over them.
Secondly, you also get to know the keywords which you are not ranking for. This would help you in creating the right content marketing strategies to fill in the gap and rank for those keywords as well.
Remember, this gap is not between you and your competitor but between your company and its customers.
Yes, the content you need to fill the gap can include similar content in topic or keyword-targeting as competitor content, but it doesn’t end there. Don’t focus solely on you vs. competitors.
Now, that you know the importance of content gap analysis, let’s dig deeper and understand the process by which this should be done.
Content Gap Analysis Process
For most companies, the destination is clear. The goal is always more conversions or sales but you are only going to arrive at your goal if your users are successful on their journey, too.
This is why the two most important inputs for gap analysis are your users and your sales funnel or buyers’ journey.
Step by Step
- Identify the goals that you need to achieve.
First things first — what are you trying to achieve through content gap analysis? Knowing your end-goals beforehand is important to be able to achieve the desired results.
Naturally, you started the entire gap analysis because you want to achieve or improve something. What is it? Is your content not bringing up enough leads? Or, is it not ranking good on the search engine results pages? Or, is it bringing random traffic to your website?
Finding answers to these questions would help you in identifying the main objective.
2. Understand your target audience
The first question that you should find answers to while doing a content gap analysis is — ‘gaps between what?’
Who are the target audiences that you are willing to serve? What are their tastes and preferences and where do they reside? What are their verticals?
The content gap analysis would not bring fruitful results until and unless you know your customers pretty well, along with their lifecycle.
If you already have your buyer personas built, good for you, proceed to the next step. If you haven’t start with customer segmentation. This information is available in Google analytics in the audience section.
From your audience data, you can build your customer personas. Here is an example from Humanlytics.
This exercise will help you learn more about your customers so that your product and content can best meet their needs.
This is where you can also discover more about your customer’s pain points so that you can create content that can help your customers to overcome some of these.
Lastly, map out your customer journey.
The customer journey represents the stages a user goes through from when they first discovered your website to their first revenue conversion.
I talked in detail about the customer journey in this post here.
A customer journey should include all touch points a user has with your brand either with a website visit, twitter/Facebook engagement, email click flow or even a trial sign up.
Arrange all these touch points in a chronological order following the visit brand interaction, to the first revenue conversion.
Here is an example of a typical customer journey.
This visualization shows exactly how your content should to meet customer’s informational needs at every stage with various channels. It might look a little complicated at first but you will get the point.
The content gap from this perspective are the touchpoints between your customer and your brand for which you lack content.
If you are having trouble generating a customer journey for your business, there a few service providers online who can help out with this or you can even try surveying your customers to find out their problems, the information gathered from such surveys can be then used map the customer journey.
3. Content audit
As earlier stated a content audit is the best way to have a full view of where your content strategy stands, the current performance of each piece of content produced and how to improve underperforming content.
With the finding generate from a properly executed content audit as described in the article mentioned above, you should be able to identify what content you already have and how it’s currently performing.
4. Content match
Content matching is a derivative of the previous three steps. This is where you match every piece of content to a stage in the buyers’ journey and then identify the stages, touchpoints, pain point for which you lack content.
From step one and two, you defined your company goals and the customer’s needs, pain points and mapped out their journey. Also with a comprehensive content audit, you have listed all the content you currently have.
Now match all the content from your audit to the all the stages of the customer journey and their goals to find out how best your content meets them.
The table above is an illustration of content matching.
It shows how Humanlytics content matches their customer journey. There are a lot of gaps because at the moment Humanlytics, as a new company is focusing on creating awareness content to build an audience for the launch of our analytics platform the Dataslinger.
All our content at the moment is about industry-specific pain point especially around other analytics platforms like Google analytics.
And as you can see, we do have gaps within the consideration, conversion and the loyalty stage, therefore, our priority after the launch of Dataslinger will be to create content for all the other stages of the funnel and fill all the gaps before considering looking into our competitors’ keywords.
Any content left unallocated is content that was created without putting the customer into consideration.
For every stage of the journey or touchpoint that you lack content for, that’s a content opportunity that should be listed in you content gap.
5. Competitor content.
This is the part most of you have been waiting for.
One thing to always remember here is that looking into your competitor content for a content gap analysis is not about finding keywords they are ranking so that you can target them as well. But to find other pain points/problems, concerns or topics of interest to your customers.
Don’t create content around keywords that your customers have no interest in just because your competitor is ranking well for them.
It’s always a bad idea to copy a tactic without understanding the strategy behind.
To begin with, you need to conduct a proper keyword analysis and find out the keywords your competitors rank for, but you do not. This analysis will provide you with a deeper insight into potential keywords that could be valuable to your business. In addition, it would also reveal the content ideas your competitors have been using in order to get better ranks.
There are various tools that can be used for this purpose. For instance, you can use SEMRush Organic Competitors Report and even Ahrefs to study your top competitors.
Find out what all keywords do you have in common with them. Then, compare your ranking for all those keywords with your competitors. You can make use of Google Sheets for this purpose to keep the data well-organized.
Next, create a list of target keywords where your competitors are currently ranking better in search engines and analyze the level and quality of that content to help you decide what content you should be creating.
And that does it for our content gap analysis.
The next step is how you use data from your analysis to create content that covers the gaps in your content strategy.
Get Into Action.
Unlike popular belief, this process has shown you that a content gap analysis is really about how best your brand is communicating with your customers.
Driving a lot of customers to your website would hardly bring any positive results unless you are able to convert them.
Once you understand the underlying problems, goals, and pain points that your users go through in their buying journey, you would not be able to take proper steps to help them advance into paying customers.
The content gap analysis not only improves your conversion rates but also boosts the customer satisfaction.
That said, the success of digital marketing relies on attracting the right customers to the right content at the right time to increase conversions.
I would love to hear about your content marketing stories, approaches, questions or even tips on how we can improve. Share in comments.
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