We consistently mention the “overflow” or “crowded space” that has become the content marketing world we know today. But, do we actually understand the full capacity of how congested our industry really is?
Let us enlighten you with this image.
Every year, Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec.com releases a “supergraphic” of the content marketing landscape (where this year’s consists of 6,829 brands). And, while this is enough to make any person go cross-eyed—as a content marketer, this image has the power to send us into a sense of deep, existential despair. But we didn’t share this graphic to accomplish either of those scenarios (because, of course, that would be cruel). Instead, it serves as a means to an end.
If there’s one thing you need to take away from this image it’s that there are a lot of brands in this space—both in your industry and out—that are all competing for an audience. BUT, luckily, there IS a way to distance yourself from this colossal marketing hodgepodge.
The answer lies in your ability to overcome your brand’s content gap.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to overcome gaps in your content and separate your branded content from your competitors. Let’s take a look.
What is a content gap?
In order to make sure everyone is in step, we must first establish what your content gap is and how to fix it—which includes conducting a content gap analysis.
According to Search Engine Journal, a content gap analysis is:
“The process of mapping out your customer’s primary questions, goals and concerns throughout their purchase journey and then measuring against your current content offerings for holes.”
While the term “content gap” may sound simple it can quickly seem equally as convoluted. So, to start, your content gap analysis will essentially look at two things:
- Your current content driving visitor traffic, which includes blog posts, landing pages, reports, webinars, etc.
- The content you would like to have
Therefore, the “gap” is the difference between where your content is and where you want it to be. However, keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to drive traffic. This is an important distinction because, as you delve into your research, it’s common for most marketers to get caught up in the comparison between their content and their competitor’s but, in the end, your content gap analysis should always remain focused on driving valuable traffic.
“The ‘Content Gap’ itself is not a gap between you and your competitors – it’s a gap between you and your customers.
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. This mindset dismisses the true value of web content – connecting with customers.” –Robert Duckers, BlueGreen Marketing
So, before the above graphic brings you to Tachycardia, let’s take those Beats Per Minute down a bit with a step-by-step guide on how to conduct your content gap analysis and what you’ll need to do it.
How to Do a Content Gap Analysis
As promised, this concept is not as stress-inducing as it may seem. As with content gap analysis, it’s the same as solving any other problem.
For example, you’re hungry, you’ve now identified that you’re hungry, you check the contents of your fridge, you decide which styrofoam box of leftovers will most likely solve your problem.
So, for content gap analysis…
- Identify your content gap/what it is you want to accomplish
- Analyze what you have
- Identify how you’re going to fix it
(Now, in case that snack reference made you hungry, we’ll take some time to go over these step by step).
Step 1: Identify What You Want to Accomplish
As with most processes in life, the first step is to identify that you have a problem. Here, you’ve addressed that you have a content gap (hey, could be worse). So, what does it look like?
A few examples of what it might look like include:
- Gaps in your content funnel
- Gaps in your customer journey
- Gaps in your marketing personas
- Gaps where you’re missing marketing initiatives
Similar to content mapping, you’ll need to take a defined and structured approach to identify your content gap. For example, Buxton, an analytics firm, has a well-developed approach in place to define their content gaps.
In fact, their content team found their new approach to the content pipeline so enlightening that they added an entirely new persona to their targeting.
“It’s given us the power to be more strategic. Sometimes people say, ‘we’ve got to do a campaign, we need to get in front of these people right now,’ but we can say, ‘let’s think about the end goal and figure out how we can use the buyer’s journey.” –Kelsey Maurer, Buxton
So, then, what’s next?
Step 2: Analyze What You Have
Just like with Google Maps (minus the few detours and awkward “You have arrived at your destination” when you certainly have not), you know where you’re going, you’ve plugged in your destination—now it’s time to start your journey.
You have already looked at your data to determine where your content gap lives; now you’ll need to take a look at what content you already have. Not only will this give you further insight into your next steps, but it will also keep from causing any overlap or wrong turns in the future.
As you navigate through your existing content, compare your content and its performance to that of your competition. Are they doing better? Why? What can you do differently to measure up?
In addition to filling out your grid, you may also want to add another column or two that address which stage of the buyer’s journey each piece of content addressed—or was supposed to address—for each (i.e., awareness, consideration, conversion, advocacy).
If you want to take it a step further, you may also ask: What does the user need at this point in their journey? Although not every space in your audit may have a set goal, it can still help your team visualize the process of creating content with your end goal in mind. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to bridge the gap!
See? Just like that, we’re movin’ right along.
Step 3: Identify How You Will Close the Gap
Here’s where you’ll craft a strategic, tactical plan to determine how you will bridge the gap and improve your traffic. Luckily, you already have a lot of the tools/information you will need to help you do this.
Collect all the pieces of your journey and start with what your gap involved (I know, it’s an iterative process, but c’est la vie). So let’s say, for example, your gap lay with your marketing personas. What can we do?
First of all, that personalization thing is soooo hot right now. Especially with all the technology and platforms available, it’s no longer a terribly big feat to personalize your audience’s experience. Therefore, failing to personalize your content to the right audience at the right time will put anyone in that “you have arrived” scenario.
Take a look at your gap map, identify what stage of the buyer’s journey it was meant to fulfill and then add in the corresponding persona.
Did your content hit the mark? If not, where did it fall flat? And, most importantly, how are you going to fix it? Luckily, you’re at the point where you’ll mostly only need to address the final question. Plus, now you have the resources to do it!
Why do all this?
All the work that goes into content gap analysis is not only so you can figure out how to improve your content but also how it stacks up to your competitors. Which is why the final step includes reviewing your competitors’ content.
In building your bridge, the most effective tactic involves analyzing your keywords. You should have an internal list of keywords you used when writing your content.
For example, using “X” as your keyword, your landing page keywords may look something like:
- Essential Tools for X
- A Guide to X
- X Checklist
“Running a content gap analysis is critical and has two major benefits: (1) Communicating with potential buyers through the sales lifecycle (2) Maximizing SEO opportunity.” –Mike Ryan, Keeper Security
Now, it’s time to compare your content to everything else that’s out there. For example, say we use an article topic like “Search Engine Optimization” for this SERP technique:
So, here’s what we see with the first few results, in order:
- Definition style content
- Definition style content
- Beginner’s Guide
- Step-by-Step Guide
But still, why do we do this?
“Marketers think of keywords they want to target and begin writing content around that subject. But I believe there’s a step between that’s missing. That’s the content gap analysis. Search the topic you plan to write on and review the top 10 search results. What are they doing? What are common themes? What are they missing that you can fill?” –Chris Hornak, Blog Hands
From your competitor content review, you now know what Google finds most valuable and can “fill in the gaps” on where your content might have missed the mark. In this case, definitions and beginner’s step-by-step guides proved to be most valuable when analyzing the topic of search engine optimization (SEO).
Throughout our journey, you have now collected information about your customer and their mindset, customer personas, pain points, etc. and analyzed where and what types of content they’re looking for. And, we even discovered an easy way to find out how you measure up against your competition (and Google). Together, these will help accomplish our end goal of driving traffic, ultimately making your brand the go-to for content.
In other words, you have your starting and ending points, you have a map and now you have all the landmarks to check in between to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Now, it’s all up to you to make sure you get there.
How do you identify and over content gaps? Is there something we missed? Tell us in the comments and contact us for a free demo to jumpstart your content creation!