Note: The following post is an overview of the presentation given at Digital Growth Unleashed 2018.
It’s no secret I’m passionate about the customer experience and content. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said it or written about it (hint: It’s a lot). It’s not that I don’t love all aspects of digital marketing, it’s just there’s something so interesting about the role content plays in getting people to make a purchase.
When we break it down, regardless of what we are buying, we are relying on some content element and as a marketer, that’s exciting! It’s also a little bit scary:
Why? Not having the necessary content means lost revenue. As a content marketer, you better ensure you’re creating the right content for your audience. That also means ensuring you have the right content across the entire buyer journey.
What Does Your Audience Want?
In the age of rising consumer expectations and fast-moving technology, where 80 percent of customers expect a response within 24 hours and 70 percent say technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, giving your customers what they want has never been more important.
But what do they want exactly? Well, customers want a lot of things, but if I was to sum it up in a single phrase, it would be they want you to help them. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, customers care more about solving their problems quickly and easily than they care about being delighted.
Let me say that again – customers care more about solving their problems quickly and easily. Great! As content marketers, we have the ability to give them the information they are looking for. Even better, we have the tools to find what it is they are actually asking.
Identifying Customer Questions
When you start in SEO, the first thing you learn is keyword research. After all, keywords are fundamental to any successful SEO program. What’s interesting is that over the past few years, keyword queries have become longer, more specific and, as a result, we are seeing more question-based queries and answer-based results.
Through keyword research, we now have real insights into what is our customers are asking and to get that information, we can look at the following:
- Customer Support
There are a number of tools out there that are free and/or offer free versions that are extremely helpful. Some of my favorites include:
What’s great is each of these tools offers something a little bit different from the others. Answer the Public gives you suggested searches, KeywordTool.io provides questions from Amazon, YouTube, and the App Store, and BuzzSumo shows you questions in forums. Each of these gives us insights into how people are searching across the web, not just in one place.
If you are using Google Analytics, do you have site search tracking enabled? This is something I ask all my clients and if the answer is no, it should be.
Site search data in analytics allows you to see what people are searching for on your site, giving you actual data from your visitors. Take a look and see what trends you can pick out. Is there a common theme or question? If that’s the case, you may have just identified a gap in your content.
While our tools can certainly provide us with search data, it never hurts to take a look at the search results themselves. Specifically, SERPs containing answer boxes and people also ask boxes.
By identifying these questions in real time, you can see what questions people are asking about a specific topic, directly from the horse’s mouth (aka Google).
I like to save customer support for last because it’s the one that we often overlook. Why? Because – let’s admit it – we hate actually talking to each other!
Yet, they can be a valuable resource. Every day, your customer support team is on the front line engaging with customers. Find out what questions they are receiving, what issues customers are facing, and identify how you can turn that information into content that helps customers and potential customers.
By gathering all of this information, we can begin to truly understand what it is our customers want. More importantly, we can identify what they need and what information we need to give them. So, start mapping your questions to the buyer journey breakdown, tying each question to the specific phase of the funnel.
The next step? Identifying what content you already have, what’s performing well, and what content you need.
Identify Top Performing Content
As much as content is a creative field, content marketing is data-driven. Which means we need to rely on our data. To find out what content you already have and what content is working, we turn to analytics.
Start by evaluating top performing content by channel. Because just as there are different questions being asked throughout the funnel, there are also different channels being utilized. By breaking content down by channel, we can answer the following questions:
- What performed the best purely from a traffic perspective?
- What performed best in the search engines?
- What were people linking to or sharing?
- What content drove email click-throughs?
- What content drove signups?
The goal is to understand which content performed best across each channel and as a whole. Once we have all that, we can start to analyze it. We can break it down by content type, structure, theme, and of course, where it falls in the funnel.
And now the fun part…
Identifying Content Gaps
Once I’ve gathered my information, I can start mapping it against the funnel and against my questions. I can see what content works the best where, and more importantly, where I need content and the type of content I need.
Now, you might be thinking, this feels like a lot of work, and I’d be lying if I said you weren’t right. It’s definitely a lot of work the first time you do it but after you’ve gone through the process, you know exactly where your content stands and where you need to go from there.
Creating the Right Content
One of the biggest challenges content marketers face is ensuring they are creating the right content – “good” content. But good content doesn’t have to be lengthy and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Good content simply has to answer those questions we identified above.
As you go through the process of finding content gaps, don’t forget to take a look at the content you already have. Maybe you need a guide to hit the middle of the funnel. What assets have you already created that can be used in that guide? What you may find is a series of blog posts can be repurposed and turned into a lengthier asset.
And guess what? Using what you already have is much easier and takes much less time.
As content marketers, it’s our job to ensure we are creating the right content, for the right audience, and serving it to them in the right place, at the right time. That’s a pretty big responsibility and requires some serious skills.
The good news is that yes, while it may seem like a lot, driving success isn’t that hard when you look in the right place. By going through this gap analysis, you can refine your strategy, improve content performance, and ensure those buyers have what they need. And that’s what matters.
Interested in learning more about the process? Check out our DGU resources and download the checklist to start building your own gap analysis.