Content marketing can be tough. But what if you knew exactly what to write about to give your audience what they want?
This isn’t a hypothetical question. It’s what a content gap analysis is designed to do.
If you’re looking to maximize the time you spend developing new content to make sure it aligns perfectly with the buyer’s journey, this guide is for you. In fact, we’d argue that it’s one of the most important insights you can gain to optimize your content marketing strategy.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s dig into the nuances of this type of content audit and how it can help your business.
What is a Content Gap Analysis?
A gap analysis describes the process of identifying the gap between your current content creation efforts and the content your audience wants to consume. It is, quite simply, the process of finding untapped opportunities to produce quality content that your potential customers want to read.
Here’s a simple example.
Say you’re selling baby carriers. Your current website content is all about the benefits of baby carriers but doesn’t cover specific use cases in detail.
However, you find that a significant portion of your audience wants to know how your baby carriers work in airports. There’s your content gap.
Now, think about a case study or other piece of content addressing this specific topic. Your target audience reads it and becomes more likely to buy your baby carrier as a result.
At its best, a gap analysis systematically uncovers audience pain points unmet by your own or, even better, your competitors’ content. This provides you with a road map for a more effective content marketing strategy.
5 Benefits of Reliably Finding Your Content and Keyword Gaps
Let’s get specific. Systematically finding these gaps can benefit marketers in a variety of ways.
1. Optimize Your Content Strategy for Your Target Audience
Rather than developing new content based on hunches, you can create it specifically for your customer journey. Considering that more than 70% of buyers review a company’s blog before making a purchasing decision, that’s a significant advantage.
2. Reliably Generate Content Ideas
Let’s face it: constantly coming up with new topics for your website, social media, and other channels can be tough. Indeed, feeding the content beast is consistently one of the biggest challenges that marketers face.
A gap analysis can help. You can use it to focus your keyword research, reliably uncovering content opportunities just waiting for you to leverage.
3. Find New Keyword Opportunities to Improve Your SEO
Modern search engine optimization lives and dies by your ability to find the right target keywords for your content. It’s why some experts call keyword research the most important part of digital marketing.
Here, you have an opportunity to focus it, optimizing your SEO efforts by getting that first step just right.
4. Spend Less Time on Underperforming Content
Sometimes, a lack of negative effects is the most significant benefit. Simply spending less time thinking about, creating, and managing content your audience doesn’t want to read is worth the effort.
Just as a gap analysis uncovers content opportunities that match your audience’s needs and pain points, it also helps you find what content doesn’t match these criteria. With this information, you can refocus and spend more time on what works best.
5. Consistently Outrank Your Competitor’s Content
As beneficial as a gap analysis can be, not a lot of businesses take advantage of this tool. This is largely because it’s a type of market research that can’t fit into a plug-and-play template.
This provides a huge opportunity.
Simply using this method to focus the creation of your own content means getting ahead of your competition. The chances you’ll outperform your competitors and create more relevant content for your audience are significant.
How to Perform a Gap Analysis Built for Both SEO and Your Target Audience
The process might seem complex, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. A content gap analysis typically consists of 5 basic steps:
- Map your buyer’s journey
- Define your audience’s needs and pain points
- Perform a content audit
- Perform a competitor analysis
- Define the gaps and create a plan to close them
Let’s break each step down in more detail.
1. Map Your Buyer’s Journey
Always start with an understanding of how exactly your audience goes from recognition of a problem to solving it, ideally with your product or service.
In the course of the customer journey, what questions do they have? What resources do they consult, and how do they slowly move towards the purchase?
If you’re unfamiliar with customer journey mapping, you’ll find plenty of templates to help you get started. Ideally, of course, you make the map your own to truly optimize your efforts for your industry, environment, and organization.
In this step, focus on the touchpoints, both current and ideal, that your audience will have on their journey. You won’t find the gaps yet, but this is the baseline information that eventually gets you there.
2. Define Your Audience Needs and Pain Points
With a map of the buyer’s journey in place, start thinking through the needs of your target audience. What problems do they have that your content could solve?
If you haven’t defined your buyer personas yet, now is the time. Another common option at this stage is keyword research.
Organic traffic, rather than PPC, likely makes up a significant part of your web presence. Simply understanding exactly what your audience searches for can go a long way towards realizing their content needs and finding potential gaps.
3. Perform a Content Audit
At this point, it’s time to analyze all of your current content based on what you’ve learned about your audience journey and needs. Inventory and analyze all of your owned channels, including:
- Website content, like your blog or whitepapers
- Social media content
- Landing pages
- Any other content assets you have
With a thorough inventory in place, take a look at some key metrics to determine the effectiveness of each piece. These metrics, of course, will differ based on the channels you’re analyzing.
Webpages benefit from high search volume or backlinks, while social media may lean more towards engagement. Tools like Google Analytics are vital to quickly and effectively analyze each piece of content, not just by how it performs but by how well it aligns with your buyer’s journey and sales funnel.
4. Perform a Competitor Analysis
So far, you’ve focused on your own content. Let’s expand that net.
How well are companies your audience may be considering in addition to your own product or service performing? Do they offer content that you don’t?
A competitive analysis will help you find those answers.
You can be thorough, using tools like SEMRush to learn about your closest competition. But there are also simple steps that can help you get there.
For instance, simply search for some of the keywords you’ve discovered that represent audience needs. The SERP can give you valuable insights on how each competitor might approach the same keyword to close their own gaps and help audiences move through the sales funnel.
5. Define the Gaps and Create a Plan to Close Them
Taking into account all the insights you have found in the above steps, it’s time to make them actionable.
Define your gaps. Log exactly where neither you nor your competitors have published highly relevant pieces of content optimized for acute audience needs.
Once you’ve identified those gaps, make a plan to close them. Think through whether a given unfilled need makes more sense for a blog, whitepaper, or other type of content.
Finally, use what you’ve learned to update your content strategy. That way, your gap analysis can lead to comprehensive, lasting change for the better, rather than a new piece of content or two before things go back to the status quo.
That’s how you can close the loop. Apply your learnings, and watch your content marketing efforts thrive.
Optimize Your Content Marketing Efforts with the Right Content Gap Analysis Tools
A simple five-step process is all it takes to run an effective content gap analysis. It’s much easier to plan and implement, of course, if you have the right tools by your side.
We’ve already mentioned some of them throughout this piece:
- Google Analytics can help to analyze your own content
- SEMRush allows you to map your competitors content against your own
- Ahrefs is a good alternative to SEMRUSH for the same process
Allow us to add one more tool to the equation.
A content gap analysis is only as good as its implementation. Your digital marketing efforts need to be agile and collaborative, while also following a strict plan established by prior evaluation analysis.
You need a marketing project management tool to help you get there. And that’s exactly where Welcome comes in.
Using our tools, you can plan your content as it moves through the funnel. But it gets better: you can also perform keyword research, reducing the need for other tools as you build and implement your gap analysis.
In short, Welcome is the perfect tool for agile marketers looking to optimize their content efforts.
Ready to give it a free try? Create your Welcome account today.