I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kim Zimmerman, Managing Editor at Demand Gen Report, for her article “Content Gap Analysis Becoming Bigger Priority For Marketers.”

content_gap_imageThe article states that of the companies employing content marketing, fewer than half (42%) say their efforts are effective. To improve the effectiveness of their content, many B2B marketers are trying to identify where the gaps are in their content inventory.

As I mention in the article, for content to be effective, companies need to understand the current state of their content and develop a strategy for developing content that is more closely aligned with the buyer. And that’s why before beginning a content audit, it’s essential to identify target segments and develop persona profiles.

In fact, really knowing your buyers is the first step of the smart content strategy process. Smart content strategy is: (1) aligned to sales and the buyer’s journey, (2) aligned to the company’s brand, values, and positioning, and (3) provides clear prioritization and direction for content execution.

A successful content gap analysis should follow the smart content strategy process, which includes:

  1. Understanding your target audience and buying personas. Target segments should be defined, and persona profiles must be created. This will tell you your personas’ motivations and interests, content consumption habits, and business drivers and priorities.
  2. Knowing what your personas are looking to learn during each stage of the buyer’s journey. This will allow you to understand what content both your buyers and your sales team need during each stage of the buyer’s journey, which includes:
    1. Discovery: understanding the problem and committing to change
    2. Learning: exploring solutions and committing to one
    3. Choosing: justifying and making the decision
    4. Procuring: preparing for ownership
  3. Developing your company’s corporate messaging and positioning. Know the key themes you want to reinforce in every piece of content you create. Messaging serves as the foundation to all content creation and ensures messaging consistency.
  4. Audit all of your content to analyze where there are gaps.

The key is that marketers must go through the first three steps of the smart content strategy process in order to effectively analyze gaps in their content. Otherwise, your content analysis is really just like doing inventory.

As an example, web content management provider Clickability analyzed all of its content against: (1) corporate messaging and positioning; (2) quality criteria; (3) personas targeted; (4) buying stages targeted. Graphics were developed to show where there were gaps in content. In this case, content was too heavily weighted to the Learning stage, with gaps in the later buying stage with certain personas. The company also had too much long form content, and web content dropped off before the end of the buyer’s journey. Clickability was able to quickly realize where it needed to focus on content creation and how it should edit existing content.

The smart content strategy process allows B2B marketers to execute a more thorough and effective content gap analysis, while also giving you the insight you need to develop impactful content that engages and converts buyers.