As B2B companies continue to invest more and more resources, time and energy into content, many are starting to realize that they’ve got to understand their own content first, including how it is working for them. B2B companies such as New Pig are finding value in analyzing their content offerings — and filling gaps in their content inventory.
Industry experts within the B2B marketplace note that gaining a firm grasp of content inventory is a crucial component of content gap analysis.
“One of the biggest trends is that companies are taking initiative to understand their content and how their content is working for them,” said Jeff Freund, CEO and Founder of Akoonu, an account-based marketing and selling platform. “Companies have realized that they have a ton of content out there and don’t necessarily understand what it all is, or how its being used. And that’s something that’s critical for content marketing teams.”
The mentality of “the more content, the better” no longer resonates in the industry. Research from Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report shows that 83% of buyers remain overwhelmed by the amount of content available. This highlights the importance of focusing on quality over quantity, which is why conducting a content inventory and audit is crucial to a successful content gap analysis.
Content strategy agencies such as Content4Demand and Content Strategy Inc. both emphasize the importance of conducting content inventories and audits to get a clear picture of where the gaps in content lie.
“Gap analysis is part of a process,” said Dana Harder, VP of Client Strategy at Content4Demand. “Very seldom do we have someone come in asking for a gap analysis. Our clients know they have existing content, but don’t know what that is or how to break it up. A lot of times the gap analysis discussion happens when we’re talking about repurposing content or auditing content. Once you audit the content, then we can determine your gap.”
First, Define The Buyer’s Journey And Conduct Inventory
Before marketers can identify gaps in their content, first they must understand the buyer’s journey. It’s imperative to identify how the buyer consumes information and content, said Kathy Wagner, Co-Founder of Content Strategy Inc.
“Typically, we start by defining the customer journey and mapping the content to each particular journey in a particular audience segment that we’re focusing on,” she said. “We’ll look at things like what topics are important, what formats people want to see, what messaging resonates with them and what content types are important at that stage.”
The inventory begins once there is a complete understanding of the journey. Conducting inventory — which essentially means pulling together a list of the content assets — will provide insight into how much and what kind of content a company has on hand.
“It needs to be done, because, for example, if you’re going to have somebody else audit your content, you have to provide them with an inventory list at some point, otherwise they can’t get to the content,” said Content4Demand’s Harder. “Getting that content in a central place is going to be necessary in order to do the audit in any sort of efficient manner.”
Next, Content Audit 101
Before conducting an audit, marketers must identify clear buyer personas and correlating messages for their content, Harder added.
Once there is a clear picture of the persona and messaging, the audit — or analysis — of the content inventory can begin. This is where marketers must answer questions regarding their content, including:
- Is this content current?
- Is it on brand?
- Is it relevant to the buyer?
- Are there statistics in this content that can become outdated?
- What is the repurposing potential?
After conducting the audit, many marketers realize they didn’t have as much relevant content as they thought they did.
“[Many marketers] think they have a lot of content but they don’t,” said Harder. That’s because “they don’t have a lot of the right content, which is always the hard part to tell them. The foundational strategy of a content marketing program is that it needs to be buyer-focused, and often their content is not buyer-focused. It’s very product-heavy. Nine out of 10 times that’s what we’ll find.”
Another common challenge for marketers is not having enough content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. In many occasions, companies tend to have a plethora of top-of-funnel content, but not as much middle- and late-stage content, Harder said. This is where gaps become more prominent.
“When we get to the gap analysis we say, ‘Here’s the messaging we need to reach, now which content assets of the audit do you have that are existing?’ We’ll pull those assets and plug it into the six-stage buyers journey and customize it if a client has a different need. Then we will go through the gap [analysis] and see, ‘You have a lot of content at stage one, two and three, but you have nothing at four and five.’ And then, ‘You have something at stage six, but it has to be repurposed.’”
However, a content gap analysis doesn’t have to be a “big, nasty, complex project,” said Content4Demand’s McKenzie.
“If you’re just accomplishing two things — [identifying the] buying stage and target persona — you’ve done a lot of the work you need to do for a gap analysis. If you’re pressed for time and resources, you can stop right there and do a pretty good job of knowing what you’ve got in your content library for a campaign and where your gaps are.”