Mind the gap: why a content gap analysis is vital to content marketing success

A significant number of brands that have embraced content marketing now find themselves sitting on a large pile of content that yielded no results. Buried underneath this content you might find a few pieces that got a like or share here and there, but nothing worth celebrating. Yet, these companies stick to their modus operandi because their basic philosophy about content marketing is this: it’s a game of luck. Just produce a great variety of content in bulk and hopefully, sooner or later, something will stick.

For companies that believe in this approach, the time has come to step away from the keyboard. You are wasting time and money because, to put it simply, you don’t understand the needs of your target audience and will, therefore, never meet them.

Before you step back to the keyboard to produce another piece of content, you should rather step back and do a content gap analysis, the results of which will enable you to produce the right kind of content – the kind that yields results.

Why do a Content Gap Analysis?

In essence, a content gap analysis will help you to determine where you’re falling short in terms of meeting the content needs of your target audience, and what you should be producing if you want to meet those needs.

There are a couple of steps involved in this process, and it requires a lot of manual work but a content gap analysis, at the end of the day, not only forms the backbone of an effective content strategy, but will also enable you to produce less, yet achieve more.

Step 1: Conduct Interviews

For your content efforts to be successful, you need to know who it is that you are speaking to and what the wants, needs and concerns of the people whom you are targeting are. This is why it is imperative for brands to conduct in-depth interviews with their sales and client service staff, as well as with any other member of the company who has direct contact with customers.

Ask them about common concerns that were raised, questions asked and what the average customer is like in terms of personality, age, gender, etc. and be sure to record all of these interviews. Whilst playing them back, make notes of all of the common points that were mentioned by the interviewees. These commonalities will help you in step two, where you’ll be drawing up Target Audience Profiles.

Step 2: Target Audience Profiles

Here you create a virtual persona for each cross-section of your target audience. When drawing up target audience profiles, you can never go into too much detail. Determine not only the needs of each persona in relation to your brand, but their general interests as well. Also define their values, possible day-to-day activities, the social platforms which they visit, etc.

The more detail the better. Just ensure that all of the conclusions that you reach regarding these virtual personas are derived from the information which you’ve gathered from the interviews.

Step 3: The Content Audit

Now it’s time to locate every piece of content that you’ve distributed thus far and do a thorough analysis to see if any of these pieces meet the content needs of any of the target audience profiles that you’ve since created. You might find a couple that can be repurposed and others that might miss the mark in terms of voice and tone, but that do revolve around themes that will appeal to your target market. With a bit of rewriting, these can be saved as well.

The important part here is to record every piece of content, where it can be found, and rate it both in terms of how it has performed and whether or not it has succeeded in meeting the needs of your target audience. If you find a piece that does well on both fronts, you know that you’ve got a sure winner.

Oftentimes, a piece of content might fit one or more of your target audience profiles perfectly, yet you will find that it did not perform well when it was published. This probably means that it was distributed to the wrong platform or perhaps distributed at the wrong time, which reiterates the importance of determining the platforms that your target audience uses when drawing up your profiles.

Step 4: Draw up a Strategy

As mentioned earlier, your content gap analysis will make up the backbone of your strategy. It’ll tell you who you are writing for, what themes you should cover, the platforms to which you should distribute, and what content from your arsenal you can repurpose.

All that remains is to work out the different buying stages of your target audience profiles (seeing as we want to turn engagement into conversions), the details of the individual content pieces and where they should go to cover the buyer’s journey, production and distribution schedules, and finally, decide on a monitoring system to see how your content is performing.

Step 5: Get back to work

Only once you’ve done all of the above should you get back to creating content. It might seem labour-intensive and tedious, but it is the only way in which to ensure that you produce content that yields results.



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